The bedrock of conversion rate improvement is testing. However, testing is almost always easier said than done. You might lack the technical or executive support to implement a test program. A test or series of tests might already be in the works, but you’re sitting on your hands while the data is being collected.
What can the motivated marketer do to improve conversions today?
While testing will always provide you with the best guidance in making website conversion improvements, enough testing has been done collectively that certain conversion-facing improvements can be made in the absence of test data.
While you will always want to measure the impact of page changes on conversion rates by comparing data before and after those changes have been made, there are a number of measures you can undertake with relative safety that are almost certain to improve how many visitors complete a website goal.
1. Remove One Unnecessary Web Page Element
Singularly of purpose is important in maximizing conversion rates. In general, the fewer elements you have competing for a visitor’s attention, the more likely that visitor is to follow through on actions that ultimately lead a conversion, whether that conversion takes the form of an online purchase, successfully completing a form, or making a phone call.
If you’re only going to remove one thing to improve your conversion rate, the biggest bang for your buck is almost certainly going to come from removing an unnecessary form element. People don’t like filling in forms, and they also don’t like divulging personal information. By removing an unnecessary form field, you’ll increase the likelihood that a visitor will fill out and submit the form.
Review each form field and ask yourself two questions: is it helpful to collect this piece of data, and is it necessary?
Gender declaration is a useful example here. If you ask visitors to select “male” or “female” on a form, what use do you make of that information? This is frequently the sort of data that’s collected solely to be able to report on visitor demographics, or is being collected for “future reference.” In both of these cases, there’s no actual benefit in collecting gender information, so it should be dropped from the form.
Perhaps that information is used – say in differentiating subsequent email offers by gender. Then you need to ask if that information is necessary, even if it is helpful.
Put another way, is this essential information, or are you willing to see it omitted if this results in more conversions? If conversion trumps data collection, then at the very least make that a non-mandatory field, which will also likely improve your conversion rate on that form.
For sites where the conversion does not involve a form, or if you’re already asking for the bare minimum of information in your form, look at other places where an unnecessary page element can be removed. When a website visitor enters into the conversion funnel, you don’t want that visitor to be distracted from completing the goal at the end of that funnel.
The appearance of a secondary call to action, a link that unnecessarily provides a path out of the funnel, and even non-clickable visual elements that draw the visitor’s focus from completing an action can all potentially lower conversion rates.
2. Reduce The Load Time Of One Page
The longer a page takes to load, the less likely a visitor is going to stick around. According to a recent study, a one second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Furthermore, users are less likely to return to a website with pages that load slowly, and page speed is now acknowledged by Google to be a factor in rankings. There is simply no downside to making a page load faster.
Google has made diagnosing page load time easier of late with the introduction of page speed tools, including a simple form where you can enter a URL and page speed improvements are suggested. Common sense questions can augment tool findings.
Are any images being served that are being resized down with HTML that could simply be replaced with a smaller image? Are unnecessary scripts being run on the pages, such as tracking pixels that are no longer used?
Improving the load time of a single page may not send your conversions through the roof, but it’s a good place to start. However, as most sites are based on page templates, you may find that making one change has a positive impact on page load times across your website.
3. Add One Call To Action To Your Thank You Page
Thank you pages – the page that appears after a visitor has successfully ordered an item or submitted a form – are often missed opportunities. Yes, the visitor has already successfully completed the goal in this visit, but you want to facilitate future conversions by providing a follow-up action for that visitor to pursue.
Some of the calls to action you can consider adding to a thank you page include:
- Signing up for a newsletter
- Becoming a follower on Twitter or a fan on Facebook
- Inviting the visitor to share the offer they have just completed with others
- Providing a coupon for a future visit
Almost any call to action on a thank you page is better than simply saying “thanks” without providing any links for the visitor to follow. A visitor in this case is really left with only one easy course of action: closing the browser window.
4. Replace One Block Of Text With Bullet Points
Identify a page in, or closely related to, the conversion funnel that contains a large paragraph of text, and then rework that paragraph as a bulleted list. The bigger the text block and more convoluted the copy, the more likely it is that it is having a negative impact on conversions.
Among the reasons why bullet points may be more effective than text blocks:
- Bullet points are more effective for listing the benefits of a product or service, since each point is distinctly enumerated
- Special formatting stands out that much more in bullet points compared to a paragraph
- People find it easier to scan bullet points than a big block of text, which is important because the average visitor spends very little time on each page
The very exercise of reworking a wordy paragraph as a bulleted list can be beneficial. Self-promotional copy without useful information for the visitor doesn’t lend itself well to a bulleted list, and should be replaced with better information or deleted altogether.
There are any number of candidates you can look at for making this improvement, such as a product page with a verbose product description, or a wordy return policy FAQ. The existence or absence of a bulleted list won’t make or break your site’s conversion rate, but you’ll rarely be doing your website visitors a disservice by making the site’s copy easier to read and digest.
5. Use Analytics To Uncover One Actionable Insight
So you’ve got a fast site with nothing to distract or impede visitors in their journey through the conversion funnel. You edited your content and its presentation for maximum ease of readability. You’ve carefully considered possible post-purchase visitor actions and incorporated these into your thank you page.
Is there nothing you can do improve your conversion rate without testing?
Unless you’re not using analytics on your site (in which case it’s laudable, but bizarre, that you’re even investigating conversion improvements) the answer is almost certainly yes.
Sifting through your analytics with an eye to improving conversions, even without a specific purpose in mind, is almost certain to uncover at least one actionable insight.
Some possible lines of inquiry include:
- What page has the highest bounce rate on your site?
- Does the page deliver the promise of its primary traffic sources, or are users’ expectations being thwarted? If so, how could those expectations be better met?
- Does the page vary substantially from pages with lower bounce rates, and if so, what aspects of the low bounce rate pages be carried over?
- Which page in the purchase funnel has the highest proportion of exits?
- Why might this be the case, and what improvements might you make to decrease the fallout rate?
- Of the top 25 or 50 keywords entered in site search, which has the lowest conversion rate?
- Does an existing page need to be modified, or a new one created, to better satisfy a visitor’s expectation for that search term?
- For ecommerce sites, is the site search for that low-performing query returning the right products, or does site search need to be tweaked to produce better results for that query?
Your site’s analytics are a mine of information that can help you improve conversions, but all too often analytics data is relegated to use in reporting or ignored altogether. Taking the time to perform some basic analysis on page performance will almost always result in at least one insight that will improve your site’s bottom line.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.