In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin famously yells at his salesmen to always be closing. In the digital age, it’s not salesmen but websites that need to be closing.
Only now it’s referred to as a conversion rate. The whole point of a business website is to convince potential buyers to make a purchase.
There is an art and a science to getting your website to convert sales. There are steps and practices that you can use that will make you more likely to get the results you want.
Here are a few to get you started.
1.Experiment with different methods.
If there were tactics that always worked, everyone would know them, everyone would use them and you wouldn’t need this article. There are a lot that tend to work. There are even some tips that are case-specific may require an opposite plan of action depending on the circumstances.
Therefore, the only tip that’s truly universal is to try different methods and see what works best for your site.
Do some A/B testing where you test one version of the site with one group of potential viewers and another version with another group. Thoughtful testing is the only way to achieve better conversion over time.
2.Remember the six factors of conversion.
A website conversion rate hinges on a few factors:
- The value proposition of your goods or service;
- How relevant your good or service is to the viewer;
- How clear your message and value proposition are to the viewer;
- How much anxiety the viewer has in making the purchase;
- How distracted the viewer is from your message when using the website; and
- How much urgency the viewer feels to make a purchase.
3.Cut down on forms.
The more questions viewers have to answer to get what they want, the less likely they are to do it. Only ask the questions you absolutely need to get the sale you want.
4.Make your call to action button stand out.
You want viewers to do one thing, whether it is to make a purchase, subscribe or make some form of commitment. That means they will have to click a specific button. That button needs to stand out from the rest of the page so it is easily seen. Do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone knows where that button is.
5.Put the action button at the top of the page.
If the user has to scroll down the page to find the call to action button, you’ve committed a huge offense. The button doesn’t have to be at the top of the page, but you better be able to see it as soon as soon as the page opens.
6.Remove banner sliders.
You see them all the time. The post summaries appear at the top of the page, and they cycle through about once every five seconds.
You might think it looks cool, but like those websites with the background music in the early ’90s, it’s just distracting. People want to explore at their own pace, and this carousel of articles distracts from that. It’s better to show a list.
Video killed the website text. YouTube shows that people enjoy watching videos more than reading. Use that. Just test the video to make sure you don’t put up something that drives people away.
8.Clear headline, a ton of viewers, can’t lose.
Okay, it’s not a perfect paraphrase, but the point still stands. When you post something, whether it is a blog or a product description, make sure that the headline clearly defines the content. Viewers will appreciate it.
9.The ticking clock.
Buyers put off making purchases. However, if there is a sense of urgency, whether it is a limited-time offer or a timer ticking down the time before a product is pulled, people are more likely to make that purchase. A lack of time can be a good thing for a seller.
10.Give them your digits.
Everyone loves the idea of doing everything by email, but phone numbers convey a sense of permanence. It’s a way for customers to contact a person directly if something goes wrong, which in turn makes them more confident to make a purchase.
11.They got questions? Give them answers!
Phone calls are great, instantaneous live chat on your site is too. It allows customers to get comfortable with their purchases by getting answers to any questions they have.
12.Show off your awards.
Making a sale is about getting the customer to trust you. If you have received recognition, whether in the form of an article by a recognized publication or an award from a respected group, show it off on your site.
It allows the buyer to transfer the trust they have in those organizations to your business, which leads to sales.
For customers to make a purchase online, they need to feel secure that their credit card information will be protected. Use a security seal from a recognized company like Norton’s to help people feel more comfortable making purchases.
14.Keep updating your SEO.
You can’t convert unless people come to your site. By ensuring that your SEO is up to date the people who want your services but don’t know you, will be able to find you.
15.Tell the truth, the whole truth.
Or at least get former customers to do so on your site. Make sure that those testimonials don’t sound canned or boring. Quotes like “they have great products” aren’t going to get the results you are looking for.
16.The right pictures.
You can’t just throw up any old pictures and expect them to help your case; stock photos of a few people laughing or working around a table is not going to help. Customized photos taken by you that are related directly to your product or feature your services are what you need to use.
17.The right words at the right time.
The imagery and the visuals of the site matter as it helps lead the viewers’ eyes, but at some point they are going to need details.
That can only be achieved with text. It’s not about a long description; it’s about keeping it brief but conveying the right details in the right way.
18.To click or not to click.
There is a common convention that says if someone has to click three or more times to get something, you will lose conversions, but that is not always the case. Trying to squeeze in too much information to conserve might deter conversions, so having info on multiple pages might be better in the long run. The answer is to test multiple versions and see what works best.
19.Find your voice or find my voice?
At some point, you are going to be addressing the customer directly and you’ll need to determine the type of voice you want.
Whether it be first person (make my purchase now) or second person (make your purchase now), it’s important to keep it consistent through your site. There is no best practice here; different sites work better with different voices. You’ll need to experiment to find yours.
20.Ditch the drop down.
We all know them; you click the box and a list of options magically appears. It’s not just a feature; it’s a staple of commerce sites.
However, just because its common doesn’t mean it helps. Try testing the drop-down menu page against a version of the website where a second page displays all the options with a brief description and images of all the products. You might be surprised at the increased conversions.
21.Think like a user.
You don’t just run a business; you use the Internet too. You know what annoys you and what doesn’t. Use those insights when making your first draft of a website. The site is supposed to show off the character of your business, so build the site that you want to see first.
Then, based on the feedback you get, make the needed to changes to ensure your site is easily accessible to more people.
22.Set up a measurement system.
Whether you are trying to find what works or just making sure your site still does, you need to be constantly measuring your conversion rates. The best and easiest way to do this is through Google Analytics.
By correctly setting goals and benchmarks in the Google system, you can easily see where people are clicking to make sales and where they are leaving your webpage. In short, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t.
23.Bounce Is Bad.
An easy error to make is to assume that if you can just get people to go to your site and check it out, you will get the conversions you want.
It’s the law of large numbers — if enough people see you, someone is bound to like what you are offering. High bounce rates occur when the vast majority of people who visit your site leave without doing anything.
Generally, it takes a lot of effort and resources to get people to your site. If you have a high bounce rate, it means you are wasting resources.
Take the extra time to craft a strategy that will only drive people who are predisposed to purchasing your product, and lower that bounce rate.
You may think standardized pricing is the best way to go for high conversions; after all, the less time consumers have to wait, the more likely they are to buy. However, that might not always be the case.
A personalized bid based on the consumers’ specific needs might make them more inclined to buy.
This creates a belief in the viewers that your product will be better able to meet their demands, which makes it more likely they will make a purchase. This might be a tip you want to test on your site before you implement it.
25.All the Cool Kids Are Doing It.
We discussed individual testimonials earlier as a way to build trust.
This is another means of building trust, but instead of focusing on individuals, focus on the group. It’s one thing if a person says your product is great. If 250,000 people buy your product, the idea is they can’t all be wrong.
Showing off your sales totals can be a great way to build trust in consumers, leading to conversions.
26.The Longest Journey Begins with a Single Step.
This is a especially useful step if the process of completing the conversion is particularly long or difficult.
If you overwhelm consumers with too long a process, you minimize the likelihood they’ll make a purchase.
Ask them to do something small first throughout their browsing experience so when they do decide to make a purchase, they aren’t burdened with having to do dozens of things.
27.One Product Per Page.
Do not make your viewers suffer information overload. You may think that by cutting down on the number of clicks viewers have to make, you will increase conversions.
However, if they open a page with dozens of different products, their eyes may gloss over and the only click they’ll make is to get off your page. Consider giving each product its own page, but make it easy for customers to find their way there.
28.Triple Check the Content.
There is nothing more embarrassing then having a customer click on a link that takes them to the wrong place or presents unfortunate wording in a product description.
Have a number of people go over the content to make sure everything is exactly how you want it. This strategy also helps to make sure everyone reads the content in the same way and gets the same information out of it.
29.No Matter Where You Look, There Should Be a Call to Action.
Oftentimes, designers place the call to action button at the top of the webpage. The problem is, people scroll down.
So, if they want to make a purchase, they have to scroll all the way back to the top.It’s a minor annoyance, but you want to make things as easy as possible for the viewer.
When designing your site, make sure no matter where the people are on the page, they can see a call to action button or link on their screen.
If you are selling a fitness program, you are probably trying to market to people who are out of shape.
So, when building your site, you want to use images that emphasize the product you are selling, not images of what your product is trying to combat — in the fitness example, you would show physically fit people.
31.Desktop vs. Mobile.
As mobile devices become an increasingly popular means to view the Internet, more sites are adapting their front-end coding to deal with small mobile screens.
However, there have been test cases where sites optimized for mobile viewing have done worse than sites designed purely for traditional monitor sizes. If you are planning on having a mobile presence (and you should), test your mobile-optimized site against a non-optimized version.
32.Less (Choice) Is More.
This is not necessarily about reducing the number of products on your page as it is about reducing the number of actions you can take on the page.
Think about Google. Instead of putting every possible question and search filter on the landing page, Google just asks what you are looking for. Once it displays those results, it offers additional options to narrow your search, making the entire process less burdensome.
33.Do Usability Tests.
There are professional firms that hire people to go through your site and narrate what they are experiencing. These tests reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your site’s user experience. Try to do at least five, and use more than one firm for testing.
34.Don’t Beg for Cash, Beg the Question.
“Is your house adequately insured?” “How are you going to pay for your child’s education?” Asking viewers a direct question helps them determine if they have any doubts or have any needs not being met.
If they do, you can then use the site to explain how your product will fix those problems. Instead of explaining why they need what you are selling, explain how you can fulfill their need, which is an easier task.
35.Shorten the Sales Process.
You need their billing information, and you need their address. If you are asking for anything else, you really have to offer a strong justification for it.
36.Free to Be You and Me.
People love free things, even if its not something they would necessarily get for themselves. That being said, make sure it is something people can use, and not some random trinket.
37.Let Them Know the Value of the Gift.
Normally, you are not supposed to tell someone the value of the gift; its the thought that counts, after all. However, by revealing how much the free gift is worth, you enhance the value of the purchase.
If you give someone a gift valued at $50 for a $50 purchase, the purchase is worth $100 in their eyes, but they only have to pay $50. This creates a sense of heightened value.
38.Anything They Can Do We Can Do Too.
It is a tactic that works in bricks-and-mortar stores as well. If you match your competitor’s price or terms, its one less reason for customers to take their business elsewhere and one more reason to convert now.
39.Check Out the Competition…and Everyone Else.
Check out other websites; they might be doing something you could use. Don’t just always be closing; always be learning.
40.Don’t Sacrifice Everything for Conversions.
You want to get the sale, but most businesses would prefer to have repeat customers.
These tactics, if abused, could get sales now but totally ruin future opportunities. Don’t sacrifice the future for conversion now.
41.Know the Rules But Be Willing to Break Them.
There are a lot of best practices, but as we have talked about before, they don’t always work.
The rules are a great place to start, but they probably don’t all work for your specific site. Don’t just assume that any best practice is your best practice.
IMDb has been around since 1989. Its first site worked and was popular, but the current incarnation probably looks nothing like the original version.
Every so often, don’t be afraid to start over with a clean slate and redesign. Just be sure to test to ensure the new version works better than the original.