Though you could argue that conversion optimization is a science (as it relies on rounds of postulation and experimentation), there’s no single set of rules that any site can follow to achieve more conversions. For example, one particular layout might see more conversions by turning its green call-to-action red, while another layout might see more conversions by turning its red call-to-action green. There’s no surefire way to get the right placement, the right copy, and the right formatting all at once.
That being said, there are common root causes of low conversion rates. No matter what kind of fix is necessary—whether it’s a color change or the inclusion of more bullet points—you can almost always trace the root of the problem back to one of these three main sources:
If lack of attention is your problem, it means your users simply aren’t able to focus on the site of conversion. This can manifest in a number of ways; for example, your call-to-action might be so hidden on your site that your customers aren’t able to find it. They may not even be aware that it exists. As a contrasting example, if your landing page is so dense with design elements and words, your users might be so distracted they can’t focus on the eventual site of conversion.
There are three common categories of fixes you can apply to this lack of attention. The first is minimization. In this strategy, you’ll be minimizing (or eliminating) anything on the page that isn’t a call-to-action. This means cutting some of the fluff content, pulling away any banner ads or links away from the site, and possible adding more white space to the design.
The second is ease optimization. You have to make the call-to-action easy to see and use. For example, if you’re using a traditional checkout, make the “add to cart” button prominent and intuitive to click. If you’re using forms, try reducing the number of fields to make things simpler.
The third is heightened contrast. Make your call-to-action stand out from the rest of the material on the page by using bright colors, and possibly other cues that lead users’ eyes to the eventual destination, like arrows or eyelines of people in a background image.
The second major affliction in conversion optimization is a lack of value. If people don’t see any value in the act of converting, they aren’t going to convert. It’s a very simple concept from a high level, but it can get complicated when you try to evaluate what “value” you have to offer.
For example, if you’re running an ecommerce site, your customers need to know that the products you’re offering are worth the money you’re asking from them to pay for it. You can increase this perceived value by including an indication of a discount (showing suggested price versus actual price), adding more bullet points or a video that showcase the product’s strengths, including testimonials from actual customers, comparing your price to your competitors’ or even lowering the price altogether. Convince your reader that this is worth the transaction.
B2B companies and other service-based businesses that don’t have a one-to-one exchange for conversion also need to demonstrate value. For example, you can’t just offer an email form and hope that people will hand over their information. Make it worth their while by offering a valuable email newsletter, or a free download of a whitepaper, or some other tangible exchange.
Finally, it’s possible that your visitors don’t have enough trust in your brand or your product. Trust is a subjective measure, so you may find this more difficult to detect than a problem with value or user attention. Still, if you can rule out the latter two, you can assume there isn’t enough trust in your organization to warrant a conversion.
There are a number of inclusions that can increase user trust in your offer. First, include contact information for your company, including a website, the name of your business, a physical address (if possible), and a phone number. This gives people reassurance that you’re a legitimate business. Including user testimonials is almost always a surefire way to increase user trust as well—include these in either written or video form, with an emphasis on the visuals if possible. Include the faces of the people giving the testimonials if you can.
Beyond that, offer plenty of resources, content, and communication options for anyone undecided. This not only reassures potentially skeptical customers, it also provides more information that could help them make a final decision. For example, you could offer a tutorial video, a link to your company blog, or even a live chat window (provided you have someone waiting to answer those inquiries on the other side). As your reputation grows, so will your average visitor’s trust.
Once you’re able to identify the one (or more) main problems preventing your inbound audience from converting, you can get to work correcting the issue. It may take several rounds of experimentation and AB testing, but eventually, if you know what type of things to change and tinker with, you’ll find a combination that works to improve your conversion rates. Don’t give up hope, and commit to an indefinite series of changes to maximize your rates in the future.