Your website is the bedrock of your online presence as a brand. You can have the best paid search strategies, social media campaigns, and lots of website traffic, but if your website is badly optimised it will create a bottleneck for growth.
Your website landing page is your shopfront. It has to look (and work) the part. And looking the part isn’t just about it looking pretty.
A business website should drive conversions. A conversion is a desired action taken by a website visitor before leaving your site. The rate of visitors that perform this desired action, divided by the total number of visitors, is known as the website conversion rate, and the process of website development aimed at increasing conversions is known as conversion rate optimisation (CRO).
The average internet user has the attention span of a distracted goldfish. Statistics vary on how long the average time spent on a website is, but some estimates put it as low as 15 seconds. You don’t have long to grab their attention and steer them in the direction you want.
So what can you do to increase your conversion rate and grow your business? Read on for our top ten tips for improving conversions.
One thing that’s guaranteed to lose you potential customers and conversions is if your page load time isn’t up to scratch. Slow loading pages, or pages that fail to load key elements, can put off website visitors and significantly impact your conversion rate.
This is backed up by the numbers – Kissmterics have found (https://blog.kissmetrics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/loading-time.pdf) that of those asked, nearly half of web users expect a website to load within just two seconds. And when you consider that, according to Google, the average load time for a mobile page is 7 seconds (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks-load-time-vs-bounce/), by improving the speed of your webpages you will be gaining a huge advantage over most of your competitors.
Using images is vital for increasing your conversion rate. Images allow you to tell a story, quickly, and have been shown to increase views (and therefore clicks). In fact, as reported by B2B Marketing, in one study web pages with good images got 94% more views (https://www.b2bmarketing.net/en-gb/resources/news/research-news-articles-images-get-94-more-views-those-without).
But what is considered a ‘good image’? Well, subjective aesthetic considerations aside, a good image for your business website is one that contains human faces. it seems that, for good evolutionary reasons, we are hard-wired to respond better to human faces than other types of images. For example, one study found that images that contained faces got 38% more likes on Instagram than those without (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266655817_Faces_engage_us_photos_with_faces_attract_more_likes_and_comments_on_Instagram).
We may be visual creatures, but to really increase your conversion rate you’ll need to harness the power of words. The right copy can really land sales or push customers to perform that conversion action. But what does ‘the right copy’ look like?
Well, it’s a good idea to use headlines that are simple and punchy. Most customers will make decisions based on the headline alone, so make sure it’s doing as much work as possible. And, of course, keep it short and to the point when you’re looking for conversions.
As well as relevant products and services that are designed with a clear idea of who your customer is, there are types of content that can draw in potential customers and drive conversions in a less direct but no less effective way. Having blog posts on your website, where you post informative content relevant to the field in which you operate, is a good way of increasing your conversion rate, as well as customer loyalty and trust.
CTA stands for Call to Action, which in its simplest form is an invitation to the customer such as ‘Buy now’, but can be far more sophisticated than that. Essentially, judicious use of CTAs on your webpages is one of the most important things you can do to increase your conversion rate. A clear CTA, such as a clickable button at the bottom of a page or next to an item, guides your customer and makes the process of navigating your site easier for them as well as prompting them to perform a conversion action.
However, creating a good CTA is about more than just making it simple and obvious. Some businesses find that phrasing is highly important. For example, ‘Get a free quote’ might perform better than ‘Sign up now’. Even changing the colour of the CTA button can make a big difference. These are all variables that you can test (more on that below) to find the most effective combination.
Most businesses are keen to let their customers know the breadth of the services they offer or the scope of what the customer can get for their money. A shopping site, for example, might be tempted to overload the visitor with categories. But it’s important to use negative space in your website design to stop the visitor feeling overwhelmed.
A quick look at the Google homepage is an object lesson. Just a search bar, with a handful of clear options. That’s it. Surrounded by calming white space. Don’t overcrowd your site, focus on the important things, and you’ll improve your conversion rate.
This tip is closely connected to the above advice about negative space. But rather than being about the visual aspect of your site’s pages, this is more far-reaching and involves a kind of philosophy of web presence.
Hick’s Law is a psychological concept that holds that the simpler the system, the faster decisions are made. You can get deep into the theory and research behind it (https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/hick-s-law-making-the-choice-easier-for-users#:~:text=Hick's%20Law%20(or%20the%20Hick%2DHyman%20Law)%20states%20that,them%20to%20make%20a%20decision.&text=As%20web%20designers%2C%20we%20have,will%20select%20on%20our%20sites.), but the way it impacts upon user experience (UX) and your conversion rate is that you should simplify the customer journey so that the next step is clear to the user at every stage.
Think about Amazon. When a visitor lands on the homepage, the search bar is front and centre. On the item page, there’s the option of adding the item to the shopping cart or buying now. Once more click takes you to pay. Everything clear, everything simple. But behind that simplicity is a large and complex organisation.
Another visual tip, which is to choose colours carefully taking into account the common associations people have with certain colours. Some of these associations are contextual, and you may also have brand colours you need to use, but it’s worth referencing what certain colours may communicate to your customers when designing your site (https://style.ons.gov.uk/data-visualisation/using-colours/colour-association/).
As mentioned above, you’ll often want to try multiple variations of a headline, font size, CTA, or any number of things in order to find the most effective for your conversion rate. The most widely used method of doing this is called A/B testing. A/B testing or split testing involves creating two variants of a page and running them both for a period of time in order to measure which one drives the most conversions.
Another slightly different method is multivariate testing, where a number of different variables are tested at the same time between versions. Whichever method you use, the important thing is to record your results carefully and test for a long enough period of time to get meaningful results.
Another great way to keep tabs on how your webpages are performing is to simply ask real visitors for their feedback. You can insert a pop-up poll with questions such as ‘How did you find us today?’, and ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy to use is this website?’. While perhaps less ‘scientific’ than A/B or multivariate testing, you will still get valuable feedback that may help boost conversions.
Social proofs are the term for markers that offer positive affirmation to a customer about a purchase or decision. For example, user reviews of a product, or a message such as ‘6 other customers are viewing this item’. It confirms to the user that other people have approved of the decision they are considering and can be a powerful tool in CRO.
B2bmarketing.net. 2020. RESEARCH NEWS: Articles With Images Get 94% More Views Than Those Without | B2B Marketing. [online] Available at: <https://www.b2bmarketing.net/en-gb/resources/news/research-news-articles-images-get-94-more-views-those-without> [Accessed 4 November 2020].
The Interaction Design Foundation. 2020. Hick’S Law: Making The Choice Easier For Users. [online] Available at: <https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/hick-s-law-making-the-choice-easier-for-users#:~:text=Hick's%20Law%20(or%20the%20Hick%2DHyman%20Law)%20states%20that,them%20to%20make%20a%20decision.&text> [Accessed 4 November 2020].
ResearchGate. 2020. Faces Engage Us: Photos With Faces Attract More Likes And Comments On Instagram. [online] Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266655817_Faces_engage_us_photos_with_faces_attract_more_likes_and_comments_on_Instagram> [Accessed 4 November 2020].
Think with Google. 2020. Page Load Time Statistics - Think With Google. [online] Available at: <https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-strategies/app-and-mobile/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks-load-time-vs-bounce/> [Accessed 4 November 2020].