This post is part of a multiple-series guide about Online Marketing For Small Businesses. In this post I will discuss the basics of conversion rate optimization and A/B testing.
- Part 1: Building up an online web presence
- Part 2: Inbound marketing (SEO and PPC)
- Part 3: Inbound marketing (location based, local, blogging, email, affiliate)
- Part 4: Setting up and understanding Google Analytics
- Part 5: Conversion rate optimization and A/B testing
So let’s do a recap: You have a well-designed and solid web presence, taken into account SEO factors and might have started advertising on Google. Also, you keep your eyes closely to your site’s traffic. That’s already quite something but not the whole nine yards, yet!
You should never stop trying to make your website a better place for your visitors and never stop increasing the odds of turning a visitor into a customer. And once you managed to do so, feel happy for a minute, get a coffee and then get back to work! Try to think of ways to beat your numbers again. This is a process which repeats itself over and over again. So, I am sorry if you thought that after doing all this you could simply lean back and watch. Doing this will result in stagnation and, eventually, decline. But who am I to think of you that way. You made it so far and I am sure you are one of the good kind: A person who never stops improving.
Ways to optimize your copy
A website’s text is very easy to change and could already have a significant impact on your conversions or visitor engagement. Your content is the voice of your site and is the basic element of persuasion.
The headlines of your pages or blog posts are the most important text. They are the first to get the viewer’s attention (if not then something is really wrong). Make sure your headline truly represents the page’s content. Never try to fool anyone. You visitors are smart and recognize if they are being lied to.
Try out different approaches. For example, your headline could focus on what someone gets by becoming a customer or start off with a question and cover the answer in following content.
Placing a number on every page in a prominent spot makes it very easy for visitors/customers to give you a call if they have a question. Try different placements to get the best result. This is, of course, only relevant if you offer a call service.
Privacy related text beneath online forms
You know the feeling once you have to type in your email address somewhere. What will they do with it exactly? Will they sell it to a third party or send me spam? Don’t give your visitors the opportunity to ask themselves such questions. Add a line stating that you will handle their data with respect and won’t send spam emails.
Not only you should know that your customers are highly satisfied with your products or services, but also your future customers. Including testimonials can be a convincing way to increase conversion rates. Just make sure that you ask your clients for a more specific testimonial that is about a certain feature or process that they liked especially. Generic quotes are not really convincing and may seem even fake.
Call-to-action Button text
Call-to-action elements stand out and grab visitors’ attention. For that reason, they are an important conversion rate factor. Such button texts mostly consist out of a few words but altering or completely changing them can have a huge impact (positive or negative) on your conversions.
Ways to optimize user experience and conversions
Obviously, images enhance a site’s appeal by breaking the monotony of pure text. Make use of images to support your message and to make your content more understandable. There is only one golden rule: Never use stock images that clearly look like you’ve bought them. Never ever! They are absolutely not personal at all and create a distance between you and your visitor rather than build a relationship. Use genuine images of you and your team for example. Show who you are and not who you pretend to be.
This stock image screams “fake”
Experiment with your images and product pictures. Try using different ones and different sizes. Especially product images can positively influence conversions if presented in a more prominent way (larger size, placement …).
Keep it simple, stupid.
If people are presented a lot of choices, then they have a much harder time making a choice. So don’t overwhelm your visitors with tons of options, features and choices. This makes it hard to decide if you are the right choice and might even scare them off, looking for an easier and simpler alternative.
Design your website in a simple way with a clear hierarchy, so that visitors know what to do, where to click and what to fill out to become a customer WITHOUT having to actively think about it. Achieving such a user interface is very hard and really depends on your target audience and the kind of business you have.
Also, I truly recommend watching Barry Schwartz talking about the paradox of choice.
Videos explaining your services or products are an awesome way to increase conversions if done right. They can effectively support your text content, can be shared easily and be present on other platforms (YouTube, Vimeo …). Often times, people rather watch a product video before even reading anything. Actually, videos even help selling products if visitors decide not to watch them.
If you decide to produce a video, I recommend that you consult or hire a professional, if you aren’t experienced in producing videos or creating animated videos. A video of poor quality will probably do you more harm and leave you with many wasted hours. So if you do it, do it right!
The ecommerce solution shopify has a well made animation explaining their product. Have a look:
The guys at Minibox made a video comparing their service to Dropbox in a more aggressive and funny way. Their approach is the reason why their video stayed in my mind.
You might have seen the video of Dollar Shave Club which went viral some time ago. This is a great example of using comedy to attract attention and buzz.
Long and time-consuming forms can be a nightmare for your audience. Personally, such long forms give me that “Bam! In your face!”-sensation so that I don’t bother filling it out and just leave.
Display only small pieces of your form by splitting it into several steps. This way, it seems less of a pain in the ass, although it has the same length than before. A multiple-step signup form also increases conversions because people are less likely to exit the signup process somewhere in the middle. They feel that the time they already invested would be lost if they just leave without completing the last few steps.
Either way, try to keep your signup form as short as possible. Only ask for data which you really need.
If you run an online shop then you should try to give customers the feeling that their sensitive data is secure on your site at all times. Security badges tell them that they can trust you and that they don’t have to fear that their data comes in wrong hands.
To get such badges, you need to meet certain security standards. Depending on your shop, it can take a lot of work until you meet them all, but it’s worth the effort. Not only do you make your online shop more secure, you will also increase conversions by making customers trust you more.
A/B testing basically means testing two variations of the website element. Website visitors will either get so see version A (old) or B (altered) for a period of time. At the end, you can see which version performed better and ditch the version which lost.
In your A/B tests you can use all the elements I talked about above. There are hundreds of things you can test to be honest. Best thing to do is to make a list with things to test and assign priorities.
Constantly conducting A/B tests will help you make improvements based on actual data. So basically, your changes have proven that they work and aren’t just a shot in the dark.
The correct way to approach an A/B test is:
Hypothesis – Testing – Analyzing – Adjustment – Repeat
Come up with an assumption (“Orange CTA buttons perform better than green ones”), create an altered version of the original page and test both of them. Once you have a good sample of data, determine the winning version and change your page accordingly.
A/B Testing tools
There are quite some tools out there that will do most of the work for you. Below you can find a couple websites, offering user friendly A/B testing tools. Simply check them out and find the one that suits you the best.
- unbounce (great A/B testing blog)
- Visual Website Optimizer (great A/B testing blog)
- Google Analytics Content Experiments (Free)
Never stop testing and improving! That’s all I have to say, actually. By constantly improving your site, you avoid stagnation and eradicate weak performing elements. I know, “constantly” usually means a lot of work and I am not saying A/B testing isn’t, but by using helpful tools you can reduce your efforts and make it easily possible to conduct tests. Believe me, it’s worth the time.
My Ultimate Online Marketing Guide For Small Businesses comes to an end. I hope I was able to give you more than just an overview and basic knowledge of online marketing. But more importantly, I hope that this guide will help you to be more successful with your business!
If you have any questions, post them below in the comment section or shoot an email to [email protected]