Your website is around for a reason. To sell your products. To generate leads for your services. But it’s just not working as well as you think it should.
So many people come to your site. You can see it in Google Analytics. But they leave without doing anything. No buying. No contacting. They don’t even sign up for your email updates! It’s enough to drive anyone up the wall! There are ways to encourage visitors – gently – to take the actions you want them to take. Here we’ll cover 21 of them. Even if you implement just one or two, you should see a boost in your conversions.
1. Eliminate distractions.
Human beings are easily distracted. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The more elements you have on your product or lead gen pages aside from your goal, the less likely it is that the visitor will accomplish the goal. Take a machete and hack away at anything that’s not contributing directly to the goal of the page. If it’s a landing page, you’ll want to take away everything, including the navigation. If it’s a regular page on your site, you can keep the navigation, but remove anything else that’s distracting.
Look at how email marketing software Campaign Monitor has a singular focus on their homepage. (There is actually more when you scroll down, but it’s still pretty focused, and this is all you see above the fold.)
It’s pretty obvious what you’re supposed to do. Even the navigation bar, while present, kind of fades into the background.
Contrast that with another email marketing software, Interspire. This is what you see above the fold on their homepage:
Whoa! Where are you supposed to click? The tour? The demo? Features? Site search? The navigation bar? And if you scroll down, you get more and more options of links to click on. You could get lost in there.
In a case study about their own site, the Conversion Rate Experts wanted to increase the number of people signing up for their free resources and newsletter. When they removed the sidebar from the page, they got 25% more signups.
2. Put the call to action in in multiple places (scroll-ups, pop-ups, hello bars).
If you want someone to hear you, you may have to say things multiple times. But don’t be a pain in the neck – say it differently each time.
Social media scheduling platform Buffer conducted an optimization experiment to see if they could increase signups for their email list. They put signup forms almost everywhere you could think of – a hello bar across the top of all their pages, a slideup form that appeared when someone scrolled 70% of the way down a blog post, a feature box on the blog homepage explaining the benefits of subscribing, a sidebar sign-up form…
(After their success with email signups, they changed their priorities to getting people to sign up for their scheduling app, so the above is what their slideup looks like now.)
And they doubled the number of monthly email signups!
Buffer isn’t into pop-ups, but that can be a big driver of conversions also.
3. Change where you put the call to action.
Test different locations for your call to action. Does above the fold work better than below the fold? How about sides of the page?
KISSmetrics found that their webinar pages converted best when the sign-up form was on the left.
Hubspot always puts their signup form on their ebook pages on the right.
What will work best for your visitors?
4. Change the way you phrase the call to action.
You could always use the standard “Buy Now” or “Subscribe,” but why not try something a little more unusual, or descriptive?
Like this email signup form:
You can also test whether first person language, like this:
… works better or worse than second person (“Forward Your Calls!”) or implicit second person (“Forward Calls”).
5. Add testimonials and social proof.
Why should your website visitors trust you enough to buy from you? If they see other people who trust you, their trust level will go up proportionally. If they other people are faces or names they recognize, all the more so. Neil Patel uses this social proof on QuickSprout:
Even if they don’t recognize the testimonial givers, the more human they appear (a real name, an actual picture), the stronger the trust that’s built.
6. Decrease the friction.
Where are you DIScouraging your visitors from buying or signing up? Is your process too complicated? Are there surprises along the way?
One of the first things you should do is actually go through your checkout or signup process and see if it would be intuitive and user-friendly. Because you may be biased when it comes to your own site, ask a few friends or family members to do the same, and give you honest feedback. Where did they get stuck? What was annoying? What would have turned them off had they been a real prospect?
One thing to check is the number of form fields the user has to fill out to sign up, or the number of steps in checkout.
While Hubspot seemingly does well with their super-long form to get their resources, I’d do some serious testing before you settle on a form that long.
7. Address objections.
- What stops your potential customer from becoming an actual customer? Objections.
- How do I know it will work?
- That’s expensive – what am I really getting for all that money?
- What if it doesn’t help?
- Is a consultation a waste of my time?
- Looks good – but will it fit my specific situation?
Answer them outright – before your customer has time to get away.
AfricaGems’ guarantee and return policy goes a long way toward reassuring potential customers. A gem is a significant financial investment – and can look different in person than magnified tens of times in a photo on the site. How do you know if you’ll like it? If you don’t, are you stuck with it – or will it be an expense to return it? AfricaGems addresses it all in advance:
8. Show the work that went into creating your product or service.
If your product or service is simply a commodity, it’s much harder to compete. If your product or service is unique, price fades as a critical factor. When Apple promoted their MacBook Pro, they turned the production process into a dramatic story:
This technique of reaching and impacting consumers’ emotions was used by a beer producer 100 years ago. Especially if what you offer could be commoditized by consumers, use video, text or images to tell the story of your offering and bring it to life.
9. Give bonuses or freebies.
Research shows that people are attracted to the idea of getting something for free. A cake with the price tag of $15 that comes with 2 free cookies is much more attractive than a cake+2 cookies package for $15.
10. Evoke emotion.
Our emotions are much better than our intellect at getting us to act. Use language and pictures that will evoke an emotional response. Non-profits will often do this to inspire people to contribute, like this organization:
11. Emphasize how your offering will save them from loss.
Human beings are more motivated to avoid loss than they are to gain benefit. Phrase your offering in terms of the loss it helps your customers avoid. Make the loss real – and reassure them that you’ll be there to save them. This book makes good use of this technique – and has sold hundreds of thousands of copies to prove it.
12. Be very specific – target a niche.
The more specific you are on your site, the more likely it is that your ideal customer will relate to what you have to say, and feel that YOU are the right one to help them.
If you’re a photographer, you might be attracted to go to a general SEO company. But what if you found an SEO company that specialized in SEO for photographers?
Wouldn’t that be your top choice?
By choosing a niche, you may feel like you’re restricting your client base, but in reality you’re making your client base much more likely to choose YOU.
13. Use real photos.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but not all words are created equal. There is a place for stock photos, but when that’s all you use, you’re doing yourself and your site a disservice. If you offer products, make sure you have good quality images of your actual products. Give an option to zoom in, and show all relevant angles.
If you have a service, show your actual team helping people. What would look more powerful to you for a moving company? A random picture of two people holding boxes? Or this:
14. Add site search that doesn’t suck.
This is especially important for product sites. Look at the top of every page on Amazon:
Let people find what they’re looking for without delays or lots of clicks. And monitor your site search results. If many people are searching for a particular product, maybe give it special feature billing for a while on the homepage or category page.
15. Use directional cues.
If we see people looking in a certain direction, our eyes will slide that way too. You can use images on your site pages to get people to look in the direction of your call to action. Here’s a great example:
16. Use multiple calls to action on a page.
You gave them a call to action. Great. Now do it again. Especially if your landing page is long, sprinkle the call to action throughout the text. But even if it’s short you can get it in there more than twice and hit them at different stages of understanding or processing. Like here:
17. Progress bar for multiple steps.
If your checkout or signup process has multiple steps, give a progress bar to reassure customers that the process is finite and they’ll soon be done. This should reduce the number of people who abandon because it feels like there are too many steps.
18. Offer free shipping and reduce hidden costs.
One of the main reasons people abandon shopping carts in the middle of the checkout process is because of hidden costs. Shipping, taxes… suddenly the purchase is more expensive than they bargained for, and they jump ship. The more you can reduce hidden costs so there are no surprises when it comes to checkout, the fewer people will back out.
Shipping costs (even when stated upfront) are also a turnoff. Free return shipping is a big bonus, especially for apparel.
19. Use videos.
- 64% of consumers are more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
- Homepage videos increase conversions by 20% or more.
- Video on landing pages can increase conversions by 80%.
And today, video is easier to produce than ever. All you really need is your smartphone – but if you want to up your game, you could also get a different video recorder, microphone and tripod. Film your product, describe your service and what you do.
Figure out what story you’re going to tell (tip 8 above).
20. Explain more — ad nauseum even.
A famous conversion optimizer once said: “There’s no such thing as a landing page that’s too long. Only one that’s too boring.”
A really effective conversion-driving page may need to be long in order to get in all the explanations, show all the testimonials and counter all the objections. If you do it right, you’ll be more effective. When the Conversion Rate Experts redid SEOmoz’s landing page for their PRO subscription, they realized that the CEO was very effective at selling face-to-face, so they tried to get in all of the elements that he mentioned. This was the difference in length:
And guess which one was more effective? Yep, you guessed it. If you have something convincing to say, don’t hesitate to say it.
21. Update your design.
You could follow all the advice listed here, but if your site looks like it stepped out of the 1990s, your buyers may step away.
This site saw a significant lift in conversions when it switched from its old design:
to this redesign: