AN INTRODUCTION TO CRO
The vast majority of digital marketing fails to deliver the results it could. Most commonly we see the advertising channel blamed. "Facebook Ads don't work". "Google Ads are too expensive". The list of excuses goes on forever. The truth, however, is that these campaigns could have been successful if the foundations had been laid correctly with Conversion rate optimization (CRO). Taking the time to plan how to influence consumer behavior, moving them from typical skepticism about a product/service, towards eager desire to try it. Yes, this is a skill that takes a lifetime to learn, but we are going to get you started with a deep understanding of the dos and don'ts of CRO!
To employ conversion rate optimization (CRO) marketing effectively, you have to understand what is conversion rate optimization, how to approach it, how to implement it, analyze it, and where it fits into your marketing strategy. This creates a foundation of knowledge that will help you to build highly effective conversion rate optimization strategies that will benefit your business in the long run. This article is part of an extensive course that aims to give you the conversion rate optimization training you need to build that foundation for your business.
What is CRO really about?
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the purpose of conversion rate optimization is not actually about optimizing conversion rates, it’s about better marketing, better understanding customers, and ultimately about increasing profits.
CRO takes the guess-work out of marketing by using the correct data that helps you get to know your customers better — their needs, wants, desires, and how they interact online. It’s about creating an environment that encourages conversions, one that makes people want to take action because they feel that their needs are being met.
Where does it fit in with marketing?
There are no CRO campaigns because, in an ever-changing, ever-evolving business and technology landscape, CRO never ends. CRO is not a marketing strategy, it’s a business strategy that helps to make marketing even more effective.
Here’s a look at the fundamentals of conversion rate optimization:
The Optimizer Attitude
It’s a well-known adage that attitude is everything. This rings especially true when building a CRO strategy. It is critical to keep reminding yourself that nothing is certain. What worked for one site, will most likely not work for another. In fact, what worked for a particular site a couple of years ago, might not work for the same site today, because people’s online behavior is constantly changing. If you want to create an effective CRO strategy, you need to embrace uncertainty.
Having an optimizer attitude is also about letting go of your ego. You might think that your ideas are magnificent, but reality may prove otherwise. Remove your ego from the equation and go with what actually works — if it happens to be your idea, don’t get too confident, because as mentioned above, it might not work again. Ideas should be starting points from where to explore different methods to see what works. When it comes to CRO there is no easy guide, no rules-of-thumb, no quick-fixes.
And finally, focus. An optimizer attitude is about staying focussed on finding the best ways to optimize a site in order to maximize revenue. Do tests, ask questions, find out what works (and what doesn’t), what do customers want and how do they want to interact with your site.
In short; forget about what worked yesterday, it’s nog going to work today; leave your ego at home, it’s not constructive in finding what works; and importantly, stay focused on finding solutions to problems you may not have noticed yet.
The Build-Measure-Learn loop
At the core of CRO is what is called the build-measure-learn loop — a perpetual cycle of actions that build on one another in order to achieve better results. In the simplest form, the premise of the Build-Measure-Learn loop is that you build something, measure how people interact with it, then learn from it in order to build something better.
To make it even more effective, you can add a couple of extra steps: Ideas — BUILD —> product — MEASURE —> data — LEARN —> Ideas
Ideas: Come up with ideas of how you can build a website or how to improve on existing sites.
BUILD: Build the site or improvements to be implemented
Product: The finished site or installed improvements
MEASURE: We determine what needs to be measured, what is important to us in order to improve, and figure out ways to measure it, be it through analytics or beta testing or the like.
Data: Collect the data, see which data is relevant and analyze it.
LEARN: Draw conclusions from the analyzed data and use this information to come up with new ideas on how to build better sites or improve existing ones, which brings you back to the start of the loop.
A typical CRO process
When it comes to process, the ‘Optimizer Attitude’ applies, since there is no set template of what the CRO process should look like. However, most businesses follow a similar 12-point CRO process — here’s a quick look.
1. ESTABLISH BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
2. ASK QUESTIONS
3. COLLECT DATA
4. GET INSIGHTS
5. IDENTIFY PROBLEMS
6. DEVELOP HYPOTHESES
7. DESIGN WIREFRAMES
8. TECHNICAL INTEGRATION
9. PROPER TESTING
10. ANALYZE TEST RESULTS
11. LEARN FROM THE RESULTS
12. ARCHIVE RESULTS
13. REPEAT THE CYCLE
Conversions don’t just happen — your site needs to make people want to buy from you. A broken or difficult to navigate website is like a run-down supermarket with confusing aisle layouts — you just want to get out of there…if you go in at all…
A good way to check whether your site is accessible and ultimately conversion-friendly is by using the conversion pyramid. Developed by brothers Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg, this pyramid works very similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in that base needs need to be met before higher needs will be considered — a simple “if-then” argument.
Here’s a quick look at the pyramid’s hierarchy.
1. Is it functional?
2. Is it easily accessible?
3. How user-friendly is the site?
4. How intuitive (smart) is the site — how easy is it to make a purchase/take the desired action?
5. Is the site persuasive enough to make visitors want to take action and/or purchase?
The (un)importance of Conversion Rate
Conversion rate is the number of visitors who take action on your site, divided by the total number of visitors. It’s a simple metric often used to express conversion success. But conversion rate can be very misleading, because ‘conversion’ can mean different things to different people — sign up for a newsletter, take a quiz, make a purchase, sign up for a free trial, spend loyalty points, etc. In fact, several factors influence a site’s conversion rate, including:
- How relevant is the offer? Selling swimsuits in winter won’t have a good conversion rate, however, selling them in summer will send the conversion rate up.
- Do you know the visitor? Content marketing is built on the idea that the more familiar a person is with another, the easier it is to sell to them since there’s a certain level of trust.
- What industry are you in? Different industries have different average conversion rates that you should use as a benchmark. One size does not fit all!
- Compare apples to apples. The conversion rate of a site selling expensive sports cars is going to be substantially lower than a site selling toothpaste.
- Cost to value: How much value your offer is perceived to have compared to how much it actually costs.
- Copywriting: How well an offer is written can also affect your conversion rate. With so many things influencing conversion rate, why use it?
Conversion rate may be a bad metric to use for comparing the success of different sites, but it’s a great way to benchmark your own businesses’ performance compared to previous weeks/months/years. Working out conversion rate is so simple you would be tempted to do it by hand, however, using analytics tools to measure conversion rate will allow you to measure performance across multiple sources and segments, thereby helping you to make informed decisions.
Fundamentals of Analytics
Analytics is used to track business metrics and it has become critical in not only measuring but also determining business success. Understanding the fundamentals of analytics (within the context of CRO) will help you create better, more effective CRO strategies. Here’s a quick overview of analytics fundamentals you need to know to create successful CRO strategies.
Measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
What are the goals and objectives of your business/site?
Typically KPIs will include, among others:
- Conversion rate
- Revenue per visit
- Average order size
- Average items per cart completed
- Checkout abandonment rate
- Revenue per user
- Cost per lead
- Cost per conversion
- Percentage new & returning visitors
Other popular metrics, or numbers, include:
- Bounce rate
- Time to purchase
- Assisted conversions
- Exit rate
When analyzing metrics, or deciding which to measure, you should always ask yourself, “So what?” — if you don’t have an answer, then analyzing that particular metric is a waste of time.
Conversion rate optimization is a way of making informed marketing decisions using high-quality data. During this course, we will explore the intricacies of CRO, and equip you with an in-depth understanding of this highly effective approach to digital marketing.
CRO BEST PRACTICES
Best practices are like autobiographies of famously successful people — they are examples of how certain practices, methods, and decisions have worked for other people, but it doesn’t mean they will necessarily make you a success. These best practices should serve as starting points on how to solve certain problems, a way to kick-start the problem-solving process towards an ultimately data-driven solution. It is critical to understand that there is no single solution to every problem because there are too many variables that influence both problem and solution. To design the best, most effective website you need to employ a designer that understands this principle. One who uses best practices as a foundation on which to incorporate user data and experiment with solutions that ultimately leads to the most effective website for your needs.
Radical redesign vs. evolutionary design
Getting a new website is exciting, but there are times when an existing one simply needs to evolve to generate optimum conversions. The rule-of-thumb is if your business changes direction, then it should get a completely redesigned site. When your business continues in the same direction, however, you need to determine which option will produce the best results.
Here’s a quick look at how to determine which way path to choose:
Evolve your current site: The first-prize option is to evolve your site because it is much less costly than to scrap it and build a new one from the ground up. If your site works well enough, has no major tech issues, and you have a large, constant stream of returning visitors, then a simple tweak and polish to the existing site is best.
Rebuild from scratch: Completely redesigning a site can be very expensive, but sometimes it’s the only way to increase conversions. When you’ve hit the peak of your current site’s conversion ability (the local maxima), your site design looks amateurish, the technology used on it is too old, it’s getting no traffic, and when there are simply too many problems on the site, it’s time to pull the plug and start a-fresh.
Principles of Persuasive Design
When creating an effective website, the challenge for designers is to persuade visitors using only words and images, similar to creative teams working on traditional print advertising. Modern technology makes meeting this challenge a bit easier by giving site creators access to useful user data which helps them to build high-conversion websites. However, one can’t build a persuasive site on data alone. There are five principles that guide persuasive web design.
Here’s a brief look at these principles:
The site should be clear about what it’s about, what it wants from you, and what it wants you to do. This can be anything from buying a product or service, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting a quote. The best way to achieve this is to find a balance between visuals and copy.
2. Visual appeal
The internet is about visuals, so keep your visuals beautiful, but simple while keeping the design of your site ‘familiar’.
3. Visual hierarchy
We see visuals in a hierarchy, which means that what’s biggest on the site is generally deemed most important. Creating a visual hierarchy lets you guide the visitor to what you want them to see first.
4. Hold their attention
Arguably the most important thing a salesperson needs to do to close a sale is to get the customer’s attention, then holding it. Attention spans online are short, so doing this may prove to be quite a challenge, however, there are several techniques to help achieve this, including types and placement of images, calls to action, and persuasive copy.
5. Only one action per screen, but don’t force it
Every page on your website should have an action you want the visitor to take — sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, or make a donation. However, it’s important to provide the site visitor with enough information to be able to take that action, else they will leave your site.
Importance of Visual Design in CRO
People are visual beings, and it doesn’t matter whether you know anything about art or design, your eye is usually drawn to something that is designed well. With this in mind, we’re also extremely judgemental based on what we see. There is evidence that suggests that attractive people are more successful in business.
What all of this means is that when it comes to conversions, the design of your website matters…a lot. A beautifully designed site can result in better user experience, and also increase people’s trust in your business or brand. The opposite is true for a badly designed site. This makes a case for hiring a highly skilled visual designer.
Here’s a quick look at some key aspects of design that play a role in conversion rate optimization strategies:
1. Extremely quick to judge Research has shown that it takes a mere 0.05 of a second for people to form an opinion of your site, good or bad.
2. First impressions According to research, the overwhelming majority of people form a first impression based on the look-and-feel of a site.
3. Inspiration impacts first impressions Visually inspiring images greatly increases first impressions of the site, followed by the site’s ease-of-use and credibility.
4. Simplicity and typicality Simple, more familiar design without unnecessary distractions is best. The clearer it is to the visitor what’s going on the site, the better.
5. Data-driven design is the best design Using data can help identify what works and what doesn’t, thus allowing designers to improve site performance and design.
One of the five key principles of persuasive design is a visual hierarchy — the order in which your eye takes in what it sees. Creating visual hierarchy on your website is extremely important, as it allows you to guide visitors’ attention towards the most important areas, and the actions you would like them to perform, such as ‘go to checkout’ or ‘sign up for a newsletter’.
Elements should be ranked according to the priorities, business objective and desired actions on every page, not just the homepage.
Visual hierarchy is influenced by two things, size, and color:
The bigger an object/button/photo, the more attention it will get, however, there is such a thing as too big. The size of the object should be proportionate to, not overwhelm, the design aesthetic of the site.
Color can also be used to establish a visual hierarchy. It’s not about a specific color, but whatever color makes an element stand out from the rest. That said, the color used must be different enough, but not that different that it clashes with the look-and-feel of your site. If your site has a lot of pastel colors, using a neon color is going to look jarring…and amateurish.
A good designer will create a site with visual hierarchy in mind, allowing space for different sized elements and ‘complementary’ contrasting colors.
As much as we dislike filling out forms (of any kind), they are unavoidable, especially online where they are one of the primary means of gathering information from customers or potential customers. From sign-up forms, to quote forms, checkout forms, payment forms, customer feedback forms, and many more, they’re a necessary evil in the conversion process.
The problem with forms is that they are not only time-consuming to complete but often also quite invasive; asking for information that we would not normally divulge to what is essentially a total stranger. Information like name, surname, contact details, date of birth, and so on, information which used to be reserved for places like banks or health care providers, institutions with credibility, not an online shop where you want to buy two t-shirts for the price of one.
Here’s a brief look at 10 ways to make forms better, and more effective.
1. Clear expectations
Manage expectations by telling customers what to expect when filling out the form — how long is it going to take, how many steps, what kind of information will be required, what is the purpose of the form, and so on.
2. Keep forms as short as possible
The fewer number of fields, the better, but to a point. Ask only for the information you really need, but be careful not to keep the form so short that it negatively affects the perceived credibility of your site/business.
3. Increase form length on purpose to increase lead quality
While shorter forms will usually get more people to fill them out, the limited number of fields tend to lead to lower quality leads. However, there are times when you may be looking for fewer, but higher quality leads. Intentionally increasing form length will achieve this goal.
4. Multi-step forms
The longer the form, the more intimidating it gets. If your form has more than eight fields, you should split it up into two or more steps. Just remember to indicate where in the form you are (eg., Page 2 of 3).
5. Start with easy fields
One of the biggest challenges of a form is to get people to start filling it out. Once they’ve started, it’s easier to continue with the rest, therefor start with the easy info first, like ‘name’ and ‘surname’, then move on to the more difficult information like credit card details. Field label position and alignment can also help or hinder this process.
6. Pre-select what you can
Provide whatever help you can to make completing a form quicker and easier. One of the ways is to pre-fill information like location by using the visitor’s IP address.
7. Error feedback and validation
Few things are as annoying as spending time to fill out a form only to be met by an error message about some field you didn’t complete or filled out ‘wrong’. This can be avoided by being more specific regarding the information required, as well as validating information in real-time as the form gets filled out (not only after hitting the ‘submit’ button).
8. No CAPTCHAS
CAPTCHAS are meant to keep spambots away, but they can keep some humans away too since they are often confusing and unnecessarily time-consuming. There are other methods to make sure everyone who fills out a form is human.
9. Calm fears
With scams like phishing rife on the internet these days, people are hesitant to provide sensitive information to someone (or a site) they don’t trust. Use words and logos (such as an anti-virus seal) relevant to your particular site, and within reason, to alleviate fears among visitors.
10. Analyze form fields
No matter how perfect your form might seem, there may be areas that may cause form drop-off. Use form analytics tools to determine which areas of your form are making people hesitant.
The Fold & ideal page length
Everyone knows how to scroll through websites, but it turns out that people don’t really like doing it. Scrolling, or the lack thereof, can impact your site’s conversion rate quite a bit. It all boils down to attention. People focus most of their attention to the top part of a website, and many rarely scroll down, if at all. Unless something grabs their attention, they won’t scroll down.
This part of a website that gets most people’s attention is called “the fold”. It’s named after the way newspapers are folded in half, with the top stories usually appearing ‘above the fold’, as it’s the first thing people will see when papers are displayed. On websites, ‘above the fold’ is the part of your website that can be seen on screen without scrolling.
How much of the page a screen displays, depends on a number of factors:
- The screen’s resolution.
- The physical size of the screen.
- The number of tabs and toolbars on a web browser.
The Fold & Long Pages:
So-called scroll maps and heat maps are used to determine where on a site the most attention is focussed. There are several tools available for you to do it yourself. What the overwhelming majority of these maps show is that people’s attention fades quite rapidly, the farther down they scroll. Digging deeper, you’ll often find that the absolute most attention is actually in the top-left corner of the page.
Use this information to make adjustments to the design of your site — most important information first, the primary action you want visitors to take, followed by the least important information at the bottom.
A fold on every page:
It’s important to remember that ‘the fold’ rule doesn’t just apply to a site’s home page — it applies every page on your site where you want visitors to take (primary) action:
- A cart page should have a “go to checkout” button.
- A checkout page, a “checkout” button .
- Form pages should have forms and calls to action on top.
- On pricing pages, the price or pricing plan should sit above the fold.
The best page length:
When it comes to the overall page length, the ideal length depends on the type of site. E-commerce sites should be as long as it needs to be to sell products, while on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, page length doesn’t really matter.
Other things to consider are how long it takes for a page to load. Shorter pages load faster and it creates a better experience, especially on mobile devices, but never compromise content for speed. There should always be a balance.
Copywriting and Content for Conversion Rates
Contrary to what many people may believe, the way content is written and what it looks like are also elements of design. It determines what gets read on your site, and how easy it is to read and understand, and should be carefully considered when optimizing your site.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different elements that should be considered.
Choose a font:
The type of font you use on your site can greatly affect readability, especially on mobile devices that might not be able to display your chosen font correctly. When choosing a font you should consider things like serif or sans serif, size (including line-height at different sizes), how different fonts work (or don’t work) together, and how it will display on different types and sizes of screens — when a browser can’t display a certain font, it defaults to a standard set of fonts. This might affect how your site is displayed, and thereby its conversion ability.
Copy should be structured in such a way that it’s easy to read and easy to digest. The best way to achieve maximum readability is to include lists, short sentences (50 - 75 characters, including spaces), paragraphs no longer than 3 to 4 lines, sub-headings every 1 to 2 paragraphs, as well as images related to the copy.
What gets read most:
People’s online attention spans are short, which means they don’t really read that much, and when they do, they very often just scan. This means that if you want people to read your content, you have to make it concise and scannable.
People tend to read the headline, scan through (or maybe actually read) the first paragraph and the first couple of bullet points, and then sub-headings to determine whether the content is worth spending time properly reading (or at least scanning). How well copy is written can make a big difference to how much gets read, so make sure you get a good copywriter. When copy is badly written, it can not only cause visitors to leave your site, it can also negatively influence how people see your brand.
Call-to-action buttons guide visitors from the decision-making process to ultimately making a purchase, signing up, requesting a quote, etc. They make it clear what steps should be taken next. These buttons come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, with no set rule of what they must look like or where they must be located on the site.
To make call-to-action (CTA) buttons as effective as possible they need to be noticeable, the next step, and the value of taking the step should be obvious. Here’s a brief look at how to achieve this.
One call-to-action per page:
Ideally, there should be only one call-to-action on a page, such as getting more information. There may be secondary CTAs like ‘sign up for a newsletter’, but it should be obvious that it’s not the main focus.
Big buttons, white space & color:
Big buttons work better than small ones because they’re more noticeable, however, the size should be relative to the design of the site and not dominate it. This goes hand-in-hand with white space, or negative space, an important design element on any site. The space around the button can make it stand out from the rest of the site. Color can also increase the visibility of buttons. Simply put, if the CTA button is a different color to the rest of the site, it will stand out.
The right copy:
Using the correct copy not only makes a CTA stand out, but it can also make the next step obvious and communicate the value of taking it. Copy should be clear and specific about what the visitor will get when they click on the button by using certain trigger words like “click here” or “price”.
E-commerce category pages
The role of category pages is to help site visitors find what they want, need, or like. The quicker and easier this process, the quicker it may lead to a conversion and/or sale. Designing good category pages requires identifying four key roles of category pages:
- Narrow choice
- Sort products
- Identify the right products
- Focus on finding the perfect product
Here’s a quick look at the four key roles that need to be met and what can be done to improve category pages.
Too much choice can be overwhelming — psychologist Barry Schwartz’ Paradox of Choice argues that the more choice people have, the more difficult it is for them to choose (and therefore take action). While several factors influence this, the general rule is that if you want to make products stand out, you have to narrow down the number.
The best way to do this on a site is by choosing filters relevant to the products (such as style, size, and color for clothing), and badges that make certain items stand out. The location of these filters and size and type of badges determine how effective they may potentially be.
Giving people the choice of how they want to sort products is important in making it easier for people to make a decision. People have different needs for different products. They may be price-sensitive for one type of product but may be looking for recommendations on others. By giving them the option to sort products according to their needs.
To maximize sales, the default sorting mode should be by ‘best selling’ or ‘top-rated’. Never sort products by the date that it was added or its internal ID.
Sorting options should be above the product list or grid to make it easily accessible.
Similar to traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, when purchasing items online customers want to see three things — what the product looks like (good quality pictures), its specifications, and the price. How much focus is put on which of these depends on the product? Technology tends to be specification-heavy, while fashion is usually visual (with a few exceptions like athletic wear such as running shoes), whereas price should be prominent on ALL products.
Focus on Page
Category pages are meant to make the decision-making process easier for customers (and lead to sales), therefore they should be designed with his single purpose in mind. Look at every element on the page; if it doesn’t help the decision-making process, or if it distracts from it, it must not be on the page. Another thing to consider is breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs let visitors know where on the site they are and makes it easier to navigate between pages. Nike - Category page with filter & sorting (including cross-sell promo)
Shopping cart pages
If you’re selling something online, you most probably have a shopping cart/bag/basket page. This is one of the most critical pages on your site because it’s one step closer to an actual sale. Optimizing this page can turn an interested visitor into a paying customer.
Here’s are a couple of ways in which you can optimize the shopping cart page.
Cart, Bag or Basket?
Online shoppers recognize the terms cart, basket or bag in terms of their function, and what you call it on your website is determined by what industry you’re in. Most e-commerce sites use ‘cart’ instead of ‘basket’ because in the physical world a cart can contain more than a basket, while fashion sites (as well as some tech retailers) tend to use the term ‘bag’. Do some user testing to see which will work best for your site.
Adding an item to a cart:
When a visitor adds something to the cart, they should receive clear confirmation. The contents of the cart should always be visible, including a ‘checkout’ button that stands out from the rest of the page [see ‘call to action buttons’ lesson]. The idea is to both remind the customer that they have something in their cart, and guide them towards the next step — progressing to the next step.
Once an item has been added to the cart:
When the visitor adds something to the cart, the site can either display a confirmation and stay on the same page, or it can go directly to the cart page. There are pros and cons to each of these choices, and the best way to find out which will work best for your site is to do user testing.
How to display cart contents:
Two factors influence how you should display the contents of a cart: clarity and control. It should be clear to the visitor what’s in their cart, as well as the total cost (including shipping and taxes). Also, it should be easy to edit the cart like change (quantity, color, size, etc.), changing shipping information, or remove an item.
Manage visual hierarchy:
One of the most important elements in the visual hierarchy of your site is the ‘continue to checkout’ button. It should be visually prominent and should ideally display both above and below the cart.
Keep coupons small:
When a customer has a coupon, they will be looking for the area where they can enter it. Don’t make it too prominent as it may make those without coupons feel excluded. Many sites only display coupon fields on their checkout pages.
Shipping & Security:
It’s important to let people know when they can expect to get their purchase to be delivered, as well as to reassure them that their transaction (and personal details) will be secure.
What’s in the cart, stays in the cart:
People have different reasons for not making the purchase straight away, so make sure the items are still in their cart when they do decide to follow through with the purchase, whenever that may be.
E-commerce checkout pages
The checkout page is the last step in the purchasing process and the final call to action. How this page is optimized can make a big difference. Here’s an overview of the four best practices of designing a high-converting checkout page.
1. Credit card info last
Asking a customer for their credit card details should be the final step in the checkout process. They should know that once they’ve submitted their card details, the transaction has been finalized.
2. Credit card payment form
Design the credit card information form to look like an actual credit card. This makes it easier and more familiar.
3. Look secure
Display security logos or state security measures to reassure customers that their transaction is secure.
4. Keep credit card info on your system
Keeping credit card details on your site for future purchases will make the process much easier for returning customers. Security is a major concern here, so make sure you take the necessary steps to protect the information and tell your customers about it.
Many e-commerce sites require customers to sign-up, register or create an account before they can complete a purchase. While one can understand why they do this — to collect user data — forced registration is a major inconvenience to first-time buyers, and studies have shown that as many as 25% of visitors would rather not purchase as a result. This is not good news for conversions, at all, and thus should never even be considered as an option.
However, this doesn’t mean you should remove the sign-up process completely. There are subtle ways to incorporate it into the checkout process to make it less of a hassle to shoppers. Here’s a quick overview.
1. Choose words wisely
It’s been shown that the word ‘register’ is particularly off-putting to potential customers, so don’t use it.
2. Wait until the last moment
Wait until they are checking out, then offer the opportunity to create an account, but don’t make it mandatory to complete the purchase.
3. Guest accounts
Allow customers to purchase from you without having to sign in.
4. Incentivize sign-up
Give an incentive to sign up, such as a discount on their next purchase, etc.
5. Social sign-up & logins
It is getting increasingly popular for sites to offer registration with social media accounts like Facebook. This takes a lot of hassle out of the process.
Pricing & Pricing Pages
Determining the price of goods and services is one of the most important, and complicated, things any business has to do. There is a fine line between charging too much (pushing customers away) and too little (losing out on revenue). The role of CRO is not to set prices, but to help ease the anxiety customers experience when faced with a price, as well as steer customers towards selecting the best, most appropriate price for them.
Here are a couple of actions you can take to ease price-related anxiety.
1. The higher the price, the more info you need
The more expensive the product, the more you need to explain what justifies the price, but not always, because “expensive” and “affordable” are different for different types of customers.
2. Name the prices, don’t ask
When faced with an ‘open-ended’ choice, like choosing the price of a product, people tend to be indecisive.
While there have been instances where this has worked, it’s been extremely rare and should be avoided. Name your price, then let the customer decide whether they’re willing to pay it.
3. Price strategies worth experimenting with
Some strategies have been shown to work. Experiment with these to see which (if any) works for your business:
Multiple prices vs. one price:
When faced with one price, it’s a decision of whether to purchase or not, however, when faced with multiple prices, the decision is which to choose — one step closer to conversion.
Propose two or three prices within a similar range, one with a clear advantage. People tend to choose the price with the advantage or, in the case of three prices, the one that’s easier to compare.
Price Anchoring or Contrast pricing
Start with the highest price, then add a much higher price. The first, high, price now looks cheap in comparison.
Decoy and Contrast
A combination of decoy and contrast pricing/price anchoring whereby customers are presented three different prices — same price, lower value; ideal price, discounted from higher price; contrast price. People tend to choose the middle price point (ie the price you want them to pay).
Ending on a 9
Extensive research has shown that goods and services with prices ending on 9 (whether it be dollars or cents) tend to sell more.
4. Price testing
Testing prices (often called ‘split testing’) is somewhat controversial, but when done right (and ethically), it can help a great deal to optimize price points.
5. To reveal or not to reveal prices
The short answer is “yes”. People immediately want to know how much goods or services cost, if the price is not displayed, they might go to a competitor who does show the price. If your goods/services don’t have fixed prices, give ballpark figures.
6. Assessing your pricing plan
It’s important to assess pricing plans. Here are a couple of questions to ask:
- Is it easy to know what you’re getting?
- Is it easy for people to choose the right plan for their needs?
- How do you address doubts, fears, and uncertainties?
- Do you incentivize long-term pricing plans?
- When selling to international markets, does your price display in different currencies?
- Is your call to action clearly displayed?
Incoming phone leads & Call tracking
In an age of emails and text messages, many businesses still rely on phone calls to generate leads and close sales, both incoming and outgoing. If your business depends on conversions via phone calls, tracking incoming leads and outgoing sales calls is crucial to optimize conversion.
Two of the great things about phone calls is that calls are instant leads, and calls from customers are intentional, opening up great conversion opportunities. However, to take full advantage of optimization, it needs to be understood that the ideas that people who want to call you, will, and that putting a phone number and “call us” on a page is enough, are both very wrong. Once this hurdle has been crossed, optimization can begin.
Here’s a look at ways to optimize phone calls (both incoming and outgoing).
- Right offer, right place, right time
- Add phone numbers in advertising (both online and offline)
- Give people a reason to call
- Ensure the offer appears in the right place in advertising
- Set up Google Analytics to track calls
Hybrid Home Pages
A home page is a site’s main point of entry and it serves two functions — to provide information, as well as links for visitors to navigate to more information on the site.
Here’s a brief overview of the function of a home page and what can be done to optimize it.
People often get confused between a home page and a landing page, so before we can delve into optimizing home pages, it’s important to know the difference between the two:
In short, landing pages usually link from paid online advertising aimed at a specific audience, and have one purpose, to convert. Home pages, on the other hand, are most often linked to via online search, and while it has a conversion element, its main purpose is to inform.
However, a new kind of home page is starting to emerge — hybrid home pages. These home pages serve the same role as traditional home pages, but with a much stronger call-to-action/conversion element. It both informs and sells.
When optimizing a home page, it’s important to look at the following elements:
1. Does it have a clear value proposition?
How is this better than that of competitors?
2. Are there links to more information?
Is the information relevant and how does it add to aid in the conversion process?
3. Does it have a single, obvious call-to-action?
What is the most desired call-to-action, and is it communicated clearly enough?
Ad-Specific Landing Pages
Landing Pages play a significant role in conversion rate optimization, as they are often the first point of entry into your website, a role traditionally reserved for home pages. While home pages still serve this function, landing pages are very specific in their purpose — quick conversion.
A good landing page has the following features:
- It’s designed to receive traffic from specific sources, such as advertising
- The focus is on a single offer
- The design is simple and to the point
- It features minimal navigation
- It’s not a permanent part of a main website (although it can be)
- Visitors are encouraged to take one, clear call-to-action
With this in mind, here’s a look at a few ways to optimize landing pages.
- Make the offer scarce
- Keep important information above the fold
- Ensure the call-to-action is big and contrasting to the rest of the page
- Clear headings and sub-headings
- Keep copy concise and to the point
- Do lots of A/B testing
Website Speed Optimization
How fast your website loads onto visitors’ browsers can have a big effect on their probability of conversion. A slow or laggy site can negatively impact the user's experience and can result in them leaving your site for that of a competitor. Making sure your site runs at optimal speed is part of the conversion rate optimization process.
A site that loads quickly has several advantages:
- Better user experience
- Increased customer engagement
- Higher search ranking
- Higher conversion rates
Please note: This part of the best practices might get a little more technical than usual, but it is important to understand some of these basic concepts so you can make informed decisions.
Here’s what might slow down your site:
- Server performance
- Server location
- Lots of traffic
- Very large images (and complex file format)
- Code density
- Text graphics
- Too many file requests (RTTs)
- Too many plugins
- Unnecessary redirects
- An outdated CMS
The most popular ways to speed up a website are via front-end coding, caching, using CDNs, hosting on physical servers, or a combination of these.
- Front-end coding: Developers can write better, more concise, code that makes it easier for the browser to execute.
- Caching: This is when a copy of a website's files is stored by the browser on the user’s computer/device. The result is that the browser already has all the site elements upfront, and only has to download new or updated pages. This is particularly helpful on slow internet connections.
- Using a CDN (content delivery network or content distribution network): Virtual servers distributed all over a geographical area (usually closest to the visitor. These servers ensure that bandwidth is spread over the internet and that files are important site files are available no matter where you are in the world.
- Hosting on physical servers/VPS (Virtual Private Server): VPS’s are quickly gaining popularity among small- to medium enterprises due to the relatively low cost, but physical servers are still used to host websites.
All of these can be set up by front-end developers or IT systems administrators.
One of the best ways to check site speed is to draw a speed report on Google Analytics (under the ‘behavior/speed suggestions’ tab). This will show you metrics related to the speed of your site, like average load speed, average page load time, server response time, and more.
The important metrics to consider include:
- Average Page Load Time: How many seconds to load the page fully? Pay special attention to high-traffic pages and those directly linked to your sales funnel.
- Document Interactive Time: The time it takes until the site is useable (above the fold). This is one of the most important metrics to consider.
- Pageviews: If your landing pages show poor speeds, you can focus on improving the ones that have the most page views.
- Number of page views: Exactly what it says. The higher the number, the better.
- Server response time: How long it takes for the server to send the site’s information to the browser. This should be under 200ms.
If the speed issue lies with the server, you can take the following steps:
- If you’re on a shared hosting service, consider upgrading to either a VPS or dedicated physical server.
- If you’re already using a dedicated server, upgrade hardware like RAM or CPUs.
- Talk to your hosting service for a solution.
Speed evaluation tools:
Many tools can help you to identify speed-related problems. These tools list issues or potential areas that can be improved — the more issues, the better the chance of increasing page speed.
Code improvement suggestion tools:
Load speed measurement tools:
Website speed test tools like Pingdom or GTmetrix identifies slow-loading script & pages so you can either have the code optimized or remove the page completely from your site.
These tools show you things like number of requests, load time, and the size (data) of your page, and can generate reports so you can identify which elements take too long to load and whether there are server-related issues, like taking too long to connect to the server, etc.
What speed is the best speed?
The ideal load speed for most sites is 2 seconds. This is the holy grail when it comes to optimization, however, load times of up to 7 seconds (10 max) still perform well.
Ideally, your site should be so well designed that it doesn’t need an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page because it should be obvious how to use the site, how to get information, look for products or services, and how to buy them. Questions about pricing, features, or check-out should be answered by the respective pages, if not, then you need to find out why not, then fix it.
However, no matter how well designed your site is, there will always be visitors with questions. Customer service elements like live chat, whether it be operated by bots or actual people, are great for this role. Not only do they answer questions, they also allow engaging with the customer on a level that a static FAQ page can’t.
Internal search isn’t just for large websites like Amazon. If you sell more than 20 products or services, adding a search function might boost your conversion rate.
According to research people who use the search function on e-commerce sites tend to convert better. This is due to reasons like the following:
- People know exactly what they’re looking for and want to find it quickly.
- Some people use search out of habit.
It has to be noted that some product categories and sites lend themselves more to search than others, for instance, if you’re selling fashion, the chances are you’ll have a greater percentage search traffic than a car dealership. On a site like Amazon, the first thing most people do is search, while on Tesla’s site, they browse.
While those who use search on your site convert more, how many visitors actually use search, and what effect would an increase in this number have on the bottom line? For some, the result can be considerable.
Here’s a look at how to optimize search so more people will use it:
Placement is important, but bigger (search) bar is better:
To be most effective, the search bar should either be in the middle at the top or the top right corner of the page. The search bar or box should be big enough to draw the attention of visitors, and obvious enough that they know what it’s for.
It’s important that the search function isn’t a link to a search page, but a space where the user can type the search query directly.
Product images can increase conversions:
In some cases, adding images of products within the search window (usually suggestions while you type) can have a positive effect on the conversion rate for some sites. Look at whether this tactic will fit with your site’s design, and be very careful that these are not distracting or make searching difficult.
The best search applications include functions like auto-complete and suggestions, results despite typos, user-selected number of search results, and ways to avoid a “no results found” scenario. Netflix does this particularly well — if the exact movie or TV show you’re searching for isn’t available, it makes suggestions related to the particular movie or show.
Great search algorithm:
How your search handles queries is very important. Are the results accurate and relevant? Does it take into account phrases, not just individual words? These can have an impact on how the user experiences the site, and thus influence conversions.
While built-in search on CMS and e-commerce platforms like Wordpress and Shopify are notoriously bad, there are several dedicated search service specialists that can greatly improve visitors’ search experience (and save you time and money to developing your own).
COPYWRITING FOR CONVERSION
Don’t underestimate the power of copy! Words sell and are even more crucial than images when the success or failure of conversions are concerned. Words inform and entertain, but more importantly, words sell.
The purpose of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is to understand the customer and using this understanding to create an environment that entices customers to convert — to buy, use, sign up, etc. Writing excellent copy for conversion is part of the best conversion rate optimization strategies.
Copywriting is a very specialized skill, with many professional copywriters specializing in a particular field, such as writing for conversion. A top conversion rate optimization agency will employ at least one such expert to write highly optimized, high-converting copy. However, by following certain principles, and with practice, you too can write copy that converts.
How to write great copy
Writing is a skill, and there’s a reason why professional copywriters exist. They are experts who know how to craft engaging copy to virtually any audience, selling virtually anything. However, as most copywriters will tell you, having a knack for writing helps, but it’s a skill that can be learned.
Writing great copy is about more than just a ‘feel’ for writing, it’s also about following a set of principles that guide you along the process — a checklist to help you get the most out of the copy.
At their most basic, these principles include:
- Create a draft
- Revision, Feedback & Edit
- Test the copy
Let’s get into the details:
Arguably the most important part of copywriting is research. You need to understand exactly what you’re selling, who your customers are, and how to sell this particular product or service to them. Most products sell better with some kind of emotional appeal, but it’s not always the case. For instance, if you’re selling conveyor belts to mines, fit’s all about tech specs and saving money — how it’s going to make you feel is less important.
It’s also extremely important to research your competition. What are they doing, and is it successful? If ‘yes’, what about their marketing or advertising makes it successful, and how can you make it better. Even if their advertising isn’t successful, take note of why, so you don’t make the same mistakes.
For tips on doing research well, check out our in-depth article on conversion copywriting, here.
One of the techniques used by all professional copywriters is first creating a structure of what needs to be communicated, then building the copy around that. Usually, this doesn’t take long, but since this is the backbone of your writing, don’t rush it. Use the results of your research as a guide.
This is true for all the pages on your website, including the home page, product pages, contact information page, and even the cart and checkout pages, but especially landing pages. Each page type’s structure looks different and will have a different main focus point, with some overlap.
For instance, on home pages, the most important part is the headline and value proposition, while product pages focus on information about the products and calls-to-action.
3. Create a draft
Even the most celebrated, award-winning copywriters’ copy isn’t perfect the first time around, however, you should write it as if it is.
Writing a draft lets you fill in the blanks around your structure, then determine which information is the most relevant. During this phase, you have to ask important questions, including:
- Does the copy speak to the correct audience?
- How much information do they need?
- Are you being specific enough?
- Is the value proposition being communicated?
- Is your copy persuasive (enough)?
- Do you use simple language or a lot of jargon?
- Can all the information on one page, or must they click through to another
- Should you display the price? Regardless of the answer, where does it need to be displayed?
4. Revision, feedback & edit
When you’re done writing the draft, take a step away from the copy for a bit, take a break so you can come back and look at it with fresh eyes. Even better, let someone else (the more, the better) look at the copy to spot things you might have overlooked. When you write, you can often get so ‘in it’, that your brain knows so well what the copy is supposed, that you don’t realize that you’re not actually writing it.
Things like missing information, inconsistencies, lack of flow and structure of the copy are all things a fresh pair (or pairs) of eyes can potentially pick up. With this feedback in hand, you can edit the copy to make it better.
Re-do this process as many times as you feel is necessary — most professional writing work goes through (at least) two rounds of revisions to ensure it’s perfect. Note that revision is not the same as testing.
5. Test the copy
Your copy is ‘perfect’, it’s published, now it’s time to see how it performs in the real world. This is important because no matter how much research you did or how perfect you think your copy is, how people perceive it is what matters most. One of the best ways to test the effectiveness of copy is via split testing or A/B testing.
UX writing & microcopy
In the world of the web, there are two main categories of writing, copywriting and UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface) writing. Copywriting is concerned with sales and marketing messages. Anything that entices the user to want to take the next step towards conversion, is copywriting.
UX writing, on the other hand, is instructional copy. Its purpose is to make the user understand what’s happening and how to interact with whatever they see on the screen. It includes things like menu labels and buttons, terms and conditions, and security notes.
Microcopy is part of UX writing, it’s the small bits of text that explain forms, gives hints on how to proceed in the e-commerce, and error messages such as when you’ve missed a field in a form, or haven’t filled out your credit card details correctly.
The goals of microcopy:
- It gives instruction and direction
- It smooths the conversion process by reassuring users that they’re on the right track
- It provides clarity on things forms
- It answers contextual questions (not to be confused with FAQs)
As with almost all copy, there are things to keep in mind when writing microcopy:
- Don’t use jargon, abbreviations like “specs” or acronyms (unless you are 100% certain that they are universally known to your target audience). Rule-of-thumb, don’t.
- State what the buttons do.
- Be very specific. Use the correct terms.
- Put important words at the front. Use “Continue” instead of “click to continue”.
When it is clear to the user what to do, they get a sense of reassurance, which makes it easier for them to take the next step towards conversion.
Microcopy should contain the following:
- It should be clear and straight to the point.
- The fewer words, the better. Never use more than one sentence. The more succinct the copy, the higher the chance that users will read it.
- Talk to one person, not many. Most people access websites on their computers or mobile device by themselves. Talk straight to them.
- Use language your audience would use. If you’re selling inflatable pool floaties, there’s no need to be formal.
When does your website need microcopy?
There are two main ways to determine where on your website you need microcopy; analyzing your interface and user-testing.
Analyze every interaction on your website, every button, form, menu, sub-menu, error message, links, and more. Anything where there is potential user interaction. Identify where the copy can be clearer, more succinct, and more specific.
Look at how people use your site. Where to they stumble or hesitate, what questions do they ask?
Microcopy & Error messages:
One of the most frustrating things on a site is when you’re trying to do something, but for some reason, the site is not allowing you too, and you can’t figure out why. Why does the form not want to submit, why can’t I add something to my favorites or cart? This is one of the areas microcopy has to address.
The copy should tell people why they can’t continue or are experiencing a problem and explain how they can ‘fix’ it, or tips and suggestions on what the problem might be. Whatever you do, don’t just leave users hanging, it’s a sure-fire way to get them to go leave your site.
The language you use for these error messages is as important. It needs to fit with your brand. If you’re selling luxury cars, a quirky error message is not appropriate. If you’re selling yoga pants, there’s no need to be formal.
How to review and improve conversion copy
As mentioned in ‘How to write for conversion’, this is not necessarily going to turn you into an award-winning copywriter, or even just a good one, but it is going to give you the tools to be able to tell good copy from bad. It will allow you to give specific, constructive feedback when using professional writers. Regardless of who writes it, no copy is absolutely perfect, and can always be improved.
It is important to remember that the style of successful marketing writing changes with time. What worked in the 1990s, didn’t work in the 2000s, which in turn won’t work in 2020. When writing (or reviewing) copy, consider people’s attitude to copywriting, their skepticism and how savvy they are to pick up on hype and false claims.
What makes copy good?
Copy is meant to persuade people to read it and then to take the action you’d like them to. While there aren’t any rules or principles to follow that will guarantee excellent copy time-and-time again, all great copy feature these six characteristics:
It is clear:
Good copy is simple, clear, and makes sense. The whole idea of copy is to create more focus and less confusion.
It is credible:
Be truthful in what you write. If you give facts, show proof to back it up. Be specific, not vague. When copy is vague, people get suspicious. Remember: credibility can’t be bought. Once you lose credibility, it is incredibly difficult to gain people’s trust again.
Good copy communicates how the reader will benefit, what value the product or service will bring to them. No hype, just value. People are allergic to hype these days, so make the value simple. The reader should instantly understand what they stand to gain.
Doesn’t use jargon:
As a general rule, good copy doesn’t include jargon. The exception is if the copy is aimed at a very specific target audience, such as stockbrokers, or engineers, who will understand it. Do your research and be 100% certain that it’s going to be understood by all.
It is interesting:
No-one likes boring, so if your copy is boring, then chances are that people won’t read it. They might start, but they’ll abandon it quickly if they don’t find it interesting. What does a dentist find interesting? Do research and find out.
Just the right length:
There is no such thing as the perfect length. The type of product or service you’re selling will determine the length, as some products or services require longer copy than others to sell. However, keep the copy as concise as possible, while answering all of the reader’s questions. Look at every sentence. If a sentence doesn’t drive the process forward, then it has to be cut.
Critique copy constructively
An important part of the copy review process is giving feedback or critique. It is an essential step to ensure the best possible copy is produced.
If you’ve written the copy, take a step away from it and have someone else give it a look. When you are so involved with writing, it’s easy to miss something, especially small errors. Regardless of who wrote the copy, it’s always better for more than one person to look it over and give feedback.
When reviewing copy, dissect every headline, sub-heading, paragraph and sentence with the 6 characteristics of good copy in mind:
- Is it clear?
- Is it credible?
- Is it interesting?
- Does it communicate value?
- Is it full of jargon?
- How long is it? Too short or too long?
Also look for missing information, inconsistencies, lack of flow and structure, and very importantly, spelling and grammar mistakes. Bad spelling and grammar can tarnish your credibility and make you look like an amateur.
Critique should always be constructive, otherwise, it serves no purpose and doesn’t benefit anyone.
Once you’ve given the writer your feedback, they will update it with changes and send it back to you. At this stage, the copy should either be ‘perfect’ or almost there. Run through the review process again, then send final notes.
Note that most professional writers usually limit reverts (rounds of feedback) to two. This forces you, the client, to look at the copy thoroughly and consider your feedback carefully, and keeps it from becoming an endless cycle of rewrites and reviews.
Writing a Value Proposition
If your website is like a music concert, then the value proposition is the headline act. The value proposition is what drives people to read more about your product or service, one step closer to converting. It’s also one of the main things that will make people leave your site and go somewhere else. Getting your value proposition right is extremely important because it is directly linked to conversions.
Your value proposition should appear on your home page, as well as every landing page that can serve as a point to entry into your site.
What is a value proposition?
In short, a value proposition is a benefit you offer to the customer. It is a statement that is relevant (solves a problem), has a measurable value (specific benefit), and differentiates the product or service from those of competitors.
It has to be simple, customer-appropriate language that people understand. Doing research is key to establishing the correct language and tone. Interview people from your target audience to discover how and what should be said.
While the value proposition is arguably the most important element on the page, it doesn’t have to be the first thing people see when they arrive on your page, as long as it’s clearly visible.
Note that if your company isn’t very well known, you’re going to need a very strong value proposition, because you don’t have an established brand to back you.
A great examples is note-taking app, Evernote. Their site communicates exactly what they offer and what you can expect when you use their application.
It’s important to remember that a value proposition is NOT a slogan or catchphrase. Nike’s “Just do it” or Amazon’s “Work hard. Have fun.” are not value propositions. The classic Land Rover slogan “The best 4 x 4 x far” sounds like a value proposition, but it is actually what is known as a positioning statement, which is similar to a value proposition but isn’t.
Elements of a value proposition & how to evaluate it:
The value proposition is typically a block of copy that contains a headline, sub-heading, and an image, illustration or graphics.
In the past, good value propositions also included a couple of bullet points to list the main features or benefits. These days bullet points are rare, as sites are leaning more towards cleaner, uncluttered aesthetics. However, they still feature on optimized landing pages.
This is what has to grab the reader’s attention and communicate the value or benefits of what you’re offering in one, concise sentence.
This gives more details about the value proposition. Square does this well: “From payments to payroll, there are Square solutions for almost everything.”
Use a high-quality image that supports and reinforces your value proposition. If you’re selling a product, show the product. If it’s a service, show the service in action.
To evaluate your value proposition, you can ask these four questions:
- What am I selling?
- How does it benefit the customer?
- Who is the target customer?
- Why is my offer better, different, or unique to my specific customer?
The last question is important because very often, businesses try to create value propositions that cater to everyone. Remember, you’re targeting a specific audience, make sure your value proposition is unique to them. If you get customers from outside that audience, then it’s a bonus.
How to stand out from the competition:
Most often, businesses provide products or services that are similar to those of the competition. When this happens, the focus of your value proposition turns to what you do better than the competition.
Here are a couple of things to consider which will help you determine what sets you apart from your competitors — remember, you won’t be able to answer all the questions positively, but it’s a starting point for both creating a better value proposition, and discovering where you can improve.
- Is your website easier to navigate?
- Can your product or service be adapted to be more specific to your market?
- Are your prices better?
- Is your customer service better (specifically when it comes to returns)?
- Do you ship faster? How do you handle returns shipping?
- Are you more knowledgable about the product or service?
If you’re still stuck, offer more value:
When your product offering is still similar to that of your competitor, try offering customers more value such as free and/or fast shipping, free setup or installation, easy returns, flexible contracts, discounts on bulk or bundles, and the like. Even something small can set you apart from your competition and result in more sales.
One of the key parts of successful conversion rate optimization is testing elements to gauge their performance, then improving on it. The same goes for value propositions. Split testing is a great way to test your value proposition by serving different versions to online advertising and analyze the results. If the value proposition works, then great, if it doesn’t, improve it.
Writing for video
Video is becoming increasingly popular as a means to deliver content on the internet — think Youtube, Instagram, and TikTok. While these platforms are dedicated to video content, it’s sometimes better to use video to deliver content on your website.
A major thing to keep in mind when considering video is cost. When you use video on your site it is critical that, same a photography, it must be high quality, and high-quality video production is expensive. If the video is of low quality, many visitors will leave, so don’t be tempted to make a video with your phone.
Before you commit to a video, do a careful analysis of whether you will get a return on your investment in the form of conversions, while keeping in mind that success isn’t guaranteed. If it’s not worth it, don’t do it.
If you do decide to use video, there are many styles or ‘treatments’ of video. Speak to a director to determine which will be most appropriate for the type of product or service.
When is video best?
Video doesn’t work for everything, and there are certain products or services that lend themselves better to video than others. These include:
- Physical products: Anything from electric cars and golf balls to teddy bears and beach umbrellas.
- Products that need a lot of explaining: A short video that shows and/or explains how the product works is much better than pages of copy.
- Selling yourself: It is much easier to bring across your personality on video than it is in text and makes you more relatable to the audience.
Keep in mind that these are not always guaranteed to work on camera and there may be instances where video might not be the best option.
Elements of a great video:
Similar to homepages and landing pages, great videos have several key elements, including:
The shorter, the better:
People’s attention span online is very short, which makes video a bit of a tricky sell, since you can’t quickly scan through it as you can with copy. This means that if you want people to watch your video (to the end), you need to make it as short as possible. The ideal length is 30 seconds, however, some videos can go up to two minutes, depending on the complexity of what you’re selling. If your video is long, then put the most important information upfront, within the first 30 seconds of the video, if possible.
Check the script:
The script is the most important part of the video. The script not only tells the actors (or whoever is in the video) what to say but also explains the scenes. Scripts will often also contain technical instructions such as camera angles, types of shots, and how to frame them. When writing a script, the same principles apply as when you’re writing ‘normal’ copy, except the copy will be spoken, not written.
- Start with a persuasive headline.
- Keep it concise — anything that doesn’t add value to the video, if it doesn’t push the viewer towards conversion, then it must be cut.
- Present a problem, develop it, then a solution & clear call to action.
Equipment & crew is key:
The saying goes that a camera is only as great as the photographer who uses it, but to a point. High-quality equipment will definitely make a difference. This doesn’t mean you need to use the most expensive equipment, just the kind of equipment that will guarantee great quality images and video.
The Same goes for crew. You don’t need a massive film crew to make a video, however, it is imperative that they know what they are doing. Professionals know to set up cameras, lights, and angles to make whatever you’re filming, look good.
Measuring and optimizing video:
To see how well your video is working, you need to measure it.
Here are three things to measure:
- Unique visitor-to-play ratio: How many people visited the site with the video, and how many played it.
- Retention rate: The number of viewers who watched the video to the end. Determine at what point viewers start to tune out.
- Conversion rate: How many conversions will the video generate more than other means?
How to optimize video:
Once you know how your video is performing, you can start to optimize it to perform even better.
There are two critical areas to focus on, number of video plays and how long people watch the video.
1. Increase number of plays
The number of plays a video gets depends on the type of video. Instructional videos tend to get more views than simple product videos because people might think that they need it. Regardless of the type and number of views, viewership can ALWAYS be increased.
Here are three ways to increase the number of plays:
- Big and above the fold: it works for copy and images, so it works for video too.
- Put the call to action above the video to explain to people they should watch, then test it.
- Check the thumbnails: Split test different video thumbnails to see which performs best.
2. Keep them glued to the screen
Some video sites like Youtube measure retention rates. Analyze these to see how long people watch the video, and when they stop watching. Use this to determine which part of your video is not great, then think of ways to improve it.
Copywriting for conversion forms a core part of any conversion rate optimization strategy. It is a powerful way to turn a visitor into a customer, thus making your business more profitable.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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