Tired of long lists of vague conversion rate optimization tips? Me too. That’s why I’ve put together three (count ‘em!) of the most actionable and useful things you can start doing to improve conversion rates.
These tips focus on your landing page, but really these can be adapted for emails, pop ups, and general site content. Use them in conjunction your existing landing page SEO, and you’re off to the races.
Ready? Here we go.
Get to know your customers
One of the most overlooked steps in improving conversion rates is taking the time to learn about the people you’re trying to convert.
It’s hard to get feedback from people who bounce (although you may be able to get a little bit from exit pop-ups). So what’s your next move? Talk to your existing users. And by talk, I mean survey. Remember, they once were potential customers until something you did or said convinced them to join your list.
Surveying your existing customers is simple. There are a few ways to put a survey together, but I really like Google Forms. It’s simple to set up, and you can do some great things with the script editor – like customized auto-responses, or auto-send responses to other people on your. The communities at Stack Overflow and GitHub can help with the more technical side of Google Forms (and any other technical issues you’re having). Just be sure to play nice.
Take care in putting together your survey questions. It’s important that you ask the right questions, in the right order.
You might ask anything from what your customers prefer visually, to the kind of information they like to ingest, to general thoughts on their experiences with your company and others in the industry. Try to keep it to about 15 questions, or about 10 minutes to complete.
Here are a couple resources to help you make a good survey:
Get your customers to take your new survey by asking nicely (make mom proud) and offering incentive. ConversionXL put together this great example of a request email that you can send out to your users:
Be straight-forward with what you’re asking of them, why you’re asking, and what they’ll get for helping you out. Make sure that the incentive isn’t so sweet that people will fly through it just to get the prize. You want people to give thoughtful answers – and ideally, they’ll genuinely want to help you out.
If you don’t have a strong list to survey, you can install Qualaroo on your website to get your visitors to help you out. They’ll just see a simple pop-up on the lower right side like this:
Regardless of how much traffic you have or how you get your data, aim to get at least 100 responses. More than 200, and the answers start to get repetitive. Go through the results, and take note of consistencies and themes that you’re seeing.
Once you’ve done this, create a buyer persona (or update your existing one). This will be a snapshot of your ideal customer, including who they are, what they want, and how you should be talking to them. It’ll look something like this:
Use this buyer persona as a guide for your landing page. Keep in mind your customer’s goals, motivations, and frustrations when optimizing your landing page.
For example, if you’ve found that your customer is usually pressed for time and wants a quick information, you know to make your landing page simple, and straight to the point. If you’ve found that your customers have more free time and likes more detailed information with no frills, you can include more copy and less eye-catching design. Here’s my favorite guide for creating your buyer persona.
I went to an awesome conference held by ConversionXL a couple years ago, and one of the speakers, Oli Gardner from Unbounce, said something that really stuck with me: “one page, one purpose.”
It’s one of those things that when you hear it, you say “oh yeah, obviously that makes sense,” but rarely do we abide by this when we’re creating landing pages.
Here’s an example from Chase that’s a good example of what NOT to do:
What do they want you to click? There are at least 4 call to actions, and the most visible real estate in the middle has nothing to do with the entry form on the left. This page is completely unfocused, and very likely to give visitors a headache.
In most cases, the one goal of a landing page form to get users to submit information. Not to wonder about your customer service, not to share their experience with their friends on social media, and certainly not to look at your pictures of happy people. Not to say that these can’t be important parts of your landing page optimization, but only if they’re present to help the one ultimate goal, which is to fill out that form.
A great way to test your landing page and see if it fits the “one page, one purpose” mantra is to submit it to Usability Hub. Usability Hub lets you submit a page to the community for immediate reactions and overall feedback. They also have the invaluable 5-second test. Especially for landing pages, this is about all the time you have to get user’s interest.
Another way to check the clarity of your page is User Testing. Here you can give specific instructions to testers who will navigate your page as if they were a potential customer. You can view a replay of their time on your page as they speak their thoughts aloud and answer the questions you provide. Here are a few good questions for your test:
- What were your first thoughts when landing on the page?
- What changes would you like to see on this landing page?
- Do you trust this company? Why or why not?
Use this feedback to test different iterations of your landing pages, keeping in mind that there should only be one purpose to your page. Optimize for conversions, nothing else.
Analyze your competition
This has been common practice for as long as business has been around, but some companies are taking this for granted in this new age of testing.
Most experts (including myself) will tell you that your business is unique, and just because something worked for a competitor doesn’t mean that it will work for you.
But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your competition.
Assuming you know who you’re competing with, pretend that you’re a potential customer and go through the routes that would lead you to their landing page. Make note of how you got there (keywords, channel) and what you were expecting when you got there. The most optimized landing pages are those that give the visitor exactly what they expect.
Take it a step further by analyzing their landing page SEO with a tool like SEM Rush:
You should be visiting your competitor’s pages often. Every time you see a change, take a screenshot and keep it handy. Make note of the language they’re using, the design of their page, and the overall feel it gives you. Does it seem like a lot is being asked of you? Does it seem like too much information at once? Not enough? Would you be nervous to put your email in, or are you eager to put it in? Why?
Make these notes yourself, and then have a friend (or a stranger using usertesting.com) do the same, comparing your landing page to your competition. You’ll be surprised at what they say.
Again, don’t automatically use something your competitor is doing just because it seems like a great idea. But remember that most likely, they’re doing a bunch of testing too. Take advantage, and use their tactics to update your testing strategy.
Conversion rate optimization is beautiful because it can always get better. Instead of staring at your landing page and pulling testing ideas from nowhere, take a step back. Take time to understand your customer, your purpose, and your competition. Combine everything into a CRO plan, and get to it.