Ultimately, every website has a goal, whether it is to get more sales, downloads or subscribers, it’s function is to convert a visitor into a subscriber, lead or customer. Optimising website’s conversion rate can significantly increase return on investment (ROI) on your marketing efforts.
Table of Contents:
- What Are Top 10 Website Conversion mistakes, What is Conversion And Why You Should Care?
- Landing Pages 101: How To Create A Powerful And Converting Sales Page
- Anatomy of Effective Landing Pages
- Ultimate Guide to A/B Split Testing
- Marketing Tools To Use To Automate and Improve Your Website Conversions
- Targeting Your Audience Effectively with Simple Web Design Tips
- 8 Conversion Rate Optimization Tips for Checkout Pages
- Is Paypal Good for Your Online Business?
What Are Top 10 Website Conversion mistakes, What is Conversion And Why You Should Care?
Conversion is a process of changing or causing something to change from one form to another. In marketing language it’s turning visitors into customers. Important metric in measuring conversion is conversion rate.
Conversion rate = the percentage of visitors to your site who take action you desire them to take, whether that means filling in their information to become a lead or buying a product or service to become a customer.
Many factors contribute to a successful or unsuccessful conversion rate. In this article I am sharing top 10 website conversion mistakes and potential solutions to fix them.
1. Slow Loading Time
Good conversion rate is closely tied with great user experience, usability and accessibility. Loading time is one of these crucial factors that may lead your users to abandon the site even before seeing it. In the information-overload-age we live in, it’s absolutely necessary to cut down the waiting time as users are more impatient then ever before.
If your page takes more than 3 seconds to load 4 out of 10 of visitors will abandon it not even seeing it.
“After 3 seconds, 40% will abandon your site.” – Lara Hogan, Engineering Manager at Etsy
Fix: Design for Performance
Optimising your website for all browsers and for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will naturally increase your conversion rate. Invest in a good hosting service they will ensure that your information loads quickly. Make sure that all pages on your website load properly and that all links work.
- Pingdom Website Speed Test – tool for testing the load time of any page. Check here, if you need more.
- Compressor.io – compress and optimise your images up to 90% in file size reduction.
- TinyJPG – compress JPEG files with a perfect balance in quality and file size.
- WP Smush – WordPress plugin designed to reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO.
- MaxCDN – content delivery network provider that emphasises reducing latency of rich-content delivery.
- CloudFare – another content delivery network that automatically optimises the delivery of your web pages.
Lara Hogan, Engineering Manager at Etsy shares valuable tips in her keynote on Speaker Deck. I’ll quickly summarise it for you to take immediate action:
- Optimise images and use as little graphics as possible as it adds to the loading time.
- Cut down the number of typefaces you use, are different fonts you’ve chosen help make a conversion?
- What metric are you hoping to improve with sliding carousel?
- How will images you use affect the page load?
- Which font weights (if any) do you really need?
- What can be repurposed?
2. Bad First Impression
Visitors form an opinion about your website in less than a second, research conducted by Google reveals that visual content is perceived in milliseconds and form general opinion of your website.
“Users perceive and form design opinions even in 17 ms.” – Research conducted by Google
Fix: Define Style Guide
Make sure to avoid outdated design. Stop chasing trends as trends come and go and leave you in a potentially risky situation where your brand might look outdated.
Establish brand style guide by choosing color palette, typefaces, spacing rules, brand voice to unify your future design outputs. Style guide will ensure that you are consistent across different channels, including your website, email and social media.
3. Unclear Call to Action (CTA)
Website’s function is to ultimately serve as a communication or presentation tool. It’s by no means an end product so you have to define its main action user can take which is widely known as a call to action or CTA. Lack of clear call to action button on a website wastes opportunity of turning visitors into potential subscribers, leads and customers.
Fix: Be Prominent
The success of your website is highly determined by the conversion rate and prominent call to action goes a long way ensuring that visitor sees it and has an urge to take action. When it comes to purpose of your website, you basically have three strategic options:
- Sell products or services
- Generate leads
- Establish credentials and build authority
Very simple but golden rule can be applied here. K.I.S.S. – keep it simple, stupid. Make your content easy to understand and provide obvious next step you want people to take.
Be bold and straightforward. Make your CTA as obvious as you can. create an attractive, easy-to-see button to advertise what you have to offer, and be sure to place it prominently.
4. Too Many Features
Vague unique value proposition (USP) and lack of clear target audience can seriously ruin your business at any stage. By pleasing everyone you will end up serving no one and will ultimately fail. Many beginners don’t know how to package their product or service so they make it look good for as much people as possible. It’s totally wrong.
Fix: Define Your Target Audience
Sit down and get to know your user, define your target audience and build a typical user profile also known as user persona. Design for your end user and focus bringing value for your customer. Do not provide features to please everyone, provide just as much as needed to provide value.
Check out this guide on Entrepreneur on defining unique selling proposition.
5. Low Quality Images
Imagery is one of the most used asset in website design and no wonder why picking great imagery can make or break your conversion rate. Cliché looking and studio-shot stock photography has been around for too long and industry disruptors like Stocksy, 500px Prime, Offset have succeeded due to the fact that people are seeking for genuine looking imagery.
Fix: Use Brilliant Photos
There are numerous of websites that provide free stock photos that don’t suck. Unsplash, Death to the Stock Photo, PicJumbo, Jay Mantri, just to name a few. Simply by utilising these natural looking photos you will instantly be perceived as more welcoming and trustworthy brand as your website will not look that generic. Check out my list of 15 Best Free Stock Photo Websites.
6. Mediocre content
Mediocre content is one of the things that doesn’t attract traffic. Lack of great content on your website will lead to lack of potential leads or customers so try to rethink your content strategy and focus on quality. Listicles and simple roundups don’t add much of a value to your audience as they can probably find the same thing elsewhere.
Fix: Serve Your Audience
Invest time and money in producing a superior content, even if you will be posting less frequently you will still be targeting right people and achieving a better conversion rate.
There is no tool or strategy that will make your content get shared and consumed if it doesn’t provide value and genuinely serve a certain audience. Consistently create helpful and engaging content related to your business and keep showing up over and over again.
Buffer has grown mostly because of their kick-ass content strategy. You can simply copy their model and process of creating content and implement it into your strategy.
Check out the The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post: The Data on Headlines, Length, Images and More by Buffer’s Kevan Lee.
7. A Lack of Proof
People buy from people or organisations they already know about. When starting out it’s incredibly hard to be perceived as trustworthy and get these first customers without having big names associated with your brand. However, not providing any social proof goes against you.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
Fix: Provide Social Proof
As humans, we’re constantly seeking for approval or reassurance from other people before we make a decision or invest our trust in something. Make sure to provide some proof of what you’re preaching. If you are just starting out you can utilise following:
- Customer testimonials
- Case studies
- Social media shares
- Press appearances
Even writing this article I am backing up my decisions by linking to other articles, quoting research results and using quotes from famous people such as Warren Buffet.
8. Failure to Optimise for Mobile
It’s the middle of 2015 already ignoring responsiveness is simply stupid. Responsive design is a must, not a nice to have anymore if you don’t want to lose potential customers and money. According to Business Insider, the number of people using mobile devices outstripped people on desktop computers in 2014.
“The number of people using mobile devices outstripped people on desktop computers in 2014.” – Jim Edwards, Business Insider, April 2014
It is a big fact to skip when designing your website strategy and should definitely consider providing an engaging website experience for your visitors as they move from one device to another.
Fix: Rethink mobile strategy
Human behaviour has changed significantly since mobile devices entered our lives. People use their smartphones or tablets in their beds, on the go, even in the bathrooms. Start with mobile-first approach and then expand to desktop.
If you don’t have budget or time to rethink your whole strategy for mobile make sure you set aside resources to optimise for mobile devices as soon as possible as it may have already affected your traffic. In April, 2015 Google rolled out mobile-friendly update, that simply put favours mobile-friendly websites by boosting the ranking of pages on mobile search results.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool – This test will analyse a URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design.
9. Ignoring A/B Testing
You can’t simply assume something, build it and expect people to like it. However, this is how many people think and build their businesses. You have to be very critical with every decision you make and back everything up with data. You have to continuously test website elements like the copy, buttons, colors, and format to ensure that everything your website employs is working towards your overall goal, not against it.
Fix: Run Regular A/B Tests
By conducting regular A/B tests, you will get rid of the assumptions that comes with optimising your website for the user. There are numerous blogs that share best practices on running effective tests and dozens of tools that can help you with that. I’ve written earlier about automating your website conversion and mentioned quite a lot of tools you can utilise.
“The biggest mistake is to make an assumption without data – either basing a decision on a personal belief, or assuming that a part of the process is ok, without seeing the data to prove that.” – Al Mackin of Formisimo
However, it’s important to keep in mind that you should only focus on altering one element at a time to avoid clouding the validity of your results. For example, If you want to compare the performance of two headlines, don’t change anything else on the page but the headlines to ensure clear outcomes.
10. Confusing Navigation
Navigation on your website is the only way to reach your products or services once visitor opens it. Too many options can paralyse the visitor to take an action and will frustrate them that will eventually end up in abandoning the page. Using slang or technical jargon in your navigation doesn’t help either, it has to be as clear and as obvious as possible so visitors can quickly find what they need. We’re all busy, right?
Fix: Review Information Architecture
Review your whole information architecture and determine what are the most important parts you need to link to. Eliminate secondary and tertiary options as they just create bigger mess and delay user making a decision. Keep menus simple and clean, use understandable wording and once again, test.
Here are some practical ways to improve your website’s navigation:
- Keep it consistent across every page and homepage.
- Obvious navigation titles. Use simple and straightforward language to avoid interpretations.
- Include search. People search a lot, make sure to implement search feature into your navigation.
Conversion optimisation is a long and never ending process that requires a lot of research, hypotheses and tests to see positive results. I hope the top mistakes I’ve identified will help you avoid wasted time and money on your marketing campaigns. I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences on website conversion optimization.
Now that we have gone trough mistakes, let us take a closer look at how to create a high convertible landing page.
Landing Pages 101: How To Create A Powerful And Converting Sales Page
What are the most important things to keep in mind when designing a successful and high converting sales page?
One of the most important elements for any online business is a landing page. a landing page is what converts your visitors into leads. In short, it is the heart and soul of any marketer’s lead generation efforts. The big question, however, is how to design a lead page that actually converts.
This is what we’re going to tackle in this #EspressoMonday episode. Before we dive in-depth to this question, let’s have a shot of real espresso this time.
A landing page, in the purest sense of the word, is just another webpage where your visitors can “land” on or arrive at. In terms of marketing and advertising, however, a landing page is a standalone page different from your website and has been built with a single objective – turn visitors into leads. That is why landing pages are also called sales pages.
Creating a landing page allows you to target a specific audience, offer them something of value, and convert a higher percentage of your visitors into leads, while also capturing information about who they are and what they’ve converted on.
But how do you utilize this? Or rather, how do you create a landing page that generates high conversion?
A Simple Acronym for Success
If you have done a bit of copywriting or involved in marketing and advertising, you might have heard of AIDA.
AIDA is not a woman although the name sounds like one. On the other hand, AIDA is a model – a very popular one.
AIDA is actually an acronym used by marketers, advertisers, and copywriters and it stands for:
D- Desire, and
This acronym has been an essential guide for marketers to target their audience effectively. The most prime examples of using this model are car advertisers. Advertisers in the automotive industry are aware that in order to grab the attention of their consumers, they have to use colors, backgrounds, and themes that would appeal to their target audience.
The same principles also apply to web design and here, we will walk through each point and provide examples to help you design a high converting sales page.
In web design, or even in any industry, two of the most important things to keep in mind when you want to attract someone’s attention for the first time are generating your audience’s trust and addressing their pain.
When it comes to generating trust, it is always our instinct to observe a person we meet or inspect the place we visit for the first time. Based on that first impression, we begin to form our opinions, prejudices, and fear. For example, it is easier to trust a person in a suit rather than a person in a hoodie.
First impressions may change but it is true that they last as well. This is also the first thing you have to keep in mind when you design or create a landing page.
Are the facts inside your landing page trustworthy? Have you double-checked the information before you put them on your sales page?
When it comes to the visuals and aesthetics, you don’t throw in all the flashy things and colors on your landing page. Instead, keep it clean, elegant, nice, and neat because you don’t want to overwhelm your clients.
Remember, when a client becomes overwhelmed, they become intimidated. When they become intimidated, they run away. So there goes your lead conversion slipping from your hands.
Once you have earned their trust, you can step up to the next level where you have the privilege to address their pain. Keep in mind that your visitor has come across or gotten into your landing or sales page because they have a pain or need. They must have gotten there because of an email or an article they read which is related to what they need or they have searched Google to look for an answer to that need or pain.
In addressing your client’s pain, one of the most important thing to keep in mind is to be able to speak their language. One example of doing this is what we do in our RockingCode.com site where we placed the headline,
“Build Your Own WordPress Site 100% Responsive and Flat”
This headline or ad is intentional and not just thought of randomly because it sounds good. It is, of course, catchy, but mostly it is to address a pain or a need.
Before putting up this headline, we realized that a lot of people want to build their own website – and not just any other site but their own WordPress site, which is flat and responsive. So when the targeted audience see this, the heading will catch their attention and curiosity leading them to know more about what is being offered.
Attention and interest are different as black and white. Attention piques a person’s interest but it doesn’t mean that when you get someone’s attention, you can keep them interested. Interest, on the other hand, is long term. If you are interested in something, you will be able to do it for a long time no matter how difficult or expensive it is.
Thus, the next step you need to do once you captured your audience’s attention is to keep them interested.
By paying attention to your audience’s emotional journey and telling them an authentic story about the success they can have.
Emotional journey is something like a roller coaster ride where you show or address your audience what their pain is – the place where they are in right now- and describe the world where they could be – the world which you can build for them. Then, you show them by creating a bridge between the two worlds. You must be able to show them that you can take them from a place of pain into a place of pleasure.
One example for this is the question we posed in our sales page:
Are you scratching your head wondering how amateur designers or programmers can make powerful modern websites, and be able to sell it to their clients and making their dreams come true?
Here, we show them their place of pain (scratching your head) and the place they want to be (making their dreams come true). When our audience saw that, they become interested how to be able to get to that place in the future.
In order to hold your audience’s interest further, you need to paint a clear picture of the new reality. For example, you can show them that 80 million sites are being served by WordPress. This sends a message that they can actually build almost everything using WordPress.
The second part of catching your audience’s interest is by telling them an authentic story. The story is basically about the how and why of why you built this product or service. People, of course know that the real reason is to make money. However, when they can see that what you are offering will actually address the problem they have, they won’t need any convincing – and you do this by telling them an authentic story.
One example of an article that tells an authentic story is the article we wrote about “Building a Portfolio Website.” We start the article by stating the reason why we wrote the article, which is a real need – a lot of people want a portfolio website for their personal brand. After that, the article showed the readers how we did it and how they can do it as well.
The next step in building a successful landing page is Desire. In creating desire for your audience, you also need to remember two points – social proof and added bonus.
Social proof is making your visitor feel safe. After you show them that they can cross from one side to another, they want to be assured whether the bridge you’re creating or using is safe. And the best way to assure them, of course, is to show them the proof that the bridge actually works.
For example, to show your audience that WordPress really works is to show them that WordPress is used by big companies, such as BBC, TED, CNN, Dow Jones, Time, and many more.
Another way of social proof is testimonials. When they see that other people who have used your products and services are saying positive things about what you offer, it will put their minds at ease leading them to open up to what you are offering.
After you assure them, the next logical step is to surprise them. Most, if not all, people love surprises – good surprises to be more specific. Surprises also make your visitors or customers feel that you actually care about them and not just concerned about getting their money.
In one of our sales page, we offer several bonuses to our products and services. Below that, our customers can see what added bonus they can get when they enroll in our courses.
Now to the last and most important step, you need to move your audience to action. In order to do this, there are also two things to remember – easy CTA and minimal risk.
When you want to incite people to action, it doesn’t have to sound like you’re Mel Gibson shouting “Freedom” to rally the Scots to fight against the English. It doesn’t even have to be complicated. In fact, your Call to Action should be simple using words that are familiar to your audience. Do not ask a lot of questions unless it is really necessary. Your call to action should be easy and painless.
For us, our Call to Action is by simply telling our visitors to click the “Enroll in Course” button.
If someone is not yet convinced to take the Call to Action, unleash your secret weapon which is to avoid risk.
It is natural for people to always look for an assurance, something they know they can go back to in case they don’t like the place you’re taking them. You have to make sure that you don’t burn the bridge and there’s nowhere for them to turn or run back into when things don’t work out fine.
One way of doing this is by giving them a guarantee. There are many kinds of guarantees you can create, like a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. In our case, we give our clients a “Double Guarantee” where we return double what they spend when they do not get results after implementing the product we offer. This guarantee, of course, applies if they can prove that they have really used our products.
Creating a high conversion landing page is not complicated but easy. Just keep AIDA in mind, use it as a guide and you’ll never go wrong.
Now lets talk about anatomy of an effective landing page.
Anatomy of Effective Landing Pages
Designing effective landing pages is a powerful and efficient way to attract sales, clients and income to any business entity. Also known as the lead capture page, this unique online marketing tool is one of the best ways to talk your visitors to either subscribe to your newsletter, buy your product or register for a webinar.
Designing a landing page is not a simple task.
- You need to understand that your design will be crucial to making the visitor complete an action.
- You also need to understand the basic principles behind the actions your visitors make and take advantage of those actions to intelligently place elements within the page.
As all web pages have their specific elements that are vital in facilitating information, a landing page also possesses elements that need to be present to make it more effective.
The talk on the importance of white space in designing has always been discussed here at 1stwebdesigner. Also known as negative space, white space refers to the blank area between elements like images and text within a design.
What can white space do to your design?
- It makes it more readable
- It makes it more clean-looking
- It improves focus
- It creates a professional look
Ways to ensure proper use of white space
- Ensure proper margins between elements.
- Break large chunks of text.
- Use call outs, buttons, dividers, headers and bullets
Proper Placement of Elements
When designing landing pages, the presence and proper placement of elements are two different things. As a designer, you have to understand that your design elements should be placed in the places where they will be most effective.
The fold is the term that refers to the specific portion of the website which can be seen upon loading. It means that the design elements that are ‘above the fold’ are the ones seen without the need of scrolling down. Although there are some discussions whether the fold is a gimmick or not, I still find it effective, especially for desktop browsing.
Now why did I bring the Fold topic up? Well, the reason behind is an effective landing page makes use of the “Fold” to properly place items.
What to Put above the Fold
- A video about your business
- A greatly written tagline
- Few salient points about your business
- A call to action
What to Place below the Fold
- More details about your business
- Call-to-action elements like buttons and sign up forms.
- Make sure you preserve proper white spacing
- Provide a smooth flow of information between folds
- Again, break up chunks of content
- Use icons and graphics
The use of images is considered to be the best and most effective way of capturing visitor attention. It makes a subtle connection to the visitor, which can persuade him to look at the website.
Here are a few guidelines in choosing perfect images in your landing page:
Your Images Should Make Your Landing Page Look Professional
No one would ever want to conduct business with a jester (unless you’re in the clown industry). If you want your business to be taken seriously, you need to use good images to ensure that you mean real business. The use of poor images may seed doubt in your visitor’s mind about company credibility and could result into loss of interest.
Make sure that your images are high-quality and should suggest trustworthiness, reputation and professionalism.
Here are a few great samples:
Your Images Should Be Visually Appealing
Of course, you would want your images to be a real deal.
- Use images that are visually appealing because it will trigger your customer to respond to your call to action.
- Never use pixelated images, or images with watermarks in them.
- Hire a photographer for this part, or take the photos yourself (if you are into photography).
- Never be dependent on stock images.
Your Images Should Stay Simple
The summary of this tip is this: Do not overdo it. Don’t showcase your talents in photo-manipulation or graphic composting. The simpler it gets, the better it will become.
Your Images Should Stay Relevant
When I say relevant, I am speaking of the compliance with a certain theme or motif. Sometimes, companies get too creative with their designs, and that is not bad. But make sure that all the elements you place, even the images, should adhere to the motif of the landing page.
Never Forget a Call to Action
The thing about your visitors is that they want to be told what to do. Each landing page should think of that in order to properly lead the visitors to the product.
- CTAs tell your visitors what they should do next.
- Include entering their email addresses, clicking on sign up buttons and more.
- Placing call to actions in areas of the design where they can be noticed.
For your landing pages, you should always want your calls to action to stand out of the rest. They should be noticed. For example, you can place your call-to-action element over an image and contrast it properly so that I will be noticed.
Also, make sure you do the following:
- Assure that the call to action is visible at least once in the design. It should stand out over other elements.
Lead the visitor to the button so that the button will lead the visitor to the company.
- Use visual cues like arrows and graphics.
- In case you used more than one call to action element, make sure that they are de-emphasized visually against the primary call to action.
- Repeat the CTA if you have contents below the fold.
- Use Correct Colors
Like white spacing, the use of proper colors is also much discussed the world of web design. Color psychology has become a great and influential part in designing landing pages.
There are a few color schemes that are popular. Let’s take a look at them:
- Blue – blue is greatly used in Landing Pages because it subtly suggests cleanliness, trust, freshness and institution.
- Green – green is also much sought after because it works well with themes of money and life.
Most landing pages avoid using red, black, and yellow because they suggest a feeling of fear, anger and darkness.
Sometimes, other people’s opinion of you matters more than what you say about yourself. This is true, especially in landing pages. Testimonials have been proven to affect a huge chunk of decisions and conversions.
Think of it, you are on the Internet. Nobody really is sure about your real identity and doubt is bad for business. You have to gain their trust, and build from it to succeed.
That is where testimonials take play. The more others talk about how beneficial and good your product is, the more conversions you get.
If you have solved others’ problems, you will surely be helpful to more people. That is what your visitors think. If you will be able to connect to them using your former client’s experience from your services, it will be assured that they’ll take your product.
I included videos as one of important elements in a landing page because it makes it easier for the visitor to digest the message than reading the copy.
Remember this, most of the people who browse the Internet are too lazy to read your long texts. Want to reel them off your design? Use videos instead.
For more information, read The Benefits of Using Video on Landing Pages
But this comes with an advice. Make your videos compelling. Don’t settle for lame slideshows with lame music in them. Use talking heads; be creative.
Tips on Making Your Videos Effective
- Decide whether you would want the videos to play automatically or not. Some experts say that auto-playing videos in a landing page is bad because it interrupts the flow of information. But others say that it increases conversion drastically. You have to choose.
- Do not forget to include a Call to Action. Place a CTA in your video. You can choose if you want it to be permanently visible, or shows at certain points.
- Create a version 2.0 of the video. What do I mean by this? Well, you should supply a back up video where you can place more content. Sometimes, viewers need more information that you just can’t compress in a 30-seconder.
- Lead the viewer to the call to action. Remember to lead your visitor to the landing page’s CTA. You can do this by physically pointing towards the CTA or just verbal instructions.
- Upload it to YouTube. Reuse your videos by adding it to your YouTube account. This will increase SEO and can be seen 500% better on Google than the text article.
Upon dissecting the anatomy of an effective landing page, and discussing each element, we may come to a conclusion that the concoction of art and business-mindedness is essential in designing landing pages that convert.
As a designer, you need to keep in mind that these tips are just guides. Creativity has precedence over theory. I hope I helped you with these tips and I expect to see great landing pages with you guys. Good luck!
101 Landing Page Optimization Tips on Unbounce
Top Landing Page Tips From The Pros on Seldomstatic
Ten Tips For Landing Pages on Lead Generation
Five Landing Page Tips to Boost Your Conversion Rate on Search Engine Land
50+ Examples of Highly Optimized Landing Pages on Smiley Cat
We already mentioned A/B testing as an important task for conversion. Now lets take a look as the only guide you’ll ever need.
>Ultimate Guide to A/B Split Testing – Articles, Tips, Case Studies, Tools and Resources
First of all, what is A/B split testing? In basic terms A/B split testing is a variety of marketing testing where customers randomly receive almost identical, yet slightly different, test samples. This method can efficiently be used in various niches such as brochures, email campaigns and landing pages. A/B split testing can help you to improve conversion rates, better understand visitor behavior, test out new products and much more. Email newsletter services like Mailchimp have already implemented A/B split testing in their feature range.
More and more people are becoming aware of A/B split testing and not without reason. Case studies and examples show how greatly testing can improve a site’s performance, usability and conversions. What’s more, it costs you comparatively nothing. There are plenty of useful tools already made like Google Website Optimizer which cost you nothing. Continue reading to find comprehensive guides on A/B split testing, exciting case studies, useful tools and resources.
A Few Quick Tips To Get You Started
Know what to test
The goal of A/B split testing is to improve your website’s performance, not to build a whole website. Find out what exactly you want to test before testing it. Help out with case studies and have a closer look at your own website. If you’re not sure start with a bit. Some of the most popular things to test are call to action buttons, headlines, forms, text length and layout.
Give it time
Don’t jump to any conclusions after you’ve run the test for a couple of days. A solid A/B split test might even take a month. Giving up too early on a test will only cost you time and the results will be marginal. Once you start seeing a solid path where the results are going you can close the test or start a new one. There are also calculators available to test results confidence if you’re unsure.
You’ve run your first A/B test, great, now what? Don’t take it for granted that the test version is always a better solution. Examine your results carefully and see where the flaws were and what you could improve even more. One test often won’t be enough. You’ll have to do several or even a multivariate one. Once you’ve done a decent amount of tests you’ll see where the actual results are going.
Mix it up
Like you just found out – one test won’t be enough. Be creative with your tests. Don’t stick to the ordinary A/B option, 50/50 audience. Create various templates and vary the proportions. Change something else in each test. At the end you’ll have rich and valuable material to analyze. However don’t get too fancy. Don’t torture your regular visitors with too many testing. Address tests to your new visitors then see how they adapt. To sum up, follow the guidelines but don’t take them as a must. Be creative with some limitations though.
In the screenshot above you can see Basekit’s original pricing page (on the left) and the redesign (on the right) which increased conversations by 25%. The goal was to increase the number of people who visit the Buy Now page after visiting their Plans and Pricing page.
As you can see the redesigned page is more organized, smoother, cleaner, brighter and more user friendly. This design showed a consistent 25% improvement in conversations for the entire duration of the test.
Even though they accomplished their goal with this redesign, they’re already working on a new redesign to do another split test. As we already discussed – the key to success lots of tests.
This A/B test showed the importance of pricing table design. Remember that pricing table article we did recently? It’s a great example of efficient A/B testing in action.
Articles & Tutorials
This article by Paras Chopra, the founder of Visual Website Optimizer, is meant to be the best guide you will ever need for A/B testing.
Running split tests on campaign landing pages is an important way to test and optimise conversions. Learn how to use split tests and optimize landing pages.
In this article Felipe Wesbonk from Traffic Builders explains the integration from VWO (Visual Website Optimizer) in Google Analytics and the way you can use this plugin in making custom reports.
Learn how to perform split testing in your mailing campaigns, check out case study and improve your results.
Another article giving you an insight in AB testing advantages and disadvantages.
Article digging into ad testing and examining some pitfalls of AB ad split testing
Which of the two primary testing methods should you employ? Find out pros and cons of each test, when to use them together and why.
This article will take a look at elements of a website that should affect its users, teach you what to test and where to gain ideas.
Very detailed and comprehensive article about split testing basics, showing how these tests work, case study and tools to do the job.
Insight into Taylor Gifts A/B test they recently did to improve add-to-cart clickthrough.
Short case study showing how call to action buttons can significally improve user reactions.
37signals was experimenting and rotated some headlines and subheads on the Highrise signup page to see if headlines have an effect on signups. Want to know the answer?
In this post Brian Armstrong from StartBreakingFree.com shares some tips on using Split Testing to increase his AdSense earnings.
Skype designed two new homepages to draw user focus to the call to action. See which was the most succesful option.
This post will show exactly how one start-up improved their homepage conversion rate (visitor to sign-up flow) more than 20%, then 16% again, with a few simple changes and Google Website Optimizer.
Little A/B experiment done for the Official Vancouver 2010 Olympic Store to optimize conversion.
See some split testing examples, learn how to do one yourself and find out which web elements to test and why.
Most people refer to web pages when they talk about A/B testing. However, A/B testing can be useful in other domains too. At InvisibleHand, Visual Website Optimiser was used to test the performance of different versions of a browser extension.
Tools & Resources
Google Website Optimizer is the easiest and cheapest tool to do A/B and multivariate tests.
Visual Website Optimizer is an easy to use A/B testing tool featuring point-and-click test designer and WYSIWYG editor for creating variations. If you aren’t sure if Google Website Optimizer will work for you this is definitely the second best choice.
Visual Website Optimizer also offers four great free tools split testing. These include landing page analyzer, test significance calculator, test duration calculator and A/B Ideafox where you can gain ideas for various A/B tests.
genitfy enables webpage authors to accelerate their development cycles. It is like A/B testing but it goes beyond it.
This WordPress plugin rotates themes to assign them evenly between visitors.
Vanity is an experiment driven development framework for Rails. It will help you to create and run A/B tests though it requires some heavy knowledge.
phpScenario is an object-oriented split testing library written in PHP. It’s designed to do simple A/B testing with as little code as possible, but should also be as powerful as you need it to be.
ShrimpTest is an A/B testing solution for WordPress under development at Automattic.
A/B split testing showcase with nearly 150 case studies. Yet you can only view one per week for free.
In the next section we will talk about automation tools to improve your website conversion rate.
Marketing Tools To Use To Automate and Improve Your Website Conversions
Marketing is definitely one of the crucial elements of any business in any industry. You can have the best product and the best audience but if they don’t know a thing about each other’s existence you simply can’t succeed.
Website serves your business as a communication tool online, its essential function is to present the product or service and allow conversion. Simply put, it turns a visitor into a lead, lead into a customer that makes a transaction. However, this path takes time and your job is to ensure that you’re showing the things your target audience wants to see and create a desire to take an action.
In today’s article I’d like to share some cool marketing tools I’ve used personally to optimise and automate conversions on my startups and blogs, including Despreneur, I’m currently working on. These tools and resources have helped me to drive hundreds of thousands of visitors to my blog so I decided to share these valuable resources with you.
These tools will allow you to do a better competition research, analyse your website strengths and weaknesses and suggest smart improvement suggestions for you to achieve better results.
SEO and keyword research tools
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is still one of the best ways to get quality traffic for free. All it takes is to know some basics of optimising your website internally and externally and playing around with keywords and positioning.
Check out 6 Tips For Designing an SEO Friendly Website to learn more about internal optimisation.
SEObook offers a variety of free and premium tools including Firefox extensions and web-based tools. Tools include keyword suggestion, keyword list generator, robots.txt tools, page comparison tool and many more.
Moz is one of the most respected SEO resources in the market that has many tools for improving your marketing game online. Moz tools empower you to identify content and link building opportunities. Research and compare competitor backlinks, identify top pages, analyse local listings and even get daily SEO report.
Email marketing is still ruling the online marketing world. Email subscriber is worth around 15 times more than the social media follower or fan for simple reason, you own it. A person subscribing to your email list gave you permission to email him or her at anytime and is more likely to see and engage with your message where your message on social media networks might get lost in the feed of other people trying to get your target person’s attention.
“Email subscriber = 15x as much as a Twitter follower.” – Nathan Barry
Below are some cool tools that allow you to easily create segmented lists, create autoresponders and integrate with other platforms you already use for your marketing.
Mailchimp is a powerful online email marketing solution allowing you to capture emails, manage subscribers, segment audiences, create autoresponders and more. Mailchimp has a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month.
Mailerlite is an email marketing software with innovative and easy to use drag & drop editor that lets you create newsletters in no time. I’ve recently switched to MailerLite from Mailchimp mainly for pricing reasons.
AWeber is an email marketing and autoresponder software that has been in the industry for many years and proved its reliability and ease of use. It offers free expert support services online or by phone.
This online tool helps you create and customise your email templates, send campaigns, conduct A/B testing, integrate with your blog and generally make you achieve more with email marketing.
ConvertKit is an online software tailor-made for professional bloggers like you to help you gather more email leads and gradually convert them into customers.
Social media is definitely one of the biggest traffic sources for many blogs and websites out there. Since I’ve started blogging back in 2008 I’ve always utilised social media to promote my content.
I’ve tried all types of social media networks and found out that Facebook and Twitter work the best for me, in fact, my website receives more than a third of its visitors from social media. I’ve discovered that for getting engaged fans and followers it is crucial to provide high quality content and be consistent with it. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa but you should try and experiment with your audience and various social networks.
Services and tools below give you enormous power over your social media accounts with smart analytics, intelligent content suggestions and automatic scheduling allowing you to be always on the radar when your audience needs it the most.
Jetpack is a multi-purpose plugin with dozens of useful features for your WordPress powered blog. Among many cool tools Jetpack makes it easy to share your site’s posts on several social media networks automatically when you publish a new post.
Tweetdeck is an essential tool for every marketer. I’ve been using it for numerous years now and all I can say that it helped me to manage many projects at the same time. Track brand mentions and hashtags, manage multiple Twitter accounts, schedule tweets, and more.
CoSchedule is an easy-to-use tool that helps you get your team on the same page, customise your social media sharing schedule, boost your traffic from your old posts, organise all of your content on a single, consolidated editorial calendar and more.
Mention is a real time social media monitoring software that allows you to listen to what’s being said on the web and social web. It has powerful tools to react quickly, collaborate, and analyse your online presence. Great way of keeping up with rapid social media pace.
Buffer is generally a scheduling and posting tool on social media accounts. You can write a bunch of posts at one time, and choose which social profiles to send them to, and then Buffer will spread them out throughout the day or week so that you don’t have to be at your computer all the time.
Hootsuite is a powerful and useful social media management tool for any organisation. You can easily manage social networks, schedule messages, engage your audiences, and measure ROI right from the dashboard.
Tell Beatrix some info about your company or clients and she helps you find, create, approve and schedule posts for your social media accounts. You can quickly pick and schedule images, links, get suggested content for your social channels based on keywords that you set and track your progress effortlessly.
IFTTT is an incredible time-saver and automation tool. It empowers you with creative control over the products and apps you love by setting up “if this then that” rules. There are dozens of pre-built scenarios (recipes) that will save you lots of time if used properly.
This is another vital tool for automating repetitive tasks. Zapier connects the web apps (currently over 300 supported apps) you use to easily move your data and automate tedious tasks.
A/B testing is a simple way to test changes to your page against the current design and determine which ones produce desired results. It is a method to validate that any new change to an element on your webpage is improving your conversion rate before you make that change to your site code. Assumptions won’t take you far in online business. Every hypthesis you have should be tested and winner option should be chosen using data from these tests.
Just changing a copy, color, or call to action wording can dramatically increase conversions.
“Photo of a real human vs. an illustrated avatar: Talking avatar got 131% more email opt-ins.” – Mr Green
WP Experiments is a powerful WordPress plugin for making unlimited tests with your content on your WordPress powered website. Easily change button texts, paragraphs, titles, or anything else on your website and see how your audience reacts.
This tool claims to be the world’s easiest A/B testing tool and is recommended by marketing experts. Visual Website Optimizer lets you run A/B, multivariate and split URL tests using a simple visual editor and provides insightful analytics.
This free WordPress plugins allows you run split (A/B) tests of multiple titles for a post and discover which gets more page views. Great way to increase click through rates.
Another free WordPress plugin for running A/B experiments on your website. It helps you define, manage, and keep track of A/B-testing experiments, combined with powerful and beautiful heatmaps.
Smart analytics (click analytics, heatmaps)
Analytics are incredibly important for your website or blog. Knowing who you are serving, their needs, desires and behaviour you can easily prepare content and products that fit your target audience and convert more.
Whether you need to know how long people spend on certain pages, where do they look at using heatmaps, where they click, how long it takes them to figure out the way to the conversion, where do they tend to leave or abandon the website?
Analytics can also be combined with other tools from this article including lead capturing software, testing effectiveness of a/b tests, hypothesising and proving point with experiments and enhancements.
Hotjar is a new and very powerful smart analytics tool with useful features like heatmaps, visitor recordings, conversion Funnels, form analytics, feedback polls and proactive chat in one platform.
Google Analytics is an essential tool for tracking almost every happening on your website. Powerful and insightful reports, measurement and conversion optimisation tools for free.
Mixpanel focuses on analysing actions and engagement instead of measuring pageviews. Super valuable tool for gaining more insights into your target audience and their behaviour with your product.
Woopra is a robust real-time customer analytics tool that allows you to track targeted users and make the best of your website. Connect with dozens of other apps you use to truly start seeing the patterns and behaviour of your customers.
KissMetrics is specifically targeted for ecommerce sites and analyses customer data in real time and ties anonymous activity to known activity once a visitor becomes a customer.
Crazy Egg gives you insights and data on where your visitors click, where they scroll and stop and shows you where they coming from to allow you make better data-driven decisions.
Capturing leads is incredibly important when testing out or validating your business idea. Just by making a landing page and optimizing it on the way you will save a lot of money of pre-building product that no one will buy at the end. Tools below allow you to create a landing page with no coding knowledge required and allows you to run tests, collect emails and more.
LeadPages is a powerful online software for building mobile responsive landing, launch and sales pages that are purely conversion oriented.
Unbounce is an online tool with a focus on marketers that allows you build, publish and test landing pages without programming knowledge. It integrates with dozens of different online tools like Google Analytics, Mailchimp or AWeber just to name a few.
Strikingly allows you to create a quick and beautiful, mobile friendly one-pager for your personal brand or business. It is an incredibly handy tool that saves time and money. I’ve seen many people using it successfully at Startup Weekend Bali in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
OptimizePress is a tool for building high converting landing pages, training or courses with progress bars, secure membership portals among many other features. It also has dozens of useful integrations with other marketing software.
Social Media Analytics
Social media is extremely unpredictable medium with rapid pace and lots of things happening at a time. However, there are tools that identify patterns, measure activity and engagement to give you more insights into the global social media machine.
SumAll is extremely powerful marketing analytics software that combines social media, web traffic, sales metrics and other data to allow you to track business and social media metrics.
Curalate has a powerful image analysing engine that allows you to get insights into the industry and start engaging with your users with images. Run contests, schedule, publish & analyse social images.
This tool allows you to track and analyse your online presence. Easily identify your most loyal fans and followers, get automated reports and schedule unlimited updates on your social media accounts.
Simply Measured is an online software providing you social media monitoring and analytics solution. You can track, measure and optimise your content performance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and many more.
Web & SEO Analytics
Analysing your competition as well as discovering how you are seen by your competitors is vital in making data driven decisions and getting better results faster. It’s always good to know what audiences like certain websites and how they approach them. Tools below will give you a quick overview of many different factors that can help you with adjusting your website strategy.
Alexa provides traffic data and more information about your competitors including globally recognised rank, demographics and more handy data that can give you a huge advantage against your competition.
Compete is a tool for discovering what your competitors are after, what keywords they use, how do they perform and what people they attract. It is a tool for serious online competition monitoring and benchmarking your business performance.
SEMrush is a tool that allows you to track keywords of a certain website whether yours or competition and see how do they perform in organic and paid search results.
Influencer Marketing Tools
People buy from people they know and trust. For a fresh new business or a brand it’s extremely hard to get new fans and followers as people need to trust you to start spending their time and money. One of the best ways to speed up the process and get in front of more eyeballs and most important appear trustworthy is to collaborate with influencers. Tools below will let you identify your key influencers and provide ways to connect with them and build long-lasting relationships.
Klout is a universal tool for social media influence. It gives you a rating on a 100 point scale including different social media broadcasting networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and more.
Traackr helps you identify people who might have the biggest impact on your business and provides tools to connect and build meaningful relationships with them.
BuzzSumo is an incredibly handy tool when you need to research the best performing content by keywords or a specific website. Identify top performing content from influencers and analyse what it takes to create popular content.
Exposely is a social advertising software that connects brands with engaged online influencers. Whether you’re a brand or influencer there are mutual benefits of working together and this platform finds you the best fits.
Conversion Optimisation Tools
Bloom is the ultimate email opt-in plugin for WordPress. With Bloom, you can easily add opt-in forms to your website and harness complete control over the design and location of each.
SumoMe is a one-stop shop for getting effective tools for increasing your traffic, analysing content and optimising it for more leads. I personally use it for pop-ups and opt-in forms on my website giving me 10 new subscribers a day.
Optimizely is a great tool for optimising customer experiences. Their technology provides you the ability to conduct A/B testing, multipage, and multivariate testing that may be used for making data-driven decisions.
Graphic Creation Tools
According to Neil Patel, Tweets with images get 150% more retweets. Just this simple plain fact should convince you how much of an importance graphics have in your marketing communication. There is an emerging category of marketing graphic creation tools that help you create engaging imagery for your social media campaigns and convert more.
Piktochart is an easy infographic design app that requires very little effort to produce beautiful, high quality graphics. It has a large selection of ready made templates to make your creative process easier to supercharge your marketing online.
Placeit allows you to upload your screenshot or video and place it on many devices including laptop, desktop, tablet and mobile phone mock-ups to create a realistic presentation of your product or service.
Pablo is a simple online tool by Buffer for designing engaging images for your social media posts in under 30 seconds. Simply pick an image, write your copy and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Buffer or download it.
Easelly is a simple web tool that empowers anyone to create and share powerful visuals like infographics and posters with no design software or experience needed.
Pixlr Editor is a simplified online alternative of popular Adobe Photoshop software. it has saved me couple of times when my computer crashed and I had to do some more complex designing.
Canva is a simplified online design tool for everyone. You can easily create designs for web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and much more.
Infogr.am is a powerful tool for creating interactive infographics. Simply start by choosing a template and start visualising data charts, maps, videos, images, icons and more. It even allows users to edit data, download infographics share and embed them.
Marketing is not an easy game and takes a lot of time and experimentation. What has worked for your competitor might not work for you as well as techniques that were effective a year ago might be totally irrelevant in today’s market. As you can see from this list I’ve gathered, there are many tools and online software companies that help you achieve more with less. I haven’t used all of the tools but the ones I’ve used are worth your time and money.
Most of the products have 14-day or 30-day free trial giving you enough time to play around and prove if it is worth investment.
What tools do you use that are not in the list?
In the next section we will talk about how to target your audience. Because with this we can ensure better conversion rate of our website.
Targeting Your Audience Effectively with Simple Web Design Tips
Targeting your audience with your design is not only possible, but also recommended. Some might not think it’s important, but I am sure all of you have some favourite websites that you visit from time to time, but because of their good design, you simply can’t stay away from them for long. Those kind of sites are what we are going to talk about today. Why? Because you can have one too if you really want to – all you need is a bit of marketing knowledge, a good strategy and some design skills and you’re pretty much there.
Today we will talk about how to spot your real target audience. This is the first major step in your strategy and the most important. If you fail at this, nothing else will fall into place. Today’s article will also be about usability and web interfaces, but we will get into details further down the road.
Who is your audience?
There is no way you’ll be able to fine tune your design in order to better fit your visitors if you have no idea who those visitors are. Understanding users is not easy, but it gets easier when you use tools such as Google Analytics to see their behaviour. This is a key tool to be used in order to spot things they are not pleased with or things they enjoy.
Finding out what your visitors look for on your webpage can also be done by looking at the keyword search in your analytics dashboard. You can see in this panel exactly what they’re searching for, and using this information you can find out what kind of people they are.
Image by Spiderpops
You can also get into your readers’ minds by asking them questions. If you have a blog, then interacting with them should already be a part of your daily routine. There is a lot of valuable information you can get and this is really the best place to start. Ask questions, get their feedback, get their opinions about different things. This way you might not only find out who they are, but also find out ways to solve issues you have on your blog or website that you were unaware of.
Question them about what exactly it is they like about your site and why do they come back and don’t forget to ask about improvements they might approve of.
And if you really are into this “get to know your audience better,” but don’t know how to do it, then allow a company or a freelancer to do it. There are people out there who do this for a living and for a modest fee you can get somebody to do it for you.
Now we get to the more interesting things. The layout is the first thing that pops into my mind when I look at different unsuccessful blogs. And the ads. The ads kill me. How many columns you have or the image slider you use or whether you don’t even include a footer does not matter too much – if you know that is the style that fits you. But the mix of content, images and ads are an instant killer for many in the web industry, but also for the simple readers, who do not understand how a website is runs.
Yes, you need some money to run your blog and generating revenues through ads is not easy, so the logic move would be to insert as many ads as you can and place them in key positions. No! The logical solution would be to leave them out. For $4 per month or even less (or whatever minimal fee you get) it is not worth annoying your loyal readers. Compromising the design with poor ad placement is a mistake many rookies out there do and this will never bring them huge revenue nor an increased number of readers.
In case you really want to get some ad revenues, then track the ones that work best for you and leave the others out. Less ads will also mean visitors will not be distracted so much, so now they can focus on what is really important: your content. That’s what they came there for, give it to them!
Another annoying thing is to try tricking your readers into clicking your ads. You can see above a huge Romanian tabloid which does that. Above the fold you can not see any of the content (just the navigation) – the rest is advertising. If for one second I feel they try to push me into clicking their ads (which they do, and which I feel), I will never return (which I don’t). It is as simple as that. And yes, here’s only me thinking like that. But out there must be some other tens of thousands who think like me. But if a huge tabloid can afford losing so many readers, the questions still remains: can your website afford it too?
I wrote an article few months ago mentioning that although people could read long before we had computers, typography was overseen until 5-6 years ago, when it became a trend to work on it. If you ignore it now, it can damage you and your website. The reason behind Amazon’s Kindle products being so popular is the fact that they focus a lot on the reading experience – fonts, size, line height, spacing, light and so on. When you get the Kindle, you can’t wait to start reading a book just because it is indeed a pleasure to do it while using the tremendous device.
Image by Amazon
If you think the web is much more different than reading a book, you are mistaken. Typography is as important on the web nowadays at it is in print. Actually, it is much more important. If you bought a book with bad typography, you might end up reading it anyway because you spent money on it or because you really are interested in the subject. If a website has bad typography, you will just exit off it and find the same information somewhere else – this is the internet of 2012, anything can be found out there.
Updating your fonts and general look of the text is so much easier to do now than 10 years ago, with the bunch load of software support we have at our disposal, such as CSS3 or the capability of embedding fonts. Don’t overlook typography, it is a huge setback. You have no idea how much line spacing can mean, even for the most basic font out there. Try it, go now on your website and increase the line-spacing to 1.5 of the font size. You will be amazed how a three-second tweak will make your website look like. And then imagine, if you did that with a basic font, how much can you do actually with a beautiful typeface?
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on typefaces just to see they don’t fit your website. Adjust the one that you have now. Play with line height, spacing (both between words and letters) and font size. These things are so basic and can do so much – it is incredible how many people choose to ignore them.
If you are tired of your default font, you don’t necessarily need to spend money on a premium one. Google Fonts offers lots of beautiful typefaces which can be incorporated with a CSS property called @font-face. All the fonts offered by Google’s web app are free, so there is no excuse for not playing with them for a while. You might also want to check Adobe Web Fonts.
This is another big one and has to do a lot with typography and font sizes. If you quickly scan this article, you will notice how fast you can get an overview of what I wrote about. You don’t need to read it. In less than 10 seconds you can already spot the main topic and what I covered, then you can decide if the article is worth reading or not. This has a lot to do with hierarchy and how we, at 1stwebdesigner, work with the headings.
Offtopic: Working with the headings the right way will also help your website rank better in search engines, because the keywords in the headlines are very important and help search engines find out about the content of the article (just like it helps you).
If headings are not normally something you use, get in the habit of doing it. Simply using the <h1> to <h6> tags will do a lot both for your content and readers.
The first impression
You know the saying: “There’s no second chance to make a first impression”. True in dating, true on the web, although in dating you might get a shot at a second date. On the web you will not get clicked on a second time if the first impression is bad.
Let me ask you something. From the 10-15 totally new websites you visited today, in a matter of two seconds, how many of them can you remember? Most surely no more than 2. From the approximate 500 ads you saw today on the web, street, in the bus and in the shops, how many of them you remember? Most definitely not more than 5. This is because only few manage to create powerful emotions into you at the first glance.
Designs creating a powerful emotion are always easier to remember.
Your page should make it easy for visitors to find what they want. It should combine both usability and good interaction. Not more of one than the other.
A book has a table of contents. IKEA has a map of the shop. A website has the home page, which is a top-level overview of the website and its content. Don’t make them scroll too much to find information, always keep in mind the “three click rule“.
It is very easy to find out how good your home page works by checking the statistics in Google Analytics. If the exit or bounce rate is too high, then you must be doing something wrong. You need to be better at guiding your users to the right content.
If you have a blog or a website, it is very likely for people to want to comment there. People have opinions and they do not love anything more than sharing them. But you still need to check on those from time to time, so they will not turn into a distraction. First you have the spammers, then you have the haters.
Deal with spammers the way all of us do: no pity. Use plugins and moderation to fight it and do not allow it, as it will distract your readers. Adding a Captcha is something most of us do and it works just fine.
If you wish to “break the silence” and make your content more appealing by including graphics, this is OK. You should probably have at least an image per each post, depending on how long it is. An image can set the tone for the article and take the focus out of the black and white chunk of text.
Only use images that are free and do not use a lot of time to customize them. They are not SO important. If you can, break the content every 4 to 6 paragraphs with an image (in case the article is longer). It will allow people to rest their eyes.
Offtopic: we get back to SEO for a moment here. Always add meta descriptions to your images, as it helps search engines very much.
Good example of how we break large chunks of text here at 1WD.
By embedding social media into your website you can shoot two rabbits with the same bullet. You can make your content easier to read and you can make it easier to share.
Allowing comments on different social media platforms will improve the way you interact with your readers. It is much easier to engage them on Facebook than it is to do it on your own blog. In regards with sharing the content, there are lots of plugins out there for WordPress and other platforms which make it easy for your readers to share your articles. There’s no prize for guessing how that could help you…
Make it responsive
I can’t stress enough about how important it is to have a responsive layout. People read on the go now, they are not always in front of their computer. I read books in the bus, using the Kindle app for the iPhone. Imagine how hard it would be if the layout wouldn’t fit my small device. You can see in Google Analytics how many people visit your blog or website from a mobile device. Make amends if you need to, take action! Create a responsive layout, so that I can read your blog whenever I am waiting for the bus.
To work on the design and usability of your website takes time – or at least improving these two takes time. But you simply need to be willing to do it, because there are others out there who do it constantly – and you like it or not, they are the ones getting the readers that maybe you deserve. So if you feel like you want to get a grip of them, at least now you know where to start from. Go out there and improve your website by making these few tweaks and you will see that your readers will be happier and will return more often.
Now lets take at how to optimize our check out page and increase the conversion rate.
8 Conversion Rate Optimization Tips for Checkout Pages
For most of us, the checkout process of a website means nothing more than just something we need to go through in order to buy something online. For e-commerce experts, however, the checkout process (and more importantly, the conversion rate drops) are nightmares that keep them up at night. Improving the conversion rate with a minimal 1% can actually turn out to be a huge increase in income at the end of the month.
Optimizing conversion rates is a job of its own. It is very unlikely for a web designer to be an expert at it, considering marketing professionals spend years learning to improve them and many of them still don’t get there in time before the web trends change. I will be honest with you right from the start: there is a lot of hard work behind learning how to work in this area and getting good at it. The good part is that there are not many web designers out there who are. If you get good at it, you will have a huge advantage over your competition.
Today we look at several user experience elements you can implement in your websites to improve conversion rates. This can turn out to become a better view for you when you look at the bottom line of your bank account.
Limit the clicks
Cutting the checkout process to a limited amount of clicks can’t do anything else than increase the conversion rate. It is common sense that users, whenever they hold their credit card in their hands, are very sensible. The smallest detail can make them put the card back in their wallet and leave. If there is something you take from today’s article, it’s this:
If you want users to buy, you have to make it easy.
Now repeat this in your head a couple of times – if you want your users to buy, you have to make it easy. There have been multiple studies (like this one or this one) showing that single page checkouts have higher conversion rates. You might argue that the “single vs. multiple-page” debate is counterproductive unless you know your audience. I would disagree. Regardless of who your audience is, no one would rather have to go through a more complicated checkout process. No one. If you limit the amount of clicks and make it easy, you are better than many of the competitors out there.
Choosing a single-page funnel is without any doubt best and there is no better way to prove this than looking at the A/B tests that were done previously.
Don’t ask me to sign up
You found a nice product within a decent price range. You research it online and get ready to buy it. You go to their website and add it to cart. You click on “buy”. And then they ask you to create an account if you want to buy the product. But I don’t want to create an account only for the sake of being in your database and you having access to my mail. I just want the product. No upsale, no newsletters, no marketing targeting me. Just give me the damn product.
If you don’t want my money, there is no easier way to let me know than asking me to sign up in order to buy. This is one of the things that makes me cringe. Many years ago I was looking for a fitness tracker. There were not so many of them on the market as there are today. When I finally found the right one (which was also one of the few and the only decent choice), I headed to their website to buy it. They asked me to sign up. I didn’t. Today, I’m using a product from their competitor.
You should always allow users to buy without signing up. If you really want them in your database for whatever reason, there are two options of doing it. The more aggressive is creating an account at every purchase with the email and a random password. When you send the order receipt per mail, send the account information as well. If the user opts in, that is his choice! You don’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to.
The second way of approaching it is asking users to create an account on the “thank you” page, after they purchase. Most of them won’t, but if you show them what the benefits are, some might. Tell them, for instance, that they can track their order if they create an account. That’s an added benefit. I would sign up (albeit with my “spam mail”) just to be able to track the package.
Another good reason for doing it after the purchase is that at that point in time you only need limited input from the user: the password. You already have everything else. If you ask them to sign up at the beginning, they will feel they have to give you a lot of information. But if you delay the signing up, it won’t feel the same, because users only need to type in a new password.
Regardless of how you do it, always give the user a choice. Don’t put him in the corner and ask him to create an account if he wants your product. You should be thankful he is willing to buy it in the first place. Don’t try to stop him. In the end, you might miss on a lot of money.
If your web shop offers free shipping, this is a biggie. “Free shipping” are probably the two words that brought most revenue to online sellers in the past decade.
“For whatever reason, a free shipping offer that saves a customer $6.99 is more appealing to many than a discount that cuts the purchase price by $10”
Statistics show most people leave products in a cart without buying them because shipping and handling costs are too high. A well-known study from UPS shows that a whopping 44% of the users who didn’t finish a purchase chose not to do it because of these costs. Just imagine being able to sell to so many more people, your income would go through the roof.
If you offer free shipping, make sure to highlight it during the checkout process and during the final confirmation (if you choose to have one). If you don’t offer free shipping, you might want to A/B test it for a couple of weeks to see how much your income grows.
Free returns and secure payments are also two elements you could emphasize during the checkout process. While many people already know how to look for a secure connection, some still don’t. They will always be afraid that someone will steal their precious credit card details, so making it obvious to them that this is not likely to happen can only help you and your conversion rate.
Nail the forms
As I recently wrote in my latest article, unless you create amazing forms that improve the experience of the users, you won’t have much success with checkout processes. Conversion funnels rely heavily on input from the users. Frustration, which is a thing I often find myself feeling when having to fill in a form, is not something you want your users to feel when they sit with their credit card and are ready to purchase.
You should take a look at the whole article, but for the sake of making it easier for you, I will summarize here what is important when you try to improve your forms.
Ask only for the information you need. In Europe it is actually illegal to ask for more information from the users just for the sake of having it. If you don’t use this information for purchase-related operations, not only it might bring you legal issues, but it will also annoy your users. Fine-tuning your labels and sticking to a single-column layout are two other tips that I speak about in the article. They are also really important for increasing the speed of completion.
You need to optimize your forms for mobile, no doubt about it. Keep in mind that a lot of purchases are made from portable devices and unless you create responsive forms, you will not be able to sell to as many mobile users as you could.
Have I added the product to the cart?
Noticeable microinteractions can make or break your e-commerce website. For instance, always let a user know he added a product to the cart. You would be surprised to learn how few websites are good at this. Don’t get me wrong, most of them try to let the user know, but it doesn’t always work as well as it should. It should be as obvious as it can get that they’ve added something to the cart.
When a user adds a product to the cart, she should be able to quickly move on to the checkout page, but you shouldn’t force her to. If she wants to continue shopping, let her do it. This should be the default setting, but always keep the “checkout” page at a click’s distance.
If a user added something to the cart but never got herself to buy it, you would really be stupid if you let the cart expire or clear itself on refresh. Studies show that if you persist and retarget them with ads, users will come back and pick up where they left off. Moreover, they might even be happy that you remembered their cart. The reasons behind them leaving can be different. Some might not be sure about the price, while others might have been caught in the middle of a busy day and simply forgot to checkout. You can never know. Trying to persuade the user to finish the payment process can’t do much damage, but it can increase your conversion rates a lot.
Ask for credit card information last
Another small trick you can use during the checkout process is asking for the credit card information last – after the name and the address. This might not make too much sense, but Cialdini’s principles of persuasion show that users feel they need to finish something they started. Some users might be reluctant to put their credit card information first, but if you ask for their name and address and they give them to you, you might get closer to a sell.
Conversion rates are not only about design though. Sometimes other small details can increase them by a large margin. One of these details are the testimonials, which are very useful and powerful for when users are not sure if they want to buy a specific product. Testimonials always have the power of convincing a user that a product is worth paying for. You need to employ this carefully, though. Just as positive testimonials can increase the conversion rates, negative testimonials can also decrease them.
Great search functionality
If you want to make it easy for your users, as I mentioned before, you can at least implement a decent search function. This is often a pain point for users. They often search for products and are not able to find what they are looking for because the search function is poorly implemented.
A good idea for the ones who still don’t get it is to show users what they search for. Many search engines show related products instead of the ones that users search for and this is annoying and a waste of time.
E-commerce is about much more than having a good set of products to sell. Users are so complex that it is impossible to sell to all of them, but there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to improve your conversion rate – sometimes by a lot. Today we took a look at the most valuable tips and tricks for e-commerce checkout processes. If you follow these best practices you should be on your way to improving your conversion rates by some percents. It might not sound a lot in the beginning, but remember that even a single percent can mean a lot in income if you have a large webshop.
As we talk about check out pages, let us take a closer look at PayPal.
Is Paypal Good for Your Online Business?
PayPal is definitely the most well-known online user payment service in the world. With its start somewhere in 2000 thanks to X.com and Confinity merging, PayPal quickly became a leader of the market and expanded very fast among eBay users. That is probably why PayPal was bought by eBay in 2002 for just under $1.5 billion.
But PayPal means much more than that today. Tens of millions of users tend to pay with PayPal faster than with their credit card. The company functions as an acquirer and processes payments for online vendors, auction sites and many commercial users – all these for a small usage fee. With such a reputation to handle, we might surely ask ourselves how likely it is for PayPal to be the best payment processor for our online services. If you own a design agency, I am sure you have thought of this at least once.
Today we will put in balance the negative and positive sides of using PayPal for a business and we will try to come to a conclusion by the end. I look also forward to hearing your opinions about the great service PayPal is, but let’s wait for that until the end.
What is PayPal NOT?
Well, although it seems like one, PayPal is definitely not a bank. It offers the basic services of a bank, but is has not been classified as one, although it is under rules and regulations which govern a financial institution in the USA. A bank usually uses people’s deposits for its own purposes, while PayPal does not. They only store the deposits in their accounts and do not redistribute any of it. Although PayPal is not considered a bank in the US, it has been regulated just like one by the CSSF in Europe.
In order to be able to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of PayPal, it would be a good idea for me to tell you some quick facts about it:
- PayPal has more than 230 million accounts registered and allows customers to send, hold and receive money in 190 countries in the world. PayPal features support for 24 different currencies.
- PayPal allows people to start their own businesses and work as a third-party service in the transactions they make.
- There is a specific limit of money a user can receive per year. If you want to have an unlimited account, you will need to provide personal information and verify the account.
- PayPal has a service called Students’ Account, which permitted parents to give students money on a debit card.
PayPal has some clear advantages over any competitor on the market. First, it is very easy to set up and is very elegant. It doesn’t take more than few minutes to set up an online shop with support for PayPal. The “add to cart” and “view cart” buttons can even be customized by the designers themselves. The service is also very easy to use and the payments very easy to execute. There is no doubt about the fact that paying with PayPal could not be easier. Moreover, there is no setup or monthly fee.
Let’s face it, one of the most important assets of PayPal is its brand and name recognition. Being a company with excess of $2.2 billion in annual sales revenues, PayPal is no doubt the star player of the market. Although people are still reluctant to pay on the internet, they definitely trust PayPal the most if needed to process money online. Moreover, because it functions as a third-party service, PayPal makes sure the customer’s credit card and bank account number do not get in the stores’ databases. Security is extremely important and PayPal seems to take care of it as well as possible.
While many other services sustain themselves by asking for monthly or yearly payments, PayPal asks for money only from the users who sell. This makes PayPal feel like your friend because when you don’t sell anything, you don’t pay anything. Can it be more convenient?
Image by 401K.
With so many users having a PayPal account, there is a huge potential customer base for everyone who uses PayPal for online selling. A good example is eBay. The majority of the sellers do not offer support for MasterCard or VISA, therefore buyers need to have a PayPal account in order to buy something – and this doesn’t affect eBay at all, because as said before, PayPal has a huge customer base.
While businesses use PayPal for commercial purposes, individuals can also use it for personal purposes. PayPal offers multiple account options and a single person can opt for one of them. Each account option offers different privileges and have different rules. There is no fee for transactions between two PayPal users with a personal account for example.
The fact that PayPal offers support in so many countries is another strong asset. Giving the option to use 24 currencies and handle international payments is something not many other services can do. Another impressive feature is the option to pay through credit and debit cards directly, which means the transaction fee is also minimal, set at 3.9 percent for any amount up to $100,000.
If you thought this is all, you are in for another surprise. Although it is not a bank, PayPal works as a great accountant. You can see every payment, withdrawal, every inbound transaction – all these with a single click. It is very easy to find every transactions in the history panel and you can even download a spreadsheet file with details for a period longer than one year. Printing is not a problem for PayPal either.
As mentioned before, PayPal is an eBay service, therefore buying from the American online store has never been easier.
As any other service, PayPal has its own disadvantages too. One of them might be the fees charged for non-PayPal payments. Although PayPal claims they help small sellers, the hidden fees show no signs of it. The fees might be from 1.9 to 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction – this can get very costly. Some of PayPal’s rules are also very strict due to different regulations. The slightest suspicion about your account might get it suspended and it takes a long time for PayPal to investigate and reopen your account. You might find yourself with your money locked for longer periods than expected.
Talking about customer service, maybe the worst thing about PayPal is the difficulty to solve issues and investigate cases. There have been many issues over time with trying to contact customer service. Even when you manage to get a hold of them, sometimes it just seems there is no one at the end of the line and some emails only get automated responses. There have also been reports of accounts being automatically charged without the knowledge of the user.
Image by protohiro.
There is not even the chance of a third-party jury. When being investigated by PayPal, your account and funds get frozen and the only thing you can do is wait. There is no documentation provided to the user and it doesn’t seem like PayPal puts much consideration into resolving peoples issues.
The verification process is also a hassle. Users have to provide several important pieces of private information such as bills, bank account numbers, social security numbers, address proof and so on. Some users might not even be comfortable with offering such information, but they have to in order for PayPal to lift the funds receiving limit.
Although most eBay sellers have to use PayPal, it seems the protection for them is not excellent. There have been reports of funds refunded to the customer even after the seller has shipped the item! This can become a deal breaker especially when the customer service is not as good as it should be.
If for some reason you just don’t want to go with PayPal, then there are some other alternatives out there, although none of them is really that impressive. Google Checkout is an alternative, although it is still an inferior product. The main difference is that Google’s service charges fees depending on the sales volume, while PayPal does not. Checkout also offers fewer features than eBay’s service.
A second one could be MoneyBookers, a very well-known British-based service. They have a customer base of around 10 million accounts, although we do not know yet how many of them are active. They offer services to everybody with an email address and they have a flat fee per transaction.
Besides Google Checkout and MoneyBookers, there is not much else worth mentioning. The other few alternatives, Amazon Payments, OboPay and Paymate are really small and, when people deal with their money, they are not willing to work with companies without a powerful brand.
PayPal is obviously not the perfect solution for buyers and sellers, however it is definitely the best one available right now. They lack support, true, but it’s the most secure online payment service and the one offering the most features. Although PayPal seems best suited for medium-sized businesses, there are not many alternatives out there.
If we look at it from the buyers’ perspective, then there is definitely no better alternative out there. Let’s face it, every service has its own problems; it is just a matter of finding the one with the least of them.
Until next time… what do you think about PayPal? Did you ever have problems with it as a seller/buyer? What is your experience with their customer support and how long did it take for your case to be investigated?