Twenty Five Ways To Increase Your Online Conversion Rate

April 3, 2006

How can you make visitors take action? Here are twenty five ways in seven categories.

1) Make sure your site says hello nicely. If the job of the home page is to convince visitors to move deeper into the site, the home page has to look just like the kind of business you are. The casual visitor only takes five seconds to scan your site and decide if you’re the place for him.

2) Like a bloodhound following a scent, we humans follow the information we are looking for until we can’t smell it any more. Find different ways to say the same thing so that you are using the different target words that individuals are looking for.

3) Long pages are nice, because they have more opportunities to use the words people are looking for. However, don’t create scroll stoppers – I did a whole post about this one recently.

4) Create long links that tell people exactly where they are going. Remember – clicks are precious, and visitors are annoyed when they waste them.

5) Instead of web buttons that say “Submit”, how about “Click here for your Free White paper?” Use buttons that tell the customer what will happen when they click (after all, clicks are precious.)

6) Open up your navigation so that the visitor can see subcategories and link deeper into the site. This will also help him find where he is going more quickly.

7) If you can, slice your categories in multiple ways — such as women’s clothing by season (spring, summer, in between) as opposed to just women’s clothing by type of clothes (sweaters, pants, etc)

8) Do a little user testing on your navigation – ask your friends what they think the navigation options mean. You know that solutions means “what we do” but the visitor doesn’t always.

9) Use words that the customer uses, not words that your company uses. It will help you in the search engines, too.

10) Stop talking about yourself (“Our company this, our company that”) and start talking about the customer (“Have you ever…?” “Do you need to….?”)

11) Write to the customer as if you were having a one-to-one conversation instead of a one-to-many lecture. Here’s an awful example of “writing at” the customer (it’s from a spoof site called “Welcome to the world’s most dynamic e-business marketing, design and consulting agency. We provide distinct clients with groundbreaking business strategies and cutting-edge designs to aggressively and creatively compete in a changing economy.”

12) Sell benefits instead of features. In place of telling the customer that you stock 25,000 kinds of mattresses, you might say, “With 25,000 different mattresses in stock, we’re sure to have the one that meets your back’s needs so that you can sleep through the night.”

13) Give just the right assurance at just the right time. For example, when you ask for someone’s email address, include a link to your privacy policy right next to the email field. Here’s another example: tell them about your encryption when you ask for their credit card.

14) Keep your site up to date. As soon as an event is over, remove it from your site (think about how foolish billboards look when they have a time sensitive ad up after the event has past.) Update your copyright every year so that people believe you are still in business.

15) Check your site weekly for broken links and fix them when you find them. You wouldn’t hand out a torn brochure, would you?

Respect your visitors
16) Treat email questions as if they were a customer on hold. Tell the individual when you are going to get back to them.

17) Create error messages that you would feel comfortable saying in person, and work hard not to make the customer feel like it’s his fault that he couldn’t find the page.

18) Don’t ask for the same information more than once (don’t you hate when you call the phone company, the automated voice attendant asks for your phone number, you key it in, wait for a live person, and the first question is, “What is your phone number?”)

Different options for different people
19) Some people love to use the search box – they are like the individual who walks into the store and finds the nearest salesperson and ignores all the signs. Create excellent search — the kind that can handle typos, that comes back with a manageable number of options, that always suggests something. The larger your site, the more important this becomes.

20) Some people don’t want to contact you online. Get your telephone number on every page if that’s one of the ways you expect to convert visitors into customers.

21) Some people don’t want to pick up the phone. Create online assistance – if not chat, then an IM address. If not an IM address, then a Contact Us box.

22) Give visitors multiple ways to say, “I’m interested,” such as joining your email list, downloading a white paper, downloding a demo, signing up for a webinar, etc.

23) Get rid of your Flash intro (if you haven’t already.) Not all Flash intros are bad, just 99% of them. When my customers hear that forcing their Flash intro onto all visitors is like forcing everyone to watch a 20 second movie at the supermarket, they always say, “But they can click to skip the intro.” True, but clicks are precious.

24) Get rid of little bits of Flash or other rich media that slowly drive the viewer wild.

25) When the customer is trying to give you his/her money, take it. Don’t ask him to create a user id and password. Time kills all deals – you can ask for the new registration after the purchase.

Bonus Set your analytics up (you knew this was coming, right?) so that you can look at them daily – get them emailed to you, if possible. Then make decisions based on them.