8 brilliant tips that boost conversions

Did you know that about 40-50% of your site's visitors leave after seeing just a single page?*

If half of your traffic disappears, it will take a heavy toll on your site's conversion rate. Understanding why visitors leave and how they interact with your site is crucial to your business, and bottom line.

Clicktale has helped thousands of sites like yours gain insight into customer behavior by showing actual visitor sessions, mouse movements, clicks, scrolls and more.

Based on the feedback of many of our customers, as well as our own experiences, we have prepared a set of 8 'best practices' to help you boost conversion rates and improve site usability.

We'd love to hear your feedback and about your experience using Clicktale to optimize your website.

*According to two independent surveys by Anil Batra and Panalysis.

1. Visual-ize it

Images and movies are the easiest types of content to absorb quickly, and using them effectively can boost your readers' attention span and encourage longer interactions.

Don't forget to make images clickable! They will be clicked!

Schwan's uses images superbly and, in fact, are one of the highest converting retail websites around.

Did you know?
People love looking at faces
, especially the faces of attractive people...

Esquire.com uses lots of images to get visitor attention. How many faces can you count? We counted 9!

2. Read this and Win

Did we get your attention? Are your headlines working for, or against you? If your visitors aren't immediately captured by your headlines, they'll quickly leave your site. Don't worry! You don't need to be a world-class copywriter to come up with great headlines. With a little bit of practice, and some testing, you can hone your headline skills and grab the attention of your audience.

Ask yourself these short questions:

  • Is the headline short and to the point?
  • Is it worded in terms of benefits to the visitor (and not product features)?

Your headlines should encourage the visitor to continue reading, highlighting the benefits of doing so while keeping it believable and specific.

Apple.com website says so much with just a few well chosen words.

Want to learn more about writing headlines? Read about how to write the "World's Best Headlines" in Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox.

3. Put your Best Stuff up Top

Most readers never scroll down, and when they do the drop-off rate follows a distinct pattern (see graph below). In fact, page areas near the top of the page get about 17 times more exposure than the areas near the bottom of the page, according to a research report by Clicktale. This means that everything important or newsworthy, or any call to action, needs to be above the page fold.

The chart above shows where on the page visitors are paying attention, as they scroll towards the bottom of the page. To see your own visitors' scrolling behavior, we recommend using Clicktale's Scrolling Heatmaps.

4. Make content Pop

The really important stuff, the things you want to stand out, should be emphasized. Did you notice how we use bold typeface to draw your attention to certain words or sentences? Experiment with font size, bold, italics, color and highlighting to find the most effective places and methods to grab your readers' attention and call them to action.

Conversion Rate Experts do an excellent job using different font styles and colors to get their messages across.

5. WIIFM (What's In It For Me?)

Sites usually get it wrong by focusing on themselves (the site) and not the user (i.e. "Me"). Chapter 3 of Dan Pink's The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, a fantastic manga-style career guide, puts it this way: "It's not about you".

That's right, accept it, it's not. It's about the user community, that is, your sites target audience. Your site exists to serve this audience, and everything done on your site should have this focus.

This Best-Practice is actually quite simple.
Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this page/form/offer/etc actually of real value to my audience?
  • Why should they care?
  • How is it useful to them?

Mint.com homepage concisely conveys what's-in-it-for "you" (their potential customers).

6. You ask TOO much

We hate to be the one to tell you this, but you ask for too much info on your signup forms and checkout pages! Visitors are extremely sensitive to the quantity and type of information asked from them, and every additional question significantly decreases the likelihood of form completion, harming your conversion rates.

Did you know?
The least-intrusive and fewest-question forms are the biggest winners.

Facebook is a great example of a simple, short and effective sign up form.

Two Tribes used Clicktale's Form Analytics to optimize their online forms and got a 50% increase in conversion rates.

7. Watch your visitors

Running usability tests used to be difficult and expensive. Not anymore. With Clicktale (start using it for Free*) you're able to conduct usability testing by watching your visitors' actual browsing sessions.

Usability testing will help you discover what's "broken" on your website, and answer questions like:

  • Why are visitors leaving my landing pages?
  • Why do they fail to make purchases?
  • Which pages never get scrolled?

Watch this short (about a minute) Clicktale video to learn how to run online usability testing.

Did you know?
Breaking down problems makes it easier to fix them. After running usability testing, compile a list of the top 5 things that are "broken" on your site. This will help you focus on the most urgent problems, and prioritize issues. Once you're done, go to step #8 (Testing).

8. Test - Repair - Retest

Small changes often make major impacts on the bottom line, which is why we recommend that you test every section of your site, in order to maximize revenue and conversion potential. Using a service such as Google's Website Optimizer to run "multivariate tests" or running a simple A/B test, is a great way to see what works best.

Run your testing in three stages:

I. Fix all of the things that are "broken" (which you'll discover during your usability tests, see #7 above). This is worth doing first, because it's the easiest way to make quick improvements.

II. Watch your visitors again with Clicktale, to make sure you actually fixed what was broken. If things are still screwy, or if further tweaking is necessary, go back to step I.

III. Test new ideas that have the potential to significantly grow your business. Again, it's important to watch the results of your changes to see how they are really impacting your business.

Here is an example of an A/B/C experiment using Google's Website Optimizer.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to web design, there are no firm set of rules. But following these simple guidelines will help you optimize your site and improve conversion rates, as it has ours and thousands of other websites.

So remember:

  1. Fantastic visuals grab visitors attention
  2. Great headlines encourage action
  3. Float your best content to the top
  4. Make important content stand out
  5. WIIFM
  6. Fewer questions boost conversions
  7. Run usability tests
  8. Test, repair, and retest

We would love to hear how these guidelines (or any other tips) have helped you with your site optimization. Send us your experiences and we will mention your feedback in a future follow-up article!

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