Online Marketing Lesson 53: Conversion Rate Optimization

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As we explained in the previous lesson, conversion rate is the most common metric you’ll need to deal with when optimizing your landing pages. In this lesson, we’ll further explain the concept, with tips and techniques you can use to optimize your landing pages.

Measuring Your Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is the percentage of your visitors who are performing whatever action you want them to. In other words, it is the number of visitors who performed the desired action, divided by the total number of visitors you received.

Conversion Rate = Number of Visitors Who Performed Desired Action / Total Number of Visitors

Let’s suppose you want to measure the conversion rate of your newsletter landing page, where the desired action is the subscription to your email newsletter. First of all you need to open your web analytics program (e.g., Google Analytics) to find how many people visited that page over a given period of time. Let’s say you want to measure the conversion rate of that page yesterday, and that the number of visitors to that page yesterday was 868. Now you need to log into your email marketing software (e.g., Aweber.com) and see how many subscribers you got on that page yesterday. Let’s say the number was 35. In order to find the conversion rate now you would need to divide 35 by 868, which is equal to 0.04, or 4% (to transform 0.04 in percentage simply multiply it by 100).

Keep in mind that one day is too short an interval of time to get an accurate measure of the conversion rate, though. Ideally, you should track it for at least one week, to make sure daily fluctuations don’t affect the numbers you get.

10 Strategies to Improve Your Conversion Rate

Now that you know how to calculate your conversion rate, let’s go through some tips and strategies you can use to improve it in your landing pages.

1. The Headline Is Critical

The landing page headline is the first thing visitors will see there, and unless it hooks their attention, it will also be the last. Just to give you an idea of how important the headline is, consider that professional copywriters often spend as much time working on the headline as they do on the rest of the copy.

How do you craft a strong headline? The main element is the promise of huge value, targeted exactly at the pain point of your prospects. If they are trying to lose weight, tell them your product will help them burn fat like there is no tomorrow. If your prospects are trying to play a game better, tell them your product will let them dominate that game. Don’t be afraid to make bold claims, as long as your product or service is solid and able to back up the claims (if it is not, work on it first). Below you’ll find sample headlines from best selling products on the Clickbank marketplace:

  • “How to Get An Easy 456% Profit Surge Using NEVER Revealed Strategies From the Net’s Fastest Growing Business!”
  • “You’re About To Discover the FASTEST way possible to Level Up Your Character Solo From Level 1 to Level 80 in World of Warcraft”
  • “The Ultimate FarmVille Guru Shares the Secret Tactic You Can Use To Dominate Facebook and Grow Your Farm At Light Speed”
  • “In Only 3 Minutes You Can Quickly And Easily Crank Out A Killer Cover Letter That Is Guaranteed To Have Your Phone Ringing Off The Hook With Hot Job Interviews And Top Job Offers!”
  • “Learn The System ANYONE Can Use to Get Better Grades in Less Time and With Less Effort – Guaranteed!”
  • “Play The Best Golf of Your Life In Just Two Weeks, Or Your Money Back”
  • “Discover The Learning Spanish Method That Turned A New York City Lawyer’s Life Up Side Down… Forcing Him To Close His Law Office Down and Start His Own Language Learning Company…”
  • “How To Approach Any Woman, Anywhere And Know Exactly What To Say To Get Her To Give You Her Number And Go On A Date With You – NOW”

As you can see all of them promise a huge value to the prospect. Secondary elements include an explanation of how the prospect will get that value (i.e., how fast or how easily), and a guarantee that the product or service will work.

2. Build a Path From There

Once you hook the prospect with your headline, you’ll need to guide him through your landing page, until he reaches the end, confident and ready to perform the desired action. Follow the steps to achieve this objective:

  1. Tell a story about yourself or about someone that the prospect can relate to (i.e., the prospect needs to feel like it is his story, too).
  2. Highlight the problems that someone in such situation is probably facing.
  3. Introduce your product, and explain how it will solve the problem and improve the life of the prospect.
  4. List the product features and other relevant details.
  5. Use testimonials to give more credibility to your statements and to add social proof.
  6. Employ one or more emotional triggers (e.g., free bonuses, discounts, limited number of units).
  7. Remove any doubts or objections the prospect might have (e.g., with a Q&A section).
  8. Reveal the price, and encourage the prospect to take action right now.
  9. Remove the risk factor by offering a free trial version or a money-back guarantee.

Notice that the blueprint above is designed for landing pages where you are selling something, but the concepts can also be used for other types of landing pages. If you are trying to get email subscribers, for example, you could use a free eBook to encourage people to subscribe, and then apply the same nine steps to guide your prospect until he is ready to subscribe.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Use A Long Sales Page

Including all the information we mentioned in the previous point will make your landing page quite long, and many people are worried about using the “long sales page” format, fearing they might end up looking like those “online gurus” who sell “get rich quick” schemes. You should not worry about this, for two main reasons.

First of all only marketers and online entrepreneurs recognize the “long sales page” format and get skeptical about it. If you are targeting a mainstream audience, therefore, they’ll hardly notice it.

Second, as long as you avoid the hype and the deception tactics these gurus use you should be fine with a long sales page no matter what. The purpose of your landing page is to provide all the information your prospect needs to make a decision, and as long as you do this transparently, your prospects won’t mind.

In other words, the long sales page is an effective marketing tool, and you should not avoid using it just because some marketers employ it without scruples. If you did that it would be like avoiding email marketing simply because some people use it to send spam.

4. Make Only One Thing Clickable

Ideally, only one thing should be clickable on your landing page: the link or button the visitor must click to perform the desired action.

Including links to external websites is a big “no” as far as landing pages are concerned, because if one of your prospects clicks there he might not return. And even if he returns his mindset will already be changed, and convincing him to perform the desired action will be harder.

For example, if you are going to use testimonials and list the website of each testimonial, you should use simple text to display the URL, as opposed to making it a link.

5. Create A Call to Action Section

Placing a small “Buy It” link at the bottom of your landing page is not enough. You need to create a special “Call to Action” section if you want to improve your conversion rate. This section should have three main elements.

First, you need a sub-heading to put the prospect in “buy mode.” If you are selling a weight-loss ebook, for example, you could use this: “Get INSTANT ACCESS to Our eBook and Start Burning Fat In The Next 10 Minutes!”

Second, you need a paragraph or two where you’ll summarize the benefits of your product, its features, and the price structure.

Third, you need a large “Buy Now!” button (or a “Subscribe” one, if your landing page was built to get newsletter subscribers). Obviously, the text on the button can be customized (other examples include “Join Today!” and “Add to Cart”). Many marketers have found that an orange button with credit card flags below it tends to improve the conversions, so try this one first.

6. Be Ready When The Prospect Is

Depending on the length of your landing page, it might be a good idea to display your “Call to Action” section several times. For example, you could display it a first time after introducing your product, a second time after listing your testimonials, and a third time at the bottom of the page.

This is important to make sure that the prospect will be able to take the desired action whenever he is ready. A certain visitor might decide to buy your product right after reading about it. If you don’t include a “Call to Action” section there, however, he will need to scroll down to the bottom of the page, and there is a chance that after doing so he will no longer want to buy (he could see a testimonial he doesn’t like, for example, or he could simply get annoyed trying to figure out how to buy the product).

7. Tweak The Visual Aspect

If your landing page looks like a single block of black text visitors will move on pretty quickly. You need to present your information in a visually appealing way if you want visitors to read and pay attention.

Practically speaking, you could use:

  • colors to highlight your headline and sub-headings,
  • bullet-points to list concepts in a clear fashion,
  • screenshots to illustrate your product, and
  • graphical elements to reinforce your key points.

8. Consider Using Video

If you are not a fan of the “long sales page” format you should consider using video, as it allows you to pack a great deal of information into a small piece of screen. You could use the video alone on your landing page, or place the video on top and the text version below, letting each visitor choose the way he wants to view your information.

Depending on your product or service a video might also help with the conversion rate because it allows you to add a personal touch to your sales pitch. For example, you could get in front of the camera, tell your story and then explain how your product can help people with similar problems.

Alternatively, you can use a screen capture software like CamStudio to create a video presentation with a demonstration of your product.

9. Learn From Others

Marketers have been using landing pages for decades. One of the best ways to improve your conversion rate, therefore, is to analyze successful landing pages and incorporate some of the strategies used on your own.

You can start by browsing the Clickbank marketplace. Simply choose a category related to your product, and then check the landing pages of the products with high “Gravity” score. The “Gravity” scores measure the popularity of products in the marketplace among affiliates, so the higher the score the higher the conversion rate of the product.

10. Conduct Ongoing Split Testing

This last point is probably the most important one. If you want to maximize your conversion rate you’ll need to test, and test a lot.

If you are technically savvy you could try Google’s Website Optimizer as it allows you to perform a wide range of tests, and it also analyzes the data and product reports automatically for you.

If you want something easier and quicker to implement, however, stick with the basic A/B split test. That is, track your conversion rate for one week, then change one key element in your landing page (e.g., the main headline, the “Call to Action” section, the testimonials, the money-back guarantee) and track the conversion rate for another week. Evaluate what version performed better, and then change another variable for another week, always trying to beat the top performing version.

Action Points

  1. Make sure you understand how to calculate conversion rates, and then determine what is the current conversion rate on your website or landing page.
  2. Apply the tips and strategies listed in this lesson and measure how your conversion improves.
  3. Remember that optimizing your conversion rate is a long-term process, and it can take several months until you achieve the desired results.

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