How to Improve Your Conversions

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Websites don't magically convert users, it takes patience, and dedication. Here are some tips to help you create a better user experience.

This article will be updated as frequently as possible to include more great tips

So you’ve got an awesome product or service, and don’t understand why no one is clicking that shiny “get a quote” button. Well, I”m here to tell you that the issue may not be your website, it may not even be the content, but there are ways to identify these issues.

There’s a huge disconnect in the industry of web design today that says you must have amazing SEO, must be number one on search results, and you have to do all these other things to be taken seriously — that’s just lame. Honestly, we aren’t first on search results, and that’s fine. Let’s travel down this awesome rabbit hole and identify ways to better target your current users and new users because in reality that is what matters — sales. If you can put yourself in front of these people in a meeting the chances are you will convert them into sales.

Tip #1: SEO Does Not Guarantee Sales

Let’s take a look at VictoriasSecret.com because they, like, totally, prove my point. Are they a massive brand? Yes. However, they don’t give two shits about homepage content. See for yourself. They use images on the homepage for things that should be content, or which could easily be coded into proper columns and shown off. Instead, they say no to the SEO, or that’s how it appears at first.

https://www.victoriassecret.com/

Screenshot of Homepage with Alt Title on IMage

So they use mostly all images on their homepage, check it out, what do you think? Is this crazy? Maybe not. It can help elevate the user’s experience and it focuses solely on conversions… point, click, done. Takes them right where they should go to convert in their funnel. That’s what they focus on the most, giving weight to SEO may not always be the first order of business.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to try some new things with your homepage to test conversions. Always make sure you are thinking of how your ideal customers will think and act on your homepage.

Tip #2: Track, Analyze, Create, Repeat.

One of the biggest things I’ve seen oversold for sites today are analytics. There are tons of different companies out there who offer “the very best solutions” when in reality it’s actually very easy and the only investment it requires is your time. One of the best tools out there is Hotjar (https://hotjar.com) and it is FREE. So don’t get your pants all bunched up yet, just hear me out.

Hotjar has created a tool that tracks users in some very unique ways that help identify key points on your website — especially clicks and funnels. You can create about three funnels with the free account and use heatmaps to see where people are clicking the most. Another great feature is their recordings, oh man, these things will show you exactly what a user does no matter what device their on — even how long it takes for them to read something and if they scroll right passed that fancy CTA your “marketing guy” swore you needed to pay $350 to implement.

https://hotjar.com

Tip #3: Learn Google Analytics

Other free tools exist out there, this one you might know… Google Analytics. Yep, that’s right! This is one of the most under-used tools I’ve encountered. Because people don’t want to take the time to learn everything it can do. It is packed full of things that can help you identify your market and find out more during your research phase than other companies may provide.

I highly recommend reading this post by Online Metrics – Paul has an amazing list created and the other articles on his website are amazingly informative! If you’re looking for more tips on conversions, this is the place to go and find them.

Our Top Google Analytics Features

Goals – The ability to set up to 20 per reporting view and gathering crucial data about your users. You’ll need to set up your objectives, strategies, and other items of course.

Calculated Metrics – This allows you to create metrics which are calculated per reporting view

Campaign Tracking – If you use a lot of paid ads this is very helpful. Only useful if you correctly tag your campaigns, all of them.

Channel Grouping – Define a source or medium to help you better organize where traffic is coming from.

Content Grouping – This will help you research better and improve conversions. “A site-wide content grouping covers at least 98% of all pageviews on your website and divides all pageviews into logical buckets for aggregated navigational and performance analysis and optimization.”

Site Search – This will help you during research phases to identify keywords for, but not limited to; SEO, PPC, Products, Services, Improved Search Functions, and User Experience.

Event Tracking – Using pageviews and events, if configured properly, can help your users achieve certain goals. These goals can be pre-defined or set by users after you analyze common patterns.

Secondary Dimensions – Properly configuring this can help you better organize your content and data to find improvements for your goals, traffic channels, segments, and so on.

Tip #4: Split Testing AKA A/B Tests

These are crucial to helping you identify potential conversions and ways to convert at a higher rate with less risk of bounces. Why? Because you’ve set up your funnel to attract and convert your ideal customers. Still doesn’t make sense?

Client Example Usecase

Let’s say you have a client that sells shoes. That doesn’t help very much. Here are a few questions to ask the client.

  • What kind of shoes?
  • What colors are available?
  • What sizes are available?
  • What material are they made of?
  • Are they limited in any way? (colors, materials, sizes, quantity, etc.)
  • Do they benefit the wearer, how?
  • Who possibly wears them?
  • Why do they wear them?
  • and so on….

Now that you’re armed with the information you have to come up with split tests to help identify the key questions that help your client figure out who is going to purchase. You create a set of different goals, content, colors, animations, images, and actions. Almost like a user journey map, but change a few things on your website or landing page for that specific test.

Repeat this a few times and then let the data come in after about a week. Review the findings and show the client where the most success happened, this doesn’t have to be a full conversion it can simply mean this group of people got this far in the funnel. Take the information from that and replicate it into a new set of split tests. Keep going until you have a funnel that converts well.

Tip #5: Use Animations Properly

One of the most misunderstood items in the web industry today are animations. Most developers use them because they look cool. Honestly, these developers use them with no actual purpose, which actually affects conversions negatively. When you have too many animations with no purpose it becomes overwhelming and cluttered. Here are real-world examples to put it into perspective.

Real-world Example 1 – Good Animations – You’re walking along the beach and hear a dog bark, your head turns to find out where the noise came from, and you see an adorable puppy that comes up to you. So exciting and loving!

Real-world Example 2 – Bad Animations – You’re walking along the beach and hear a few dogs bark loudly, your head turns rapidly to find where the noises came from, and you see an entire pack of twelve dogs bolting toward you. This makes you turn and run away from them, only to trip and fall in the sand with twelve dogs on top of you, end scene.

If you want to read more on web animations I highly recommend reading this post. The greatest thing about animations is the flexibility of how you can use them, but overuse can lead to confusion for the user. Make sure when using animations you are not cluttering them together and your purpose is clear. A call-to-action (CTA) is a good example of a best-case scenario, it can be a background animation, button animation, link, whatever you want… just make sure it has a purpose that is clear.

Tip #6: Call to Actions

What is a call to action? Well here’s Wikipedia to tell us!

Call to action is a marketing term used extensively in advertising and selling. It refers to any device designed to prompt an immediate response or encourage an immediate sale.

Wikipedia

Make sense? Here are a few examples of some great call-to-actions we love.

Example call to action button by Evernote
Users land on the page and understand what the images depict at the right. It highlights benefits and a signup area that’s quick and clear. https://evernote.com
Fubo.tv has an easy to recognize CTA. “Start your free trial” and highlights benefits right under the benefit of what you can expect after clicking it. https://fubo.tv
SoFi attracts the user at first glance right to the button. They set clear expectations and benefits in one clean text area. They highlight their app off to the right to further set expectations. https://sofi.com
Brave Browser sets a clear message as to why you should use their application and the benefits of it in just two lines. They give two options, download or watch a promotional video. https://brave.com/
Coolors.co does an amazing job of setting expectations and where to use their software. It tells you exactly what it does and shows you.

Tip #7: Colors That Engage

Crazy enough, a lot of people today suck at picking the right colors, and using them for the right reasons. Believe it or not, there are wrong reasons to use some colors. Like if your company uses bright yellow across their entire website and then white text on top of it, you are now welcoming users to pull out their sunglasses because it’s a blinding color combination.

One of the best tools you can use is Coolors.co as showcased above. This tool allows you to enter your own hex color codes as well as explore different shades and save the color palettes, download them, and you can share them easily with clients, too. We use the tool every day for new projects, old projects, and just about everything that uses color. Even our own website, it helped us identify key shades for buttons and effects.

How do you use engaging colors and apply them to different aspects of your website or graphics? The short answer is to think like your users. The most common questions to ask are:

  • Who are they?
  • What is it they need to do?
  • Why are they here?
  • Where does this go?

Once you figure out the answers to the questions above and create a color palette that is not too bright, over-saturated, or confusing (using Coolors), you will be able to construct a proper design that resonates with the users to help your goals.

Tip #8: Motivating Content

Writing content that motivates the reader is not very hard to write and is crucial to your conversions. The best part is it doesn’t have to be as long as this article. You saw the CTA tip? Look how short those are and yet they immediately demand action or interest. That is all you need to do for conversions.

A few tips to help you write better content that captures attention

  • Use humor in large amounts of text to keep the user reading
  • Write in a way that your users enjoy reading
  • Don’t use a ton of jargon unless your users understand it (or explain it to them)
  • Make some of the content about them and their pain points
  • Use comparisons or statistics from reputable sources
  • Showcase a testimonial or two if writing about products or services
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself
  • Spell check and grammar checks save lives

A lot of people ask me if content is important and how do they get started writing captivating articles. You don’t wake up one day and just write perfect. It takes time to become a storyteller, which is what I feel helps for better writing. The good news is anyone can write about anything they want. Just make sure you use Grammarly or something to help you along the way or people will laugh at you, but hey all press is good press, right?

Tip #9: Reviews Placement

A lot of people don’t understand the right way to use reviews or testimonials. Also, what the heck is the difference? Let’s break down what these mean, or what I think they mean.

Testimonials are owned by the business and they’re collected by your company directly from the person who is testifying that your product or service is awesome. You manage these directly and normally on a website or social media channels.

Reviews are left by a person on a third-party resource without your business being involved like Facebook, Google, or Yelp. They are managed by your business through the third-party, but you do not have full control in all scenarios, and ownership is a grey area. If a bad review is left you cannot always remove it.

What is the best placement for reviews?

You want to highlight that people love your product or service so much they have left you a public review for the world to see. It should be a subtle nudge on your website. This also lets you showcase a reply to them, publicly, and further enforces how much you love and support them. The best way to show off reviews is almost like a call-to-action where you have a few scattered around your website and social channels to create a compelling argument for potential customers/clients. These are generally, always written.

What is the best placement for testimonials?

If you have an online store you’ll want testimonials and reviews on a product page. Reviews will be gentle where a testimonial can be a big video or shout-out by a satisfied customer. A lot of people use social media for testimonials today, even though they say they’re reviews, in actuality, it is a testimonial of their experience with that product or service normally in a recorded format and not just written accounts.

Tip #10: Use The Right Fonts

This is another huge disappointment in the web design industry, people who either want to build their site themselves, or hire a person and over-involve themselves in the process, giving more weight to their preferences, and not letting the designer do their job. Most great (and not cheap) designers, either web or otherwise, create something to captivate the users which help conversions. This includes font choices.

Example of Bad Font Choice

This unnamed website uses fonts in a terrible manner despite giving advice on picking the right fonts. They are unreadable, don’t match the target market, and some way too bold which is distracting from the rest of the post. Your eyes want to go to the big bold font rather than read the important information inside.

Example of Good Font Choice

Medium uses excellent font choices, they use the correct weights and spacing. The colors are great, easy to read fonts, and your brain can immediately decipher them. Sub-headings are different fonts but still similar in a way that doesn’t shock the user and keeps the page flow going for easy readibility.

Tip #11: Speed Matters

Your website load time greatly improves conversions because a user is not sitting and waiting for the content or media to fully load. GTMetrix is a tool that analyzes fully-loaded times for any website, it tells you what to improve and why it’s important.

When a user clicks a link you have less than three seconds to make an impression. This means grabbing their attention or guiding their eyes to a specific area of a page or post.

When you clutter a website (like the recent Smashing Magazine site) it becomes too much, sure people stay for the content, but at what point are the advertisements too much on posts? The content on Smashing Magazine is amazing, it truly is and I love reading their articles. So we are not putting down their content or what they stand for as I am a regular reader.

Here’s a video of this post and it shows all of the cluttered advertisements and call-to-actions that distract from the overall reading experience. I know, you need to sustain your expensive server costs, but at what cost? Leave your thoughts on this in the comments.

The amount of ads confuses the user and makes them unsure what to read next

Speed Test Examples

Below is a speed report of how amazingly slow and cluttered their latest homepage is. How do you load 894kb of data in 4.9s? They get millions of views, but they should have a proper plan to fix it. (Psst, feel free to contact us Smashing Magazine, haha.)

Below is our speed test of our homepage and how we utilize the proper techniques to keep a good vanity score and great loading time, with even fewer requests. Is our website perfect? No. Does it have a ton of media and content on the homepage? Not yet, but when we do, it’ll still be just as fast.

Our website speed report from GTMetrix.com
Jeremy Gruver

Jeremy Gruver

I started with computers and websites when I was only 11-years-old. Ever since then technology has been my big thing, discovering new ways to help people through it. That's why we started SPARK.

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Jeremy Gruver
I started with computers and websites when I was only 11-years-old. Ever since then technology has been my big thing, discovering new ways to help people through it. That’s why we started SPARK.

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