50 Ways to Improve Conversion on Your Website
First published 10/12/19, last edited 17/12/19
Your website represents one of your biggest opportunities to engage online visitors. A good website experience could be the difference between a positive and a negative perception of your company; the difference between an enquiry and a hasty exit; the difference between a sale and an abandoned basket.
It's crucial that you understand your audience well enough to identify the reasons they've come to your website - and that you enable them to complete the task they came for; whether that's finding information, getting in touch with you or completing a purchase.
Conversion Rate Optimisation is a serous business - the biggest and best companies employ specialists in this field to continuously monitor and improve website conversion. They do this by using a combination of analytics (quantitative data) and user insight (qualitative data) to identify online pain points and opportunities. Then they initiate controlled experiments to find out which new approach works better and contributes the biggest improvement in conversion.
I've listed 50 ways you can increase your website conversion, starting with the foundations and moving on to activities that have been tried and tested by multiple companies.
50 Ways to Increase Website Conversion
Starting Point: Get the Foundations Right
1. User research
At the heart of a high converting website is a solid understanding of "the customer" or "user". Identify the main groups of customer or target audience: what are their needs and pain points? What are they trying to achieve? What is likely to help them engage with your website and give them a positive experience? If you don't have this information to hand, speak to actual customers, interview customer-facing staff, send out surveys, introduce feedback forms on your website or even offline.
2. Make sure you can measure performance
You can't hope to improve your website's performance unless you can measure performance in the first place. In basic terms, your website needs to be connected to an analytics platform like Google Analytics so you can calculate your conversion rate today (based on at least the last few months) - and track how it improves over time.
3. Make sure you know what you're measuring
The conversion rate of your website is the number of "conversion actions" carried out divided by the number of visitors to your website. A "conversion action" might be a document download, a phone call (initiated from the website), a webinar registration, an enquiry form submission or an online sale - or a combination of one of more of these. You decide which action(s) represent a successful conversion for your business.
website visitors = 1,000
form submissions + online sales = 10
Conversion rate = 1%
4. Site structure (architecture)
The way your website is organised has a direct impact on how easy it is for a customer to find what they're looking for. Make sure there's a logical order to where your various pages live in your website structure. Avoid too many levels in your navigation - customers will be prepared to click if they feel they're getting towards their goal, but remember they're likely to leave your website altogether if they don't find what they're looking for within a few clicks.
5. Terminology (taxonomy)
Avoid company jargon; shun technical language - unless you can be sure your audience is universally technical. When you assess your page titles and internal links, put yourself in the shoes of your audience and use the most customer-friendly language possible.
6. Navigation aids
Don't make it hard for your website visitors to find what they're looking for. Help them out with a concise navigation bar and/or menu. Offer a site search so visitors can type in what they're looking for and go straight there. Ideally you'll get a few people outside the company to try to find a few key pages or products (and maybe some niche ones) - observe if/how they get there and ask yourself if you've made their journey simple enough.
No matter how good your product or service, if people are checking you out online, the design of your website is important. People will make a judgement about you and your business based on their first impression. If your website looks like it was created in 1999, or if the images and colour scheme looks amateurish, your website visitor is hardly likely to consider you as a professional company.
8. Value Proposition
Be really clear about what you're offering and why the customer should choose YOU. What is different about what you offer, compared to anyone else? A balanced approach is to avoid using hyped up language: anyone can say they offer an "amazing service", but it is far more convincing if you can say your service was rated five stars by over 100 customers in 2019.
9. Make your website Mobile friendly
Many company owners still act surprised when I tell them that most visitors are looking at their website on a mobile device. The tipping point when mobile overtook desktop for internet usage happened years ago and is not about to be reversed. If your website looks ok on a computer but is awkward to use on a mobile phone, you're providing a sub-standard experience to over half of your audience. This is something you need to get right as a priority.
10. Make sure your web pages load quickly
One of the biggest conversion killers is slow web pages. Online visitors are even less likely to wait for your pages now than they were just a couple of years ago. Due to the increase in smartphone usage and better connectivity and speeds, customers expect websites to function smoothly and at speed. If they're waiting more than a few seconds, they're likely to give up and move on. Don't take the chance. Check your page speeds in your Analytics Platform. And if your page load speeds are running slower than a few seconds, you'll need to focus some time on improvements.
Content: Relevance and Engagement
11. Keep copy clear and concise
Today's website visitors are busy and impatient. Get to the point. Be direct. Offer summary versions of your content - people do click through to read more if something relevant catches their eye. If you can't write very well, don't compensate by adding long passages of text to your page. You're better off getting help from a friend, relative or company/individual.
12. Use videos
Increasingly, website visitors are consuming video content. In an age of faster internet speeds and lower browsing costs, the barriers to online video are disappearing. At the same time companies are discovering that video is often a great medium for conveying their message. Try it for "About Us" content to bring personality to your business. Showcase your products and services - it's a great way to engage and boost interactions - often it's key for helping the customer to make a buying decision.
13. Focus on the benefits to the customer
The customer needs to know what's in it for them; how their life will be better for using your product or service; which challenge or pain point you are helping to solve. Start with this in mind and sell your product or service on this basis. Detailed product information is useful and needs to be find-able on your website, but it won't entice someone who's browsing your website.
14. Use quality, authentic images (and avoid staged, cliched, library images)
Quality images are good for aesthetics, that's an obvious point. But they're also essential for signposting your content, showcasing your products and services and accelerating your visitor's understanding of what you're all about. Don't under estimate the impact of images on your website conversion.
15. Use Case Studies or Testimonials
One of the first things your visitor will want to know is: "is this company the right one for me to use / work with?" To help them decide, they often want to find out who has used you previously and what kind of experience you delivered. Proof that you've offered a good service in the past is very powerful in helping a potential customer to interact with your website.
16. Bring your company brand and personality to the fore
Think about the tone of your website, both in text and imagery. This should match entirely with what you now about your target customer. If the audience expects a professional tone, make sure the language and images you use reflects this. Or should you be more playful, less formal and focused on a vibrant personality across your communications. Either way, make your brand and personality consistent across your website so the audience is more likely recognise the relevance and engage with you.
The Top of The Sales Funnel: Landing Pages and Brochureware
17. Calls to Action (CTAs)
It makes a huge difference to conversion if you include clear signposts to your visitor. Clear links and clickable buttons (like "Read more", "Click here", "Buy", "Submit") will help your visitor find their way around your website.
18. Reasons to Buy
Before a visitor even starts to look in any detail at the products or services you offer, they may be asking "why should I buy from this company" It's a good idea to think about the answer to this question. Are you competitive on price? Do you have a great delivery promise? Can you offer a satisfaction guarantee? Whatever it is you do well, make sure this is hard to miss on your website. If the customer is convinced, they're far more likely to buy.
19. Think about the purpose of each page..
...and the tasks a customer will want to complete on each page. A clear objective for each page is essential to keep the customer journey simple and quick. It's easy to forget this principle, which results in multiple messages, competing Calls to Action and confusing pathways. Too many websites have fallen into the trap of "shouting" about many things at once, which ultimately damages customer engagement and affects conversion rates.
20. Make recommendations based on what you know of your audience
Often your visitor just wants some help to decide which option to choose. So, if you know that a certain type of customer will benefit from Product X, make sure they can see this recommendation easily. "Popular with families", "Ideal for beginners", "Recommended for those on a budget". These are the types of prompts that will help your visitor find a relevant product or service.
21. Avoid displaying too many options - help the customer to choose
If you're expecting your website visitor to sift through more than 10 options without assistance, you may be disappointed with the impact on your website conversion. Faced with multiple options is usually overwhelming for website users - the result is that they simply can't and don't make a choice. There are many studies which show this is the case. If you simply have to present more than five products or services, help the customer make a decision. Help them to identify the most relevant options. Show filters. Offer a tool to gauge what they need and reduce the number of options to choose from.
22. Show visitors the most popular products and services
In my early days at Amazon, it was obvious that some customers just wanted to see the bestseller lists. Social proof and showing what others are doing is still highly effective in driving buying behaviour.
23. Create a limited-time offer or discount code
Customers who feel like they're getting a good deal are far more likely to convert, especially if the deal has an expiry date. Creating a sense of value plus urgency is key to higher conversions.
24. Use high quality product images
Humans are visual creatures and need to see what they're thinking of buying in as much detail as possible - from every possible angle. The need to actually have a product in their hands before buying is a big reason why some people still insist on going to a physical store, so you need to replicate this experience as closely as possible. If your product is actually a service, you can still incorporate this principle: use high quality images to show an example client or a scenario that's relevant to your service. Above all, ensure the images you use are authentic - there are too many website that rely on stock images - often of people smiling inanely at a product.
25. Use videos
The highest converting product pages often include a video of a product in use - it's far more credible and convincing to see something being used rather than sitting there in freeze frame.
26. Provide two levels of product description: summary and detailed versions
If you've got a lot to say about a product, start with a summary that really captures the key features an benefits. The detail is important, but don't let this stop the customer working out within 10 seconds the main point of the product. Once their attention is captured and they've decided the product is relevant, make sure the detailed descriptions are easy to find.
27. Display customer reviews
Nowadays, your product or service is not as good as you say it is; it's only as good as what everyone else says it is. Your website visitors are far more likely to see credibility in reviews from real customers. Of course you are going to say your product or service is just what they're looking for. But what do actual punters think? Providing authentic customer reviews often makes the difference when it comes to converting website visitors.
28. Recommend other, similar products...
...especially if other products are complementary to the product your customer is interested in. Don't assume your visitor will convert to a sale just because they've bothered to find a Product Page. What if it's not quite what they need, or if they're thinking they need something else as well which might not be available from you. Cover your bases by working out which other products are relevant and recommending them as additional options.
29. Show stock levels
As a general point, it's reassuring to the customer if you can let them know about the availability of the product they're interested in. If you happen to be low on stock for an item, make sure you tell the customer this. It will result in higher conversion because there's nothing like a bit of scarcity to drive a buying decision. It will also help avoid disappointing a returning customer - it's frustrating to find a product online only to discover it's out of stock a day or so later.
The Sales Journey: Checkout
30. Basket Confirmation
Make it really clear what a customer has chosen. Show the price and a summary of any details associated with the product or service. If there's any doubt regarding what a customer is actually about to buy, there's a big risk they'll abandon the checkout journey.
31. Avoid other distractions on the page
If a customer has made a buying decision and has the intention to complete the purchase, the last thing you should be doing is shouting about "other stuff". Allow your visitor to keep a single-minded intention. If you distract them with other offers, links and messages, you may find they're less likely to buy.
32. Avoid asking the customer to sign up - at least offer "guest checkout"
This has the potential to be a real conversion killer. Websites that force customer to join, sign up or subscribe are asking for conversion trouble. Not everyone wants to get an account with you. Very few will say they want to receive your membership email every month. So don't ask them to do this at the very point when they're about to buy from you.
Your visitor is about to part with some money or make a commitment to something you offer. But why should they trust that you'll be able to come through with a quality product or service? Think about the proof points that would set their mind at rest, whether that's company reviews, a data pint that shows you can deliver, or an independent award recognising your brilliance. The bottom line is: if the visitor doesn't trust you, they won't buy from you.
34. Delivery Promise
I'm amazed how often I'm about to purchase something from a website, only to wonder when on earth it's going to be delivered. In many cases, this is the point the customer leaves your website and goes to a competitor, or to the High Street. If you're really lucky, the customer will look elsewhere on your website to see if there's a section on delivery times. But this information should be immediately available at all times when a customer needs it - this includes the point of purchase.
35. Make it easy to find your Refund and Returns policy - and make sure it's a customer-friendly process
A customer is likely to wonder what will happen if something goes wrong; if they don't like what they receive; or they change their mind; or if the person they're buying for hates their present. Put their mind at rest and make it easy to find information relating to returns, refunds and exchanges. Otherwise you risk losing them from the checkout journey.
36. Display payment security messages
Generally, people are rightly careful with their banking and card details - and if they've never purchased from you before, somewhere in their mind they'll question the security of your website. Reassure them with the logs of any relevant payment protection bodies. Displaying recognised Debit and Credit Card logos also helps build trust and confidence.
37. Offer multiple forms of payment
If you offer an online checkout, customers will expect to be able to pay by Debit and Credit Card. Increasingly, customers may favour websites that offer alternative payment methods such as PayPal, Amazon Pay and Apply Pay. You don't want to miss out on customers simply because you don't offer a preferred method of payment!
38. Acknowledge customer orders with a confirmation message on the website and an email
Do not leave a customer wondering if their order has actually been processed. Once a transaction has been made, there should be an instant acknowledgement on the screen in the form of a thank you message and, if possible, a delivery estimate and any other useful information. In addition, an email with all the details means the customer will have a record once they leave the website. A positive buying experience where the customer feels looked after, even after they've paid, goes a long way to ensuring the customer considers you for future purchases - and this in turn will help your conversion rate.
39. Follow up abandoned baskets with an email
There are many reasons why a customer might not complete a purchase. Just because they've abandoned their basket / trolley / cart doesn't mean they will never buy from you. If you have the customer's details but they didn't purchase, a carefully designed and worded email might just bring them back to your website.
40. Make it easy to find your contact information
Accessing your contact details is obviously good for driving customer interactions, including to your offline channels like phone and store visits. There's also a subtle benefit to online conversion. If you're prepared to make your contact information easily accessible, this is likely to give your visitors confidence that you're a reputable company and that you'll be available to provide support or if something goes wrong with their order. It's another trust factor that can help your website convert wavering visitors into paying customers.
41. Give the customer options when it comes to getting in touch
If the customer needs to contact you before they complete a task on your website, it's ideal to offer them their preferred method of contact. If the customer doesn't want to wait for an email response, they might not bother unless you can give them a phone number. If it's not convenient for them to talk to you on the phone, they might prefer to engage in a Live Chat - see #42.
42. Provide Frequently Asked Questions / FAQs (and Answers)
You can probably guess 80% of the questions that customers and prospects might have about your products or services. Make sure you address all these on your website and make it easy to find this content. Don't risk the customer leaving your website because they have even the slightest doubt about something. It's often the case that providing simple FAQs gives the visitor all they need to make a buying decision. This saves you the overhead of answering the question over the phone or any email - and most importantly for conversion, allows your website visitor to find the answer at the moment they need it, so they can continue their journey and complete a purchase.
43. Provide Live Chat
Live Chat is a great option for converting website visitors. It allows customers to get a response in real time, is highly engaging and addresses the fact that some people simply don't want to talk to you on the phone. It's potentially an expensive channel but also highly effective - many companies find that it contributes massively to conversion while representing the best option in terms of customer satisfaction.
44. Use as few fields as possible.
The general rule is that the more fields you add to a form, the fewer people will bother to complete it. Ask yourself: "is this form field entirely necessary?" Are you including it because you'd quite like the data in your database, or do you genuinely need the information to respond to the customer or complete the purchase?
45. Use tool tips to avoid any ambiguity
If you're expecting the customer to think about the information required, or how to find it, there's a great risk of form abandonment, which will do your conversion rate no favours. Tool tips (often signposted with an "i" for "information" icon) can make it clear what's required and enable the visitor to complete a form.
46. Make sure error messages are clear
It's always frustrating to submit a form only to find there's been an error. It's even worse if its unclear what you've done wrong. At best, this is frustrating; at worst, it's the end of the road for your visitor and they'll leave your website without converting.
47. Use an address look up mechanism to save the customer time
If you need the customer's address, best practice is to offer an option of inserting a postcode and displaying relevant addresses in a drop down, which then auto-completes all the address fields.
48. Acknowledge the successful submission and allow the visitor to continue their journey
Don't leave the visitor wondering if they've successfully submitted a form. Acknowledge that you will have received their form. Thank them and send them on their way to an appropriate next action.
Test different versions: and make sure you can measure the impact of your tests
The key to increasing your website conversion rate lies in testing. Test one thing at a time so you know exactly which website change is making a difference to conversion. Make sure you can measure the impact of the new version compared to the old. Remember you learn just as much from a "failed" test - even if it doesn't improve conversion, it will teach you something about your audience, plus you'll be relieved you didn't just make the change blindly. The most scientific way to test is be split testing, often called A/B Testing. This involves splitting the traffic to your website so your audience sees two versions. You can then measure which version performs the best (based on your success criteria).
Here are just a couple of things you could test:
49. The colour of your Call to Action Buttons
Some companies have increased conversion rates on web pages significantly (sometimes up to x5) just by changing their button colours. Make sure you experiment with colours you can live with. (Don't test a colour only to dismiss it later because it's your competitor's main colour.)
50. The main banner on your homepage
Do you know how many people are clicking on your homepage banner? Are you sure that whatever content in there is the best it can be? Experiment by showing an alternative version - perhaps with a different product, proposition, message, image and / or Call to Action.
#51: the Bonus tip: do not pay for marketing that results in irrelevant website traffic. Not only does this reduce your conversion rate, it's a waste of money. Sure, you need to experiment to see which marketing channels work best for you, but if you're asking yourself whether or not the Google Paid Ads you've been running for three months are giving you any value.. they're probably not. Try something different. A different message, or target group. Or even try a different marketing channel altogether. Work out where your customers and prospects are most likely to hang out online; which messages and offers are most likely to appeal.
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