At the risk of giving away valuable trade secrets, I want to share what we’ve found to have the biggest impact on improving conversion rates at the most basic level. The theory behind conversion rates, if you will.
In the beginning…there was a product (or service)
Your business either offers a product or service, and there’s a good reason why people are using it. It fulfills a fundamental need. In order to improve conversion rates, we first need to understand what need is being fulfilled (way beyond its physical utility) and define the emotions that are driving the decision to fulfill it with your company.
We need to take a deep dive into understanding your customer and what life experiences, behaviors, and emotions are going on around the time of purchase.
Understanding your customer 101
To get started, we need to follow your existing customers through the buying journey. A simple and straightforward way to understand what led to a purchase is to ask your customers after they convert. We want to know the pain the customer feels before finding a solution, the emotional triggers that drive their decision-making, if they have any hesitation or concerns, and how they feel after finding your solution.
There are an array of questions you can ask your customers to get the insights needed. You can find a more detailed list of ideal surveys and survey questions here.
So what do we do with this information once we have it? The answers to these questions help guide your copywriting to ensure you’re addressing AND highlighting the most important pain points and emotions involved in the purchase decision. Your copy and pages should be focused on what your customers are telling you matters the most to them.
Beyond understanding your customer's emotions, your secondary goal should be to identify what value proposition is most important to your customers (i.e. customer service, price, quality, ease of use, eco-friendly, the CEO is cute, etc.). You may already have an idea, but getting the answer directly from the customer removes the guesswork.
Establishing trust and removing hesitation and concern
There’s an agreement that happens when your customers choose your company that goes beyond the exchange of money for goods and services. It’s the unwritten rule of doing business, and goes, “I’ll choose your company, and in return, you won’t screw me.”
If your customers are new to you, establishing as much trust as possible and relieving any hesitance before the purchase will help make the decision infinitely easier for your prospects.
Proven strategies for establishing trust on the internet, where the default behavior for users is to trust no one, is to provide social proof. No one trusts you if you tell them you’re trustworthy without proof. The opposite will happen. However, people will believe others if they say you’re trustworthy. We do this in the form of testimonials, case studies, videos, or user-generated content. Showing who we’ve helped, and providing proof needs to occur before the purchase.
We can take this a step further with a guarantee or warranty. This is why we see so many banners with things like “free shipping”, “30-day money-back guarantee”, or “lifetime warranty”. It gives our customers peace of mind knowing there is a fail-safe if they’re not 100% satisfied with their purchase.
The purpose of the guarantee is to remove the burden of financial responsibility from the customer and put it back on you. You can transfer that burden by providing a warranty, or a guarantee to establish confidence with your customers. They want the feeling that they are purchasing from a respected company and not taking a massive risk with their hard-earned money.
Usability and improving the user experience
We understand the need are business fulfills, we’ve identified our customer's pain points, and established trust while removing any reluctance. Our copywriting speaks directly to these issues and we’ve got consistent traffic to our website. Mr. President, I believe our work is done. Not even close.
User experience is the final piece of the puzzle, and if you disagree, here’s a statistic I love to overuse: Amazon spent 100x more on customer experience than advertising in its first year of business. Now that I’ve won that argument, let’s move on to why it’s important.
The internet contains your company, but it also has all of your competitors, and they’re all one click away. Slow site speed, errors, confusing navigation, distracting graphics, cluttered content, or an unprofessional site can easily create that split second of hesitation needed for a customer to lose interest. Most of the time it’s occurring in the subconscious, and can be hard for companies to spot on their own site. Unfortunately, it’s that easy to lose a sale.
The second half of conversion rate optimization is designed to remove the pain points from your user experience, and continuously improve upon it.
A/B testing, Heat/Click/Scroll Maps, and User Testing are the warhorses of this effort.
Getting direct feedback and watching someone use your site allows you to identify where those “micro-hesitations” are occurring and fix them. This alone makes user testing an essential tool for gathering first-party feedback on your user experience.
Heat/Click/Scroll maps give you qualitative feedback on how people are interacting with the killer copy we just wrote. We can identify how engaged our customers are by it, and get a clearer picture of what’s working and what’s being ignored. Customers may be breezing over vital information needed for a purchase. Knowing this information is crucial if you want to boost your conversion rates.
Lastly, A/B testing is the Holy Grail of conversion rate optimization. If you’re not familiar, it allows you to show different variations of your site, or certain pages, to different groups of visitors with a conversion goal in mind. Once a winner is established, you can show that version to every visitor. A/B tests allow you to remove any guesswork in understanding what will improve your user experience. This can lead to continuous improvement of your copy and user experience so you never stop improving your conversion rates.
It can be difficult to do all of these things extremely well, but there is a methodology for making sure you learn and improve upon your process. If you’re not sure where to start, start engaging with your customers where you can. Find out why they're choosing you over your competitors. Then, keep asking them why until you understand the emotions driving that decision.