It is no secret that companies that take a structured approach toward conversion optimization for their websites are twice as likely to see a significant increase in sales than companies that do not. The purpose of website conversion is simple. As the name suggests, website conversion methods convert website visitors into customers. Website conversion takes a lot of planning, skill, and hard work but when all's said and done, the results can be extraordinary.
There is no reason why companies should not at least consider some of the basic tenets of website conversion. In fact, these techniques aren't a luxury reserved for large companies with an army of web designers under their payroll. They are meant for companies of all shapes and sizes (although smaller companies tend to hire independent companies for their web designing needs). Website conversion can be the difference between maintaining the status quo and taking your company to newer, greater heights.
To better illustrate how this strategy can work for you and your business, here are 10 website conversion tricks that are sure to turn visitors to users and users to paying customers:
- It's the Subtlety That Counts -- Web conversion involves a quite a bit of behavioral psychology. How people think. How they make decisions. How they are influenced by what's around them and how they influence other people. The field of behavioral psychology is quite massive -- far too much to include in one post. However, there are a few basic concepts that business owners and marketers should keep in mind when designing website conversion strategies. One of them is this: the Law of Past Experience (also known as the concept of 'Mental Models'), which is the belief that past experiences directly influence current experiences.
The concept itself is a bit broad. After all, most of psychology can be divided into two camps: one that states that experience alone influences thinking and development, and one that holds that thinking and development are ultimately internal. Still, the Law of Past Experience has been proven true in many studies. A 2008 study, for example, found that children who were shown a Santa Claus cap were more likely to share candy with other children than those who did not see the cap. Why? Because at a young age, many children are taught that Santa Claus represents gift-giving and goodwill. The children associated the cap with sharing and, as a result, shared their candy with the children around them.
This concept is definitely applicable to (much older) Internet users. Website conversion often relies on images, videos, and designs that specifically evoke a message or feeling that best represents the company. A business that sells health care products, for example, should choose images that evoke the concept of healing and growth. Including images just for the sake of it does little to attract customers. In fact, meaningless images may do more harm than good. After all, how naive do you think Internet users are? Stock images flood the Internet. Users want something more when they are looking for a product to buy or a company to do business with.
Freedom of Choice Can Be a Bad Thing -- One area of behavior psychology, a topic covered by everyone from Aristotle to B.F. Skinner, is the idea of 'freedom of choice'. That is, are we really free in choosing what we do or think, or are there psychological factors that bind us? There is no easy answer -- there are no easy answers in psychology -- but some in the field notice that being presented with too many choices can be as detrimental as being presented with not enough. The 'Paradox of Choice', a concept coined by preeminent psychologist Barry Schwatz, argues that the more choices a consumer has, the less likely he or she will actually pick one. Having too many choices can lead to fears of buyer's remorse, anxiety, and confusion.
'Choice paralysis' can be overcomed in website conversion by limiting the choices offered as well as suggesting what to choose. Highlighting a certain product or service in a group, for example, can lead to more conversions and, consequently, sales.
If You Got It, Flaunt It -- This may seem obvious, but showing your actual product or service will lead to more sales. Amazingly, there are quite a few websites that don't bother displaying images of what they sell or offer. A company that sells plumbing supplies, for example, should features images (detailed images, not stock ones) of pipes, wrenches, filters, and other supplies. Just like customers in a grocery store want to actually see or feel the food they are buying, online customers want to get a sense, a visual sense, of what they might purchase.
For software companies, including an image of what the application looks like is incredibly important. Buying a user interface is a big decision for small businesses. If they don't like the appearance, even if the interface itself is top-notch, they are less likely to buy it. The 'aesthetic-usability effect', for better or worse, is paramount in business and website conversion.
Samples, Please -- The best ice cream shops are those that give out samples. No one wants to be stuck with an ice cream flavor they don't like. It's remarkably similar in business, especially when dealing with thousands of dollars! When dealing with such sophisticated, expensive products and services, customers want to be sure they are choosing the right one. One way to get those website conversions up and running is by offering samples of your services. The more time a customer spends working with a sample, the more likely he or she will choose it (again, direct experience).
'Freemium' service, for example, is a business model in which a company offers a limited service for free. It is not a trial; the customer has the option of using the freemium service indefinitely. Many music streaming companies such as Spotify and Pandora, for example, offer freemium services with great success. The idea behind it is simple: draw customers in, have them use the product, and if your product is good enough, customers will more than likely choose the full, paid services. And if they don't, it might be time to retool the services they used.
AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) -- It may not the most pleasant-sounding of acronyms but it is quite important for web conversion and, for that matter, marketing. The concept is simple enough. Attention refers to initially drawing a customer in; interest means getting that customer genuinely interested ('intrigued' might be a better word) in the product or service; desire takes interest a step further in that it makes the customer feel he or she will benefit from choosing the service; and action is the final step of making the customer buy the product.
Of course, going about designing an AIDA strategy is easier said (and written) than done. The last two steps, desire and action, are particularly challenging. Having a customer feel desire for a product, so much so that he or she will act on it, is the ultimate goal of any website conversion strategy. One way to go about building desire is to highlight the benefits of the product or services. How will this product benefit me? Answer that for the customer and you are well on your way. Making a customer act on a product is tricky but in general, offering limited time offers, stressing the limited stock or availability, and otherwise emphasizing urgency tends to work. In addition, make sure that customers who want to buy the product can do so immediately. Have a link that will lead them to a purchasing page, or a call-to-action such as 'Contact us today'.
- Lead the Way -- The AIDA strategy will go much smoother if you take the extra step in guiding potential customers through a website. Rather than just plopping text and images on a website, you should structure your website in a way that will have the user focus on particular components. Use images to 'guide' the eyes. An arrow, for example, almost always leads users to a link or image at the end of it. The website, in general, should 'flow', having the users follow a path with all the important aspects of the business visible along the way. At the end, it is always advisable to include a signup or download link. Every journey, after all, should have an end.
Know Your ABCs -- In business, 'ABC' refers to the idea of 'always be closing'. That is, every step in the web designing process should always have, either directly or indirectly, the intent of locking in a new customer. The best way to follow the ABC principle is to make the website as clear as possible. Have easy to use tabs and links that will allow a user to find out everything they would want to know about a product or service. And once they are ready to sign up, be sure the website has a clear section for the user to do so.
Also, avoid dead ends at all cost! Dead ends -- pages that do not lead to somewhere else or even suggest somewhere else on the website -- can deter a potential customer pretty quickly.
- The Gutenberg Rule -- The 'Gutenberg Rule' is a psychological (as well as linguistic and optical) concept that establishes how people read. In the Western world, it is quite simple: left to right, top to bottom. The Gutenberg Diagram slips up Western reading habits into four quadrants: the 'Primary Optical Area' in top left, the 'Strong Fallow Area' in top right, the 'Weak Fallow Area' in the bottom left and a 'Terminal Area' in bottom right. The diagram indicates [NOTE: include Gutenberg Diagram] that at least in the Western world, the top left and the bottom right are the most read portions of any kind of textual layout. Especially considering that Internet users tend to skim pages, the best website conversion methods put a company's most important information in the Primary Optical Area and the Terminal Area. Putting a link to a signup page in the Terminal Area, for example, will draw a user's attention much effectively than putting it in the bottom left hand or upper right hand corner.
- Test, Test, Test -- Testing your website's strengths in viewership, traffic, compatibility, and search engine visibility is essential for any website conversion campaign. There are plenty of tools online that can help businesses track how many clicks their websites get, how long users stay on them, how often their websites come up on search engine results pages, and other vital statistics needed to stay ahead. Google Analytics, for example, is a free service that companies of all shapes and sizes can use.
- A Title By Any Other Name -- Finally, when all is said in done, it is important to create the right kind of titles for your website. Writing catchy, memorable, and moreover direct titles will be sure to catch the attention of a user. Chances are, a user will not read through or even click on a website with a generic, boring title. Website conversion relies on grabbing the user's attention immediately.