A Guide to Increasing Your Website Conversion Rate [Case Studies]

By June 24th, 2013. 4 comments

calculator: calculating website conversion rates

Calculating your website conversion rate

‘Conversion optimization’ can sound like just another buzz word being thrown around among marketers, but it’s usefulness for businesses can’t be understated.

If you’ve ever hired an SEO agency or paid big bucks to get top rankings in AdWords, you already know the importance of having a website that actually converts; if your landing page has a poor conversion rate, you’ve just thrown all that money right out the window.

But where do we begin? How do we know if our website conversion rate is decent? How do we figure out where to start? What are the best practices for optimizing a landing page?

Hang on to your seats folks; we’re going to cover all this and more!

What’s a Good Website Conversion Rate?

Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible to answer. There are so many factors that go into determining what a ‘good’ conversion rate is, and what one business considers acceptable, another may not.

Keep in mind that by ‘conversion’, I mean whatever goal you want your visitors to complete. This could be:

  • Completing a form
  • Making a phone call
  • Requesting a quote
  • Making a purchase
  • Opting in to your newsletter
  • Clicking on a link

or any other action you want them to take.

Figuring out your website’s conversion rate is simple: just take the number of conversions you receive and divide it by the total number of visitors. This can be done for your site as a whole, but generally speaking you’ll want to know this number on a page by page basis so you can optimize each individually.

conversion rate

Poorly drawn image courtesy of Word Tracker

So if you receive 5 conversions per day, and the total number of visitors to your page is 100, your daily conversion rate is 5/100, or 5%.

Keep in mind your conversion rates will vary greatly depending on the source of your traffic. For instance, traffic generated through a highly-target AdWords campaign will likely have a higher conversion rate than general referral traffic, and traffic from an email campaign will generally convert better than traffic sent through a general Google search.

To get a very general idea of average conversion rates, we do have one source we can look to: the MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report.

According to this report (based on survey responses), average conversion rates range from 2% for non-profits, to 5% for businesses in the tech sector, all the way up to 10% for professional services.

average-conversion-rate-by-industry-survey-2012

Now I know many businesses who would be *thrilled* with conversion rates like these! I often hear numbers ranging from 1-3% as being average.

When it comes down to it, only you can determine what an acceptable conversion rate is for your business. The important thing is to constantly be testing and tweaking your landing pages in order to continually be improving on your own conversion rates.

Easiest Way to Optimize Your Landing Page: A/B Testing

A/B testing, also known as ‘split testing’, involves directing your traffic to 2 different webpages to determine which one converts better.

In order to optimize your landing page, you first need to know which elements on the page can be improved in order increase conversions. There are too many factors that could be tested and optimized to go into in this post, but here are some of the main elements you can test:

  • Your headline
  • The length of your copy (long vs. short)
  • Where your content lies: above or below the fold
  • Images
  • Button & icon placement & text
  • Call to action
  • Risk reducers (for example, ‘no spam’ or ‘100% guarantee buttons)
  • Testimonials
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Videos: using one or not, content of video
  • Professional vs. amateur design (each may perform differently in different markets).

How to Split Test Your Landing Page

split-url-testing

URL split testing with Convert.com

Fortunately there are a number of ways to easily perform A/B tests on your landing pages.

In order to conduct an accurate split test, you’ll need to make sure you’re testing 2 identical pages, apart from the one element you’re testing.  For instance, if you want to test your headline, you’ll want to make sure the 2 pages are exactly the same, except for the headline. Otherwise it will be impossible to know which elements are causing the change in conversion rates. This is the same reason you’ll want to make sure you’re showing both pages at the same time.

This is where specialized split testing software comes in handy. Tools like Convert.com, Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer and Google Content Experiments (formerly Google Website Optimizer) allow you to get your split tests set up and running in just minutes.

These programs range from free (Google Content Experiments) up to about $400 per month for individual use, so be sure to check out which features you actually need before you sign on.

Conversion Optimization Case Study #1: AllPopArt.com

Allpopart.com

AllPopArt.com, a producer of hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind pop art wanted to redesign certain pages on their site to more effectively get across their unique value proposition (that their artwork is created by actual artists).

In order to compete with cheaper, overseas competition, the company needed to make sure their website was effectively communicating their value proposition, and that they were achieving optimal conversion rates and revenues per visitor.

Their plan was to test several variations of their landing page including:

  • Variation #1: More prominent call to action & clickable value propositions.
  • Variation #2: Changing the format of the pricing.
  • Variation #3: Moving the product description and value proposition above the fold, and placing ‘free shipping’ and product sample thumbnails in a more visible location.

By testing these 3 variations against the original page, they found that variation #3 resulted in a 28% increase in revenue, and 42% higher revenue per visitor.

Conversion Optimization Case Study #2: Radical Golf Carts

Radical Golf Carts

Although already receiving a great amount of organic search traffic, RadicalGolfCarts.com found it’s site wasn’t converting as well as it should.

After analyzing their Google Analytics data and getting feedback from user testing, they decided to test a number of elements on their landing page. The optimizations they performed were:

  • Fix an SSL Certificate issue which had apparently been causing problems for some visitors.
  • Keeping visitors on site instead of sending to an offsite forum.
  • Adding a favicon.
  • Make free shipping more visible, and lower the free shipping threshold from $99 to $49.
  • Include ‘Trust Factors’ in shopping cart and at checkout.

The result of these relatively minor changes alone was a 36% increase in sales.

By making a few additional changes such as reorganizing the home page, performing navigational segmentation, and improving their lightbox presentation, sales went up a whopping 66.3%.

Some Final Thoughts on Increasing Your Website Conversion Rate

When it comes down to it, the closest thing we have to a crystal ball when it comes to online marketing is conversion testing and optimization.

When you start the process of testing your site, remember that no change is too small. Sometimes it’s the most minute changes – like simply changing the colour or placement of a button – that can have the biggest impact.

Even seasoned experts in the field often can’t predict how site visitors will react to a particular website or landing page. The only surefire way to know whether you’re achieving optimal results through your website is to test, tweak, and test some more.

 

Do you regularly employ split testing on your website? What tips do you have for increasing website conversion rates? Any magic bullets out there? Let’s share our collective wisdom in the comments below!

 

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