Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen continuous shifts in the buyer-seller relationship. Commerce as we know it is changing before our eyes.
Unlike the gradual, drawn out changes in market dynamics from years past, today’s world is evolving daily, and in drastic ways. If you blink, you may miss it.
Every year, a new game-changing platform arises, forcing marketers’ hands and demanding immediate adaptation.
What’s more, the game-changing platforms come in various shapes and sizes, and break into game-changing subgenres. In addition, you see game-changing features come into the fray.
Let’s take a look at an example of this evolution:
Step 2: Competition – Social networks break out like a forest fire. We see the birth of MySpace and the status of being in someone’s “Top 8.” Next is Facebook, which see an almost religious rise to popularity. Then comes Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. “Tweet” becomes a word in the dictionary.
Before you know if, we’ll see the dawn of another social network with a cult-like following with a trendy feature we’ll have to prepare to embrace.
And this is only taking into account one facet: social media. You’ve got a sea of ever-changing channels, with exponential change across the board. Website landing pages, internet radio, mobile apps, cell phone technology, delivery services (for both people, e.g. Uber, and food on demand). It’s a nonstop swimming competition, and we all have to stay afloat.
There is, however, one universal thing that unifies all of these. Regardless the platform, the end goal is simple: Conversion.
Whether that comes in form of a website form submission, a Facebook page Like, downloading an app, or receiving a request for a burrito brought to someone’s doorstep, the goal is always to get the customer to convert.
If there’s one thing you can master to prepare yourself for the dynamic marketing realm of today, it’s in conversion rate optimization.
Where do you start? Right here. No matter where you’re driving potential customers, there are 9 things you must keep in mind to win conversions.
1. Reduce clutter to reduce indecision
Nothing is less cohesive than an undefined call-to-action. A poorly designed landing page can lose you a potential customer in seconds.
Do you ever come across a website or even a printed out flyer that can only be described as “busy”? Think about a car dealership’s newspaper ad in the used car classifieds. There are usually 50 cars too many, loud and boisterous graphics that jump off the page, and gimmicky promises that seem too good to be true.
Are they ever intuitive? No. Does one single vehicle ever stand out? No. Are cars ever sold off the efforts of this alone? Doubtful, but you can bet spend could’ve been allocated way more efficiently elsewhere.
There’s a reason we feel an innate distaste for too much clutter. Studies have shown humans can grow anxious and experience indecision when faced with clutter. This is essentially the basis of Barry Schwartz’s book “The Paradox of Choice.”
If there’s clutter, there likely isn’t a clearly defined hierarchy, which means the CTA is probably lost in the mess. Knowing how short your customer’s attention span is, indecision and hesitation come at the cost of conversions.
Think about a restaurant with too many options on the menu, like Cheesecake Factory. It takes a lot longer to decide what you want to eat and it usually ends with you getting a safe choice or something you eat every time.
2. Use contrast to lead your customer
The way clutter can make someone indecisive, proper use of contrast will do the opposite. Having one call-to-action with clear contrast to its background will help create a defined hierarchy, guiding your customers right where they need to go.
Consumers want to be shown the path without outright being told what to do. By using contrast, it’s almost like having a bright lantern lit in the middle of a dark forest. It attracts attention and brings people in.
In addition, it creates a sense of “wait a minute… this doesn’t belong here.” But at the end of the day, “it” is remembered.
This is called the Von Restorff Effect, the notion that an isolated item, in a list of otherwise similar items, would be better remembered than an item in the same relative position in a list where all items were similar. (http://changingminds.org/explanations/memory/von_restorff.htm)
Think about basketball. Muggsy Bogues is memorable not for his play (he was an above-average point guard who played for four teams over a 14-year career), but for his size. At 5’3,” Bogues was the shortest NBA athlete of all time.
Contrast always wins attention, which will ultimately lead to conversion.
3. Use words that are clear and unambiguous
At the top of the funnel, consumers are fragile. They’re doing discovery research with an open mind but are reserved. They’re looking to trust you but need a reason.
With that in mind, the quickest way to lose that trust before it’s ever fully built is by being misleading or unclear with your message. Trust is the hardest thing to gain and the easiest thing to lose.
Drawing back to principles on reducing clutter, customers don’t have all the time in the world. A micro-moment is just that: micro. If you’re message is unclear you risk:
Losing the customer because your message was confusing, killing your credibility or
Losing the customer because your message was deceiving, rendering you untrustworthy.
A web hosting company A/B tested different calls-to-action to see which one garnered more clicks. The landing page was simply their pricing structure, laying out details on varying plans they offered.
One CTA said “See plans and pricing,” while the other said “Free hosting”.
The former saw a 52% more clicks. Why? It wasn’t misleading and it wasn’t “too good to be true.” Also, while free hosting was available, it was only for a trial period.
Clickthrough “hack” tactics like this may get you more clicks in the short-term, but are they valuable leads? You’ll lost customers without providing honest and true value, at the cost of higher more hits.
Be clear and present an honest message.
4. Without value, CRO is irrelevant
Continuing the point above, you can bring all sorts of traffic to your website or social media pages, but if you’re not providing value, your customers won’t return.
Always have an answer for the guaranteed “what’s in it for me?” mindset your consumers will carry with them every step of the way.
You must provide value or your message will fade. Think about Google’s Quality Score. For AdWords campaigns, landing page experience plays an enormous factor in whether your ads are seen or not. A poorly constructed landing page is a death sentence.
How do you know if your message is being well received? This is where reviewing your metrics comes in handy.
Do you have a high click-through rate but a large bounce rate? Is your time on site low? Are pages per visit metrics shrinking? These could all be signs your content isn’t resonating with customers. To be fair, your landing pages could inherently be designed to get people right where they need to be, convert, and leave, so you’ll have to look at this from a case-to-case standpoint.
Either way, if you aren’t providing value, high conversion rates will begin to dwindle, even if they look inflated in the beginning.
5. Maintain a speedier website
This tip is only for website CRO, but important nevertheless.
Slow load times bring back memories of the old Internet, which is never a good thing. If it’s taking several seconds for your pages to load, customers will flee like the plague is upon them.
According to an Aberdeen Group study, just a one-second delay in page load time can equate to 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.
Remember, customers today don’t have all the time in the world. “What’s in it for me?” If the answer is a sluggish, slow-loading web page, their response will be “thanks but no thanks.”
The quicker your page loads, the quicker you’ll receive a ton of conversions.
6. Have “advanced search” functionality
This is another website-only CRO tip, but just as important as a speedy website. Make sure your site has “advanced search” functionality.
While your call-to-action may grab a customer’s attention and drive him or her to your website, maybe your customer needs something a little more defined.
Your lower-funnel users know exactly what they want and they want to find it fast. By having a filtering system in your website’s search bar, customers can eliminate items irrelevant for them.
If a consumer can rely on you to help guide them to the exact place they need to be, deeper trust will develop. More trust means return visits, which means more chances at conversion and ultimately sales.
7. Use images to tell a story
We already know the value in contrasting CTA’s, with clear, well-constructed word usage to get customers where you want them to go. The best way to complement that is through images.
Do you ever notice in Coca-Cola ads there’s almost always a photo of someone actually drinking the soda? It’s in visualization. Coca-Cola knows if you can see others drinking their product, it’ll make it more likely that you’ll follow suit. This is far more effective than a simple text statement of “Everyone drinks Coca-Cola!” Show, don’t tell.
Specifically, showing images of your target audience helps connect the dots and makes your message relatable for the recipient. If you’re promoting financial advice on retirement plans, having a 17-year-old depicted won’t resonate with your audience.
At the same time, an image of an older woman won’t resonate with a body-building protein supplement the way an image or a younger woman or man would.
Another thing to consider regarding imagery is the concept of leading lines. Have your subjects directly looking at your call-to-action. Consumers will follow this suggested glance right over to your CTA and convert.
8. Understand the meaning behind different colors
Many fast food restaurants use the same coloring scheme to make you hungry. From McDonalds to Wendy’s to Burger King to Jack-In-The-Box, they all use the color red, usually with some hints of yellow, to promote their products.
Why is that? Different colors incite differing stimuli in our brains. Red means exciting and yellow is optimistic. What’s more exciting than a hamburger when you’re hungry? And the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing it will be ready for you in a moment’s notice? That’s pretty optimistic.
Financial outlets use blue to depict trustworthiness. Healthy restaurants or grocery store will use green to depict “fresh.”
Orange goes hand-in-hand with friendliness and fun, shades of black depict luxury items, white means pure, and purple is imaginative.
By matching up your message with the right coloring format, you’ll be discreetly guiding your customers right where you want them to go.
9. Understand the meaning behind different shapes
Like colors, shapes can also incite emotions and should hence be utilized accordingly.
Circular shapes demonstrate positive emotional messages attached to community, friendship, love, relationships, unity, and femininity (your inner circle).
Squares and triangles show stability, balance, strength, professionalism, efficiency, power, and masculinity.
Vertical lines mean masculinity, strength, and aggression, while horizontal lines show community, tranquility, and calm.
Utilize these techniques to frame your CTA in a manner that is most appropriate for what you offer. A security system would be best positioned in a square frame, whereas a social club may make more sense using a circle.
Make sure every step of the way you’re considering not only color, but also shapes, to frame you message.