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A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization — Part 2

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In Part 1 of my guide, I explained conversion rate optimization (CRO), why it matters, and how to start identifying conversion killing pages on your website. Today (Part 2), I’ll lay out a road map to help you fix those pages and start increasing conversions.

The Usual Suspects

While the practice of CRO may not be 100% science, there are a number of tested and proven principles that should serve as a starting point. Use the checklist below on each of your key conversion pages.

1.  Include a call to action – What do you want your visitors to do? Buy a product, sign up for a newsletter, call you? Whatever it is, it needs to be exceedingly clear. Try a larger button (don’t get too carried away), a shorter form, or a streamlined page layout.

2.  Reduce the clutter - Minimizing distractions is a must. Wherever possible, remove extraneous, unnecessary text, images, and links. Each page on your website should have a clear focus (see previous) and next action. Ruthlessly cut everything else.

3.  Write compelling copy – Easier said than done, but great copy is critical to higher conversion rates. Try to write with your customer in mind – what motivates them? Instead of talking about features, focus on the end-user benefits.

4.  Be credible - Everything about your website should ooze credibility, and it’s not just about a fancy seal on your checkout page. From a clean, professional design, to prominent testimonials and press mentions, your customers should feel comfortable doing business with you.

5.  Meet expectations - Does your web page meet your visitor’s expectations? If you sell discount power tools, make sure your headlines, images, and copy are related to discount power tools.

Creating An Action Plan

Based on the checklist above, you need to develop a list of change ideas for each web page. For this part of the process, it can be helpful to enlist other people on your team. Put each web page up on the projector and go down the checklist, jotting down specific improvement ideas. The end goal is to create 2-3 new pages based on these ideas, so the more the merrier.

While this can be an eye-opening exercise, it’s easy to develop “blind spots” while working on your website, which make it difficult for you or your team to identify potential conversion killers. Getting the help of people on the outside can generate a lot of value. Some companies that can help include:

1.  Companies providing website evaluations from professionals in design, usability, copy, and strategy. Experts provide actionable recommendations to increase conversion rates. Two possibilities to explore are ConceptFeedback.com and Tim Ash’s SiteTuners.com. (Full Disclosure: I am CEO of ConceptFeedback.).

Concept Feedback Website

2.  Companies that help you analyze which elements on your web page are getting the most attention. At FiveSecondTest, users look at your page for five seconds and complete a short survey at the end. Another possible option for this type of service is Verify.

Five Second Test Website

Stay Tuned for Part 3

In the third and final post in this series, I’ll wrap up this quick guide on conversion rate optimization by teaching you how to successfully implement, test, and validate the changes – all critical components of a consistent and effective conversion rate optimization program. In the meantime, please let me know what I missed, what else you’d like to know about conversion rate optimization and any tools and methods you like that I neglected to mention.

About the Author

Andrew Follett is the co-founder and CEO of ConceptFeedback.com, offering crowd-sourced website evaluations from online experts. He is also the founder of Demo Duck, building handcrafted website demos and screencasts. You can follow Andrew on the Concept Feedback blog or at Twitter.

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