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April 13, 2009

SMX Sydney: Conversion Rate Optimization

Coverage of the Conversion Rate Optimization session by Stephen Pavlovich of Conversion Rate Experts at SMX Sydney 2009.

Stephen calls his session “How to use the Internet to get to know your customers intimately”. He kicks off with a graphical description of a conversion and explains that your conversion goal can be different things including :

– Order placement

– Newsletter subscription

– Something else

Stephen talks about Conversion Domination as being a vicious circle in a good way, where Revenue = visitors x conversion rate x lifetime customer value. Increased volume leads to cost savings and efficiency.

The 9 Stages of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO):

1) The rules of the game (and how to win at it)
2) Understanding (and tuning) existing traffic sources
3) Understanding your visitors (particularly the non-converting ones)
4) Advanced market intelligene
5) Spotting the hidden wealth in your business
6) Creating your experimental strategy
7) Designing your experimental web pages (your “challengers”)
8 ) Carrying out experiments on your website
9) Transferring your winning campaigns into other media

Stephen says that increasing conversions starts with improving usability and persuading people to take the action you want them to take. He says that the *Quick Guess, Best Practice* strategy (what he calls the *monkeys writing Shakespeare* approach) doesn’t work. This approach usually involves testing:

– Headline

– Call to action

– Buttons

– Images

– Offer

– Guarantee

– Testimonials

This is the “let’s throw stuff at a wall and see what sticks” strategy.  Stephen says it’s too time-consuming and has a low success rate, therefore it’s not recommended. He says a more sophisticated approach is needed.

Objection / Counter Objection (O/CO) Approach

The O/CO tactic involves determining the objections that non-converting visitors have to your site/service/product and making changes that address these objections:

  • If they don’t trust your company –> Build trust elements
  • If they don’t believe your product is better –> Show advantages over competitors
  • If they don’t believe your product works –> Show proof it does
  • If they don’t understand what you’re offering –> Use techniques to improve comprehension
  • If you aren’t offering enough incentives –> Make more offers
  • If they see any risk in the decision to buy –> Use risk reduction strategies

What You Should Be Measuring:

– What visitors want
– Why they’re abandoning your website

14 Tools That Help You Understand Web Site Abandonment

There are 14 tools Stephen recommends that can help you understand why people are abandoning your website and what you can do about it:

1) Google Analytics

2) Crazy Egg heat map data


4) Google Talk Chatback

5) SurveyMonkey


7) Usability Testing e.g. and Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think

8 ) pop-up surveys

9) Your ears and mouth (listen and speak to customers)

10) Tell a Friend King

11) feedback analytics

12) Google Site Search

13) Serph reputation monitoring

14) Google Website Optimizer

Face-To-Face Selling

– Use face-to-face selling to research objections.

– Go through your website with salespeople.

– Listen to customer calls.

– Read FAQs coming in from customers.

– Ask salespeople to create a table of objections and counter-objections

– Seek out an opportunity to sell face-to-face.

Psychological Methods to Use When
Designing Your Experimental Web Pages:

  • Tackle objections head on e.g. “Buy shoes online? No way!” was the headline of an advertorial by an online shoe store in the local newspaper. It was highly effective at removing the common objections people have to buying shoes online.
  • Add a reason why people should buy
  • Establish authority
  • Create urgency
  • Promote scarcity
  • Create exclusivity
  • Use Advertising In Disguise (AID) e.g. a *free* call your friends in the UK phone card which later became an upsell to a paid service. Another example is the *free trial* AOL Online CD that used to come with new PCs and magazines.
  • Reverse inertia e.g. home delivered DVD rentals
  • Use product demonstrations
  • Use customer and media testimonials to say stuff you wouldn’t be game to say yourself (e.g. legal implications)
  • Use evidence of your success
  • Produce a cost-benefits analysis for them e.g. “You’ve just saved another hour of typing using TextExpander, when you consider the value of your time, our product is a bargain. Register Now!”
  • Use an apples/oranges comparison chart
  • Use bargain appeal
  • Show commitment and consistency e.g. the VistaPrint business card / website upsell technique
  • Use risk reversal methods e.g. Domino’s pizza delivered in 30 mins or your money back
  • Use simplicity, make it easy to sign up, easy to use, easy to upgrade
  • Play on human emotion and a desire to belong e.g. the iPhone set
  • Mention the common enemy e.g. tax office, criminals etc.
  • Create involvement and ownership
  • Use storytelling as a tactic

* Photo courtesy of Andrew Ballard of ReBusiness