Conversion rate optimization is essential to improving your return on ad spend. As the digital advertising space continues to get more competitive, it’s crucial to stretch your ad dollars further. That way, you can maximize the return from those expensive campaigns. Here are seven best practices for improving your conversions. You may already be aware of some of these tactics, but only top performers are consistently following them.
If increasing your conversions is a pivotal priority for 2021, read on. These seven essential best practices will help you improve your ad campaigns’ effectiveness and convert customers at a higher rate.
1. Build Trust
Trust is essential for all brands, but especially for e-commerce. Before they click that “add to cart” button, visitors must trust that their information is secure and their purchase quality will live up to expectations. Building trust is the first step in engaging visitors in the experience and ultimately compelling them to take action.
In e-commerce, the foundation of trust ties to a very specific action—purchasing. Showing visitors that transactions are secure with an SSL security certificate or a visual indicator such as a lock icon lets your customers know that you value their privacy and information. Adding contact details, an “about us” or “meet our team” section, and social media links further establishes your brand’s validity. When there are real people, a phone number, and a physical location associated with a business, visitors are much less likely to worry that you’re only out to steal their identity—or start spamming their email.
Reviews, star ratings, and testimonials can play a significant role in putting your visitors at ease. This type of feedback establishes credibility and may even help answer some of their questions about a product or a brand. Conversions increase by 133% when mobile shoppers see positive reviews. Adding photos alongside reviews can further establish that real people are behind this proof, rather than bots.
If you work with well-known companies, consider displaying their logos to quickly align yourself with reputable brands. This practice lends weight to new or unknown products and services, adds name recognition, and increases trust in your brand.
Awards are the ultimate proof when it comes to industry acceptance. So if you’ve won any, be sure to show them off!
This landing page experience we built for eSalon combines multiple forms of social proof. Not only is there a five-star rating displayed next to their guarantee, but there are also multiple notable logos underneath. Below, there’s a section calling out and displaying the badges of the awards they’ve won, lending further credibility. Testimonials with glowing reviews and pictures of the customers follow, all showing that real people enjoy eSalon’s at-home hair color.
2. Create Resonance
Match the copy, headline, subhead, and body copy to the product images you show in your ads and on your website. You only have seconds to capture potential customers’ attention, so be sure the copy and images align, combining emotion and logic into one unified, persuasive message.
Look at how Crowd Cow uses a close-up image of a burger to promote their “Free Wagyu Forever” special. The post-click experience headline matches the ad headline exactly, and the ad image of the burger carries over into the top banner on the page. Underneath, the CTA copy reads “Get free wagyu.” Matching these elements helps provide a cohesive narrative to visitors hoping to learn more about the wagyu special.
Failing to create resonance causes confusion. People don’t like feeling unsure, so they won’t convert. However, when tonality and words match, an experience feels familiar and persuasive, meaning visitors are more likely to continue engaging with the page and ultimately take action.
Think about this as if you were having an in-person interaction. If someone is trying to sell you on a luxury resort but showing you a Motel 6, this disconnect between narrative and product will create confusion and distrust.
3. Build personalized experiences
Catering experiences toward specific audiences leads to significantly higher conversions. When a landing page speaks to a visitor’s interests or their location in the customer journey, it is much more likely to capture and hold their attention long enough that they want to know more. The longer someone spends on your site, the more likely they are to convert.
Ad networks like Google and Facebook know this, so they reward higher interactions. When your content has a longer period of engagement, Google rewards you with a higher Quality score, which lowers your cost per click.
Check out how Ruggable offers different experiences depending on the search ad you click on. For people looking for a washable rug, the experience is immediately relevant. The headline calls out “Clean rugs, all the time” and provides stats on how dirty the average rug is. They also provide a comparison chart of rug cleaning options to showcase how machine washing is the fastest and lowest-effort method. Visitors who click the ad about dog-friendly rugs have a completely different experience. They see a hero image of a dog and the headline “The Perfect Rug for Dog Owners.” By tailoring this page to dog owners and providing a relevant experience, Ruggable increases their likelihood of converting visitors.
Match narratives in the post-click stage to the ad
Just as it’s essential to create initial resonance, visitors’ experience on your website should align with the ad that brought them there. Use the same—or a very similar—image and copy with a consistent tone. An exact message-match is almost always best for copy, with additional details as needed.
In the example above, Chime’s search ad calls out their “Fee-Free Overdraft” feature. By highlighting the same feature in the headline, the landing page continues the ad’s narrative and maintains a cohesive experience.
Ads limit the size, image orientation, and number of characters you can use. Your landing page has a lot more flexibility, so think about what additional information is valuable to your specific audience—is it product details, free shipping, testimonials, an in-site example, etc.? Create a logical progression that expands upon what the ad showed them. This practice puts your visitor at ease, since they’ll feel like they’re in the right place.
Failing to carry over the narrative from the ad can create confusion because the experience doesn’t meet visitors’ expectations. A post-click experience is most persuasive when the journey is as frictionless as possible.
Personalize narratives to the customer
What stage of the customer journey are visitors in when they get to your landing page? Personalize their experiences to this point in the purchase funnel.
If they are in the beginning of the funnel, include a lot of content that provides product and brand details to get them excited about learning more. However, if they’ve engaged with your brand before, the experience needs to be relevant to their experience. For example, provide content that is specific to features they have already clicked on or products they have previously viewed.
Using demographic data can also be an effective way to tailor each experience to your visitor. Look at how Riu adjusts the hero image, description copy, and headlines to reflect their Cancun and New York locations. These combined elements can go a long way in engaging a visitor who is looking into traveling to Cancun or New York because the pages present visitors with relevant information. Images can play a huge part in exciting the visitor, since it helps them visualize their trip to this location. Providing unique experiences that speak to the cultures and aesthetics of each location gives you a much better chance at converting the visitor.
You can also personalize narratives based on psychographic data. Our 2021 State of Ad Personalization Report revealed that marketers who personalized using psychographic information benefited from over 20% lift in sales and over 40% higher ROI. Psychographic data consists of people’s values, attitudes, and interests, and helps you establish an emotional connection with target audiences.
The most impactful element of your ad campaigns is the story you tell. Without psychographic data, it’s impossible to craft a personal, compelling narrative.
4. Use data-driven insights
Many marketers get frustrated with conversion optimization efforts after they try out a ton of changes and see little or no improvement. Most of the time, the problem is that the changes they’re testing don’t come from a well-formulated hypothesis. These marketers make wild guesses about user behavior without looking at how users are behaving.
To be efficient and test changes that you can have confidence in, use data-driven insights. You already have real people interacting with your pages, so you should take advantage of this data to support your changes.
For example, heat map tools like HotJar enable you to see how users are interacting with the page. You can see how far they scroll, as well as what buttons they hover near. A session recording can also help you identify where the drop-off is happening for users who bounce.
Based on these insights, you can work with a designer to test changes that may improve the experience. The goal isn’t only about optimizing placement of elements, but also involves concepts like contrast and whether the page is easy to view. For example, e-commerce brands can use data-driven insights to decide whether to prioritize products based on popularity or price.
The key to conversion rate optimization lies in understanding user behavior. So, using user data to drive your decisions is critical to yielding more impactful results.
5. Optimize page speed
If you want to stay competitive in the digital space, you need to optimize page speed. A slow page is immediately noticeable, and users will bounce without hesitation.
These days, people have sky-high expectations. They’re used to blazing fast pages. They’re not comparing you to another website in your competing space. They are contrasting experiences on your site with those they have with companies like Amazon and Netflix. If you’re unsure how fast your pages are, use Google’s Page Speed Insights tool to learn more about your page speed and how you can optimize.
Ideally, you should keep your page load speed under three seconds, since 40% of consumers won’t wait any longer before abandoning a site. E-commerce brands should aim for under two seconds. Pay attention to your mobile page speed, too—64% of smartphone users expect pages to load in under four seconds.
A lot of people overlook page speed. They view the issue in terms of what they can gain and how many more people would convert. But really, you should look at optimizing for faster load speeds as keeping you in the game. The question you should ask yourself is: How much money are you losing from bounces due to page speed?
Additionally, Google uses page speed to determine quality score, and since 2018, it’s been a major factor for ranking mobile searches as well. Loading speed affects your CPC and your ad spend efficiency. So, optimizing page speed can have a significant financial impact.
6. Use FOMO
FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is a phenomenon where people feel anxious because they sense that they are getting left out of something. By triggering FOMO, you make an offer seem more appealing. Since they don’t want to be out of the loop, visitors feel more inclined to interact with the page. Examples of this could be promoting a limited-time sale or a special incentive. Providing these opportunities motivates them to make a commitment.
You can also use FOMO to push a visitor to act at the point of purchase. For example, let’s say you want to influence your customer while they are reviewing their cart. You can try adding a banner that says “Only three items left!” Not only does this make the product seem popular, but it also encourages the shopper to act quickly and commit to the purchase.
Rossi does a great job using FOMO in the above example. Featuring a limited-time offer and including a countdown timer helps establish urgency. A visitor who is on the fence about this purchase may see the countdown and decide to act quickly.
You can also try things like “time is running out” or “another customer just purchased.” It might be beneficial to experiment and see which phrase works best for your unique needs. Using FOMO is a particularly effective strategy for e-commerce brands, since purchases are more likely to be spontaneous.
Regardless of the vertical, however, strategic nudges like these can have a significant impact on your conversion rate.
7. Optimize forms
Forms are vital to optimizing your conversions, since they facilitate the process. Take extra care with this step. Remember, CRO revolves around the user experience. Ensure the process is as effortless and seamless as possible. Remove any obstacles that can frustrate them and lead them to abandon the form.
Rigorously test error message functionality in your forms. Make sure the form alerts users to any problems and guides them to fix entries without confusion or anxiety. Whenever possible, collect data after your visitor signs up.
Keep forms as short and simple as possible. Only ask for necessary information. Enable auto-completion to make the process more convenient for your visitor. That way, they will be less likely to abandon the journey.
Check out how Atlassian keeps their form short and easy to fill out. They include options for data center regions so visitors can select one from a list, rather than type out their answer. “No credit card required” is in bold, capitalized letters underneath the CTA button, so the visitor knows they won’t have to enter payment information after submitting the form. Adding this reassurance assuages hesitant visitors’ worries and ensures they are more likely to move forward.
If you need to request a lot of information, try breaking your form down into smaller sections, the way UC Davis does in the above example. That way, visitors don’t encounter a form requesting what might feel like an overwhelming amount of information.
If you’re using forms that require multi-step funnels, consider using a progress bar. Look at the way UC Davis shows visitors what step they’re on and how many remain. This approach gives visitors a sense of the headway they’re making. They can feel a small sense of accomplishment with each step, rather than wondering how long the process will take.
Inline validation is also helpful. By giving visitors a heads-up about any missed form fields before they click submit, you reduce opportunities for frustration.
Your form’s placement can vary greatly depending on your business’ needs. However, the less effort you demand of your visitor, the more likely they are to convert. Try testing an inline form directly on the landing page. This placement reduces a click for your visitor, making the process smoother.
Make it easier for visitors to convert
The best practices for CRO all revolve around catering the experience toward the visitor. Every decision you make should aim at this goal. Whether it’s building up trust so they can feel comfortable purchasing, or creating resonance so the experience is more seamless, everything is about them.
The first step in implementing a stronger CRO strategy is identifying areas where you can optimize the experience for your visitors. Or, maybe you want to take a look at your page load speed to see how much it’s costing you.
Our free conversion health analysis includes a live page review, page speed insights, an audit of your ad campaigns, and a competitive benchmarking report. Request your complimentary analysis here.