The Top 10 Conversion Rate Optimization Tips We Learned from Interviewing 60+ Experts in 2014

conversion-rate-optimization

Two choices.

That’s what usually comes to mind when you’re trying to increase your online revenue.

You can either:

1. Increase your traffic.

or

2. Increase your conversion rate.

Both options can have a major impact on your bottom line. And while we invest in both strategies here at LeadPages™, we almost always start with option B — increasing conversion rates.

Why? Because it’s easier.

We’re so obsessed with conversion rate optimization that we don’t just look to our own data for insights — we also look at what others are doing.

In 2014, our Marketing Educator, Tim Paige, interviewed over 60 marketers from a variety of industries about what optimization hacks were working for their businesses right now. We created a podcast based around those interviews called ConversionCast.

In this post, I want to share with you the top 10 conversion optimization tips we learned from conducting these interviews with marketers from companies like HubSpot, AWeber, and more.

NOTE: If you’d like to dive deeper into any of these conversion rate optimization tactics, we’ve put together a file containing all of Tim Paige’s detailed notes from each of the interviews they came from. I highly recommend you click here to download the file now.

1. AWeber: Test Small Changes in High-Impact Areas

AWeber’s Senior Business Development Manager, Hunter Boyle, called this a two-minute case study — one simple, straightforward change that had a big impact on their entire company.

As you can see below, AWeber offers visitors a $1 trial offer on their home page:

Conversion Rate Optimization Tip #1

Since this is the focus of their home page, it naturally results in a large number of new customer acquisitions. This is a “high-impact area” of AWeber’s business. So, if one small change to this part of the page could lead to a 12% increase in trial signups, that would be a pretty big deal, right?

Well, that’s exactly what happened.

AWeber split tested the copy on the green button in the above feature. The original version read:

Get Started for Just $1

And the new variation read:

Get Started Now for Just $1

All it took to increase trial signups by 12% was the addition of that one little word: “Now.”

The moral of the story, of course, is not that adding “Now” to your button copy will always increase conversions. The real insight is hidden in the thought process behind test — make a change to a high-impact area.

For AWeber, acquiring $1 trial customers is something that directly impacts their revenue. Not because of the dollar, but because of the fact that many of the visitors who purchase the $1 trial end up converting into long-term customers.

What is your business’s “$1 trial”? Identify that area, and make a list of the “two-minute test” ideas you could try to dramatically impact it.

2. Conversion Scientist: Test Giving Customers a Choice

According to our friends at Conversion Scientist, a company that helps clients optimize their conversion rates, choice has a powerful influence on conversions — sometimes positive, sometimes negative.

And that’s what makes it such an interesting detail to test.

In this case, Conversion Scientist’s goal was to help an addiction rehabilitation website generate more phone calls from their visitors, who had the choice of either calling in or filling out a query form on the website’s home page.

Why did they want to increase phone calls?

Because the client had discovered that sales that came in via the phone were 10 times more valuable in the long run than sales that came in via their online form. So they decided to run a split test that tested three different variations of the home page against the original version:

  • Variation 1 completely eliminated the form, leaving visitors with only one option — pick up the phone and call. This variation decreased phone calls by 56%.
  • Variation 2 applied “best practices” to the form — they decreased the number of form fields and difficult questions, making it less intrusive and easier for visitors to fill out. This variation decreased phone calls by 67% and the number of form fills skyrocketed.
  • Variation 3 made no changes to the form, but included copy that strongly encouraged visitors to call now rather than fill out the form. This variation increased phone calls by 16%, while the number of form fills remained steady.

There are some powerful conversion optimization lessons held within these results.

Variation 1 removed choice altogether, and the result was quite harmful.

Variation 2 made one of the two choices easier, which caused more people to make the easy choice (fill out the form).

Variation 3, however, attempted to directly influence the choice with strongly-worded copy, which increased the number of people who made the desired choice (phone call), without losing any people who wanted to make the less-valuable (but still valued) form fill choice.

The lesson here is not that choice + direction = increased conversions. Instead, the lesson is that choice, one way or the other, has an extremely powerful influence on conversions.

And that is what makes it worth testing.

3. HubSpot: Monitor New Features on Your Social Media Channels, and Test Accordingly

If you’re using social media to attract new leads to your website, it pays to stay up-to-date with the latest features and updates companies like Facebook and Twitter are rolling out.

HubSpot learned that in a big way when Twitter started making tweets that featured images more noticeable to users as they browsed through their streams.

Ellie Mirman, HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Funnel Manager, decided to set up a test to determine whether including images in their tweets would increase the number of leads they generated via Twitter.

To set the test up, they created two versions of various tweets promoting downloadable HubSpot ebooks. The only change made to the tweets was the inclusion of an image of the ebook cover or an image from inside the ebook.

Conversion Rate Optimization Tip #4
An example of a HubSpot tweet featuring an image of the cover of the ebook it’s promoting.

The results were clear — the tweets featuring images resulted in more clicks, more retweets, more favorites, and even an increase in conversion rate once the visitors reached HubSpot’s website.

Overall, HubSpot increased the amount of leads generated via Twitter by 55% — a huge increase that illustrates the importance of staying current on updates to the social media channels you use.

4. MindValley: Spotlight the Value You’re Adding

This is an example of what we like to call “accidentally awesome” results.

The folks at MindValley Media were able to increase conversions on their checkout page by 23%…all by adding one small detail that wasn’t even designed to increase conversions.

MindValley has committed to always overdelivering to their customers. Because of this commitment, they include an extra bonus — free of charge — whenever someone makes a purchase.

CEO Ajit Nawalkha realized, however, that customers didn’t always realize they had received something extra. So he thought, Why not broadcast that extra value we’re adding on the checkout page?

To do this, MindValley added the bonus beneath the product customers had added to their cart on the checkout page of five of their websites.

Conversion Rate Optimization Tip #5
The free bonus product is included on the checkout page in this version.

And that’s where the “accidentally awesome” results come in — the mention didn’t just increase awareness of the bonus; it increased checkout page conversions by 23%.

This test served as a great reminder to us that the mention of any unexpected value you’re adding can often be even more powerful than the added value itself. If you’re going the extra mile for your customers, let them know. You just might find that the results are accidentally awesome.

5. Heyo: Make Sure This Critical Number Informs Your Facebook Strategy

1,362 views. 862 opt-ins. 63% conversion rate.

That’s what the marketers at Heyo helped one of their customers achieve on a Facebook campaign he was running for a brick-and-mortar client.

How? By hosting a giveaway on a Facebook landing page that was designed to do one thing — convert visitors into email subscribers.

After launching over 200,000 extensively split-tested Facebook campaigns, Nathan Latka, the CEO of Heyo, shared six elements they use to help customers achieve higher conversion rates from their Facebook campaigns.

Nearly all of these elements are things we’ve baked into the design of the landing page templates LeadPages™ customers use to run giveaways on Facebook. However, one element Nathan mentioned stood out to me above all others…

According to a 2014 Facebook earnings call, 62% of users only use Facebook via their mobile device.

That means if the landing pages you’re using for your Facebook campaigns aren’t mobile responsive, you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage. And that’s exactly why all LeadPages™ landing page templates are mobile-responsive.  

Conversion Rate Optimization Tip #6
The Holiday Deal template created by Travis Moore in the LeadPages™ Marketplace, which contains many of the other best practices discussed in the full Heyo interview, is fully mobile responsive.

6. James Wedmore: Don’t Focus Exclusively on Conversion Rate

If you had to choose between two Facebook ads, one that converted at 87.5% and one that converted at 60.5%, you’d probably have an easy choice on your hands, right?

That’s the choice James Wedmore was facing after testing three different Facebook ads that pointed visitors to an opt-in page for a free video series.

Despite what you may expect, James actually chose to use the ad that converted at 60.5%.

Why?

Because although the conversion rate was lower, the cost-per-lead associated with that ad was only $2.55, compared to the other ad’s $3.00 CPL.

Conversion rate is important, but it’s also important to keep the big picture in mind so you can consider all of your campaign’s angles. Keep an eye on all of the metrics so you can make the best decisions for your business.

7. Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing: You Don’t Have to Compromise Your Principles to Increase Your Conversion Rate

Most people would be more than satisfied with a 20 percent conversion rate on their webinars.

At the very least, it wouldn’t be something they would want to risk decreasing.

But that’s exactly what Danny Iny at Firepole Marketing decided to do at the beginning of the year for one major reason — he wasn’t comfortable with the offer at the end of their webinars.

In 2013, Firepole Marketing ended webinars with a limited time offer that only lasted for a few hours. Danny felt that the extremely limited amount of time pressured people into making impulse buys and, ultimately, it just didn’t sit right with him.

So in 2014, he decided to do something that would make many marketers cringe — he extended the discount window on his offer for webinar attendees to two weeks.

And, against all odds, his conversion rate from webinars actually increased 5-10%.

But the results were more than a product of a simple offer length increase. They were a product of Danny’s transparency with his audience, and the trust he was able to build.

In addition to giving them two weeks to purchase, he also sent webinar attendees a followup sequence of emails containing additional valuable content like a case study, value proposition point, and one key objection to his offer.

Danny laid out all the facts, sat on his prospects’ side of the table, and helped them make an honest, informed decision about whether Firepole Marketing’s offer was right for them or not.

For some businesses, lengthening the offer period would almost certainly decrease conversion rates. But because Danny had a deep understanding of his audience, he was able to go against what many would call a best practice, and still win big.

That’s the lesson here — above all else, know your customers. When you understand their perspective, you’ll have a much better sense of which conversion optimization tactics might work, and which might fail.

8. Mobile Mixed: Boost Your Webinar Attendance Rate with Text Messaging

When you’re hosting webinars, it can be easy to focus so much on improving your registration page’s conversion rate that you forget about another critical number — your show-up rate.

This is the percentage of registrants who actually show up for your webinar.

That’s why we paid attention when Greg Hickman from MobileMixed.com shared how he increased his show-up rate 12% by simply sending a couple of mobile messages. Here’s how it works:

After visitors registered for one of Greg’s webinars via a landing page he created with the Web 2.0 Webinar Registration Page inside LeadPages™, he sent them to a thank you page (also created with LeadPages™) that encouraged them to opt-in for mobile reminders about the webinar (a pre-recorded phone call delivered 30 minutes before the webinar, and a text message delivered 15 minutes before the webinar).

The result? Greg found that 40-55% of registrants would opt-in for the mobile reminders, ultimately leading to the 12% increase in his show-up rate (he has also seen increases as high as 18% with his clients).

We liked this strategy so much that we actually implemented it for the weekly webinars we run here at LeadPages™. Here’s the exact thank you page we use to allow registrants to opt-in for mobile reminders:

Conversion Rate Optimization Tip #9
We created this thank you / mobile registration page using the New Basic Squeeze Page template inside LeadPages™.

If you want to increase the revenue you’re earning from webinars, increasing the number of your registrants who show up is a great place to start.

9. Gumroad: Sometimes It Pays to Challenge Conventional Wisdom

Conventional wisdom says that the fewer form fields you have on a purchase form, the higher your conversion rate will be.

But is there a certain point at which you can have too few form fields?

That’s what the marketers at Gumroad found out after running a simple split test on their purchase forms.

Originally, Gumroad’s purchase form only asked for the customer’s email address, credit card number, credit card expiration date, and CV code (that little number on the back of the card).

Tuhin Srivastava, a data scientist at Gumroad, hypothesized that adding a “Full name on credit card” field might make buyers feel more secure and increase conversions, even though it would also create an additional barrier to entry.  

Conversion Rate Optimization Tip #10
A look at the form containing the additional “full name” form field.

Despite going against conventional wisdom, Tuhin’s hypothesis turned out to be correct — to the tune of a 30% increase in conversions.

Most of the time, challenging best practices or conventional wisdom won’t result in a major increase. However, as we’ve seen in this test and a few of the others highlighted in this post, it’s important to always consider the context of your unique situation.

Understanding your business, your product, and your customers will allow you to make informed decisions on whether you should test going against the grain or not.

10. Backlinko: Use the “Skyscraper Technique” to Increase Your Traffic

Although we began this post discussing why we like focusing on increasing conversions as opposed to increasing traffic, it’s no secret that traffic plays a big role in conversion rate optimization.

While you don’t need an avalanche of traffic to begin running tests, getting a bump can help you get actionable insights from your tests faster. That’s why we wanted to share at least one traffic tip we learned from ConversionCast this year.

Spoiler alert — it’s a big one.

It comes from Brian Dean at Backlinko.com, and he calls it the “Skyscraper Technique.” After he applied it to just one blog post, it brought him:

  • Over 100,000 unique visitors to his website
  • Hundreds of external backlinks, thus increasing his website’s authority in Google’s eyes
  • Over 3,000 social shares of one blog post
  • An invitation to speak at an event in London

So, you’re probably curious as to exactly what this “Skyscraper Technique” is, right? To provide a simple explanation, it’s made up of the following steps:

1. Find a proven, valuable piece of existing content that received lots of social shares, comments, and links around the Internet that point back to it (Brian recommends several tools for this that can be found in the interview).

2. Create a post that builds off the concept from that piece of content and contains even more value. For example, Brian found a popular post that analyzed 118 of Google’s ranking factors. He then created a post that analyzed 200 of Google’s ranking factors. Essentially, he went above and beyond and created an even more valuable and unique post.

3. Promote the post you created to the same people who shared the original piece of content that inspired your post. According to Brian, this is the most important step.

Like I said, this is a simple explanation of the three steps behind the Skyscraper Technique. Tim’s interview with Brian goes incredibly in-depth with each step, so I highly recommend you listen to it here to learn not only how he drives so much traffic to his blog posts, but how he then converts that traffic into email opt-ins using content upgrades.

Want More Conversion Optimization Insights?

If you’re interested in taking an even deeper dive into these 10 lessons, I encourage you to click the button below so you can download the extensive notes Tim Paige took from each of the interviews in which these tests and strategies were discussed.

And remember, these are just 10 of the insights uncovered from over 60 episodes of ConversionCast — just the tip of the iceberg, as they say. That’s not to mention that we’ll continue posting a new episode every week, so I recommend you head to the ConversionCast website and subscribe right now (you can also subscribe via iTunes if that’s your thing).

With the year coming to a close, I’m curious…what were some of your big wins of the year? Share them in the comments below so we can learn what techniques and strategies paid off the most for you in 2014!

  • Will, you’re the man. Thanks for sharing these insights. I loved these episodes, and it’s been awesome getting to try so many of these here at LeadPages and ConversionCast.

    • You got it, Tim! It was really cool to go back and go through all of the insights you pulled out during these interviews.

  • Great post Will! Takes me back through all of the great podcast episodes you guys have put out. : ) They are a must listen for anyone with a website.

    • Thanks, Nate! Took me back as well. It was awesome to go back through many of these episodes. Tim does a phenomenal job.

  • Honored to be included guys! Glad you’re turning the podcast into a lead generating / webinar registration machine! 🙂

    • Greg, love what you’re doing with mobile. Thanks for giving such a great interview!

  • Carol Tice

    Ooh, I’m selling something right now where we’ve added a free bonus course…going to go see if I can do #4 with it!

    • Yes! That’s awesome, Carol. I’d love to see how you end up incorporating that into your offer. Thanks for reading!

  • Thanks a ton, Will and Tim. Lots of great advice here and it’s an honor to be included in the line up. Loving these tests and insights!

    Cheers — Hunter

    • Absolutely, Hunter! Thanks for providing such an awesome case study for us to feature.

  • Penny Patterson

    I don’t ever see anything related to “affiliate marketing”. Do you have web templates that are good for affiliate marketing? And, do any of you “specialists” teach affiliate marketing or how to get started?

    • Hi Penny! Thanks for letting us know you’re interested in more content around affiliate marketing. We’ll definitely consider that as we plan future pieces to create.

      As far as whether we have landing page templates that are good for affiliate marketing, the answer is definitely yes. We have many opt-in and sales templates that are perfect for promoting your partners’ products or services. We also have an affiliate minisite template that you can use as a page where people can register to join your affiliate program (if you’ve created a program of your own).

      You can find the affiliate minisite template and many other templates that can fulfill roles in your affiliate marketing campaigns in our Marketplace at market.leadpages.net

  • Another Fantastic post.

    Mobile has been huge for us! Game changer 🙂

    Thank you

    Ameer

    • Thanks, Ameer! Glad to hear mobile has been big for you. I think it’s only going to get bigger going forward.

      • Agree. considering how young the mobile market is right now. Very excited to see where it goes.

        Thanks Will