Hint: It Actually Has Nothing To Do With Your Website
I know, surprising, right? Everyone thinks that conversion rates are all about the website, but when all our testing and experiments wrapped up, we learned that conversion rates have very little to do with website design. We found that content offers, marketing messaging and stories had more to do with conversion rates than the actual design of your site.
Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. If you have a horribly designed website with landing pages that are awful, you’re going to have a very low or potentially non-existent conversion rate. What I'm saying is that today a lot of sites look similar and are well-designed. Landing pages have been scientifically engineered to eliminate friction and most pages we see deploy many of the best practices.
However, if new visitors land on your site and can’t understand what you do in less than 10 seconds, if the site doesn’t “speak to them,” if it doesn’t draw them in with offers that educate them and they don’t quickly see stories they can relate to, then they're going to leave no matter how well-designed the site is. In that case, the bottom line is you’ll come up short on your conversion rate and lead goal objectives.
If you agree it’s a marketing challenge and not a website design challenge, here are seven ways to improve conversion rates across your entire website without writing a single piece of code.
1. Tell Them What You Do In The Headline
Marketers get caught up in their own creativity and sometimes bury the lead, making it even more difficult for prospects to quickly know what you do and how you can help them. A cyber security company used the headline “Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” It's creative and it’s accurate, but can you tell me what they do? No!
Here's a better headline: “Your Job Might Be In Jeopardy If Hackers Are In Your Network Right Now.” This would likely encourage targeted prospects to read more, visit more pages on the site, and then convert from an anonymous visitor into a lead for this company.
2. You Have To Pass The 'Scratch Out, Drop In' Test
Your website has to be different than your competitors’ websites. If you can scratch out your name and put in the name of any competitor and what the site says would still be accurate, you have an issue. Your prospects are going from site to site looking for differences. Your site needs to be different. It has to look different, say different things and provide a different experience.
Good marketing is about standing out in the crowd. Make sure your website stands out and helps your company appear different than all of your competitors. Again, this is not about design; it's about messaging, stories and the experience.
3. Make Sure Your Story Is In The Right Order
Human beings process information in a very linear and systematic way. If your website presents information out of order, the people you want to convert on your site are going to feel uncomfortable and bounce off before converting.
To prevent that, stick to the process that a human being’s brain goes through when making decisions. Start with a pain statement that all prospects can connect with in 10 seconds, then follow up with your solutions so they know quickly that you have a way to solve their specific challenges. But you’re not done yet.
You're remarkable, right? Of course you are because you’ve been following our advice and you know your business has to stand out. Make sure your visitors see how remarkable you are right on your home page.
Now that prospects know you understand their pain and you have remarkable solutions, it’s time to make them feel even safer. This is where you bring in the social proof. Only now are they ready to evaluate your case studies, success stories, logo library or testimonials. But if you present these too early, your prospects won’t mentally be ready to process this type of information out of order.
4. Add The Right Offers On The Right Pages
On Wednesday I wrote about having pages for awareness, consideration and decision-making. Once you have your site set up like this, you need to map the conversion offers to those pages in an equally strategic manner.
You can’t put all your offers on every page and expect that the more offers you use, the more leads you’ll get. Trust me, we did that and it didn’t work. We want you to avoid making the same mistakes we did. Less is more in this case. Prioritize your best offers at the right stage in the sales funnel and then use only those offers.
5. Always Answer Questions
Your prospects have questions and they’re coming to your website to get answers. Make sure your website is built, designed and written with this in mind. Each page should have a specific question in mind, answer that question and then offer even more information to help prospects with their individual buyer journeys.
If you don’t know what questions your prospects are asking, you need to find out. You can ask them directly, you can ask your sales reps or you can ask your customer support people. All these folks know exactly what prospects and customers ask at all stages of the sales funnel.
6. Make Sure It Works On All Devices
Search for the keyword "mobile searches" and you’ll see a variety of data points that all point to the same conclusion. People are doing searches on their phones. In some cases, 50% of the initial searches for content are done on mobile devices, and the initial experience prospects are having with your company is on the responsive version of your website.
This means your site has to not only be responsive, but it also needs to be designed deliberately and strategically to support that initial experience on a prospect’s phone. How many times have you visited a website on your phone only to have a mediocre experience? Probably too many times. The result is a less-than-stellar feeling about that company. Perhaps you never even try to connect with them again. This is what you want to avoid.
7. Watch Visitors' Behavior
As smart as we all think we are, we rarely nail anything right out of the gate, and your website is no different. No matter how much time and money you spend designing it you won’t actually know how users, visitors and prospects will respond to it until you launch it. That’s why we prefer an Agile, 30-day approach to website builds instead of the long and painful six-month website project. Get something up quickly, get data and then make adjustments over time based on visitor data.
Since conversions are our goal, you need to see how visitors are making their way through your site. For example, I see a lot of sites with the offer at the very bottom of a long scrolling page. That might make sense on paper, but when you see that visitors are not reading all the way down the page, you have an issue.
If you don’t get this user behavior data you’ll never know whether the issue is your page, your offer, your copy or your design. This could contribute to inaccurate decision-making based on bad assumptions. You should be able to limit this with the right application of tools and technology.
Tightly integrating messaging, search and content along with web and conversion strategy is at the core of what an inbound marketing engagement is all about. If you think about your website as more of an experience for your prospects and you include conversations about the above marketing elements, you’ll see a major lift in your lead generation in no time.
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