Boosting conversion rates

Brian Massey donned a lab coat for his ProductCamp session on conversion science. Here are my notes and thoughts:

When selling online, your goal is to increase conversion rates – that is, the percentage of visitors who become customers, customers who become repeat customers, and so on. A small increase in conversion rates can have a huge impact on your business by decreasing the cost of acquiring each new customer.

Therefore, you should be ruthless in examining your UI for things that increase friction and decrease conversion rates. For example, the goal of a homepage is to get users off the homepage (i.e., further into the site) and you only have a few seconds to catch their attention. Make sure your homepage and other landing pages are focused on what the visitors want. These pages are about them, not you. The language you use should reflect that – there should be a lot more “you” and a lot less “we”.

In order to answer visitor’s underlying question (What’s in it for me?), your site must communicate benefits NOT features. If you have a hard time transforming a list of features into a list of benefits, ask yourself “… which means that?” Here’s an example:

Company: Priceline

Feature: Side-by-side prices from various airlines (… which means that?)

Benefit: You get the best price with minimal effort

Josh stressed the importance of collecting customer contact information and permission to use it. Forms can have implied permission, as in a Contact Us form where visitors include their contact information for follow-up, or explicit permission, as in a check box to receive coupons or newsletters. Marketers are often tempted to include more and more fields in these forms, so they can gather customer data, but it’s a slippery slope.

Each additional field decreases conversion rates, so make sure you’re only asking for information that you use. Asking for sensitive information has a disproportionally large impact on conversion rates, so only ask for phone number, credit card information, or Social Security number when absolutely necessary. Don’t give into the temptation to gather “nice to have” information at the expense of your conversion rate.

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2 Responses to Boosting conversion rates

  1. Brian Massey says:

    Amanda, this is a great summary. There is a fundamental shift that occurs when we look at a Web site or page from the point of view of the visitors. They can’t tell us with their mouths what they want us to give them, but they will tell us with their behaviors.

    One point of clarification: Features do have a role, and a percentage of your visitors are going to want the facts. Benefits are more important for drawing visitors into the page.

    Thanks for making me feel that I’m having an impact!

    Brian Massey
    The Conversion Scientist

  2. I’m a big believer in trusting what customers do more than what they say. One of my go-to sayings, though, is “you get what you design for” – meaning the design of the website is a big influencer of behavior. Do you have any concrete examples of that? I’d love to have something that proves my point.

    Funny you should mention features, as I was thinking about that after posting this. Having only benefits listed on the product page of a digital camera, for example, would be obnoxious: “Tell me about the zoom!”

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