What's new in conversion optimization

Conversion optimization made easy: a step-by-step guide

Imagine your name is Carl Douglas McMillon.

Just for a second.

Because if that were your name, it would be you Walmart CEO.

What would it be like to close the shop?

You take care of one of the world's most famous brands.

Billions in sales every month.

But you are not judged by how much money the company is already making. You are judged by how much more Money the company will make this year.

You take a look at the growth curve. And are horrified.

It looks like a college readiness graph showing how many students achieved the average grade on the SAT:

(Image source: AICUO)

Completely flat.

While it's normal for the number of people who get the average grade on a test to stay about the same, it's not a good sign of business growth.

This is known as stagnant growth and it could mean that sooner or later you will have to look for another job.

You need to get more people to shop at Walmart.

But how do you do that?

Everyone knows Walmart. You're in every possible geographic location, and you're damn cheap.

What you are doing?

Very easily. You pick up the phone and call one Experts in conversion optimization (in German Conversion optimization) at.

If you call the right guy, he'll make 20% more money for you in just a few months, ensure a prosperous future for Walmart and ensure that you can keep your comfy desk chair.

And that's exactly what they did.

I mean Walmart. Or at least the Canadian branch.

But before I show you how they increased their conversions by 20%, which can easily mean making another million for Walmart in Canada, it's time to explain some terms.


What does a conversion optimization expert actually do? That sounds complicated!

Wikipedia hit the nail on the head with its explanation of conversion optimization:

“In online marketing it is Conversion optimization(CRO) a system to increase the percentage of visitors to a website who convert to customers or, more generally, take any desirable action. It is also known as the CRO. "

I hate to admit it, but it's hard to explain better.

But in order to fully understand it, we have to take a step back and look at what the conversion rate, and consequently a conversion, is.

The conversion rate is actually as old as the business itself. Only the language is new.

Imagine the market square in ancient Rome.

(Image source: Forum Ancient Coins)

Let's say you trade in valuable diamonds that you got hold of in the Far East.

Like many other market vendors, you offer your goods at the market stall.

During the day, 100 toga wearers will pass your booth, trade with you and discuss.

Hermes, the god of action, means well to you and you convince 30 of your visitors to buy a diamond.

You were a little sleepy the day before, and because espresso wasn't invented yet, you only sold 15 of the valuable jewelseven if the same number of people, 100, visited your market stall.

This means that you have doubled your conversion rate from one day to the next - an increase of 100%!

Whether in ancient Rome or in modern e-commerce, the conversion rate describes that Proportion of visitors to your store (or website) who actually buy something.

So is one conversion just another word for a sale. Whenever someone actually buys something from you, this is called a conversion.

However, you can expand the meaning of conversion. For example, you can call it a conversion if someone who visits your profile on Twitter also follows you in the end.

Or a conversion could also take place when someone visits a landing page designed by you and subscribes to your email list.

In online marketing, a conversion is when your visitor takes the action you want them to do most.

This means that your conversion rate is basically based on this simple formula:

(Image source: Wikipedia)

You determine what a conversion is, but in most cases it describes the revenue.

However, if you're running a small consulting company, you might just want people to pick up the phone and Call you. That can be a conversion.

If you are a restaurant you might count them Dinner reservations.

Okay, okay, you got it.

But why is conversion optimization so important?

What increasing your conversion rate really means

Let's go through an example so you can see why optimizing your conversion rate is so important.

When Walmart does something, they do it right.

There's a reason family members are among the richest people in the world.

Of course, optimizing the website for Walmart in Canada to increase the conversion rate wasn't an easy undertaking.

In 2013, Walmart.ca noticed that a large portion of the traffic was for the online store from mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

Unfortunately, the site wasn't optimized for mobile devices at all, which posed two major problems.

The Design was terrible and the Loading times enormous. Two proven sales killers, because everything has to be nice and fast on the Internet.

(I'm guessing the middle picture worked, but it's pretty bad nonetheless)

According to SimilarWeb, the website has 6.6 million hits a month.

That's probably more of an estimate, but we'll just use it. Accepted 5% of visitors buy something (Given that people spend close to five minutes on the page, searching through nearly six pages on average, that's not unlikely) then that means that 330,000 people shop in the online store every month.

What options do you have if you want to increase sales in the online shop?

You could:

  • Buy more ads, e.g. with Google Adwords, until you get 20% more traffic (terrible idea)
  • Doing targeted SEO, trying to increase traffic by 20% (takes forever and costs a fortune if you don't do it yourself)
  • Hire ten more marketing people and hope they fix it (didn't you mean to make a million instead of spending one?)
  • Offer 20% more products (basically come up with a lot of new stuff to sell)

All of these options are bad.

That are all "more options". You will need more time, more money, and more resources, while the results will be completely unpredictable. You don't know if these strategies work at all, and if they do, how long it will take to take effect.

Here isthe secret of the conversion rate: You optimize what you already have and make more sales with your existing customers and your existing traffic.

This is exactly what Walmart did and so they have theirs Sales doubled on mobile devices. If we look at all of the online channels, we see a 20% increase in conversions.

If we continue our example, improving the design and loading time would result in 396,000 instead of 330,000 people shop.

Let's assume that the average purchase value is $ 20.

What would that mean?

If 66,000 more people spend $ 20 on Walmart.ca every month, that's an increase in sales of $ 1.32 million.

How does that sound to quickly earn a million?

Would you spend $ 100,000 on a conversion agency if they brought you 1.3 million? Sure it is.

This is what the redesign looks like:

The site also adapts to mobile devices.

(Image source: ConversionXL)

Not only did they cut the load time by around 35%, but they also connected the page to a fully scalable grid for easy navigation.

The design has been improved and meets the modern criteria of user experience.

In addition, the website is now accessible and adapts precisely to the user-defined browser and screen sizes of various tablets and smartphones.

But that is not all.

The devil is in the details.

They also did A / B split testing to find out what really works and what doesn't. You came up with the following.

The data collected showed that removing "Add to cart" or "View item" from items that were alreadywere not available for orderwho have favourited conversions dramatically.

In addition, they will now show you immediately whether the item is still in stock, will soon be sold out (which is a good urgency move) or is even offered on the Internet.

This specifically helps shoppers decide what to add to their shopping cart and thus boosts sales.

Your conversion rate is the easiest way to grow your business, and that's why it's so important to optimize it.

And now I would like to introduce you to five strategies that you can still use today to increase your conversion rate.

1. A / B tests

Think of it like doing a piece of scientific research.

You split your traffic into two groups.

Group A will see a different version of your website than Group B.

(Image source: Quick Sprout)

You can test various factors, such as Headings, colors, buttons, design, call-to-action, font size, etc..

Even the US president uses it.

During the 2008 election, Obama's team conducted a split test on the campaign website.

They tested 24 different versions. Once the winner was determined, it helped collect 2.8 million additional email addresses.

(The winner - via Quick Sprout)

The key to success in A / B testing is going from variant to variant just change one thing.

For example, if you change the button placement, image, and text from version A to B, and B does better, how do you know what worked?

Was it the button on the right instead of the left? Or the new picture?

You can only derive meaningful results from the A / B test if you can attribute the change in conversion rate to a specific conversion.

Take a look at the two screenshots taken from this blog:

There is a sidebar on the first visit. The second doesn't have any.

This will tell you that your competitors are also doing A / B tests.

Note: Tests are usually linked to the user with the help of cookies, so that you do not see a different version every time you visit. Try to come back once a week or after a month, as the pages usually take a while to change.

If the blog's goal is to get email subscribers, and they attract 1,000 visitors on both versions, 10% of visitors sign up on Vision with sidebar and 20% without sidebar, then they know it is without sidebar works better.

It is important, however collect enough data. Otherwise your results are not statistically meaningful.

Once you get results, try adding traffic to the version that converts better instead of immediately giving up the version that isn't doing so well.

Divide your traffic 75% to 25% and see if the conversion rate stays constant.

Then you can abandon one of the versions.

Note: I recommend doing A / B tests first, in which you copy your landing page, but leave it exactly as it is, so that you can test your software and determine whether it shows incorrect data.

There are a lot of things you can A / B test for. Here are some good starting points:

  • headlines
  • Colors of the design elements (such as buttons)
  • Placement of the buttons (left vs. right vs. central)
  • Page layout (sidebar vs. no sidebar)
  • Text (how do you describe your product?)
  • Call-To-Actions (buy now vs. try now)
  • Media (pictures vs. videos vs. text)

These elements are also relatively easy to test and don't take up much time. You can use programs like Optimizely to start testing, but first make sure you have enough traffic to get meaningful results.

2. The value proposition to your customers

A value proposition to your customers (Consumer Value Proposition, CVP) clearly describes the value that you deliver and that no other provider can guarantee.

The question is far more important"Why should I buy something from you?" than the question"What do I get if I buy something from you?" to answer.

A strong and carefully designed CVP will get you to the bottom of the customer sales funnel.

(Image source: Search Engine Land)

From the very first second someone spends on your site, it should be perfectly clear what you are offering.

Your CVP can go a step further and help the customer find out whether he wants to share your why and your values ​​and whether he can trust you.

Let's look at some examples.

With Unbounce, Chili’s designed a great landing page with a clear CVP:

Children eat for free. Parents feel cool.

As a parent, I immediately understand why I should be spending money here. I feel like a great mother or a great father.

My kids eat for free, and that's something no one else offers me.

Thanks to the picture, I know immediately that they sell pizza. The next step on why I can trust them is at the bottom.

A voucher for the free children's menu.

Okay, they put their words into action. I like that.

This small business sells lemonade. They also have a good CVP.

There are lemons on the bottle, and in the top left corner I see bottles first, so I know immediately that they sell lemonade (plus, that's part of the url too).

The CVP is a bold five-word sentence on the left. This is where my attention is drawn first.

Happiness In A Bottle. (Happiness in a bottle)

I drink the lemonade and it makes me happy.

I get it.

Here is a counterexample.

Not only does the Hot Dog Cart Store fail to put a great picture or CVP in the top half of the page, it offers nothing at all.

The only outstanding statement is "World's Largest Street Food Vendor Resource Website". That's awful.

Would you Your company ever as "World's Largest Street Food Vendor Resource Website" describe?

I hope not.

Nobody gets up in the morning and says, "I'm designing the world's Largest Street Food Vendor Resource website all over the world!"

Not only does it sound unnatural, it also communicates no clear value statement, no differentiation from the competition and no unique reason to buy something there.

It only creates a little bit of credibility since they're the world's biggest site, but it's not nearly as compelling as "Happiness In A Bottle." Do you agree with me?

By the way, the better your CVP, the more consistent it is across all products.

Uber is a great example.

Here's what the landing page looks like for people looking for a ride:

I instantly find out what I'm getting (a ride), why I should be using Uber (it's on-call so I'm in full control) and what makes it very valuable (it's very fast).

But what if I want to drive myself and don't just need a ride?

Same thing. I use my car, work on my own schedule and make my own decisions.

They give me complete control of the experience and my time, and I get the same when I order a ride.

Your CVP can be a simple one-liner, or it can contain all of the following:

  • heading
  • subtitle
  • bullet point
  • picture
  • Social references

It's a brilliant and easy way to increase your conversion rate. Optimization does not cost anything (except maybe some software to run A / B tests), but it has a big impact.

3. The use of colloquial language

When you go to the canteen in your office and meet a new employee, what do you do?

Of course you ask him about his work!

Let's say you both work for a company that makes surveillance cameras.

You: “Nice to meet you, John. And what are you doing here?"

John: “I am responsible for the design of the new line of thermal imaging cameras. So far we've put two of them on the market. "

You: “Wow, that sounds cool. How do they differ from our old ones? "

John: “Well, they can show you the temperature of every object and person they are filming from -40 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, these things recognizewhich object it isand they can even tell you when the temperature is not in the normal range. They also work in complete darkness, smoke or fog and cannot be dazzled by bright light. "

You: “So you can tell me if my body temperature is higher than normal? I had no idea that we were building such fantastic things! ”

After lunch, they part ways and John created the landing page for one of the two new cameras.

Here is what John writes:

Don't you want to run your head against the wall? That is exactly the description that Mobotix offers for one of their thermal imaging cameras.

The nice guy who just explained to you in a crystal clear manner what the product can do, has the Writing the text completely twisted the fingers.

Somehow, as soon as we sit down to write, we immediately switch to “I need to sound smart” mode.

Rather than expressing ourselves clearly like talking to a friend, we rack our brains trying to find the most complex phrases and descriptions to make us sound sophisticated.

This is stupid.

And it doesn't work.

Who will buy these cameras? Average people!

When John's neighbor Jim visits this website because he wants to install a surveillance camera in his front yard, doesn't understand a single word.

He does not need a “modular structure of the M15 system platform” that “guarantees maximum flexibility” or the “telephoto lens with hemispherical function”.

He just wants a great security camera that can read all visible thermal data. And he wants a camera that works at night even when it's foggy, one that isn't easily blinded.

Lorex, a competitor, does a better job explaining the thermal imagers.

I only want to know that, but if I want, I can find out more.

Make it clear, folks.

Don't try to sound smart. Trying to sound human.

Better yet, don't even try.

After all, there is always a human being at the other end of the screen, so talk to him instead of writing for an imaginary crowd

4. Create pressure to act so that your customers take action

Do you remember the "only a few left" message on the Walmart site?

This is Urgency.

Telling the customer that they have limited time to act will help them make a purchase decision.

In the case of Walmart, you are faced with a tremendous choice, even if you're just trying to find a pair of pants. There are hundreds of options.

The paradox of choice is that we often don't choose anywhen we have too many options.

Creating urgency can help minimize the risk of visitors suffering from analytical paralysis.

(Image source: Thomas Van)

A great study that highlights this is the Jam Study. Conducted by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist, the study tested how offering a wider variety of products influences purchasing decisions.

Two events were held to taste jam in a grocery store. One offered 24 jams to try and the other six. While the first one attracted more consumers, in the end they only tried two varieties on average.

However, only 3% of consumers ended up buying jam when 24 options were available, while 30% bought jam when presented with only six flavors.

(Image source: Thomas Van)

The wide range of products paralyzes them and ultimately does not allow them to make any decisions. Urgency is one way of dealing with the problem.

If you tell your customer that some options will soon disappear, it is more likely that he chooses these and ignores the wide range available.

You can do this by leaving sold out products on the ad, as is often the case with tickets. Check out this Broadway show:

I am aware of the fact that all other categories are already sold out and if I really want to see the show on November 7th I should hurry to buy the tickets that are left.

Hotels do it all the time.

Booking.com is the master. Take a look at how much pressure they have to act:

First let you know at the top of the page how fully booked this area is already.

As a second offer 60% discount for a hotel, but only today.

As third they sayhow many people are looking at this exact hotel right now and consider it.

Fourth show me when the hotel last booked was and how many bookings have already been made today.

In the end tell me exactly where the price appears thatonly two rooms are available.

If that doesn't make you act, then I don't know either.

The two best ways to create urgency is to reduce:

  • Time (last day to take advantage of this offer)
  • Offer (the last two rooms available)

But there is a catch.

Your urgency must be authentic.

Many hotels play this game. For some reason, "only two rooms are available" for four weeks.

People are not stupid. If they find out that you are fooling them, their trust is gone forever. That brings me to my final point.

5. Eliminate all concerns in the first place

You know that buying clothes is an art and can really make you big bucks if you do it right.

Of course, when I bought all of these expensive clothes for my experiment last year, I had to make sure they fitted perfectly.

When I walk around in $ 750 shirts they better fit perfectly.

In some cases I wasn't entirely sure and when I tried them on in the store they somehow didn't feel right.

Once, while I was posing in front of the mirror, twisting and tugging at my shirt, a salesman came up to me.

He asked: "Does it fit?"

I said, "I'm not sure."

He used his thumb and a tape measure to take some measurements and substantial lengths between two points on the shirt, and then he said, “You are right, there is too much space under your arms, we can cut it right here in the store and then it will fit perfectly.

I bought the shirt. You customized it. And, it fits perfectly.

Wouldn't that reassure you enormously about your purchase?

It's the same with shoes. If you try them on and walk around the sales force often checks the fitby pushing and pushing the shoe while you wear it.

(Image source: Runner’s World)

The goal is to make you feel more secure while shopping and to have your concerns resolved.

A good seller makes sure that your purchase is perfect.

You also have to be a good seller (or a good saleswoman) on the Internet!

You cannot advise your customers live and personally on the Internet (in most cases. But how about a live chat?). You can still address their concerns.

A good way is that Section with “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ). Most of the people who sell courses on the internet do it this way:

(Example from Charlie Hoehn)

The representation of Customer references is another option, and this is how we do it at KISSmetrics.

Start by making a list of common objections. Slip into the skin of your customer.

What arguments can you find against a purchase?

A couple of common topics:

  • You don't understand my problem
  • You understand my problem, but I don't think you can solve it
  • You understand my problem and I believe your product will work, but my situation is exceptional and I am not sure if you can help me
  • You understand my problem and I believe your product will work even if my case is exceptional, but you are more expensive than the next best alternative

So how do you go about it?

  1. Be very specific when describing the problem your product solves
  2. Show references, reviews, awards won, certificates and social evidence
  3. Show examples of studies and references from various industries and various possible uses of your product
  4. Compare with your competitors (before they do) and explain why your product is worth the money (think about your CVP!)

Make sure your product serves your customers' needs perfectly, and then convince them that you are a good salesperson to take them by the hand and remove their concerns.


Now you know what a conversion rate really is and why conversion rate optimization is so important.

In your company, sales are the most important success indicator. Conversions are the next best option.

If you can increase the percentage of people who end up becoming paying customers, you can quickly increase your sales and grow your business by optimizing the resources you already have.

Here are the first five steps again to optimize your conversions:

  1. Start doing A / B testing
  2. Create a compelling value proposition
  3. Use simple language instead of complicating your text
  4. Create pressure to act so that your customer takes action
  5. Address and resolve your customer's concerns

The only question is ...

What do you start with?