Maximizing Conversion Drivers, Minimizing Conversion Barriers

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By Kim Ann King, CMO, SiteSpect
By Kim Ann King, CMO, SiteSpect

If you're like most digital marketers today, you're doing everything you can to increase conversion rates and maximize the ROI of your website. This means find the right strategies for maximizing conversion drivers and minimizing conversion barriers—the elements that are either helping or hindering the effectiveness of your website. Here are nine approaches, and the principles behind them. Once these are in place, you can test and optimize the elements associated with them to improve your web and mobile conversions.

1. Ensure consistency. The more you make an online experience consistent with your customers' values, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions (and therefore more personally relevant to them), the better luck you'll have at influencing their behavior.

2. Ensure clarity. Site visitors simply won't buy or do something they don't understand.

3. Create urgency and use scarcity. Scarcity is all about limited supply, which enhances its perceived value—because we all want what we can't have, and the less there is the more we want. Additionally, avoiding loss is a primal driver and you can use it to your advantage. There are two types of urgency:

  • Internal—such as an emotional appeal or an incentive that makes people want to act now
  • External—such as limited time, limited edition, limited access

4. Leverage reciprocity. As a society, we feel compelled to repay real or perceived debts.

5. Promote social proof. Have you ever hesitated about a purchase and then felt better after reading the glowing reviews?

6. Establish authority. Even with a demonstration of social proof, we look to experts to show us the way. That means you!

7. Maintain likeability. When's the last time you said no to a friend? We're usually inclined to treat friends better than strangers, and if you want your brand to be treated like a friend then consider acting like a friend to your customers.

8. Reduce friction. Eliminate anything that gets in the way of what people want to do on your site or what you want them to do. It can range from clutter and poor user experience to too many choices, fields, steps, or pages to click through. The number one source of friction on today's websites is shipping and handling costs, which is why 50% of e-commerce companies offer free shipping.

9. Alleviate anxiety. Address doubts, hesitations, and second thoughts about credibility and trust upfront.

Test to optimize conversions

Based on these strategies, there are any number of elements on your website that you could test and optimize to improve conversions. The process of testing reveals not only what works and should be implemented, but also what doesn't work and should be avoided. Every website idea—whether content, functionality, or campaign related—should be put to the test to determine if it helps or hurts the visitor experience.

Only once a solid testing capability is in place, and the impact of any site change can be quantified, can marketers truly optimize their sites' conversion rates.

An approach to getting started

If you're not sure where to start when selecting testable factors, we recommends a three-step optimization process to zero-in on the elements that matter most.

1. Test wide—Test multiple factors with fewer variations to see which factor is most influential in moving the needle.

2. Test deep—Take a few of the top-performing factors and test multiple variations of them to understand which combination works best.

3. Bake off—Take the winning combination and test it against the control, and your results will tell you how much you'll be able to improve your KPIs.

But don't stop there. Optimizing for conversion is a continuous process, not a “set it and forget it” activity. In an ideal world you'll use test results as a source for future testing ideas in addition to your analytics data, key stakeholders, and user research, among other things. You'll create a process for vetting possible testing ideas against your online goals and using accepted ideas in creating new hypotheses and test campaigns.

Kim Ann King is CMO of SiteSpect

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