|Lessons Learned from 21 Case Studies in Conversion Rate Optimization|
|Friday, 06 August 2010 11:57|
by Paras Chopra
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the newest darling of
Internet Marketers, after all what good is traffic if it doesn’t
convert. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at
it), unlike Pay Per click (PPC) marketing, CRO isn’t a game of how
much money you can throw. In fact, this field requires as much
creativity, as it requires monetary investment. That’s what makes
conversion rate optimization a fair arena. Your well-funded, bigger
competitors can of course beat you at generating more traffic but
they can’t beat you at the conversion rate game (unless you allow
Role of Design
From conversion perspective, design of a website is the most important aspect amongst all variables involved. The difference between better converting design and worse converting design usually boils down to not confusing the visitor in what he is expected to do on a page. Take a look at the examples below:
Base camp homepage design: 14% increase in conversions
What made newer design convert 14% more visitors? A clean design. The new design clearly guides a visitor towards Plans and Pricing link while the old design presented a whole lot of choices. Need more proof that having less choices on page can increase conversion rates? Have a look at the case study below:
Gyminee homepage redesign: 20% increase in conversion rate
In addition to reducing the number of choices for the visitor, having a design that shows you as a professional and trustworthy company can also increase conversions. Take a look at the following case study, where the redesigned sales page has various trust elements (seal, money back guarantee, testimonials) and the design has various little tweaks (color scheme, buttons instead of links for download, layout, etc.) which made it look professional. Note that the sales (not just conversions) increased by 20% just by changing the design. No additional products, no additional traffic, pure conversion rate optimization:
AquaSoft sales page redesign: 20% increase in sales
There are more such case studies where design played a key role in optimizing conversion rates. Have a look at them below:
Role of Headline and Copy
When you receive an email it’s the name of the sender and the subject line of email that influences your decision to open it right way or to post pone it to future. Similarly, when a visitor arrives on your website, it’s the design/brand name AND the headline of the page that influences his decision to engage with your page. Visitors’ attention is the costliest commodity on the Internet and your page’s headline is where it goes right after arriving on it.
Take a look at the case study below where 37Signals tested different kinds of headlines (and the winning one boosted conversion rate by 30%).
Highrise Headline test – 30% increase in conversions
The winning variation said “30-day Free Trial on All Accounts” and worst performing variation said “Start a HighRise Account”. Note that clear, no-nonsense headline won. If you think about it, if a visitor is on Signup page he obviously knows that he is signing up for HighRise account. The winning headline clearly convinces the already interested visitor that there is nothing to loose as they offer a 30-day free trial.
Another example of how much headlines matter: CityCliq, a startup in local marketing industry, split tested the positioning of their product.
CityCliq headline test: 90% increase in conversions
Here are different headlines they tested:
The winning headline “create a webpage for your business” tells the visitor what exactly does CityCliq does and no wonder it increased conversions by 90%. As they say, don’t make your visitors think.
Right after looking at headline, if his interest is piqued, a visitor looks at the (text/video) copy on the page. That’s why a combined optimization of headline and copy proves to be effective, as it did for SEOMoz:
Conversion Rate Experts’ How we made $1 million for SEOmoz
They tested a variety of headlines and copy elements on the landing page for Pro subscription. In the end, they found out that a headline that piqued interest and a copy that laid out what exactly constitutes a Pro subscription won (no matter how long it turned out to be).
Other case studies where headline and copy mattered:
Role of Call-to-Action
So, you optimized your design, optimized headlines and page
copy. You got visitor interested and motivated to try whatever you
are offering. There is still one last hurdle before you can throw a
success party for your CRO project. Yes, call-to-action is the last
hurdle for you to cross. Even though
call-to-action may be considered as minutiae for CRO, the
following case studies demonstrate that even simple A/B testing of
call-to-action can result in great improvements.
37Signal’s call to action – signups increased by 200%
The now-omnipresent “See Plans and Pricing” increased signups
for HighRise by 200%. I have included this case study not to
convince you to replace all your buttons with this text (it may not
actually work for you). Rather, the point is to convince you that
even small changes in call-to-action can have dramatic impact on
conversion rates. And the best thing about call-to-action is that
they are so easy to test. It literally takes 5 minutes to get such
test up and running.
Dmix case study – 72% increase in conversions
To repeat my earlier point, with call-to-action sometimes surprisingly trivial changes can produce significant results. Take a look at the following case study:
Soocial’s homepage – 28% increase in conversions
Notice that all they did was to add “It’s free” alongside Sign
up now to boost conversion rate. This is definitely a trivial
change, but why won’t you test such trivial changes if they don’t
take much effort and have potential to fatten your
Role of You
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