One of the keys to a successful and profitable website, whatever your market, is its conversion rate: the percentage of visitors who buy or become a lead.
At Exposure Ninja, we’ve built hundreds of websites and studied the Google Analytics accounts of thousands more, and we’ve noticed a huge difference in the conversion rate of different websites. Our top converting website turns ⅓ visitors into a lead (a conversion rate of 33%), whilst the majority convert at between 0.7% and 2%. Thus, the difference between a high conversion rate and a low conversion rate can be generating 30 times the leads or sales from your website, with the same amount of traffic. So, the incentive for improving conversion rate is clear!
In this post, we’ll share a process that you can use to improve your website’s conversion rate, whatever your business.
How to improve conversion rate: What is conversion rate?
Your website’s conversion rate is the percentage of visitors that take the desired action, whether that action is buying your product or becoming a lead.
In order to see your conversion rate in Google Analytics, you need to define your conversion by setting up a goal using the checkout or contact form thank you page. If your goal is to have website visitors call you, you can integrate a service like Mediahawk, or track clicks on a button that takes visitors to call a phone number.
What’s a normal conversion rate?
Across the more than 1,000 Google Analytics accounts we have access to, we find that typical conversion rates are between 1-2%. This means that for every 100 people visiting a website, one or two of them take the desired action.
Many websites, however, have no clear visitor goal and rely on website traffic deciding on their own accord to visit the contact page and submit their details. It’s not uncommon for these websites to see a conversion rate of less than 1% and, in some cases, it can be as low as 0.25%. For these websites, 400 visitors are required before a single person gets in contact. Obviously, then, there is so much potential for improvement!
What’s a good conversion rate?
Our top-performing website has a conversion rate of between 26% and 34% each month (shown below), generating legal leads:
The highest conversion rate we’ve seen for an eCommerce store is one of our clients, which regularly hits 15%:
These are at the very top end and are not typical. We’ll look at what makes them so much more effective than the average website later on.
What impacts your conversion rate?
Getting a high conversion rate is partly about removing conversion ‘blockers’ (things that prevent people from buying or becoming a lead) and partly about actively encouraging visitors to take the desired action.
Conversion blockers are usually relatively easy to identify, so let’s look at them now.
Conversion Blocker 1: Unclear Message
The most obvious conversion blocker is making it difficult for visitors to understand what your business does or what your website is about.
This usually starts with the lack of a clear and descriptive headline on every page, assuming that visitors on each page of your website have prior knowledge of what your business does and for whom.
Conversion Blocker 2: Not answering key questions
If the website visitor has any uncertainty about taking the action you want them to take, they usually won’t act.
Often, the uncertainty is about what will happen next if the visitor inputs their contact details. Will a salesperson call? How long will they have to wait?
Sometimes, the uncertainty is around whether the business is actually suitable. On eCommerce sites, for example, displaying a different currency anywhere to the one that’s used by the visitor can reduce conversions, as a percentage assume that the business can’t/won’t ship economically and quickly. Lead generation websites that fall victim of this conversion blocker are sometimes unclear about their location or service area, so visitors are left unsure of whether the business serves them.
Conversion Blocker 3: Poor usability
This is the most obvious conversion blocker, whether it’s websites that aren’t mobile friendly, have intrusive pop-ups, or dated and unappealing design.
Whilst many websites see a far lower conversion rate on mobile, the one below shows that with mobile-focused design, it’s actually possible for mobile traffic to outperform desktop traffic!
How to improve conversion rate dramatically
We’ve looked at some of the common impediments to conversion rates, so now let’s look at some of the tools we have in the conversion arsenal to actively improve conversion rate.
Offer something genuinely compelling
The fastest shortcut to improving your conversion rate is to offer something that your visitor values. All too often, we see lead generation websites offering no clear benefit to getting in touch, and eCommerce sites selling the same products as everyone else at the same price.
Visitors seeing a contact form that just says “contact us” think ‘meh’, and for every one that converts, there may have been 1-5 others who just didn’t perceive enough value in what they’d get in return for taking the action.
The best-converting sites we see all offer something of clear value, and visitors take action because they’re excited and have a genuine desire for what’s on offer.
Take this legal lead generation site, for example:
The call to action is “find out how much you could claim”, and the benefit is clear: by filling in this form, I’ll find out how much money I’m owed.
This website outperforms most solicitor websites by 15x because they all say things like “Contact Us”, or have no call to action at all. The trouble with “Contact Us” is that there’s no clear benefit to doing so, and the perceived value is low. What does the visitor get in return? A sales call? How compelling is that?
In another great example, this lead generation website (with a conversion rate of 6.92%) offers visitors a free “claim assessment” to help visitors identify whether they have a case, and how much they could be owed:
I was talking to Larry Kim of SaaS company Wordstream recently, who explained that in the early days of Wordstream, the website offered a free trial because that’s what all software companies did. This worked okay and their conversion rate was around the 2% mark. They tried changing button colours, layouts and so on, and whilst these resulted in small initial improvements, the website never really got beyond a 2% conversion rate.
So, Larry decided to offer something of greater value, and built an AdWords Grader. This would allow people to test their Google AdWords account and get some quick feedback on its performance. The tool took three months to build, but it was worth it. Conversion rate jumped to 20%! Here’s the CTA that increased Wordstream’s conversion rate by a whopping 10x:
eCommerce websites can use this technique to great effect by offering sign-ups with something tantalising with their first order. “Sign up for a 10% discount on your first order” is a popular option and, so long as the business knows its lifetime customer value and profit, they’ll usually be happy to take a hit on the first sale’s profits to build their customer list and sign up people who would have otherwise left the website.
Write for your conversion
Assuming that you’re offering something attractive, it’s a good idea to centre your pages around this target. For example, on our website, we offer a free website review which shows you the hidden profit leaks that could be costing you 45-65% of your sales. We refer to this call to action throughout the website copy (and blog posts).
Prominent calls to action
If your conversion goal is appealing, don’t hide it away! The website below has a high double-digit conversion rate, with most of the leads coming from the homepage lead capture form above the fold:
If your call to action is compelling, low-risk and easy to understand, putting it above the fold on the homepage is a good option, because it means that those visitors who are keen and ready to convert can do so without hunting around.
You’ll also want a call to action in the middle of any long page or blog post, to get those who didn’t feel compelled enough to take action at the top of the page. Notice how Wordstream uses sidebar calls to action in its blog to give readers a signup option throughout:
Of course, you’ll also want a call to action at the end of the page or post, to capture those engaged enough to read to the end:
Notice how this eCommerce store with double-digit conversion rate uses a newsletter CTA at the bottom of every page, but adds in a compelling reason why people would want to sign up.
Use social proof
Another way to increase conversion rate is to show that others who have taken the risk have been pleased with their decision. Putting testimonials and reviews in places that you’re asking for visitors to take the action is a simple way to do this.
The Property Buying Company uses third-party reviews prominently, right below its CTA button, to reassure visitors and show that others have had a good experience. This is particularly important in businesses where there is a high perceived risk, such as selling your house online.
See how funding circle uses statistics to give social proof, showing how many others have taken this action and restating the benefit of their service by giving a specific loan amount:
Notice how online mortgage broker Habito uses a combination of social proof, reviews and metrics for ease of use, combined with reassurance in the form of their FCA authorisation, to overcome objections and fears to generate mortgage leads:
This website we built uses logos of some of the places that the business has been featured, to give their eligibility check more credibility. It converts at 22%, which is more than 40x their previous website’s conversion rate. Note how we also built up the perceived value of becoming a member by using a ‘takeaway’ sale: “most people who apply don’t get in”. The irony, of course, is that this only increases people’s desire to get in:
How to improve conversion rate: Conclusion
Your website will ‘convert’ traffic into leads or sales as long as it’s offering something compelling and attractive, in an easy-to-understand way, whilst removing any fear or uncertainty in the mind of the visitor.
If your website’s conversion rate is below 2%, that’s usually a symptom that it’s missing some — or all — of these criteria. Your conversion rate can be as high as 10%, 20%, even 30%, but to do that, you have to be offering visitors something of extremely high perceived value, with little or no risk, and from a position of real authority.