Conversion Rate Optimization From Start To Finish
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
Whenever customers come to your website, they're seeking an answer. Within minutes, they will decide whether or not you can provide those answers. You only have a few precious seconds to convince them. And even after you convince them, you need to continue to pull them through the funnel.
It's a familiar concept. The buyer journey. It's how people find you and ultimately decide whether or not to become your customer. Along the way, there are critical conversion points that they engage with, or miss. And to ensure that they engage with you at those points, you must continuously improve that path.
That's why conversion rate optimization exists. From the first time a customer clicks on your organic search result listing, to the first CTA they click, it needs to be easy to take every step towards a conversion point. If you work to optimize each of those little steps, and consider every variable, you can gradually improve your conversion rates and get more leads into your funnel.
Conversion Rate Optimization From The Beginning
Increasing the conversion rate of your site begins from step one. If you’re paying for ads, you may start optimizing the landing page. But, if you want to optimize your entire site, the optimization starts from the very first interaction.
The first time a contact visits your site, they're looking for a solution to a specific problem. Many times, their search starts on Google, and they come to your site because of an organic search listing. The copy that comes up in search is extremely important.
That's only the beginning of their search. And from that first interaction, it should be very easy to understand and engage with your content. Here are the best ways to ensure your visitor converts.
Optimizing Meta Data
When your website shows up in a Google search result, customers begin their experience with you by reading your page title and meta description. It's the first impression many customers will have with your brand.
They will base their decision to move forward (and click the entry) based on what these two page items say. By optimizing the language of your page title and meta description, you can increase the number of clicks from search, which helps to improve search ranking and results in more visitors to your website.
As a best practice, the constraints for copy are:
- Title Tags: 50-to-65 characters
- Meta Description Tags: 160 characters.
For the best results, make sure the meta description and headline sell the highest value promise of the page. Whatever the most valuable benefit of visiting that page is, that should be the focus of the meta description.
Also, consider cliffhangers. We often interrupt our meta description with an ellipsis, right before we make a…
See what I did there? You really wanted to finish that sentence, and would probably click instinctively to get the conclusion.
For each meta description or title, make sure to:
- Include the keywords customers use in their Google search.
- Check the length, make sure it doesn't get truncated.
- Make sure it's original - don't just copy/paste across the board
- Is it interesting? It should "hook" the reader and sell the click.
We're all consumers. Put yourself in your customer's position, and read through your title and description.
Would you click it?
If not, go back and make some changes to get your copy where it needs to be.
Optimizing Blog Posts
When it comes to optimizing content, there's a lot to consider. While you don't want to completely rewrite the content (unless it's really not performing well at all), over time, you want to optimize it strategically.
While you do want to optimize for SEO, you also need to attract and captivate your audience.
When you start optimizing content, walk through the following best practices:
- Make sure you're using the keywords you're trying to rank for in the copy.
- Double check that headings are optimized. There should be one H2 tag containing your keyword, and H3 tags throughout the rest of the article.
- Check the readability. You can use tools such as Hemingway to review how easy it is to read the work
- Double check grammar. Grammarly is a tool that you can use for spelling, grammar, and also has a plagiarism checker
As a rule of thumb, we check the following:
- Is the focus keyword used at least once in the introduction?
- Is the focus keyword used in the title?
- Is the focus keyword use in the main heading (h2)?
- Are variations of the keyword being used in subsequent headings?
- Is the focus keyword used naturally several times (not too many) in the copy?
- Do we provide relevant next steps specific to the Google search that lead people to this post (CTA in both copy and bottom-of-post image)?
Without the right offer, everything else is meaningless. Dig into your personas to identify what the customer really wants coming out of any blog post or landing page. Then, provide them with that value.
The reaction you want to go for is, "I can't believe that didn't cost me money."
The CTA’s should support the content on the landing page, and provide a very clear hook for the customer. There are a few different approaches for optimizing offers and calls to action to get more leads.
When optimizing CTA’s:
- Make the CTA something tangible. Offers such as cheat sheets, templates, free training, toolkits, etc. are great offers to start out with.
- Be buyer journey relevant. Don’t offer bottom-of-funnel, or middle-of-funnel offers on a top-of-funnel blog post. Schedule a call or get a consultation are calls to action, but they are not lead magnets.
- Use actionable language in your copy and button text. Verbs that are action-oriented, in the second-person perform well.
- Stand out. Ugly CTA’s outperform pretty CTA’s when the ugly CTA stands out in contrast. Don’t be afraid to grab attention with your CTA. That’s the whole point.
- Be straightforward. It should be very clear what happens after they click on the CTA.
- Add urgency. Limited time offers can motivate a reader to convert.
Optimizing Landing Pages
Landing pages are relatively simple, and they have one goal - to get the conversion. When a person lands on the landing page, they should have two options: convert on the offer or close the tab.
Any other options will destroy your landing page. Any link to any other page, for example, is considered a landing page leak - when the user clicks that link, they most likely will never come back to the landing page. Fight the urge to include any links besides the ones you’re required by law to include. Make your landing page watertight, and force the 2-part decision.
Have a Clear UVP Headline That’s Relevant
You have only a few seconds before the person bounces. Your headline is the biggest, most noticeable text, and is where most eyes fall when the page loads. This headline needs to interest the visitor, and also be relevant to any link they clicked to get to that page - especially, if they clicked an ad.
If you got them to click the headline of an ad, that headline is what they want to see when the page loads. If you change the topic, they bounce.
Include an Emotion-Impacting Image or Video
There’s a raging debate about which performs better on landing pages: video or images. The answer is likely somewhere in the middle - it depends. But, regardless of whether you choose to include a video or an image, that image needs to resonate with the visitor.
Consider the problem the offer is solving.
Consider the emotion of the visitor who is having that unsolved problem right now.
What image or video can you include that connects with that emotion or feeling? That’s the imagery you need to include. It should reinforce the offer, not just take up space.
Make sure the page is SEO-optimized - even if PPC is the primary source of traffic. Make the page title and URL great, and then ensure the meta description and page copy include the keywords/buzzwords your target uses to explain their problem.
Be Brief, Yet Compelling
Some people make their landing pages long, drawn-out sales letters. If you’re selling a product, that’s great. But, you don’t need to be that in-depth if you’re offering a TOFU lead magnet.
Instead, focus on the value of the offer. Consider the problem, and the emotion of dealing with that problem unsolved, again. What promise can you make in your copy that connects the emotion/feeling with the hope/feeling of having that problem solved?
If you can capture that, your landing page will convert.
As you gauge the performance of your forms, optimize them over time. By testing out your form fields one element at a time, you can see what's working well.
Everything from the number of fields, to the submission button color and text, can be tested.
There are a few different ways to conduct optimization of forms, including:
- Linked vs. embedded. Whether the form is linked or in embedded is also important, and can have an impact on performance.
- Color and size. One at a time, test out various colors and sizes for your form submit button.
- Try different headlines and test out various submission copy, such as "Download Now," "Go To Offer," "Get Started," etc.
- Number of fields. You can test out long versus short forms. Another popular form is a 2 step, which enables the brand to ask more questions.
Don't assume you know what's going to be effective. This is why testing is so important. Customers may respond well to something well expected.
Optimizing Thank You Pages
Thank you pages are one of the least utilized opportunities during the conversion process. Thank you pages are a great jumping off point for a customer. They've just downloaded an asset, or requested a trial, so it's important to think through how to drive engagement from the thank you.
There are a few tactics to increase the ROI of a thank you page, including:
- Providing the offer. On the thank you page, you can actually link directly to the content. While you can send the offer via email, putting on the thank you page gets it to the customer ASAP.
- Linking opportunities. Thank you pages are also a great opportunity to show your customer where they can engage with you. Suggest that they follow you on Facebook, subscribe to your blog, etc.
The anatomy of a good thank you page includes similar elements to the landing page.
Emails are still one of the most effective engagement tactics. There are a few different ways marketers use nurturing emails to engage and nurture their audiences, such as creating indoctrination, engagement, and re-engagement series. Each series has specific goals and should be optimized for optimal performance.
In order to gauge how well your workflow is performing, consider:
- Don’t make your clicks annoying. If someone has already given you their contact information, don’t require them to give you the same information to take you up on an offer.
- Subject lines. Try out different subject line strategies. Adding in a statistic, playing with urgency, using playful language, or asking a question are all tactics you can try to A/B test.
- CTAs. Again, for CTAs, test for language, color, size and placement.
- Content length. Depending on your audience, you may get a drastically different response from a shorter email than you would a longer email. Try out both.
- Personalization. You can use various tokens to welcome the customer by name, mention their company, or talk about the specific industry they're in.
Once you've identified effective optimizations, you can run similar tests in other workflows. When it comes to emails, brands should always try to improve.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
The key to creating a stellar customer experience requires learning as much as you can about your customer. By conducting regular optimizations, brands can gradually enhance their entire conversion path. As a result, you can effectively connect with your customers at the right stage, and move them through the funnel, faster. Just test, tweak, document, optimize and repeat.
Using a sophisticated platform like HubSpot, you gain insights throughout the customer's journey that makes optimization seamless. We use HubSpot to craft our entire customer experience, so we know that it's the most powerful tool we could have in our tool belt.