CRO astronut reaching new heigths.

13 Steps to Propel Your Conversion Rates Upward

We all want better conversion rates. That’s why we marketers are on an endless optimization quest.

Succeed, and profits rise while cost per acquisition falls. Failure? Not an option.

With success in mind, here are 13 things you can do right now to bump up conversion rates.

Before You Start, Do This First

Before you get to work optimizing your site and improving the user experience for higher conversions, you must have 2 things clearly defined:

  1. An action you want visitors to take
  2. A standard against which to compare results

In other words, understand what you want people to do and have a baseline to keep track of how frequently they’re actually doing it. Establish the outcome you’re recording as something measurable, such as the number of signups, orders or click-throughs.

For example, don’t just say you want people to like your brand more. You want them to actually purchase a product, or sign up for an email list. Make it numerical.

Cover all the basics on converting your audience by checking off the following steps:

1. Clarify Your Value Proposition

Having a good value proposition and positioning it in a noticeable place on your page are arguably the most important tools you have in the conversion process.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell your house. You search “home buying services” and check out the following 2 websites.

Which page are you more likely to explore further?

BuyersHome landing page
BuyersHome landing page
Opendoor
Opendoor

Probably the second image, right? The instant you visit the Opendoor site, you’re presented with an unmistakable, incredibly attractive outcome from using their services.

Opendoor’s value proposition is effective because it explains these core features:

  1. How the product solves a problem
  2. Specific benefits a buyer can expect
  3. The difference in this product over competitors

The point of a value proposition isn’t to only be a headline or a catchy phrase. The value proposition tells the reader exactly what their life will look like when they hire you or buy from you.

How to Craft an Effective Value Prop

In the above examples, the first website has a tagline but no value proposition. Opendoor’s website boasts an eye-catching design and follows it up with a value proposition that defines your expectations of working with the company: “Selling safely without showings, stress or surprises.”

Put your value proposition right where readers can see it so they know you understand their problem, that you have an appealing solution for it and that working with you will be more enjoyable than anyone else.

This distinction is important to remember when you’re trying to boost your conversion rates. When it comes to increasing website conversions, many marketers will try things like changing the call to action (CTA) or moving buttons around on the page. If you can’t snag your reader’s attention first, however, none of that will have an impact.

Once you’ve solidified your value proposition, you can start experimenting with all the other details, such as buttons and CTAs.

CRO astronaut holding phone with “A/B Testing” on screen.
CRO astronaut holding phone with “A/B Testing” on screen.

2. Conduct A/B Testing

Numbers don’t lie. You don’t have to guess at what resonates with your audience: You can just ask them to show you.

A/B testing works on everything from headlines to product pages to emails. Get yourself set up with the proper software if needed (most email CRMs have built-in testing interfaces and won’t require an outside program).

If you feel like you’re stabbing completely in the dark and can’t narrow it down to 2 meaningful split tests to conduct, try conducting a general survey or a 5-second test first. Then decide on the initial angle of your A/B testing based on the results.

Once your tests are live, keep them running long enough to see the statistical significance in the data. Cutting it off early will skew your results and can lead you to draw incorrect conclusions. Take peaks and valleys in your traffic into consideration as well. Try testing on a Monday afternoon or a Thursday evening or a Saturday morning, etc.

A/B testing isn’t necessarily a one-time thing. Your market will always be shifting and evolving. What triggered massive conversions for you one day might not work a few months down the road. Use regular testing to stay in the loop on how your customers are thinking and behaving.

Remember that nudging your conversion numbers up by a seemingly small margin can still have a huge impact on your profits, particularly in mid- to larger-sized companies. Increasing your rates by 0.05% can still equate to several tens of thousands of dollars of extra revenue.

3. Tidy Up Your Appearance

You’ve heard it before: Appearances matter.

Humans tend to be extremely visual creatures. For most of us, our eyes are the first tool we use to start forming an opinion on someone. When it comes to your website, social media or emails, be intentional about creating a polished and well-organized appearance.

Trust is a crucial element to any sales funnel, and you can jumpstart that relationship with potential customers by verifying you have the most basic ducks in a row.

Establish a trustworthy perception by listing these details for your business:

  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Contact information

Then, take it a step further and:

  • Provide social proof in the forms of testimonials from past clients and customers.
  • Feature those product or service reviews heavily on pages.

You can also add in trust badges, which are symbols that show your website and payment gateways are secure.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the security of their information online. By showing a Visa or Mastercard secure logo, the PayPal symbol, a Better Business Bureau rating — or whatever else makes sense for your industry — you can reassure visitors that you take their privacy seriously.

4. Build Out Your Sales Funnel

If you’ve nailed your value proposition and you know exactly which CTA your readers prefer but you still aren’t seeing the conversions you want, examine the journey of your customer through your sales funnel. Is there a piece of the decision-making process that’s missing for them? Understand why they don’t feel ready to make a purchasing decision yet.

Some people won’t convert simply because they’re checking out other options, but others might not yet have the level of trust they need.

All customers must go through stages of awareness before they’re ready to buy.

Buyer’s sales funnel
Buyer’s sales funnel

The timeline of this funnel will look different depending on the complexity and price of your offer. More complex and expensive products require a deeper relationship and more trust between you and your potential buyers.

Let’s check out an example of this in real-time.

Ramit Sethi is a personal finance advisor and entrepreneur. He runs a blog called I Will Teach You To Be Rich, based on his 2009 New York Times bestselling book of the same name. His goal is to provide financial education and his customers want to learn how to manage their money better. And yes, become rich.

The sales funnel starts as soon as people encounter his brand for the first time. They develop awareness for the issue of financial literacy, and as they interact with his blog they can see he’s an expert on solving that problem. He offers a plethora of free content in the form of spreadsheets, videos, guides and tips, and he even has a quiz to help you discover your earning potential.

I will teach you to be rich
I will teach you to be rich

This is when people move to the next stage of his funnel. Taking the quiz requires readers to input their email address, and once they’re on Sethi’s mailing list they receive a steady stream of drip content that expands on the expertise he presents on his website.

So once it’s time for Sethi to open up enrollment or launch a brand new course, he has the attention and trust he needs to sell people on hitting the “Buy Now” button.

5. Simplify Your Message

The argument over whether clear is better than clever is one of the oldest among marketers.

Many argue that it may feel impressive to come up with the most creative catchphrase or the wittiest pun in your industry. But demonstrating your finesse for language will never be more important than communicating effectively with your readers.

Your marketing can level-up to clever once you’ve nailed the clarity. The point of cleverness should be to make it memorable. But that won’t happen if there’s any confusion around what you’re actually trying to market.

6. Directly Address Objections

Speaking to the objections of your audience is a persuasive technique that can alleviate concerns around purchasing your product.

This is a crucial element in optimizing conversion rates, because whenever you present someone with a choice — for example, to buy or not to buy your product — there will always be resistance.

Step 1

When addressing objections, the important first step is to acknowledge their concerns. People think and behave the way they do for a reason. Whatever experiences informing their thoughts are valid. On a sales level, it’s vital, they as a potential customer, feel you recognize that. They certainly won’t spend time or energy listening to you if they don’t think they themselves are being heard.

Step 2

After you meet them where they’re at, you can explore what’s giving them pause. At this point keep in mind that some objections will be overt and some will be subconscious. Asking questions will help you correctly diagnose what concerns they have that actually need addressing.

Step 3

Once you have an informed understanding of the objections you can tactfully respond. Perhaps your inquiries revealed that the product you’re trying to sell them on really isn’t best suited for them. In that case, you can make a recommendation or suggest an alternative. At the very least, you can explore what kind of solution they feel would fit best with them.

Even if you don’t make a sale that day, remember the importance of maintaining trust between yourself and your customers. Writing them off completely will sabotage future opportunities for you to work together (and is a jerk-move to pull).

Of course, handling someone’s objections is completely different from arguing with them. Telling someone flat-out they’re wrong tends to make them double down on their beliefs and (spoiler alert) undermines their trust in you.

You don’t have to wait until your sales pitch to receive feedback from your customers. Installing customer data-collecting functions, such as satisfaction surveys on your site or in your emails, can provide valuable insight into their interactions with your product or brand.

7. Streamline the Buying Journey

Sometimes improving your conversion rates isn’t about convincing people it’s a good idea to buy from you. Sometimes you’ll see more traction just by making their buying process easier.

Social platforms such as Instagram and Facebook have rolled out features in the past few years that allow users to shop directly in the app rather than having to switch to their browsers to see products and make purchases.

Clearly Contacts shopping cart
Clearly Contacts shopping cart

This is exciting for ecommerce businesses because it allows brands to do 2 major things:

  1. Tell their customers exactly what to do next (just click on the image that sparked their interest)
  2. Require very little effort from the customer to complete the transaction

Ideally, each action your customer takes should feel totally natural to them. When you have a buying process that’s intuitive and user-friendly, you make purchasing from you more accessible to a larger audience.

Make the Next Step the Most Obvious Choice

If your page has a lot going on, make the hierarchy of information easily discernible. Limit to having just one CTA whenever possible but if you have to have more than one, put the focus on the one you really want people to take and make all others smaller and less noticeable.

When presenting customers with options rather than a CTA, carefully curate the choices you present them with. Customers will go into decision fatigue if there are too many things to decide between, and will likely wind up choosing nothing at all.

Try out these practical options for streamlining your customer experience:

Save Buyer Information and Use Auto-Fill Where You Can

Sync up customer information the first time they provide it to save them time and energy. This will also be handy if they have to deal with customer service. No one likes to repeat themselves 3 times when they’re already trying to solve a problem.

Allow Guest Checkout

Most first-time customers won’t bother to set up an account with you. Let them check out without forcing them to sign up for anything and give them the option to save their info for faster checkout next time. This also means they’ll only have to put in their details 1 time, making the signup process even easier.

Offer Free Shipping

With our society in the throes of a pandemic, online shopping plays a much different role in our lives than it did even 5 years ago. A study by Walker Sands found 31% of consumers now shop online at least once a week, and 88% view free shipping as a top incentive to actually complete a purchase.

8. Simplify the Customer Journey

This is a similar concept to streamlining the buying process but is all about removing potential distractions while your customer is trying to make a decision.

The best possible way to keep people moving along is to follow the “Rule of One,” which gives each function of the page a singular job: Keep readers continuously moving down the page.

Think back to the Opendoor value proposition example: Why was it at the very top of the page? To grab the reader’s attention and make them interested in learning more. The focus of that homepage was a unique selling proposition, a value proposition and a box to input your address to get you started on their product.

Some basic tips for decluttering a webpage:

  • Use a consistent color scheme.
  • Simplify and shrink the navigation.
  • Limit photos and videos, unless they support the Rule of One.

Not sure if your page is decluttered enough? This is another great opportunity to use a 5-second test. Ask participants to tell you what the focus or objective of the page is, and see if they can get it right.

9. Sell Solutions, Not Features

Having products we’re really proud of makes it difficult to sell them sometimes.

For example, let’s say someone who has built a hypothetical car that’s more advanced than anything else on the road. The creator tells you about all the amazing fantasy features: impenetrable windows! Self-cleaning interior fabric! Goes from 0 to 200 in under 1 second!

But even if they name a modest price, you won’t really be thrilled by the prospect of purchasing it until you’re clear on what the benefits of all those things are.

How to Go About It

No one is passionate about the features you give your project (sorry, hypothetical car maker). Customers only start jumping up and down about it once they understand the difference it makes in their life.

Instead of impenetrable windows, tell them it’s the safest car in a collision.

Rather than self-cleaning interior fabric, point out that they’ll never have to worry about knocking over the coffee thermos again.

Forget about the acceleration and show them that they’ll never be late for another appointment.

Listing out the features plays a key role in demonstrating the value of your product, but not as much as the cause and effect of those features does.

When determining what benefits of your product might stand out most to your audience, consider David Rock’s SCARF model. Originally devised as a career tool for becoming a more effective leader, the psychology behind this model can help us understand what is motivating our audience to take action.

Rock outlines 5 key angles for influencing others:

  • Status — “This is the most high-tech car you can possibly get.”
  • Certainty — “This car will protect you from any accident.”
  • Autonomy — “This car will make it easier for you to run errands.”
  • Relatedness — “Other people just like you love this car.”
  • Fairness — “This car was constructed only using fair-trade materials.”

Make sure you communicate as many details about your product as possible so that all readers have plenty of opportunities to identify the thing that will motivate them to buy. If that means including pages of information and tons of photos and videos, that’s fine. People will continue reading about what they’re interested in.

It’s better for your audience to be able to make their decision after only reading 25% of your page, rather than getting to the end and still not having all their questions answered.

A magnet pulling in hearts
A magnet pulling in hearts

10. Prove Your Claims

Regardless of what people are motivated by, everyone likes to feel confident that they’re buying a great product or service. At the very least they like knowing that if their purchase doesn’t work out as expected they’ll be protected from blame or disappointment.

There are a few ways you can offer that kind of confidence:

Social Proof

Share reviews and testimonials from past customers, and don’t be shy about boosting any mentions of your product in blogs, podcasts, articles or on socials.

If you’ve worked with any household names like celebrities or Fortune 500 companies, get permission to drop their names or logos.

Scientific Proof

Post the results of tests and studies that help demonstrate the benefits of your offer. And while they’re not strictly scientific, case studies can be commissioned as highly informative content to support the work your brand does.

Guarantee

Offering a guarantee or warranty conveys to your customers that you stand behind your product, and makes them feel safer to do so as well.

Demonstration

Show your product in action for your audience to see it working in real life.

11. Incentivize Fast Action

Incentives are effective marketing tools because they trigger our chemical reward system, which happens to be located in the oldest and most powerful parts of our brains.

Customers especially like to be rewarded for things they were going to do anyway, such as signing up for your mailing list or returning for another order.

Check out some of these incentive ideas:

  • Offer a limited-time free trial
  • Send a coupon for a percentage off their first order
  • Award a referral bonus
  • Join a loyalty program
  • Create a bundle of the most popular products
  • Mark products that are getting low on quantity
  • Mark products that are a limited-time offer

You’ll notice that you can incentivize customers into taking action towards a desirable outcome, or you can create scarcity with time or quantity.

Mastering Scarcity

Since humans are naturally averse to negative emotions, scarcity can be an incredibly strong motivator. Just be careful when wielding that tactic, as it can easily come across as desperate or gimmicky and erode customers’ trust in you.

Scarcity won’t work as well with products that never run out, such as evergreen courses, but that’s where things such as free trials and referral bonuses can step in.

If you do rely on scarcity marketing tactics, it’s important to never lie to your customer. Your audience desires authenticity. Not only do you jeopardize the loyalty of your audience by trying to dupe them, but in some cases, you might even face legal ramifications.

12. Know Your Competition

Our society is in an age of optimization. Customers have been primed for years now to make the best choice. Find the best deal. Get the best outcome. They’ll be viewing your business through that lens of comparison.

That’s why you should be checking out your competitors before they do. Find the places where you know you can niche down or do better than whatever else is out there.

Whatever differences you have from your industry’s alternatives can be highlighted and explained to position your product as something special.

Customers will compare before buying because they want to feel that they’re making the best possible decision. But that doesn’t mean they’re making an informed decision.

Find Your Value Wedge

You know the ins and outs of your product better than anyone else, so you’re the best person to be able to point out what makes what you’re offering stand out from all the rest.

Analyze other products out there and set yourself apart from them.

Do they have a clear funnel? An effective opt-in? Are their webpages strategically designed? Do you walk away feeling excited about their product or interested in buying?

Keep in mind that having an intrinsically better product isn’t enough on its own. You must be able to communicate that higher value to your potential customers.

A turtle floating in outerspace
A turtle floating in outerspace

13. Don’t Leave Slowpokes Behind

Even after you pull out all the bells and whistles, some customers will remain particularly risk-averse. This isn’t a fault of their character or your marketing. It just means they need more reassurance and a higher level of trust than the average buyer.

Think back to an email campaign you’ve seen where an offer has been dripped out to you over the course of several days or weeks. “Act now!” it might have pushed. “Don’t wait! Only 24-hours left to purchase this offer!”

Campaigns like this often miss the mark because the people who hold out until the very end of a campaign are the ones who need the most reassurance. Trying to strongarm them into buying doesn’t exactly instill confidence.

Rather than pressuring them into making a decision they don’t feel ready for, continue to offer support.

Frequently asked questions and “even if” statements can go a long way in helping your audience self-select themselves into purchasing your offer, rather than manipulating them into feeling fearful or lacking.

As salespeople, we sometimes walk a fine line between educating customers about why what we’re selling is right for them and doing what’s necessary to secure the sale. But playing the long game means cementing your audience’s trust in you, rather than squeezing out every last penny you can.

Ready to Take Action and Optimize Now?

Optimizing conversion rates is the goal of pretty much all your marketing efforts.

This list is not exhaustive — but it should get the wheels turning about all the different ways you can create a seamless experience for your audience.

The process of converting customers is never truly flawless and can be difficult to map, especially if you’re involving unpredictable platforms like social media channels.

But as long as you focus on establishing a strong relationship with your audience, you’ll have all the tools you need to create not just a customer base, but a loyal fanbase of true brand evangelists.

About Kantaloupe

Kantaloupe is a full-stack digital marketing agency that leverages a holistic approach to marketing, technology and business to grow great companies faster. Our service model is efficient, scalable and sustainable and designed to lower our clients’ customer acquisition costs and maximize their return on investment. Our talented team is ready to elevate brands. Learn more at gokantaloupe.com.

Roie has more than 20 years of experience building companies from the ground up. He’s on a mission to revamp the growth-marketing game with gokantaloupe.com.