Think you should be getting more from your digital marketing agencies? Find out how to work with, negotiate with and make your digital agency relationships more profitable.

We’ve trained our agencies to work against us.

The pitch meeting is the culprit.

The pitch meeting is when an agency comes to their client — or their client comes to them — and they present the creative that they’ve prepared. It may be well-researched creative, based on data both qualitative and quantitative.

During the pitch meeting, the agency asks a small group of people — company executives typically — to review, choose, modify or reject the creative. There are no clients in this meeting. The people in this room are supposed to represent the customer that the creative is designed for.

The people making these decisions may know their customers well, but this setting is designed to bring out our biases.

Agency Relationships with Garrett Mehrguth

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The personal preferences of each executive drives confirmation bias. The emotion of past wins and past failures drives availability bias. The love of cool designs drives novelty bias.

And the highest ranking executive in the room gets deferential treatment. I’m not sure if there is an official deference bias, but there should be.

The pitch meeting is a tough time for the agency. Regardless of what the research done, if the executives don’t like the creative, it puts the relationship at risk. So, the pitch meeting becomes about pleasing the client, not the client’s customers.

This is how failed campaigns get launched, how website redesigns reduce revenue, how agencies get canned for decisions made by this small group of executives.

The oppression of the pitch meeting can only be broken by the client. Or so I thought.

Garrett Mayer-goot runs an agency called Directive, and he’s taking some unusual approaches toward his client relationships. Today on Intended Consequences, we’ll learn how Garrett is using transparency, data, branding and hard decisions to help shape the culture of his clients.

He believes, as I do, that this is in the best interest of a clients’ customers, which will ultimately serve the brands we work with.

On today’s show we talk all about agency management – how to leverage the relationship, how to think about the relationship, and how content (the written word) is not dead – with the CEO of Directive Consulting.

Digital Agency Management Tip

There will be a moment that first re-shapes the pitch meeting dynamic.

For me it was when an agency gave me three mockups of a new design and asked me to choose the one I wanted to proceed with. I said, “I don’t know. Go collect some data and tell me which one I should pick.”

When you get back to the office, try a little experiment.

Pull up some of the creative that your agency or internal team has delivered. Instead of considering what you think of it, ask yourself, “How could the agency collect some data to help us make this better?”

If you listen to this podcast, you’ll be familiar with several tools that can be used.

In your next agency meeting, ask the question, “How could we collect some data that helps us get this right?” Their response may be unsatisfying at first, but you’ve taken the first step toward changing their focus, from your preferences back to your customers’ preferences.

Repeat after me: “Go get us some data to tell us what will work.”

They’ll probably call me, and that’s OK too.

Resources and links from the Podcast

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Discover how to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site. Five factors you MUST look into to improve online conversions right now.

There’s one thing, one thing that’s keeping your visitors from converting on your site.

It may not be the only thing, but it is the primary thing that your online business isn’t delivering the results you expect. It’s where you start when you optimize your website.

So, traffic but not conversions? It’s one of these five things:

  1. The Value Proposition and Messaging isn’t clear.
  2. They perceive risk when considering taking an action.
  3. You aren’t showing up as credible and authoritative.
  4. They want to know if others have benefited from you.
  5. Your design and layout aren’t helping them digest the buffet of content you’re presenting.

Find out what keeps visitors from converting on your site and start testing to increase your conversions right now.

Value Proposition & Messaging

Do you think your value proposition is the one thing that keeps visitors from converting on your site? Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a value proposition. Your value proposition is composed of all of the things you do to solve a problem and is communicated by:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Content and Copy
  3. Images
  4. Pricing
  5. Shipping policy
  6. Words used in your navigation
  7. Design elements

All of these website elements are used to let your visitors know how you solve a set of problems, and why your solution is the best choice. The one that will save the most time and money, or that will deliver the most satisfaction.

But your value proposition doesn’t have to be communicated through words and images alone. Video, audio and animations are proven ways to communicate your value to a prospect.

And herein lies the rub.

Digital media gives us the amazing ability to put anything onto a landing page that our hearts desire. And if you can do anything, how do you know which is the right element to use? Here lies the conundrum.

How to know if your value proposition is what keeps visitors from converting on your site

A high bounce rate is a sign of three things:

  1. You’re bringing the wrong traffic
  2. Your lead isn’t hitting the mark
  3. You’ve been attacked by bots

If your landing page suffers from a high bounce rate, look at the source of your traffic. Does the page keep the specific offer made in the paid ad, email, or organic search query that enticed the visitors to click on your site? If it’s your homepage, the answer is most certainly, “No.”

If you feel that your traffic is good, and is coming to a relevant page, then we should ask if the lead is hitting the mark. By “lead” I am referring to the headline + hero image.

Often, hero images are wasted on something non-concrete. The headline should act as the caption for the image it accompanies.

Don’t show a city skyline. Don’t show a person smiling at a computer. These things don’t scream for meaningful captions and don’t help conversions either.

You should also look at the words you use in your main navigation. These should communicate what your site is about in the words of the visitor, not just the structure of your website.

Still don’t know what’s keeping them from converting? Ask your visitors

If you still don’t know what is keeping visitors from converting on your site, consider using an exit-intent popup that asks one open-ended question: “What were you looking for when you came to our site?” or “Why didn’t you purchase?”

We are also big fans of putting an open-ended question on your thank-you page or receipt page: “What almost kept you from buying?” or “What almost kept you from signing up?”

Discover How Our Conversion Rate Optimization Analysis Services Work

You May Be Scaring Visitors Away: Use and Misuse of Risk Reversal

In general, more people make decisions based on fear than on opportunity. So, your amazing value proposition is destined to die in the minds of many of your prospects because of fear.

  • What if I don’t like the product?
  • What if my identity gets stolen?
  • Will a pushy salesman call?
  • Will I have to deal with tons of email?

At the heart of it all is, “Will I feel stupid if I take action right now?”

Risk reversal (and most of the following) is a set of tactics that puts the visitor’s fears at rest. It consists of things like:

  • Guarantees
  • Warranties
  • Privacy policies
  • Explicit permissions
  • Return policies

Placing these items in clear view near a call to action can do wonders for your conversion rates.

Don’t put fears into their mind

There is a potential danger. Your risk reversal tactics can actually put fear into their mind.

For example, stating, “We will never spam you.” can actually place the concept in the mind of someone who wasn’t concerned about it. You might say instead, “We respect your privacy.” with a link to your privacy policy.

Traffic but not Conversions? Help Visitors Convert on your Site with Social Proof

Social proof demonstrates that others have had a positive experience with your brand. These take the form of:

  • Testimonials
  • On-site ratings and reviews
  • Third party reviews
  • Case studies
  • Social media shares, likes and comments
  • Comments

If social proof is your one problem that keeps visitors from converting on your site, customers don’t feel that you’re right for someone like them. Make sure you show them that they are in the group of people that benefit from you.

Negative Reviews Help

Ironically, it also serves to answer the question, “Just how bad was a bad experience with this company?” This is why negative reviews have proven to increase conversion rates on eCommerce sites. Cleaning your reviews or only posting good reviews can shoot you in the foot.

Is it Lack of Credibility & Authority What Keeps Visitors from Converting on your Site?

If you are in an industry with lots of competition, or with “bad actors” who manipulate to get sales, your one problem may be credibility and authority.

The design of your website is one of the first things that communicate credibility. But be careful. A fancy, overly-designed site may communicate the wrong idea to visitors. It may convey that you’re expensive or too big for your prospects.

Credibility can be established by emphasizing things about your company, and by borrowing credibility from other sources such as, your clients. your payment methods, you media appearances and the like.

Brand Credibility

You gain credibility by building confidence with your brand and value proposition. How long have you been in business? How many customers have you served? How many products have you sold? How many dollars have you saved?

Brand credibility generally takes the form of implied proof.

Borrowed Credibility

Your website or landing page can borrow credibility and authority from third-party sources. Placing symbols and logos on your website borrows from these credible sources. Ask yourself:

  • Have you been interviewed or reviewed in well-know publications?
  • Have you been interviewed on broadcast media outlets?
  • What associations are you a member of?
  • What awards have you been nominated for or won?
  • Has your business been rated by consumer organizations like Consumer Reports or the Better Business Bureau?
  • Have your products been reported on by analysts such as Forrester?

Place proof of your associations on your site’s landing pages to borrow authority and credibility from them.

User Interface & User Experience: Factors that Keep Visitors from Converting on your Site

Nothing works if your visitors eyes aren’t guided through your pages.

No value proposition, no risk reversal, no social proof, no credibility stands a chance if the layout and user experience don’t help the reader understand where they’ve landed or where to go from there.

Long load time equals poor experience

The first thing to look at is site performance. If your pages load slowly, you visitors may be bouncing away. If any element requires a loading icon of any sort, you are probably providing a poor user experience.

Clutter means bad visual hierarchy

When a visitor looks at a page, it should be very obvious what is most important element and what can be looked at later. This is called a visual hierarchy.

For example, we like to make call to action buttons highly visible, so that it is clear to the reader that they are being asked to do something.

Designers use their knowledge of whitespace, negative space, font, font size, color, and placement to design an experience that is easy for the visitors’ eyes to digest.

Don’t add surprises

A good user experience has little place for novelty. Arbitrarily adding animations, fades, parallax images or scroll-triggered effects are generally unnecessary, can cause technical glitches and may actually hurt conversion rates.

How to Know “what” is Hurting your Conversion Rate

We recommend this process to determine the primary problem that keeps visitors from converting on your website.

1. Gather all of your conversion optimization ideas

Begin recording all of the ideas you have for improving the site in the spreadsheet. Sources for these ideas:

  1. Ask your team
  2. Read your customer reviews
  3. Read your customer surveys
  4. Pull from your marketing reports
  5. Read your live chat transcripts
  6. Generate heatmap reports for your key pages
  7. Watch recorded sessions

Don’t be surprised to have dozens of ideas for a website or landing page.

2. Categorize each of your ideas

The ROI Prioritized Hypothesis List spreadsheet has a column for classifying each idea.

  1. Messaging
  2. Layout/UX
  3. Social Proof
  4. Risk Reversal
  5. Credibility

There will also be some things that you just want to fix.

3. Count your conversion optimization ideas

Count out how many ideas you have for each category. The category with the most ideas is probably the one problem you should address first. We use a pie chart to illustrate the different issues.

What Keeps Visitors from Converting on your Site? This site's one problem is Value Proposition and Messaging followed by Layout and UX

This site’s one problem is Value Proposition and Messaging followed by Layout and UX

4. Start working

Begin working on the ideas in the category with the most ideas.

This is a great time to start AB testing to see which of your ideas really are important to your visitors.

Your search traffic will demonstrate their approval through more sales, more leads and higher conversion rates overall.

This sounds like a lot of work

It is a lot of work. But you could consider hiring us to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site and we will test our way to your success.

You can request a free consultation with us.

This article is an updated and revised version of our original article published on Search Engine Land.

Brian Massey

Running a business website is no different from a Monopoly game. You have scarce resources to spend building the site and attracting traffic. Find out how to optimize for scarcity and win the game!

Monopoly is the quintessential game of American capitalism. For better or worse, it focuses the player on one goal: maximizing the number of dollars in your pile. Everyone has their own strategy and their preferred properties to own and build. Your little sister may only buy properties if she likes the color.

Excellent monopoly players learn their opponents’ strategy and then adapt to respond to the environment they are in.

If you look beyond the “greed is good” focus on money, you will realize that playing the game teaches the principles of scarcity and optimization.

The number dollars you start with is scarce. You must make the most of your limited resources.

You want to be ready when lady luck glances your way. When a dog, a car, or a hat finally lands your property, you better be ready.

Running a business website is no different. You inevitably have scarce resources to spend building the site and attracting traffic.

And when those visitors finally land on your site, you better be ready. This is the job of optimization.

If you viewed your web page as a Monopoly board, would it change your priorities and behavior?

Like houses and hotels, would the right elements be on your page be there?

Too often, we don’t think about our web pages as scarce resources that have to be optimized. Too often, we use our little sister’s “pretty property” strategy. Trust me. She still hates to lose.

Monopoly game board. Discover how to optimize for scarcity and grow your business.

Discover how to optimize for scarcity and grow your business.

What is Scarcity

In Monopoly, we can’t own all the properties and have hotels on all properties. We have to deal with scarcity. Our money supply is limited, as is our opportunity to buy properties. The desire to compete brings out our analytical nature and we scheme to make the most of the resources we have as opposed to the resources we want. We do this because we know we have an opponent that is actively working to undo us. Again, do we think about our web page the same way?

In reality, we do have opponents in our web strategy. Not just one, but many. In fact, we usually have more opponents than competitors. Some of these opponents include:

  • Limited attention span
  • Lack of common reference and knowledge base
  • Low-resolution computer monitors
  • Negative emotional association with specific words or images
  • Slow connection speeds

As you think about the opponents listed above, you will recognize scarcity working against your ultimate goal. Vigorously compete against these opponents on your site with the same vigor you compete in Monopoly, and you’ll be more likely to “pass GO and collect $200.”

How to Optimize for Scarcity

Something amazing happens on the Monopoly board that doesn’t naturally happen on our web page.

In Monopoly, we quit caring about how glamorous a property is and instead focus on how much money it will make for us.

In contrast, it is the very rare individual who walks into a web planning meeting without being focused on making the most beautiful page possible. If we played Monopoly the same way, we would focus on acquiring and building hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place and be done. If you try this approach, either in Monopoly or on your website, you lose.

If you don’t pull your weight, you’re gone!

Without emotion, we require properties to pay their way. They have a job to do and we expect them to do it well. The properties’ job is generating revenue.

Is there an element on your web page that isn’t pulling its weight? As optimizers, our job is to identify the converting elements on a page and remove the non-converting elements.

How to Optimize for Scarcity: Testing to see which properties are performing

Such was the case for one client’s site, when we set out to improve the home page. We followed this process to find out which elements led to conversions:

  1. We set up Google to score on bounce rate while watching conversions.
  2. We used click-tracking software heat mapping to identify content that was not getting clicked. This website has 4 clickable icons that take the user to additional content. We found that the 2 outer icons had low activity and decided to test them against alternate icons.
  3. The experiment executed quickly with the following results:
  • 10% improvement in bounce rate
  • 56% improvement in conversions
Small changes have a big impact on conversions.

Fig 1. Small changes have a big impact on conversions.

That felt good – let’s do it again

After experiencing success, it seemed like a good idea to try again. This time we identified one icon that was under-performing, so we replaced it with another one that led to a converting page. The result here is interesting. Looking at the heat map alone indicates the replaced icon is more desirable. But looking at the numbers reveals it was not the right choice.

More clicks do not necessarily mean more conversions.

Fig 2. More clicks do not necessarily mean more conversions.

As shown on the heat map above, replacing the 3rd icon attracted many more clicks on the “B” version of the page. However, both the bounce rate and the conversion rate took a hit.

  • Bounce rate degraded 4%
  • Conversion rate decreased 56%

This experiment shows why it is essential to test and scrutinize the results. Two nearly identical hypotheses with two nearly identical changes led to opposite results. My initial inclination was to ignore the results and push the change through. But I put on my Monopoly head and determined the measurable results of the change should trump how I felt about the change.

No Experiment is a Failure

It would be easy to walk away from the second experiment and view it as a total loss. In the same way that losses are our teachers in Monopoly, losses should be our teachers in web optimization experiments. Just as every Monopoly opponent is unique, our clients and website visitors are unique.

To better understand the behavior we observed, we sought to learn more by asking some basic questions:

  • Why did higher clicks on the replaced icon also correspond to a higher bounce rate? (Hint:  something else didn’t get clicked as much!)
  • What was appealing about the new icon?
  • Why did the site conversion rate drop?
  • What was the net gain/loss of each individual conversion metric?
  • Did the new copy corresponding to the new icon have a negative impact?
  • Would alternate copy change the site performance?
  • Did the new icon and copy add clarity and relevance?
  • Did the new icon and copy add anxiety or distraction?

It is important to learn from each experiment regardless of the results. Applying this discipline is critical in understanding the unique functionality of your website and what increases or decreases conversions.

Failing to learn from a “failed” experiment is like failing to learn the tactics of your Monopoly opponent. You will face them again, and you want to be prepared when you do.

So What Should You Do?

Like many 12-step programs, the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem. Say out loud, “I care more about how pretty my web page is than how much money it makes.” Let that sink in and prepare to change. Make a personal commitment to website profitability based on hard data. Then approach your web pages with the kind of profit-focused attention to scarcity and optimization that wins Monopoly games.

  • Make a list of the individual components on your web page – especially above the fold.
  • Write the purpose of each component next to it.
  • Ask yourself if each component contributes to profit – and eliminate those that don’t.
  • Ask yourself if there is anything that could replace the existing components that would drive more profit.
  • Test, test, test.

Nobody is immune to personal biases and individual favorites. If you want to maximize the functionality of your website, you need to put a structure in place that always tests and always trusts data over opinion. When you earn how to optimize for scarcity, you win. When you make a habit of doing that, you will be the same formidable opponent that you are in Monopoly.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

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21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

Lead generation is the lifeblood of online business and most lead generation is done via email collection.
If you grow a list of prospects who’re interested in your promotions, your business grows too. However, before you make money from your list you’ve got to get people on it. Whether you want people to download your lead magnet, sign up for your latest webinar or volunteer to test your product, you first need to persuade them to part with their highly guarded personal details – that’s no small feat.
No wonder the average opt-in rate across industries is hovering around a mere 2%. After investing a fortune in Facebook advertising, PPC ads, outsourced content, content management software, site design, and more, you only net two leads per 100 visitors. Two leads… NOT customers mind you.
Surely, your business deserves better.
Today, we’re going to cover the eight elements of a high converting opt-in page so you can boost your opt-in conversion rates and get a better return on your content marketing investment.
Ready to dive in?

Element #1: A short pre-headline to draw them in

When your prospect arrives on your opt-in page she wants to know if she’s in the right place. If she feels lost, she’ll click away. Use the apex of your page to make her stick around.
And, depending on who you ask, you have five seconds or less to do that. But how do you do it? Here’s three ways to instantly attract your reader when she lands on your page so she stays on.
#1. Name the target audience
For example, Attention dog owners, Attention Content Marketers etc.
When you name your audience you get a nod from the prospect, “Yep that’s me.” Handled correctly, this small first yes will ultimately lead to the big yes of a signup later on.
#2. Name the type of lead magnet
For example, Free Special Report, Free Training Webinar etc.
The specificity of your offer increases desire and the likelihood of the prospect staying on so as to get it.
#3. Name the referral site
For example,wh Welcome Entrepreneur Readers
Naming the referral site on your page makes your prospect feel like a diva and warm up to you and your offer.
Amy Harrison rolls out a red carpet for her Copyblogger readers. She makes them feel the love by welcoming them: specifically, heartily, personally.

image1 3


Your pre-headline has four main purposes:
#1. To help your prospects understand your offer…fast.
#2. To alienate those who are not a good fit for your offer.
#3. To attract those who are perfectly suited to your offer.
#4. To build rapport with your audience in an instant.
A great pre-head will keep readers on your signup page.

Element #2: A benefit-rich headline to make them want to read more

Once your prospect hangs around, use your headline to show her how your offer will benefit her and improve her life. Promptly address her concerns so she lingers on the page or you’ll lose her by the door. Quickly address her pain, paint the desired future for her, or pique her curiosity so she can’t help herself but read on.
In short, tell your prospect what’s in it for her.
Jacob McMillen’s headline is ultra-specific and has a solution that’s tailor-made for cash-strapped businesses – that’s a big benefit that’ll keep his target audience glued to the page.


Not only that. Your headline must also tie in nicely to the traffic source. That way the prospect’s conversion journey becomes smoother thus generating better results for your business. Jacob McMillen does this superbly as the source page to the above landing page shows:


Notice how his CTA, the last words in his bio, are the first words on the landing page? This way the byline is perfectly coupled to the landing page thus increasing conversions. When a reader clicks his bio and lands on the landing page she smoothly continues her conversion journey – because of harmony between the two pages, conversions are likely to be higher.
On the flip side, a copy mismatch between the source page and the signup page tanks conversions.

Element #3: A few lines of crisp copy to pull them further down the page

You’ve done well if your prospect is still on your page thus far.
Your next few lines should give specific points about your offer. Show her how your offer will scratch her itch or push her towards her dream. Do that and she’s more likely to give you her details.
Use bullet points or short paragraphs. Your bullets should be:

  • Clear- use simple direct language so the prospect easily grasps your offer.
  • Crisp- keep your points brief and to the point to keep the prospect engaged.
  • Catchy- use attention-getting words to give details about your offer.

Smartblogger nails their bullet copy on this sign-up page for an upcoming webinar.



The three bullets tell you exactly what you’ll get on the webinar in a simple engaging way without laboring the point. If you’re going for the minimalist approach even a single line will do. The amount of copy on the body of your opt-in page depends on three key factors.
#1. How aware is your prospect about you and your offer? The more aware she is about you and what you do the less copy you need and vice versa.
#2. What works best for your niche? Study the most successful signup pages in your niche and do likewise.
#3. How complex is the problem you’re trying to solve for the prospect? The more complex the problem, the more copy required to convince prospects to sign up.

Element #4: A pro-looking image to help them visualize what they’ll get

Our brains process images up to 60,000 times faster than text.
To woo your prospect so she says yes to your proposal (offer), show her what she’ll get. Use a picture of the product or of people expressing the feeling you’re targeting. Pictures of animals work well too if your context allows it.
John Nemo’s book shot dominates his opt-in page on purpose. You can almost smell the LinkedIn cash splashed on the cover ☺.



A word of warning about pics: don’t just include a picture because you like it…that won’t help your cause. Only include a picture if it’s relevant to your offer.

Element #5: A signup field(s) to capture their personal details

You’re almost there now… your prospects cursor is hovering over the signup field. Now comes the big question…how much info do you want from her?
Numerous tests show that, in most cases, the fewer the signup fields, the higher the conversion rates. That’s why most sites simply ask for an email address and/or name only as shown in the Marketing Sherpa lead generation graphic below.



Of course, you can ask for more than that if you want a more targeted list. Although your conversions may dip, the quality of your list will improve. Ask for what you need and no more. This makes filling the fields more desirable. You can always ask for more details later.
But, as with everything digital, conduct split tests to see what works for you and your audience instead of blindingly jumping on the bandwagon. In many cases, tests have shown that increasing the number of fields actually raised conversions.

Element #6: A bit of social proof to earn their trust

It’s natural. No one wants to go first. People do what they see other people do. That’s why social proof is a vital ingredient to the success of your page. Here are some three quick-and-easy ways of incorporating social proof into your signup page:
#1. Display your list numbers if they’re substantial
To nudge people over the sign-up line, you can use big numbers associated with your following. However, be careful as numbers can be a double-edged sword. If your numbers are small, social proof will still work, but against you! No-one wants to be a part of something small and insignificant.
Social Media Examiner uses their massive list to good effect to inspire people to join their list.



Surely, on seeing the 620 000+ social media marketing peers on Social Media Examiner’s list, a prospect will be enticed to sign up.
#2. Splash customer testimonials generously on the page
Testimonials multiply your clout score thus making it easy for people to take up your offer. Henneke Duistermaat, of Enchanting Marketing, does a neat job.



Not only does she head the page with a rich list of big sites she’s been featured on, she sandwiches her offer between two testimonials from heavyweights in her niche. Prospects are more likely to trust her word and gobble up her course.
#3. Point to influencer endorsements and press mentions
To get prospects to sign-up for a free trial, Get Response leads with an imposing figure of their current users and then they underline their authority in their space by quoting two influencers.



This is likely to cause more people to take their software for a spin.

Element #7: A privacy statement to assure them their info is safe

Because cyber-crime is rampant, your prospect is uneasy. Hardly a day goes by without someone being scammed or spammed online. Allay her fears…wrap your arm around her and let her know you’re not one of the bad guys. Tell her you won’t peddle her email address nor send the alien stuff she didn’t ask for.
A brief statement such as ‘We respect your privacy and will never share your infois enough as Neil Patel does.



Feel free to get creative with the phrasing. Or, if you’re not feeling inspired, simply write ‘privacy policy’ and link to your full-blown privacy policy. And, oh, a privacy statement also serves a more personal and practical purpose: failure to include one might land you in trouble with the law. ☺
Basically, your privacy statement should assure your visitors that their info is safe. Only when they feel you’re trustworthy will they be swayed to give you their personal information.

Element #8: A strong call to action (CTA) to compel them to click

Your call to action marks the finishing line of the sign-up race. Give it some thought.
Your button copy should be specific, simple and reader-focused. Tell the prospect exactly what she’ll get if she signs up. Don’t try to be cute, clever, or cryptic, or you’ll lose out.  And please, don’t make the rookie mistake made by many content marketers – using the dismal default CTA copy e.g. signup, subscribe, or download.
Don’t leave your visitors wondering what they are clicking the button for.
Sign up. For what?
Subscribe. To what?
Download. What?
A simple formula, coined by Joanna Wiebe, will help you ace your button copy. Just fill in the blank: I want my reader to __________________.
Your answer becomes your CTA. For example:
I want my reader to:

  • Book a free call…becomes…Book my free call.
  • Get a free quote…becomes…Get my free quote.
  • Reserve a spot on webinar…becomes…Reserve my webinar spot.

Here’s a great example of powerful button copy pulled from this very site’s homepage:

Book a Consultaion Now is a proper Call to Action, or CTA

Book a Consultaion Now is a proper Call to Action, or CTA

The CTA is clear, simple, direct, benefit-focused, and urgent – all the hallmarks of a powerful call to action that converts.
Make the desired action simple and easy smoothly guiding the prospect towards your goal without much work or resistance. Use energetic verbs and the first or second person to make the CTA personal and bump up your conversions. Once your reader clicks on your button, you’ve won and now have a precious lead in your funnel.
Opt-in pages are crucial to the overall success of your business that you should seriously consider outsourcing the task if you don’t have the time or the expertise to craft them yourself.
Getting signups is an essential bridge in your inbound digital marketing efforts. It’s the magic link that turns browsers into subscribers, subscribers into buyers, and buyers into brand evangelists. In short, it’s the gateway into your funnel. As a serious growth-focused business owner, take time to work all these elements into your page so you increase the likelihood of success. Then you’ll hear the sound of clicks not crickets for a change.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

Note: The following conversion copywriting tricks are reprinted from the ebook 21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions.

You just lost some potential revenue.

There goes some more.

A poor conversion rate will pick your pocket day after day. That’s why you’ll love these 7 conversion copywriting hacks. They’re quick and easy. And you can start using them today.


You may have heard that you should write like your customers speak. It builds rapport and credibility. Readers are more likely to think to themselves, “This company gets me and my issue.”

But rather than just guess what your target audience would say, use their actual words.

That’s what Sarah Peterson did when promoting her Etsy course.

The highlighted phrase stood out among responses to a survey she sent to prospects.

A key phrase from survey response

A key phrase from survey response

She used that exact phrase to resonate with prospects in her sales email.

The key phrase inserted into marketing email

The key phrase inserted into marketing email

There are several ways you can do this same thing.

  1. Speak with your customers and prospects. Pick up the phone and have a quick chat. Do more listening than speaking, and write down what they say. Or, if the person gives you permission, record it so you can transcribe it later.
  2. Survey your audience. This could even be as simple as a one question survey that you put on your website. Make sure that it’s open-ended.
  3. Search reviews and forums. See what people are saying not just about your offering, but your competitors as well. This can be a great way to uncover pain points.


It’s amazing how many times I see a landing page where the subhead is stronger than the headline. Maybe the writer is trying to be clever or creative. Perhaps they think the headline shouldn’t be more than a few words long.

Whatever the reason, it’s killing conversions. If it’s not immediately clear what you’re offering me, why should I read on?

Fortunately, the subheads usually have this information. So an easy fix is to just make the subhead your headline.

Here’s a good example:

The subheading is the value proposition

The subheading is the value proposition

A stronger converting headline

A stronger converting headline

See how much clearer this page is when the subhead and headline are switched?


This is a hack that goes back to the heyday of direct mail. It’s designed to help you get right to the point.

Getting to the point quickly sounds pretty obvious. But you’d be surprised how many marketing pieces waste words trying to introduce themselves or state the obvious.

People don’t care about that. They care about themselves. What is it your offer is going to do for them? Tell them right away why they should care.

If your first paragraph doesn’t do this, scrap it and start with the next one.


Here’s a nifty little psychological hack.

Write your copy as if the conversion is a foregone conclusion.

Simply look through your copy and add phasing like this to some of your statements:

“When you start your trial…”

“You’ll love how…”

“As you’ll see…”

The power of this hack lies with the endowment effect, a phenomenon where we value what we already own more than something we never had. By writing as if your prospect already owns what you’re selling, he or she imagines that situation.

Presuppositions are another type of assumptive phrasing you can use to add persuasive power to your copy. These statements infer something else is true. For instance, if I ask, “Which of these copywriting hacks are you going to use first?” that infers that you are indeed going to use them.

You must accept the inference to be true in order to avoid incongruence within the sentence. We’re wired to avoid incongruence because it requires more brain power.

Use this to your advantage by creating presuppositions with words such as:

Finally. “You can finally get in shape without spending hours in the gym.” (Presupposes that you had to spend hours in the gym to get in shape.)

Start. “Start earning the income you deserve.” (Presupposes that you aren’t currently earning what you deserve.)

Stop. “Stop wasting time on diets that don’t work.” (Presupposes that you are wasting your time.)

Again. “This car makes driving fun again.” (Presupposes that you once enjoyed driving but now find it to be a chore.)

Anymore. “Getting your kids to do their homework won’t be a battle anymore.” (Presupposes that getting your kids to do their homework is a battle.)

How will you use assumptive language in your marketing? (See what I did there?)


We like to think that we’re rational. That’s why we like to have a reason for doing things people ask of us. But here’s the interesting part. Simply having a reason is often more important than the reason itself.

Consider this famous social experiment:

In 1978, researchers approached people in line for the copier machine and asked to cut in front. They tested the effectiveness of three different phrases.

  1. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” was successful 60% of the time
  2. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” was successful 94% of the time
  3. “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” was successful 93% of the time

It’s not surprising that people let the researchers cut in line more often when a reason was given. What is surprising is that whether that reason was valid or bogus had no significant impact.

Look at that third phrasing again. Of course, they had to make copies. So did everyone else in line. That’s what a copier is for.

So why did that excuse work?

Often with small requests, we take a mental shortcut. Instead of processing the actual request and reason, we recognize that a reason was given, and we comply.

It’s important to note that the reason for the request becomes more important as the request gets larger.

When the researchers repeated the experiment with 20 pages instead of 5, giving a bogus reason had the same effect as giving no reason. Both were successful only 24% of the time compared to 42% when a valid reason was given.

To use this in your marketing, look for areas where you want the reader to do something and add a “because.”

“Act now because this offer expires in 10 days.”

Because you’re the type of person who…”

“We’re giving away free samples because we want you to see for yourself.”


Attention spans are short these days. Even if your copy is great, most readers will start to lose interest if you don’t shake things up a bit. Pattern Interrupts are a great way to do just that.

Pattern Interrupts are a neuro-linguistic programming technique designed to break the expected pattern of thoughts or behaviors. There are a couple of ways to use it in your marketing.

The first is to keep readers engaged. In a long-form piece of marketing, the reader expects paragraphs to follow paragraphs and on. This familiar pattern allows the brain to go on autopilot. You don’t want this. You want readers’ attention.

Break the pattern by adding testimonials, sidebars, callouts and other devices that temporarily interrupt the narrative of your text. Take a look at these examples.

Interrupting the pattern and flow

Interrupting the pattern and flow

Interrupting the pattern and flow

Interrupting the pattern and flow

You can also use a Pattern Interrupt to disarm readers or refocus their attention. People don’t like to be sold to. As a result, they reflexively put their guards up when they expect a sales pitch.

But what if your copy doesn’t start off as expected?

Use a Pattern Interrupt to disarm readers or refocus their attention.

Readers expecting a typical sales pitch will probably have a different mindset when they read something like this:

Shift the mindset

Shift the mindset


A team in France first proved how effective the “But You Are Free (BYOF)” technique is with this social experiment.

One of the experimenters would stop people in a mall and ask for change to ride the bus. In half of the instances, he or she added the phrase, “But you are free to accept or to refuse.”

Significantly more people gave money when the BYOF technique was used. Not only that, but the amount they gave was twice as much.

Follow-up studies have proved BYOF effective in requests for donations to a tsunami relief fund, participation in a survey, and many other situations.

It works by combating something called psychological reactance. Wikipedia describes it this way:

“Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away his or her choices or limiting the range of alternatives.

Reactances can occur when someone is heavily pressured to accept a certain view or attitude. Reactance can cause the person to adopt or strengthen a view or attitude that is contrary to what was intended, and also increases resistance to persuasion.

With this one simple phrase, you remove reactance and open your prospect’s mind to your persuasion. “

Note: The specific wording doesn’t matter as much as the sentiment. You can also use variations such as:

  • The choice is yours
  • It’s completely up to you
  • You may do as you wish
  • But obviously do not feel obliged

When you see how well these techniques work you’ll wish you started using them sooner.

Download the full ebook for all 21 copywriting hacks.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

Let’s explore the meaning of behavioral science and why it’s so important — more so, critical — to increasing online conversions.

As data becomes cheaper and more accessible, behavioral science becomes an increasingly important term for anyone serious about marketing and conversion optimization.

Examples of Behavioral Science in our Everyday Lives

Many people think of behavioral science as a field of academic study or the domain of dedicated data scientists, but it’s much broader in scope than that.

In fact… it’s everywhere you look:

  • When you check to see how many people liked your most recent Facebook post, you’re using behavioral science.
  • When you decided to buy a certain pair of shoes based on their star rating, you were using behavioral science.
  • When you chose not to by that espresso machine because of the reviews, you were using behavioral science.

The Billboard music charts, the New York Times Bestseller list, the Rotten Tomatoes Freshness Score, the laugh track on The Big Bang Effect. Behavioral science affects our thoughts and decision making on a daily basis.

So what is behavioral science? And why is it a MAJOR key to increasing a website’s conversion rate?

If you’d like to learn more, watch my presentation on using behavioral science for your business.

What Is Behavioral Science?

The simplest definition of behavioral science is that it’s the study of human behavior. For those of us in the digital marketing profession, behavioral science is the science of predicting the future. Understanding how people have behaved in the past will help us understand how people will behave in the future.

It encapsulates multiple fields of study, including psychology, sociology, social neuroscience, and cognitive science, and many others, and it focuses primarily on controlled observation of behavior patterns in response to external stimuli.

Behavioral science differentiates itself from fields like social science in that it is driven by rigorously obtained empirical data, and this data-driven approach is what led us to fall in love with the field here at Conversion Sciences.

Why Behavioral Science Is Instrumental In Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

In the early years of this century (no, not the 1900’s), I was a corporate marketer responsible for generating leads and sales from the relatively new worldwide web. It was my job to create advertising, compose the emails, design the landing pages, develop the content and build the website that would attract people to us and convert these visitors into leads when they arrived at the website.

It was a frustrating job.

Because in the digital world you can do anything. Any image, any copy of any length. I could add video, animations, live chat, ratings and reviews.

Sometimes I would mash the best ideas together into a mush that only served to confused my readers.

Other times, I would have to pick one consistent message. But was it the best one? Really? I didn’t know.

This is why the carousel was born. Marketers couldn’t decide what to put on their home pages, so they just rotated through a bunch of options.

Not a good plan.

This was all frustrating because my only form of research was “launch and see.”

Launch and see (also called “launch and pray”) is the most expensive way of collecting behavioral data. An entire design has to be completed and launched before we have ANY idea if it will work.

Redesigns have become the primary way businesses test their websites: spend a lot of money, launch and see.

Analyzing Behavior to Increase Website Conversions

Fortunately, I’ve got mad programmer skillz. I wrote a little program that collected data on my visitors. Whenever they arrived at my website, I would store the source of their visit and then track them to see if they completed a form. At the time, I didn’t even know that this was called a conversion.

With this simple program, I was able to track and measure how visitors interacted on our website. I now had data with which to make informed decisions about our site content.

In 2005, Google released Google Analytics, and suddenly, an entire new realm of online behavioral science data was opened up to webmasters at no cost.

Research vs. Intuition: The Importance of Behavioral Science

In 2014, Marks & Spencer redesigned their apparel website. Marks & Spencer is a GBP10 billion company running food and apparel stores in the UK and Europe. In 2013 13% of their sales went through the web. That’s about $1.5 billion. With a B.

In 2014, they launched a website redesign. The effort cost GBP150 million. Today that would be about $180 million.

Marks and Spenser new home page offers "The New Look"

After two years and approximately $180 million spent, Marks and Spencer launched a new website. Source: Digital Tonic

The UX community–and their designers–thought the redesign was “positive.”

More research would be needed for us to give a thorough UX opinion but our first thoughts are that it’s a positive redesign.

— ExperienceSolutions

The customers didn’t agree. Upon launch, the site saw an immediate 8% drop in sales. That’s about $10 million per month in lost sales. This number doesn’t take into account the loss of brand trust.

The best way to build brand online is to deliver what your visitors want.

For $180 million, we expect that they did a great deal of research into their customers and visitors. So, what went wrong?

This is the battle being waged in your businesses. Intuition vs. research. Best practices vs. behavioral science. Left brain vs. right brain. Both are necessary. But if you continue to find yourself struggling to get value from the visitors that you pay to bring to your site, there is an imbalance.

Intuition is our ability to apply our experience to new situations. We admire those who can discern the important aspects of something without study.

When behavioral data was expensive to acquire, most campaign planning and development time was spent in the domain of intuition. Any research was done at the beginning of the process, and this was primarily qualitative data based on surveys and focus groups.

Then the designers and developers applied the data to the best of their ability relying heavily on their intuition to make thousands of little decisions necessary to complete a project.

The old "Mad Men" way of design left most decisions up to experience and intuition, not data and research.

The “Mad Men” way of designing a website.

It is at the end of this process that true behavioral data is collected. It’s called results. If the results were positive, then the campaign can be replicated and continued. If the results were disappointing, then the campaign would be scratched, and the process would start over.

This is the classic launch and see approach.

What Using Behavioral Science Data Looks Like

What does a campaign development process look like in an era of cheap behavioral data. For most businesses, it looks the same. But for industry leaders, it looks like this:

Effort is split between experience or intuition and data or research.

This is how we design a website when data is abundant and cheap. Like today.

Qualitative data is collected at the beginning. But now we can go back and test components of the campaign again and again. And we collect inexpensive quantitative behavioral data.

Intuition has its place and always will. But now we have balance. At several points along the development path, we can answer specific questions about our campaign.

Conclusion: What Is Behavioral Science and Why Is It Critical For Conversion?

Every marketer will need to add behavioral science in their diet. What is behavioral science and how does it lead to winning campaigns?

We’re going to be diving deeper into behavioral sciences in the coming months.

We’ll be discussing the rules of behavioral science, examining case studies, and providing practical strategies for application.

If you’d like to learn more, watch my presentation on using behavioral science for your business.

According to Fitt’s Law, clicking a button on your site can be modeled like a pool shot. It’s a fun way of saying that you should make buttons big and put them where the visitor expects them to be. If you’re looking for good ideas for testing button design, consider the game of pool.
Most of us have at one time or another found ourselves at the end of a pool cue with “a lot of green” between us and the ball we want to sink. There is a lot of table between the cue ball and the ball we want to hit just right.
Thanks to an excellent article on from 2014, I’ve discovered that visitors to our website may be experiencing the same thing. Author Nate Desmond introduced Fitt’s Law, which he states this way:

Fitt’s Law proposes that time required to move your mouse to a target area (like a sign-up button) is a function of (1) distance to the target and (2) size of the target.

In a game of pool, the distance to the target changes constantly. This is equivalent to the distance from where a visitor’s mouse is and where your call to action button is.
In general, the rules of a pool shot are pretty simple.

The Closer the Cue Ball to the Target Ball, the Easier the Shot

It's easier to accurately hit a target ball that is close to the cue ball.

It’s easier to accurately hit a target ball that is close to the cue ball.

The further the ball is from the cue ball, the harder the shot.

It’s counter-intuituve that the distance to the hole doesn’t matter as much as the distance from the cue ball.

If you strike the cue ball hard enough, it doesn’t really matter how far the target ball is from the pocket. What does matter is how far the target ball is from the cue ball. The shot is easier to line up and there is less distance for the cue ball to bend if you add a little accidental spin. When you put spin on the ball, it’s called “English”. Accidental spin is generally called “cussing”.

The Cue Ball is Where the Mouse Is — or Wants — to Be

To continue stretching our metaphor beyond recognition, we can liken the white cue ball to where the mouse is on a web page.
Part of the problem with this approach is that we really don’t know where the visitor’s mouse is on the page when it loads. We might assume it’s in the upper-left corner, where the website address is entered. This is true for only a small percentage of your visitors who enter your site by typing your domain. Others will come from internal links, ads and search results.

You can't just cram your click target into the upper left corner of your pages.

You can’t just cram your click target into the upper left corner of your pages.

It’s probably not helpful to put your call to action buttons in the upper left corner of  your pages.
For some, it will be where the visitor is looking on the page. For some percentage of our visitors, the location of their mouse predicts where they look on the screen. This would tell you that the most visually interesting items on your page will be magnets for visitor eyes and for the visitor’s mouse.
What are the most visually interesting points on your page? You can determine this by using several eye-tracking predictors like AttentionWizard and Feng-GUI. In the following example, the red circles indicate the most visually attractive aspects of the page, and predict how the visitors’ eyes will explore the page.
The visitors' eyes don't come close the the click target "Add to Cart" button.

The visitors’ eyes don’t come close the the click target “Add to Cart” button.

The Add to Cart button – our target ball – really isn’t close to most of the high-contrast items on the page. The distance from the “mouse” to the button is long. Plus, the button is relatively small and doesn’t stand out from other elements on the page.
Compare that to the following competitor.
The click target is "closer" to where the eyes -- and mouse -- are likely to be on this page.

The click target is “closer” to where the eyes — and mouse — are likely to be on this page.

In this case, the Add to Cart button is one of the most visually interesting things on the page. Furthermore, it is near other highly-visible elements. The effective “distance” is much smaller and the visual “size” is larger.
This gives us two very helpful rules of thumb:

  1. Make your click targets visually interesting.
  2. Place your click targets close to things that are visually interesting.

We recommend that the click-targets on landing pages and product pages bet the most visually prominent items on the page.

Place Buttons Where They are Expected to Be

Probably a more effective way to reduce the distance between the mouse and a click target is to put your buttons where they are expected to be. We have been trained that the “end” of a page is the lower-right corner. This is where it has made sense to put buttons since the days of Web 1.0. As a result, we expect the lower-right to take us to the next step.
This concept is lost on the following page.

The "Cancel" button is in a disastrous place. Visitors expect the lower-right button to be the next step.

The “Cancel” button is in a disastrous place. Visitors expect the lower-right button to be the next step.

Here, the right-most button – the one most likely to be targeted — is “Cancel”. This button clears out all of the form information. Is there really ever a good reason to clear out a form? No. So don’t make it the lower-right click target.
This is close:
The Add to Cart button is not in the expected place no this ecommerce product page.

The Add to Cart button is not in the expected place no this ecommerce product page.

This is closer:
The add to cart button here is closer to the desired place. The box around it will deflect visitors' gazes.

The add to cart button here is closer to the desired place. The box around it will deflect visitors’ gazes.

This is closest:
The add to cart button here is the last thing in the lower right part of the page. Perfect next step.

The add to cart button here is the last thing in the lower right part of the page. Perfect next step.

If Something’s In the Way, the Shot is Harder

One of the major challenges in pool is, of course, other balls. This is also the problem on webpages (not the balls).

The hardest shot is when things are in the way, for pool and webpages.

The hardest shot is when things are in the way, for pool and webpages.

Designers (should) know how to remove things that make click targets disappear. White space is one technique that removes blocks.
Lot's of white space around this click target make it easier to see and click.

Lot’s of white space around this click target make it easier to see and click.

Solid lines form barriers to the eye’s movement.
Elements crowd out this Add to Cart button, making it almost invisible.

Elements crowd out this Add to Cart button, making it almost invisible.

Major and Minor Choices for Button Design

One technique that we use that takes advantage of Fitt’s Law is major and minor choices. We make the choice that we desire less smaller and harder to click. We make the choice we want the visitor to choose big and bright.
Here we see that the designer made the “Learn More” button more visually prominent – making it closer – while making the “Watch video” link more distant – less visually prominent.

Which of these two click targets is "closer" due to the visual attractiveness? The order should probably have been reversed.

Which of these two click targets is “closer” due to the visual attractiveness? The order should probably have been reversed.

Language Makes the Hole Bigger

While there really is no way to get bigger pocket holes on a pool table, there is a way to do so with click targets. The language you use on buttons and in links will make it easier for visitors to take action.

Make your visitors excellent pool players by giving them easy shots.

Make your visitors excellent pool players by giving them easy shots.

“Submit” does not generate a large pocket to aim at. The language should tell the visitor what will happen if they click, and what they will get.

  • Download the eBook
  • Get Your Free Report
  • Get Instant Access
  • Add to Cart
  • Checkout
  • Request a Call

These make the visitor a better shot by offering them something of value as a part of the click target.
Some popovers have begun using the inverse of this technique to discourage visitors from abandoning.

Give Your Visitors a Better Shot with Better Button Design

If a webpage is indeed like a pool table, it makes sense to give your visitors the best shot at clicking on the right button or link.

  1. Anticipate where your visitors eyes and mouse cursor will be on the page.
  2. Place click targets physically close to these places.
  3. Make click targets visually significant and place them near other visually significant items.
  4. Remove blocks that make click targets disappear. Use white space and eliminate competing elements on the page.


Joel Harvey, Conversion Scientist™

Joel Harvey, Conversion Scientist™

This post is excerpted from Designing from the Mobile Web 2.0 by Joel Harvey. Joel discusses what he’s been learning through the tests that Conversion Sciences has done for the mobile web. You can begin to take these as new hypotheses in your business so that your mobile devices and your mobile traffic is converting at higher and higher levels.
I’m sure mobile’s on the top of your mind.
We have tested hundreds of mobile hypotheses over the last couple of years and we’ve learned a lot. There’s still a lot that we don’t know.
We’re going to share some of the key things that we’ve learned along the way with you and show you what you need to be focusing on to start driving wins in your mobile traffic.

Mobile-Friendly Redesign and Best Practices

We are not here to talk about mobile optimization best practices. No, mobile best practices don’t really exist yet. Mobile best practices are a monster that lurks in our marketing. We call it the Bestpracticlops.
The Bestpracticlops reminds us how dangerous the phrase “best practice” is, and how dangerous best practices can be. We’re going to talk a little bit about that before we really dive into the meat of mobile-friendly redesigns.

Don't let the Bestpracticlopse devour your mobile website.

Don’t let the Bestpracticlopse devour your mobile website.

A Best Practice is a commercial or a professional procedure that is accepted or prescribed as being the most effective.

What does that really mean?
It’s something that works everywhere all the time. That’s what a true best practice would be.
Now let’s compare that with the definition of conversion optimization

Conversion Optimization is “The process of generating and using data to improve a site’s unique experience for key segments.”

In other words, conversion optimization is finding the unique things on your unique site that drive your unique visitors to do more of what you want them to do. This is fundamentally different than the definition of best practice – something that works everywhere all the time.
They don’t live together nicely.
There is an almost infinite number of things that you can consider for testing on a website. There are an infinite number of things you could test on a website. Clearly, many of them aren’t really worth testing. Just in the mobile world alone, you could ask, “What kind of device type are we talking about?”
What’s the operating system?

  • Is it Android?
  • Is it iOS?
  • Is it Windows?
  • What browser are they using?
  • What’s the screen size?
  • What do we think the load time is of the page?
  • Is this a new visitor or a return visitor?
  • Is this a regular desktop site being shown on the mobile device?
  • Is this a responsive site adjusting itself to the mobile device?
  • Is it a mobile dedicated site?
  • What promotion brought them here?
  • What’s the site speed?
  • What’s the speed of the network connection?
  • Is it in landscape or horizontal mode?

Those are just a few of the things that you have to consider, not to mention the most important things like:

  • What is my offer?
  • What is the content?
  • What is the copy?
  • What is the design and layout?

We don’t want to make you feel overwhelmed. We want you to avoid this misconception of best practices: Whenever you’re faced with an infinity monster of choices, what do you do? You might want to reach for something easy. You might look for a best practices unicorn riding a rainbow that you can get on and ride to higher conversion rates.

Best practices are like Unicorns. They sound great, but don't really exist.

Best practices are like Unicorns. They sound great, but don’t really exist.

You might be tempted to say, “Best practices. That’s going to make this easy. We don’t have to worry about the infinity monster anymore. We’ve got something in the bag.” The truth is that 50% of your ideas, at best, are going to be wrong and I can say this from years of experience.
Our process at Conversion Sciences is to painstakingly go through the data and the site and come up with a list of hypotheses. We have a fairly sophisticated methodology for going through and ranking those hypotheses based on what we think have the best chance of winning.
[pullquote]Yet, on our best day, half of those hypotheses don’t result in a lift in conversion.[/pullquote] That’s not because they’re ill-conceived or they’re just filler and fluff that we throw into the list. It’s because your visitors are very different from us and we really don’t understand them.
If you take that and apply it to the concept of best practices, particularly mobile best practices, you’re faced with a 50% success rate at best if you just start rolling things onto your site.
I’m going to show you some things that have worked for us. If you want to, you can just start rolling stuff out onto your site. However, I would highly encourage you to test it because what works on one site in the same industry doesn’t work on another site in that same industry.
And this is where we get the Bestpracticlops. You have a few failed tests and say, “We tried some things that those experts said worked and it didn’t for us, and therefore, optimization doesn’t work. We should focus on something else.”
Don’t fall into that trap.

Mobile Visitors Want Something, Well, Mobile

Whenever we think about mobile websites — and this is really true of all websites – we find that visitors don’t want what we’ve built for them.

Your mobile visitors will cut their own path to a solution. Will that path include your mobile website?

Your mobile visitors will cut their own path to a solution. Mobile-friendly redesign must take this into account.

You may be familiar with the concept of desire lines. Universities, state capitols, and other places, landscape engineers go to great pains to lay out what they think are the best routes for sidewalks, and what you inevitably find is that the visitors, the users of those sidewalks, pick their own path.
We know for a fact that this is absolutely true in mobile. The problem is it’s harder for a visitor to cut through to a desire line on mobile. You design for what you think your mobile visitors want,  and this is different from what they actually want. I guarantee you these are two distinctly different things.
Furthermore, your optimized mobile experience is going to be different from everybody else’s, even more so than on the desktop. The best way to understand the desired path is through analysis and testing. The data will tell you.
Mobile visitors want different features, faster load times and mobile calls to action.

Mobile visitors want different features, faster load times and mobile calls to action.

Mobile Traffic is One of Your Fastest Growing Segments

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is most likely worth it, no matter the industry you are in. The red-dotted line shows in the graph below shows that in just 14 months the percentage of people visiting this ecommerce site on mobile has grown from 20 up to 35%.

Mobile growth as a percentage of all visits for an ecommerce community.

Mobile growth as a percentage of all visits for an ecommerce community.

This has real life implications on your site-wide conversion rate. For this particular audience, most people don’t buy on a mobile. So you have an ever increasing percentage of your traffic coming out on a device that, so far, doesn’t produce the same level of revenue.

The Mobile Screen is Screen One

More and more of your visitors’ first interactions with you will be on a mobile device. It’s important to understand this. In this section, we’re going to talk about dedicated mobile websites or heavily QA’d responsive websites.
Mobile is the first impression.
When someone’s decided they’re going to buy a new TV, what do they do? They pick up their mobile device whenever they’re stopped at a traffic light, whenever they’re waiting in line, whenever they’re sitting in a restaurant waiting for a friend. They start doing some simple searches.

“Best LCD TV over 52 inches”

These visitors are trying to get a sense of what their consideration set is. The consideration set is comprised of all the different specs and brands that you want to consider for the television.
The next question is, “I’ve discovered what the one or two things that I want to buy are. Now I have to figure out who I want to buy them from.”
The research that creates those two consideration sets doesn’t happen in mutually exclusive websites either. In doing these exploratory searches and they’re more likely to land on real merchant sites than on sites like Consumer Reports. They’re going to land on Best Buy. They’re going to land on Fry’s. They’re going to land on competing sites.
They’re not coming to buy right then. They’re landing to understand what they want and who might be able to provide it for them.
And this happens across any industry, whether it’s ecommerce or lead generation.
In the beginning, when people are in tire-kicking mode, at the very top of the funnel, they’re using their mobile device to figure out what they want and who might be able to provide it for them. The key is making sure that you are positioned to make a great first impression, and putting yourself in a position to be the website that they come back to whenever they’re actually ready to make a decision about who to buy from or who to submit their information to.
It’s a pretty simple concept. Give them a win.
If you forget that, you’re going to start making your mobile site work like your desktop site, and you’re going to lose when you do that.

Responsive Web Design. What Could Go Wrong?

One of the hottest topics in web design today is responsive web design (RWD). Remember the Bestpracticlops? The Bestpracticlops thrives on mobile responsive design.
Many sites have gone responsive in the last year. Many of you moved quickly, quicker than you would have liked to, in making your sites responsive thanks to Google’s Mobilegeddon update. It turned out not to be such a big deal.
I certainly know we were taking phone call after phone call saying, “We’ve got to go to responsive because of Google and can you help us do that in like six weeks?”
The truth about responsive templates is that they make decisions for you and, unfortunately, those decisions are not always good. Think about this: You have very unsophisticated technology trying to say in real time, “Based on the screen size of this device, I need to move this element, eliminate this one and to change the order of these others.” It’s not artificial intelligence here. It’s really dumb technology making decisions about how to fit stuff on a screen that’s 3 or 5 inches wide from a site designed for a 17 inch screen.
What could go wrong?

When Mobile-Friendly Redesign Becomes User-Unfriendly Redesign

The following image shows a pay-per-click landing page for Banfield Pet Hospital. They are spending pay-per-click money to get people to this page. The mobile landing page is inset over the desktop landing page.

Banfield's responsive web design decided the company logo wasn't important on small-screens.

Banfield’s responsive web design decided the company logo wasn’t important on small-screens.

Do you see what’s missing?
The most important trust-builder on the page has been removed – the logo. This initial credibility and trust builder has been amputated by the responsive design. This responsive template made a decision to simply remove the company’s logo. The headline is quite ironic in this case. We have not been properly introduced because there’s no branding.
Layout issues, scroll jails and click jails are symptoms of responsive web design.

Layout issues, “scroll jails” and “click jails” are symptoms of responsive web design.

[pullquote]Responsive designs can make a number of poor decisions, so many in fact that we wonder,  “Why not just design for mobile specifically?”[/pullquote]
What’s missing from the mobile image below?
The mobile screen on the left shows that an important headline was removed by the responsive template. Adding it back increased calls by 26 percent.

The mobile screen on the left shows that an important headline was removed by the responsive template. Adding it back increased calls by 26%.

The responsive template decided to remove the headline on small-screen devices. Since mobile visitors are different than desktop visitors, we tested what would happen if we fixed this responsive decision. We told the responsive design, “Don’t make that decision. You’re bad. You made a stupid decision. Now sit in the corner.”
We found that returning this powerful headline to mobile devices delivered 26% more mobile phone calls.
This is real. This happens. We see this happen even today.

Responsive Web Design Delivers Slower Mobile Experiences

Responsive web designs don't eliminate the fat when switching to mobile screens.

Responsive web designs don’t eliminate the fat when switching to mobile screens.

Internet Retailer did a study and found that, for large responsive ecommerce sites, the average load time just for the homepage was 18.24 seconds. We’re not talking about a category page that could have dozens of images in this case.
That is about 16 seconds too long probably, especially for mobile visitors.
Mobile visitors are really impatient. They are in the moment. We’re getting more and more impatient, and mobile visitors make desktop visitors look like the Dalai Lama when it comes to patience.
A mobile site with an 18 second load time is like shooting yourself in the foot. It’s like shooting yourself in both feet, and both knees. If you’re lucky it stops there.

Redesign Your Desktop Site to be Mobile Friendly? Really?

You don’t just get to make the mobile site responsive. The desktop site won’t remain the same.
The desktop site is probably your bread and butter for most of the people listening to this. You have to redesign your desktop site to have a responsive mobile site. Here’s what we know about redesigns: they almost always result in a decrease in conversion rate.
Sorry, we’ve seen it too many times.
In short, we recommend that you keep your high-converting desktop site as it is and optimize for that traffic. Build out your mobile-friendly site using a separate, adaptive web design. Then optimize that mobile traffic for the unique experience they want.
We’ll talk about what you should try on your mobile site.
NOTE: we find that a responsive web design works well for desktop and tablet-sized screens.

Mobile-Friendly Redesign Based on Data

Since every mobile audience is different, you’ll be well-served if you use your behavioral data to guide your mobile-friendly redesign. This includes:

  1. User Testing
  2. Surveys
  3. Web Analytics
  4. AB Testing Results

At the very least, you have the web analytics data and the recommendations here to guide you to mobile AB testing for results.
Conversion Sciences make mobile a part of every conversion optimization project. Contact us for a free consultation.

Brian Massey presents five design case studies and how to use conversion-centered redesign to reduce risk and deliver revenue growth quickly.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why redesigns fail
  • Justifying the risk and effort of a redesign
  • Key redesign metrics to watch
  • Five redesign case studies

What JJ Knows

JJ Abrams has successfully rebooted three marquee movie franchises in his career: Mission Impossible, Star Trek and now Star Wars.

He seems to know something that we need to understand when we redesign our websites: what to keep in his reboots and what create from scratch.

Watch the Webinar Now


Why Redesigns Fail

  • Repeat Visitors are Shocked
  • Designed for Wrong Segments
  • Your Audience Has Several
  • Local Maxima
  • Your Visitors Didn’t Go to the Same Design School.
  • Reliance on Best Practices
  • Too Much Emphasis on Look and Feel

Typical (Bad) Reasons to Redesign

  • Change in Management
  • You have a poor performing website.
  • Need a better mobile experience
  • “Well, just look at it!”
  • “We need to be unique!”

Good Reasons to Redesign

There are only two good reasons for a website redesign:

  1. The platform or content management system (CMS) we built on sucks.
  2. We’re completely rebranding our company or product line.

Five Redesign Strategies to Choose From

  • Going All In
  • Test on Old Site
  • Use Old Site to Inform New Site
  • Launch Side-by-side
  • Conversion-centered Redesign

Read the full conversion–centered redesign case study.

Place Your Bets

These are the areas in which you make assumptions when you “go all in”. Many of your choices can increase performance. Many will not.

  • The Right Value Proposition
  • The Right Calls to Action
  • The Right Copy and Images
  • The Expected Look and Feel
  • Trust Builders
  • Proof
  • Risk Reversal
  • All Website Changes

The Kinds of Information We Use to Make Design Decisions

When making these decisions, too many of us rely on information from categories 1 through 3 of this list. The least reliable sources are listed first.

  1. Informed Intuition (What I think works)
  2. Self-reported Input (What others make up about what works)
  3. Best Practices Experience (What works for other sites)
  4. Qualitative Behavioral Data (What works for small numbers of visitors)
  5. Quantitative Behavioral Data (What works for statistically valid groups of visitors)

I give examples of each of these and explain why they are or are not reliable.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

FREE: Click to Download

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The power of Three

Metrics We Watch

When you launch your redesign, these metrics will tell you if your redesign was successful or not.

  • Returning Users: Are probably in the Consideration Phase or Action Phase
  • Lead Generation: Did we make it harder for visitors to take action?
  • Lead Quality
  • Lead Close Ratio
  • Lead Score
  • Lead Pipeline Stage
  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Order Value
  • Lead Value
  • Revenue per Visit
  • Conversion by Traffic Source

Compare these metrics before and after the launch. You should also compare the year-over-year results to eliminate seasonal effects.

Things to Test on Current Site

If you are going to test things on your existing site to inform your redesign, consider these “portable” solutions:

  • Value Proposition Language
  • Calls to Action
  • Risk Reversal
  • Trust Builders
  • Landing Pages
  • Form Length

Be Ready to Go Back

If possible, always be ready to roll back to your old site if the new one craters sales.


We often redesign for the wrong reasons.

[pullquote]Without data, redesigns are risky.[/pullquote] The “Going All In” is the most risky and most common. Collecting analytics data on the current site mitigates the risk. Testing assumptions on the current site further reduces risk. A side-by-side launch approach allows you to back out poor performing features. A stepwise approach eliminates risk while increasing performance immediately.

Do you need a conversion-centered redesign or an optimization program?

Conversion Sciences Redesign Lab™ delivers the data and test results for…

  1. Redesigns that guarantee success.
  2. Deliver increasing monthly revenues over 180 days.
  3. Completely turnkey. We provide data scientists, designers and developers.

Contact us to schedule a call. We’ll discuss your goals and strategies for your site.
Brian Massey



Photo Credit: (cc)

Video is powerful. It can work for our business or against it. Here’s why.


Let’s talk a little bit about headlines, the words that go around your videos.

Headlines get people to read on.

In almost every medium that we work with online, the most important thing is going to be the headline or the equivalent to that. For email, the subject line is equivalent to the headline, and with today’s email clients, the first line of the email is often displayed along with it. The subject line is the most important thing, because it gets people to read the email.
On the landing page, the headline is the most important thing. It needs to tell the visitor they’re in the right place and give them a reason to keep reading – a reason that is important to them, not important to you.

Landing pages must invite visitors to watch the video.

On a video landing page, we have two pieces of information that are really important. Number one is the title above the video, and it has to tell the reader why they should watch the video. Number two, on a video landing page, the video is going to be pitching to a call to action. This is usually a button or a form that’s on that page, and above that form is the reason to take action. So, you have two pieces of information.
One, why you should watch the video, and two, why you should then take action if you found the information in the video persuasive. We’re going to spend hours filming and editing, writing scripts, reviewing our videos. So, how much time are we going to spend on the headline above the video that gets people to watch it? Well, typically very little.
I would recommend that you write 20, 30, 40 different headlines and choose from those, and focus on one thing. If there was one tip I would give you, it is, don’t describe the video. Describe why they should watch the video. That’s what the headline should do. Rather than tell them that this is a video about a new offering from your product, make headline say,

  • “Did you know that you could lose weight quickly?”
  • “You could manage your employees with less time?”

Whatever your value proposition is, tell them why they should watch the video, not what’s in the video. You want them to watch the video to get that. Likewise, you’re going to find a very similar thing when you look at writing the call to action.

The Call to Action

The call to action, ideally, is going to happen in the video, usually the end, but actually, you’re going to find significantly better performance if you find a way to have the call to action in the middle, and even hint at it in the beginning. And it’s also going to be on the page typically where there’s a form or a button that allows the visitor to take the next step.
Don’t leave visitors stranded in your video. After an awesome video, you don’t want to leave them going, “Oh, that was entertaining,” and not knowing what to do next. Always have something that they can do next.
This call to action, though, needs to do the same thing as the headline. Why should they take action next? You’ll want to work in, for instance, if this is a limited time offer, if there’s a special discount, if there’s a bonus. And explain to them very clearly what’s going to happen when they fill out that form.

  • Are they going to receive a lot of spam?
  • Are they going to get a call from somebody?
  • Are they going to have an informative phone conversation or a sales call?

Set Expectations

Make sure that they know what’s going to happen so that all expectations are set, and you should have a high-performing page. You’ve got a nice headline that tells them why to watch the video. You got a great video that lays out the value proposition that you’re trying to communicate and then has them do a call to action. You have a call to action that is focused on them and what they want to accomplish, and viola – a complete landing page with video.

Watch all videos in this series