Here is a list of questions you may — and should — ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

Maybe you have exhausted your resources or maybe you’d rather have CRO experts maximize your profits. Whatever your situation, it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. No matter the business type – eCommerce, lead gen or subscription website – how do you know which optimization professional is the best? Better yet, how do you know which one is the best fit for your needs?

We rounded up 14 key questions to help you analyze and evaluate your prospective conversion rate optimization (CRO) consultants. Buckle up because here we go!

1. How Much will a Conversion Optimization Consultant Cost me?

Conversion optimization is an on-going process, meaning you can expect a multi-month engagement. Therefore an equally important question here is when will I start to see positive results and a good return on investment. To achieve this, try to compare their experience, the actual time they’ll invest in analysis and research for your project and, again, the return on investment. After all, their job is to increase your revenues.

Still, you want to have an idea of cost. Here it goes. Small conversion rate optimization firms can be found for as little as $2500 per month to run tests. For a full team approach, expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 per month. Enterprise-focused firms will charge up to $50,000 per month.

Agencies that specialize in search engine optimization, paid search advertising, social media and media buying are adding conversion optimization services to their line card because clients, like you, are asking for it. They are not necessarily conversion specialists, so they may offer conversion optimization as a part of their package for a small additional fee. So, ponder on this: Can this fee fund the resources necessary for a conversion optimization program that can make a difference on my bottom line?

A word of caution: Know what you buy into.

When it’s time to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business, you have to understand what their offer actually is.

Do you know how your conversion rate optimization consultant measures success? A great question to ask when you are trying to choose the agency that best fits your website needs.

Do you know how your conversion rate optimization consultant measures success? A great question to ask when you are trying to choose the agency that best fits your website needs.

2. Do I Need to Have my own Resources? How Much Time will I Have to Invest in this Project?

This will depend on the type of engagement you are looking for. Here’s an example. At Conversion Sciences we offer our clients a couple of service options.

If they prefer to hand over the conversion rate optimization portion to us, we furnish them with a full CRO team. No company resources needed. Just plan to spend an hour with your conversion consultant each week on an ongoing basis and a bit more while we learn about your online business. Feel free to learn more about our Fully-Managed CRO Services or as we like to call it: the Plug-n-Play Approach to Revenue Increase. (Yep, shameless plug)

If they have an internal conversion team already in place, or they don’t have sufficient traffic to warrant full time engagement, our clients can opt for our Conversion Rate Optimization Audit. They will even walk away with a thorough analysis of your customer journey. Discover more about these ad-hoc services here. Do expect to invest time and internal resources for this type of project.

Our advice, always ask this question. It will help you better compare and find the best CRO consultant for your website.

3. How will you Measure Success?

A great question that separates the wheat from the chaff. Let’s explain.

This is the best answer a CRO consultant can give you: “We will improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers and that’s how we will measure success.”

It incentivizes your conversion consultant to look at the bottom line as their measure of success. And it also aligns the conversion consultant goals with your business goals.

Be careful of optimizing for secondary measures, such as clicks to a page with a form, bounce rate, the time visitors spend on your site or the number of pages they visit on average. It is often easy to improve these and not improve bottom-line metrics such as leads generated, transactions, or subscribers.

4. Can you Guarantee Results or a Conversion Rate Increase?

Should you pick a conversion rate optimization company that offers a guarantee or one that is willing to work for a percentage of the increased revenue? While these may seem like two very tempting offers, there are some downsides.

The most extreme guarantee is a pay-for-performance basis also called “I get a cut of your revenues”. On the plus side, they don’t get paid if they don’t deliver higher revenues. On the downside, they may get credit for your own promotions and not just for their conversion work. And as revenues increase, their monthly fees will look much larger to you. If conversion rates go way up, that’s good. But it means your consultant is getting paid very high fees. This can make you feel like you’re paying too much.

Therefore, even though these guarantees may feel as if they reduce the risk that you face as the site owner, they can also increase your overall investment.

Would you like a better solution?

Consider asking the conversion consultant to continue working for free if a predetermined goal is not met in a set timeframe. For example, if they can’t demonstrate a 10% increase in revenue in six months, they keep working for free. When they hit the results, they can start billing you again. Do you think they’ll accept?

5. How Much do you Know my Industry/Technology/Platform/Distribution Channel/Market?

If there’s one thing that testing teaches us very quickly, it’s that there is no such thing as a “magic formula.” Ideas that work for similar sites may not work on your audience. An orange button may work for one site, and not for another. Every audience is different.

Having said that, a conversion optimization vendor that has worked with a number of your competitors will have a playbook of ideas to consider. There will be ideas that never would have occurred to the team without the hindsight of having worked in your industry. If they also know your website platform and technology, their learning curve will be limited mostly to your product, service or business brand.

And while a solid understanding of your website platform is always a plus, industry experience can also be a hindrance. If the vendor is overly familiar with websites in your industry, they may not be able to look at your site with fresh eyes. A key advantage of external vendors.

All-in-all, a disciplined optimization process will work in any industry. Ask your vendor for some examples of novel ideas that are specific to your industry, but make sure they have a proven, repeatable process.

So, before you pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business ask yourself if you are looking for a fresh pair of eyes, or for somebody that can quickly catch up and contribute as if they had always been a part of your team.

6. Can you Share Some Case Studies?

A case study will help you understand how the consultant helped other businesses improve the performance of their website from a lead generation, sales or subscription increase standpoint. Take case studies showing giant performance gains with a grain of salt. This can happen for you, but not always.

A consultant should always be able to facilitate and show you their case studies but you should go the extra mile and also ask to speak with their clients. While they will refer you to clients they’ve had success with, you can ask about situations in which your conversion consultant struggled.

How a consultant deals with adversity is as important as how they behave when things are good.

Should your CRO agency guarantee results or a conversion rate Increase? Discover the answer on the Conversion Scientist blog.

Should your CRO agency guarantee results or a conversion rate Increase?

7. How will you Get to Know my Target Audience and What is your Process Like?

Successful conversion consultants let the data tell them about your audience. Your analytics data, surveys, reviews, and chat transcripts can reveal many issues with you website. If that is not enough, they should resort to surveys, session recordings, heatmap reports, and A/B testing.

Any other answer from a CRO consultant could demonstrate that they do not have the optimization experience needed to perform the job.
Getting to know your target audience will be one of the first steps in the process, so make sure they share with you what the rest of the process looks like, or that is somewhere on their website. You want to know how much of your time will be spent supporting the on-boarding process and if there are any additional fees for software or special ad-hoc work.

8. Do you do Split Testing or can you Implement Personalized AI-Powered Experiences to my Visitors?

A solid conversion rate optimization consultant will be well versed on every optimization technique and tool available and will recommend the one that is the best fit for your business. Stay away from those who try to steer you towards a single solution. Unless you want a one trick pony and not a true blue pro.

Related: AI Optimization Services for High Traffic Sites

9. How do you Know what to Optimize First?

The most common framework for ranking ideas is called ICE, which stands for Impact, Confidence, and Effort. It helps collect and rank all of the ideas that will come up when starting a conversion rate optimization project.

Asking this question may weed out the weakest prospective vendors. After all, a solid understanding of methodologies demonstrates the kind of professionalism you are looking for.

10. What would you Like to Know about our Company?

Your conversion consultant will be ravenous any for data you have. Ideas come from chat transcripts, marketing research, surveys, personas, reviews, advertising data and more. Conversion consultants are uniquely able to turn your existing research into test hypotheses.

Be suspect if they don’t want to know more about YOUR business. Optimization professionals have inquisitive minds and they always want to know more. Giving them the opportunity to ask you questions allows you to dig into their curious nature and mental process.

Good consultants will have lots of answers to this question.

11. Do the People I’ll be Working with have Strong Optimization Experience?

More than likely, you had a chance to speak to the top people in this agency. They have positively impressed you. But, what does the team that will be working with you look like? Are they experienced? If they are juniors, what type of supervision will the vendor provide. You want reassurances and you should be asking these questions.

Conversion optimization is a relatively new field. There aren’t a lot of experienced conversion consultants available to hire. And this is not a set of skills that is easy to teach in the classroom.

This is where process comes in. Your consultant should be able to articulate a repeatable, proven process that has a history of positive results.
If you’re working with an agency, there is a good chance you’ll be working with a less-experienced individual. Find out how the agency backs up this individual with analytics, test design and data science. They should also be backed up by someone with strategic marketing experience. Conversion optimization is strategic as well as design-oriented.

12. How Quickly will I Get my Money Back or How Soon will I See Results?

Beware of those who can guarantee a full return on investment within a short timeframe. CRO consultants will be able to make some estimates once they start working with you and they can also share their previous and similar experiences. But that’s all they are. Estimates and experiences. And no two websites or business are completely alike.

13. Do you Work with the Tools we Bought or can Afford?

If you are now working and/or already invested in conversion optimization tools, bring up the topic on your first conversation. You will want your consultant to know you expect them to use your tools proficiently, or to have experience with similar tools from different vendors.

As far as affordability goes, we live in a golden age of marketing tools. There are many options at many price points. The consultant should be able to help you choose a tool that fits their needs and your budget.

Always consider that most conversion consultants will give you a better return on your investment in optimization tools.

Here is a list of questions you may - and should - ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

Here is a list of questions you may – and should – ask before you choose the best conversion optimization consultant for your online business.

14. What is the Consultant’s Testing Philosophy?

Each consultant will have a testing philosophy. Some favor scientific rigor. Others favor quick decisions. Here are some questions to ask them and the answers you will want to hear.

How long will you run an AB test?

No AB test should be stopped before two full weeks have passed. If you have a high volume of conversions, one week may be acceptable, but no less.

Will you stop a variation if it looks really negative?

Most conversion consultants will monitor tests and stop any variations that seem to be underperforming to avoid lost sales and fewer leads.

Do you let tests overlap?

If your prospective conversion consultant plans to run tests on multiple pages of your site, there is a risk of polluting the data and making bad calls. They should be able to visitor from getting into multiple tests.

How do you do quality assurance on tests?

The tools that conversion consultant uses give them sweeping powers to alter your site. It is surprisingly easy to break your site, even if they checked it. A thorough Quality Assurance (QA) process includes testing on multiple devices and involves several people before it goes live.

What kind of post-test analysis do you do?

Even if a test finishes and there is no winning variation, your conversion consultant can learn important things from the data. They just have to take the time to do a little more analysis, called “post-test” analysis. This should be part of their philosophy.

Can you perform multivariate tests?

If you have a high-volume site, multivariate testing is an important option. You may also want to find out if they can use machine learning AI tools to accelerate their testing.

How to Pick a Conversion Optimization Consultant for your Online Business

Final word of advice: no matter who you choose, make sure the consultant you hire is the one that is able to deliver on the strategy YOU need.

Solid CRO firms will tell you right out if they are unable to help you and may even recommend alternative solutions to your business problem, Use these questions when the time comes to pick a conversion optimization consultant for your online business. Who knows? It may even be us!

Let’s dive into a brand new online marketing concept: Contextualization. Thanks to AI and ML, we have come a long way from creating customer segments. To improve conversions, we also need to understand context. Read on.

I predicted years ago that my business would be using machine learning for much of what we do manually today.

When I talk to people like Olcan Sercinoglu, I know that day is coming. Olcan is the CEO at a company called Scale Inference. He studied and worked under Peter Norton from Google – the guys who wrote the book on Machine Learning – and has spent the last 25 years as a developer engineer. Scaled Inference focuses on applying machine learning to online user interactions, and to personalize their experiences in ways we could never do by ourselves..

If we can understand how machine learning is different, we can understand how our digital marketing will be changed in the near future.

And so my interest was, “OK, this is great, but how do we how do we build a platform that is useful to others?”

Olcan Sercinoglu | Why Context Matters

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From Segmentation to Contextualization: The New Way to Look at Marketing Key Takeaways

  1. Moore’s Law. Back in 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that we’d be able to fit twice as many transistors on a microchip every year. We are experiencing a golden age of tools – the tools are getting better, less expensive and getting easier to use.
  2. The future of AI marketing. Is it all about personalization? Are the metrics you’re optimizing for clear? And if not, can AI even work for you? Or how do we take all this data and make it matter?
  3. Contextualization. We are taking this idea of personalization and introducing you to a new term – contextualization. Everything you do as a marketer should flow from optimization. By understanding the metric first, then you can ideate and create based on the context that’s being emerged from the data.

How do we use AI to make us better marketers?

AI Optimization-Why context matters with Olcan Sercinoglu

AI Optimization-Why context matters with Olcan Sercinoglu

But at the end of the day or what companies actually want out of that saying there hasn’t been much progress. I think a lot of progress is going to happen as machine learning shifts towards metrics and these easier modes of integration.

Moore’s Law: As Valid Today as it was a Few Decades Ago

In 1965, a man named Gordon Moore made a bold prediction, a prediction that was expected to fail almost every year since. It is a prediction that helps to explain the dizzying speed with which our lives are being upended by new tech..

What Moore said in 1965 is that we’d be able to fit two times more transistors on a microchip every year, year after year. What this meant for the semiconductor industry is that microchips would get twice as fast and cost half as much to produce every single year.

This, they thought, was crazy talk.

A Grain of Rice and a Chessboard

Take a typical chess board. On the first square place a grain of rice. On the next square put two grains of rice. On the next square, four. And double the number of grains of rice on each subsequent square.

By the time you reach the final square, number 64, the amount of rice you would need would require the entire surface of the earth and its oceans to grow, 210 billion tons.

That’s the power of compounding.

Every few years, the skeptics declared that we had reached the end of our ability to shrink these tiny transistors any more. “It’s just not physically possible,” they said.

And every time, Moore’s prediction was proven more or less true.

Even today, as the wires that run across microchips approach the width of an atom, engineers find ways to make things half the size.

Do not miss: Can AI Marketing Tools Increase Your Website’s Conversion Rates?

Why should you care? As microchips shrink and drop in cost, so do the things we build with them. For example, the camera that is found in any laptop has a HD resolution and costs the manufacturer a few dollars. The cost of servers and storage space has plummeted as well. Hence, most of our computing and storage is done in the proverbial cloud.

All of this has created a golden age of technology — for consumers, for businesses, and especially for marketers. Entrepreneurs are using the cloud and cheap computing power to make digital marketing cheaper easier, and more predictable.

It is now more expensive to ignore the amazing data we can collect than it is to buckle down and put it to use.

While we’re sitting around wondering what to do with all of this data, entrepreneurs and engineers are using it teach machines to learn.

The Era of Neural Networks: Is the Future of AI marketing all about Personalization?

Neural networks are computer programs that work like human neurons. Like the human brain, they are designed to learn. Neural nets have been around for decades, but only in recent years have we had enough data to teach them anything useful.

Machine learning is lumped together with Artificial Intelligence, or AI, but it’s really much simpler than building an intelligent machine. If you have enough data, it’s relatively easy to teach a machine how to learn and to get insights from it.

In fact, machine learning is being used all around you and you probably don’t even know it.

In this episode, I am going to change the fundamental question you ask as a marketer. You will no longer ask, “Will this creative work for my audience?” You will ask, “Which people in my audience will this creative work for?”

And we’ll ask some more tactical questions.

  • How do we pull meaningful things out of our data in a reasonable amount of time.
  • So how do we understand the information that the machine pulls for us?
  • Are you optimizing for the right things? And if not, can machine learning even work for you?
  • How do we take all this data and make it matter?
  • How do we as marketers, become better at using the tools and resources available to us in the age of Moore’s law?

I start the conversation, asking Olcan, “Is the future of AI marketing all about personalization?”

From Segmentation to Contextualization: Focus on the Context that Your Visitors Arrive In

My favorite take away from my conversation with Oljan Sercinoglu is that context matters.

There is one big context that you don’t need machine learning to address: It is the context of your mobile visitors.

You may say that your website is responsive, and that you’ve already addressed the smartphone context. But, you haven’t.

Do you want proof? Check your analytics. You’re smartphone conversion rates are probably a half or a quarter of your desktop sites, even with that responsive design. I know this without looking at your analytics.

Mobile visitors are coming in a completely different context than desktop visitors. They don’t need a shrunk down version of your website. They need a different website.

Fortunately, you don’t need a machine learning program to identify these visitors. You can start personalizing your mobile site to deal with this new context.

Try this as a contextualization exercise: Reduce the number of fields on the mobile forms, or eliminate the forms altogether. Replace them with click-to-call. If you have an eCommerce site, make “Add to Cart” secondary and build your mobile subscriber list. Email is the life’s blood of eCommerce.

If your website is generating millions of visits, you may want to consider putting that data to work for you. Not every business is ready for machine learning, but you don’t want to be the last business in your market to start using it.

When You Get Back to the Office

When you get back to the office, I recommend that you share this episode of Intended Consequences with someone else in your company. It’ll make you look smart and forward thinking.

If not I have a challenge for you.

Here’s my challenge to you this week – start to really think about how you define success. Answer the question, “I’ve done a great job because…” and fill in the blank. Answer this questions three ways. everything you do as marketer should flow from optimization.

Then ask, how do I measure each of those with data I’m collecting today. Once you’re clear that it’s the idea that by understanding the metrics, first then you can begin to prioritize your data gathering and create based on the context that’s being emerged from the data.

Alright scientists, that’s it for this week.

Resources and links discussed

Olcan Sercinoglu | Why Context Matters

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Heatmaps are just the first step to obtaining useful insights on your website visitors. Today we’ll find out how heatmaps helped increase prospective student inquiries by 20% for a University and have a chat with Andrew Michael of Hotjar. Find out what he has to say.

Andrew Michael | Understanding Your Users: Leveraging Tools to Grow Your Website

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Resources and links discussed

How Heatmaps Helped Increase Prospective Student Inquiries by 20%

We were looking at the heatmap report for the website of Northcentral University, a non-profit online university headquartered in Arizona.

Reading a heatmap report is like looking at a weather radar, but instead of blobs of green, red and yellow showing us where rain is falling around us, a heatmap report shows us where visitors are clicking on a web page.

And it was raining clicks in an unexpected spot on the NCU website.

Specifically, visitors were clicking on one of the fields in the middle of a form, and only on that field. Not the name field, not the email field. The majority of them weren’t completing the form.

So, why were visitors so interested in this one field?

It was an important question, as this form was the primary invitation to get more information on the University. It was on almost every page, ready to start a more in-depth conversation with any visitor.

The field visitors were clicking on was “program of interest”, a dropdown field that listed the degrees offered by NCU. It was meant as a way for prospective students to tell NCU which degree program they were interested in.

These prospective students were using it as an information source.

While the copy on the page was regaling visitors on the value of NCUs one-on-one learning, it’s 100% doctoral professors and it’s diversity, visitors were telling us that they had one question first.

Do you offer a degree program I’m interested in?

At least, this was the hypothesis. So we designed a test.

At the top of every page, we placed a dropdown menu that listed the university’s programs, just like that on the form. When a degree program was selected, we took them to the part of the site that described that degree program.

Half of NCUs visitors would see this dropdown. The other half would not. They’d have to use the dropdown in the form.

When we measured the results, the visitors who saw the dropdown in the page were 20% more likely to fill out the form completely, requesting information.

This indicated that the change would increase prospective student inquiries by 20%, a very significant improvement in the key metric for the site.

The current site offers a complete section designed to help visitors find a degree program they’re interested in.

This is something that we would not have been able to find any other way than through a heatmap report. It doesn’t show up in analytics. No one would have complained.

This is the power of a class of report called user intelligence reports.

Anyone who knows how to read rain chances from a weather radar can use this kind of report. More and more of us are doing this.

These reports are surprisingly easy to generate and the tools are inexpensive.

You can bring people to websites all day long but if it’s not optimized and it’s not user friendly and you’re going to lose all day and you just can end up throwing money down the drain.

Leading the way is a company called Hotjar. On today’s show we’re breaking down HotJar with Andrew Michael. A tool focused on helping you understand your users. Andrew got into marketing because he’s intrigued by psychology – understanding what drives people’s decisions.

An Insightful Chat with Andrew Michael from Hotjar

Intended Consequences podcast with Hotjar's Andrew Michael

Intended Consequences podcast with Hotjar’s Andrew Michael

Time is precious for overburdened marketers. On this show, we seek to understand which tools are truly valuable, and which are just giving us “interesting” insights.

We install something like Hotjar on every one of our client sites when optimizing.

Tools like Hotjar are a part of what I call ‘the golden age of marketing’. These tools are continually evolving, getting easier to use and less expensive.

These are the tools that buy you more time to be creative, ground breaking and successful.

We start off the podcast talking about all of the things Hotjar brings to the table under a single subscription. Then we talk about the outcome of leveraging tools like this – how do they actually empower marketers serve their online prospects better?

Listen to the Podcast. It’s well worth it.

When You Get Back To The Office

I’m not a shill for Andrew. I just know these tools are a great value and easy to learn.

When you get back to the office, i recommend that you do a trial of Hotjar. Add it to your homepage, or one of your “money” pages where you ask visitors to take action. Setup a heatmap report on it.

Let it run for a few days, and then look at the scroll report. This report tells you how far visitors are scrolling on your page. This is one of the first things we look at when we start analyzing our clients’ sites.

Where is the report turning blue? This is the place on the page that visitors stop reading. Look in the blue area. What key content are they missing?

If more than half of your page is blue, you have a scroll problem. Visitors aren’t being engaged enough to get through your content.

Reasons for this include: false bottoms, where visitors think the page ends when it doesn’t. It can mean that your content isn’t engaging them enough high on the page. It can mean that you’re not handling a key objection.

Your strategies include moving key content to the top of the page, putting arrows, chevrons and “v”s on the page to tell visitors to keep going, or re-thinking the story you tell on this page.

Don’t be discouraged. This is progress! Next, share this report with your design team and see what they think.

This is how pages get better and businesses grow.

You can get all these links discussed on this week’s episode in our shownotes. One thing to remind you all of is that Hotjar is a freemium model so it’s one you can definitely

Alright scientists, that’s it for this week.

Andrew Michael | Understanding Your Users: Leveraging Tools to Grow Your Website

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In this episode of Intended Consequences, we discover how to implement website surveys without affecting conversions and we evaluate some great tools to measure and analyze the gathered data.

Implementing website surveys is always a great idea. Unfortunately, if wrongly implemented, they may lower conversions. Our visitors may decide to respond to the survey and forget what they added to the shopping cart. Today, we’ll analyze the importance of well crafted website exit survey questions that will shield results. We will also share with you some AI-powered tools that can help you find out how to diagnose your webpages and get visitors past the obstacles that most of us unintentionally create.

Intended Consequences: Interview with Curtis Morris of Qualaroo

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Resources and Links Discussed

How to Implement Website Surveys without Affecting Conversions Key Takeaways

  1. Thank you page survey: Find out why this should be a part of every website that processes sales, subscriptions or registrations of any kind.
  2. What almost kept you from buying today?: In this episode, learn what’s more effective than Net Promoter scores or pre-sale feedback queries.
  3. “Liking” In Action: Curtis shows us when is the best time to ask someone to take desired action.
  4. Data Tools: Find out which tools to use that allow you to be more creative, all while gathering data to be effective.

An Interview with Curtis Morris of Qualaroo

Our guest, Curtis Morris formerly with Qualaroo

Curtis Morris formerly with Qualaroo

Qualaroo let’s you discover issues — good and bad — that are affecting your prospects and customers. It provides a business with the ability to ask website visitors questions, collect answers, and process high quantities of input. The tools uses sentiment analysis and AI-driven text recognition to summarize inputs from hundreds or thousands of participants.

There is no better focus group than your prospects and customers. Qualaroo keeps you in touch with them.

How Automatic Solved Their Sales Problem with a Website Exit Survey

The people at a company called Automatic had an idea. What if we created a device that would connect your smartphone to your car’s computer. The idea was great, but then they ran into a problem.

How do you get people to buy the more profitable version of your product? How do you get people to click on the things you want them to click on? How do you get them to

When you take any car built since 1996 to a mechanic, one of the first things they will do is plug your car into a computer. The mechanics computer will essentially ask your car what’s been going on.

This makes me think of Star Wars, when Han Solo tells C-3PO that he needs him to talk to the Millennium Falcon.

It turns out that there’s a lot that your car can tell the mechanic, most of it uninteresting to the mechanic.

When one of the many sensors around your car detects a problem — your oil is low, or your engine temperature is getting high — your car shows you a “check engine” light, as if you couldn’t handle the details.

But your car knows more. Much more.

You car knows how fast you’re accelerating. It nows how fast you’re slowing down. It knows if your airbags have been deployed. It knows the levels of all of the fluids, the pressure in the tires, even the quality of the emissions coming out the tailpipe.

For your mechanic, all of this information becomes available through a special port in your car, called the OBD-II port. They get an engine code from your car’s computer and can lookup the problem, probably online.

The people at a company called Automatic had a idea. What if we created a device that would plug into the port on your car, and connect your smartphone to your car’s computer. Then your pocket C-3PO could talk to your four wheeled Millennium Falcon, translating engine codes and much more.

It turns out that Automatic was on to something. Their device connected your car’s computer to your phone, and then their app tracked your trips, monitored your acceleration and deceleration — to help you save gas — and even connected to a variety of apps so you could expense travel miles and turn on your Nest thermostat when you pulled into the driveway.

How Implementing Website Exit Surveys Increased Conversions

In 2016 the company released a more advanced version of the product. Automatic Pro had its own always-on 3G connection. This meant that it didn’t need your smartphone to communicate with the internet. This opened up new opportunities.

Automatic Pro could alert someone if your airbags deployed, even if your phone was broken in an accident. If your car was stolen, you would know exactly where it is. The site touted “event-based apps” and “streaming apps” and “parking tracking.”

The old device was recast as Automatic Lite and sold online for $80 beside the Automatic Pro at $130.

And most people bought the Lite version.

This was a bit of a problem as the Lite version was a lower margin product. Why weren’t people buying the clearly superior Pro version of the product? Should Automatic just accept that car owners are cheap and adjust their expectations?

Fortunately, Conversion Sciences was working with them, and tackled this problem for them. Using our sophisticated scientific minds, we devised a strategy for finding out why buyers weren’t jumping on the Pro product. We asked them.

Whenever someone bought an Automatic Lite, we served up one question in a popup box: “Why didn’t you choose the Automatic Pro?”

Within two weeks, we had over 150 responses. And these responses were from people who had already been all the way through the purchase process. The popup had no negative effect on conversion, because it appeared AFTER THE SALE.

And it told us what was wrong.

After analyzing the responses, one comment really summed things up.

“I don’t think I need crash alert. I have apps that track where I park just fine, nor have I ever needed it. I don’t know what Live vehicle tracking means. I don’t know what event-based apps means. I don’t know what streaming apps mean, either.”

In short, the site wasn’t doing a good job of helping them choose the right solution for them. So they defaulted to the cheapest option. This is the classic problem of the Pricing Page. The job of the pricing page is not to show off all of the features. It’s to help the buyer choose the right plan, the right level or the right feature set.

By modifying the way the features were presented on Automatic’s pricing page, we were able to significantly increase the number of units sold overall, and increase sales of the profitable Automatic Pro as a percentage. This was proven with an AB split test.

Things were going well enough that Automatic was acquired by SiriusXM, the satellite radio people, for 100 million dollars.

This is the power of qualitative data. Qualitative data is that delicious, juicy input that comes directly from buyers, prospects and pretenders. It’s typically gathered in surveys, focus groups and polls. These can deliver quantitative data, but qualitative data is prized for its messiness. It helps us understand how people think about products, how they talk about their problems, and what really is important to them.

The downside of this kind of data is that it is harder to process. We had 150 responses to analyze for Automatic. Imagine if you got thousands a day. Every day.

These are the problems that Curtis Hill thinks about. He is CEO of Qualaroo, and believes, as I do, that quantitative data means nothing if it’s not supplemented with qualitative data. So, listen to the Podcast for all the juicy details on how to implement website surveys without affecting conversions.

Intended Consequences: Interview with Curtis Morris of Qualaroo

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Don’t miss the first episode of the first Podcast season, where we chat with Mouseflow, a user-behavior analytics tool and cover recordings, heatmaps, funnels. Plus, how to manage helicopter executives.

Collecting Qualitative Data on Your Visitors

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Resources and Links Discussed

Intended Consequences Podcast Season 1 Episode 1: Key Takeaways

  1. Exit Intent: Not sure what this means? You’ll learn about that and why it matters.
  2. What Happens When a Site Bug Goes Unchecked: You’ll hear stories on the impact a site bug can have on your website – and we’re talking a $1.2 million impact.
  3. Tips on Conversation with Executives: Gain knowledge and tips from Evan on how to have conversations with your marketing executives.

Excerpts from our Conversation with Mouseflow

Avoid the Bias

This stuff really fascinates me just because it’s a psychological. It’s diving into the minds of of your visitors. And one thing that I always encourage people to do when they’re using Mouseflow on their website is PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT go in with any bias. You have to be willing to test and identify ways that you can improve your form or specific parts of your Web site.

The Add-to-Cart Bug

This is going to have to remain anonymous, so I can’t share the company. But there is e-commerce store in America that uses Mouseflow and they were recording 100 percent of all visitors. So lots of data coming in. We’re talking millions and millions of sessions per month. And there was a pretty serious bug / error that was deployed live onto the Web site after they had finished a redesign. And Mouseflow picked it up. They had notifications set to send to one of their product marketers e-mails whenever a JavaScript error occurred.

All of the sudden at 2:00a.m. on Monday night their e-mail just starts getting absolutely blown up. It turned out that there was an Add to Cart button that was not working on about 40% of their product pages.

It was a huge huge error.

Mouseflow estimated it ended up being like $400K revenue loss. So, it ended up being a serious deal . And if that had gone further unnoticed, obviously this would have stretched into the millions of dollars.

Get ready, Marketers

“So I would I think that’s one of the most exciting things for a marketer who finally grabs this tool installs it, because they’re about to get the data they need to have a really really interesting meetings.”

Conversion Sciences Podcast with Mouseflow, a user-behavior analytics tool.

Conversion Sciences Podcast with Mouseflow, a user-behavior analytics tool.

Helicopter Executives

That executive who doesn’t feel comfortable with the work that a marketer has done, because that marketer doesn’t have any data, will come in and change things based on their experience with a customer their experience or their own preference.

In other words executives are coming in with all their biases and making changes to a campaign, and that’s really frustrating to a marketer marketing team who’s worked hard on a redesign, to have a sample size of one person come nin and upend those assumptions.

Celebrating Design

“But there’s something to be said for installing this tool before you launch a redesign, and then going in and celebrating, with heatmap and session recordings, where the redesign has really improved things. That’s going to get the design team and the UX team more interested in working with you.”

It’s going to make your boss look good because he or she shepherded this fantastic redesign. And then you can go and say here’s the next things we can be improving on.”

If your website has a glorious design and drives huge traffic but you’re still not getting enough leads, you need to get serious about conversion rate optimization and these 46 conversion rate optimization hacks will help you get there.
Conversion rate optimization is a systematic process of increasing the percentage of your website’s visitors that take the desired action on a certain page. This includes optimizing the landing pages and the website overall, using real-time analytics, tested design, and psychological elements, in order to turn your website visitors into customers.
Don’t make a rookie mistake! Not every one of these “hacks” will work for your website.

How to  Apply Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

There is a very defined process for applying conversion optimization hacks. It goes something like this.

List Relevant Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

List all of the hacks below that apply to your website. I recommend downloading the Conversion Sciences Hypothesis List Spreadsheet.
Toss out the ones that you’ve already tried or tested (delete them from your spreadsheet).

Do Your First Ranking of Conversion Optimization Hypotheses

Rate each of the remaining ones by level of effort (LOE), expected impact, and traffic affected. Our spreadsheet will calculate a weight for each idea.
Those that lie at the top of your list are ready to be researched.

Fix the Conversion Optimization Hacks that are Broken

Is it clear that some of these conversion rate optimization hacks needs immediate attention?
For example Hack 1: Increase Your Page Speed may be near the top of the list. It can have a high impact (based on other studies), and it affects all traffic.
To collect more data, you could look at your bounce rate. A high bounce rate may indicate a slow website, especially on mobile. You could also visit and get a grade on your page speed.
If the data says your site is slow, this would be a hack worth fixing. It will have a high value for “proof” in the spreadsheet.
If the data says your site is loading quickly, then you have low evidence and this idea may drop to the bottom of the ranking. Move on.
Other candidates for “just fix it” include

  • Technical problems on any page
  • Bad layouts due to responsive web design
  • #8 Remove CAPTCHA from forms. Don’t has your customers to manage your spam problem.
  • #16 Let Customers Checkout as Guests
  • #21 and #24 Reduce Form Fields

Research Your Top Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

Find ways to research each of the hacks that are at the top of your list.
For example, if hack #16: Let Customers Checkout as Guests is high on your list, you could look at analytics to see if the “Login or Create an Account” page is a big source of abandonment. If it is, it gets more proof points.  If not, maybe it isn’t a problem.
You would also implement an exit-intent popup for this “Login or Create an Account” that asked, “What kept you from buying today?” If lots of visitors admit that they didn’t want to create an account, this idea would get more proof points.

AB Test the Most Promising Ones

The most promising ideas that don’t fall into the “fix it” category get an AB test. This will tell you which conversion rate optimization hacks will improve the site and by how much. It is the best data you can collect.
Have a look at Website Builder’s  “46 Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks” infographic below and for a list of effective hacks for increasing your conversion rates.

46 Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

About the Author

Josh Wardini - 46 Conversion Rate Optimization Hacks

Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies.

Big, bold, radical, redesign tests always move the needle the most. That is if you know your market, really really well.   But through the years, I’ve found that it’s the little things that count with CRO.  Even today I’m excited every time I find an interesting case study that highlights something that you wouldn’t have likely thought about or put together.

When dealing with optimizing a website, for more sales, businesses need to constantly remember that they’re dealing with real people .  People with obscure interests and desires that fluctuate and are ruled by the world in which they live.

And most of the time, businesses aren’t going to be able to predict what is driving their visitors or what they’re behavior will be.  A lot of times, they really don’t know their customers at all.

They put up a website and just hope it works.  Forgetting about the people who browse the site.

But often, it’s these little nuances in your visitor’s motives and behaviors that can drive substantial wins.

You Can Learn A lot Just By Watching

A few weeks ago, I was analyzing visitor sessions for a client who was selling a gluten-free, healthy chocolate chip cookie, these things were huge, about the size of your hand.

Now, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  But I can tell you that after about an hour of watching these sessions, all I wanted was a chocolate chip cookie!

But then an interesting thing happened.  The next morning I started watching sessions at about 7am.  Yuck. I couldn’t even conceive of eating anything, let alone a chocolate chip cookie, at such an early hour.

And even more interesting…the visitor sessions that I was watching seemed to fly by.  While the previous afternoon visitors seemed to scroll and browse in what seemed to be a normal pattern – things were much different in the early morning hours.

Visitors were in and out at the speed of light.  The sessions lasted seconds, not minutes like the day before.  And I didn’t happen to see any purchases while doing that morning round of behavior analysis.

Now, these findings aren’t set in stone as a scientific finding.  There weren’t enough hours watched on my end to make that type of conclusion.  I only watched a full 24 hour days worth.

But if you are selling food products, I would encourage you to watch how people react to your product at different times of day.

Appetites do tend to have surges.  And the afternoon is a prime time where cravings really kick in.

If you do see such a pattern, perhaps you can display different messages at different times of day to visitors as a single test.

For example, in the hours where cravings might not be kicking in – or appetites are actually at their lowest, perhaps focus more on selling the health and nutrient aspect if it’s a health food product.  Or find some other aspect that doesn’t solely work on it being appetizing. Because it the appetite isn’t there at the moment – it will be harder to sell it.

However, when appetites do spike, there are ways you can capitalize on that.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Never shop on an empty stomach”.  That’s because if you do, you might end up buying everything in sight.

That said, it might be wise to spend more of your PPC dollars during the hours in which most people’s appetites surge if you sell a food product.

It’s these forgotten aspects, like appetite patterns, that we might not have thought about that could make a big difference.

Knowing Your Prospect Is The Key

I was working with another colleague on a weight loss website not too long ago.  They had done a complete redesign for the client. It was gorgeous. Great graphics.  Great information. Great everything really.

But it failed in a split test against the original version.  Not so great.

She threw her hands up in the air.  She was frustrated and had lost confidence.

I looked over the page and something so small – that could be so big – stuck out to me.

The form to sign up for a free consultation was preceded by text that said something to the effect of “Sign up now for life changing results”.

But from our agency research about people looking to lose weight, we knew that this audience was often terrified of change. If change was what they were looking for, they would have done it years ago and they wouldn’t be in this predicament now.

People are creatures of habit.  It’s often what motivates them. Eating habits are strong habits to break.  Turning off the TV and running a mile with an extra 100 pounds to carry with you is not an inviting habit this group is longing to do.

In fact “life-changing” might terrify the hell out of these people.

From the client’s perspective, a life change would be incredible and empowering.  But, they’re not the ones that have to make the changes. The Prospects are.

It’s all about them.  Not us.

The Context Of The Obvious, Or Not So Obvious

After a long discussion about conversion rate optimization (CRO), a colleague told me about an instance where his client was offering visitors a coupon with a significant discount.  Only they weren’t seeing it increasing conversions.

He urged his client to run a survey and after a lot of push-back the client finally caved in.

After asking visitors why they weren’t using the coupon…he got a surprising response.  The coupon was a printable coupon and the majority of visitors didn’t have a printer.

Wow.  Such a simple resolution by just asking a simple question.

Here’s another example of a business not having any idea that their visitors don’t have a device to print off their coupons…until they actually asked.

If you don’t think your audience is driven by their own unique circumstances and their own individual desires, take a look at this case study.

Adonis Clothing offers men’s clothing online.  Interestingly enough though, most of the actual shoppers are women purchasing apparel for their husbands or boyfriends.  In fact, 80% of the clothing retailer’s repeat customers are women.

With this in mind, their CEO decided to run a rather interesting split test.  He had thought about all of the times that his fiancée had encouraged him to grow out his beard a little bit rather than shave.

He wondered if other women found a little bit of stubble or a beard more attractive than a clean-shaven face.  And if they did – would they purchase more?

So he took this original page of a clean-shaven male model….

Would you buy from this guy?

Would you buy from this guy?

And tested it against this page presenting a model with facial hair… .

Most would buy from this hipster

Most would buy from this hipster

The test version that modeled men with facial hair increased the number of clicks on the “Add to Shopping Bag” button by 49.73% resulting in a 33% increase in orders.

It can be these obscure little things that can actually make a pretty substantial difference.

I once saw another split test where simply adding an active blinking cursor within a form field increased sign up conversions by 17%.

Another interesting split test that I heard about had to actually be done in an unorthodox manner.

The client had currently been using a subdomain where the URL that showed up in the address bar in the browser started out with ww2.

The client thought this could be making visitors skeptical.  But there was no real way to test such a nuance to see if it, in fact, was doing so.

So they created a second sub-domain to be tested.  In this domain, they used the letter “v” twice to look like a “w”.  This way, the URL appeared as “wwvv” in which it looked like the standard 3 w’s.

In conducting this test, the client did, in fact, see that the number 2 in the address bar had made visitors leery and he saw an increase in conversions with the subdomain that read “wwvv”.  

Digging For The Gold

I hope these stories got you as excited as when I first heard them.  Maybe it’s just me, but I love to discover a really obscure split test that nobody has thought of before.

That said, don’t be afraid to test your ideas.  In conversion optimization, it’s all about the big picture and the big ideas mixed with the small details that businesses often miss.

Your audience is unique and they have a unique set of motivators, desires, and fears.

Try to put yourself in their shoes and try to think how your visitors might be thinking.  Try to uncover motives. Ask yourself what might make them leery. What are their specific fears?

In asking these questions, you may find a handful of small nuances that could end up with huge results.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that your viewers believe your testimonials are real and genuine. Any website that hosts its own testimonials has the opportunity to molest and curate its own testimonials and every viewer knows it. There are three rules to make testimonials more persuasive that you can start using today.

If everybody knows you can alter and curate your testimonials, is there any point in having them in the first place? Probably not, but if you are dead set on having testimonials on your website, then you need to make testimonials more persuasive.

Before you hire a bunch of writers to create a set of positive testimonials for your website, take a look at these three unusual tactics for making testimonials more persuasive.

Use A Long-Form Testimonial That Goes Into Intimate Detail

Long testimonials make testimonials persuasive

Long testimonials make testimonials persuasive

The very idea that a long testimonial is more persuasive than a shorter one seems silly because most people would assume that a longer testimonial is more likely to have been written by the company’s marketing department rather than a genuine customer. However, there is a form of cognitive dissonance that occurs when people read larger testimonials.

Despite the fact that the user probably believes the longer testimonial was written by a member of the website’s own staff, the fact is that the user is still more likely to read the longer review than any of the shorter reviews. This is especially true if the testimonial has headings, and things such as lists, alternative purchases, and pros & cons sections.

Look at Amazon book reviews. The longest reviews are almost always the ones with the most “This was helpful” votes. Even if the review looks like it was written by the author’s friends, it is still more readable and attractive than the hundreds of smaller reviews/testimonials on Amazon.

It is better to have a semi-convincing review that is long and read by the user, rather than a series of smaller very-convincing reviews that are not read by the user.  

Name All The Bad Stuff And Convert Them Into Selling Points

Convert bad stuff into selling points make testimonials persuasive

Convert bad stuff into selling points make testimonials persuasive

When most people shop online, they do not read the hundreds of positive reviews. They search out the negative reviews. People do this because most people are aware that reviews and testimonials can be bought.

We have all seen the list of positive reviews on Amazon that were written by a marketing department, and then the several recent ones that are negative because they are real. You can use the fact that people search out negative reviews by using negative reviews/testimonials to sell your product or service.

There are two ways you can do this, you may do it by giving negative points and making them illogical, or you may answer negative reviews with selling points. Let’s start with a few examples of negative testimonials that you have added to your website that are actually illogical.

This book on “Sixteen Ways To Cook Beef” was full of tasty ideas, but I was very disappointed that they didn’t offer vegetarian alternatives.

The plumber turned up on time and had the problem fixed in ten minutes, which means there was very little wrong. I should have taken a look at it myself before calling.

Do not use this taxi service. Why is this taxi firm charging per mile? They should charge for the time it takes to get places. I am paying for a taxi’s time and not for how far it takes me.

Alternatively, you can allow negative reviews and then offer replies that create selling points. If done correctly, this can be a very powerful way to sell your product.

Do not make the mistake of asking the reviewer to contact your company via the replies because that is what all of the worst companies say.

Here are a few examples of negative testimonials and their replies that turn negatives into positives.

Testimonial – I received the second-hand DVD and it is scratched. It only works on my PC and not on my DVD player.

Reply – Thank you for letting us know, we will issue a refund right away. Also, we have invested in DVD cleaning machines. Every second-hand DVD we sell will now be cleared of scratches prior to being sent out.

Testimonial – Your writing service doesn’t cover formatting and setting styles. I hate having to set out my essays and I always get it wrong. You should at least offer a paid service so that people like me don’t have to suffer.

Reply – Quite right! We have instituted a new policy. All student customers will now have their essays set out and formatted free of charge whenever an essay is bought or an essay is proofread. Please return your essay and we will format it for free within 24 hours.

Allow Anybody To Leave A Testimonial And A Reply And Have It Post Immediately

A big part of making a testimonial believable is less about what is written and more about how the testimonial came to life. If you can prove to people that what regular people are writing is what is coming up on your testimonial page, then you may be able to convince people that your testimonials are real.

That is why it is important for you to make the testimonial process very easy. Any visitor should be able to leave a testimonial without having to sign in and without having to buy something. It should be clearly obvious to the user that he or she may start writing a testimonial right away, and that the user doesn’t need to have an account.

What is just as important is what happens after the user clicks to submit the review. If the system says that the testimonial is awaiting moderation, then the user will give up on the website and probably continue to believe that the testimonials on the website are curated. However, if the testimonial appears right away on the web page, then the user will have a hard time denying that genuine testimonials must exist on your website.

Many webmasters will not allow people to post directly to their web pages for a number of reasons. The most common reason is that it allows spammers to add content right away, but you can use spam catching software to stop that.

The second most common reason is that it allows users to add troll messages or negative messages into an area where potential customers may see them, but this doesn’t matter.

If your product or your service is a good one, then the troll messages or the negative messages will be dwarfed by the many positive messages. Plus, every Monday there is nothing stopping you from going through your testimonials and deleting a few of the most damning ones. After all, it is not as if your users are going to return every week to see if their testimonial is still there.

When selling anything online people almost always prefer to buy from people and companies that they trust.  In fact, many times people are willing to pay more to buy from websites they trust. It’s one of those key components that can boost your online conversion rate in multiples if done right so you need to instantly establish credibility online.

I’ve been working in the field of conversion optimization for 9 years.  About 6 years ago, I made the decision to focus my agency primarily on optimizing websites that were specifically in the health field/vertical, mostly dietary supplements.

We niched down to optimizing for the health industry because we started seeing patterns among multiple dietary supplement clients.  Those patterns lead us down a path of researching how people buy health supplements differently than they buy any other type of product.

The health field, especially natural health supplements, can be a pretty tough field to sell products directly online. There are a lot of FDA compliant and legal issues to watch out for if you don’t want to be shut down. Although there are certainly more than the fair share of claims out there on the internet that cross the line.  That combined with so much misinformation and it’s no wonder that so many people tend to feel a little bit leery about trusting holistic health and supplement products.

The sad thing is, a lot of these products are actually really, really good for you and really beneficial.  They’re often derived from natural products that have incredible benefits with minimal side effects.

But how do you get that across?  Especially when you can’t afford to do a double-blind scientific test?.

I’ve developed some strong strategies for developing trust and credibility between my clients and their website visitors.

Here are a few ways that you might be able to accomplish the same goals in your specific industry…

Be Completely Transparent With Your Audience

One way I do that is by making sure that the website is as transparent as possible.  Putting it all out there may show some vulnerability, but it also conveys honesty.

Reveal the ingredients that are in your products by showing the full supplement facts label. Don’t hide behind a “proprietary blend”.

Transparency is key

Transparency is key

Also, let them know where those ingredients are sourced from. What’s the potency, purity, and integrity of the ingredients?

Where are your ingredients sourced from? Where is your dietary supplement manufactured and bottled? Was it made in a GMP facility?

What is your return policy? And provided them with a top-notch FAQ section.

Make Reasonable Claims and Back Them Up With Proof

Some holistic herbs and supplements claim that they can solve every problem under the sun in one little pill –  from helping you to lose weight to providing a cure for cancer. (Even though the word “cure” is not allowed by the FDA.)

We all know it’s probably not likely that one pill can solve all these problems.  Even if it’s true, trust breakdown with multiple claims or condition solutions. It’s better to focus on the power of one.  One story, one problem, one solution. So don’t make broad outrageous claims. And when you do make claims, be sure that you are backing them up with proof.

If you really concentrate your focus on the things your product can do and go into great detail with facts that support that – then it’s more likely that you’ll be believed.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard a million weight loss remedies that will help you lose weight quickly.  But when you’re bombarded with so many messages, how do you even begin to know which ones might actually work?

There’s not enough time in the day to try them all out.  And who wants to spend the money on each one?

But if you do your research and look closely, some of the suggestions are backed up by actual science.

For example, did you know that grapefruit stimulates the production of a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of body fat?

Ok, now that’s something to go on, right?   Actual science. I’m in.

This is the same kind of confirmation that your visitors need and want.  They don’t want to have blind faith and just believe what you say or try a million products to see which really works.  Most people don’t have that kind of money or time to spend.

So give them proof.  It may already be there and you just don’t know it.

For example, we were recently analyzing a landing page for a healthy chocolate chip cookie.

The cookie claimed to be healthy – but the nutrition label that they displayed on their website really wasn’t all that impressive.

It listed some protein and some calcium – but other than that it was hard to justify spending the money.

They went on to list the healthy ingredients – flaxseed and chia seeds which are rich in antioxidants and omega 3’s.  And coconut oil that boosts the immune system and helps you lose weight.

But they didn’t bridge the gap so that it made sense.  They didn’t tell their visitors why these ingredients were so healthy.  In fact, they’re so healthy that they’re often referenced as “superfoods”.

If prospects weren’t aware of these benefits, listing the ingredients meant absolutely nothing.  So don’t assume. Don’t assume that they know why something is good for them. Just because you know, doesn’t mean that they do.

Be Vulnerable

This is why you need to make sure that you tell them everything.

And if there’s something that your product or service can’t do.  Don’t be afraid or too proud to admit it.  By being honest about what you can offer, it really comes off more as trustworthy than incompetent actually.  By honestly admitting that you can’t do a particular thing – your visitors will now believe you when you say that you can do other things really well.

Don’t Unintentionally Plant Seeds Of Doubt

This is something that I see often.

Websites try to establish trust by making statements such as “No gimmicks” or “Those other products are scams.  We can be trusted.”

While you may actually be very trustworthy, you’ve just reminded your visitors that some of these products are a complete hoax.  Possibly even a sugar placebo.

So now that you’ve mentioned “gimmick”… now they’re not so sure about you .

Here’s what happens.  Your visitors are going about their business gathering information so they can make an informed decision about your product or service.

When they see words like “gimmick” or “scam” red flags may start to go up.  Those thoughts might not have been in their minds in the first place. But since you’ve now put them out their boldly in print… now they are.

Planting these types of thoughts in your visitor’s heads could be very risky. Your very attempt to gain trust in this way may backfire big time

That said, this type of copy should be tested with your audience to see if it yields positive or negative results.

Other Standard Ways To Establish Trust

So those are some of the areas in the health vertical where trust needs to be established in a very specific way. Hopefully, these techniques might help you in your vertical as well.

But be sure that you are also implementing these other critical trust indicators as well.

Social Proof

Consumers are still looking for the social proof of a third party to help convince them that your products and services are the right choices.

Add testimonials and reviews.

Another way to add social proof is by adding social media count boxes.  The boxes that display the number of people that have liked you. Those can’t be faked.

LinkedIn testimonials also can’t be faked.  Members are the ones who write the actual recommendation and they are then displayed on your profile.

And if you can get an expert endorsement.  You’re golden.

In fact, tout yourself as an expert too.  Make the effort to write blog articles that will highlight you as someone who knows what they’re talking about.

If your product or service has an average success rate – boldly highlight that.  It’s amazing how often I see businesses forget to include this information.

I once worked with an insurance agency that required prospects to apply for approval to receive a special discount.  People are often worried when they’re credit is going to be checked. It adds an additional layer of anxiety that they just don’t want to deal with.  So they don’t

But this agency had a 97% approval rate.  But they failed to mention that.

Adding such information makes the reader feel a little bit more secure that they just might be approved.  So they take the risk.

Share Details About Yourself

Make sure you are providing an About Us page where you can highlight your team and their credentials.

There are always going to be a percentage of your audience that wants to know more about the people behind your business before they move forward with a transaction.

When I’m analyzing heat maps, it always amazes me just how many people are clicking on About Us links to find out more.

And don’t forget to include real-world data such as a physical address and contact information when you can.  Hiding this information can not only be frustrating, but it can also make your visitors question whether or not you are a legitimate business.


I’m sure you know by now how important it is to create a secure environment if you’re selling online.

To ensure that your website is secure – your website address will start with “https” rather than just “http”.  The “s” at the end means “secure”.

Nowadays, it’s also highlighted in the address bar with green text and the actual word “Secure”.  So make sure your website’s address looks like this in the address bar.

Security starts at the address bar

Security starts at the address bar

Because sometimes you’d be surprised to see what’s displayed here.  I was surprised to see this in the address bar for

Unsecured websites hurt credibility

Unsecured websites hurt credibility

Perhaps they are not selling anything online.  But it’s always a good measure to make this read as secured.

Also, make sure that you are are displaying trust seals that verify that you are a legitimate business and also verify that your site is secure.

Visual indicators such as padlocks also help to create a sense of security.  Both of these can be really important at the point of checkout where visitors feel most vulnerable.

We Only Buy A Second Time From Those We Trust

Now you see why gaining trust and establishing credibility is an all-encompassing task.  A task that’s going to pay off in the end.

So make sure you’re providing all the information you can to help your visitors make an informed decision.  Don’t make outrageous claims. And when you do make claims, try to back them up with proof.

Don’t scare visitors away by unintentionally planting seeds of doubt.  And don’t forget to include standard trust indicators such as real-world data and security seals and security indicators.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

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
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Here are 3 conversion optimization examples of how to kill the “slider”.

This is not a post about how carousels kill conversions.  They can, but it’s not about that.

This post is about doing what’s best for the people who want to buy from you on your site.

Every CRO and savvy eCommerce manager I have ever met hates carousels.  In fact, we’ve never actually blogged about it because EVERYONE ELSE already did.  Bringing up carousel flaws would be akin to bringing up the Hindenburg’s.

What we at Inflow will do, however, is document the death of the carousel. But before we do, let’s talk about its birth.

Blame Yahoo! if you want

It seems like the carousel has been around forever, at least in Internet terms. Broad adoption started in the summer of 2009 after Yahoo introduced it on its homepage.

Blame Yahoo if you want

If your site still has a rotating carousel, perhaps you still have a Nokia phone?  You can check your email on it, you know!

From that point on, every website felt free to:

  • Whisk away copy while it was still being read
  • Randomly change calls to actions
  • Remove control from the user actions
  • Create “banner-blindness”
  • Periodically attract attention no matter how irrelevant to the viewer.
  • Slow page load time with multiple big images

So, for some, it might not be a surprise that there is a better way to structure an eCommerce homepage.

The death of the (unnecessary) carousel

In our 2018 Best in Class Comparative Matrix for eCommerce, we saw only 6 out of 10 sites still used the homepage hero carousel.  That number is less than half of what it was 2 years earlier.

The reason why is simple: it was never the best option for most of the sites that did it, and that statement is still pretty much true.

Optimization Away from Carousels

So, how does a site transform its homepage from having a carousel? Here are three conversion optimization examples for removing carousels.


A year ago, Zappos was sporting a left category nav, hero carousel and a couple of static promo areas to the right.  That made it jam-packed with options.



Zappos simplified things by ditching the carousel, the left nav on the homepage and instead focusing the homepage on the things customers want most.  They are still testing this bad boy with over 5 major variants identified, so check back in February to see the winning combination. ;)

So apparently, never needed a slider. Note that they kept the slides, but moved 2 of them to the bottom of the site in favor of stuff users most want (a lot of which was not even on the homepage of this eCommerce behemoth just a year ago).

There’s a big lesson here for those willing to learn it and kill their carousel.



Under Armour had a carousel last year, alternating between two and three slides.

Under Armour


Over the past year, they have MADE ONLY ONE CHANGE on their homepage.  That was to ditch the carousel.


Williams Sonoma


Williams Sonoma made some minor navigation changes over the past year and added lazy-load to the homepage, which widened it a bit.

Williams Sonoma


For the most part, the only significant change to the homepage was REMOVING THE CAROUSEL.

Williams Sonoma


If you were to take the lead from these 3 best in class sites, you would blindly get rid of your eCommerce site’s carousel.  But wait!!!

You can see below that there are still 6 out of 20 Best-in-Class eCommerce sites that are standing by their carousel. You bet they have tested their homepage over the past year.

eCommerce sites carousel use

eCommerce sites carousel use

So Why?

The answer is that the carousel, as they have it, is right for them and their audience.  For now, at least, until something tests better.

This is why we test.

keith-haganAbout the author: Keith Hagan is an award-winning conversion optimization expert and Director of Conversion Services at Inflow. Keith’s insights have been featured in well-known publications, such as Moz, HuffPo, Forbes and more.