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.

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.

With the use of social media and web access at all-time highs, it’s more important than ever to create powerful content that converts and makes sure that you engage with your customers. With the 2018 marketing trends in mind, leads and potential customers are looking for a personal touch. They want an account of how your product or service works, what people are happy with and what challenges they face in using it. They do not want a marketing funnel.

This is where using your customer’s voice comes in. When used right, your current customers’ voices can be used to create powerful content that actually converts leads!

For the purpose of this post, you can all but forget fancy terms and processes. Conversion funnels, influencer marketing, engagement – these all have a place in business, but it’s not necessarily here. Instead, this post is all about why interacting with current customers is so important and how you can use this interaction to create authentic content. This is the kind of content customers are looking for – and it just so happens to be the kind of content that converts.

The Importance of Leveraging Honest & Authentic Reviews

At the base of using your customer’s voice to create powerful content is a preliminary step; encouraging and gathering honest and authentic user reviews. Without customer reviews, you won’t have much to go off of when it comes to incorporating customers’ perspectives into your content planning!

Thankfully, there is no shortage of review sites available to B2B and software companies. Do your research. Take the time find one or two that fit your business and your customer profile. Then take the time to invite (and maybe even incentivize?) your customers to submit reviews about your software, your service, your product. This will have more than a few benefits for your company, including:

  1. It gives credibility: Content plan or not, opening up your service or product to authentic reviews is just a good idea – full stop. Instead of having to convincing leads with marketing language, you can rely on informative and positive feedback from current customers to help potential customers make their decision.
  2. More leads: More customer reviews means more exposure and a better ranking, which means more leads. It’s as simple as that.
  3. A pool of content: Of course, this is the focus of the post. Encouraging reviews gives you a pool of customer feedback to incorporate into your marketing content! Positive reviews can be translated into featured website content, blog posts, social media content, and more.

Using Your Customer’s Voice to Create Content That Converts

Of course, it’s not enough to simply open up your company to authentic customer reviews and leave it at that. You can take the time to translate your customer’s voice into marketing content! There are a few ways to go about this.

#1: Manage Your Potential Customer’s Expectations

You can use reviews to help potential customers understand what your service, product or software looks like in practice. Instead of imagining everything they could do with the features, customer reviews give leads the chance to explore how your product will truly work for them.

For example, sharing customer reviews that highlight specific features of your service or product will speak more specifically to a smaller target audience.

#2: Customer Experience Speaks Louder Than Marketing Language

This is absolutely the main benefit of customer reviews; you can use all of the positive quotes you want in developing a content strategy! You can incorporate reviews (especially specific and helpful reviews) into blog posts, landing pages, social media content, and even demos!

For example, try replacing the headline copy on one of your landing pages with a quote from an authentic user review. Run an A/B test and see how that page compares to others.

#3: Listen to What’s Important

If your current customers are focusing on technical support and price in their reviews, then you shouldn’t really be spending that much time on something else. Look at what features customers focus on in their feedback, and spend time developing content around those features.

For example, if most reviews focus on the quality for the price, you can use that in your marketing language for paids. Similarly, if customers are highlighting your customer service, home in on that for attracting new customers.

This should get you started on using your customer’s voice to create content that converts going into 2018!

About the Author

Brooklin_Nash-167x250Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.

Do online reviews really matter, and do they make a difference to your business? The answer is yes, they absolutely do.
Consumers increasingly use reviews left by other consumers as part of their pre-purchase research efforts, and a bad review can have serious effects on your sales.
Herd shopping psychology plays an ever effect on consumers’ behavior online. Groupon is a wonderful example of that, with deals kicking in only if a certain amount of people pay for them. Research shows that the more people have already opted in on a deal, the likelier it is new visitors will commit to it.
User reviews are not so far removed from this phenomenon.

Over 80% of people said that positive reviews would encourage them to purchase a product. The same number of people changed their minds about purchasing after reading as little as one or two negative reviews.

Fake & Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, fake reviews exist, and they exist in a massive abundance. Competitors have been known to leave bad reviews on products posing as disgruntled customers, That is why more needs to be done to help consumers identify a fake review.

You are bound to get a negative review at some point during your business career. That’s simply the reality and nature of the world. It can be devastating for a business, but most people recognize that everyone makes mistakes. A couple of bad reviews aren’t going to put the nail in your coffin and close your business down.

Here are just some of the facts why online reviews are not to be ignored:

  • 68% of millennials trust online reviews, with positive ones producing an 18% average uplift in sales
  • Consumer reviews are more trusted than descriptions that come from other manufacturers, nearly 12 times more.
  • 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a business which means these decisions being made are made quickly, without much hesitation.
  • The top five industries to be affected negatively by online reviews are restaurants, hotels, doctor’s offices, hospitals and hair salons.

Negative reviews aren’t all bad; these have been known to create a buzz around your business and increase its exposure, unlike fake reviews that have been so outlandishly obviously fake and ridiculous that they go viral.
Want to learn more about how online reviews can make or break your business? Check out our infographic.

User Reviews are the King

User Reviews are the King

About the Author

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.


When you think of the machine that is your online business, what do you picture? Do you see something organic? Something mechanical?

I think it’s helpful to pick a vision. The marketing and sales functions are too complex. The tools and channels are changing faster today than at any time in history. Thanks, internet.

The advertising, marketing and sales process.

Vizualize your marketing machine to make good decisions about where to invest.

Visualizing the process helps us focus on the pieces one at a time, instead of being overwhelmed by the mass of moving parts that feed our pipes, funnels and drips. When we work with clients, we tend to talk about knobs.

Here’s what I mean.

Our Marketing Machine Looks Like A Scientific Instrument

The most powerful metric for an online marketing ecosystem is acquisition cost.

The lower your acquisition cost, the higher your profit.

The lower your acquisition cost, the cheaper all of your advertising becomes.

The lower your acquisition cost, the more places you can afford to advertise.

But acquisition cost isn’t a dial you set. It’s the product of several dials.

The Acquisition Cost Spectrophotometer

We control acquisition costs using a device called the “Acquisition Cost Spectrophotometer” (ACS). This powerful device has two dials.

1. Traffic cost

2. Conversions — Typically leads or online transactions

We plug the ACS into any incoming channel — search engines, email, referrals, social media and so on. Then we begin to play with the knobs.

If we increase the traffic costs, but the conversions stay the same, we increase our acquisition cost, and the little red warning light turns on. If we dial down the traffic costs and keep the conversions the same, acquisition costs go down, and the red warning light goes off.

So, if we can increase conversions without increasing traffic costs, we get all the benefits of a lower acquisition cost. And for the paid search channel, we can actually lower the traffic costs by raising the conversion rate because Google rewards ads with effective landing pages by placing them higher on the search results pages.

Mathematically, the acquisition cost is calculated as:

Total Traffic Cost/Conversions


Total Traffic Cost * Conversion Rate

If we put our metaphor down for a moment, we know that each of these “knobs” actually involves an entire process. Our “Traffic Cost” knob is controlled by an advertising and media team focused on getting the highest quality clicks for the fewest dollars.

Our “Conversions” knob is a metaphor for a team of data scientists, developers, designers and test techs focused on delivering the right experience to entice action.

All the marketer needs to do is determine if they should be investing in traffic or conversions, then fund the teams accordingly.

Vectron Conversion Analyzer

These are the primary knobs you turn when optimizing for conversion.

These are the primary knobs you turn when optimizing for conversion.

The Vectron Conversion Analyzer doesn’t actually exist, but we can visualize ourselve adjusting the knobs as we optimize our site.

When focused on optimizing a website for a given traffic channel, there are a number of knobs we control. I visualize a “Vectron Conversion Analyzer” as a metaphor for our process.

This amazing device allows us to control a number of “ingredients” that can lead to more conversions for any given traffic source. If you read this column, you’ll be familiar with most of the knobs on this little gem.

Value Proposition

The headlines, text, and images that spell out the value being offered by your company and products. Answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Layout and User Experience

The way the design draws a visitor’s eye to the important parts of each page and the cues that move them step-by-step along their exploratory journey.

Should important information be moved above the fold? Is there a visual hierarchy that tells the visitor what is important?

Credibility And Authority

A site design’s first job is to make the site seem credible. It should communicate that the company and products represent an authority in the solution space that it occupies.

Trust And Security

The visual cues that tell a visitor that the site will treat any information exchanged with care and veracity.

Social Proof

What do others like me think about this company, site and products?

Splitting The Signal

The Vectron machine splits the traffic up, allowing us to test different settings at one time. This is how we determine two very important things:

1. What is lacking from the site that visitors expect.

2. By how much each change increases the site’s performance.

AB Testing gives you the feedback on your conversion optimization work.

AB Testing gives you the feedback on your conversion optimization work.

Visualizations That Help You Prioritize

We rarely have the budgets to invest in every part of our marketing machine. Having a metaphor by which you can visualize the pieces working together offers a powerful way to decide how to invest over time.

Using the visualization at the top of this page, you may not have any luck seeding your brand clouds with advertising until you’ve built brand awareness. When it rains, you should invest in the downspouts that drive leads into the soil of marketing.

If your sales close ratios aren’t flowering, you may need to look at the quality delivered by ads and conversion together. Once you have a low acquisition cost, you can again invest in more expensive advertising channels to seed your brand’s rain clouds and bring the rain.