CRO Course Level 1

If you’ve listened to any of the top conversion experts lately, you’ve likely noticed them distancing themselves from the word “conversion”.

While the goal of “conversion optimizers” is ultimately to increase revenue, the term is often misinterpreted in a market where acquisition receives an unhealthy level of focus.

Today, we want to spend a little time talking about something that is as important to optimization as the rate at which you acquire new customers.

Customer retention.

You probably already know the statistics. Acquiring a new customer is 5 to 25 times more costly than retaining an existing one. A joint study by YotPo and Riskified shows that while returning customers make up only 15% of all the shopping online, they account for a third of all online shopping revenue and spend 3x more than one-time shoppers.

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And yet the focus on acquisition remains strong.

We get it. We spend the majority of our time talking about acquisition here at Conversion Sciences, but it’s important to remember that converting 50% of our visitors isn’t worth a whole lot if we can’t retain any of them.

You can’t have growth without retention, so today, we’re going to be discussing 4 straightforward ways to improve your own customer retention.

#1. Focus on value over loyalty.

First things first.

There’s a lot of talk in the retention space about creating “loyal” customers. Everyone wants loyalty, and many businesses mistakenly believe that if customers are members of a loyalty program, they are in fact “retained”. But as Taddy Hall notes, many people participate in loyalty programs simply for the chance of occasional savings and are part of the competitors’ loyalty programs as well. In other words, they are presumably “retained” by “four or five competitors in the same industry”.

Data from COLLOQUY, a provider of loyalty marketing research, shows that although the average American family holds membership in 29 loyalty programs, they are only active in 12 of them. In other words, only one third of the loyalty programs actually translate to customer retention.

If this sounds an alarm in your minds… good. It should!

Creating a membership program and slapping the word “loyalty”on it is in no way an automatic means to increasing loyalty. Frankly, loyalty isn’t even what we should be aiming for.

Ultimately, value is what creates loyalty, and by extension, value is what we should focus our efforts on creating. When you offer more value than your competitors, loyalty is a natural byproduct.

That’s an insanely cliche word – “value” – so let’s wrap some meat around it. As Katrina Lerman writes for AdAge “we are loyal to the companies and retailers who show us they understand us through the products they offer and the customer experiences they create.”

Let’s say I have an app called Imgur that I use to scroll through interesting images and visual resources and occasionally favorite them. Now let’s say that myself and about 50,000 of my online friends have been clamoring for Imgur to add a particular feature we want – let’s say the ability to add folders to our collection of favorites so we can sort them by category for easy reference.

Imgur could do one of two things:

  1. Add value to their app by creating a feature a large segment of the community has been persistently asking for over the last few years
  2. Or redesign the interface for the 3rd time this year.

One adds real, tangible value. One doesn’t.

I put this #1 for a reason. When you approach customer retention through the lens of loyalty, you end up in weird places. But if you approach it through the lens of adding more value, you are targeting a goal that consistently results in increased retention.

(sarah plz)

#2. Show up… with humans.

We are living in the age of automation, and that means that more than ever, there is a premium on human interaction.

At the 2015 World Domination Summit, Derek Sivers shared a few humanizing tactics that he and his team used to grow CD Baby into a multi-million dollar music distributor.

The first one, believe it or not is that we answered the phone. ((That’s right, applaud me for answering the phone! Yes, yes, it is a genius revolution I started! Have you tried my famous peanut butter and jelly?))

You would think that this would be obvious right? But I think there are so many people, that in their heads they’re already this billion dollar business and, “Hey man, answering the phone doesn’t scale, so we’re trying to make it so that nobody can contact us. You just use our online forms.”

But because of this, it blew my mind that when I would go to music conferences I would overhear one musician telling another, especially in the early days when not a lot of people had heard of CD Baby yet, this guy would say, “Oh you’re not on CD Baby yet. Dude, CD Baby is awesome. You know what? They answer the phone. You can call them and they answer and you can talk to a real person!”

They’re like, “No way!”

“Yeah way! Amazon won’t do that.”

And they weren’t talking about my cool graphic design, or my fancy CSS Stylesheets on my website. No. None of the other stuff mattered.

We answered the phone. And that was enough to get his friend to sign up.

The other one, was a geeky little thing I just did for fun one day. It only took two lines of computer code to intercept outgoing emails and put the person’s first name into the from header, not just the to header. So, if an email was going to Sarah, for example, it would say the email was from CD Baby loves Sarah. It was just the tiniest little geeky thing I did once, just to make myself laugh.

But people replied back, “Did you just really? You guys are crazy!”

And then they would forward it to friends, and friends would tell friends, and friends would come and buy CDs from us. Just because of this stupid little thing.

A fun one was I had a policy that “changes need pizza.” The reason for this is because every time a new album came into the store, it would take about 45 minutes of work to lay it on the scanner, scan the album art, photoshop it, drop the CD into the bin, rip it fully and then take the little clips, and do all the stuff, and fix their bio.

And every now and then, somebody would contact us two weeks later and say, “Uhhhh, can I change my choice? I want to send you a different album art cover, or I want to change the way my tracks are done.”

And I would say, “Alright no problem, just send us a pizza.”

And they would say, “What?”

I’d say, “Yeah. Look we’re happy to do it, but it’s kind of a pain in the ass. We’re going to have to go out to the warehouse and find your CD. If you don’t mind, just send us a pizza and we’re happy to do it.”

And they’d say, “You’re serious.”

“Yeah, serious. Here’s the phone number of the local pizzeria, they know us, just tell them you want to buy CD Baby a pizza. They already know our favourite pizza, so you just call them up with your credit card, say I want to get CD Baby a pizza. The pizza shows up, we’ll do anything you want.”

The real point was, this is humanizing. I think too many of us start businesses and you want it to look big, and you start to say things on your website, like “we” instead of “I”. Even though it is just you. We try to do these things to make it look corporate. But when you do these things to humanize it and remind people that it’s just a real person back here — we’re just real people with a lot of work, so get us a pizza, we’ll do it — People loved that. I mean seriously, I would overhear this at conferences.

“Oh my god dude, you have to sign up to CD Baby.”

“Why?”

“Dude, they changed my album because I sent them a pizza.”

“No way.”

“Yeah, way. You gotta sign up.”

On one occasion, a customer asked for a plastic squid. When the customer saw a real plastic squid in the package of his order, he went nuts and posted this video on Youtube.

Showing up for your customers is one of the most powerful ways to build retention.

#3. Take customer service seriously.

Speaking of showing up, customer service is the hallmark of customer retention. This can never be emphasized enough. According to Customers that Stick, 82% of consumers in the US said that they stopped doing business with a company due to poor customer experience.

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Many businesses tend to focus on attitude and personality when training for customer service. They think friendliness is the defining factor when it comes to a great customer service experience.

On some level this is true, as can be seen from the above statistics, but there’s another piece you can’t forget. Competence and problem solving skills are often more instrumental to the customer leaving satisfied than simple demeanor.

As Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor explains, you should focus on hiring people with good attitudes and then focus your training on equipping them to deliver a high level of service to customers.

Now that’s an effective prescription for innovation! Over the years, as I’ve studied high-impact organizations that are changing the game in their fields, they’ve adopted a range of strategies and business models. But they all agree on one core “people” proposition: They hire for attitude and train for skill. They believe that one of the biggest challenges they face is to fill their ranks with executives and front-line employees whose personal values are in sync with the values that make the organization tick. As a result, they believe that character counts for more than credentials.

A lot of businesses hire cheerful staff and then just throw them into the ring with only skeleton training. If you want top level customer service, you don’t just need top quality people. You need top quality people who have received top quality training.

#4. Go deeper than explicit complaints and requests.

Providing quality customer service is the baseline rather than the goal. According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner (accessed from Helpscout), a typical business hears only from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. If you want to fully understand what your customers want, you’ll need to dive deeper than provided feedback.

As Carmine Gallo discusses, brands that can anticipate a customer’s needs and meet them without needing to be asked are often the ones that garner customer loyalty. To illustrate, he shares a personal anecdote from a family vacation:

I recently brought my family to a 5-Star San Diego resort, The Grand Del Mar, named the #1 hotel in the United States by Trip Advisor. It sits on a beautiful property in the hills, but there are plenty of gorgeous locations in San Diego. It’s the “attentive” service that Trip Advisor featured in its review and has earned my loyalty. But exactly what does the staff do that sets them apart and, more important, what can all businesses learn from their customer service techniques? The Grand Del Mar’s customer service ‘secret’ became very clear to me on this recent visit—the staff finds small ways to unexpectedly delight their customers and they do so by anticipating unexpressed wishes. Here are just a few of many examples I noted:

– My daughters discovered a small sand area near the pool. Within seconds—not minutes—a staff member casually walked by and, without saying a word, dropped off sand toys for the kids. The kids looked up and there they were, seemingly out of nowhere.

– The valet brought up our car and asked where we were heading. “Legoland,” the kids shouted! By the time I had finished loading the trunk, the valet had placed four water bottles in the car. “It’s hot today. You’ll need these,” he said.

– Vanessa and I decided to treat ourselves to a special occasion dinner in the hotel’s premium restaurant. The hotel offered an inviting play area for children, called The Explorers Club. The dinner was running a bit longer than the kids club would remain open and the restaurant’s location was a 5-minute walk back to the main hotel. “I noticed that you had courtesy cars at the lobby. Can we request one to pick us up as soon as we’re finished?” I asked the waiter. “It’s already been done. The car is waiting,” he responded. “And we informed the club that you’re on your way.

At the end of our stay, the hotel desk employee asked if we had our boarding passes and if we needed directions. I asked the person why everyone seems to anticipate the needs of a guest. “It makes us stand out,” he said. The employee was exactly right. The reason why this level of service leaves a positive impression—and why you, as a leader, must coach to it—is because it happens so infrequently that customers will pay a premium for it. I’ve studied the best brands in the area of customer service and all of them train employees to anticipate unexpressed wishes. It’s a key component to an exceptional customer experience.

This is easier said than done, and ultimately comes down to understanding your customers, the demographics you are targeting, and the individual customer personas. If you are newer and still learning about your customers, deriving insights through competitive analysis is a good strategy.

Conclusion

Remember that retention isn’t a step. It’s a lens. If you aren’t building your acquisition and optimization strategies through the lens of costumer retention, any retention efforts you make will be superficial at best.

Provide value. Show up with some humanity. Take customer service seriously. And go deeper than initial feedback.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

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21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

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

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

Listen. We both know that “best practices” don’t mean much.

… right?

If you aren’t A/B testing, you are leaving a ton of money on the table.

True.

BUT here’s the deal.

A/B testing is a time-consuming method of optimization. It’s effective, but if you can simply click “edit” and make an obvious improvement, start there.

This is why “best practices” can be so powerful. They let you apply what others have learned and get quick wins when nothing is working. Plus, when you begin implementing a solid A/B testing framework, best practices can give you some great hypotheses for your first round of tests.

In today’s post, we’ll cover 21 proven best practices, backed up by case studies, statistics, and data.

Let’s begin.

#1: Start with a great headline to boost conversions 41%

The headline is perhaps the most crucial element of your entire landing page. Why? Let’s ask David Ogilvy, famous advertising revolutionary, his thoughts on headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.

If this has changed in the digital age, it has only gotten worse. Now, let me hammer it home with a case study…

BettingExpert is an online betting forum where tipsters can share their experience and tips. They ran an a/b test on their headlines with three variations: One with a question, one with a benefit, and one utilizing loss aversion.

Example of headline AB test

Three similar headlines on this page deliverd very different results.

As you can see, the benefit headline (which spoke directly to it’s target reader’s dreams and aspirations) boosted conversions by 41.14%.

The takeaway here? Focus on the benefit and writing amazing headlines.

#2: Add strong testimonials and social proof to be 12X more trusted

Have you ever seen a testimonial like this:

“Awesome service! Definitely recommend!” – Jane Dough

You may even have used something like that in the past.

The thing is, social proof works. Studies show nearly 70 percent of online consumers look at a review prior to making a purchase and reviews are 12-times more trusted than product descriptions and sales copy from manufacturers.

But, weak social proof can harm your conversion rates.

Frankly, most customers will write a poor review or testimonial, though they mean well. Derek Halpern from Social Triggers actually increased conversion rates by 102% by removing social proof.

So, use social proof. But, you’re probably better off writing a strong testimonial yourself. Then getting permission from your customer to say it matches their experience. This ensures it will work more in your favor.

Pro Tip: Use exact numbers in your testimonials if you can. This works due to a principle in psychology known as Ambiguity Aversion, which states that humans prefer known risks over unknown risks (i.e. we like to know what we’re getting into). Robbie Richards does this well on his blog.

Landing page testimonial example

Your testimonials should be written by you with the agreement of your customer.

#3: Write action-oriented copy to increase clicks by 93%

If you’ve ever written a paper in high school, your English teacher probably told you to write in “active” voice, not “passive” voice. Why?

Because passive voice has a weak quality, is bland, and can be boring. Active language excites, energizes, and drives action. See what I did with the previous two sentences?

It turns out that your English teacher was right. Here’s why.

The company L’Axelle sells underarm sweat pads, and ran an A/B test on the product landing page. Their original page used passive headline attempting to integrate the benefit, “Feel fresh.” The second used direct language and strong verb “Put an end to sweat marks!” With language like this, the exclamation point is probably redundant.

Version A

Version A of landing page with passive call to action.

Version A of landing page with passive call to action.

Version B

Version B of landing page with active call to action.

Version B of landing page with active call to action.

That simple change in copy lead to a 93% increase in clicks, for a total conversion rate of 38.3%.

It goes to show – landing page copy matters. Make your copy action-oriented.

#4: Use contrasting CTA colors to grow sales 35.81%

This seems so mundane and simple (and sometimes, it is). However, a simple change in the CTA button color can have surprisingly large effects on landing page conversion rates.

Wanna know how? Here’s a case study:

A major eCommerce site that sells hand-painted porcelain wanted to grow their business (who doesn’t?). They decided to get Unbounce to help them out.

Unbounce came in and made one super simple change: They made the “ADD TO CART” button green instead of blue. The result?

A 35.81% increase in sales (yes, sales, not just clicks).

AB Test in which button color was changed

Increasing the visibility of the call to action increased conversions.

Now, why did this work? I don’t think it’s because green is a particularly compelling color.

Changing the CTA color worked because the green gave the button some contrast.

The blue didn’t stand out at all, whereas the green pops. Our focus, then, is not on particular colors being better for CTAs than others, but on ensuring a color contrast to draw the eye.

Wondering what color to use? Try picking the opposite color (from your brand’s or landing page’s main color) on this color wheel:

Designers use the color wheel to select complimentary--and conflicting--colors.

Designers use the color wheel to select complimentary–and conflicting–colors.

In other words, if your main color is yellow, try a blue or purple CTA. If your main color is green, try a purple or red CTA.

#5: Command 31.03% more people to click with actionable CTA copy

You had to have seen this coming – if action-oriented copy in your headlines and body increase click-thru rates, of course they’d work in your call to action (CTA) copy as well. The CTA is usually located on the button or link on which the visitor must click.

But, don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look at a case study:

WriteWork offers essays and writing guides for students. Their original checkout page CTA (shown below) simply said “Create My Account”. Who wants to create another account?

However, when they changed the text to say “Create Account & Get Started”, they saw a nice 31.03% increase in conversions. Not too shabby, eh?

AB Test in which the call to action button was changed

New call to action copy deliverd a significant conversion increase in this test.

The verdict? Make your CTA copy actionable, and tell your customer exactly what will happen when they click it.

#6: Use faces, but not near a CTA (unless they’re a top industry influencer)

The human brain is very drawn to faces and eyes. We have a tendency to look at faces before anything else on a web page. This can be a good thing… or it can hurt conversions.

When it comes to using faces on a landing page, they can add credibility and trust. However, they can also distract the reader from a message or CTA.

To get around this, only use faces of people the user is bound to recognize and trust (such as an authority in your industry) near CTAs. For maximum effect, have them looking at, and potentially even pointing to, your CTA.

Of course, you still want to put pictures of you and your team to help build trust – just don’t place them near the call-to-action.

In a case study, Medalia Art was able to boost clicks 95.4% by replacing the images of art on their home page to images of the artists.

The images of the artists increased conversions in this art case study.

The images of the artists increased conversions in this art case study.

#7: Format like a boss

Just as formatting makes your blog posts more engaging, so too does formatting make your landing pages easier to navigate and understand.

What do I mean by formatting?

  • Use bulleted lists to state your key benefits.
  • Use images to give the eyes a rest from reading text.
  • Utilize white space to avoid extra noise and distraction.
  • Include headings and subheadings to break up your page.
  • Use directional cues (like arrows) to point the viewer’s eyes to your CTA.

Great formatting makes your landing page easier to skim–and you know most of your visitors are only going to skim–making the most important points immediately apparent.

Just as people prefer better-looking people, people prefer better-looking websites because they associate beauty with perceived trust and credibility.

Want an example? Basecamp redesigned their landing page and found a 14% increase in conversions.

Basecamp landing page redesign AB test

Basecamp tested formatting in this landing page AB test.

Here’s one more example, for good measure: Swedish company Unionen saw a 15.8% click-through boost when they bullet-pointed their benefits:

Version A:

AB test version with block of text

Version A: A big block of text at the key call to action.

Version B (15.9% Increase):

AB test version with bulleted text

Version B: You don’t have to read Swedish to know that bulleted text and white space wins.

#8: This is 2017… use spellchecker already

Having grammatical or spelling errors in your copy can seriously hurt conversion rates. It makes you appear unprofessional at best, and like a scam at worst.

Want a real-life example of how badly a small mistake can harm your business? Take a look at this case study from Practical Ecommerce on a website selling tights – correcting their spelling from “tihgts” to “tights” on their product category page shot conversions up 80%.

Example of bad spelling on a landing page

Bad spelling can destroy visitor trust.

In a world where tools like Grammarly and built-in spell checkers exist, there’s just no excuse not to have immaculate grammar and spelling. Take an extra ten minutes to read through your page to ensure no errors get though.

Pro Tip: I actually like to read my writing out loud at least once. This helps me catch any errors and get a better idea of the flow and overall sound of things.

#9: Consider adding multiple CTAs

Multiple CTAs?! Are you crazy?

Before you scroll down and leave me a nasty comment, hear me out. I’m not talking about having a variety of buttons and forms leading to different places.

Rather, on longer pages, you should have multiple buttons and/or opt in forms that lead to the same outcome.

Having more than one chance for the customer to opt in allows them to scroll through and click at their own pace. If they don’t click your above-the-fold CTA, for example, they’ll have another chance in the middle or at the end of the article.

That said, too many buttons can cause your visitors to get decision fatigue, becoming tired of too many choices and leaving the page.

So, short rule of thumb? Place multiple CTAs on long pages, and a single one on short pages.

#10: Ditch the sharing buttons (unless you only have one other option)

One of the 21 persuasion techniques for conversion optimization was something called the “Hobson’s +1 choice effect”. This effect essentially states that having over two choices can cause anxiety and negative feelings, but we also want to have the choice to choose.

As such, if you only have one option on your landing page (the CTA), adding a “Tweet this” button can help, according the the choice effect. However, if you already have multiple offers, CTAs, or links in your offer, social buttons can add to the noise and reduce conversions.

In one case from Taloon.com, removing social sharing buttons from their product pages increased conversions by 11.9%.

AB test in which removing social sharing buttons increase conversion rate

Removing social sharing buttons increased conversion rate.

However, I’d like to point out two key elements here:

  1. They had four social sharing buttons instead of one (like “Share this product” or “Tweet this”), creating too many distractions.
  2. They also have many other choices on these pages, like clicking to a separate category or page on the website, putting them well above that ideal two-choice limit.

I’ve already said it, but I’ll say it again: you have to test these things to find out exactly what works for your product, audience, and business.

#11: Highlight your guarantees to build trust

Purchasing is an emotional decision, which is then backed by logic. Therefore, once you’ve sold someone emotionally on your product or service, you must then provide them with logical reasons to actually get through the checkout page.

One way you can do that is to highlight your guarantees.

A money-back guarantee is an amazing way to get people to commit. It’s truly risk-free. If they don’t like it, they can get their money back.

Neil Patel increased sales of his Traffic System course by 21% when he highlighted a 30-day money back guarantee.

It doesn’t have to be money back, either. Other guarantees you can try include:

  • A risk-free trial period.
  • A low-price guarantee (where you’ll refund them if they find a higher price).
  • A forever guarantee (where you’ll replace the product for life).

Don’t be afraid to test different guarantees, just as you we talked about testing different offers. You may find a free trial–a $1 trial to avoid credit card complications–converts better than the money back guarantee.

Pro Tip: Another way to build trust is by adding an SSL certificate to your site. That’s the green lock that says “secure” next to it. This shows your visitors their information is safe.

#12: Use the inverted pyramid method (keep the most important stuff at the top of the page)

The inverted pyramid is a writing style coined by journalists. It means keeping all of the key benefits and most important takeaways at the top of the page, then getting into the details as you get further down the page.

It looks like this:

The structure of the inverted funnel.

The structure of the inverted funnel.

(Source)

So, your attention-grabbing claims and statistics should be used at the top of the page to get visitors engaged, then your body copy, as you go down the page, should build anticipation for your product, at which point you give your CTA.

Of course, not all landing pages will be long enough to use the inverted pyramid method, but for longer pages it works wonders. Afterall, only about half of all your visitors will ever even reach the bottom of your account – you need to entice them.

Percent of article content viewed.

Percent of article content viewed.

Use the other best practices mentioned in this post, like formatting and imagery, to ensure you have the most important stuff first.

#13: Add related imagery and videos for 80% more conversions

Images aren’t just for formatting. They can be used to convey your main benefits and to help users understand what your product or service is about.

One study by eyeviewdigital.com even found that using video on landing pages can increase conversions by 80%. Check out their case studies if you’re interested in learning more.

When it comes to images and video, however, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t overuse them. White space is your friend.
  2. Make the images relevant. Stock photos usually work against you.

If you’re in need of some images to add to your site, check out Unsplash. They have free high-res photos anyone can use. You can also use a tool like Canva to edit the images. For free.

Check out KISSmetric’s guide to creating unique landing page videos for more help on the video side of things.

#14: Remove any extra links

You’ve probably heard this tip before. “Remove navigation links so your visitors have to make a decision.”

However, with only 16% of all landing pages following this practice, does it really work?

HubSpot tested it to find out. They created two landing pages: One with a navbar, social sharing links, and footer, and one without any of the three.

Example of hubspot landing page with navigation

Navigation should not be necessary on a complete landing page.

The results? Up to a 28% increase in conversions. They even tracked every change and put the results in a nice little chart:

Results of landing page AB test in which navigation hurt conversion rate

In this case study, navigation hurt conversions on most pages or didn’t help at all.

In other words, it’s worth a shot to remove extra links. It may not always work, and it may not be worth losing the clicks to other parts of your website, but it had potential to increase sign-ups.

#15: Keep your landing page consistent with your brand and ads

The first job of the landing page is to keep the promise made in an ad, email, social post or link. Any variation can cost you conversions.

Consistency is key to a great many things, from blogging to getting fit. It’s necessary to succeed, and people love seeing it.

Especially on landing pages.

I can think of no better example than Optimizely’s case study on their PPC ads. They ran two tests:

In the first one, the Headline was kept the same, regardless of the ad copy they used. In the second test, they matched the landing page headline to the ad copy.

Test A:

Example of landing page that serves different offers

Test A: One landing page attempts to keep three different promises. Unsuccessfully.

Test B:

Example of using differnt landing pages for each offer

Test B: These landing pages keep the specific promises made in each add.

The results? A 39.1% increase in conversions.

Of course, the headline isn’t the only thing you should keep consistent. Also try to:

  • Match the colors of your ad/brand with your landing page.
  • Use similar images and design.
  • Use similar (and even an exact match) of your ad copy on your landing page.

Keeping things consistent ensures people aren’t confused when navigating your site, and they know get what they expected to get when they click your ads.

#16: Achieve a 214% increase in conversion rate by asking for more information

One of the landing page best practices you often hear is to reduce the number of form fields as much as possible. It’s true, this reduces friction for the customer and has been shown to increase conversion rates.

BUT (there’s always a catch, isn’t there?), asking for more information better qualifies your leads and, in many cases, shows them you’re actually capturing the information needed.

Let me give you an example.

Advanced Grass is an artificial grass solution. They were able to achieve a 214% increase in conversions by splitting up their lengthy opt-in form into two parts: contact information and qualifying information.

Part 1:

Part 1 of the multi-step lead generation form.

Part 1 of the multi-step lead generation form.

Part 2:

Example of step 2 of a multi-step funnel

Part 2 of the multi-step lead generation form.

By simply splitting their form into two parts, they are taking advantage of the psychological principle of commitment and consistency, well known in the marketing world thanks to Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Basically, Cialdini found that people are more likely to take additional steps towards something if they’ve already committed to the first step. In the case of advanced grass, they already committed to entering their contact info, so they’re more likely to enter the few extra details.

Additionally, asking for the right information builds trust. How could you give an accurate quote for your artificial grass if the company didn’t know how many square feet you need or what kind of project it is?

The bottom line? Ask for more info, but split your form into two steps.

#17: 10X clicks by testing different offers.

Sometimes in our landing pages, we’re focusing on entirely the wrong offer. Maybe people don’t want a ‘free trial’ or ‘free consultation’. What about a free eBook or a free tool, instead?

I didn’t pull those examples out of my you-know-where. WordStream actually increased conversions 10 times over by changing their offer from a “Free Trial” of their software to giving away a free tool they created: The Google AdWords Performance Grader.

WordStream found success by changing their offers.

WordStream found success by changing their offers.

Of course, creating your own tool requires time, capital, and finding a good developer, unless you happen to be one. Here are some other offers you can try:

  • A free ebook or video explaining how your software works (alongside a free trial, of course)
  • A free case study detailing how others have used your software to maximize their business.
  • A template or worksheet helping your visitors accomplish something specific.

The key is to offer something highly relevant to what your software does and that’s very valuable, meaning you didn’t slop it together in five minutes. Put some thought into it.

#18: Boost engagement by 102% using scarcity

If you’ve been building landing pages for any amount of time, you’ve surely heard of using scarcity as a tactic to increase sign ups.

Using scarcity means limiting resources in order to get your visitors to take action right away.

For example, putting an expiration date on a coupon, limiting an offer to a certain number of customers, and announcing that you only have a few items left in stock are all versions of scarcity.

Going back to Cialdini, scarcity is one of his psychological principles of persuasion. People place more value on that which is limited.

Let’s look at a case study by KISSmetrics:

Hiten Shah decided to reduce the free trial period from 30 days to 14 days – and he found a 102% boost in engagement. In other words, twice as many people took action and used the free trial during the 14 days than the 30 days.

Kissmetrics changed the length of their free trial

More people signed up during the 14-day free trial than the 30-day trial.

So, use scarcity on your own pages by including a countdown timer on your page or offering a limited number of products.

19#: Pay attention to “the fold” to lift conversions 220%

You think I’m going to tell you to put your CTA above the fold,  don’t you?

Well, you shouldn’t necessarily do that. This is one of the most common of landing page best practices.

Instead, pay attention to the fold. While there is research that supports above-the-fold CTA, there is research against it as well.

Most engagement happens right at or just below the fold. Let me explain…

Most engagement happens right at the fold or just below it.

Most engagement happens right at the fold or just below it.

As you can see in the chart above, people view the topmost area of the page the least, and view the area “just above the fold” the most (i.e. right where you begin to need to scroll).

Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers and Airstory had this to say:

“Don’t cram everything above the fold. Countless tests and scroll- / click-tracking studies have shown that visitors are willing to scroll… as long as they know there’s something to scroll down for. (So don’t create a false-bottom.) Don’t prevent people from exploring your content by making assumptions about their use behaviors.” (via Copy Hackers)

So, where should you really place your opt-in form or CTA?

It depends on the complexity of your offer (and thus, the amount of information needed to explain it). This chart by KISSmetrics explains it perfectly:

Offer complexity affects the placement of your call to action on the page.

Offer complexity affects the placement of your call to action on the page.

Let me give you a more direct example. Marketing Experiments tested one of their client’s CTA placements above- and below-the-fold. Below-the-fold actually resulted in 220% more conversions, likely due to the complexity of their product.

Example of placing a call to action near the bottom increases conversions

In this case, placing the call to action near the bottom of the page increased conversions.

(Source)

What did we learn? Above-the-fold isn’t always best – test your CTA placement.

#20: Don’t rely on these landing page best practices. Test.

All of the best practices on this list can (and probably have) been broken with exceptions at one point or another. Like I said in the very beginning of this post – best practices make a lot of assumptions. Use them, but don’t be afraid to go against them.

In the words of Mark Twain:

“When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”

I’ll leave you with one final case study to prove just how important it is to a/b test your landing pages. Convert Verve, who’s examples you saw in some of the practices above, ran a simple test on the checkout page of one of their clients – removing the green arrow pointing to their CTA button.

As it turns out, removing that green arrow actually reduced conversion rates by 12.29%. Who would have thought? Of course, if you followed along above, it makes sense – removing the arrow reduces the chance for the button to draw the eye.

Example of AB test in which removing arrow lowered conversions

Removing the arrow reduced conversion.

So, in parting: Always test your landing pages, and don’t be afraid to go against best practices once in awhile.

Conclusion

Landing page best practices are just that – best practices. We can take what’s worked for others and copy it for our own use, but ultimately, it comes down to trying different things.

As Mark Zuckerberg says, “Move fast and break things.” Follow expert advice to make your first page the best it can be, then start experimenting.

Now, what did I miss? There are surely more landing page tips & tricks out there I didn’t cover here. Drop me a comment and let me know.

And, if you found even one thing useful about this article, please take a moment to share it.

bill

Here are fourteen persuasive writing techniques that will trigger a response from your visitors.

Have you ever wondered why nobody is responding to your offers?

Why do people read your landing pages and then leave?

Why do people see your ads and keep scrolling?

You have a great product. You are offering an in-demand service. So why does nobody seem to be interested?

The answer boils down to psychology. Simply put, you aren’t being persuasive.

You aren’t managing to trigger that little thing in your visitors’ brains that snaps them to attention, gets the heart rate pumping, and compels them to keep reading.

14 Persuasive Writing Techniques That Trigger A Response

Today, we’re giving you a handful of tools that marketers and advertisers have been using for decades to captivate audiences and compel a response.

1. Focus on resonating with emotional problems

Everyone has problems, and your product or service is designed to help people solve one or more of those problems.

A lot of businesses simply dive into explaining their solutions. One of the most powerful persuasion techniques, however, is to start by resonating with your readers around the emotional problems they are facing. When people see someone describing something “painful” they are experiencing, it pulls them in and prepares them to buy into the solution.

Another word for this is “empathy”. People want to feel like you empathize with their problems and that it drives the mission of your business.

US President Barack Obama once said this about empathy:

You know, there’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this – when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers – it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.

That’s how empathy works. When you put yourself in your readers’ shoes and let them know you understand what they are going through, they’ll be more inclined to listen to you. When you resonate with them on their problems, they will resonate with you on your solutions.

For instance, let’s say you want to write copy to sell a tool that solves the problem of content managers having to host their marketing tools on several different platforms. You could make your copy all about that problem and then introduce your tool in the end.

Here’s a great example.

Persuasive Writing Techniques That Trigger A Response: Focus on resonating with emotional problems

In this example from Entrepreneur Alliance, the product is a monthly subscription to a group where real entrepreneurs help each other out. As you can see in the copy above, which appears just below the fold, the company quickly addresses some of the common pain points many new entrepreneurs experience when trying to get started. They also address the frustration people feel when they are constantly assaulted by new people trying to sell them something.

If you are reading this copy and you too have experienced this frustration, than you are far more likely to be intrigued and even compelled by the solution that the Entrepreneur Alliance then proposes to you.

Of course, in order to legitimately resonate with your audience’s pain points, you have to first understand your audience.

Understanding Your Audience

Michael Port offers the FESP model for understanding an audience that you will perform for or write for:

  1. How does the world look to your audience Financially?
  2. How does the world look to your audience Emotionally?
  3. How does the world look to your audience Spiritually?
  4. How does the world look to your audience Physically?

In our example above, the marketing person may see the world like this:

  • Financially, she’s spending too much on multiple tools.
  • Emotionally, she’s struggling to manage a “Mississippi of tasks.”
  • Spiritually, she feels obligated to deliver value from these expensive tools.
  • Physically, she struggles with the stress of managing content effectively.

This FESP copy should speak to her needs right out of the gate.

In the context of a landing page, it’s usually best to dive into these needs and problems using your value proposition or immediately following your value proposition.

2. Incorporate facts, data, and other analytical information

While point #1 is very emotionally driven, selling isn’t all about emotion.

  1. Certain segments of your audience might be more analytical.
  2. Certain products or services aren’t geared towards emotional problems.
  3. Even when you can utilize emotion, backing it with hard data strengthens the pitch.

One of the best ways to sell is to demonstrate “irrefutable” evidence that your solution is the best possible option for the prospective customer.

Legendary advertising creative director William Bernbach once said, “The most powerful element in advertising is the truth.” In the digital age, “truth” looks like facts, statistics, case studies, etc.

We employ this in our own marketing here at Conversion Sciences. We can talk about our experience and expertise all day long and even resonate with the problems our clients have dealt with, but at the end of the day, what prospective clients really want to know is:

  1. Have you had success with past clients?
  2. Aka do you have the track record to prove you will succeed with my business?

Since we drive an average conversion lift of 15 to 25% with our clients and have a 90% retention rate, we like to include that information in our copy whenever possible.

Persuasive writing techniques to boost conversions: The Conversion Catalyst

This is about as soft as it gets in terms of analytics, but since it is true, it serves as a powerful signal to clients considering our services, demonstrating that we aren’t just talking about AB testing. We are actually getting results.

Do the same in your own copy as often as possible.

3. Demonstrate social proof at key junctures

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

In other words, monkey see, monkey do.

When we are making a decision, we want to know that other people consider it to be the right decision. Who are these “other” people?

  1. Specific people we respect
  2. People who are in a similar situation to us
  3. Large quantities of random strangers

In 2017, social proof often takes the form of influencer recommendations, customer testimonials, and social share count.
For example, CoSchedule asks visitors to click TRY IT FOR FREE on their homepage. Visitors are then taken to a page that contains a testimonial and highlights the company’s most recognizable customers.

Demonstrate social proof at key junctures | Persuasive writing

Be specific in your case studies and testimonials

Customer stories and testimonials have been shown to improve sales online. Customer stories work best when they are specific. See how Unbounce does it on of their pages:

Testimonials are more compelling with details. Unbounce persuasive writing techniques.

Testimonials are more compelling with details.

The best customer stories and testimonials will offer the customer name, company, title and a picture. When appropriate, add the city and state of the speaker as well. Also consider things like age when appropriate.

Favor testimonials that avoid judgments, like, “We loved working with this company!” Instead, focus on a specific result. The more specific your numbers are, the more believable they are.

These stories answer the question, “What did people like me experience?”

4. Use tone to add emotion and keep things interesting

What does it mean to use one’s tone in writing? Basically, it means writing like you would talk in real life. Your tone can breathe life into your copy. It can make your writing a lot less boring for prospects to read.

David Ogilvy once said “Tell the truth but make truth fascinating. You know, you can’t bore people into buying your product. You can only interest them in buying it.”

When I asked Sam Hurley (founder of OPTIM-EYEZ) to share his number one advice on persuasive writing techniques, he said, “It has to be tone. A sentence that equates to the same meaning can be written in 10 different ways…Each variation will evoke 10 unique reactions — and the difference can ultimately mean conversion or exit.”

In other words, you can rewrite a sentence in several different ways using your tone to effectively pass your message across to prospects and make it sink in their minds.

Take this post from Derek Halpern, for instance:

Tone is as important as meaning for persuasive writing.

Tone is as important as meaning.

See what he did there?

Derek used three different sentences to ask just one question: “Do people read long sales pages?” Why? He wanted to sound like a normal person in his tone; not a company trying to sell something.

If he was going to ask the same question in a real life setting, he wouldn’t just ask Do people read long pages?, would he?

No, he’d naturally ask follow-up questions just like he did in the example above. And those (follow-up) questions will mean the same thing as the original query. But they’ll make his message sink in his readers’ minds.

Your tone is important. It helps you talk like a fellow human being, not a business trying to make sales. It helps you build trust. And because your readers are also humans, they can very well relate with your tone when they see it in your copy.

“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”― Robert Frost

In other words, people react according to what they see in your copy. If they see you shedding tears, they’d be moved to tears. If you crack jokes, they’ll laugh (or at least give you a smile). And so forth. That’s how it works.

Be careful with your tone

Can anyone actually insult their prospects (or readers) deliberately? I’d love to answer that question with a no, but it happens. I recently found this while doing research for one of my clients:

Does it really pay to call your prospects mediocre?

Does it really pay to call your prospects mediocre?

This form saying I’m a mediocre content marketer if I don’t sign up for the whitepaper. It that true?
But does that slur really convert better than being polite? Did it get me converted? Heck, no! I actually got pissed off! I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I see Calls to Action like this.

There are several polite words that you can use to persuade people to do something. This CTA, for example, got Career Advice 261 sign-ups within 24 hours from a single guest post on The Muse:

This button copy is probably too safe. "Submit" is a tone-def word.

This button copy is probably too safe. “Submit” is a tone-def word.

Yet, it contains no word that could potentially insult anyone.

5. Take time to bring up and cover objections

You should never begin writing copy with a pre-determined word count. It doesn’t matter if your copy ends at 400 or 3000 words. What matters is that you say everything that needs to be said.

More specifically, what matters is that you cover all the key objections.

An objection is an argument that tends to come up from the customer’s end to justify saying “No” to your pitch.

For example:

If you are selling me a productivity app and I say, “Well, I don’t think I need an app to be productive,” that’s an objection. If I ask, “Why would I pay for an app when there are 30 other productivity apps that are free?” that’s an objection.

In an interpersonal sales meeting, the power of the objection goes to whoever brings it up first. If I ask you about all the free apps and then you respond, it tends to sound like you’re justifying a problem. Since I brought up the objection, and I think I’m pretty smart, I give it more weight than your response.

On the other hand, if you bring up the objection first, you win. If you introduce the cost and then immediately begin talking about how free productivity apps either utilize distracting advertising or have a low budget and thus numerous technical problems, both of which defeat the purpose of a productivity app, suddenly that potential objection has now become a selling point.

With online copy, the customer never speaks, so you have time to address as many objections as you feel is necessary. There may be just a few or there may be numerous objections that need to be covered. The important thing is that you give yourself time to cover them all.

6. Draw attention to your points with rhetorical questions

Rhetorical questions draw attention. They’re not meant to be answered, which means that they shouldn’t have an answer. If your question can easily answered with a “yes” or “no”, it won’t invite the visitor to read on.

Instead, pose questions that make the reader think, “What does this mean?” or, “How will you do that?”

What if we had one single solution that can perform all these functions?

Life would become extremely easy for content marketers, right?

We had a significant increase in leads for one of our addiction center clients using the rhetorical question, “Are you ready to stop lying? We can help.”

Of course, I didn’t expect answers to them. But if you’re a content marketer, you were probably answering those questions in your mind, agreeing to my point of view that an all-in-one tool is the best option for content marketers.

That’s how rhetorical questions work. They pull attention, get readers’ attention and lure them to keep reading your copy.

7. Use hyperbole to communicate value

Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration to make your point to readers. Hyperbole should be used carefully. If you claim to be the biggest, best, or leader, your persuasive copy must deliver proof very quickly.

For example, take Contently:

Really? Does the world’s best content marketing actually run on Contently?

Really? Does the world’s best content marketing actually run on Contently?

There are certainly other companies out there that get more ROI from content marketing than Contently’s customers. But, their exaggeration is immediately backed up with the logos of some of the biggest companies in the world, the implication being that they use Contently to run their content marketing.

Another example here is Campaign Monitor’s “Send email your customers can’t ignore”.

The headline makes us ask, "How do you do that?"

The headline makes us ask, “How do you do that?”

In this case, the hyperbolic claim makes the reader ask, “How do you do that?” Will all customers read your emails just because you sent them using Campaign Monitor? Probably not.

Unfortunately, the hyperbole isn’t backed up by proof. Only more claims are offered. This page goes on to invite the visitor to watch a video to get the proof.

The link between the hyperbolic claim and the proof is stretched thin, requiring the visitor to watch a demo.

The link between the hyperbolic claim and the proof is stretched thin, requiring the visitor to watch a demo.

The longer the distance between your hyperbole and the proof, the more tenuous your persuasive argument becomes.

But you get the message they’re trying to pass across, right? Campaign Monitor helps you send emails that get opened and replied.

8. Open your first paragraph with a hook

Once readers move past your headline, the next phase they’ll be meeting with is your opening paragraph. It tells them if they should keep reading your copy or head out to somewhere else.

There are a couple of ways to create a hook in your copy. You could start with a question like this one:

Open your first paragraph with a hook
That very first line (After all, that’s the dream, right?) will spring up a question in the mind of most readers. They’ll start wondering what the dream might be. And they know they have to keep reading to find out. That’s the hook right there.
Another way to create a hook would be starting out with an eye-catching phrase. This could be anything that has the potential of making your readers pay attention. For example:

Starting out with an eye-catching phrase.

9. Start small and utilize escalating agreements

Avoid hitting the nail on the at once­­––especially when you’re writing on a complex topic or for an audience that’s pretty tough to persuade. Begin by beating about the bush a little and give your readers simple valid points to agree on before they get to the complex parts of your copy.

This will help you persuade them to read your copy with ease no matter how complex the topic is and have them nodding their heads in agreement as they read on.

For example, calculating the Net Present Value of a sum of money is mostly a complex topics for folks who aren’t finance-savvy. I mean, it was pretty much a really tough topic for me in my first year studying finance in University. But see how the guys at Maths Is Fun made it look so simple by implementing escalating agreements:

Persuasion technique: utilize escalating agreements
See how they start their exegesis with a set of simple, valid opening sentences that virtually anyone would agree with? Notice that when readers agree that money now is more valuable than money later on, they’ll mostly move to the next line because they agreed with the previous sentence? That’s escalating agreements work. And that’s how to use it to persuade readers.

 10. It’s OK to use technical details

Part of resonating with an audience is speaking in their language. When you use relevant jargon or communicate in technical terms only your target segment understands, you help position yourself as an authority in your space and build a community of people who use the same terminologies as you.

So how do you write with simplicity and still use jargon to show that you are a guru?

See how Apple uses a mix of both waffles and plainness in their copy for iPhone 7:

“iPhone 7 dramatically improves the most important aspects of the iPhone experience. It introduces advanced new camera systems. The best performance and battery life ever in an iPhone. Immersive stereo speakers. The brightest, most colorful iPhone display. Splash and water resistance. And it looks every bit as powerful as it is. This is iPhone 7.”

Notice how all that contains no single jargon even though the copy is about a technical product? Yes, that’s simplicity. Virtually anyone would understand it.

Now see how they used technical terminology on the same page––after enticing readers with jargon-less copy:

Apple's use of jargon to build credibility.

Apple’s use of jargon to build credibility.

Now some readers might not know what an optical image or f/1.8 aperture means. That’s certain. But they’re most likely going to stay with the copy because it’s interesting to read and not stuffed with too much technical mumbo jumbo.

Veteran copywriter Robert Bly said the following in a recent newsletter:

“…almost without exception, virtually every successful direct response promotion is written in clear, concise, conversational copy. It’s the style used by John Forde … Clayton Makepeace … Richard Armstrong…Ivan Levison…Paul Hollingshead …Steve Slaunwhite…and just about every top six- and seven-figure copywriter I know. Why? Because it is plain English that virtually always gets the best response — proving that when it comes to communicating, simple writing is the best writing.”

11. Use short and to-the-point statements

Short, concise statements can be memorable, fun and persuasive. They help to reduce cognitive overload, the need for an excessive amount of mental effort to understand things.

See how the folks at Fiftythree do it on their jobs page:

It's difficult to condense messages into persuasive bites, but it can be very rewarding.

It’s difficult to condense messages into persuasive bites, but it can be very rewarding.

Copy doesn’t have to be wordy all the time. Just straight to the point and you’d have passed your message across in a split second.

12. Focus your headline on the biggest benefit you’re offering

Irrespective of how many benefits your offerings can provide, you need to figure out what your biggest benefit is and make your headline focus on. Too many websites “bury the lead.” This means that the most powerful point of the page is relegated to a subhead or the body of the copy.

A typical example here would be SumoMe. They offer several tools but the biggest benefit they provide is traffic and customers:

SumoMe doesn't "bury the lead."

SumoMe doesn’t “bury the lead.”

Traffic and customers are what SumoMe’s prospects care about the most, so they put that in their homepage headline. David Ogilvy once said this about headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. It follows that unless your headline sells your product, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”

13. Tell stories

There has been a great deal written about stories. This is because they are proving to be so effective. Stories suck people’s attention into your copy. They make even the busiest people pay attention to whatever you’ve got to say or sell.

As an example, see how MAG International uses the art of storytelling to describe the havoc that landmines wreck:

Stories quickly help the reader relate to a situation

Stories quickly help the reader relate to a situation.

Stories are most effective when:

  • Readers don’t know about the problem.
  • Readers may know about the problem, but haven’t considered finding a solution.

Stories may not be effective for readers that are frequent buyers or are very familiar with your solution to their problem.

14. Flaunt your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Of all these persuasive writing techniques, this one is the most effective in our tests. Your unique selling proposition (USP), could be anything that entices visitors to stay and read. It can be that you have low prices, superior quality or anything helps your readers rationalize reading on. For an eCommerce company, the USP includes your positioning, return policy, shipping policy and guarantees.

First, your selling proposition often doesn’t necessarily need to be unique. It just needs to be communicated. Rug Perfection offers hand-made rugs made of natural materials. They offer free shipping and pay shipping for returns as well. Would you know that from the copy on their website?

Rug perfection doesn't flaunt its amazing story or its fantastic shipping and return policy.

Rug perfection doesn’t flaunt its unique value proposition, such as its fantastic shipping and return policy.

Your USP doesn’t have to be complex. Persuasive writers are able to summarize your place in the market in just a few words. This is true of Kissmetrics.

Kissmetrics clearly defines their unique position in the market by referencing Google Analytics.

Kissmetrics clearly defines their unique position in the market by referencing a competitor.

If calling out your competitor like Kissmetrics seems a little too aggressive for you, you can simply flaunt your unique value without mentioning any rival’s name. See how GoDaddy displays their unique 1-month free trial on their homepage:

The free trial is unique to the hosting industry.

The free trial is unique to the hosting industry.

There’s virtually no other web host provider that allows a month free trial. So that’s a USP for GoDaddy.

Check out more value proposition examples here.

Start Using These Persuasive Writing Techniques

People are getting smarter year-by-year. Each time we want to shop for anything online, we mostly prefer to check out a number of options and choose who we’d like to do business with.

So a smart move you can (and should) make now is to ensure your web copy and content is focused on enticing, engaging and ultimately persuading prospects to pay attention to your brand and offerings.

Co-authored by Victor Ijidola

Victor Ijidola is a content marketer and freelance business writer. He runs Premium Content Shop where he offers premium writing services that drive leads, and has been featured on sites like Inc.com, The Next Web, Kissmetrics and many more.

10 successful value proposition examples proven by AB testing.

Conversion Sciences has completed thousands of tests on websites of all kinds for businesses of all sizes. At times, we’ve been under pressure to show results quickly. When we want to place a bet on what to test, where do we turn?

Copy and images. These are the primary components of a website’s value proposition.

It’s the #1 factor determining your conversion rate. If you deliver a poor value proposition, there is little we can do to optimize. If you nail it, we can optimize a site to new heights.

So, I have to ask: have you ever taken the time to split test your value proposition?

This article shows you how to identify a poor value proposition, hypothesize a series of better alternatives, and split test them to identify the wining combination of copy, video and images.

Essential Qualities Of A Worthwhile Value Proposition

Your value proposition is the promise you make to prospective customers about the unique value your business will deliver to them.

Your value proposition is a statement, which can be made up of the following elements:

  • Headline
  • Subheadline
  • Copy
  • Bullet points
  • Images or Graphics
  • Video

Words carry tremendous power, but they aren’t the only element you can employ in promising defined value to potential customers. A value proposition can be made up of any of the above elements, as well as others I’ve no doubt failed to mention.

To be effective, your value proposition should include the following characteristics:

  1. Conveys a clear, easily understood message
  2. Speaks to the unique value your business provides
  3. Explicitly targets a specific audience segment
  4. Makes a clear promise regarding the benefits being delivered

Hopefully, these criteria are making you aware of what your value proposition is not. It is not a slogan, creative phrase, or teaser.

The best way to demonstrate this is to show you some real examples of businesses that improved their conversion rates by upgrading their value propositions.

Let’s get started.

Example #1: Groove Increases Conversions By 104%

Groove is simple help desk software. It’s a streamlined product designed to help smaller teams provide personalized customer support without learning and configuring something more complicated like Zendesk.

Groove’s original homepage was converting at only 2.3%.

Groove SaaS and eCommerce Customer Support Value Proposition screen image

Groove SaaS and eCommerce Customer Support Value Proposition

After reaching out to several experts for help, they received the following advice:

“You’re talking to your customers the way you think marketers are supposed to talk. It’s marketing-speak, and people hate that… you should talk like your customers do”

With this in mind, the Groove team spent some time talking to various customers over the phone in order to get a feel for how those customers were talking about Groove and the actual words they were using.

They also changed their opening autoresponder email to the following, which ended up generating an astounding 41% response rate and becoming a prime, continuous source of qualitative data for the business:

Groove welcome email established their value proposition

Groove welcome email established their value proposition.

As a result of this feedback, they created a new “copy first” landing page, with a completely revamped value proposition.

Groove created a 'copy first' landing page based on feedback from customers

Groove created a ‘copy first’ landing page based on feedback from customers

After testing the new page against the original, Groove found that it converted at 4.3% for an 87% improvement. After running additional tests with more minor tweaks over the next two weeks, the conversion rate ultimately settled at 4.7%, bringing the total improvement to 104%.

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from Groove’s big win?

  • Benefit-driven headlines perform better than headlines simply stating the product category.
  • The subheading is not a good place for a testimonial. You need to explain your value before you bring in proof to verify your claims.
  • Notice how the new headline explains a bit of the “how and what” while still keeping the customer in focus.
  • While Groove doesn’t explicitly define the target audience within the headine and subheading, they do accomplish this via the above-the-fold bullet point and video testimonial.

Example #2: Comnio Increases Signups By 408%

Comnio is a reputation management company that helps both consumers and businesses resolve customer service issues.

After transitioning away from a moderately NSFW branding strategy, the company needed a new way to communicate it’s value and attract users. After the page below failed to convert, they contacted Conversion Sciences’ Brian Massey for a CRO strategy consultation.

Comnio's landing page failed to convert

Comnio’s landing page failed to convert well

Brian helped the team come up with a new version:

“My recommendations were to focus on the company less and on what will happen more and to use a hero image that is more relevant. By September 2015, the homepage was taking a different approach, focusing on the service value and defining the steps that make it work.”

Comnio's new landing page performed at a high rate

Comnio’s new landing page performed at a high rate

This new page was a definite improvement over the previous version, and over the next 30 days, it converted a respectable 3.6% of site visits.

That said, there were still some clear problems, the most obvious being that the opening headline and subheadline were failing to make a clear promise. In order to optimize this page, Comnio implemented the following changes:

  1. Changed the headline to explain what they do (as a benefit, not a feature)
  2. Changed the subheadline to explain the pains/problems Comnio solves for users
  3. Changed the email field placeholder text from “Email address” to “Enter your email address”
  4. Changed the CTA button from “Sign up for free” to “Try Comnio For Free”
  5. Added social sign-up options
  6. Swapped out the position of company logos with the position of user testimonials
  7. Added a gradient line below the hero shot to separate it from the rest of the page

The new page looked like this:

Comnio further refined the landing page with a significantly higher conversion rate

Comnio further refined the landing page with a significantly higher conversion rate

Thanks in large part to a strong headline, this new page converted at an incredible 18.3% over its 30-day test, a 408% increase over the previous version.

It’s also worth noting that 49% of new signups used one the social signup options available on the new page.

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from Comnio’s huge conversion spike? Whenever this many changes are implemented in one test, it hurts our ability to make specific conclusions, but here’s what I’m seeing:

  • The new headline isn’t cute, catchy, or cool. It’s a simple, definitive statement, and that’s exactly why it works so well.
  • Directly addressing emotional customer pain points (no waiting, no repeating yourself) within your value proposition can have a MASSIVE impact on your conversion rate.
  • Signup friction can significantly decrease your conversion rate. Considering half signups on the new page occurred via the social buttons, it would make sense to assume this feature was a big part of the conversion boost.
  • Brian also noted that the social signup buttons themselves could have served as social proof, borrowing trust from Facebook and Twitter.

Example #3: Udemy Increases Clicks By 246%

Udemy is a massive marketplace for online courses on everything you can imagine.

And while the company’s meteoric growth is certainly a testament to their product-market fit and understanding of their own value proposition, until somewhat recently, the individual course pages were very poorly optimized.

Until this last year, Udemy course pages looked like this:

Udemy landing page that needed higher conversion rates

Udemy landing page that needed higher conversion rates

If I’m trying to sell my course via this page, there are a number of major problems diminishing my conversion rate.

  • Udemy is essentially stealing the headline of the page with it’s bold “You can learn anything…” banner. If I’m on this page, I either clicked here through a direct-link or through Udemy’s browser, and in neither case, does it make sense to tell me about Udemy’s 10,000 courses.
  • With 3 columns, I have no clue where to look first. Where is the value proposition?
  • I can barely even tell the green rectangle on the right is supposed to be a CTA button.

While Vanessa’s course does have a value proposition, it certainly isn’t laid out in a way that makes it defined or obvious.

Eventually, Udemy caught-on to this a tested a special layout:

Udemny redesigned landing page employing user testing

Udemny redesigned landing page employing user testing

Unlike the old page, this version has a very clear value proposition, with the headline, subheadline, video and CTA all clearly displayed without distraction.

Brian Massey talks a bit about what makes this page work:

Most importantly, this new landing page receives 246% more click-throughs than the old course landing page.

Udemy also altered their normal course landing pages to incorporate some of these elements, putting the headline, subheadline and promo video front and center, with a much more obvious CTA button and all additional information below the fold.

Udemy used the same techniques to update their course page

Udemy used the same techniques to update their course page.

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from Udemy’s landing page improvements?

  • Layout is extremely important.
  • Limiting your hero shot to only the core elements of your value proposition will virtually always serve you better than throwing up a bunch of info and letting the reader decide what to read first.
  • Unless you are working with some sort of advanced interactive technology, it’s important that you take visitors through a linear journey, where you control the narrative they follow through your page.

Example #4: 160 Driving Academy Increases Leads By 161%

160 Driving Academy is an Illinois based firm that offers truck-driving classes and guarantees a job upon graduation.

In order to improve the conversion rate on their truck-driving classes page, the company reached out to Spectrum, a lead-generation marketing company. Spectrum’s team quickly noted that the page’s stock photo was sub-optimal.

160 Driving Academy original landing page with stock photo.

160 Driving Academy original landing page with stock photo.

The team had a real image of an actual student available to test, but almost didn’t test it out.

“… in this case we had a branded photo of an actual 160 Driving Academy student standing in front of a truck available, but we originally opted not to use it for the page out of concern that the student’s ‘University of Florida’ sweatshirt would send the wrong message to consumers trying to obtain an Illinois, Missouri, or Iowa license. (These states are about 2,000 kilometers from the University of Florida).”

Ultimately, they decided to go ahead and test the real student photo anyway and simply photoshopped the logo off the sweatshirt:

Revised landing page with picture of actual student

Revised landing page with picture of actual student.

The primary goal of this test was to increase the number of visitors who converted into leads via the contact form to the right of the page, and this simple change resulted in an incredible 161% conversion lift with 98% confidence.

The change also resulted in a 38.4% increase (also 98% confidence) in actual class registrations via this page!

Not bad for a simple photo change.

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from this case study? Yes, stock photos tend to be poor performers, but why?

The answer lies in how our brains respond to images. Essentially, our brains are far more likely to notice and remember images versus words, but these advantages tend not to apply to stock photos, as our brains have learned to automatically ignore them.

For a more in-depth breakdown of this subject, check out this writeup from VWO.

Example #5: The HOTH Increases Leads By 844%

The HOTH is a white label SEO service company, providing link building services to agencies and SEO resellers.

Despite having what most would consider a solid homepage, their conversion rate was sitting at a very poor 1.34%. It started with the following value proposition and then followed a fairly standard landing page flow:

The Hoth homepage had a low conversion rate

The Hoth homepage had a low conversion rate.

While their landing page wasn’t bad as a whole, you may be noticing that their value proposition was a bit vague and hinged primarily on the assumption that incoming users would click and watch the video.

The HOTH team decided to make a big changeup, and completely scrapped the entire landing page, replacing it with a new headline, subheadline and…. that’s it.

The Hoth made a big change to their landing page

The Hoth made a big change to their landing page.

Behold, the brilliant new landing page!

And while you might be tempted to laugh, this new variation converted at 13.13%, an incredible 844% increase from the original!

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from this?

  • Your headline can be more important than the rest of your landing page combined
  • For certain audiences, saying less and creating a curiosity gap might encourage them to give you their contact info
  • Adding social proof elements to your subheading is something worth testing

Example #6: Conversioner Client Increases Revenue By 65%

So yes, I know that 65% is not quite the 100% I promised you in the headline, but let’s be honest, you aren’t scoffing at a 65% increase in actual revenue.

This case study comes from Conversioner and features an unnamed client whose product enables customers to design & personalize their own invitations, greeting cards, slideshows, etc.

The client’s original homepage looked like this:

The original homepage says "Custom Online Invitations in Minutes!"

The original homepage an invitation service

At first glance, this value proposition really isn’t that bad.

Sure, they are focused primarily with themselves in the headline, but they sort of make up for it in the subheadline by discussing the direct customer benefits, right?

“Delight guests with a unique invite they won’t forget.”

There’s just one really big problem here. These customer benefits have nothing to do with the customer or the benefits.

Stop and think about it.

“Delight your guests”… who talks like that? Nobody. Nobody talks like that. When you are thinking about sending out invites, you aren’t thinking, “Hmmm how can I delight my guests?”

But we aren’t done: “… a unique invite they won’t forget.”

This copy is completely disconnected from the target consumer. Why do people send invites? Is it so their guests will never forget the invites?

No. The best possible invite is one that gets people to your event. That’s it. Your goal is a great party. Your goal is a bunch of fun people at your great party. That’s the primary metric, and it isn’t even addressed in this value proposition.

Which is why the Conversioner team made a change:

The revised homepage of the invitations service

The revised homepage of the invitations service

Notice that this new variation doesn’t completely abandon the “what we do” portion of the value proposition. It is still communicating exactly what is being offered from the get-go.

“Create Free Invitations”

But then it speaks to the benefits. It’s free AND it is the start of a great party.

The proof is in the pudding, and this change resulted in a 65% increase in total revenue.

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from Conversioner’s successful experiment?

  • Don’t let “benefits” become another buzzword. Focusing on benefits only matters if those benefits are relevant and important to the target audience.
  • Think through what is motivating your customers outside of the immediate conversion funnel. They aren’t just signing up for your email builder. They are planning an event. Speak to that.

Example #7: The Sims 3 Increases Game Registrations By 128%

I’m guessing you’ve heard of The Sims franchise, but in case you haven’t, it’s one of the best selling computer game franchises in history.

While the third installment was sold as a standalone game, the business model relied heavily on in-game micro-transactions. But in order to begin making these in-game purchases, users needed to first register the game.

The Sims’ marketing team found that once players had registered, they were significantly easier to convert into repeat buyers. Registrations were primarily solicited via the game’s launch screen, but the conversion rate was unsatisfactory.

The launch screen of the Sims 3 game

The launch screen of the Sims 3 game.

As you can see, it’s fairly obvious why nobody was registering.

Why would they? How could they?

“Join the fun!” … what does that mean? If I’m a gamer pulling up the launch screen, I already know how to join the fun. I just click the giant Play button on the left side of the screen. And there is nothing on this screen that would cause me to pause that line of action and consider registering.

Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what WiderFunnel thought when they were hired to improve this page. They quickly realized the need to incentivize users to register and make it very clear what was being requested of them.

The team came up with 6 different variations to test. Here’s their direct commentary:

  1. Variations A1 & A2: ‘simple’: These two test Variations emphasized the overall benefits of game registration and online play. Much of the control page’s content was removed in order to improve eyeflow, a new headline with a game tips & content offer was added, a credibility indicator was included and the call-to-action was made clear and prominent. Both A1 and A2 Variations were identical except for background color which was white on one Variation and blue on the other.
  2. Variation B: ‘shop’: This Variation was similar to Variations A1 and A2 in that it was focused on the overall benefits of registering and emphasized free content in its offer. In addition, this Variation included links to The Sims 3 Store where players can buy game content and to the Exchange where players can download free content.
  3. Variation C: ‘free stuff’: In this Variation, the headline was changed to emphasize a free content offer and the subhead highlighted a more specific offer to receive free points and a free town upon registering. Links to The Sims 3 Store and the Exchange were also included in this variation but benefit-oriented bullet points were removed to keep copy to a minimum.
  4. Variation D: ‘free town’: This test Variation was focused on a specific offer to receive a free Sims town upon registering. The offer was prominent in the headline and echoed in the background image. General benefits of game registration were listed in the form of bullet points.
  5. Variation E: ‘free points’: As with Variation D, this Variation put the emphasis on a specific offer for 1,000 free SimPoints and the imagery depicted content that could be downloaded by redeeming points.

#4 converted best, bringing in 128% more registrations than the original.

This version of the Sims 3 launch page performed best

This version of the Sims 3 launch page performed best.

While this isn’t surprising, it serves to illustrate how simple conversion optimization can be. It’s really just a matter of giving people what they want. Sometimes, identifying what that is will be challenging. And sometimes, it will take a bit of digging.

Key Takeaways

So what should we learn from this?

  • Give the people what they want! What do your users want and how can you give it to them?
  • Be specific with the benefits you are promising. “Join the fun” is not anything. “Get Riverview FREE” is specific.
  • Make your CTA obvious. If your #1 goal is to make someone take _______ action, everything about your landing page should make that obvious.

Example #8: Alpha Increases Trial Downloads By 98%

Alpha Software is a software company with a number of product offerings, the most recent of which deals with mobile app development.

The company wanted to improve results for one of it’s product landing pages, pictured below:

The Alpha landing page for mobile app development

The Alpha landing page for mobile app development.

They tested it against the following simplified page:

An alternate design for the Alpha landing page

An alternate design for the Alpha landing page.

This new streamlined version resulted in 98% more trial signups than the original. That’s a pretty drastic improvement considering the changes can be summed up in two bullet points:

  • Navigation removed
  • Bullets expanded and tidied up

And this isn’t the only case study where the removal of navigation resulted in an uptick in conversions. It’s actually pretty common.

In a similar test by Infusionsoft, a page with secondary navigation between the headline and the rest of the value proposition…

This InfusionSoft landing page has menus under the headline

This InfusionSoft landing page has menus under the headline.

… was tested against the same page, minus the nav bar, with different CTA text:

This version of the Infusionsoft page has no menu below the headline

This version of the Infusionsoft page has no menu below the headline

The simplified page with no extra navigation bar had 40.6% more conversions at a 99.3% confidence level.

While I think the CTA change definitely played a role in these results, it’s very important for marketers to streamline the navigation of their landing pages (and their websites as a whole).

Key Takeaways

So why did I include this in our list?

  • Distraction is a big deal when it comes to framing your value proposition. Remove distractions, even if that means eliminating basic site navigation options.
  • Don’t be afraid of bullet points. They tend to be used in hero shots nowadays, but they can be a great option when you can’t get fit everything you need in the headline and subheadline.

Example #9: HubSpot Client Improves Conversions By 106%

For our next to last example, I want to look at a client case study released by HubSpot awhile back. This unnamed client had a homepage converting poorly at less than 2% and had decided it was time to take optimization seriously.

The client looked through several landing page best practices and decided to make some critical adjustments to their page.

The 1st change was to replace the original vague headline with a clear new headline and benefit-driven subheadline:

Two versions of a landing page with different headline designs

Two versions of a landing page with different headline designs.

The 2nd change was to add a single, obvious CTA instead of offering a buffet of product options for visitors to select from.

Two versions of a landing page with the call to action higher on the page

Two versions of a landing page with the call to action higher on the page.

The 3rd change was to move individual product selections down below the hero shot. The new page started with a single value proposition and then allowed users to navigate to specific products.

The result of these three changes was a 106% lift in page conversions.

The results of this landing page AB test

The results of this landing page AB test.

The main issue I want to address this with study is the question of “Should we try to convert first or segment first?”

In my professional experience, combined with the many studies I’ve reviewed, it’s usually better for every page to have a clear, singular direction to begin with and then go into multiple navigation or segmentation options.

Another test that speaks to this comes from Behave.com (formerly WhichTestWon). The marketing team from fashion retailer Express had an exciting idea to test a new homepage that immediately segmented users based on whether they were looking for women’s clothing or men’s clothing.

This Express homepage tries to segment men and women right away

This Express homepage tries to segment men and women right away.

They tested this against their original page that pitched the current discount in circulation and offered a singular value proposition:

This Express homepage converted better than the segmented one

This Express homepage converted better than the segmented one.

The segmented test page converted poorly compared to the original, with the following results at a 98% confidence level:

  • 2.01% decline in product views, per visit
  • 4.43% drop in cart additions, per visit
  • 10.59% plummet in overall orders, per visit

Key Takeaways

So what can we learn from these two case studies?

  • Give people a reason to stay before you give them multiple navigation options to select from.
  • In a similar vein, the less options you give people, the more likely they are to convert in the way you are looking for. Offering a single CTA is always worth testing.
  • The more of the Who, What, Where and Why you can explain in your value proposition, the better chance you have of resonating with new visitors.

Example #10: TruckersReport Increases Leads By 79.3%

TruckersReport is a network of professional truck drivers, connected by a trucking industry forum that brings in over 1 million visitors per month.

One of the services they provide is assistance in helping truck drivers find better jobs. The conversion funnel for this service began with a simple online form that was followed by a 4-step resume submission process.

The initial landing page was converting at 12.1%:

Truckers report landing page

Truckers report landing page.

ConversionXL was brought in to optimize this funnel, and after analyzing site data and running several qualitative tests with a few of the most recommended AB testing tools, they came up with the following insights:

  • Mobile visits (smartphones + tablets) formed about 50% of the total traffic. Truck drivers were using the site while on the road! –> Need responsive design
  • Weak headline, no benefit –> Need a better headline that includes a benefit, addresses main pain-points or wants
  • Cheesy stock photo, the good old handshake –> Need a better photo that people would relate to
  • Simple, but boring design that might just look too basic and amateur –> Improve the design to create better first impressions
  • Lack of proof, credibility –> Add some
  • Drivers wanted 3 things the most: better pay, more benefits and more home time. Other things in the list were better working hours, well-maintained equipment, respect from the employer. Many were jaded by empty promises and had negative associations with recruiters.

Using these insights, they created and tested 6 different variations, ultimately landing on the following page:

Three views of the redesigned Truckers Report homepage

Three views of the redesigned Truckers Report homepage.

This new page saw a conversion lift of 79.3% (yes, I know I fudged on the 100% think again… sorry not sorry). Instead of trying to explain why, I’ll simply quote Peep Laja:

  • Prominent headline that would be #1 in visual hierarchy
  • Explanatory paragraph right underneath to explain what the page is about
  • Large background images tend to work well as attention-grabbers
  • Warm, smiling people that look you in the eye also help with attention
  • Left side of the screen gets more attention, so we kept copy on the left
  • As per Gutenberg diagram, bottom right is the terminal area, so that explains the form and call to action placement.

The team also optimized the entire funnel, but since our focus is on value propositions today, I’ll simply direct you to Peep’s writeup for the full story.

Key Takeaways

So what are our value proposition takeaways?

  • Start with the benefits. I can’t say this enough. What does your target audience want most? Tell them about that right off the bat.
  • Eliminate uncertainty. When you tell people exactly what to expect, it builds trust. Notice the “1. 2. 3.” on the new page. If you are going to require something from the user, tell them exactly what to expect from the beginning.
  • If you aren’t mindful of how your value proposition is displaying to mobile users, change that now. You can’t afford to ignore mobile traffic, and you should be split testing mobile users separately from desktop users.

10 Value Proposition Examples With 28 Takeaways

Optimizing your value proposition is a low hanging fruit that can have a tremendous impact on your website. It’s also a core consideration in a good AB testing framework.

Hopefully these 10+ value proposition examples will help you along your journey to funnel optimization.

We’ve covered 28 different takeaways in this article, and for you convenience, I’ve gone ahead and put them into an easy cheat sheet you can download via the form below.

 


28 Value Proposition Takeaways

28 Value Proposition Takeaways Report Cover