mobile conversion optimization

Sales funnel or full funnel conversion optimization? Which should you use and when? It all depends on what you want to understand.

Full funnel conversion optimization – or the Conversion Sciences Profit Funnel™ – provides the analysis and insights needed to help positively impact your business bottom line. Analyzing a sales funnel helps improve those issues found in a specific buying process.

There is nothing wrong about analyzing a sales funnel conversion rate or a sales funnel model for a specific segment of a customer journey. But your online business will definitively benefit from performing a Profit Funnel™ or full-funnel conversion optimization as well.

A highly experienced team of conversion experts can leverage both models when optimizing, instead of narrowing the view and hurting profits. An inexperienced conversion consultant will only see a siloed series of sales funnels, evaluate them independently and make decisions based on their own unique ROAS instead of their interactions.

Deliver double-digit sales growth every year, year after year. Increase revenues and profit. And shorten your sales cycle with our ecommerce and lead generation solutions.

Let’s review the key differences between sales funnel and full funnel conversion optimization or Profit Funnel™. We’ll begin with a great example of both models, a definition of a full marketing funnel. Finally, we’ll cover their differences in scope and the metrics used by each funnel.

Happy customers means returning customers. The starting point for full funnel conversion optimization is the customer blueprint and guess whose CRO audit services include a map of the customer journey for your online shop? Conversion Sciences.

Happy customers means returning customers. The starting point for full funnel conversion optimization is the customer blueprint and guess whose CRO audit services include a map of the customer journey for your online shop?

Example of Sales Funnel vs Full Funnel Conversion Optimization

Imagine an addiction treatment center that offers both low-cost at-home testing kits and treatment programs. Their at-home drug testing kit sells for $10, and it costs $5 to manufacture and ship. Their treatment programs start at $15,000.

They have an effective social media presence, paid campaigns to engage and attract their target market. And they also provide valuable resources for people with addiction problems and for their loved on their website. These range from informational articles to online quizzes to help find out whether or not one is suffering from an addiction and what is the best course of action.

Ok. Time to tackle sales funnel optimization. If they analyze their PPC sales funnel they will realize that it is costing them $20 in ad spend to convert each home testing kit sale. This added to the manufacturing and shipping costs may lead them to determine that this $10 sale is costing the company $25. But they are not looking at their profit margins, they are simply calculating Return on Ad Spend or ROAS.

Thus, they may decide to turn off the ad spend and stop this failing campaign because they “lose” $15 per sale. Or they may attempt to improve a Google Ads campaign that is already performing quite well.

But what if this addiction treatment center looks at the full-marketing funnel or Profit Funnel™ instead?

They would find that 20% of their customers have repeated their kit purchase every 3 months.

By the same token, they have not estimated the impact that their content development and social media efforts have on those conversions. And they were attributing the sale to the last touch-point.

As the buyer journey is not limited to a single channel, analyzing a single sales funnel could narrow your business focus and marketing assessment scope.

Moreover, this treatment center finds that 2% of the people who purchase their $10 test later sends a loved one to their center for a $15k treatment program. Those $20 in ad spend for each testing kit sale got the family to notice their services and inquire about their drug-rehab program. Therefore, for every 100 tests they sell, an average of 2 patients will join their treatment program generating a minimum of $30,000 in revenue.

Before I became the CMO, I was more focused on how we were spending our marketing budget than on how marketing could help drive long-term business objectives.But thinking like this holds businesses back. Marketing should be valued for its long-term potential, rather than its short-term efficiencies.

-Monty Sharma, CEO and CMO, Jenny Craig

So, What is Full Funnel Conversion Optimization or Profit Funnel™ Optimization?

As we have noticed, a full funnel evaluates the 360 degree customer journey with a company or brand. Its goal is not only to acquire a customer but also to understand, nurture and improve their relationship and experience with the brand.

It focuses on not only pre but post-transaction because it takes into account how this will affect the probability of increased number of subscription renewals or sales, lower customer rotation, lower customer acquisition costs, and increased profit margins.

As we can clearly see, even though it’s called a funnel, this model looks more like an infinite loop with many potential touch-points throughout the buyers journey, over time and across a multitude of devices and online/offline experiences.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa? Full funnel analysis and optimization will deliver a more cohesive personalized experience to your online customer segments.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa? Photo: Grant Ritchie via Unsplash.

1. Sales Funnel vs Profit Funnel™ or Full Funnel Optimization: Differences in Scope

One of the main differences between sales funnel and a full funnel conversion optimization is its scope. The oftentimes narrow span of a sales funnel is overshadowed by the number of elements or touch-points that a Profit Funnel™ considers.

Let’s check them out.

Single Path vs Infinite Loop: Are you optimizing for Omni channel yet?

The most evident difference between the sales and the Profit Funnel™ models lies in their reach. Highly restricted to a specific conversion path for the sales funnel versus a very broad view of the customer journey for the latter.

While most sales funnels are focused on a single transaction (such as a lead, sale or subscription) the full funnel or Profit Funnel™ acknowledges the entire lifetime of a potential customer or client. Its purpose is to allow us to take a step back and look at the entire customer journey or full marketing funnel and help optimize by what is most profitable without discarding the customer experience.

One Decision Maker vs Multiple Stakeholders

Have you been optimizing for a single decision-maker? Maybe you were leaving some marketing personas out of the equation. The higher the ticket price, especially for B2Bs, the higher the likelihood of having more than a single decision-maker involved in the purchasing process. Most companies will include different stakeholders’ input through the funnel and each one of them may further or delay that coveted B2B sale.

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person. Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

Conversion Sciences Profit Funnel™ recognizes and accounts for this fact. Trying to optimize a single funnel to convert this lead is short-sighted, when understanding the 360 degree customer journey and optimizing for it, will significantly increase conversions and boost profit margins.

Single Device vs Cross-Device

We often find – when auditing a client’s conversion efforts – that their sales funnels don’t include mobile customers. Addressing this gap via mobile conversion optimization efforts has increased their profits manyfold.

The Profit Funnel™ recognizes the value of determining which of those platforms holds the highest potential for each particular conversion and finding a way to best optimize each path.

Sales funnels often focus on increasing conversions on a certain page on either mobile, tablet, or desktop. Thus, leaving out the reality that customers will interact with your brand, product or service in multiple ways and through as many devices as exist.

Have you even thought of people interacting with your site or buying from you via Alexa?

Full Funnel Conversion Optimization Enables a More Personalized Online Experience

The data-driven strategy of optimizing the full marketing funnel helps you identify consumer segments. Behavioral information can be collected in-store, online, and post-visit. The insights derived from this analysis helps you craft and deliver online personalized experiences to boost conversions and increase their contribution to your bottom line. All the while deriving insights to improving your marketing strategy.

“You are engaging with the consumer on an intimate level — they are telling you what products are interesting. That customer data is one of the most important things to grow your brand.” – Kate Kibler, Timberland’s VP of direct-to-consumer.

For high-traffic sites, Conversion Sciences offers the latest martech stacks – ML and AI-powered – via the Conversion Catalyst AI™. Our Conversion Catalyst AI™ builds a predictive model that identifies which visitors are ready to buy, and delivers the perfect experience so that they are more likely to buy from you. So you can deliver the most optimized experience be it on your website, on wearable devices, voice search, augmented-reality or any of the myriad of experiences the IoT brings us.

Full funnel analysis and optimization will deliver a more cohesive personalized experience to your online customer segments.

2. Sales Funnel vs Full Funnel Conversion Optimization Metrics

It’s hard to take a look at your full marketing funnel and try to gauge how well it’s working besides ROI and profit margins. But following those metrics without fully understanding which effort or efforts made the difference, is no way to run a business either. But lucky you. Full funnel is optimized with your bottom line in mind and a bespoke full funnel attribution will help you identify what’s helping and what’s hindering your conversions.

Therefore, the difference between sales funnel and full funnel conversion optimization is that you will end up concentrating your marketing spend on those efforts who bring in profitable returns. Much better than looking at a measly conversion rate. right? ;)

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person while Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

Sales funnel conversion optimization targets one person while Profit funnels recognize there is often more than one decision-maker.

ROAS vs ROI

Are you narrowing your business focus down to sales funnels and conversion rates? Are you making decisions that affect your whole business by a simple ROAS? Or are you leveraging a 360 degree customer blueprint to improve your company’s profit margins?

Do you need your customer journey mapped? Check out Conversion Sciences conversion rate optimization audit services.

In the addiction treatment center example, when the sales funnel was not profitable (its ROAS was negative), they could have shut down the ad campaign. But when they looked at the full funnel (in-patient treatment registrations), the ad investment was profitable and it justified the initial losses in the funnel. It had a positive ROI.

Thus, by using both metrics, you can isolate those efforts whose ROAS may be positive but not their ROI, which takes into consideration not a single digitally advertised campaign but how each contributes to the business profit margins. And you can spare from killing efforts with negative ROAS because, in the end, their revenue-generating power is much larger than the one calculated from the revenue from ad campaign/cost of ad campaign.

By doing so, you change the focus to driving business performance, not just advertising performance.

Single Attribution vs Custom Attribution

Going back to the addiction treatment center example. There are things they do that contribute to their bottom line – such as informational blog posts, quizzes, etc. But their attribution model assigned the conversion value to a single Google Ads campaign.

People have several contacts with a brand before they even consider converting on that landing page, clicking on that PPC ad or that Instagram shoppable image. Which means that any and all contributions along the 360 degree funnel, or full funnel or Profit Funnel™ must be taken into account and their value toward each of the conversions (testing kit purchase, treatment) attributed properly to measure its impact on revenues and on profit margins.

While a single touch attribution model is a fast and simple way to allocate credit to a campaign, full funnel must use a bespoke or custom attribution model to understand what is working and what is not.

It’s common yet dangerous and naive to make assumptions about which touchpoint to attribute credit for a conversion. Oftentimes these assumptions are created from unrecognized personal bias and proven false through data analysis. This is one of the biggest reasons that analyzing all metrics is vital to a company’s long-term success.

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

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

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

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

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

Olcan Sercinoglu | Why Context Matters

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

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

How do we use AI to make us better marketers?

AI Optimization-Why context matters with Olcan Sercinoglu

AI Optimization-Why context matters with Olcan Sercinoglu

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

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

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

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

This, they thought, was crazy talk.

A Grain of Rice and a Chessboard

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

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

That’s the power of compounding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And we’ll ask some more tactical questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When You Get Back to the Office

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

If not I have a challenge for you.

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

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

Alright scientists, that’s it for this week.

Resources and links discussed

Olcan Sercinoglu | Why Context Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site.

How to identify what keeps visitors from converting on your site.

Value Proposition & Messaging

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

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

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

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

And herein lies the rub.

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

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

A high bounce rate is a sign of three things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discover How Our Conversion Rate Optimization Analysis Services Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t put fears into their mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Negative Reviews Help

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

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

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

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

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

Brand Credibility

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

Brand credibility generally takes the form of implied proof.

Borrowed Credibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long load time equals poor experience

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

Clutter means bad visual hierarchy

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

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

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

Don’t add surprises

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

How to Know “what” is Hurting your Conversion Rate

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

1. Gather all of your conversion optimization ideas

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

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

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

2. Categorize each of your ideas

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

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

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

3. Count your conversion optimization ideas

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

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

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

4. Start working

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

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

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

This sounds like a lot of work

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

You can request a free consultation with us.

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

Brian Massey

A website redesign is like a Hollywood movie reboot. It really is.

There have been two attempts to reboot the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars. George Lucas gave us three prequels that, while generating some $2.5 billion in box office worldwide, were largely reviled for their lack of magic and stunted acting. Now JJ Abrams is rebooting with a sequel to the series called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Redesigning your website should be seen as a reboot of your online properties as well. Watch The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign, and learn how to avoid creating a Phantom Menace when the Force Awakens for your website.

This is not the first reboot that JJ Abrams has helmed as visionary and director. We’ve got his incredibly successful treatments of the Star Trek franchise to consider as well.

Don’t Just Blow Things Up

The problem we have with the popular Responsive Web Design strategies is that you must change everything in order to create a “mobile-friendly” website. Responsive designs are programmed to make decisions about page content when smaller screens are encountered.

Many of these decisions are wrong, and we’ll cover them in our webinar.

Your responsive design may be creating the equivalent of Jar-Jar Binks, a figure hated perhaps more than Darth Vader himself. In the webinar, we’ll show you how what happens when redesigns go bad.

Bring Back Beloved Characters

Your website redesign isn’t about changing things. It’s about building on what currently works, adding to the experience.

George Lucas managed to work merchandisable characters R2-D2 and C-3PO into the prequels, as well as beloved Obi-Wan Kenobi. But these characters didn’t create the esprit décor that the original ensemble did. In Star Trek, Abrams brought back young versions of the entire ensemble: Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and even two Spocks. Chekov, Sulu and Uhura were thrown in for good measure.

Your website is an ensemble cast of pages and experiences. Your landing pages need to prime buyers to get through the subscription process. Your category pages have to drive visits to product pages that entice visitors to add to cart.

Huge amounts of data is available very cheaply. Use it to know what to keep or suffer the consequences.

Don’t Create Any Jar-Jars

You don't want to create any Jar-Jar Binks features during your redesign.

You don’t want to create any Jar-Jar Binks features during your redesign.

I’m sure George Lucas was certain that the Jar-Jar Binks character introduced in the Phantom Menace would be a beloved, merchandisable character. He was wrong. Abrams introduced Keenser, a (thankfully) silent alien who was Scotty’s sidekick in the first Star Trek reboot. However, he didn’t rely on this character for comedic relief nearly as much as Lucas did with Jar-Jar.

The cost to create the all-CGI Jar-Jar was huge, and probably took resources that could have been used elsewhere in the movie.

Unless you’re testing your way into your redesign, you are going to create some Jar-Jars in your redesign. These are features that you believe in, but that are rejected by your visitors. Don’t over-invest in these new experiences without testing them first.

Have A Reason for Radical Changes

Every website has return visitors. Your website, no matter how ugly you believe it to be, has visitors who feel at home there, enjoying a comfortable familiarity. They’ve invested the time to understand your site, to make it theirs. When you change it, they’ll be pissed.

These visitors need some rationale for your removal of familiar features and the addition of new ones. Avoid the pro-innovation bias, which is a tendency to change things because they are cool. Your returning visitors won’t think they are cool.

Is this little header animation really necessary? It's a technical error waiting for the wrong browser.

Even simple parallax animations are dangerous. It’s a technical error waiting for the wrong browser.

Don’t let your design firm add any “alien” features to your site. For example, parallax design causes animates to occur as your visitors scroll through the site. It’s the web equivalent of Jar-Jar.

Parallax design elements are like the blinking text of 1990s era websites.

Parallax design elements are like the blinking text of 1990s era websites. Or the Jar-Jar Binks of the Web.

In the Webinar, we’ll show you how to find out what is and isn’t necessary in your particular redesign.

Add Segments

This ain't your father's Star Trek.

This ain’t your father’s Star Trek.

JJ Abrams brought whole new segments into the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. For Star Trek, he cast young heartthrobs Zak Quinto, Chris Pine,  and Zoe Saldana in key roles. This brought a younger, hipper audience to the Star Trek universe. Star Wars: The Force Awakens features females in key hero and villain roles.

Your website redesign should be about two things:

1. Keeping your existing visitor segments happy.

2. Engaging new segments that need what you offer.

There is no such thing as an “average visitor” to your site. Design should specifically target key segments. These segments should not just be demographic as much as needs based. Segment by device type, by geography, by whether they are at work or play, or by the kinds of search terms they are using. Target segments at different stages of your funnel.

The death of a redesign is guaranteed if you design for the “average” visitor or design for yourself. See below.

Avoid Executive Influence

Don't let your execs usurp your redesign.

Don’t let your execs usurp your redesign.

After several significant successes, J.J. Abrams has considerable freedom to do what he wants. He ignored all of George Lucas’s ideas for the new Star Wars movie and took it in his own direction.

The executives that you report to will want to have a say in the redesign. Statements like, “I would never respond to that!” are poisonous to the process, unless you site is targeted at them.

Abrams didn’t get such freedom until he had a win under his belt. Your ace in the whole is research and data. If your redesign is questioned, you better have the studies, heatmaps, split test, and analytics you need to make your case.

If you don’t have this information, you’re not likely to have a success anyway. You may want your executives to attend our webinar.

Lens Flair Comes Last

Only after you’ve considered all of these key issues can you put your own unique stamp on the site design. Abrams has a thing for lens flair in his movies.

But none of this means anything unless you have beloved features in your new site, avoid adding Jar-Jar Binks experiences and address your visitors segment by segment.

Attend our free Webinar The JJ Abrams School of Website Redesign and make sure your next redesign isn’t a Star Wars prequel.

What has the Conversion Scientist been reading lately?

AdExchanger: Why Do Mobile Users Not Buy On Mobile?

We believe that mobile traffic is every bit as important as desktop traffic. Many businesses walk away from their mobile traffic because it doesn’t convert well. This is a mistake.
Two points found in this article drive the point home:

  • App and Mobile Functionality (sucks)
  • Mobile Represents a Different Type of user

Spend some time on your mobile site. Don’t just create a responsive version of your desktop website.
Read more.

Marketizator: 25+ Tools That Conversion Rate Optimization Pros Can’t Ignore

I often say we’re living in a golden age of marketing, in which we can find data to answer almost any question we have. And these tools aren’t expensive. Every marketer can benefit from these tools with a little curiosity and patience.
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Nielsen Norman Group: Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency

I reviewed 47 wordpress templates for a competition earlier this year. 98% of them used a “flat” design approach. Of course, we’re seeing this style of design pervade websites.
Is this a good thing? Nielsen Norman Group says we can use flat designs if we follow some smart guidelines.
Read more.
Got suggestions for what we should be reading? Share them with us!
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Toddlers have tablets built just for them, and elementary school kids have iPads and phones. Being connected is a way of life now, and that connectedness is starting at earlier and earlier ages.
Where did it begin? With the Millennials – that 18-34 age group that, now in adulthood, is the first generation to have had some type of device in its hands from a very young age. And for each new device and technology, they adapt almost seamlessly. Within the Millennial generation, we find “Generation C”, so called becuse of its impact on consumer culture. It consumes very differently. Anyone who has been involved in CRO already knows this, if only by experience.

What Do We Already Know About Generation C?

New research on the Millennial Generation

New research on the Millennial Generation


The research has been done, and the results are in. Sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists have done the work for content marketers who are attempting to learn about this generation. Here are 15 critical pieces of information:

        

  1. Millennials can do virtually anything with their phones other than eat, sleep and have sex. PCs are dinosaurs, but tablets and laptops are okay for certain purposes (coursework research and assignments, some product and service researching, preparing reports, graphics, and slide shares, etc.).
  2.     

  3. They do not use email or IM much.
  4.     

  5. Their preferred social media is still Facebook (62%) and YouTube. Twitter is becoming a bit more popular, but Pinterest is a big “no”.
  6.     

  7. The preferred method of communication is texting.
  8.     

  9. In 2014, they were responsible for $500 billion in Internet sales.
  10.     

  11. By 2025, they will be 75% of the workforce in the U.S.
  12.     

  13. They will not do business with anyone they do not fully trust or who is not recommended by others in their “communities”.
  14.     

  15. They covet mobility – they are marrying later, deferring starting families, renting rather than owning, and think nothing about changing jobs every year and a half.
  16.     

  17. They will not be “pushed” into conversions by “hard sells”.
  18.     

  19. Social life, family and time to enjoy both is just as important as their work, and they will sacrifice high income for quality leisure time.
  20.     

  21. They demand social responsibility on the part of companies with which they do business.
  22.     

  23. They want to be evaluated on the quality of work they produce not on the number of hours they are physically present in an office.
  24.     

  25. Trust and relationships are most highly valued in their personal, professional, and their purchasing lives.
  26.     

  27. They want to be engaged, entertained and feel a part of any business with whom they do business.
  28.     

  29. They are savvy consumers who recognize sales pitches and disingenuous, unauthentic tactics.

What This Means for CRO

There are great opportunities here. If marketing is done right, a business can have the loyalty of a customer and that customer’s entire community
There are also great risks. If marketing is done wrong, a business has lost a customer and his/her community forever. It’s hard to recoup from these mistakes.

The Four Cs

You’ve probably heard about The Four Cs of Marketing. There may be slight variations on each of the four, but the message is still consistent. Just as a reminder:

        

  1. You have to create content specifically for Millennials that will be shared and, ideally go viral.
  2.     

  3. You have to connect on an emotional level. Knowing that Millennials value relationships and have strong demand for trust, your campaigns must honor these two things.
  4.     

  5. You must communicate regularly where they are online.
  6.     

  7. You must convert very carefully and gradually. Relationships and trust take time, but the payoff is big in the long run.

Millennials may be a new type of consumer, but The Four Cs still apply. Keeping them in mind, here are five practical applications based upon what we know about Generation C and the fact that you want conversions.
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1. Millennials thrive when engaged with online communities.

They want to be engaged and you want to be a part of their communities.
To Do:

        

  1. Be where they are – Facebook and YouTube
  2.     

  3. Have conversations with them often and regularly
  4.     

  5. Comment on their comments
  6.     

  7. Invite them to participate in your business.

Example:
One of the best examples of a business that does all of this really well is ModCloth. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it was founded by a husband and wife team who are themselves Millennials. ModCloth is a women’s fashion retailer that has this whole “engagement” thing down.

        

  1. They went and still do go where Millennial women hang out – Facebook and YouTube.
  2.     

  3. They got their potential customers engaged right away, asking them to “vote” on clothing items they were considering carrying.
  4.     

  5. They established a “style gallery” on their site and their Facebook page that features actual customers “modeling” their clothing. The photos are all submitted by happy purchasers, and others are encouraged to comment on the clothing items and to engage in conversations with each other. Look at their Facebook page:

If you visit ModCloths' Facebook page, you will see all kinds of comments, suggestions, and conversations about this clothing and how great everyone looks!

If you visit ModCloths’ Facebook page, you will see all kinds of comments, suggestions, and conversations about this clothing and how great everyone looks!


ModCloth must be doing something right – its sales topped $100 million last year.

2. Millennials want to be entertained, shocked, and schooled in unique ways.

They will share content with their communities that meets these criteria. They want to generate comments and conversations about what they share.
To Do:

        

  1. Give them plenty to share on a regular basis – stories, contests, photos/videos
  2.     

  3. Give them offers to redeem on your site or at your brick and mortar establishment
  4.     

  5. Invite comments, conversations and submissions

Example:
Jack Daniel’s has been around for a long time and has found ways to market to every generation, Millennials included. Understanding the need for Millennials to be involved and engaged and to share great stuff, they regularly launch new ways for them to participate and share those participations.

        

  1. There is an ongoing microsite to which users can submit really weird and strange bar stories, read others’ submissions, comment, engage in conversations, and, of course share.
Bar Stories from Jack Daniel's shares real-life bar stories that are worth sharing

BarStories.JackDaniels.com features real-life bar stories that are worth sharing

        

  1. Another more recent addition is “The Few and Far Between” contest for users to submit pictures of really weird bars. The winning entry will have that bar featured in a Jack Daniel’s commercial.
  2.     

  3. Still another recent participative activity is the “Crack the Jack Daniel’s Safe” lottery. Scratch-offs are delivered to bars along with bottles of Jack. A customer may order a drink made with JD whiskey and then ask the bartender for a ticket. Prizes include posters, hats, and other branded swag.

Jack Daniel’s fully intends to be a popular whiskey with the Millennials and will engage in those content marketing strategies that do just that.

3. They don’t want to spend a lot of time doing research.

They want to go quickly to a business with a lot of positive “buzz” around it and/or that has been recommended within their communities.
To Do:

        

  1. Share who you are; tell your story. The founders of ModCloth spent a lot of time doing this and it paid off soundly.
  2.     

  3. Become a member of their communities by being an “expert” who can give advice and recommendations through social media and through blog posts. Put teasers to those posts on Facebook with a link back to your blog when you have good, new content to share about something they have been discussing.
  4.     

  5. Don’t push them into your sales funnel with offers like email subscriptions – they could not care less. And use CTA buttons sparingly on your blog. They are a big turnoff. Do put share buttons on all of your posts. Just coming to your blog and sharing is a great initial “conversion”. Patience with Millennials.

Example:
Millennials do not remember Steve Jobs’ early years at Apple or his disagreements with the Board of Directors that caused him to leave. The company was almost run into the ground until he came back. Millennials knew him as the “face” of Apple, a brand they could trust. And he knew how important his persona was as well. For this reason, he personally launched every new product – he was trusted. Even though Jobs is gone, the Apple brand is trusted, so long as the new “faces” do not act stupidly.

Steve Jobs acting as the face of Apple made it a company that Millennials can trust

Steve Jobs acting as the face of Apple made it a company that Millennials can trust.

4. Millennials will do business with companies that are genuinely relevant to their needs.

They look for companies that communicate in an honest way and that offer a consistent experience on their devices.
Recently LinkedIn published a list of the favorite websites of Millennials throughout all of their communities. The common thread among these favorites were that they had a good reputation, were easy to access on their phones, had high-speed loading on their mobile devices, and provided them with relevant products and services.
To Do:

        

  1. Responsive design has been a good way to provide excellent UX on mobile devices, but most of the “big boys” are now developing a mobile first strategy as they design and re-design. This is only smart considering the trends of device use for research and purchases.
  2.     

  3. Give users as few tasks as possible on their devices. Companies that do this really well are car rentals, airlines, hotels and restaurants. Amazon does a good job too.
  4.     

  5. Ensure that the site loads quickly and that navigation is really seamless. This keeps Millennials coming back which leads to conversions.

Examples
When LinkedIn published it list of Millennials’ most favored sites, Amazon of course was one. Two others were Spotify and BuzzFeed.
Here’s what Millennials said about these two sites:

        

  1. Spotify: It loads quickly; the audio is terrific on their phones; it has the music they want; they can curate playlists; they can hear new artists; and they can share with their friends. Plus, their experience is consistently good. Given that 85% of Millennials listen to music on their devices, Spotify has a solid position in this market.
Spotifys app has easy to use navigation gives access to your own music helps you discover new music and works on multiple devices

Spotify’s app has easy-to-use navigation, gives access to your own music, helps you discover new music, and works on multiple devices.

        

  1. BuzzFeed: The whole structure of the site is easy to use on a mobile device – no swiping and a fast load and navigation. One of the biggest draws they stated were the listicles – numbered lists of everything that are quickly scannable and help with real problems in their lives.
BuzzFeeds articles are easily digested with so many of them written in the form of a list.

BuzzFeed’s articles are easily digested with so many of them written in the form of a list.

5. Millennials are loyal to businesses that are principled, bear social responsibility and give back in some way.

To Do:

        

  1. Get a cause of some kind.
  2.     

  3. Invite customers and potential customers to participate. For every purchase, you donate a part of the payment to a charity.
  4.     

  5. If you have a small team, take on local activities, such as Habitat for Humanity or a walk for a cure. Publicize your participation on Facebook and on your site.

Examples:

        

  1. Headbands for Hope: When Jessica Eckstrom founded this company, she was a junior in college. While the idea came from a program she watched about the “Make a Wish” foundation, she knew she wanted a for-profit business that could still “do good”. By the time she graduated from college, she had sold 10,000 headbands, donated 10,000 headbands to children with cancer, and had given $10,000 to cancer research. Within one year after graduation, she had tripled her sales and donations.
Headbands for Hope engages and gives back.

Headbands for Hope engages and gives back.

        

  1. TOMS Shoes: Most people already know this story. TOMS was a moderately successful shoe retailer, albeit a bit conservative in styles, when the owner decided to alter his image to appeal to Millennials. He expanded his product line and took on a pretty major undertaking. For every shoe purchase, he committed to donating a pair of shoes to a child in need. Publicizing all of this on Facebook began to really move the business. Gross sales reached $250 million, and the company has since taken on projects related to clean water and farming. TOMS has an extremely loyal customer-base among Millennials.

TOMS has boosted sales because it has made its giving very public.

TOMS has boosted sales because it has made its giving very public.


Converting Millennials requires patience and a real understanding of their values and lifestyles. While analytics can provide a lot of good information about where and when they shop, devices used, where they bounce and why, there is also something to be said about knowing your audience well enough to know where to start your testing.

About the Author

Julie Ellis is an experienced marketer and freelance blogger. Her wide experience in the field of education, self-improvement and psychology gives her the opportunity to help all people that are willing to make the world better. For more, follow Julie’s Twitter and LinkedIn.

This is a common question, and requires an understanding of the definitions of bounce rate.”
The bounce rate is a bit slippery and requires some examination. The intention of measuring the bounce rate is to figure out how many of your visitors are leaving almost immediately after arriving at your site. This metric provides for a lot of error in interpretation.

“A high bounce rate means you’re site is crappy.”

This is rarely the case. A more accurate explanation is that your site doesn’t look the way your visitors expect it to look. Understanding what your visitors expect is the way to reduce your bounce rate.
Instead, there are usually some more valid reasons for your high bounce rate. Here are the things we examine when confronted with uncomfortably high bounce rates.

You’re measuring it wrong.

How you measure your bounce rate can give you very different insights. For example, blogs often have high bounce rates. Does this mean that visitors don’t like the blog?
Many analytics packages measure a bounce as a visit, or session, that includes only one page. Visitors who take the time to read an entire article would be considered a “bounce” if they then left, even though they are clearly engaged.
We set a timer for our blog traffic, so that any visitor who sticks around for 15 seconds or more is not considered a bounce.

Technical Difficulties

We are fond of saying that you don’t have one website, you have ten or twenty or thirty. Each device, each browser, each screen-size delivers a different experience to the visitor. If your website is broken on one of the more devices popular with your visitors, you will see a bump in overall bounce rate.
If your pages load slowly, especially on mobile devices, you can expect a higher bounce rate.
If your page breaks out in a chorus of Also Sprach Zarathustra when the page loads, you may enjoy a higher bounce rate.

How to diagnose

Your analytics package will track the kind of device your visitors are coming on.

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?


The Google Analytics report Audience > Technology > Browser & OS shows that there may be a technical issue with Safari visitors coming from within an app. This may also reflect visitors coming from mobile ads, and they may simply be lower quality. See below.
With Google Analytics Audience > Mobile > Devices report, we see mobile devices specifically. The Apple iPhone has an above-average bounce rate, and we should probably do some testing there, especially since it’s the bulk of our mobile traffic.
With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

Traffic Quality

If you’re getting the wrong visitors, you will have a high bounce rate.
Remember StumbleUpon? Getting your site featured on the internet discovery site often meant a flood of new visitors to your site… and a crash in your conversion rate. Stumble traffic was not qualified, they were just curious.
Your bounce rate is a great measure of the quality of your traffic. Low quality traffic bounces because:

  • The search engine showed them the wrong link. Do you know how many visitors used to come to our site looking for a “conversion rate” for Russian Rubles to Malaysian Ringletts?!
  • The visitors aren’t ready to buy. They were in a different part of the purchase process. Visitors coming from Social Media ads have notoriously low conversion rates. They weren’t looking, they were just surfing.

We take a closer look at the source of traffic to diagnose a traffic quality problem using Google Analytics Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report.

Display and direct traffic are our biggest traffic sources and bring the most bouncers.

Display and direct traffic are our biggest traffic sources and bring the most bouncers.


Here we can see that traffic coming from Display ads and those visitors coming “Direct-ly” have a high bounce rate. These two sources also make up 50% of our traffic. Ouch.
In the case of Direct traffic, we expect most of it to come to the home page. With a click, we can see that indeed 50% of Direct visits are to home.
Filtering for Direct traffic, we see that 50% of it is entering on the home page.

Filtering for Direct traffic, we see that 50% of it is entering on the home page.


Clearly we need to do more to get visitors on their way into the site. As Tim Ash says, “The job of the home page is to get people off of the home page.” He didn’t mean by bouncing.
With regard to Display ads, we my have a problem with broken promises.

Broken Promises

Do your entry pages consider the source of visits?
If your traffic is clicking on an ad that promises 20% off on a specific propane grill, and they’re directed to your home page, you’ve broken a promise. You might think that they will search your site for the deal. You might even think they’ll search your home page for the deal. You’re wrong. Many will jump.
Every ad, every email invitation, every referral link is a promise you make to your visitor. If they don’t come to a page that lives up to the promise, they are likely to bounce.

  • Does the headline on the page match the offer in the ad?
  • Does the product in the email appear after the click?
  • Are the colors and design consistent across media?

This Dispaly ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.

This Dispaly ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.


Looking at your ads on a page-by-page basis is necessary to diagnose and correct this kind of bound-rate problem.

Vague Value Propositions

Ultimately, if you’re not communicating your value proposition to your visitors clearly, you are going to enjoy a monstrous bounce rate.
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Your value proposition typically does not address your company or your products. It should be targeted at your visitor, why they are there, and why they should stick around.
Each page has it’s own value proposition. Your business may have a powerful value proposition, but each page should stand on its own.
A contact page should talk about what will happen after you complete the form. Who will contact you? How long will it take? Will they try to sell you something?
A landing page should clearly state that you are in the right place and provide reasons for you to stay and read on.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold. See the full case study and video.


A home page should help you find your way into the site. Most home pages are treated like highway billboards. No wonder people just drive on by.
Ultimately, we don’t want to reduce our bounce rate. We want to improve our conversion rate by bringing the right traffic, to the right page, with the right message, and avoid technical issues that get in the way.
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Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

The Mobile Web is still in its infancy.  Today, alleged “mobile best-practices” are nothing more than successful desktop strategies scaled to a smaller screen.  But people behave differently on small-screen devices than they do when they are sitting at a computer.

Conversion Sciences has begun to see what Mobile Web 2.0 will look like. Having completed dozens of mobile design split tests, key trends have begun to show themselves. Much of what we have learned flies in the face of conventional beliefs.

This is why we test.

Some of our customers now have higher converting mobile sites than desktop sites.

Our approach to mobile design is controversial because, as scientists, we can’t just accept traditional wisdom at face value.  We need evidence.

Joel Harvey will be reveals the results of dozens of tests we’ve completed.  Insights are based on real tests. No gut instinct here.  Watch Mobile 2.0: Judgment Day to learn what he has discovered. He shares:

  • Can mobile websites can convert better than the desktop?
  • How to increase mobile conversion rates.
  • What is poison to your mobile conversion rate.
  • How iPhone and Android visitors act differently.

Watch the replay on demand in its glorious entirety.

Don’t ignore your mobile traffic. It can be a real revenue generator sooner than you think.

The BestPracticlopse may be eating your mobile website.

The BestPracticlopse may be eating your mobile conversion rates.


Brian Massey and Joel Harvey have been making waves at conferences from Portland to Boston. Their presentations have been killing some of the sacred cows of mobile website design.
Joel will be at it again this week in Las Vegas at Conversion Conference.
Joel’s presentation on Mobile Design Essentials is going to be controversial, and how you treat mobile visitors is going to change as a result of what he has to say.
The data is there to support some of their controversial positions.

        

  • [pullquote position=”right”]Responsive design, as we know it today is toxic to mobile conversion rates[/pullquote].
  •     

  • High-performing mobile websites will look more like mobile apps.
  •     

  • Maximizing screen real estate on small screens isn’t as important as we thought.
  •     

  • Android and iPhone visitors act differently.

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You don’t really have just one mobile website. You have ten or twenty or thirty. Each operating system, browser and screen size generates a different interpretation of your site.

Joel Harvey makes the point that if your site is broken, your visitors' phone is broken.

Joel Harvey makes the point that if your site is broken, your visitors’ phone is broken.


Joel was rated a top speaker at Conversion Conference in 2014. Join his session on Thursday May 14 at 10:30am and for a fun and enlightening presentation.
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What to look for in a high-converting landing page template.

A friend of mine recently offered me an expensive Giant brand road bike that he wasn’t using in exchange for some help on his website.

He runs a local carpet cleaning service in San Marcos, Texas just south of the Conversion Capital of the World. He hadn’t spent much time on his website, and wanted to update it. While we don’t necessarily recommend redesigns, I felt this one needed a face lift.

Certified Carpet Cleaners Bubble Animation

Sometimes, you just need to start over.

I love the bubbles, but I doubt they are helping conversion rates. I haven’t seen animations like this since the 1990s. The background image slows load time and confuses the eye. The graduated fill on the buttons makes them all but unreadable.
Don’t laugh at my friends design. Here is a WordPress theme I recently reviewed. Check out the stars.

VPropos Theme with Stars in Background

These stars don’t move the value proposition forward. Maybe it works for NASA.

Then there’s this:

Nativoo Parallax Navigation Animation

Animation for animations sake is not helpful for scanners. Note the slow loading of the background image.

My friend needed a new theme for his WordPress site.

Fortunately, I had been asked to be a judge in the ThemeForest PageWiz template contest. More specifically, my task was to pick the themes that would make the best landing page templates.

I’ll tell you how I ranked these themes based on my experience, based on tests we’ve conducted here at Conversion Sciences, and based on my work as an online marketer who uses WordPress in my business.

47 Landing Page Templates, One Winner

The typical "Banded Sales Page" delivers the value proposition for a page in separate sections, or bands.

The typical “Banded Sales Page” delivers the value proposition for a page in separate sections, or bands.

I reviewed 47 different PageWiz landing page templates created by designers. I was tasked with picking one I felt embodied the best practices in conversion-centric landing page design.

The goal of a landing page is to:

1) Keep the promise of an ad, email or link.
2) Get the visitor to take some action, to convert.

Most of the themes I reviewed followed a common pattern, one I call a “banded sales page.”

These are designed to unfold like a sales letter: Big promise at the top, and an unfolding story, or value proposition, as you scroll. Key parts of the story are separated into sections, often with bands of color or images to identify them.

The support for the value proposition is like that found in an old-style sales letter: claims, features and proof. Trust builders, such as testimonials and client logos are also an important part of the this style.

Most themes chose big images for background filler. This is an unfortunate choice, because slow load times mean lower conversion rates. It looks cool, but you know what’s cooler? More sales.

This style of page templates doesn’t provide a significant amount of space for copy, and this may be to their detriment. Instead, they provide bite-sized information to build the value proposition, perfect for scanning the page. These bite-sized sections are most commonly presented in bands of different background colors.

For example, the Landing Page Elements Theme (view) wastes a lot of valuable space for a rather irrelevant image.

Landing page templates with large images take a long time to load and often don't move the value proposition forward.

Large images take a long time to load and often don’t move the value proposition forward.

Some of the themes used parallax scrolling features, which we have not tested, but which may actually add friction to the experience, reducing conversions.

The Theme Should Serve Your Market

The landing page really needs to serve it’s audience. I found the highest scoring templates to be those that were for specific kinds of businesses: fitness, real estate, conferences, travel.

My pick is the Avira Homes template because of its creative calls to action and excellent mobile experience. It suffers from big images and almost fell out of the running.

Mobile Friendly is a Must

I’ll get this out of the way now. No responsive design made my list of top templates. I know it’s an easy way to get a mobile site, but mobile is different than desktop. Design a separate template for mobile.

Look for landing page templates that supports a separate mobile experience.

Look for a landing page template that supports a separate mobile experience.

The Knights Theme (view) offers a mobile theme separate from their desktop implementation.

Mobile Visitors Want Different Content

I made mobile support an important part of the criteria, because it is a growing traffic source for almost any industry. Most themes relied on responsive designs. Others had dedicated mobile templates. Many themes actually break when displayed on phone-sized screens.

We favor designs with dedicated mobile designs, as responsive designs have myriad problems for landing pages. Responsive designs often don’t make sense as desktop content is stacked in non-intuitive ways. These mobile sites also tend to load slower than their dedicated mobile cousins.

Most desktop themes won’t offer a map on their home page or landing pages. For mobile visitors, where we are is important. Maps are a great addition to your mobile experience.

Mobile-oriented content like maps are often lost in responsive designs.

Mobile-oriented content like maps are often lost in responsive designs.

Mobile visitors also want bigger buttons, click-to-call functionality and mobile-focused calls to action. Notice how the Avira site (my winner) offers click to call as the first-screen call to action in their mobile theme. Their desktop site offers a form and the “Contact Me” button.

Avira's separate mobile app is designed for the mobile experience.

Avira’s separate mobile app is designed for a uniquely mobile experience.

The Avira Real Estate Theme (view) was my choice for overall winner.

The Page Should Load Fast

I was happy to see that none of these pages had scrolling hero images, called sliders. These slow load times and can distract readers from the information on the page.

The slow load time of the VPropos theme (view)left us with nothing to watch.

The slow load time of this theme left us with nothing to watch.

The slow load time of this theme left us with nothing to watch.

The Theme Should Make Good Use of the First Screen

It is important that a landing page communicate that the visitor can take action on the page. It should be done early. There is a segment of your visitors that are looking to take action. They don’t want to read, they want to put things in motion.

The FlatVault  theme makes good use of the top of the page using calls to action.

The FlatVault theme makes good use of the top of the page using calls to action.

In contrast to the landing page templates with large images, I felt that FlatVaulth (view) did a good job of utilizing the top portion of the page, with not one but two calls to action.

The Copy Should Be Easy to Read

I favor designs with dark text on light backgrounds for readability. Knockout text is hard for eyes over 40 to read. Pages that are mostly dark cause our pupils to widen. This larger aperture makes focusing more difficult. That’s why we squint when we are trying to read small text. It makes our aperture smaller.

Light text on a dark background is more difficult for older eyes that have trouble focusing.

Light text on a dark background is more difficult for older eyes that have trouble focusing.

The App Cast Theme may be best for young eyes (view).

A good designer uses color to guide the eye. The use of the same color makes it harder to locate the information that is important. For example, pricing tables job is to help us choose. In this pricing table, it’s clear that the center offering is more important, but the color choices make it hard to compare across offerings.

The poor color choices make it hard to compare options.

The poor color choices make it hard to compare options.

The Landing Elements Vol 2 Theme (view) make poor color choices.

Contrast is your friend, especially when your presenting headlines and calls to action.

The headline and call to action are difficult to read here because of a low contrast between background and text.

The headline and call to action are difficult to read here because of a low contrast between background and text.

The green and red backgrounds offer a low contrast background for the headline and form’s call to action in the Brom theme (view).

Make Good Use of Images and Video

If a theme didn’t explicitly support video, I didn’t hold it against theme. Several did. Video is all over the map in terms of whether it works or not. It is a powerful medium that can work for you or against you.

Images are powerful ways to move the value proposition of the site forward. Unfortunately, designers often punt, using filler stock images instead of well-thought out pictures. Unfortunately, theme builders really can’t offer one image that communicates well for all of the possible sites their theme may ride on.

The Cube Consulting Theme (view) makes good use of image placement here.

This image is in the right place, but is clearly a stock image. The human eye knows when it sees what we call business porn.

This image is in the right place, but is clearly a stock image. The human eye knows when it sees what we call business porn.

The man in this theme is what we call “business porn.” It is a stock image, not someone who works at the company or is a customer. The placement of this image is smart. It anchors the call to action form visually which partly covers the image.

A better image would have been looking down at the form, or to the value proposition at the left. We tend to linger on faces, especially when they are looking right at us. If we’re looking at a face, we’re not reading the offer text or the calls to action.

Be careful of images that work against you.

The dot-matrix background and gratuitous keyboard image only work to make the text hard to read in this image.

The dot-matrix background and gratuitous keyboard image only work to make the text hard to read in this image.

The Expo Theme (view) uses a dot-matrix background that messes with the eyes and makes the text harder to read. Why is there a keyboard in the background?

This background image conflicts with the call to action, confusing the eye.

This background image conflicts with the call to action, confusing the eye.

One problem of our winning theme, Avira (view), is the poor choice of a background image. This image conflicts with the call to action form.

Shapes

The shape of your images can have impact as well. After viewing over 40 different themes with the banded designs, I found these curved images refreshing.

The shape of your images can draw the eye to important page components.

The shape of your images can draw the eye to important page components.

The Dyxalot Theme (view) curved hero image draws the eye to the center where the key messages are.

Avoid Useless Images

If I have to find a large, high-resloution image that’s relevant to my visitor and figure out how to not screen it back, that’s a theme that is too much work.

This design is typical of the designs that waste precious real estate at the top of the page with nothing relevant.

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme.

A lot of space was dedicated to red buildings in this theme. What’s the message?

The Mobis Theme (view) wastes a lot of space with a background picture of buildings. Unecessarily large images push your value proposition and calls to action down on the page, where they are less likely to be seen.

Make Images Clickable

Make images clickable, even if there’s a button below. These are not.

Clicking on the buttons works, but the images are not clickable. Don't get in your visitors' way.

Clicking on the buttons works, but the images are not clickable. Don’t get in your visitors’ way.

The MyCourse Theme (view) should make their images clickable.

Calls to Action

Calls to action should be the most visually prominent items on the page.

The use of arrows and button colors that clash with the other colors on the page signal that the call to action should be addressed by the visitor.

High contrast buttons and arrows signal to the visitor that they should address the call to action.

High contrast buttons and arrows signal to the visitor that they should address the call to action.

The My Earth Non-profit Theme (view) enhances the visibility of the call to action.

More Calls to Action

For long banded pages, they should be frequent. You never know when your visitor is seeing the content that pushes them to take action in a long-scrolling landing page.

Our winning theme, Avira (view), offered a variety of calls to action, from the ability to inquire about specific properties to general inquiries. It invited visitors to call and offered lead generation forms at the top and bottom of the page.

Landing page templates should support frequent calls to action.

You never know when copy or an image is going to incite a visitor to act. Use frequent calls to action.

Your Forms Should Behave

Form behavior should make completion intuitive and natural. When someone hits tab in your form, they should be taken to the next field, not another part of the page.

The form for the Urane Theme (view) looks like this:

Be careful if you use the tab button here (and most of us do).

Be careful if you use the tab button here (and most of us do).

When I type my name and click Tab, it jumps to a random part of the page.

Surprise behaviors will kill your conversion rates.

Surprise behaviors will kill your conversion rates.

Use a Dripping Pan

If someone reads your page to the bottom, this is a pretty good sign that they are interested. Themes should repeate the call to action at the bottom of the page. We call this a dripping pan because it catches the juices to make gravy.

Landing page templates should repeat the call to action at the bottom of the page.

This form appears at the bottom of the page. It’s a dripping pan.

The dripping pan for the MyPro Affiliate Theme (view) offers a complete form and call to action.

App Store Buttons

If you’re doing a theme for an app download, the call to action is to visit an app store. I recommend that you not redesign these buttons. They should be recognizable as clicks to the Google Play store and iTunes app store.

The most recognizable app store button designs are used across the Web.

The most recognizable app store button designs are used across the Web.

The Dyxalot Theme (view) makes this call to action almost invisible.

These download calls to action are almost invisible

These download calls to action are almost invisible

The App Cast Mobile Theme (view) offers company logos, not app store logos.

Are these company logos or app store download buttons?

Are these company logos or app store download buttons?

The Volax Theme (view) offers more clues that this is an app download, but this is not a fimiliar image for the app stores.

The addition of  download counts adds social proof, but what am I downloading exactly?

The addition of download counts adds social proof, but what am I downloading exactly?

Plan for Proof and Trust

Presenting proof is very important, and several themes offered interesting ways to present proof. Claims made in your copy must be supported by a benefit and proof.

The Expo theme presents a place for proof points

The Expo theme presents a place for proof points

The Expo theme presents a place for proof points (view).
Websites can “borrow” trust from other brands by showing logos, seals and badges. Client logos, partner logos, and even the logos of credit cards all conspire to build trust with visitors. Themes that support this were ranked higher in my judging.

Choose landing page templates that support trust symbols.

Websites can “borrow” trust from clients, partners and media outlets by displaying their logos

Unfortunately, the MyPro Theme made a poor choice for the background of these trust building logos (view).

Induce Scrolling

One of the concerns with banded pages like those in this competition is that every scroll can look like the bottom of the page. Visitors may never scroll further to see the persuasive content lower on the page.
Themes that induced scrolling were ranked higher on my list.
The Upfold Theme (view) provides several scrolling queues. The v-shaped header image invites visitors to scroll down.

A simple arrow-shaped image can induce scrolling, making your copy more effective.

A simple arrow-shaped image can induce scrolling, making your copy more effective.

Connective lines between sections signal visitors that there is more to see. This keeps people scrolling.

Subtle connective lines signal that there is more information to follow as the visitor scrolls.

Subtle connective lines signal that there is more information to follow as the visitor scrolls.

Consider Introducing Scarcity

If your offer has a deadline, you can use countdown timers to introduce “scarcity.” This communicates that an offer is about to expire and that the visitor should take action immediately.
Countdown timers are effective, and several themes incorporated them into their pages.

Count down timers can introduce scarcity into the visitor's decision making process.

Count down timers can introduce scarcity into the visitor’s decision making process.

The Pagewiz Event Conference Meetup Theme (view) places a countdown timer in the body of the page.

Scarcity is a natural fit for events.

Scarcity is a natural fit for events.

Elect! Political Charity Conference Theme (view) places a countdown timer right below the hero image.

Social Distraction

The most common distraction I see on landing pages is social media icons. Traffic is never free. Even search traffic requires you to optimize and develop content. If you’ve paid for a visitor to come to your site, why send them off to Mark Zuckerberg? He’s god enough traffic.

The social icons are muted, but shouldn’t be at the top of the page competing with the call to action.

The social icons are muted here, but save them for the thank you page.

The social icons are muted here, but save them for the thank you page.

The social icons on the FlatBox Theme (view) are the most visible (and thus the most important) items above the fold.

The social media icons really pop on this dark background. The message is that these are the most important things on the page.

The social media icons really pop on this dark background. The message is that these are the most important things on the page.

Only use if social media is a great source of visitors for your site. Instead of a dripping pan at the bottom of the page, FlatBox offers a smorgasbord of distractions.

Most businesses aren't good at turning likes and follows into business. Save these buttons for the thank you page.

Most businesses aren’t good at turning likes and follows into business. Save these buttons for the thank you page.

The best use of social media I saw was the RealGym Theme (view), my runner up. This use of social media turns gym trainers into social sales people

Here the social icons support the business model directly by turning trainers into social salespeople.

Here the social icons support the business model directly by turning trainers into social salespeople.

Help Me Choose a Plan

If you offer multiple levels of service or product tiers, the job of your pricing matrix is to, Help Me Choose. Your landing page template should highlight one price package to help my visitors choose.
The Mobis Multipurpose Landing Page Theme (view) offers three colors, none of which is more prominent than any other.

Which of these is most popular? Which should I choose? It's hard to tell.

Which of these is most popular? Which should I choose? It’s hard to tell.

The Urane Theme (view) offers a highlighted choice.

This design says,"I should pay attention to the middle one, and not just choose the cheapest."

This design says,”I should pay attention to the middle one, and not just choose the cheapest.”

Pricing tables that make it easy to compare features will improve conversion rates.

The Landing Elements Vol 1 Theme (view) offers banding to help guide the eye across features.

Alternating colors help guide the eye and aid in comparing features.

Alternating colors help guide the eye and aid in comparing features.

Pricing tables should not attempt to sell features. You should only select a few criteria–three or four–to be placed in the pricing table. Let the copy do the rest of the selling.

Use helpful names as well.

Choose the descriptive names for your feature levels.

Choose the descriptive names for your feature levels.

The Flat Vault Theme (view) suggests “Basic”, “Pro” and “Elite” levels. These generic names are translated as “Cheap”, “Expensive” and “Only for big companies”. Be more clear in your naming. Choose names that convey relevant value.

No Template is Going to Have It All

This is a lot to consider when picking a theme. None of the landing page templates I reviewed scored perfect on all counts.

Your business may have special needs. If building trust is important, focus on themes that support trust and proof. If you serve mobile visitors, be sure to use a separate theme for your mobile site.

For almost any site, Readability, Calls to action, and Load Time are going to be critical.

Any theme you produce will need to be optimized for your unique visitors. Contact Conversion Sciences for a free consultation on your site.

Now I can ride my new bike and know that I selected the best template for my carpet-cleaning friend.

Here’s the dripping pan.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

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

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