Your conversion rate is one of the most important metrics in your marketing toolbox, yet many marketers don’t understand it or even know it exists.
Today, we solve that problem. Keep reading to learn:
- What a conversion rate is
- The formula for conversion rate
- Why it’s so important
- 16 tips to improve your conversion rate starting now
What is a conversion rate?
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of people who respond to your call to action.
On a landing page, it’s the percentage of visitors who complete your desired goal for that page. In a campaign, it’s the percentage of interactions that results in conversion.
We often think of conversion as a sale. But conversion can refer to any action you ask for:
- Responding to your offer
- Subscribing to your newsletter
- Downloading your lead magnet
- Scheduling an appointment
- Engaging with your tool
Your conversion rate is important because it gives you one number to express how well your marketing is working. Armed with this metric, you can begin experimenting with ways to improve your results over time.
How do you calculate conversion rates?
The formula for conversion rate is:
Conversion rate = (conversions / total visitors) x 100
To calculate your conversion rate, you need just two numbers:
- Number of conversions on a page
- The amount of traffic on that page
Divide your number of conversions by the number of visitors, then multiply by 100 to find the percentage of traffic that converted on the page.
You only need these two numbers to calculate your conversion rate. And because it’s a simple ratio, you only need to tweak these two numbers to improve your conversion rate:
- Raise the number of conversions
- Lower your traffic numbers
Which brings us to an interesting point. Lots of traffic may sound like a good thing, but you should drive more traffic than you can convert. Otherwise, you’ll hurt your conversion rate. (We’ll talk more about this in a minute.)
Conversion rate optimization process
Conversion rate optimization isn’t a once-and-done project. It’s an ongoing quest to improve your results, so you get the best return on your marketing dollars possible.
At its core, the conversion rate optimization process looks like this:
- Drive traffic to a page.
- Figure out how to convert that traffic.
- Brainstorm ideas to improve conversions on the page.
- Design and run tests to validate your ideas.
- Rinse and repeat.
When you begin conversion rate optimization, your current conversion rate is your baseline metric. Your goal is to improve that metric, even if it’s only by one percentage point.
What are some good conversion rates?
A good rule of thumb is this: Any conversion rate that’s better than your control is a good conversion rate.
That’s because conversion rates are relative. If you improve your conversion rates from 1% to 2%, you’ve doubled your sales.
That said, conversion rates vary widely across different industries. As you can see in this graph by WordStream, conversion rates in the dating industry are much higher than other industries. In that space a 2 percent conversion rate would be very low.
Your conversion rates will vary depending on your product, your price point, your product-market fit, and many other elements. Most industries average a conversion rate of 2–5 percent. A conversion rate of 10% or higher is well above average.
16 tips to improve conversion rates
Whether your current conversion rate is high or low, your goal is to improve it by testing new versions of your landing pages and new ways of making offers.
So let’s explore some things you can do right now to increase your conversion rates.
1. Don’t try to drive more traffic than you can convert
When you have more traffic than you can effectively convert, your conversion rates goes down and your costs go up.
Let me explain.
Let’s say you’ve been driving traffic to your website and you average 10 sales for every 100 visits. That gives you a 10% conversion rate. Assuming your ad spend is $200, it costs you approximately $20 to acquire a client.
Now, you decide to use a similar strategy in a new channel. But on this channel, your conversion rates are much lower. You only make two sales per 100 visits, a 2% conversion rate. And because you spent $200 to acquire those clients, your cost per client is $100.
You’ve invested the same time and money into the second channel, but your conversion rate is 20 percent lower, and your cost is 5X higher.
To raise your conversion rate in scenario 2, you need to drive less traffic or sell more to visitors from that channel.
2. Test everything
Never settle for “good enough.” Your goal is to relentlessly test and optimize your web pages, so your conversion rate continues to improve.
If you have a landing page with a good conversion rate, make it your control. “Control” is what we call the most effective version of any marketing piece that you’ve developed to date. Your goal is to beat the control.
To do that, you must test it against new versions to see if you can get better results by changing the messaging, design, visuals, price points, or any other element.
Not every test will win. And that’s okay. It simply confirms that your current landing page is getting the best conversion rate possible.
What should you test? You can test any and every element of a sales page.
Elements you can test:
- Page layout
- Long copy vs. short copy
- Size of images
- Image vs. video
- Call to action
- Button placement
3. Measure everything
To calculate your conversion rate and understand how your marketing is performing, you must watch your metrics.
Set up tracking on your website, landing pages, email, and other marketing channels, so you can track their performance.
To find traffic numbers for your website, set up Google Analytics for your website. Then add Google’s conversion tracking pixel to your website and other marketing tools.
Most email service providers and marketing tools provide metrics that tell you how well your campaigns are performing. Make sure you check (and track) your numbers on a regular basis.
4. Make it simple
One of the easiest ways to improve your conversion rate is to simplify the customer experience, both on the page and across the customer journey.
Root out complexity and confusion. In most cases, a simple, streamlined page with lots of white space will outperform a busy, overcrowded page.
When a visitor doesn’t see the call to action or can’t find the button, they exit the page without a second thought.
Can you remove extra clicks? Can you streamline the number of pages a customer must navigate to respond to your offer? Every extra step creates an opportunity to exit your campaign.
As an example, consider the checkout page. When Elastic Path changed theirs from two pages to one, their conversion rate rose by 21.8 percent.
Another example is the optin form. Consumers are uncomfortable with giving out personal data. If you ask for a lot of information in your forms, you can raise your conversion rate by as much as 10 percent by removing unnecessary form fields.
Ideas for simplifying your customer experience:
- Simplify your forms
- Simplify your landing page by removing forms and using a two-step optin instead.
- Convert your two-page order form to a one-page experience.
- Put more white space on your landing page.
- Offer fewer purchase options.
- Provide a chat box on your website, so customers can ask questions.
5. Adopt a mobile-first design approach
On most websites, mobile users outnumber desktop users. So your website needs to be designed for mobile first.
When Walmart optimized their website for mobile users, they boosted their conversion rate 20%, and mobile orders went up 98%.
After building a page, take the time to preview it on both desktop and mobile. If it isn’t attractive and easy to use on a mobile device, redesign it.
6. Use more video and graphics
A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s especially true for today’s busy consumer.
Not only do graphics and video break up text to make the page more visually interesting, they bring a host of benefits.
First, they improve comprehension. Our brains are wired to respond to images.
- We process graphics 60,000 times faster.
- We retain 80 percent of what we see.
- Conversely, we only retain 20 percent of text.
But we also engage better with video.
- We remember just 10% of a written message, but 95% of a video’s message.
- Video internet traffic is projected to be 80 percent of all traffic by 2022.
And as you might guess, that added comprehension and engagement translate to a higher conversion rate.
Ideas for testing media in your marketing:
- Replace your hero image with a video.
- Replace your video with an image.
- Add more images.
- Create a product walk-through video, so customers can see details.
- Add video testimonials.
- Use infographics to visually show step-by-step processes or complex data.
- Display numbers as graphs and charts.
7. Improve your copy
Once you’ve simplified your page and improved the customer experience, you can continue to improve your conversion rate by optimizing your messaging.
Ask these questions when you’re evaluating your messaging:
Is your headline benefits-oriented? Your headline needs to hook your ideal customer by promising an outcome they desperately want.
Is your message and offer ultra-clear? If your visitors are even slightly confused about what you’re offering, they’ll leave the page.
Is your copy easy to read and easy to scan? Few of us have time to read every word on every page we visit. Tell your story in the subheadings so your copy is easy to scan. Tell your story again in the body copy, so readers have all the information they need to make a decision.
Ideas for improving your copy:
- Tweak your headline:
- Make it more benefits oriented.
- Promise an irresistible outcome.
- Add urgency.
- Add curiosity.
- Use subheads and bullets to break up the text and make it easier to read.
- Use short sentences and paragraphs.
- Survey your customers, and use their exact words and phrases in your marketing.
8. Make it about “you,” not “us”
Your copy should feel like you’re speaking directly to the prospect. And just as you would in a face-to-face conversation, keep the focus on them.Remember, your customer doesn’t care about you, your company, or even about your product. They only care about solving a problem that’s interfering with their happiness or peace of mind.
Frame your offer in terms of how it will improve the customer’s life:
- Saving them time
- Helping them make or save money
- Helping them become healthier or happier
- Showing them how to Improve their relationships
According to Verticalresponse, CTAs written in the first-person convert 90 percent better than CTAs presented in second-person.
Ideas for switching to first-person:
- Search your landing page for “he,” “she,” or “them,” and recast your sentences to speak to “you.”
- Change the wording on your buttons. Instead of “Secure your seat,” test “Secure my seat.”
9. Sell to the unconscious mind
People buy for emotional reasons. Logic rarely has anything to do with it.
According to Gerald Zaltman, Harvard Business School professor, 95 percent of purchase decisions are made in the subconscious. According to his research, no matter how much we may protest, purchases are made based on unconscious beliefs and personal preferences.
So it’s important to sell to the unconscious mind.
Here are some test selling to the unconscious:
- Talk about your customer’s pain.
- Tell stories about real people who are similar to your ideal customer.
- Explain why: why you do what you do, why your product is unique, why it’s vital to your customer’s happiness and well-being.
- Use emotionally charged words like bold, helpless, confident, angry.
- Generate fear of missing out (FOMO).
10. Benefits over features
Because we love our products, we like to tell people about their features. But features don’t interest our customers. They want to know what those features will do for them.
This is a relatively easy fix for improving your conversion rate.
Spend more time talking about what the product does than how it does it. Describe how it feels to use the product. Show pictures of happy people enjoying the benefits.
Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about the features. But when you do, treat them as proof elements. “[Product] gives you [incredible benefit] through [cool feature].”
Always tie your features to a benefit or emotion.
Here’s a good example. As you read it, notice that features are implied rather than stated directly.
In the first listing, “information” is the unspoken feature. But as it’s described, you understand how valuable it is. It’s “jam-packed,” which sounds generous. It has also led to billions in sales, which sounds impressive.
Notice also how the copy makes you feel like you’ll be given an inside track:
- It introduces you …
- You’ll be connected with people who will guide you to success.
- With their help, you’ll be able to break into the business quickly.
11. Add urgency
A huge conversion killer is the customer’s decision to “think about it” or “do it later.”
In reality, “later” means “never.”
So you can easily improve conversions by adding urgency. Give your prospect a reason to act now?
Urgency can be created by putting a deadline on the offer. In this example, one of the first things a visitor sees is the countdown timer.
Miss it, and you’ll have to pay more to attend this event.
But urgency doesn’t always have to be created through time limitations. You can also create urgency by reminding visitors of the nagging pain that brought them to you in the first place.
Here, it’s done by reminding visitors that the pain will go away sooner if they act now.
Ideas for testing urgency:
- Add a time limit to the offer.
- Limit the number of seats or products available.
- Add a countdown timer to the page. This makes an abstract time limit more tangible.
- Remind prospects of the pain they’re experiencing without your product.
12. Pile on the proof
Any niggling of disbelief can crush your conversion rate. To boost your conversions, you may only need to prove that you can deliver as promised.
Every time you make a promise, provide a proof element. That can be statistic, quote, case study, example, or image.
Social proof also works. Think testimonials from happy customers, guarantee security seals, and specific numbers of people you’ve served.
Here’s a good example from Consulting.com.
Ideas for testing proof elements:
- Share success stories.
- Add testimonials to your page.
- Add numbers:
- Number of subscribers or students
- Number of successes
- Dollars earned for your customers, students, or yourself
- Name drop:
- Names of people or businesses you’ve worked with
- Celebrity students
- Quotes or kind words from thought leaders
13. Increase credibility
Similar to proof, credibility builds trust that you are a good resource for the solution you offer.
Credibility is often communicated through references to your experience, knowledge, credentials, or methodology. It can also be shown, for example, through images of you doing what you say you do.
Credibility can also be shown through third-party trust signals. Think awards, certifications, and quotes.
On the home page, you see Mark speaking on stage. The messaging, “one of the world’s leading marketing authorities,” positions him as a world leader in marketing.
Then, before you can question the validity of that claim, he shares six credibility signals:
- Professor at Rutgers University
- Two master's degrees
- Studied under Peter Drucker
- Author of seven books
- Owner of seven patents
- Fortune 100 client base
On other pages, he lists those client logos, with more media mentions.
These credentials remove any doubt that Mark knows what he’s talking about. If you hire him, you have complete confidence he can deliver.
Most of us don’t have that level of credibility. But to improve conversion rates, we need to showcase whatever credibility we do have.
Made.com posts their Trustpilot rating in the footer of their website:
YouBar prominently features their certifications on the home page.
Kathryn Aragon lists awards and her book on her website’s sidebar.
To increase your credibility:
- Mention awards or recognitions you’ve received.
- List books you’ve authored.
- Show off client logos.
- Include logos of magazines and websites that have featured you.
- Make a bold statement about who you are and what you do.
14. Remove friction and anxiety
Friction is anything that causes a sticking point or prevents people from taking action. Regardless of the causes, friction reduces the buyer response, which lowers your conversion rate.
Here are elements that have been known to increase friction:
The webpage isn’t intuitive: Don’t try to be creative or reinvent the sales experience. Your prospects understand how a website or landing page should work. Give them what they expect.
Presentation length: If your video or landing page is longer than it needs to be, it can bore your audience. They may exit before you’re able to make your offer.
If your video or landing page is shorter than it needs to be, it may leave important questions unanswered. As we discussed above, any lingering questions or confusion will lower your conversion rate.
Cognitive dissonance: When your messaging doesn’t line up with the customer’s previous experiences or expectations, they’ll experience cognitive dissonance. The differences make you seem untrustworthy to them.
Fixing these types of issues removes friction, and according to ConversionFanatics, that can give you a 76 percent lift in conversions.
Ideas for removing friction and anxiety:
- Test different lengths of landing pages.
- Include an FAQ section.
- Include a phone number or chat box, so visitors can talk with a human.
- Make sure the tone and style of your copy matches your customer’s expectations and your brand personality.
- Make your buttons easy to see.
- Tell visitors how to take action. Then tell them what will happen after they take action.
15. Remove distractions
You should have just one goal for every page. Everything on the page should help improve your conversion rate. Anything that interferes with that one goal should be removed.
That’s why landing pages don’t have a sidebar, social sharing buttons, navigation, or links. You want your audience to focus exclusively on your message, your promise, and your product.
To reduce distractions, follow the Rule of Noise. According to Peep Laja, founder of conversion optimization agency CXL:
“The closer you get to closing the sale, the less things you should have on your screen. Once they get to the checkout screen, you shouldn’t have ANYTHING on the page that doesn’t directly contribute to conversion.”
Be ruthless when weeding out distractions. This example shows you just how many distractions the typical landing page contains.
16. Change the way you present the price
The way you present your price can make a huge difference in how it’s perceived. So let’s look at some ways you can present your price to improve your conversion rate.
Before sharing the price, put it into context. To do this, create an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Compare your price to something similar but slightly different, so the prospect assumes your price will be higher than it is. Then, when you introduce your price, it’s a no-brainer.
For instance, you might compare buying your course to seeing a counsellor. After you explain in detail the cost of a counsellor, your course seems inexpensive.
You can also compare your product to the cost of an everyday purchase that your customer rarely thinks about. Like this:
You can also compare your price to the cost of doing nothing. Here’s how Todd Brown's E5 Method does that.
Remember, too, your price signals value. If you set your price too low, you signal to buyers that the product isn’t valuable.
Robert Cialdini, in the book Influence, tells the story of a jeweler who struggled to move a collection of turquoise jewelry. After trying every sales trick in the book, she finally left a handwritten note for an employee to cut the price in half.
The clerk misread the note. Instead of slashing the price, she doubled it. The entire case of jewelry sold out that day.
For most people, expensive equals good. You may be able to improve your conversion rates by raising your prices.
Another way to put the price into perspective is to list everything the customer gets, including the value of each item. This can make an otherwise high price seem like a good deal.
Here’s how Jay Abraham does it in his Business Bucket List Bonana program.
If you offer different access levels for the same product, consider laying them out side by side, like this:
Studies have found that when we are offered multiple price points, we tend to avoid the lowest and the highest options. The middle price point gets the highest conversion rate.
Knowing that, in this example, the middle price is given a blue heading and the label, “most popular.”
This adds an element of social proof to that option, making it seen like the best option.
Be careful when presenting your price points in this way. It needs to be clear that the increased price also delivers more value.
NOTE: Some customers will always want the most expensive option. If your prices are too low or if they don’t see a premium offer, they might pass.
To avoid this, try to offer a premium version of whatever you’re offering, even if hardly anyone ever buys it. As in the example above, make it stand out, so it seems more exclusive.
If your product is, hands down, the best in the industry, or if it’s difficult to express how your product stands out from the competition, consider offering a free trial.
A good example of this is Sam Ovens’ Consulting Accelerator.
Rather than trying to compete on the price, length of the course, or the topics covered, Sam has chosen to let new students experience his training before talking about money.
It’s a bold approach, but he’s confident students will be blown away by his training. So at the top of the page, he offers, “Get started free.”
At the bottom of the page, he allows prospects to explore one of three programs.
Like tiered pricing, each program is a step up from the previous one, but you don’t see a price anywhere on this page.
This approach breaks all expectations, so it could backfire. When visitors don’t see a price, they may actually be afraid to click through and learn more.
But in this case, Sam includes tons of social proof, which builds both curiosity and trust.
Ideas for testing your pricing presentation:
- Test higher prices.
- Experiment with how you present your prices: lowest tier first vs. highest first.
- End your price with odd numbers.
- Remove commas and cents from your price.
- Create tiered pricing by adding a lower-value option and a premium option.
- Don’t share your price at all. Offer a free trial and introduce the price after customers have fallen in love with your product.
Increasing your conversion rates boosts your business
To grow your business, you can’t just “do” marketing.
Success hinges on your ability to turn visitors into customers. And to do that, you must measure the impact of every message, marketing activity, and every visitor behavior.
We’ve reviewed 16 ways to begin improving your conversion rate, starting today. But don’t stop with these.
Come up with your own ideas for increasing your visitors’ motivation to buy while reducing their resistance.
Then test, test, and test some more. That’s the only way to know what works for your customers and your brand.