Everyone wants more conversions. After establishing your web presence and acquiring a decent stream of inbound traffic, all that's left is to optimize your conversion rate.

Unfortunately, the process isn't as simple as some would have you believe. There's no shortage of articles covering the basic best practices of conversion optimization, but some of the information is a bit misleading, or might only cover one perspective. As a result, I've noticed a number of myths emerging in the field of conversion optimization, and they can hold back your campaign's potential. Here are seven of them:

1. There's a surefire way to maximize conversions. I've seen dozens of marketers with extended pieces on how to "guarantee conversions" or achieve some measurable target of success. Usually, these articles are filled with good, practical advice--but they aren't guaranteed. There are some best practices that apply generally to a wide audience, but the reality is that every business is different. You're in a unique place, with a unique brand, unique customers, and a competitive environment unlike anyone else's. How could someone possibly give you the secret to higher conversions without knowing any of that? There's no such thing as a "perfect" conversion strategy, much less one that works for everyone the same way.

2. Conversion optimization is all guesswork. Some marketers have tried to reduce the conversion game down to a pattern of guesses. They'll shrink some elements, expand some elements, and test to see if it works. They'll throw in a few random sentences, and test to see if it works. I'm all about A/B testing and improving a conversion strategy iteratively, but if you start with guesswork, you'll be flying blind. Your goal should be to build a solid, educated conversion system based on what you know about your customers. From there, you can make educated guesses about which elements require further improvement.

3. It's the little tweaks that make the difference. I don't doubt the case stories that claim changing the color of a button multiplied a conversion rate five times over--I believe that's true for that company. The mistake is applying that thinking to a broader context, making the assumption that "little" tweaks like color and font changes are all that are holding you back from conversion success. Honestly, if your customers aren't converting, there's probably a bigger reason why, such as a lack of trust or perceived value.

4. Short copy is always better. Conciseness and brevity are important in most forms of writing, but that doesn't mean that short snippets of copy are the only way to be effective in securing more conversions. In fact, in some contexts (and in some industries), long-form content is far better; some customers prefer more thorough detail as reassurance that they're buying from a reliable provider. This doesn't mean that only long-form copy is good, either. It all depends on the nature of your business and the expectations of your customers.

5. If it works, copy it. When most companies get in a conversion optimization pinch, they start looking to competitors and other role models from whom they can borrow strategic direction. For example, you might be tempted to copy the layout of a competitor's landing page, replicating their success by only making a handful of aesthetic changes. Again, you have to remember that no two businesses are alike--just because it works for them doesn't mean it's going to work for you. You can learn from competitors' approaches, but don't let them dominate yours.

6. Conversion optimization is the same for everything. There are lots of opportunities for conversion--you might have a dedicated landing page for your paid traffic, a form on your social media profiles, and some opt-in forms on your blog. Some conversion best practices--such as appealing to trust or urgency--apply everywhere, but don't make the leap of assuming that the same best practices apply to every medium. Consumer behavior varies wildly depending on devices, mediums, and emotional states.

7. More conversions is always better. This one might take you by surprise. If every conversion holds a specific value, such as purchasing a product, then more conversions is always a good thing, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to fluid-value conversions, like the submission of personal information to a lead pool, there are some clear winners and losers; some may be very interested in buying from you, and some may be wholly uninterested. Even with buying products, some transactions are more valuable than others--namely, customers predisposed to making multiple future purchases. In each scenario, it's often more valuable to seek better-qualified traffic compared to simply ratcheting up your numbers. More conversions is usually good--but if your efforts to increase conversions suppress other, more important goals, then it can hurt your campaign in the long run.

The dangerous part of these myths is that nearly all of them hold some grain of truth; short copy is often superior at grabbing attention, guesswork is an integral part of the process, and there are certain tenets of conversion success that apply to any medium. The key is to explore these ideas fully, rather than taking your surface-level interpretations at face value. Treat conversion rate optimization as the complex process that it is, and you'll fare far better when it comes to achieving your goals.

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Published on: Mar 24, 2016
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