Even with a decent traffic stream in place, most attempts at online marketing wind up with far fewer conversions than expected.

What's responsible for this? The psychology behind online conversions is complex, but if you aren't seeing any conversions on your site, there are seven key things you can change to see a difference:

1. Your traffic stream. There's a chance your conversion strategy is fine--you just aren't getting the right people to your call-to-action. For example, let's say you've launched a PPC advertising campaign targeting a selection of keywords that doesn't align with your target demographics. When these users get to your landing page, they'll be hit with a concept that's alien to them, or something that just doesn't meet their needs. Sales are easier to make with warm leads rather than cold leads, so optimize your traffic streams for user intent. Go after social and referral channels that naturally appeal more to your target market. For help, see 39 Actionable Ideas For Driving Traffic To Your Website.

2. Your headline(s). Your copy makes a big difference in how persuasive your call-to-action is, especially at the headline level. Your headline (or headlines) will be the first thing your customer encounters, so if it doesn't hit home, you might lose the conversion before they ever get any further. Your headline should use powerful, compelling, specific words to describe your product and/or its benefits. Try to avoid generic phrases like "just the thing you need," or overly advertise-y messages like "you won't want to miss this!" Be sincere, straightforward, and transparent.

3. Your offer. All conversions offer some mode of exchange. The simple example here is a consumer paying a specific amount of money in exchange for a specific product--in this case, you'll have to prove that your product is worth at least that amount of money. Highlight its advantages with bullet points, pictures, case studies, or statistics. In more complex exchanges, a user might give you some personal information in exchange for free content, such as an eBook or access to a webinar. Is your content interesting and compelling enough to warrant a user handing over his/her email address? This is hard to quantify, but if you aren't seeing enough results, it may be time to upgrade your offer.

4. Your design. "Design" is a big, ambiguous term, as there are a number of aesthetic choices you can make that affect your bottom-line conversion rates. For example, the color contrast of your call-to-action could be preventing many users from ever seeing it--you need strong colors, fonts, and a recognizable shape to get someone's attention. You'll also need to avoid putting off customers with text or colors that are too obnoxious, such as flashing lights. It's also helpful if you include images or demonstrations of your products and services on your landing page--let people know what they're getting as intimately as possible. Conversions boil down to actions, and there are four elements to every action; know these elements and think about how your design affects them.

5. Your user experience. Your users aren't going to bend over backward to give you money (or their personal information). If you want them to convert, you have to make it easy for them to do so. The experience of your conversion process should be streamlined so that the average user can complete it within a few seconds or as few clicks as possible. Reduce the fields of personal information you request as much as possible, and use payment integrations to speed up the checkout process--fast loading times help too.

6. Your implication of urgency. Most people don't like to make impulsive financial decisions, especially online when they're most in control. However, most forms of online procrastination become indefinite; if a user finds any reason not to buy your product right now, they might delay the purchase only to never visit your site again. Accordingly, you need to convey a strong sense of urgency in your messaging and your design. Include a countdown timer, or imply some kind of scarcity value with a "limited time" offer; make it so there is no "later" that's possible for the decision.

7. Your provision of social proof. People want to see social proof before they trust a brand or buy a product--they want to know that other people like them have already made this decision and have benefited from it. There are several ways to exhibit this social proof more prominently, but the most effective is through customer reviews and testimonials. Embed real reviews or testimonials underneath your call-to-action, and if you can, include the names and faces of the people reviewing you. Failing that, you can use images and videos to showcase people using your product in a live environment.

When you start tinkering around in these different areas, remember the key to success: accurate measurement. Take careful note of how many conversions you see, make one specific change, and then measure again. Isolating your variables and comparing apples to apples will help you understand the significance behind your changes, and will guide you in making subsequent additions. If you're making really drastic changes, consider implementing an alternative version in a similar environment as a simultaneous AB test--you'll get the results in half the time.

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Published on: Mar 31, 2016
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