If you’ve been in the IM game long enough, you’ll notice a trend. All the experts and the so called “gurus” talk about is driving traffic. With about half the planet connected to the world wide web, there is no shortage of people to view your website.

But what happens when they reach your site? All the traffic in the world is completely useless unless it converts.

Today, we will talk about some basic principles (the ones most people screw up) of increasing conversion rate.

Testing is an Ongoing Process

Conversion rate optimisation is not a set it and forget it task. There is always more that can be done. Unless EVERY single viewer makes a purchase, then your work is not complete.

There is no end to the amount of testing you can do. Even changes to the most minute features can yield big rewards.

Need an example? One of the most notorious split testing stories comes from Google. Allegedly, Marissa Mayer, who is now the CEO of Yahoo, but was a long time employee of Google, once split tested 40 different shades of blue.

“Mayer is famous for many things at Google, but the one that always sticks out – and defines her in some ways – is the “Forty Shades of Blue” episode.

she ordered that 40 different shades of blue would be randomly shown to each 2.5% of visitors; Google would note which color earned more clicks. And that was how the blue color you see in Google Mail and on the Google page was chosen.”

Even websites like Amazon, that have been around for over 20 years and grossed and absurd $107 billion in revenue last year makes BIG changes almost annually.

This was Amazon’s front page in 2010

amazon-old

That year, they cashed in at $34.2 billion. Not too shabby, right?

Well, in 2011, they completely revamped the website in favor of a cleaner, more modern look (as seen below).

amazon-new-homepage

In 2011, they earned $48.08 billion. They did NOT make this change on a whim. They spent a lot of effort split testing. According to a TechCrunch article;

“Amazon has been testing the new design since late August and is now prepared to have it go live to all customers later this fall. This not only includes U.S. visitors, but international customers, as well.”

Since then, they’ve changed the layout numerous times. Here is where they stand today.

amazon-2016

The three designs look absolutely nothing alike. Last year, they earned just over $107 billion. For a company of that size, where a single mistake could cost millions, you better believe that they put an abundant amount of resources into testing before they make such drastic changes to their website.

You’ll also notice that in those 6 years, they’ve TRIPLED their revenue. Yes, a great deal of this is in part to the cool products they’ve rolled out, but it’s also in part to increased ease of use of their website from TESTING what works and implementing it. For instance, Amazon added the “1-Click” ordering feature.

How could this small feature help Amazon optimize earnings? One of the largest struggle e-commerce websites deal with is shopping cart abandonment. This occurs when a shopper selects and item for purchase, but gets cold feet when it’s time to input their payment information.

Baymard, an online research group, analyzed the adornment rate for several big name e-commerce companies dating back over a decade. What they found was that, on average, 68.63% of people that placed an item into their shopping cart did NOT follow through and purchase the item.

So, through split testing, Amazon came up with this tiny change that allows return visitors to make a purchase in 1 click without having to go through the entire buying process. How much additional revenue do you think that brought in?

Of course, they would never share that with us.

Test Based on Data, Not Gut Feeling

This is a serious folly that marketers tend to make. Marketers are passionate about their business (as they should be) and often make choices based on emotion instead of what the data shows. The data doesn’t lie. It may be cold and unforgiving at times, but it will always be honest.

Making a decision based on an assumption is the equivalent of guessing. When it comes to YOUR business and YOUR money, don’t leave it up to a guess.

Story time!

I have an experience I’d like to share about a time that I allowed emotion to dictate changes instead of data.

The first one occurred on a new website I was working on. I wanted this website to look cool and have all the latest features as I thought it would be more professional. One of the new features I added was the Disqus commenting system. Not only did it look cleaner than the traditional wordpress comment section I had been using previously, but it blocked ALL the spam comments. Needless to say, I was excited.

This decision was made purely on the assumption of what I thought my audience would want.

In one of my new posts, I asked what my audience thought of the new commenting system and I received a ton of comments (which is awesome). The problem was, they were all negative (which is not so awesome).

Apparently, in my crusade to clean up the website and eliminate spam, I didn’t take into consideration that the Disqus system requires additional steps to leave a comment. Instead of improving my website, I made it HARDER on my audience, which is NEVER a good thing.

Had I just took the time to ASK my viewers what they looked for in a commenting system before I made a change, I could have made my decision based on their responses, which would have saved me time, and my audience the heartache of putting up with a less than optimal experience.

Data isn’t just about numbers, it’s about general feedback as well.

The Right Words

“Words have power. Words are power. Words could be your power”

Mohammed Qahtani said this in the speech that won him the 2015, Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking competition.

Here’s his incredible speech here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xksgPjp1lRo

Words have the ability to elicit an emotional response, change the entire thought process of a human being, or help YOU sell more.

There is a reason why copywriters generally charge more per word than writers. They understand how every word in their copy acts to gain the desired result.

A blog post published to the Search Engine Journal, showed how changing 1 word led to an increase of $330,000 in revenue for one company.

Here are the 4 versions they tested…

  • Original: Get a free trial
  • Variation 1: Start free trial
  • Variation 2: Get free trial
  • Variation 3: Free 30 day trial

free trial cta button test

Simply by looking at them, it would be impossible to guess how each one would perform.

ab test results

It turns out, variation 1 CRUSHED the others. It wasn’t even close!

There’s no way this change never would have taken place if they didn’t split test the hell out of every variation for months on end on multiple sites and in several languages as well.

This isn’t a fluke either, this happens ALL THE TIME.

Conclusion

If you can master the finer points of conversion optimization, such as viewing split testing as an ongoing continuous process, following what the data says instead of what your gut feeling says, and understanding the importance of wording, then you will be well on your way to higher earnings.

In Part 2 of this series, I’ll be introducing some more advanced concepts. However, they are all built off of the basics that I laid out for you today, so it’s essential that you master these in order to move on.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below!