Startups, take it from Ferris Bueller*:
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Your company was designed for rapid growth. Every step you’ve taken in developing, championing, and promoting your business idea has been a leap, where big changes happen seemingly overnight. But are your targeted customers taking the next leap with you?
If there’s ever a reason for startup managers to stop and look around, it’s for conversion optimization.
Conversion optimization is the process of improving the user experience on your website with the goal of converting more visitors into customers. Through an ongoing process of testing website variables and applying conversion techniques, you help customers make the next step with your company. You show them that they’ve come to the right place.
Take a pause to analyze how your startup website encourages customers to take action. Here are 9 powerful tips for conversion optimization:
1. Ask customers on-page for insights
Gather customer feedback on-page with Olark, an affordable live chat application. The embedded message box lets you interact with customers during visits to your website in real time, answering their questions and gaining intelligence about their browsing experience. You can use their queries and comments to improve specific sore spots on your website.
We recently integrated Olark live chat over at Deversus, the Socket mother ship, and have already received a significant boost in inquiries and loads of positive feedback from customers. As an instant communication channel, Olark definitely delivers on user convenience. And we all know how important that is.
2. Convert with a concise tagline
There’s some powerful real estate underneath your logo, meant for explaining exactly what your company does for its customers. Impatient users need a quick rundown to assess whether or not you have what they’re looking for, and it’s up to the tagline to deliver. Aim for 1-2 concise, compelling sentences that summarize the unique experience you offer to the user.
These guys get it right:
Mint.com: “The best free way to save your money.”
GiftRocket: “GiftRocket combines the thoughtfulness of a gift certificate with the flexibility of cash. Send an online gift to anyone, instantly.”
Clock: “Timesheets are boring. Clock makes tracking your time easy.”
Shall I Buy? ”Get instant shopping advice from your friends.”
Bondsy: “The best way to sell used goods before going to Craigslist or Ebay.”
3. Explain it again, in a video
Besides boosting credibility and appealing to broader user learning preferences, explainer videos help startups engage users from the moment they hit the homepage.
Since it could be the first thing users experience with your brand, it’s important to make it memorable, but you don’t need a Hollywood-sized budget to get started. Kissmetrics contributor Andrew Follet has compiled the nitty-gritty for creating engaging, high-impact explainer videos. Check it out here.
4. Use big photography for big experiences
Bring the experience of using your product or service to life with a big, rich, high quality photographic layout on your homepage. This is a trend that Web Design Ledger contributor Jake Rocheleau says “has not been slowing down,” because of the emotional potential in a compelling photograph. You can use photography to show your product or service in action, and help the user create an experiential connection to it.
Have you seen big photography in action? Check out these brilliant examples:
Confirmed Stock: http://confirmedstock.com/
Blind Barber: http://blindbarber.com/
Asics-Stop At Never: http://www.stopatnever.com
5. Test page elements for usability. Test again
Use affordable and user-friendly conversion optimization software like Optimizely to run A/B tests for page elements such as Call-to-Action’s and registration pages. Test placement, color, size, and font style for these elements to develop the best variables for user conversions.
A/B testing is a crucial practice for companies in a constant state of growth. As you add navigation elements and customer conveniences to your website, the user experience changes. Testing variables prepares you to launch new elements successfully.
For instance, when you integrate Socket quoting software to automate online sales and manage lead data, a round of A/B testing could help gauge where to place the CTA for the instant quote form on your homepage. Programs like Optimizely quickly and reliably ensure that you make the choices that reflect your user’s preferences.
6. Cut the cute.
If you don’t believe me, give it a go on an Optimizely test. Seriously.
The “cute” here refers to those ambiguous and cuddly category titles you sometimes see on startup website navigation bars. “Busy Critters” instead of “Our Team” or “Into the rabbit hole” instead of “Learn More”. Huh?
Oftentimes, “cute” ends up confusing users and discouraging them to continue browsing the site.
Lead the user to the answer to their question, the solution to their problem. Provide straightforward, clear access with familiar headings and phrases.
And if you’ve got something so cute that you can’t resist, run some tests to see if users find it quite as charming.
7. Strategize for smarter page navigation
With free and handy Google Analytics software at your side, you can determine which pages are most visited on your website, and adjust your navigation bar to accommodate these preferences. The category structure should feature the “most clicked” in the top left, and ascend in accordance with popularity.
8. Save your test results
Every A/B test result, Google Analytics report, and customer survey response should be filed as part of an ongoing conversion optimization strategy — the “bigger picture” of your combined efforts. It’s like a history of your website, which can be referred to down the road when new changes to content or site performance need to be made. Your records will help you make better guesses, and perform more directed testing.
Olark, Optimizely, and Socket all have robust project management functionality for saving, tracking, and viewing results. Whether you’re chatting with prospects on-page or gathering valuable service insights from instant quote queries, the interactions are yours to learn from, when you need it.
9. Never stop learning
As Kissmetrics contributor Chris Goward says, “an ongoing, structured process of continuous learning and improvement delivers the best results over time.” Conversion optimization is not a one-time deal, because our users’ web preferences are constantly changing.
Take it from web marketers who have picked up on agile project management; building and adapting campaigns based on immediate customer feedback. Always testing. Always learning. Our rapidly evolving technological landscape demands it.
You see, startups? We’re never going to stop learning. Even when this pause ends and we rip back into the whirlwind challenges of growing a startup, Ferris Bueller’s words will live on. We need to stop and take a look around sometimes, to see what we can learn.
What will you learn today?
*Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick in the best late eighties teen comedy of all time, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (film). Directed by John Hughes. 1986.
Goward, Chris. “Why Conversion Optimization Strategy Trumps Tactics Every Time.” 28 January 2013. Kissmetrics.com
Rocheleau, Jake. “Web Design Trends in 2013.” 30 January 2013. Webdesignledger.com