ABC – Always Be Closing. Or, in today’s world, Always Be Converting. Oli Gardner probably doesn’t yell expletives at his employees like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, but he sure knows how to optimize conversions like a boss.

In case you have been under a proverbial marketing rock for the past couple years, Oli Gardner is the Creative Director of Unbounce, an industry-leading, conversion rate boosting, landing page creator. We create landing pages with Unbounce often and love it. 

Most of all, I love the content they create every week, and especially the content from Oli Gardner teaching conversion rate optimization. This post gives you a primer on some of Oli’s best CRO advice as given on multiple guest blog posts of his throughout the marketing blogosphere. 

Invest in Conversions, Not Just Traffic

It’s simple. If you want to sell something on your site, you need people to visit the site, also known as traffic, and you need them to convert to customers. 

So, if you aren’t meeting your sales targets you have two options - buy more traffic or convert more of the traffic you get.  

Most people just choose to buy more traffic. It makes sense -- kind of. Pour more money into new visitors and increase sales proportionally. It’s simple and easy. 

But you don’t want simple because simple is expensive. You want to pick the option that costs less. And to find out what costs less, you need to do the math. As Gardner explains in this MarketingProfs article, a  crash course in conversion, if you double and triple your marketing spend on traffic with zero investment in conversion optimization, your cost per acquisition (CPA) does not change. For your bottom line, you want the lowest CPA for the highest returns. 

Alternatively, Gardner shows us that if as “we increase the investment in conversion optimization, our traffic spend decreases. The result is fewer visitors, but the improved conversion rate more than makes up for the decrease.” Ultimately reducing your CPA and eventually the cost of optimization all but disappears once you’ve found that sweet spot.

It’s obvious that investing in conversion has greater returns than buying traffic. The best part is, this investment doesn’t have to be huge. With a few small tweaks you can see sizeable changes in your cost per acquisition.

To discover more, read Oli Gardner’s Clicking Me Softly: A Five-Day Crash Course in Conversion (Day 1) on MarketingProfs where he takes you through the basic principles of investing in conversion optimization.

Your Homepage Might Not be Your Best Choice for a Landing Page

If you are running a marketing campaign, you want to funnel leads to a page from which your customers can make a purchase. That should be the sole purpose of your landing page. 

Your homepage, on the other hand, has different purposes. It introduces new visitors to the company and it might have a bunch of links to send them to different parts of the site, or to different products. It could be carrying various promotions and deals and latest tweets and blog posts.

Also, most homepages are generic, while a landing page is specific. Directing leads to the homepage might send them off in different directions, but directing them to a landing page leads straight to the ‘Buy now’ button or whatever your desired action is.  In short, there are too many distractions on a homepage to get the job done.

We suggest reading Gardner’s Clicking Me Softly: A Five-Day Crash Course in Conversion (Day 3) for the full list on homepage vs. landing page as well as tips to assess your own CTAs. 

Relevant Copy Throughout Your Site is Essential

In your marketing campaigns, you might use different channels to get people to visit your landing page. Whether it’s an advertisement or e-mail, you need to make sure your copy is consistent across your ad and your landing page.

Inconsistent copy will cause your visitors to bounce. If they read one thing on an ad and click through to find something else, they might assume they are on the wrong page and leave.

You also want them to maintain the same thought processes they had while reading and clicking on the ad. When they land on your page and see the same message, it gets reinforced.

In his guest post for Duct Tape Marketing, A Crash Course In Landing Page Conversions, Gardner goes through the importance of consistent copywriting as well as eight other tips to convert and keep customers. 

Remember the 7 Principles of Conversion-Centered Design

When creating your landing page, it’s important to keep the principles of conversion-centric design in mind. Conversion-centric design is aimed at guiding visitors toward a single objective, usually the purchase button. Every element on your page should, in some way, persuade the visitor to convert.

Gardner suggests there are seven principles: four for design and three for psychology.

1. Encapsulation 

This means placing your CTA in the spotlight. Many sites use a box or border to encapsulate their sign-up form and CTA. Bidsketch uses a box that’s designed to look like a proposal and it immediately captures your attention when you land on their page.

2. Contrast And Color

According to Gardner, it’s not about the button color per se. It’s about the contrast of the color that you need to focus on. In his example he states,

“A green CTA may well outperform red in some circumstances, but if the page is dominantly green, that green button is going to get hidden among other page elements.”

Place the focus on contrasting colors to ensure it successfully stands out. In the case of the green page, a red button would be suitable. Monsterboards does it well with a red button that is in contrast with the gray, white and blue background.

3. Directional Cues

The third design principle, directional cues, basically guide your visitor through your page right up to your CTA. Common cues are arrows and pointers. Captivating images, especially those of babies, usually have a strong impact.

Take a look at the Evergage homepage, we use arrows as directional cues to guide you toward the first choice we want you to make.

4. Whitespace

This is simply creating enough space around your CTA for it to be isolated and distraction-free. Think of it as a canvas and your call to action is the most brilliant brushstroke to behold.

The above example taken from 35 Beautiful Landing Pages to Drool Over (With Critiques) of Menucopia’s landing page showcases what a clean, yet informative and captivating, landing page can look like. It encapsulates the CTA well but could improve in the contrast department.

5. Urgency And Scarcity 

This, the first psychological principle, has been used as a marketing tactic for a long time. Phrases like limited supply or offer valid for a limited time cause a sense of urgency in the visitor. The next time you book a flight and you are looking for low prices, notice how it says “only 3 seats left at this price”.

6. ‘Try Before You Buy’ 

This is commonly used by many SaaS companies these days to let visitors try their software for free before converting to a paid user. This shows users that you are confident that your service is the best for them and it makes them more likely to trust you.

Hootsuite, the social media management platform, offers a free 30 day trial of its Pro plan. Knowing that once customers get used to having certain features, they’ll be harder pressed to give them up. Having just raised $165 million in funding, our guess is that they must be doing something right.

7. Social Proof 

This is an obvious psychological factor in most of your daily decisions, and the same holds true when buying from your company. Testimonials from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a 6-figure Twitter following will make a huge impact on prospective buyers.

Buffer takes a novel approach: it provides social proof on its website by noting favorable tweets from users.

For a comprehensive guide that includes details on these seven principles, examples and critiques, please read Gardner’s 36 Creative Landing Page Design Examples - A Showcase and Conversion Critique on Unbounce.

Test, Test, Test, and Test Some More

While there are plenty of tactics to improve conversions, you still need to test each one. There is no hard and fast rule for what will work because every site is different and sells to different customer segments. A large, red button might work for one site but in your case it could be something else.

Testing also gives you hard statistics about your conversions. Experiment with a color, find out which has the highest conversion number, and then use it on your site and move on to the next experiment. Gardner believes you can always convert better, it’s just a matter of  continuous experimentation and testing.

Ultimately, if you aren’t constantly trying to improve your conversions, you’re practically turning potential customers away. With just a few simple experiments and small tweaks, you can drastically improve your conversions and reduce your CPA. 

Clicking Me Softly: A Five-Day Crash Course (Day 5) details how you can the fundamentals of testing, what to test and how to use that information to best serve your goals.

Hey Oli, if you are reading this, do you have any other tips you could share?

To the rest of you, if you had to give one tip on conversion rate optimization that you have learned, what would it be?

And, for your information, the Evergage Free Optimization Tools work great with Unbounce. You can prevent bounces (naturally) with a targeted offer popup when a landing page visitor is showing signs of bouncing, offer an extra incentive for landing page visitors to convert with a timed offer promoted next to the conversion button, and multiple other ways to personalize your visitor experiences to boost your conversion rates even more on Unbounce. Learn more about Evergage Free Optimization Tools and how they work with Unbounce.

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