Conversion Guru - Online Secrets to Success

Friday, May 19, 2006

Choosing your words carefully when you write online is just as important as the layout of your page, or the content on your site. To improve your site, consider the meaning of the words you are writing.

When we write we have to realize that words often have more than one meaning. They have a denotation, which is a literal meaning and how it is defined in the dictionary, and a connotation, which is an implied meaning within certain cultures. Some words have positive connotations and some have negative ones.

Take the word cheap for example. You could say, “He drives a cheap car.” Here the suggestion is that he drives an inferior vehicle to everyone else. However, if you replace the word cheap and say, “He drives an inexpensive car,” the statement has a much less negative connotation. Now the statement implies that he drives a practical, reasonably priced car. Despite the fact that the words have basically the same denotation, they have very different connotations.

I see this most often online in the form of the infamous ‘submit button.’ On a great majority of the pages I see, where the call to action is to start a form, or upon the completion of a form or online order, you are asked to ‘submit.’

Submit has three definitions –
To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.
To subject to a condition or process.
To commit (something) to the consideration or judgment of another.

I never like to surrender myself to the authority of another person. In American culture, submit is often associated with a negative connotation as well. People who are inferior, are asked to submit to someone else. Submit is also used when implying that someone has dominance over another. In short, I don’t want to submit to anybody, and I doubt that the visitors on your website want to submit to you.

Instead, consider using phrases like ‘start now,’ ‘finish’ or ‘complete your order.’ These words would convey the same concept of ‘click here to finish,’ but have a much less negative connotation.

I am also reminded of another example I have seen. Sometimes on sites when the user is asked to pick between a variety of options, there is an annoying link next to it saying, ‘Learn More.’ If the user came to your website looking to buy something from you, odds are they think you should be the expert on the topic and they don’t want to learn more. If they really want help, the link could say ‘Help Me Choose.’ Now, if the user wants help, they will feel comfortable that the topic will be explained to them without having to ‘Learn More.’

These are just a few examples of words in the English language that could be replaced with others to convey a less negative connotation. I encourage you to re-read the content on your website and examine the connotation of the words on the page, particularly the words on buttons or in text links. Re-writing the text on your website with words with more positive connotations will make your visitors more comfortable with your site and can really improve conversions.

Buttons and Other Calls To Action

Creating a Call to Action on your site and making the Call to Action prominent is one of the most important things you can do for your site. One of my favorite methods for making the Call to Acton prominent is to create a “Big-Ass” button on the page, and as far as I’m concerned, the bigger, the better. One thing to keep in mind is that a BAB (big-ass button) is much more likely to get a user to click on it, however, it may work so well that the user may click on it almost too quickly. This may not be a bad thing, but if you take them to a form right away, it may not have been a totally conscious decision to get there. They may actually need a little more persuasion or information before they complete the action. If you made a really kick-ass button, they may have simply clicked on the button because it looked so tempting. We have performed some Split Testing on pages where one page with a big button had a much higher Click Thru Rate, but didn’t result in as many completed transactions compared to a smaller button with a lower Click Thru Rate. You could help convert the visitor that clicks thru quickly without being fully persuaded by including enough information on the form page so the visitor can get the information they need to make the decision to complete the action. But be careful, you don’t want to add too much information where it could take away from allowing the visitors that are ready to fill out the form to get it filled out as quickly and easily as possible (and don't include a "Reset Button").

Button Creation Tip: Be sure to make your buttons 3–D and make it look like a real button you could reach out and push. This can be done in Photoshop by using the layer blending or effects features such as drop shadows or embossing. And don’t try too hard to get it to “fit in” with the rest of the page. If it fits in too well, it may not be easy to see. And please, please don’t make it little. There are few things I despise more than small “Call To Action” buttons.

In addition to buttons, it is good to have different forms of your call to action. For example, make sure you have a text link within your content that goes to your form page. And this link should be some type of “action” text. Don’t use “click here”. Instead use something like “Start Now”. It is also a good idea to have a text link at the end of some persuading content.

There are a variety of reasons why you want to vary your types of calls to action. The first is simply because the more variations you have, the better the chance of someone seeing your calls to action, because no one is going to read every word and look at every image on your page. Secondly, if you have an option in different parts of the page, it is more likely the call to action will be close by when the visitor is ready to take the action. Lastly, some people just have preferences (even if they are unconscious preferences). Some people are more likely to click a button, whereas others may be more likely to click a text link. There are people that tend to ignore images because they associate them with ads, even if the button looks nothing like an ad.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

One of the Worst Inventions of all Times

Every once in a great while an invention will come along that is actually counter-productive and creates more work for humans compared to if it had never been invented. For some reason, it gets adopted on a large scale and is used by a variety of people without much thought given as to why they are using it. There is one specific invention I am referring to, and I don’t think I have seen a better example of something like this being used by so many people and on such a large scale that it became standard (luckily only for a short time). What is this invention I speak of? It is the “Reset” Button on a form.

How many times have you spent time filling out a form and then thought, “No, no, that is all wrong, I should clear it all and start over.” If you did need to change the information, you could simply overwrite it as you went back through the form and filled in the new information. But even if you did this, it would probably be a rare occurrence that you didn’t use at least some of the previous information. But the reason the “Reset” (or "Clear Form") button is so bad is because a lot of sites actually have the “Reset” button right next to the Submit button. In fact, Microsoft FrontPage actually has this as the default when a user adds a Form using the Wizard. Not only is it easy to accidentally hit the wrong button and erase everything, but many times the Submit and Reset buttons look alike. Fortunately, this is occurring less and less, but you will still see it periodically on really crappy (or old) sites. Don’t be one of them. If you think your site is the exception, let me know. I would like to see an example where a Reset button would be justified because I have not found one yet.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Split Testing with a Custom Redirect

If you have the capabilities to do split testing on the server side with cookies, that is what I recommend you use for your testing. However, there is no reason you need to spend a great deal of time and effort working on a programming solution in order to do your split testing. Spend your time working on better versions of your landing page in order to increase conversions instead of spending it on programming solutions.

To do the testing, you will simply need to use your Web Analytics program to track the user. Google Analytics, ClickTracks and others give you this capability. You will need to determine how many users went to each page and what percent of the users at each page made it to your confirmation page, or whichever page it is that lets you know that the user has taken the desired action.

To run the test, you will need to create at least two different pages. You can create more pages if you would like, but it is recommended to only change one variable. Choose a variable that you believe will highly impact conversion, for example, the header. It is a good idea to test anywhere from 2-5 different variations of the variable. Keep in mind, the fewer page versions you have, the quicker you will be able to get a large enough sample size to determine which version converts the best. After learning how to analyze multivariate testing, changing more than one variable at a time is possible. Upload the pages to your site and then you will be able to randomly redirect users to one of those pages by using the code provided.

To use the code, download it from:

You will need to replace the URL’s in the conversion code with the URL’s you would like to test. The code currently has 4 test URL’s, you can use more or less, just delete the ones listed and replace them with your testing URL’s. Be sure to include a comma between each of them.

Once you replace the URL’s, simply save this file as a .php file and upload it to your site. You need to have PHP installed on your server for the file to work correctly. You will want to direct visitors to this newly created page and it will randomly redirect them to one of the pages you have included. Now you can just sit back and wait for the data to flow.

I recommend you only do this testing on PPC pages so you don’t affect your organic search engine rankings. You may even want to block these pages so they aren’t even indexed by the spiders. Use your Web Analytics software to determine the percent of visitors that convert for each of your pages. After you find which variables effect conversion and which variations of the variable increase conversion, you may want to consider making those changes throughout your site.