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So What's Conversion Rate Optimization, Anyway?

Here's a beginner's guide to increasing your conversion rate for more website leads.

Optimization is all the rage these days. You can optimize your content, buttons, layout, images, and more. If you’re not optimizing, you must be missing out on customers. Now, you may be wondering about the coolest new thing: conversion rate optimization.

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

To understand conversion rate optimization, you must first understand conversion rates. A conversion rate measures the number of people who take a desired action on your website out of the total number of visitors. A conversion might be requesting a demo, registering for an event, or signing up for an email list.

Calculate conversion rates with a simple formula:

conversion rate = number of desired actions / number of visitors X 100

If 3,000 people view your software landing page and 120 request a free trial, your conversion rate is 4 percent.

Conversion rate optimization is improving online experiences. Why? To increase your conversions (and get more customers). This type of optimization can occur everywhere: blog posts, landing pages, forms, and more. It can help you convert more visitors into engaged customers. The more your conversion rates increase, the better your digital marketing is working.

What's So Great About It?

Conversion rates are an essential marketing metric. Thousands of casual website visits rarely mean thousands of paying customers. The number of people who convert is what matters.

Conversion rate optimization helps you maximize the impact of your website. Use it to test different elements of your digital marketing to see what will drive the most traffic and sales.

Some popular conversion rate optimization strategies include:

  • Testing different design elements
  • Trying out various content formats
  • Varying your messaging for different audiences
  • Modifying your online forms

These core areas help you see results quickly. Let’s break down each of them further.

Optimizing Landing Pages and Forms for More Conversions

1. Test Your Design

This is one of the most popular methods for optimizing conversion rates. That’s because most people respond to your website’s visuals first.

Design changes don’t have to be huge. In fact, only test one design element to see what’s driving results. Making your gray “submit” fbds-button fbds-button--green may be all you need to double conversions.

Even a basic landing page has many design elements to test and optimize:

  • Headline placements
  • Font
  • Text placement
  • Background color
  • Button colors
  • Placement of visuals

2. Change Your Content

Your website visitors will decide within seconds if they’re going to stick around or hit the back button. How can you know what content will compel them to stay? Test the text and see what moves the needle.

Editing your headline or changing the copy can significantly impact your conversion rate. Just changing your “submit” button text from “Download Here” to “Get Your Free Copy” may be all you need to see a difference.

First, test out different wording and note which optimizations result in more form submissions:

  • Headlines
  • Copy
  • Calls to action
  • Button text
  • Value proposition

You may also want to change how your content is presented. Try a product image, real user, or video to see what increases conversion rates.

3. Segment Your Audiences

Not all customers are equal. Some people participate in contests for the incentives and never intend to buy from you. Others complete your lead generation forms and may eventually become customers.

Don’t try to optimize for everyone all at once. It’s much easier to improve your conversion rate when you focus on individual groups of people. You can do this by:

  • Personalizing your email message for each segmented list
  • Customizing landing pages for different audiences
  • Changing calls to action for various stages of the buying cycle

4. Optimize Your Forms

Here's where the real fun begins. Your landing page’s form is a last chance to convert a customer. Optimize it! Often a low conversion rate can be improved by improving your form’s design or content.

Work on getting all the form fundamentals right. These include:

  • Form length
  • Header imagery
  • Instructions
  • Font and background colors
  • Wording of questions
  • Button text and colors

You can also add "smart" features that automatically respond to how your users are filling it out.

How to Know If It's Working

Analytics data is your best gauge for conversion rate optimization. Before you begin, note your current conversion rate to establish your benchmark.

Now look at your current bounce rate. How many people leave your webpage without touching the form? How many users ditch your form partway through filling it out?

Use this data to decide which elements of your website to test first. Remember, focus on one area at a time:

  • Web design to see which colors, fonts, and placements impact conversions
  • Content to see how users respond to different wording and calls to action
  • Segmentation to personalize for different audiences
  • Form fields and styles to see what features lead to more button clicks

Always compare your before and after rates to determine what’s most successful. You can also test out changes on different devices and in different browsers. Do conversion rates differ between smartphones and desktops? How about Chrome versus Safari?

Now take a deep breath. You don’t have to do it all at once! Conversion rate optimization is an ongoing process. Every website (and every form) is different. See what works best, and always keep optimizing.

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