Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is going to be high on the list of priorities for many companies this year. Attracting visitors to your website is all well and good, but encouraging them to become customers once they are there is another thing entirely. Many companies fail to carry out CRO effectively. We see this time and time again, where companies come to us confused about why all their traffic is not converting. And it’s true, there is a lot to learn. CRO is based on constantly testing and optimizing, and there are seemingly endless factors that can affect your conversion rates. But there is one factor that will go a long way to helping you to increase conversions: Simplicity. No matter what you are trying to optimize, be it a landing page, checkout, product page, or anything else, here’s how the idea of simplification can drastically improve your CRO.
Less Is More
This is not always true—for example, longer copy can sometimes be more persuasive—but it is often true of other elements on your site. One place where the ‘less is more’ principle can work is with the number of products you provide. If you sell an online tool and you have six or seven plans to choose from, consider reducing this number to three or maybe four. You’ll find that many companies do this because it is more effective. Here’s what Slack’s pricing page looks like:
Fewer choices encourage prospects to make a decision rather than putting them off. Provide them with too much choice, and they may simply disappear. I wrote about pricing pages a little while ago—check out the blog post ‘10 Simple Pricing Page Tricks You Need to Be Using‘ for more tips on these important pages.
People Want to Be Led
Visitors to your site want to be told what to do. They don’t want to have to think about it, and they don’t want to be faced with a huge amount of choice. So tell them what to do. Lead them in the right direction, and take out all of that decision anxiety. You can do this by recommending a product on your product page, perhaps by highlighting it and including a note that it is your most popular product like Namecheap does:
Another way you can lead your prospects in the right direction is to use directional cues. These are often as simple as arrows pointing in the direction of your opt-in form to guide prospects in the right direction. If your page contains photos of people, have them looking at your opt-in form—visitors will naturally follow the direction of their eyes. You can also lead your prospects in the right direction by creating a clear call to action (CTA). Tell your prospects exactly what you want them to do, and don’t leave it up to them to work it out.
Cluttered landing pages are a bad idea. In fact, clutter on any web page is not recommended. Quite simply, the more distractions you have, the less likely you are to get the results you want. Another problem with clutter is that it can unintentionally lead prospects away from the page. For example, if you have a landing page, you want to have only one possible way to get off the page: Via the CTA.
If you have lots of links pointing to other pages, these are known as ‘leaks’ because they provide a way for your prospects to leave the page without performing the desired action. On your landing page, you want one goal only, and everything on that page should work towards achieving that goal, whether that is signing up to your email list or a trial of your product.
Simplify Your Copy
One element of any website that you should definitely keep simple is your copy. You will never find any copywriter advocating the use of long and complicated words to sound intelligent. Instead, use short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs. Make your copy super simple to understand so that there is no confusion whatsoever. In the classic copywriting book ‘Tested Advertising Methods,’ John Caples provides the tip: “In writing advertising copy, use words you would expect to find in a sixth-grade reader.” That book was published in 1932, but the same advice still applies.
Simplify Signup Forms
Overcomplicating signup forms is a classic mistake that can hurt your CRO. The obvious mistake is to add too many fields to your forms by asking for the prospect’s job title, address, where they heard about you, and all the other info you don’t need. The rule is to only add them to the signup form if you actually need them. Of course, sometimes you may need them. You may only want qualified prospects to sign up to your list, and depending on the product you are selling, more fields may work in your favor. But like everything, always test it. If you have a lot of fields, test reducing them to just name and email address, and see if you can improve your conversions.
Optimize for Mobiles
Despite the growth of mobile, people are still more likely to buy products and services from your website via a desktop. That being said, your prospects may be more than happy to sign up to your email list on their phones. If you have a landing page asking prospects to sign up to a list, always optimize it for mobile. In this case, sometimes using responsive design is not enough. For example, the headline on your desktop version may be too long for the mobile version, meaning you may need to change the copy on your mobile landing page as well as the design. Another element to consider is the sign-up form. Long forms on mobiles are a big no-no. Keep the fields to a minimum, and you may want to experiment with asking people to sign up with their Facebook or Gmail accounts, which is quicker and simpler for them on mobiles.
Simplify Your Checkout
Your checkout is another area that can almost certainly be simplified, and you can often achieve this without much effort. For example:
Pre-select a default shipping method for your customers.
Use free lookup tables for address forms so that customers can simply enter their ZIP codes without having to complete the City, State, and Country fields.
Avoid asking for the type of credit card (Visa, MasterCard, etc). Instead, get customers to insert the number, from which the type of card can be worked out.
These are all simple changes that you can test, and you may find that some of them make a big difference. KissMetrics has a great guide on this area that is worth reading.
Keep It Simple, Increase Your Conversions
Simplicity is a useful concept to keep in mind whenever you are attempting to increase your conversions. This one simple principle can be applied almost anywhere, whether on your landing page, home page, checkout, or pricing page. Have a look over the web pages where you are trying to increase conversions. What could you simplify? Consider the design, copy, and other elements, and start testing whether simplifying your site can make a difference to your conversions this year.