A happy smiling user who is fully engaged with a website. That is the scenario the photo (above) is trying to capture, and also the scenario a lot of companies imagine when they think of people using their website.
In reality, that scenario may look more like the image below; the user is distracted and could be using two devices at the same time. In a contest between your website and the group chat, unless your website is awesome, it is probably going to lose.
This is the reality you face in today’s world. You are not just competing against other websites, you are competing for the very attention of your user, something you may have previously assumed you already had.
People do not like to read – so write headings and bullets that summarise your point.
One of the first lessons you learn when you work in the field of CRO is that people do not like to read websites. Although people want to know things (such as: if your leggings will go see through when doing squats, or if you can gift wrap Aunt Kate’s lavender scented bath bombs for them), they would rather not have to read in order to find out the answers.
Obviously reading can’t be totally avoided, but you should be writing your content with people’s aversion to effort in mind. Therefore, you should aim to summarise your main selling points (the value your product offers) in bullet points where possible. Don’t make people search through a paragraph to find out why they should buy!
When writing longer form text (such as this), summarise the point of the paragraph or section in the heading. Vague headings may indicate what the content of the section is about, but don’t convey your message. For example, I could have titled this heading “People do not like to read”, but that wouldn’t have told you anything useful for increasing your conversion rate.
Ask yourself; “Does this sentence say something unique and important?”. If the answer is “No”, question its worth.
Writing copy for your website can be an intense process. Unlike articles, social media posts and case studies, your main website copy is likely to be a deciding factor in whether someone buys from you then and there.
One of the quickest ways to make sure your users read nothing you write on your website is to present them with a wall of text. Even if you have written some mind blowing, life changing, awe inspiring copy; if no one reads it, you may as well have not bothered.
Be ruthless about each sentence on your website. Demand that each line delivers something unique, powerful and important. If it doesn’t, its on the chopping block.
To make this a less daunting task, consider setting up a group that meets once a week to review website copy a page at a time. Get each team member to assign a value to the sentences on a page for importance and impact. Once poor performing sentences are identified, they can be voted out altogether or suggestions can be gathered for improvements.
Photos, videos, layouts, plans, virtual tours and 360-degree views are all ways to increase engagement with visuals.
What visuals you use to promote engagement will depend a lot on the industry you are in. Whilst floor plans for apartments, maps showing amenities and virtual tours may be great on a hotel website, a 360-degree view may be more suitable for selling a high spec laptop.
One thing that applies almost unanimously though is that videos and high-quality imagery increase engagement. Where appropriate, lifestyle imagery (images of a product or service in use/in action which evokes an emotional response) usually outperform images which do not generate an emotional reaction.
For example, seeing a party in mid swing with a friendly bartender making a cocktail is likely to be more emotionally evocative and promote higher engagement than showing a head shot of the bartender. The user is likely to be drawn into the atmosphere created by the image and imagine themselves having fun at the party. Therefore, if a website was selling party hosting/catering services, it would likely benefit from using lifestyle imagery.
Video is often considered the next step up due to the cost of producing it. But the cost of video production is coming down and the use of video is becoming more widespread across social media. Therefore, it is likely to become more of an expectation that high end products or services will be sold with video in the years to come.
Right now, video can help you stay ahead of the curve and promote higher engagement levels than your competitors, so it is worth considering the potential value it could bring, as well as its cost.
Allow your users to customise and personalise their experience.
User customisation is perhaps something you haven’t considered as a way to boost engagement. But allowing the user to modify what they are seeing on screen can be a great way to hook them in. Allowing your users to customise the way their product will look is one way to use customisation. For example, you could allow your user to write their child’s name on a teddy bear or select the flowers which go into a bouquet and see it put together digitally.
Alternatively, you could encourage your user to personalise their individual experience on your website. For example, if you had a website which sold holidays, you could ask users to select activities, types of destination and interests to generate recommendations based on their selections. The holiday recommendations a user would see if they had selected adventure sports, nature and eco-conscious would be very different than if they had selected sightseeing, city and theatre.
If these features seem a little advanced, you could offer your users the opportunity to customise the content of the website instead. By encouraging users to vote on products they want stocked by the website and see their vote added to a total, the user is seeing the effect they are having in real-time. If done correctly, they are likely to feel involved, connected to a community and more likely to become a loyal customer as a result – now that is a win!
Help people get to the social proof that is relevant to them through filters, sorting options and ranking systems.
Two of the most common types of social proof are customer reviews and testimonials. Despite a rise in scepticism about the legitimacy of customer feedback, many people still put a lot of trust in it. People are more likely to be trusting of customer feedback if they can easily find details which are relevant to their needs, concerns or reasons they would value the product/service.
As we have already discussed however, people do not like to read. Therefore, they are unlikely to read through a lot of customer feedback to find the reassurances they want. Remember, your users are hoping to find information that will persuade them to buy, so you should be supporting this effort as much as possible.
One of the best ways you can help users get to relevant content is to allow them to filter customer feedback for key terms. Only showing the user customer feedback where their key term is mentioned will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes them to get the answers they need.
Allowing users to sort and filter customer feedback by rating also helps speed up the decision-making process, but it does something more powerful as well; it increases trust in the company. Users are likely to be more sceptical when they are unable or have difficulty finding negative customer feedback. By allowing users to quickly sort and filter customer feedback by rating, users are more likely to believe that negative reviews are not being hidden from them.
A further way you can increase engagement with customer feedback and encourage the decision-making process is to allow users to rate reviews in terms of their helpfulness (and then sort and filter by this factor). Allowing users to rate customer feedback in terms of helpfulness demonstrates a respect for the user’s opinion and promotes interaction.
Allowing users to sort and filter by helpfulness puts the most powerful social proof in front of them quickly. Not only is the user reading relevant customer feedback, this customer feedback has been social approved by others, making it twice as persuasive!
Know your value – and then shout about it!
They say that people remember the first and last things they read, so you should start and end with your main selling points. In this case though, I’m starting and ending with two of the most crucial pieces of advice; reducing word blindness (where your user doesn’t read anything you’ve wrote) and having a clear value proposition.
Surprisingly, a lot of companies will become established, know their business inside and out, but not be able to clearly define themselves to their users. This may be a case of not being able to see the wood through the trees and often it can take some time to summarise what you do in a few words.
Your value proposition is a summary of the specific value you offer your users. It should address who your target audience is, describe a problem or fear your audience has and how you will reduce or eliminate that problem. Your value proposition should also differentiate your offering from other similar options (be these competitors or a DIY approach).
Ideally, your value proposition should be above the fold on your landing pages alongside an image which reflects it. As you become more well known, you may not need to assert your value as much. For example, Amazon no longer needs to do this, but an independent restaurant may.
If you have found this guide useful and would like some support to improve the conversion rate of your website, then drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on: 0115 671 9909 I will happily talk to you about your situation and advise you about how I can help.