Increase Conversion Rates: Top 10 Things To Test Your Site

If you get a ton of traffic to your website but it doesn’t convert into buyers then you are doing yourself a disservice. It’s like throwing mud at a wall hoping some of it will stick. If you want to increase the conversion rates of your web pages you need to test the main elements on the page. By testing and improving each element you will raise the conversion rate and make more sales.

The Top 10 Things To Test On Your Site To Improve Conversion Ratios
by Justin Handley

I just got an email from one of the top testing institutes in the country trying to sell one of their courses, and they said that to their surprise, the lack of knowledge in online testing wasn’t in figuring out how to set up split tests, it was actually figuring out what to test!

And it’s not a surprise – many people make testing more complicated than it needs to be. You don’t have to write ten versions of a sales letter or get your most complex graphics redesigned several times over – there are a lot of easy things that you can test that have proven time and time again to boost conversion in almost any market.

Remember, though, that these are tests!

You have to try them and see if they work for you. If you read this article and then go out and implement the things I recommend on your site without testing their impact, you will be doing yourself a disservice. Things that may work well in one industry might flop in another. Some of you might have a serious audience, and some of you are working with folks with a sense of humor.

You know your audience best, but not as well as they know themselves. So test!

Also, if you test more than one of these things at once, make sure you have a multivariate test set up. Don’t just A / B test your old site against a new page with all of the changes below implemented. You need to be able to see how each variable impacts your sales.

If you throw it all together, and one thing increases your conversion by 2%, but another decreases it by 1.5%, you’ll only get a .5% increase in conversion, and you’ll never know you could have gotten 2% if you’d just tested one thing at a time (or run a legitimate multivariate test, which requires software made to do just that – if at a loss Google Website Optimizer is free and can do this for you).

Now that we have that covered, here are the ten things I’ve found over time that lead to the biggest increase in conversions with the least effort.

1) Headlines

This is a bit obvious and probably the most common thing tested on the planet. There is a reason for that – it is also the most effective. People tend to skim sales copy, but they will read your headline. I tend to test at least 10 headlines before I settle on a winner, and then I’ll keep testing new ones over the life of a product.

Here’s a little secret – once you have found the winning headline, a good second test is to adjust all of your copy to align more closely with that headline’s message – your audience has already voted it a winner, after all.

2) Call To Action Placement & Frequency

Have an opt in box? Want more people to sign up for your newsletter? Put it above the fold. While you’re at it, put it in a prominent box. Point an arrow at it. Make it really easy for people to find. Same with order buttons. Many people wait until halfway through a long sales letter to put their first order button. Try sticking one right at the top, under a picture of your product (or you if you are selling a service). Make sure you test, though, if people feel you are too pushy you can decrease response this way.

3) Advertorial

This is one of my favorites and has become more and more effective recently, but is a bit harder to implement. Basically, go to or and click on an article. Then, reformat your website to look just like that.

Keep your text and headline the same for an accurate test, but change your layout so that what you are writing looks like a news article. This works best when you are using an “educational” sales model – where you are informing people about the problem and how your product helps fix it, but can be tried with many different types of copy successfully.

4) Font

Yep, believe it or not, the font you write in can make a significant impact on sales. Tahoma headlines often work well, or Helvetica, Verdana, or Arial. If you are more craft oriented you might get away with Georgia working out best.

For fonts, the main choices are Arial, Verdana, Georgia, or Times. Arial and Verdana are Sans Serif fonts. Georgia and Times are Serif fonts. In general, sans serif for business, but uses a serif font, so if you are trying advertorial, going for an elegant upmarket audience, or going after the older segment of the crafts market (knitting, scrapbooking, etc) you might find serif works well for you.

5) Background Color

 Test out the background of your site. I don’t mean the part behind text – almost 100% of the time black or very dark text on white wins, but the surrounding color that goes to the edge of the screen. The most common winners are black, white, dark blue, dark brown. Usually dark colors win as they make the text part of your page stand out more. Once you’ve got a color, test variations.

We once tested black, dark green, and dark blue. Dark green won, so we went on to test shades of green. Amazingly, a really awful puke green ended up boosting our conversion rate massively. This is just one more example of why you have to test – don’t think you know the answer!

6) Single Page vs. Traditional Site

For a long time there were a lot of marketers who said that the one page sales letter was the answer. Make it so there are no links off of your main offer, people have to buy or leave. And that is still true in some cases. Recently, though, I’ve been seeing more and more sites perform better when they have a traditional website navigation – an About Page, Testimonials, Videos, Product Details, etc… whatever relates to your market.

Over time the one page sales letter has annoyed enough people that seeing sites that look like respectable traditional websites is a relief. And, if you make each page a powerful sales piece – a Testimonials page with strong testimonials (and an order link), a Product Comparison page where you show why yours is the best (and an order link) you may be winning over people who your main page didn’t convince and who would have left your site if they couldn’t hit a second page.

7) Choice
Again, this is one to test as it can go both ways. This is similar to #6 in many ways.

The “Forced Opt In” page has become popular – a page where you are tempted, but forced to give your name and email to “see the rest”. Or pop up boxes that you can’t close until you sign up. People can react badly to forced decisions – if you run a campaign like this, try putting a “No Thanks, Just Take Me To Your Site” button on your page, or a “Close” button on your pop-up and see if it boosts your conversion.

Alternatively, if you’ve never tried a forced opt in page, give it a shot – they perform like gangbusters in a lot of markets.

8) Big Buttons

Sometimes people just need things obvious. You can see an absolutely shocking increase in sales just by making your order button bigger, a brighter color, pointing an arrow at it, putting some red text around it, making it change color (often red to green works well) when you mouse over.

Remember – everything I just mentioned is a single variable. Testing is about subtlety – maybe your market likes huge buttons but thinks that arrows pointing to them is cheesy. Maybe they can’t find a button unless there is an arrow pointing to it and some red text that says “This is the order button”. This stands for any button you want people to click on. And don’t forget the text (Order Now! vs. Buy Now vs. Click Here To Continue vs. Join Us Today)

9) Video

This is simple. Record a short video of you talking about your product or service, and stick it top and center. Try it above your headline and below your headline but above the main text of the site. I’ve never seen a site that with a little testing didn’t see an increase in conversion by having video on it. (Note: That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there!!)

Don’t think it has to be professionally produced. You can get a Flip Cam for $100 and have a stranger on a street point it at you while you just say what your product is. Stick it on your site, and watch it boost sales (I’ve seen this happen in real life).

10) P. S.

Since I started with headlines, I’ll end with P. S.

These are traditionally the most read parts of your sales letter. People read the headline, scroll all the way down the page, read your P. S. and then go back up and start from the top if they are interested. Who knows why – but who cares – it happens. Test it out. If you don’t have a “Sales Letter” formatted site, forget the P. S. – but look at the elements at the very bottom of your page and think about what you can do there.

If people scroll through your site, the only place they are forced to stop is at the very bottom. Use that second to catch their eye with that one more critical reason they need to stick around and sign up or buy something.

Now, get out there and get a test up and running on your site. Every day you have a website online without at least one thing running as a test on it you are losing money. Don’t get overwhelmed – keep it simple. If the big things feel to big, start small – background color is a very simple six digit code. Once you see that improve on your sales (or not – let’s not discount the possibility that your design eye chose the best background color for your market right out of the gates) you’ll get hooked into trying more and more complex variations over time, and you won’t regret it.

I’ll wrap up with a little math.

If you get 100,000 visitors to your site a month, and are able to convert 1% into buyers of a $34.95 product, you make $34,950. If you increase your conversions by 1/10th of 1% (.001) you increase your income to $38,445 – almost $4,000 a month extra in your pocket, and I’ve never seen a significant test return an improvement of only 1/10th of a percent – often you’ll see your conversions move up several percentage points.

If you can convert 3% in this scenario you’ve added $60,900 to your profits.

So – get on it! And if you’ve had some killer results from tests, post them below – I always love to see the new and innovative things people are making work out.

Related Articles

Call to action – How to Increase Conversion Rates
Sales Letter – How to Split Test Your Sales Page to Improve Conversion Rates
How to Split Test Your Google Ads
Website Conversion: How to Pre-sell Visitors on Your Web Pages

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Herman Drost is the owner and author of
Web Design, SEO, Article Marketing


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