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Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2009 at 8:01 am

Comments on 8 Useful Conversion Tips

By Jeff Sexton
April 15th, 2009

I couldn’t help but write down a few comments and links in response to a recent Smashing Magazine post.  Designed to Sell: 8 Useful Tips to Help Your Website Convert kicks major butt, and I thought you’d both enjoy the article and a few comments/additions thrown in for each of the 8 tips:

Tip 1: Subiminal Suggestion

Basically, make sure your design elements – and most especially your pictures – enhance your credibility and put visitors in the right emotional frame of mind to convert.

Sound advice, to be sure, but the example Website the author (Dmitry Fadeyev) provides seemed kind of lame to me.  Here’s a more-thorough 5-minute video on this principle by Dave Young:

Please enable Javascript and Flash to view this Viddler video.

Tip 2: Prevent Choice Paralysis

Too many choices results in buyers avoiding a decision and failing to convert.  You need to make it easy for a buyer to say yes without getting too bogged down in the details.  One way to do this is to provide a recommended or “best value” option.

But here’s where I’d go a bit beyond that by looking at this through the lens of temperament:

  • Spontaneous temperaments like recommended and “most popular” options.  They also ver much want to shorten the time spent shopping and setting up so they can maximize time spent actually DOING THE THING.  If your recommended option helps customers get out on the playing field quicker, then be sure to tell visitors that.
  • Methodical temperaments will want to know WHY you believe this is the best value and how you can prove it.  Show your reasoning/methodology in coming to your conclusions and offer up proof of value.  This may involve linking to a mouse-over or additional page from the recommendation box.  Maybe a little link on “Why we recommend this package.”
  • Competitive temperaments don’t necessarily need a recommendation, but a quick way to narrow down their choices by advanced filtering.  Or a quick way of knowing why the choice you’ve labeled as premium will give them an edge.  Keep them in control and convinced they’re getting an advantage through their purchase and they’ll convert.
  • Humanistic temperaments usually want to know how easy it is to upgrade or downgrade a recommended service or swap-out a product if your recommendation ends up not quite suiting them.  They also want a sense of your motivations in recommending one product over another and possibly if they can Chat or call someone about the recommendation.

Tip 3: Show The Product

This is very similar to my post on “Show me the pics.”  People want to see what they are buying.  Not only do the pictures answer questions, but people want to imagine using the product.

What I’d add to this is that one picture often isn’t enough and that action photos are gold.  For software and services that means not only offering product tours with lots of screenshots, but also in using scenario-based product tours rather than functionality-based tours.  Walk me through doing something rather than randomly showing this or that functionality.

Tip 4: Let People Try It

Great (and self-explanatory) advice, but I was glad that Show the Product came before this.  I’ve seen a fair amount of software companies believe that visitors would just leap at a free trial in order to experience a product first hand, and that just aint how it works.

Visitors invariably want to sniff a product out BEFORE downloading it and investing time with it.  Realize that “Free” doesn’t really equate to risk free.  Dmitry writes about the positive benefits users’ emotional “sunk costs” that come with using a free piece of software – the kind of thing that leads to a paid updgrade vs. a search for a whole new product.  What he doesn’t mention is that visitors are well aware of that sunk cost and will avoid downloading software unless and until they have a decent sense that it will work well for them.

So, yes, by all means, let people try the product for free.  Just make sure you show them enough of the product and what it can do that their willing to invest the time trying it out.

Tip 5 & 7: AIDA and Next Steps

I combined these because they are intimately related and are both areas Future Now has quite thoroughly covered.  We, of course, add the “S” of Satisfaction onto the end of Attention-Interest-Desire-Action.

Also, planning persuasive momentum/next action steps should be more involved than simply ensuring visitors can find a buy button when they’re ready to buy or that you have some additional link made available to them.

Finally, you gotta love this money quote from the article:

“…you shouldn’t design a nice website first and then fill up the space with words. Instead,think about the message you want to send out, write the copy and then construct a design that delivers that.”

Amen, brother.  Amen.

Tip 6: Guide Attention

Having just finished writing about the impact of design on visitor eye tracking, I naturally found this to be the best part of the article.  Lost of great stuff on intelligent use of design to guide the eyes/attention of the visitor.

As for additional resources on the Web, check out

The Elements of Design Applied to the Web

Good Call to Action Buttons

Making Tabs Work for You

Looks can Kill Design Effectiveness

Color, Contrast, and Dimension

and Rowland Wilson on Composition

Tip 8:  The Gutenberg Rule

I really don’t have too much to say about this one, other than it’s another rule of thumb for good composition/page layout and that you should go and take a look at it for yourself.

And that’s it.  I’d love to hear your comments, suggestions, and additional resources as well.  Let me know what ya think…

Add Your Comments

Comments (66)

  1. Jeff, good article. I wish I could do more of them. :-)

    One thing, I would like to do action shots, but how do you show an Audio Bible in action, then how do you show it in action 70 different ways for each of my products?

    I really liked the old Grokdotcom videos ya’ll use to produce. I have not seen any in awhile, are ya’ll still doing them?

  2. [...] to its full potential. Check out these tips and see how they could apply to your current website: Comments on 8 Useful Conversion Tips | FutureNow’s GrokDotCom / Marketing Optimization Blog The article linked above is actually a followup article to this one: Design To Sell: 8 Useful Tips [...]

  3. Audio Bible,

    You could certainly a screenshot of a customer pulling their MP3 Audio Bible onto iTunes next to a photo of that customer exercising while (presumably) listening to their bible. You could then follow that up with a testimonial placed underneath the two photos in which a customer talks what a deeper understanding of scripture she’s gained by being able to listen while in the car, exercising, shopping, etc. – assuming, of course, that you have or could solicit such a testimonial.

    As for screencasts, we haven’t posted any to the blog in a while but On Target clients do get access to exclusive Webinars/screencasts on a monthly basis.

    - Jeff

  4. Thanks Jeff.

    I actually just started the OnTarget program with ya’ll. I just started my second month, so I am pretty excited to see what happens. Things are going well so far.

  5. @Audio Bible,

    I would pick just one product and run an A/B test: half your visitors see the product page as-is and half see an upgraded product page for the same product with some action shots, videos, etc.

    This will show how much lift you can hope for if you upgrade other pages.

    For picking the product to start off: I would choose your highest revenue earner – or one that is easiest to get the action shots / videos / whatever else.

  6. [...] conversion experts over at FutureNow grokked some additional insights. Comments on 8 Useful Conversion Tips “Designed to Sell: 8 Useful Tips to Help Your Website Convert kicks major butt, and I thought [...]

  7. Tip 6 is the most important in my book. People tend to scan and if you do not grab it’s attention you will lose them.

  8. Very nice article. I have bookmarked this and will be coming back for a reread when I am setting my next project up.

  9. Sparen,

    Just keep in mind that Tip 6 needs to work in conjunction with good scent – you can guide their eyes, but if the content you highlight through design doesn’t match up with the reason they came to your site in the first place, you’re still out of luck.

    - Jeff

  10. [...] Finally, improve your website. Smashing Magazine has some simply… um… smashing tips on how to improve your website’s conversion rate. And Jeff Sexton at FutureNow offers some additional thoughts on Smashing’s list. [...]

  11. [...] Comments on 8 useful Conversion Tips [Grokdotcom] [...]

  12. Personally, I heavily rely on what other users think, which is why I’ve always been a big fan of Amazon. More recently, I’ve come to appreciate the “let me show the product to my facebook-friends and let them tell me what they think about it”-option.

  13. Good article , collection it.

  14. “Too many choices results in buyers avoiding a decision and failing to convert”

    I agree.
    One choice – not enough
    2 choices – good
    3 choices – better
    4 choices – I am confused!
    10 choices – I’ll think about it again!

  15. I think layout is everything. If the the layout is “annoying” the customer will left the site as soon as he arrive in it. It need to be clear and go right to the point. That’s why we need to pay attantion to the Tip#1.

  16. Very nice article. I have bookmarked this and will be coming back for a reread when I am setting my next project up.

  17. Thanks Jeff.

    I actually just started the OnTarget program with ya’ll. I just started my second month, so I am pretty excited to see what happens. Things are going well so far.

  18. Thanks Jeff.

    It’s good article.

  19. Thank you. Very nice!

  20. Thank you for the very good tips
    - Surachai

  21. Tip 4: Let People Try It.
    My product are apparel what I can do.

  22. i’ve done a e-commerce web with shopping cart but it’s not good conversion.People always come and go pass… thanks for tips.i will try it…

  23. I thought about this concept very interesting.

  24. thx, thx help me alot on marketing strategist!

  25. the concept is simple, let me try..

  26. #2 ‘Prevent Choice Paralysis’ is almost counter-intuitive (you want to provide the most choice so the customer is the 100% satisfied) but it does make a big difference to conversions.

  27. Great post. Bookmark it.

  28. Tip 3 is most useful.
    Let user download free trial and
    There is good user’s guide.

  29. Very nice list with some original ideas. Stumbled+

  30. Thanks for this great article.

  31. 5 of the tips were unknown to me, thanks!

  32. Thanks for the tips, they were useful.

  33. You need to be straight to the point, not huge pages of text, customers cannot be bothered to read, pictures and fast loading pages make a big difference.

  34. Good article and useful needs our thanks

  35. Good article and useful needs our thanks.

  36. Found all 8 tips to be helpful when it came to the design of my attorney website, thank you.

  37. Nice tip.

    they were very useful.

  38. Thank you for the very good tips

  39. thanks for sharing with us such wonderful information

  40. I will definitely bookmark for future reference.

  41. thanks for the great ideas, very useful article.

  42. nice information!!

  43. I love this blog.

  44. thankyou for share us

  45. Great post. Bookmark de.Thanks for this great article.

  46. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this.

  47. great collection of tips, it displays that importance of the AIDA marketing concept!

  48. good tips. Keep it coming I am always interested in this story

  49. nice tips, time to be creative now !

  50. Excellent conversion tips you’ve submitted here,thanks for it.Expect more such tips from you in future.

  51. I think layout is actually the whole lot. If the layout is “irritating” the customer might abandon the site the moment he or she arrives on it. It must be obvious and proceed to the point. Which is the reason why we all need to pay attention to Tip #1.

  52. Valuable information on conversions, at the end of the day, they make the money.

  53. great article. thanks for tips

  54. Wow, a full year and it’s still getting comments. Some great design tips here — I work for VeriSign so we’re often discussing the merits of a VeriSign Trust Seal (identity authentication and malware scanning) or ssl cert (encryption) in regards to conversion, but all these tips can certainly make a huge difference (especially “guide attention” where purely design is concerned). Great tips for implementing trust marks, too — you want to make sure people see the VeriSign check, or whichever logo you have, when they’re on your site.

  55. If you want to promote for new product. Let’s user try it such as free trial. It could be good

  56. Thank you for sharing this article.

  57. I’m with you on tips 5 & 7. At my internet company, we pay a lot of attention to implementing call-to-action buttons on websites.

    First we define the purpose of the website (for example: a client using the contactform/ buying a product) and then we make sure we put an striking action button on the website which leads the visitor to that interesting page!

    It works wonders!

  58. This is informative, and has made me consider my own website, and whether I should test and tweak the design. UVP is an invaluable part of your site.

  59. Jeff,
    Maybe the BEST article I’ve read on marketing. And I’ve heard from some of the best “guru’s” in IM! May I re-post on my site?

  60. @sajoc: Yes, you may provided you give us author credit and a link back. thanks, Editor.

  61. The tips mentioned here seem to be the golden rules of marketing your product and getting better attention for it. This is one of the most efficient ways of advertising and branding. If these tips are implemented, people are surely going to notice your products and they will also be curious to know more about them.

  62. Definitely some things I have been missing on my website. I always stay concerned over the content and not the overall feel of the credibility the site gives. It makes me rethink some of those cheesy photos I see on other personal injury lawyer’s websites. But if it makes you feel better about hiring me, then I should rethink it.
    I makes me think that I need some photos of me on the site so people can make a gut determination to hire me as their lawyer or not since I provide services not products.

  63. Nice list. #2 is so important. I hate when people give three choices, like “Basic Membership”, “Premium Membership”, and “Ultra Premium Membership”. its just stupid, thinks work so much better when you give only one choice

  64. Great article I find no6: Guide attention very valid, Certainly I know most people don’t read half of the text on the home page, but they will follow a nice “call to action graphic” and just get on with what they came to the site for.

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Jeff is a Persuasion Architect, Web copywriter, blogger, and instructor of FutureNow's Persuasive Online Copywriting workshop. Follow Jeff Sexton on twitter

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