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A 45 Point Checklist for Optimizing Conversions

by Sharon Hurley Hall

There’s a lot to keep track of when optimizing conversions – and you need to cover everything if you want to improve your chances of success. That’s the reason for this checklist. It covers everything from your headline to the call to action, and recommends some useful tools too.

Getting Started

“Let’s start at the very beginning,” sings Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. And the beginning, in terms of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is creating the context for your CRO efforts.

  1. Set goals so you know what you want people to do on each key page.
  2. Understand the conversion funnel – how will people move through your site and pages so they eventually become customers?

Headlines, Titles and Subject Lines

Your headline, title or subject line is your first chance to grab your audience. Here are some tips on improving your headline writing process.

  1. Write a headline that shows people what to expect from the copy on your page. Keep it relatively short and search engine-friendly, while creating a sense of urgency. Make it specific to your offer and highlight benefits if you can. Use action verbs.
  2. Write another headline. Check both headlines using CoSchedule’s headline analyzer to see how they will appear to visitors (most people only read the beginning and end of any headline). Check for emotional and power words, too.
  3. Test both (or multiple versions of your headline to see which results in the best conversion rate.

Learn more:

Featured tool:

blog-post-headline-analyzer

Check out CoSchedule’s headline analyzer to see how your headlines scores in terms of social shares, increased traffic, and SEO value

Page Copy

If the headline is what gets people interested, the copy is what makes them stick around to check out your offer and complete the desired action. Here are some steps to include.

  1. Ensure that the copy meets your customers’ needs for information or a solution to a problem.
  2. Grab interest with a statistic, anecdote, quote or question and tell a story with a beginning, middle and happy ending.
  3. Address pain points to reduce buying resistance.
  4. Highlight features and benefits and distinguish between them. Features are characteristics of a product or service while benefits are what the product can do for your customer.
  5. Look after writing style: get familiar with words that convert; use the first person where it makes sense; and avoid wasted words and jargon.
  6. Look after SEO by including (NOT stuffing) terms your audience will be searching for.
  7. Make copy more readable with subheads and bullets.
  8. Proofread to eliminate errors that would undermine your credibility and authority.
  9. Make your audience care by evoking emotion.
  10. Don’t assume your readers are experts. Tell them what they need to know.
  11. Test your copy, by using A/B testing, heatmaps and analytics to see if there are areas you could improve.

Learn more: 10 Super Smart People Talk Copywriting for Conversion]

Featured tool:

draft writing tool

Serious writers swear by Draft. And with features like Hemingway Mode – how can you resist!?!

Building Trust

No one’s going to buy from you if they don’t trust you. Here’s how you can make your page more trustworthy,

  1. Highlight the experiences of real customers, including on video.
  2. Include product videos so people can see exactly what they are getting.
  3. Publish customer reviews – it works for Amazon.
  4. Use social proof – it’s a powerful persuader.
  5. Support your sales points with data.
  6. Use incentives like guarantees and free shipping.
  7. Create an ongoing customer relationship instead of going straight for the hard sell.

Learn more: Your Ecommerce Site Will Die Without These 3 Trust Signals

Featured Service:

bbb-screenshot

Did you know the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a non-profit organization? Having their logo on your site adds an additional layer of trust because there is no financial incentive for the BBB to “sell” you a trust certificate.

The Offer

The offer is an important part of your landing page. Here’s how you tweak it.

  1. Ensure that you have matched your offer to your potential buyer. The wrong offer is just as bad as no offer at all. Use personas and avatars to get this right.
  2. Make sure what you are offering is valuable to your customer.
  3. Be clear about what your offer is and how people can get it.

Learn more:

Featured tool:

optimizely-logo-BLUE

Optimizely is a great A/B testing tool that will allow you to test offers and headline copy to figure out what resonates the best with your audience.

Calls to Action

The call to action (CTA) is where the pedal hits the metal or, to put it another way, where you find out whether everything else you have done has worked to make people take the desired action. Here are some conversion optimization tips for your CTAs:

  1. Include multiple CTAs on your page to cater for different audiences at different points in the funnel.
  2. Make your CTAs specific to the page copy, rather than generic.
  3. Make your buttons look like buttons for better conversions.
  4. Test CTA placement to find the most effective positions. Test size, color and CTA copy too.
  5. Use action words to inspire action.
  6. Create urgency with CTA copy.
  7. Avoid distracting your audience – keep the CTA area uncluttered.
  8. Ensure that button text is legible.

Learn more:

Featured tool:

crazy egg tool

You guessed it! Crazy Egg is a great tool to see if visitors are zeroing in on your CTAs. You can try it on your site right now!

Design

How your page looks is as important as the copy itself. Here are some tips:

  1. Avoid clutter on landing pages as this distracts from your copy and offer. For other pages, make it easy for people to find the information they need.
  2. Create multiple options for people to move through your page so they can take action at different points.
  3. Use images to draw the eye, build trust and keep people interested. Use high quality images for best results, but don’t let them obscure your message.
  4. Don’t focus on design over user experience.
  5. Put the most important elements on the page where people are most likely to see them.
  6. Use color effectively.
  7. Choose the right fonts.
  8. Keep navigation simple. Remember, every link is another distraction from your conversion goal. Think about how to simplify your navigation for conversion optimization.
  9. Keep your pages and sites simple, too.
  10. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Actually, it’s the only way to improve! You must try, fail and learn in order to grow. Another way to put it is: “get busy growing or get busy dying.”
  11. Test and measure until you get the conversion rate you want.

Learn more:

Featured tool:

golden ratio typography calculator

Pearsonified’s Golden Ratio Typography Calculator is a handy tool to optimize your typography based on font size, line-height, width, and characters per line (CPL)

Have I covered everything? Share your favorite conversion optimization tips in the comments.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.

4 Comments

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Sharon Hurley Hall

Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 25 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website.

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  1. Dr. Rin Porter says:
    September 11, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Wow, Sharon, I am in awe of this list you’ve created! It’s like a social media writing course all in one post! I’m going to print it out and use it to help me write my blog. I already use the CoSchedule headline analyzer and like it a lot. Thanks for all the work that undoubtedly went into composing this article.

  2. Dev says:
    September 10, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Excellent collection. However, I feel that people are giving too much attention to Call to Attention when it comes to conversion optimization and probably this is the reason, their websites fail to convert more. It should be a holistic approach I think.

    • September 18, 2015 at 7:04 am

      Agreed, Dev; while the CTA is crucial, you have to look after ALL the areas to maximize conversions.

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