10 Conversion Optimization Tips the Experts Use


The Top 10 Conversion Optimization Tips the Experts Use and How You Can Use Them to Improve Your Website Revenue

10 Conversion Optimization Tips Experts Use from usefulusability.comConversion Optimization starts with Data:

I have been conducting conversion optimization for big and small companies for well over 10 years now. But I find that although many marketing and UX teams are doing conversion optimization (typically with A/B testing), they are often overlooking or ignoring important data.

Conversion optimization starts with data and analysis of that data. Without data analysis, optimization is just guessing.

Many firms I work with are conducting optimization through random ad hoc A/B tests of colors of buttons, images, copy, placement of objects or anything else teams can dream up. But that is a highly inefficient way to conduct conversion optimization. Guessing what to test means some tests will not work or will cause insignificant or even negative results, which waste your time and resources, and can cause poor performance of conversion optimization efforts.

Conversion optimization should be conducted after a thorough evaluation of your behavioral data, coupled with an evaluation of your site (and your competitor’s sites) versus conversion best practices.

Here are the top 10 conversion optimization tips that I use every day to help improve conversion and increase website revenue. They are not a comprehensive list, but are a great place to start:

1. Analyze funnel and pipeline Conversion Data

Conversion data has many definitions, from upper funnel interaction type conversions…

  • Clicks
  • Page views
  • Downloads
  • Videos watched, etc.

to lower funnel and pipeline type conversions…

  • Contacts
  • Leads
  • Cost per Lead
  • Opportunities
  • Percent Leads to Opportunities
  • Cost per Opportunity
  • Closed Won / Closed Lost
  • Percent contacts to CW
  • Cost per CW
  • Sales
  • Cost per Sale
  • Incremental Revenue, MRR, etc.

I typically like to gather the entire story, from visitor entry at the top of the funnel  to final disposition (sale, no sale, revenue, MRR, etc.) and identify where the metrics are either above or below typical industry averages. This data is ultimately the most helpful in evaluating how well conversion optimization is working. Conversion numbers should be going up if the optimization efforts are working.

The example below demonstrates a Google Analytics Goals report in which the number of conversions for certain website actions are being tracked over time.

Conversion Optimization data from usefulusability.com

2. Evaluate Length of Visit Website Data

Length of Visit data, from Google Analytics or your analytics software, provides critical conversion information. It informs you as to how well your content is attracting and retaining your website visitors. Your conversion optimization efforts should ultimately aim to increase length of visits, if your content is working correctly.

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Unfortunately I see many firms use the wrong data to analyze this important information. If you are using Average Visit Duration from the Google Analytics Overview screen please stop! That metric is simply an average across the entire site and is not actually all that accurate. In fact, I have found in hundreds of samples that it is often falsely high. Many firms will see two or so minutes, and be satisfied with that. But in fact, often the vast majority of visits are under 10 seconds!

For the real data, you have to hunt deep in GA to find the Length of Visit report.

Length of Visit Report: Audience > Behavior > Engagement, Visit Duration table

Using that report, you should see something very similar to the example pictured below:

 Conversion Optimization length of visit data from usefulusability.com

When presented this way, the sobering news is the vast majority of visitors spend less than 10 seconds on the site. Use this data to evaluate how well your content conversion optimization efforts are increasing the higher length of visit numbers.

3.  Assess Top Content Website Behavior Flow

Conversion improvement happens when you make it easier for your visitors to find the information they are looking for. You can evaluate how easy or difficult it is to find information based on the Google Analytics Behavior Flow graph. Many firms I’ve consulted with are familiar with this report, but are unsure how to use the data, as it can be a tad overwhelming.

To evaluate how well your site is working in flowing your visitors to your important content, look at any backtracking, pogo sticking or abandonment that may be occurring at the page level. If you see a lot of bouncing from home page to another page and back to the home page, you may have a navigation issue or potentially a content problem. Either way, addressing these can be an excellent way to increase conversion.

The example below demonstrates a potential navigation issue. Notice that many visitors were going from the home page to the important programs page, but then back to the home page. Optimizing navigation or descriptions in the content could improve flow and get more visitors down to the unique content they are looking for.

Conversion Optimization top content report from usefulusability.com

4. Examine Bounce Rate

Bounce rate reports will tell you how well your website meets your visitor expectations. If your bounce rate is high, it means visitors come to your site hoping to find something that they do not see, and so they leave (literally bounce away).

Conversion optimization is all about making it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for. Assuming you are targeting the right kind of visitor, your overall bounce rate should go down over time if your conversion optimization is working.

As the example below shows, Bounce Rate can increase suddenly, for no apparent reason.

Conversion Optimization bounce rate report from usefulusability.comThere are many factors that can influence bounce rate, including; attracting the wrong type of visitor, making it hard for visitors to find the content they are looking for, erroneously counting PPC or other paid advertising landing page visitors in your bounce rate report, and more. In general, for most business websites, bounce rates above 60 to 70 percent indicate bad news, and should be investigated.

5. Assess and Document Screen Resolution

Screen resolution is an often overlooked metric, but is another top conversion optimization data element you must understand and track.  The metrics from the GA Screen Resolution report is required to understand how the fold is impacting your conversion rates. The fold refers to the location at the bottom of a browser where information is cut off and invisible.

Moving the all important Call To Action (CTA) above the fold has provided double or triple conversion for many of my clients time and time again.

To evaluate where the fold is, you must know the most common screen resolution of your visitors, and evaluate the visual experience using that resolution.

As the example Screen Resolution report below demonstrates, another very important metric to monitor is the number of mobile visitors to your site. The firm in this example has iPhone resolution as the second most popular resolution. This means mobile visitors are the second most common type of visitor to the site, which means this firm MUST ensure the mobile user experience is well designed and executed.

More than likely, your mobile screen resolution numbers are also increasing. Have you optimized your mobile user experience?

 Conversion Optimization Screen Resolution data from usefulusability.com

One word of caution with the Screen Resolution report. This is the one report that you do NOT want to track using a long period of time. The reason is because screen resolution over the past few years has been changing fairly quickly. Especially in the past six to twelve months, in which I am seeing a consistently increasing penetration of mobile screen sizes.  Keep this report to a 6 month or at the most 12 month view, and do count on mobile continuing to increase over time.

6. Identify Page Fold and Impact on Critical Pages

The Page Fold is a critical element to address when conducting conversion optimization. Moving critical content or CTAs above the fold is the fastest and usually easiest way to improve conversion.

A few years ago, usability practitioners claimed that the page fold is a myth, and that users scroll down to read information.  They based this on usability testing and eye tracking data from several sources.

However, based on the hundreds of optimization and A/B tests I have run I can assure you that the page fold is alive and well and causes reduced conversion. Hiding CTAs or other critical content below the fold can and does hurt your conversion. Moving them above the fold will almost always increase your conversion. I have seen doubling and tripling of conversion on websites by trying just this one tactic.

But you do not have to take my word for it, you can easily determine the impact of your page fold using several tools, such as CrazyEgg. Using tools on your own web pages like the CrazyEgg scroll map will provide you with the data you need to determine how far, and how long, people are scrolling on your web pages. Remember, just because they are scrolling does not mean they are clicking! Use this data to evaluate where your all important CTAs and other critical content should go.

Back to the page fold, as the example below demonstrates, the page fold will probably cut off a fair amount of content, and that maybe fine. But if it is cutting off or hiding your CTA that is an opportunity for conversion optimization.

Conversion Optimization page fold analysis from usefulusability.comUsing tools like the CrazyEgg scroll map will provide you with the data you need to determine how far, and how long, people are scrolling on your web pages. Use this data to evaluate where your CTAs should go.

7. Conduct a Five Second Test

Usability testing studies conducted in 2006 by researchers found evidence that website visitors formed opinions about web page visual appeal in 50 to 500 milliseconds. Yes, milliseconds!  So it is critical that your website (and especially your home page) tell visitors three important pieces of information in five seconds or less:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Why they should care (what is in it for them)

Using the five second test and asking website visitors those questions is a very powerful way to learn how well your pages are communicating to your audience in those all important first few seconds. Results can be used to target graphics, copy or CTA changes on your home page that can significantly improve your conversion.

As the example below demonstrates, the data will quickly point out how well or poorly your home page content and visuals are working. Using data from this type of test is another excellent way to significantly increase conversion.

Conversion Optimization 5 second test analysis from usefulusability.com

8. Run Automated Eye Tracking Studies

Automated eye tracking studies, or better yet real eye tracking studies with actual website visitors, can quickly identify areas on your page that are working, or not working.  Automated eye tracking tools like Feng-Gui or actual eye tracking tools like the Tobii eye tracker enable you to identify the spots or fixations where visitor eyes stop.

This information is very helpful for identifying places where fixations are occurring that you want, and places where they are occurring that you do not want.

As the example below shows, eye tracking and heat maps of eye fixations can help identify places to conduct conversion optimization. The goal being to reduce fixations on unwanted areas, and increase fixations on areas that are important (such as CTAs).

Conversion Optimizatoin automated eye tracking analysis from usefulusability.com

Eye tracking data, especially automated eye tracking data should be used with caution. Remember that in all cases data from the eye tracking study should be cross-referenced with click-tracking. Just because visitors gazes are attracted to CTAs does not mean they are clicking on them!

9. Analyze Contact or Purchase Page Elements

Conversion optimization naturally focuses on contact or purchase pages, and rightfully so. Simple changes like removing a single button can add $300 Million in revenue for eCommerce companies.

In the hundreds of conversion optimization projects I conducted, I found that often low contact or shopping cart page conversion is directly caused by multiple CTAs fighting for attention. Removing everything that is not part of the contact form or purchase form can double conversion instantly.

This image shows a page that has multiple CTAs that in this case are pushing the form (the most important element on the page) below the fold.

Conversion optimization contact page analysis from usefulusability.com

Elimination of all distractions on the contact or purchase pages typically results in improved conversion and increased revenue.

However, it is essential, especially on these pages, to always conduct A/B testing of any optimization. An A/B test will define in exact metrics the actual improvement in conversion, plus will ensure that any changes to these pages did not actually hurt conversion.

10. Evaluate Product or Services Page Elements

The product or services pages are another key place for large conversion increases. A five second test and evaluation of click data of the product page should be followed by an evaluation of the content through time on page and bounce metrics.

In addition to internal website data, I like to compare the user experience of my clients product page to some of their top competitors. That is because at the point website visitors in their buyers journey are evaluating your products, it is highly likely they are also evaluating competitor products as well. So it is helpful to evaluate your product or services pages against your competitors to see how you stack up.

As the example below demonstrates, evaluating where content and CTAs fall on the product page relative to the fold can be very helpful in highlighting areas for conversion optimization.

Conversion optimization product page evaluation from usefulusability.com

Conclusion: 10 Conversion Optimization Tips the Experts Use

Although these 10 conversion optimization tips are not a comprehensive listing, they are typically the most significant when it comes to evaluating how and where to make significant impacts on improving conversion, and resulting website revenue. Using this data will provide much more clarity into what you should be A/B testing, and will greatly improve your website conversion over time.

Contact me if you have any questions on these tips or would like more information on website conversion optimization.


  1. With today’s changes to Google web master tools… showing clicks to pages, you may want to add it as a great tool.

    Excellent list by the way!

  2. Hi Mike,

    Yes, although it is true that Google Webmaster tools does show clicks, and more importantly now shows percent change over time, I’m not impressed with it for two major reasons:

    1. It only tracks three months worth of data. Unlike GA, which keeps your history of activity all the way back to whenever you installed code, Google Webmaster Tools only keeps three months of data. So, you either have two choices, download all your data monthly (what a pain) or only focus on the past three months of traffic. Neither is ‘optimized’ from a user standpoint.

    2. Google Webmaster tools does show organic traffic and the keywords that are producing it, which is very helpful. But that’s where the data pretty much ends. You have no idea from this data if your visitors are finding the information they need, where they went after landing on your site, or pretty much any other useful conversion optimization information. Sure, I know for example that several hundred people searched for ‘usability testing tools’ and as a result came to my 24 usability testing tools page, but what happened then?

    For actionable data that helps marketing and UX teams improve the user experience Google Webmaster Tools is nice from an organic inbound keyterms perspective, but hardly one of the top 10 conversion tools I would recommend.

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