The Most (and Least!) Important Elements that Impact Your Website Conversion Rate

There are now 100's of elements to consider when improving your website conversion rate and sales. But what works best?

What page elements should you improve first to get higher impact? And it’s not just about A/B testing anymore, there are many newer conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques to use like persuasion and personalization.

All these different CRO elements make it hard to understand what will have the biggest impact on your website. And many articles show how individual CRO techniques perform, but without any context or comparisons.

So what actually works best for improving website conversion rates?

To help you understand this, I have created a list of what elements and techniques will likely have the most, and least, positive impact on your website conversion rate. And some of them you might be surprised at!

This is based on my learnings from15 years experience of improving 100's of websites, including Disney.com, UnboundMerino.com and FileNow.com

Let’s get started, with rankings from least important to most important:

Low Importance

A/B testing the colour of your CTA buttons
Different CTA button colours will often only have a very limited impact on conversion rate, unless it matches other elements on your page and doesn’t stand out. Ideally they need to stand out from the rest of your page, but there are many other higher impact elements to improve first.

Improving your webpage load times
A controversial one here, as this is often mentioned as important. The truth is that unless your pages are noticeably slow at loading (over 5 seconds) and you are in a very competitive market that visitors can easily go elsewhere to buy what you offer, then improving load times likely won’t have much impact on your conversion rates.

Personalizing your website to improve engagement
This newer trend has many tools specializing in this. While this helps to show more relevant content to your visitors and can work well, you should only start personalization efforts after you have improved your website to a good CRO standard first. It doesn’t matter how much you personalize your website if it has poor usability and isn’t very engaging — it still won’t convert very well.

Improving things that your HiPPO wants done
Your HiPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) may often want something changed or improved on the website based on their opinion or what they like. It is often quite different from what visitors want, and is the opposite of using good insights from conversion research to improve your website.

Medium Importance

Improving your navigation menu, filtering and search
These elements are often one of the first things used on your website, so need to be highly usable. The better they are, the more likely that visitors will find what they are looking for faster and easier, and convert. It’s particularly important on mobile category pages to make your filters more prominent and easy to use, ideally using sticky elements so they are always visible.

Improving usability of your forms
Your forms play an important part in how well your website converts. Doing essential things like removing unnecessary form fields and improving error validation will often increase your conversion rates, particularly on your signup or checkout pages.

Using website persuasion techniques like scarcity or urgency
This technique can work well to influence visitors to purchase or signup for something, for example having limited availability of what you offer. Not as important as other persuasion techniques like social proof though.

Improving your mobile website further — not just responsive
Don’t just settle for a basic responsive website that changes the layout and sizes. You need to make more adaptations to meet their needs better, for example making links fat finger friendly and using sticky navigation elements. You also need to check your layout doesn’t break on smaller devices that have only 320 width, like the 2019 version of iPhone SE.

Improving your shopping cart and checkout
In particular you should improve it by reducing friction (remove header navigation for example), increase the perception of security, and reduce the risk by prominently showing risk reducers like guarantees and free shipping. But don’t just focus on this — you need to optimize the whole visitor journey up to this point.

High Importance

Prominently showing unique value proposition on key entry pages
It doesn’t matter how engaging your website looks if you don’t clearly show your unique value proposition — these are the reasons that someone should purchase from your website instead of your competitors (low price guarantee, biggest selection, highest rated etc). And don’t presume that your visitors know it already, on the contrary, they will often be doing comparison shopping. Therefore you need to add key elements of your unique value proposition prominently on your key entry pages, like in a benefits bar under your navigation, and on your homepage.

A/B testing the wording and location of CTA buttons
This is much more important than A/B testing the color of CTA buttons. It is essential to use action-orientated, benefit driven words on them (like ‘Start Free Trial Now’), and to always make sure they are above the fold on desktop version of your website, and then repeated at the end of long pages.

Improving social proof to get more visitors buying
This should be done in many ways depending on your type of website, and should be prominently displayed on your homepage and product pages. Good examples of social proof are adding testimonials, reviews, ratings, media mentions, awards, and logos of well known clients.

Optimizing paid search ads to increase relevance
Paid search is often a key source of traffic, so it is essential to improve the relevancy of your ads, in particular by improving the message continuation from your ad to when they land on your website. Driving paid search to specific keyword-focused landing pages rather than your homepage will ensure higher conversion rates.

Very High Importance

Doing conversion research to gain better insights
Conversion research is often overlooked and is an essential way of gaining better ideas to improve your website conversion rates and sales. This helps you discover what your visitor’s main problems, doubts and hesitations are so you can improve your website to meet their needs better. User tests on your target audience, visitor surveys, customer surveys, and visitor recordings are the highest impact ways of doing conversion research. Using tools like Hotjar.com and Userfeel.com are highly recommended for this.

A/B testing headlines and copy above the page fold
Copywriting is one of the biggest influencers on conversion rates, particularly for elements like headlines seen above the page fold. Using benefit driven wording works well, as does using wording that solves visitors pain points. A/B test different variations on your key pages in particular.

Capturing visitors emails to do follow-up email marketing
Don’t presume your visitors will convert first time — over 95% of them will leave. Capturing email addresses by offering a good incentive (like discounts or related guides) is essential — when using a good series of automated emails, email will often become your highest converting source of traffic.

Hopefully that helps clear up any confusion as to what will have the biggest impact on your website conversion rates and sales!

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