‘Conversion rate’… Online persuasion is ‘pretty often’ used as a means to boost the conversion rate. Moreover the effectiveness of online persuasion techniques is often measured in terms of the improvement of the conversion rate. Most times it means the percentage of unique visitors that get to see the ‘Thank you for buying with us-page’ (wikipedia). But be aware… That Conversion Rate is a very risky measure, it can be counterproductive. And personally; I hate Conversion Optimization (I love “conversation optimization’ though).
but most important:
The larger part of my income is dependent on clients asking me “Can you increase our conversion rate (using online persuasion techniques)?”. By that, they mean that instead of dragging only 2 out of 100 visitors all the way to their ‘Thank you-page’, they would like to double that to a ‘mind-blowing’ 4 of them.
Apart from the aversion I feel emotionally to reduce huge amounts of nice people to an abstract percentage, there are many rational reasons why you should consider this as ‘risky business’. Simply said: Your conversion rate is not your business goal. Your goal is – for example – to have extremely happy and loyal customers and employees, or to make huge amounts of profit. And neither of these are measured with the concept of conversion. More important: When optimizing your conversion – you could be killing your business. CRO can be counterproductive and negatively affect your strategic and long term goals.
Nevertheless, I am happy to provide you 5 extremely effective – be it controversial - conversion boosting tips (and while doing so, explain a bit more about the negative effects of conversion rate optimization).
Remember your last visit to your local bakery store? Did you buy a bread? Maybe. Anyway, the most successful baker is not the baker that gets everyone in his shop to buy a loaf of bread (his ‘conversion rate’). No, a successful baker makes you buy your bread in his shop day in day out. He turns your need for bread into a happy habit of going by his shop every day. And if you would ever pop by ‘just to give him a compliment’. He would be genuinely pleased, maybe even proud of himself for being ‘so successful’.
Is that what CRO does for you? Nope. The ideal of “100% conversion” is equivalent for “it doesn’t matter how often people come by, as long as they buy something when they do”. Someone who is so satisfied with his purchase that he comes back ‘just to look around’, or ‘give you a compliment’ should be banned in order to raise your conversion (since ‘not buying’ is negative for your conversion, especially when he or she uses another browser or device).
Therefore you should first focus on selling ‘at least something’ to all of your initial visitors. Secondly, you have to make sure that they never come back. You have to screw your customer just enough to make sure that he won’t drop by again (believe me, that’s more easy than making him buy again…). Not too much though, because then he might come back complaining (a ‘conversion rate downer’).
Your local bakery may persuade you to treat yourself with a luxurious Italian Focaccia bread, instead of your usual thing. In doing so, he is hoping to become the owner of a larger portion of your money than he usually does.
However, “a conversion = a conversion” (more often than not). The point is that as long as your customer buys “something”, it counts. The value of that purchase doesn’t matter. We all know that it’s easier to persuade your customers’ brain to buy something that costs less (his insula will object less against cheaper alternatives). Therefore, you should stop trying to “up sell”. Instead you should start ‘down selling’. Offering your customer less costly alternatives should improve your conversion (but do remember to screw him on the thank-you page, because down selling might increase the repeat visit intention).
Conversion Tip 2: Stop up selling and start down selling”
A successful bakery tempts you to buy – besides your standard bread – a second one, as well as some “fresh from the oven”-croissants. By doing so, he makes you happy, as well as your loved-ones and himself.
But a fully filled shopping basket is just as valuable for your conversion as ‘one item’. Therefore one way to increase your conversion rate, is to force your visitors to buy your products one-by-one. Especially when they use another device or browser while doing so. Suppose that 200 out of your 10.000 monthly visitors buy in your webshop, and they usually buy 2 products at once. Then you could increase your conversion rate by making it impossible to buy both products simultaneously. Just make sure that your customers keep on buying their initially desired product. Because, as long as at least one of them takes the trouble to switch from device or browser to buy the other product as well, your conversion rate increases (although you might cut your turnover in half).
Conversion Tip 3: Make cross selling impossible (at least within one browser or device)”
Measuring the conversion rate is usually limited to one medium (the website, the app, …). But for your local baker it really does not matter whether you buy your bread in his shop or his webshop. Not even whether you text him or send a direct message on Twitter or FaceBook. He just sells the usual stuff to that lovely, regular customer (that’s you). Actually, when he really likes you, he might even give the following tip: “In about 30 minutes I have freshly baked breads coming out of the oven, if you text my wife she can drop it by just before your lunchtime”.
Back to your conversion rate: Is it measured cross channel? Most probably not (yet). Therefore you have to make sure, that your customer doesn’t switch to another channel. Not even if that person is much easier to persuade within that other channel.
Conversion Tip 4: Don’t display a telephone number. Or show a telephone number that leads to an answer machine stating “We’re sorry, our call center is closed, but our website is open, beep”
When you visit your local baker, does he realize it’s you again? Probably. But online we have difficulties recognizing repeat visitors. When your prospect finally decides to buy, but uses another device or browser, your conversion rate treats him as two unique prospects. Therefore this particular prospect only counts for 50%. Hence my final 2 conversion rate optimizing tips:
Conversion Tip 5: Don’t facilitate more than one device. So if you have a webshop, than do not support mobile devices, do not develop apps, stop the FaceBook-shop,…”
Free bonus Conversion Tip: Only support one type of browser. For all others you should state “Please use Browser X to visit our site”.
Your goal is to persuade people (or even better ‘their brains’) into happy loyal clients. Or your goal is to make huge profits. Either way, your optimizing efforts should be measured against these kpi’s. So, when creating dashboards or when performing ab-tests, try to link your webanalytics software with your “true kpi’s”. Even if it means linking it with back-office systems (or – for example – an online questionnaire).
When you don’t, you might think you’re successful, when in reality you’re not. Only when you measure against your real kpi’s, you’ll be able to truly learn how to optimize your online dialogue and make customers happy, while separating them from their money.