5 Conversion Rate Optimization Case Studies

by Steven Macdonald July 10th, 2013 

Conversion rate optimization is a science. And unlike most online marketing techniques, conversion rate optimization is not something than can be scaled in ways that content marketing and SEO can be. This is because in order to fully understand conversion rate optimization you need to fully understand the customer and his/ her frame of mind when making an online purchase. This is where persuasive design comes in, and being able to provide nudges that stop the customer from abandoning the shopping process and instead, complete their order.

However, I've been fortunate to implement best practices at the companies I've worked with that have seen an immediate impact on conversion rates without the need for a degree in online behavior and psychology. By identifying techniques that can be implemented quickly, I've been able to see conversion rates increase overnight for both lead generation and ecommerce sites. This blog post provides you with actionable insight into how you too can increase conversion rates immediately.

1. Drive conversions from your blog

A blog is a great platform to share content and showcase your expertise within a particular industry. Blogging is proven to increase organic traffic and bring new visitors to your site. However, if all your blog readers do is read one post and then leave your site, how do you justify the time investing in creating and sharing your content?

SuperOffice wanted to increase the number of leads sent from their blog. With approx. 3,000 visitors and 3-4 new blog posts per month, we saw potential in turning visitors into potential buyers. To begin with, we made a simple change to our blog approach and to make sure each blog post featured a call to action. If a visitor reads until to the end of your post, they are engaged and are more likely to take action. We saw mixed results by implementing this, so we took a new approach of implementing the Hellobar plugin for WordPress.

Within hours, Hellobar was sending visitors to our white papers page and compared to the previous month we saw an increase conversions from the blog increase by more than 116%.

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Hellobar is easy to implement and costs less than $5 per month for the premium package. We now use Hellobar to promote our newest white paper and since going live at the end of April we can credit more than 30 leads alone to the Hellobar plugin.

2. Emphasize the benefits of booking online

When Hurtigruten launched their online booking engine, they had a conflict in booking channels as customers would book online or contact their customer service. Both channels provided an easy booking experience, but with the average passenger being 55 years old and less web -savvy than your typical social media user, we found that online sales could be improved by making it clear that booking online is even easier than calling in.

By setting aside 5 minutes, I wrote down the benefits of booking online at Hurtigruten. I came up with more than 10 reasons someone would want to book online instead of booking on the phone – But settled with the following five reasons:

No booking fees

Online booking guarantee

100% secure order process

Easy to use booking system

24/7 customer support and live chat

The result lead to an increase in initiated bookings of more than 193%, which based on conversion rate and average order value, is worth approximately more than $100,000 in increased sales.

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This chart taken from Google Analytics shows the immediate impact of when we implemented the benefits of booking online.

3. Add goals to your website footer

Each website has a goal, both for the visitor and the business. A web visitor's goal might be to contact customer service, where the business goal will be to generate the lead. SuperOffice has several goals on their website set up in Google Analytics including contact forms, white paper downloads and product sheets.

In January 2013, we conducted a usability test using www.usertesting.com that, as always with user testing led to excellent suggestions and feedback that we could implement immediately. One of the findings was that the visitors were not taking action on the main CTA on the page and instead were scrolling down the page. In an attempt to make sure our primary CTA's (and goals) were not missed, we added our top 5 goals into the footer of the website.

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Over the course of a 2 week period, we saw a 50% increase in conversion rate and a 56% increase in goal completions.

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With this data, we were able to implement the change across the entire network (8 websites) and the result was that compared to the previous month, the number of conversions increased by 8%.

4. Implement inline form validation

Softmedia is one of the penny auction software industry's leading providers. The goal of the website is to drive leads that they can pass onto their sales team.

The 'contact form' originally had more than 16 fields. We wanted to reduce the number of fields without compromising the quality of them. One way to increase conversion was to implement inline validation. Most web forms you come across will have an error message or red 'X' when you leave a field out or enter incorrect information (ex. Letters in a phone number field), but how many forms do you see that provide positive feedback when you enter correct information?

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Research by by Etre and Luke Wroblewski found that inline validation has a great impact on completed contact forms, resulting in:

22% increase in success rates

22% decrease in errors made

31% increase in satisfaction ratings

Using this data, we applied both positive and negative validators on the contact form.

In addition to implementing inline validation, we also removed any fields that were not necessary and made the page secure using HTTPS.

These changes took less than half a day to implement but had an immediate impact that lead to a 170% increase in conversion rate and 277% increase in completed contact forms.

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5. AB test your web forms

A lead generation website will be filled with great content, video and be rich in resources to help educate the reader. But a lead generation site's sole purpose is to get people to contact them. There are many ways to help a potential buyer contact you; whether through phone, email or live chat. One of the best ways can also be to have a contact form on your website.

SuperOffice's wanted to increase the number of leads through their 'schedule a free demo' page – And to speak with the lead directly on the phone.

Best practice says that websites should use social proofing in order to establish trust. SuperOffice used this best practice to create a variation of the sign up page, which included brand logos and testimonials to the right hand side of the sign up form (below, middle). Another variation was created that removed all distractions and focused only on the web form fields (below, right).

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The result was that both test variations performed better than the control version but 'variation 2' (the version with no distractions) saw a 197% increase in completed signups for the free demo page.

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Using Visual Website Optimizer, we were able to keep the winning variation enabled and presented to all website visitors without the need for any website development, which has since lead to a 10% increase in conversions.

Now it's your turn

These 5 case studies have taken less than a day's work yet have resulted in thousands of dollars in increased revenue at Hurtigruten and hundreds of leads for SuperOffice and Softmedia that can potentially lead to $ millions.

Changing links in your footer or explaining why people should shop on your website is not a difficult task. Set aside 45 minutes of your day today and implement at least 1 of the above and let me know how quickly you saw an increase in conversion rate. You'll be surprised how easy it is, and once you have implemented the easy conversion rate optimization techniques, you will get a lot more commitment from senior management to invest in persuasive design and truly understand who your customers are and what makes them tick.

Until then if you want to read more about how to increase conversion rates, you can also check out 20+ CRO tips in my A to Z guide to conversion rate optimization.

Have you created any success stories recently through conversion rate optimization? Let me know in the comments below.

Steven Macdonald

Steven Macdonald has been working with online marketing since 2005. Experienced in online gambling and travel, Steven is currently working on International SEO with SuperOffice CRM and regularly contributes to the Tribes blog.

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