To Boost Conversions, Think Conversely

Gold credit card and lock

A recent study found that 65% of online shoppers are “window shoppers,” and take on average up to 33 hours to make a purchase — often over security concerns.

Some interesting findings show that most people who abandon their shopping carts don’t do so permanently.

They tend to return within the first day to complete their purchase, likely after they had a chance to shop around, review their security, or practice some due diligence.

According to WebProNews who reported on the study, “65% of all shoppers will wait a day or more to complete a purchase.” The most notable finding was the idea that just increasing security and buyer confidence can increase conversion by 11%.

Interesting, yes. But far from surprising.

In fact, I often tell my clients and students that, in order to boost sales, you should be a “conversion contrarian.” In other words, don’t focus on increasing conversions. Not at first, anyway. Instead, you should focus on decreasing something else…

… You should focus on decreasing non-conversions.

In recent times, I’ve been hammering home the idea that:

The latter of the three — i.e., reducing friction in the sales and ordering processes — has become a chief focus in my recent split-tests. With dramatic results.

More important, you need to bring those non-buyers back to the salesletter and get them to complete their order, and a mechanism that allows you to do so. As the last paragraph in Chris Crum’s WebProNews article about the study clearly states:

That’s not to say that if you are selling things online, there isn’t a good chance you are missing out on a substantial amount of money you easily could be making, if you only examined why people are leaving the shopping cart. Just focus on the ones who aren’t coming back.

For many years, one of the central teachings from my friend, Armand Morin, a top Internet marketer who generates millions online, is the idea of “forced optin,” i.e., a mandatory form where people must join a list before they see the salesletter.

“All salesletters should be preceded by a forced optin page,” says Morin.

A forced optin page — also known as a “squeeze page,” “namesqueeze page,” or “flycatcher page” — is no longer considered an add-on strategy, an extra step, or even a bottleneck (which is why some people refuse to use it), but a necessity.

And these recent findings underline this practice, as it goes to prove that you need to, and must, have a way to follow-up with your non-buyers within that first 24-hour window.

Those first 24 hours are crucial.

Speaking of bottlenecks, I agree that, in some cases, a forced optin page can be a deterrent. But keep in mind, you must use them intelligently for them to work.

An optin form that blocks access to your information and forces people to subscribe before giving them what they’re asking for is definitely going to push some away.

Granted, if your visitors are already on your list, you don’t need one — although it might prove itself to be effective in segmenting your list. The key, in either case, is to use them properly, effectively, with the right message, and with the right audience.

If your traffic is targeted, you can use…

  • Persuasive teaser copy that’s informative yet incomplete;
  • A strong incentive or bribe, perhaps with a certain exclusivity;
  • Registrations to events, such as teleseminars or webinars;
  • Multimedia, such as videos, demonstrations, interviews, or samples;
  • A notification process for when the content or product is made available;
  • Continuous content, such as newsletters, courses, or periodic updates;
  • A multistep process where content is broken down in parts or layers;
  • Or sequential content delivered over a period of time.

There are many creative ways to get legitimate, qualified optins, and this list is by no means exhaustive. Incidentally, the second half of that list is based on a technique that’s becoming more and more popular these days, which is the reverse optin process.

Nevertheless, forced optins are powerful tools for a number of reasons — not the least of which is the ability to follow-up with them, particularly within that first 24-hour window.

But a forced optin also helps you in qualifying visitors more effectively, starts the relationship-building process, fosters trust and credibility (by immediately giving them what they’re asking for), and even trains your prospects to eventually buy from you.

As Armand often notes, “If you can’t get them to give you their email address, chances are you won’t be able to get them to give you their credit card number, either.”

However, forced optins aside, there are many other frictional components that are killing your sales right now. You’d be amazed at how many elements can impede, slow down, interrupt, distract, break the flow, and deter your prospects from buying from you.

These bottlenecks are like speed bumps, slowing down that greased-slide momentum that’s often talked about in copywriting courses — from getting them to start reading the copy, all the way to getting them to finish processing their order. And then, some.

Therefore, rather than looking at ways to increase conversions, you can boost your sales — oftentimes, dramatically — by first looking at why people are leaving, addressing those reasons, and focusing on ways to decrease your non-conversions.

In short, you need to start looking at how can you reduce the number of non-buyers rather than, or at least together with, how you can boost the number of those who buy.

Think about this for a moment.

If you have a 2% conversion rate, and you conduct a split-test that increased your conversion to 3%, that might be all well and good. You boosted response by a third! Who wouldn’t want a 33% boost in sales? But the problem is, 97% are still non-buyers.

You went from 98 to 97% non-conversion rate.

Doesn’t sound as appealing, huh?

That’s why one of the best ways I’ve found to increase sales is not to focus on more aggressive, or even surreptitious ways to boost sales, such as testing different colored headlines, tweaking layouts, changing fonts, or adding more copy to the mix…

… But to focus on increasing trust, building relationships, adding more proof, making better offers, and above all, removing friction from the sales process. Such as:

  • Making the navigation more fluid,
  • Communicating more security,
  • Facilitating the checkout process,
  • Reducing any confusion or friction,
  • Projecting a great brand and image,
  • Having a cleaner look and feel,
  • Being congruent and consistent,
  • Adding more “seals of approval,” etc.

Ultimately, don’t stop looking for ways to boost your sales. But conversely, I would definitely start looking at what causes your non-sales, such as what pushes people away or stops them from coming back, and address those as well, if not at first.

The worst you can do is to ignore your non-buyers altogether.

After all, you might be sitting on a goldmine.

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13 thoughts on “To Boost Conversions, Think Conversely

  1. Great points, Michel. I’m constantly disappointed in poorly executed buy pages on websites. Sometimes I wonder if they want my money at all!

    • I agree. I remember a study, oh, about 5 years ago (and it’s still
      applicable today) that found that the majority of websites that sell
      actually make it hard to buy — some even hide the order link, the order
      page, or the phone number, or forces you to jump through hoops to find it.

      Then they complain why their conversion rate sucks. Go figure.

  2. “As Armand often notes, “If you can’t get them to give you their email address, chances are you won’t be able to get them to give you their credit card num­ber, either.””

    Armand Morin is one of my favorite internet marketers because of his no-nonsense, common sense strategies. This is an excellent post and helped to clarify that WebProNews article for me which I coincidentally read a few minutes before I ended up here.

  3. Right, and trust is matter of time!

    Which so many people don’t want to invest.

    The really cool thing about blogging is you can create value ex nihilo that only gets more valuable as time passes. That seems to be a good way to inspire trust.

  4. Is it the job of the copywriter to be involved with the reasons 97% aren’t converting or is their primarily role to write enticing copy to persuade the wavering 1% who are considering buying to buy?

    Or should the copywriter be more involved with the site design, buying process, and overall feel of the site at a far earlier stage, rather than coming in and writing copy at a later date?

    • Typically, a copywriter’s job doesn’t involve design, usability, and the buying process. But yes, I think they should be. If the copy doesn’t convert due to poor planning, implementation, and usability, even if the copy is perfect, who do you think will get the flak? Of course, the copywriter.

      More and more copywriters these days, like yours truly, are more like conversion consultants than simple copywriters. To a large extent, they have to be. Their copy and their reputation are on the line, and the copywriter is in a perfect position since their job is to help bring sales to the table.

      My 3 cents.

  5. Very well said, I like the ideas that you are presenting with this piece. I agree with you when you say that we need to build relationships and insure and encourage trust. Consumers need to know that we are reliable and available for them if there is a problem that they need help with. I think that if we can prove this to clients, you can definitely win their business.

  6. Nice article Michel. Good tips to follow for someone learning the art of copy.

    Thanks for initiating this discussion.

  7. Well said. I have not heard the term “reverse opt-in” before. Nice.

  8. Michel
    I enjoy your posts very much but suggest you correct the following:
    f you have a 2% con­ver­sion rate, and you con­duct a split-??test that increased your con­ver­sion to 3%, that might be all well and good. You boosted response by a third! Who wouldn’t want a 33% boost in sales? But the prob­lem is, 97% are still non-??buyers.

    50% boost, from 2 to 3!
    Cheers
    Michael

    • Mathematically, I know you’re correct. I noticed that error a while back. In
      my head, I based it on the final result — meaning, that the conversion rate
      achieved was the “real” conversion rate, and therefore, the increase is a
      third of the final result, not of the previous rate.

      But glad you caught it, too. In fact, it sound better, wouldn’t it? I mean,
      50% is better than 33%. ;)

  9. Well this was wonderful and unexpected.  Great tips !!! :D

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