ReviewTrust Platform Puts Small Business Sites On Level Playing Field As Big Competitors

As the internet changes and evolves, do you ever ask yourself why certain sites succeed while others fail?

Obviously, sites in business that get sales prevail while sites with lack of sales fail.

Of course that’s a broad over-simplification but here’s a revealing fact to the initial question:

Website reviews and testimonials are driving top sales online because of this one thing…


trustYes, sites with trust are succeeding at much higher rates than sites that lack important credibility factors. 

So you could say, trust plus good reviews brings sales but let me back that up with a good example you can easily relate to.

From early on, has crystallized a measurable trust mechanism for their site visitors. A system where people can gauge purchase decisions, based on real buyer feedback of previous customers and their opinions.

When Amazon delivered this platform, it became the standard of the internet as a legitimate trustworthy product review system.

Again, trust plus good reviews brings sales and many happy customers too. While Amazon for sure knows what they’re doing to create unparalleled success, we can all take a lesson from them.

Looking further, they pioneered their platform into a dynamic system that drives a constant flow of new incoming product reviews.

But here’s the real secret behind this that makes it tick…

They delivered a powerful psychological “brain hack” that transfers-over to site visitors extremely well in qualifying credibility that went viral.

What is it?

Social Proof.

Yes, social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials is what has made Amazon soar in credibility when they began growing and amassing product testimonials and reviews.

This review delivery system is responsible for building an unstoppable online business model that can boost any online business.

However, to have this level of sophistication powering reviews has only been available to high-level sites leaving millions of smaller sites in the dust with much less credibility reach.

Let me clarify that I’m not talking about random, unofficial, or unverified reviews which no one pays attention to these days.

In this post I’m referring to verified reviews and testimonials that breed real trust on the same level as the huge sites that attract big sales by showing them.

And that’s why I wanted to share this important information here with my readers.

Because what I want to tell you about is how small business sites can now start to benefit from a new upper-echelon powered testimonial platform. And it’s one that works on the same line of the big leagues – but with a twist.

In fact, there hasn’t been anything else like it available with such ground-level access which is why I feel this is great news for small business websites.

Developed by a credible online marketer and good friend, Brad Callen, ReviewTrust was created to bridge this gap in the marketplace.

So how does it work?

What Brad Callen’s team was able to do was boil it down to one, single strip of code you add to your site. Once implemented, ReviewTrust will start to auto-gather testimonials and populate your site with trust and credibility as sales come in.

Now here’s the twist… Each of your customers will receive a follow-up gift incentive that you designate and this has been shown to spark reviews based on your product’s acceptance and likability.

This extra buyer-incentive really drives customers to respond and the platform takes over from there.  You never have to lift a finger to contact people to beg for reviews ever.

They just flow in and your site grows with social proof in the form of, verified product testimonials.

Auto-building your business with credibility like this is an attractive feature harnessing the power of real review trust from your customers.

It for sure raises the credibility bar as it’s the kind that can vastly improve sales conversions for products and services alike.

They tested 4 businesses in 4 niches to track the effectiveness of this new software platform and the results were nothing less than astounding.

I was impressed to see how they did this and were able to hit as high as 156.4% sales increase in their top conversion statistics.

From each site they tested they were able to jump-start conversion rates where there were less sales and boost the conversion rates on sites that were already getting sales.

Another impressive point is they didn’t change or add any sales copy, redo any site designing or even add any new traffic to get the results.

I think the reason this works so well is because it passes along a level of credibility that buyer-radar is always looking for.

People want credible verification now more than ever before they decide to buy products online, which is why social proof in product reviews is so important.

And this is where ReviewTrust offers a break-through solution allowing you to collect and display real verified testimonials on a much higher level than ever before now accessible to small online businesses.

If you want to get more information, click here to check out ReviewTrust.


Gauher Chaudhry

10 Effective Membership Retention Strategies

Since running a number of membership sites in the past and presently, I want to share with you the most effective membership retention strategies that work time and time again for retaining members.

membership-685021_1280Knowing firsthand how important attracting new members is, retaining them in your member community is the next most important valuable skill you can learn as a membership admin.

So let’s go through each one and these are in no specific order.

Here are ten of my favorites.

Each one is just as important as the next, just consider applying as many as you can.

1. Members Only Facebook Group

This is an idea we are seeing more and more. Let’s say you offer a product and want to build your own tribe. One way is to start a Facebook Group. It’s free to set up and you can create your own FB Group rules. Invite your members to join as a bonus to the membership they have just joined.

Once you have members at Facebook, you can keep in touch with them and get them involved with related topics. Members can interact with each other and you can continually send updates as well as new special offers for members only.

Another thing is most people are already members of Facebook, so it’s very popular and easy to join groups there.

2. Members Only Private Forum

A members only private forum is where you create your own site on your own server. It’s software based so you house your membership community yourself.

In this format, you have full control of your members. Here’s a fact that falls in favor of having a proprietary membership site over a Facebook Group,  and that is, there are some people who do not like participating on Facebook in a membership setting.

They prefer a more private and exclusive setting for member interaction. However, all the same benefits for the members that keep them coming back applies and even more.

There are things like drip feeding content and locked content settings that helps you can keep member’s interested. And you can do things like that much easier using dedicated forum software.

The reality is that most members find it easy to leave a membership site, but harder to leave a community.

3. Member Monthly Webinars

This is a great retention strategy and probably my favorite. Monthly webinars for members-only create one of the most exclusive benefits of keeping members on board.

And here’s why.

They get insider information from you and they expect it each month and it ties in great for having a membership site, so make sure not to leave this one out.

4. Expert Interviews

Here’s something I found that draws a lot of member attention.

I find experts to interview and offer the recordings to my members. You could actually sell these interviews but instead give them to your members as they’ll know the value they carry. And when you give them member-access, it will keep them wanting more.

5. Email Recaps

Not enough membership sites take advantage of this one, but they should.

The reason is because their members will be responsive to it. Using email recaps is a great way to round up interest from your members. Let’s say you just had a member event and you want to get some feedback from members.

An email recap will alert those that missed it and remind those that saw it but are glad to be reminded. And you’ll see a nice flurry of member visits back at the member site on that topic. I find this works effectively every time. Try it.

6. Event Discounts

Having events for your members will always perk them up. Be sure to prepare some nice perks for them from time to time. A great idea that never fails is event discounts. When you can allow members to save them money on something related to their topic that has high-value, they really will appreciate it.

You could arrange a product discount with another vendor exclusively available only at your event. This will go a long way at keeping your members happy.

7. Future Content Teasers

You know what cliff-hangers are in movie trailers, right? It’s when you are watching the highlights and then just as you are drawn-in the most, they stop it there and tell you when and where to expect to see the rest of the show coming soon.

Well, in the membership site world you can do exactly the same with your content and it will have the exact same effect. Announce what you have coming then leave a cliff-hanger at the end of your announcement. This will ensure your members want to see the rest soon as it’s available and you can use this strategy as future content teasers.

8. Quick Start Videos

If you want to keep your members motivated to learn what you are teaching them, you must remember that there are various levels of members at any one time in your membership site. Some are newbies, some are intermediate and some are advanced.

By using quick start videos you can be sure that you have covered all levels of your members. This way, no one feels left behind in getting started on a new task they want to get under their belts. These are easily digestible videos that kick-start learning and really help keep the member interest level high.

9. Mastermind Groups

Forming mastermind groups within your membership site offers a real boost to members. When you form these special groups, the members begin to communicate between themselves helping each other out and offering solutions and trade off their experiences, etc.

This creates a deeper level of loyalty to the membership site overall because they feel so much more a part of it. You as the administrator can moderate and oversell the mastermind groups as much as you see fit, but having them in your membership site will for sure make for an effective retention strategy.

10. Case Studies

If you want to boost or attract a level of extra member interest, adding occasional case studies on topic will surely be draw them in. Every day, new paid products being offered are packaged case studies. When you offer these for members-only your membership site interest will soar.

I hope you took some notes and will use some of these 10 effective membership strategies I just laid out for you. When you do, I’m sure you agree they’ll help keep your membership site going long-term and evergreen.



Try These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

As I wrote in a previous post, one of the best steps you can take to ensure your paid traffic converts is to study and analyze the marketing funnels of competitors.

Their ads, their landing pages, the copy in their emails — all of these represent data points you can use to optimize your own conversions and make money in that market.

I’ll take that advice a step further today and delve into the sales funnels of various companies across multiple industries.

This will uncover some ideas you might not have considered but could be applied directly to your own funnels.

Of course, this exercise is no substitute for a full analysis of your own competitors — it’s up to you to find what messages resonate in your own market.

Still, it always helps to see what other successful businesses are doing. Here are five great ideas I found by analyzing the sales funnels of successful companies.


Kaplan: Segmenting Informational, Navigational and Transactional Queries on Google’s SERPs Page

For-profit school Kaplan University is in one of the most competitive and profitable evergreen markets out there: Education. Having a tight sales funnel is crucial for Kaplan and its primary competitors.

Because the school has sufficient name recognition, it can get creative with its organic traffic.

If you search “Kaplan University” by name, the school owns the first organic result and the first paid result in Google:

Swipe These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

The URLs look the same, but the landing pages are different. The paid results actually deliver users straight to a landing page with a three-step opt-in form designed to get them in touch with a representative.

The organic results take users to Kaplan’s home page and the site’s main subpages.

The difference gets right at the heart of user intent, or what a user fundamentally wants when typing in a keyword.

Most marketers break user intent into three categories:

  • Informational (“Tell me more about Kaplan”)
  • Navigational (“I want to go to Kaplan’s homepage”)
  • Transactional (“I want to sign up for classes”)

Searching for “Kaplan University” could indicate any of those three intents; there is no way of knowing. So, what Kaplan had to do for this keyword was target each intent.

The strength of the school’s brand and its other SEO work ensures that it ranks No. 1 for its own name and at the top of the Google SERPs for relevant keywords such as “online colleges.”

That leaves room for experimentation within the crowded set of paid results, where Kaplan can speak directly to users with a transactional intent behind their searches.

Notice the direct appeals in the paid search results’ copy: “Try our classes,” “Find the program for you,” “Transfer your credits.” That action orientation speaks to users with transactional intent.

Then, those users would ideally click through to what is a pretty simple landing page:

Swipe These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

The copy reminds visitors of the three-week trial period — as the ad copy featured — and the only actions a user can really take are to fill out the form, get on the phone, or bounce. I would be curious to know how well this converts.

The takeaway: If you have built up brand recognition and people search for your business by name, consider experimenting with segmented user intentions right on Google’s SERPs page.

Let the “Tell Me More” users move into the top of your funnel via the organic results, but speak to your warmer leads with actionable copy and an optimized landing page in a paid search result.


Sendy’s Unsubscribe Page

Sendy’s self-hosted newsletter software creates a competitive offer for price-conscious customers — the company is very upfront about its service being 100x cheaper than competitors such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor.

This positioning also lets Sendy get away with a bit more cheekiness than others might.

Case in point: When you unsubscribe from a newsletter sent out via Sendy, the publisher can set up the following unsubscribe page:

Swipe These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

The first time I saw this, I actually laughed.

That CTA is so ridiculous that it doesn’t even feel pushy.

And that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Most of us would be left with one of two options here: Either re-subscribe, or get a nice laugh out of the otherwise dull task of unsubscribing from a newsletter you don’t read.

That second outcome still provides a benefit to the sender.

If your last experience with a brand’s sales funnel is humor, you’re likely to leave that relationship on a high note, and perhaps with an elevated perception of the sender.

Later, if you circle back into that company’s orbit, you’re going to bring that elevated brand perception with you into that relationship.

Sendy has set its customers up with a nice win-win here.

The takeaway: Swipe this idea for your own email unsubscribes if (and only if) you feel your brand can get away with this kind of playfulness.


Uber’s Promotions to Existing Customers

On-demand ride service Uber gets a lot of flak.

Taxi drivers have held organized protests against the company.

It’s been shut out of some markets.

It’s got doubters out there who simply wish to “remain unconverted.”

But none of that filters into the company’s touch points with existing customers. In fact, when you look at the promotional email local Uber teams sent out to customers the first weekend of May, everything is literally flowers and sunshine.

Here is the CTA from the promo for Chicago customers:

Swipe These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

This email offer is deceptively enticing. At first blush, there is no real benefit to the customer — they don’t get free rides themselves for sharing the code.

But then you return to Uber’s external realities: How many of those customers have “I prefer to remain unconverted” friends who insist on hailing a taxi?

That friend gets a promo code, for sure.

For the less cynical Uber evangelists, the metaphor of planting flowers and watching them bloom might resonate with a desire to simply help other people.

Those Chicago customers were enjoying a sunny 72-degree day when that email went out. It’s easy to tap into someone’s philanthropic nature on such a nice day.

The takeaway: The bottom of the sales funnel isn’t the moment the prospect converts to a customer. The funnel still has a wide base upon which you should build up trust and loyalty among existing customers.

Reach out to them, and appeal to their better natures. If you’re lucky enough to have a core of evangelist customers, give them a reason to evangelize.


AdRoll Gets Incredibly Meta With a Retargeting Campaign

Retargeting platform AdRoll blogged in 2013 about its own success with a Facebook retargeting campaign that saw a 45% increase in conversions and a lot of positive press for the company.

“For many prospective advertisers, the most important thing for them to know is that our platform works for companies just like theirs,” AdRoll’s Tom Pitt wrote.

“Because we work with many tremendously innovative companies, we decided to test a retargeting campaign that highlighted some of those companies and their experience using our product.”

The first ads the company used in this retargeting campaign featured testimonials, which converted at a pretty low rate but brought in high-quality traffic when they did convert.

Shortly thereafter, the company tried an experimental ad on Facebook’s network. Here is one of its promoted posts:

Swipe These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

The sidebar ads themselves featured a headline that just read “We’re Retargeting You.”

Such great stuff here. People began screenshotting the ads and Tweeting them out to AdRoll just to say, basically, “Thanks for the laugh.”

More importantly, Pitt said those ads converted 45% better than the control, and soon Facebook retargeting campaigns emerged as a key driver of AdRoll traffic.

The takeaway: Don’t copy this campaign wholesale. People will recognize it.

But do feel free to knock down that fourth wall if you have a savvy audience that would appreciate being in on the joke. If done well, you can get your message out and build up some goodwill in the process.


Retargeting, Take 2: Caviar

Caviar, a mobile service that lets you order delivery food from nearby restaurants, came up in my research for this post, but nothing in particular stood out about the company’s sales funnel.

At least not initially.

Two days later, I was reading some news when I saw this ad:

Swipe These Creative Tactics From Proven Sales Funnels

As with the AdRoll example above, this is an excellent way to be blatant about the retargeting message while keeping the message itself on point.

This also demonstrates how you don’t need to be too meta or tongue-in-cheek with a clever retargeting message.

Now, if only Caviar could retarget me with an image of a specific dish I had previously clicked on.

The takeaway: Retargeting has proved so effective in recent years for the same reason as the Kaplan example earlier — it can get right at the heart of user intent.

Consider what AdRoll CMO Adam Berke told VentureBeat in December: “When you combine this hyper-valuable data set with advanced media buying technology, algorithmic bidding, dynamic creative, and reach across publishers and channels, you end up with an extremely important marketing channel that is now viewed to be as crucial as search engine marketing.”


Gauher Chaudhry

9 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Display Ads

Testing, validating and iterating display ads can be tedious — so much so that it’s easy to keep pushing that project deeper into your To Do pile.

Don’t let procrastination get the best of you, or your business.

Here are 9 actions you can take this very moment to optimize the performance of your ads.

Take these steps one at a time. I’ll list out what specifically you need to do so that you can work from a road map, not waste time with vague advice.


Know What Ad Sizes Work Best and Where to Put Them

Let’s start off with something deceptively obvious.

Not all ad sizes are created equal.

In fact, the medium rectangle (300×250) and the leaderboard (728×90) together make up for nearly a third of all ad impressions, according to Stefan Maescher.

These ad sizes are the ones most likely to earn you a return on your ad spend.

Cristina Calderin, now a manager over at Thought Catalog, told a brief story at Study Break Media about how she helped a publisher redesign a site for optimized ad revenue.

The biggest changes: They ditched the leaderboards (most of which were below the fold) and replaced them with above-the-fold medium rectangles.

“Now the site only has 2 units per page,” she wrote. “Again, I must restate, they did not experience a significant increase in traffic, yet ad revenue nearly doubled.”

What you can do:

  • Take inventory of what ads you’re buying and where they are placed.
  • Try upgrading to above-the-fold medium rectangles or leaderboards one at a time.
  • Calculate whether the difference — if there is one — justifies the return on investment.


Understand What Colors Mean to People

I wish there were a better way to put this, but color selection is often a red herring when it comes to conversion optimization.

Countless words have been written about how yellow communicates feelings of warmth and happiness, and blue connotes trustworthiness.

Gregory Ciotti at Help Scout debunks most of that supposed insight.

“The truth of the matter is that color is too dependent on personal experiences to be universally translated to specific feelings,” he says.

Instead, he advises marketers to consider colors only in relation to the message or the offer.

For instance, green naturally would complement an ad for organic seed packets because it is an easy leap for most of us to connect that color with growing plants. Blue, on the other hand, might create some cognitive dissonance.

At the same time, green might be such an obvious choice that your competitors have all gone with it. In that case, going for a deeper green or even a brown might differentiate your ad.

“When it comes to picking the ‘right’ color, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness in relation to the product is far more important than the individual color itself,” Gregory says.

What you can do:

  • Test a different dominant color for an individual ad to see whether it makes a difference.
  • Think about a color that resonates with your message, but don’t overthink it.
  • Make sure your call to action still stands out. In all likelihood, you’ll need to adjust your secondary color to harmonize with your dominant color. Here is a handy color reference guide if you plan to do the design work yourself.


Make Your Call to Action Short and Direct

SwellPath senior account manager Heather Benson wrote a piece in 2014 on display ad best practices, and she emphasized a couple of times how important it is for marketers optimizing for click-throughs to make their CTAs stand out and demand action.

“Your ad must have a clear CTA,” she wrote. “CTAs are typically in the form of a button to make it standout from the background color. If you don’t have your CTA in a button format, make sure it’s a different color to help it draw the eye of your audience. Keep the CTA short and sweet and be direct, for example ‘Shop Now,’ ‘Buy Now,’ ‘Sign Up,’ or ‘Learn More.’”

Of course, each of those CTAs encourages the viewer to take a different action.

That action must align with whatever is on the other side of the click (i.e. on the landing page), but how you phrase that could be a differentiating factor.

“Sign Up” and “Get Your Free Ebook” could deliver users to the same page, but one might outperform the other.

I think you know what this means.

What you can do:

  • Split test CTAs that are remarkably different.
  • Narrow in and split test top-performing CTAs with one that is subtly different.


Give Your Ad an Obvious Frame

The content of your ad must either fill out its allotted space, or it must have a frame clearly marking its boundaries.

“People’s eyes are naturally drawn to a subject inside a frame,” the 99designs team writes. We will return to 99designs in just a moment, by the way.

“If your ad is white, it’s a common practice to put a 1 pixel gray border around the ad. If it’s not white, you can still use subtle borders … which make it pop just a little more.”

What you can do:

  • Make sure your ad has a full background that stands out from its surroundings.
  • If your ad has a white background, add a thin gray border around it.


Maintain the Scent from Ad to Landing Page

If you optimize for click-throughs, the landing page on the other side of the click needs to match the scent the ad lays down, conversion expert Peep Laja recommends.

“One of the best ways to improve landing page conversions is to create and maintain scent,” he writes. “Make pre-click advertisements and post-click messages look and feel the same.”

Let’s take a simple example of how scent works.

Here is a 300×250 ad the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business is running at the time of writing on Google’s ad network:

Scent Ad

Here is the landing page where this ad takes you:

9 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve Your Display Ads

Everything lines up in a way that is expected and causes no friction:

The color scheme is the same.

The same logo appears right at the top of the landing page.

Even the pioneer metaphor rolls over to the landing page with the headline about “courageous business leaders” and a photo of the school with the Front Range in the background.

What you can do:

  • Make sure your ad copy matches your landing page copy, Peep advises. “The closer, the better. Verbatim would be best.”
  • Make sure the ad’s message aligns with the landing page’s central message, he says. The University of Denver example stretches this a tiny bit by talking about “getting to know you” in that first subhead.
  • Finally, make sure the designs align, Peep says, as the examples above clearly do.


Crowdsource a Variety of Ad Designs with 99Designs

If you are starting a campaign from scratch, it’s daunting to imagine all the time you could spend finalizing a design, testing and iterating.

Instead, just use 99Designs to crowdsource a great deal of that work for you.

It costs a few hundred dollars — which for some of you might be a bargain considering time spent — and delivers potentially dozens of design options within a week.

There are two tricks with 99Designs that can add considerable value to this process:

  1. As Tom Demers at WordStream points out, you can say upfront in your contest that you will choose two winners. When you have two ads you like, put them head-to-head in a split test. You’ll get a deal on buying two ads, and you’ll have empirical data about how they perform.
  2. After the contest is run, there will be design submissions left over that are more or less worthless to the designers. Offer to scoop those up at a discounted price, then continue testing all the variations you buy.


See What Your Competitors Are Doing

There are several free and paid tools that essentially allow you to spy on your competition to see where they advertise and what idea they are testing:

  • WhatRunsWhere will show you what ads are working for your competitors and where those ads are running. Base price: $249 / month (there is a $1 trial)
  • Moat allows you to search a competitor by name, and it will show you the ads that company is running right now. For example, here are Volvo’s current ads. Base price: Free
  • Adbeat targets agencies and publishers both with its repository of advertising data. Base price: $249 / month
  • AdGooroo can deliver a variety of competitor insights, including estimates of their ad budgets, their click-through rates and the keywords they target. Price unavailable
  • SocialAdNinja tracks 3 million-plus ads to deliver similar intelligence as the others on this list, but the company charges less. Base price: $147 / month


Integrate Retargeting Into Your Campaign

Retargeting opens up the power and scope of display advertising to leads who are a little further along in your sales funnel.

They know your company, they know your offer, yet they’ve failed to become customers for one reason or another.

The potential exists to make good money off of these leads — Laura Sima-Sirban at Bannersnack reports retargeting campaigns show an average ROI of $10 for every $1 in ad spending.

Google offers retargeting within AdWords, and here are three more options if you are advertising outside of that platform:

  • ReTargeter lets you retarget users on display ad networks, social ad networks such as Facebook, and even on CRMs. Base price: $500 / month for the DIY product
  • AdRoll says its platform gives you access to 98% of the surface internet, meaning you can reach out via Yahoo! ads, Facebook, or most of the smaller ad networks. Base price: About $2,000 / month
  • Perfect Audience has perhaps the most attractive pricing because it has no minimum spend nor any setup fees. Instead, as with AdWords, you just set a budget and pay as you spend. Base price: None


Maybe Just Ignore Most Advice About Best Practices

Finally, a little tip on keeping things in perspective: Sometimes advice is good, and sometimes it’s worth ignoring.

Miami-based production agency Digitaland touched on this in a recent post about banner ad best practices (and why you should ignore them).

The team’s second and third points — questioning the importance of color and knowing when to ramp up the urgency in a CTA — I’ve already touched on.

Two other points from that piece worth noting:

  • Photography might not be the best way to go for your ad’s image. “In fact the wrong photo can sometimes do much more harm to a campaign than good,” the team writes. “This is rich media, after all, and animation is a good alternative to photography.”
  • Click-through rates don’t necessarily equal conversions. Instead, consider all the harder-to-measure benefits of a good ad such as increased brand recognition or product awareness.

I am interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Gauher Chaudhry

Low-Converting Landing Page? Test These 17 Things Right Now

There is now a mountain of evidence that proves we don’t know as much as we thought we did about conversion optimization.

Our guts and opinions give us plenty of ideas, but they are informed by their own biases.

Fortunately, it is relatively simple to validate any hunches that come from your intuition. It’s just a matter of recognizing that your own ideas are mere hypotheses, and a variety of tools exist to test those hypotheses.

That, in essence, is what A/B testing a landing page is — a science experiment.

Below are 17 elements on your landing page you can split test right now to validate whether they’re working. Once you get real-life feedback on your landing page and make the necessary adjustments, conversions will follow.


Test Your Headline

Let’s start this list with a classic from Signal v. Noise.

Back in 2009, when Highrise was just a couple of years old, the 37signals team ran a series of tests on the app’s landing page, targeting the header and the subhead.

Five variations of each were written, and the 25 permutations were shown to 4,000 site visitors each.

This was the control, and it performed the worst:

“Start a Highrise Account
Pay as you go. 30-day free trial on accounts. No hidden fees.”

The winner beat that one with 30% higher conversions:

“30-Day Free Trial on Accounts
Sign-up takes less than 60 seconds. Pick a plan to get started!”

We can use our 20/20 hindsight vision to perhaps figure out why one beat out the other, but that’s missing the point: Test a variety of headlines, and you’ll know for sure which works rather than have a more-informed gut feeling.


Test the Style of Your Copy

Kevin Holesh at Smashing Magazine also recommends testing h1, h2 and h3 copy, especially if this is your first A/B test because it’s such low-hanging fruit.

If you’re ready to get more comprehensive in your testing, though, he points out that the overall style of your copy could use a little scrutiny.

Maybe you’ve got more hype in your copy than necessary, for example. Kevin recommends writing a second version with a different tone and style in mind.

The difference will appear subtle, sure, but the payoff could be huge.


Test the Value Proposition Itself

Sometimes, people find they have a great product or service on its own, and they charge a fair price for it, but still too few visitors convert.

In one landmark case study, the Conversion Rate Experts demonstrated how Crazy Egg’s old landing page was leaking money precisely because it failed to fully communicate the software’s value.

“In order to prove what a bargain it was, we dived into academic research surrounding heatmaps and eye tracking,” which is exactly what Crazy Egg does.

“Though each technology has its champions and detractors, we discovered research from Carnegie Mellon University that indicated an 88 percent correlation between eye movement on a page and subsequent mouse movement in that zone.

“At the same time, we determined that the cost to conduct a formal eye-tracking study can run into six figures and take months to complete.”

This opportunity cost angle was something Crazy Egg’s marketing team had failed to communicate, and it was one of four major tweaks the Conversion Rate Experts crew made to the landing page.

When they were done, the page itself was about 20 times longer than the control, and conversions went up 363%.

If your page isn’t converting as well as you think it should, take a look at how well you sell your offer.

You might have a stronger value proposition than you realize.


Test Your Images

Atlanta-based designer Darren Weik has a number of good examples of conversion optimization through A/B testing on his old Design Toads blog.

Here is one that really stood out.

Logistics company DHL found it got a 15% bump in leads just by swapping out a photo of a male delivery driver with a photo of a female delivery driver.

“The verbiage was exactly the same in both ads, but it was the picture of the woman that generated greater interest,” Darren wrote.

Actually, testing images is its own conversation, but here is one other idea: Test a stock image versus a unique image you created or commissioned.

Think about it. If you use a relevant stock image, you have competitors for whom that image would be similarly relevant. If a site visitor recognizes your photo on a competitor’s site, they are going to experience some cognitive dissonance, at the very least.


Test the Page’s Layout

Low-Converting Landing Page? Test These 17 Things Right Now
Forget comprehensive overhauls of your landing page’s layout; even little tweaks can make a big difference.

In one particularly interesting case study, Michael Aagaard at Content Verve got nearly 65% more downloads for an ebook just by shuffling around the placement of his testimonials.

“On the control variant, I placed all four reader testimonials right under the sign-up form,” he wrote. “The idea being that testimonials have most impact when positioned in close vicinity to the call-to-action.

“For the treatment, I decided to place two of the testimonials higher on the page, so they would assume a more prominent position. The idea being that first time visitors who aren’t familiar with need an extra nudge, in the form of social proof, to make the right decision.”

His hypothesis was having above-the-fold social proof would reinforce whatever desire the visitor might have to download his free ebook.

It turns out he was right.

Having two testimonials above the fold and two below — while keeping the rest of the layout as it was — resulted in 64.53% more conversions.

The takeaway: If you have information lower on your page that you think might potentially influence action by being up higher, test that hunch.


Test Your Testimonials

To follow up on the note above, it might be worth testing the quality of your testimonials by editing some out.

“I know it can be really hard to be critical of your testimonials,” Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers says.

“But the cold, hard truth is that, if you want your testimonials to be more effective than simply showing that you have a handful of satisfied users, you should start getting critical with them. Know what you want from a testimonial, and ask your customers for them.”

She goes on to recommend that you never should be shy about asking for a good testimonial. It helps to remind customers and clients that you’ve got a small business, and their words can help.

“…they’ll not only be more likely to give you one – but they’ll also feel really good about doing so,” she says.


Test Your Call to Action

As with images, you could test and refine your CTA eternally.

One thing is almost a guarantee, though: Making your call to action as clear as possible will improve your conversion rate.

Online retailer Fab found this out the hard way, Samantha Mykyte writes at Wishpond.

The company’s control page featured an image of a shopping cart with a plus sign to indicate “Add to Cart.”

As intuitive as that probably sounded to the designer, visitors appeared confused by the meaning of that CTA. Simply changing the wording to “Add to Cart” resulted in a 49% increase, according to Samantha.

When testing your own CTA, try to first identify opportunities to make that action clearer.

Afterward, you can begin to experiment with strange phrasing (“Put this in my cart!”) or even first person vs. second person tests (“Put this in your cart!”).


Even Test the Attributes of Your Button

CRO experts will often make tongue-in-cheek jokes about changing the color of your button, but it’s a hypothesis worth testing.

In April 2015, hosted a big AMA where several conversion optimizers answered questions and talked shop.

The button thing came up a few times.

Oli Gardner offered some good advice, noting that above all your button needs to actually look like a button.

Forest for the trees, right?

Here are some nuanced button attributes Oli noted:

  • “proximity to other elements: what you write close to your button can impact its use
  • surrounding element design: directional cues pointing at a button can make a button appear more buttony
  • clickability: ghost buttons are a massive design trend, and the buttons simply don’t look clickable in the truest sense. Will we train ourselves so this doesn’t matter? Perhaps.
  • interaction: rollover state – is there a strong contrast when you mouseover?
  • interaction: rollover cursor change – does the cursor change to provide feedback based on link conventions?”


Test Any Social Proof Signals

Low-Converting Landing Page? Test These 17 Things Right Now
Derek Halpern from Social Triggers wrote a nice case study for DIYthemes about how social proof actually hurt conversions on one of the site’s opt-in forms.

It sounds counterintuitive, but that’s exactly why we test.

DIYthemes discovered through split testing that removing the phrase “Join 14,752 others and get free updates!” from an email opt-in box actually doubled the number of people who signed up.

“My gut suggests that including a social proof message above the email sign-up form hurts conversions because it interrupts your visitors,” Derek wrote. “Additionally, the social proof may give readers a reason not to subscribe. Even though our numbers are respectable (almost 15,000), that may not be compelling enough for people.”

The lesson here is you should never assume anything. Test, measure and validate instead.


Test the Length of Your Form

Form length has long been one of the best low-hanging fruits of CRO.

The team at MarketingExperiments has a slide deck showcasing some examples of how they’ve boosted conversions just by optimizing the forms on clients’ pages.

One example comes from the website of a luxury home builder that had a call to action requiring visitors to fill out a form for more information.

The control was a button that, when the visitor clicked it, dropped them off at a “Request More Information” form. Lead generation thus required two steps once the visitor decided he or she wanted more information.

The alternative was a simple form in the same spot where the original button was in the right sidebar. The shortened form collected just basic information — first name, last name, email address — and ultimately drove more leads.

“By minimizing friction through reducing the number of steps and fields, the treatment outperformed the control by 166%,” the MarketingExperiments team writes.


Test Inline Validation on Your Form

You would do well to test all the points of frustration a web form can offer.

Case in point: Forms tend to convert better when they give the user feedback during the information input process.

This is called inline validation. You’ll recognize it from online ordering forms, for example, when the form warns you that you’ve entered an incorrect ZIP code or phone number format.

The trick is knowing where and how to employ inline validation, Luke Wroblewski — now a Product Director at Google — wrote at

It doesn’t make sense to have inline validation on a name field; no one wants a robot judging the spelling of their name.

But maybe validating an email address format could guide users through the form better. Maybe changing the field border from red to green when you create a sufficiently long password is helpful.

Read Wroblewski’s post if you have a complicated form.


Test Whether You Need Your Navigation Menu

Another site that doubled its conversions with one tweak was South African kitchen tools retailer, which Paras Chopra covered in a case study over on the Visual Website Optimizer blog.

The team actually discovered that removing the navigation bar from one of its landing pages upped conversion rates from 3% to 6%.

“Simpler is better,” the team told Paras. “Try [to] assist the user in focusing on their primary objective by eliminating distractions.”

Now, pardon the tired refrain, but do understand why you shouldn’t go out and just remove your nav bars.

For one thing, is a big retailer with lots of navigation options. Its nav bar presents many more choices than “About,” “Blog,” and “Contact.” Perhaps that made a difference.

Either way, it’s important that you test this option. Maybe your page’s visitors respond better to navigation options (or social proof, as in the example above this one).

There is only one way to find out.


Test the Number of Options You Give Visitors, Period

Kerry Butters at Business2Community provides one case study that underscores some of the psychology at work. She notes how server solutions provider Power Admin discovered the selling power of removing choices from potential customers.

“The test basically found that when presented with too many choices, people actually made none and simply left,” Kerry writes. “Power Admin took a look at its own site and decided to apply the principle to its navigation system, which was presented via lots of textual links.”


Try Adding Price Anchors

Let’s get down to the actual act of selling something via your landing page.

One sticking point for many of your otherwise qualified visitors may be your price.

Your visitors might not actually have any clue what a fair price would be for the thing you are selling, but just having a big “$97” at the end of your sales page might still rub them the wrong way.

Price anchoring allows you to put that price into context by offering price tiers.

“In retail stores, obscenely high-priced items (such as a $5,000 handbag) make everything else (such as similar $1,000 handbags) look affordable,” Geoff Austin writes at “Similarly, more $500 shoes will be sold when $1,000 shoes are displayed next to them.”

So, if you’re selling an ecourse, an example Geoff uses in his post, try offering three packages, with the middle package being the one you ultimately want to sell.

Sandwich that package with a cheaper one and a more expensive premium version.

He offers a pricing ratio of 1x, 2.5x and 5x for that three-tiered offers.

So, if you’re selling a $97 ecourse, test a cheaper option at two-fifths the price ($37 would do it), plus a premium package that should be double the primary offer ($197 in this example).


Test Reference Pricing

Amazon and T.J.Maxx have both made a killing for years with this trick.

Reference pricing simply lists what the standard retail value of an item is, then lists what you are charging for it.

“Reference pricing is especially effective at discount stores, where shoppers are already on the lookout for bargains,” Hadley Thompson at Brainy Click writes.

“When a dress price tag says it would have cost $170 at a top retailer but is available for only $85 at TJ Maxx, the effect is to make the shopper think they’ve discovered a tremendous bargain — even if that’s not actually the case.”

Those strikethrough prices on do the same thing, and this is probably the best way for you to communicate a reference price on your own landing page.


Test Freemium Offers vs. Free Trials

There is a subtle difference between offering a free trial and offering a freemium service.

Darrin at Layered Thoughts digs into the psychology in a really great post. The main point is this, he writes:

“With both freemium and free trials, your job is to convince a potential customer that your product is worth paying for.

“With a freemium option, you will be creating your own friction by making your customer treat you like all of their other free services they use, making it hard for you to ultimately convert them.

“With a free trial, you have much more control over the sales process and funnel and can architect everything around the VALUE of your product and the BENEFITS it will bring to your customers (once they sign up).”

So, let’s say you’ve got a software as a service business.

Perhaps you’ve got a freemium offer in which visitors can check out basic features at no cost, save for maybe their email address, but too few basic-tier customers are opting in to the paid service.

You could test a free trial option by giving visitors 7-day access to the whole service, which — as Darrin said — might allow you to really drive home the value your SaaS provides.

I, personally, would be curious to know which approach worked better.


Gauher Chaudhry


images by:
Samuel Zeller / Unsplash
Eric Terrade / Unsplash
Elizabeth Lies / Unsplash