This session provided some very good, detailed information on factors in conversion, benchmarking, testing and improvement. Presenters Bryan Eisenberg with FutureNow, Inc. and Mike Sack with Idearc provided a well-worn but informative set of content and ideas that served as a solid foundation for improving one’s own conversion effort
The biggest takeaways from Bryan Eisenberg’s presentation were simple & practical but powerful tips for tests to improve conversion. His advice included specific tips for testing headlines on a site/page: proving a claim by using fractions or percentages (3 out of 4 dentists…), asking questions in headlines (Are your shoes untied?), self-focused vs visitor/customer focused (i/we language vs you). He also gave suggestions for what to test first – like the top 5 pages with the highest bounce rate, the top 5 entry/exit pages, etc. He also pointed out the power of images (especially product images) in telling a story and converting visitors and that they absolutely warrant testing. Different types of images appeal to different types of customers, so your preference may not be your customer’s preference. The only way to tell? test. Just the fact that he dubbed IT departments “Business Prevention Units” will cement his presentation in my memory.
Mike Sack’s presentation was also filled with solid advice & tips, though many of them aren’t necessarily practical for a smaller organization with limited resources for content development & programming. He effectively uses a supermarket analogy when talking about site conversion. I’m a big fan of this type of retail store analogy when I’m talking to clients about information architecture as well. The analogy goes something like this – the milk is always at the back of the store furthest from the door to the supermarket. The reason for this is because they are able to present other staples to you along the way (bread, eggs, produce, etc) – and the experience is highly orchestrated. Site owners should think this way when working through the site experience & improving conversion.
Sack also covered benchmarking and emulating industry leader best practices. While conversion information isn’t necessarily published by your competition, industry publications & research firms regularly publish studies (coremetrics, neilson, shop.org, etc). While we believe in benchmarking against industry standards as well, I advocate this simple principle (as did Sack) – don’t worry about what the industry or competition is doing, worry about your own business & improving your own conversion.
Another topic that came up during the session – the impact of home pages on conversion. They showed examples of several well-known brand sites with over a hundred links on the home page. It makes the experience very overwhelming. I can think of more than one client who may not have a hundred links on the page, but they’ve got way too many. It’s like going to a restaurant – it takes you 2 minutes to order from a simple menu (mcdonald’s), but it can take you 10 minutes to figure out what to order from a place with 100 options.
Perhaps one overlooked area for conversion optimization is shopping carts. Sack did a good job of demonstrating the power of improving the shopping cart & checkout process on improving conversion.
Overall, this was a great session even if I’ve seen it before. Unfortunately, they didn’t make their presentations available for download and my note-taking abilities have suffered since college…