54 Quotes from Startup Leaders on How to Improve Conversions

Large and small companies alike invest a lot of time and money working on improving their conversion rates. And as we all know, there are countless “experts” and websites all trying to sell you their advice on how to improve conversions.

In this blog post, I'm going to take a different spin on this conversion topic...

I surveyed 54 companies and asked each of them one question:

"What is the one thing that you did that had the strongest positive impact on conversions?"

54 companies below share with us what has worked for them. Feel free to use some of their ideas and apply them to your own website.

Backblaze

"Backblaze is an online backup service where we backup all data on laptops/desktops for $5/month. We try to make the process completely simple.

To do this, our homepage previously had "Download" or "Start Backing Up" as the call-to-action. Clicking would download the application, after which the user would need to enter an email/password to start backing up all their data.

However, we found that after people downloaded the application, many people seemed to lose the file and not run the installer...or to run the installer but not enter an email/password, thus not creating an account and backing up data.

As a result we added the email/password fields on the home page and combined the download and account creation into a single action. Doing this reduced one click and enabled us to email the user to see if they needed help if they did not successfully install."

Gleb Budman
Co-Founder and CEO of Backblaze

Before

After


BeCouply

"The one thing we did that had the strongest positive impact on conversions was adding a video to our landing page. In less than 90 seconds, the video explains our core value proposition while also conveying the personality of our service and brand."

Pius Uzamere
CEO/CTO of BeCouply

BetterDoctor

"Making sure that BetterDoctor.com landing page is super intuitive and attracts people to explore more. Of course every step of the funnel is important, but it's critical to make sure you don't lose the customer on the first step."

Ari Tulla
CEO of BetterDoctor

BizeeBee

"I think making the value proposal around pricing helps the most. People want to know what they are getting for a monthly subscription fee. You have to showcase the specific features and tie it to intangible values as well such as "getting paid on time."

Every time I get a question or there is a point of confusion with our pricing I change the messaging to make it clearer to customers.

We also reinforce this value proposition and pricing throughout the product during registration, upgrading, and the 2 week email on-boarding auto-responder."

Poornima Vijayashanker
CEO of BizeeBee

BoostCTR

"Generally, we look for three main points when writing for conversions:

- Specific ads will always beat generic ads

- Ads need to speak to customers – make it sound like a human wrote it.

- Narrow down what type of copy works for your customers, across a range of options – features/benefits; numbers/words; price-based/value-based – to concentrate your testing efforts.

Specific, benefits-based ad copy that sounds like it is written in the language of the demographic it is targeting, and including a strong call to action, is your quickest path to conversion optimization.

Finally, we find that many advertisers write their landing pages and then base ad copy on this. We find that it actually far more effective to base a landing page’s main points on the ad copy that is proving to be most compelling. When an ad’s most effective point is immediately echoed in the landing page, we see conversions further increase."

David Margines
VP of Strategy & Operations at BoostCTR

Braintree

"We study the sources that send us large amounts of traffic and analyze the behavioral trends of those groups. We then use these insights to run A/B tests, optimizing every step in our conversion funnel."

Caitlin Simms
Marketing Manager at Braintree

Buffer

"The strongest positive impact that has affected our conversions was to change from email signup to social signup. From one day to the next, this increased our daily signups by 30%. The reason was that it would considerably lower the barrier for signing up, because all you have to do is click a button and not write your email and password. If anything, I would recommend to more services to allow for a seamless social signup process."

Leo Widrich
Co-Founder of Buffer

Buyosphere

"Having in-depth visibility in our funnels and overall user's activity showed us where we needed to shift our focus; quality content. This has been invaluable to us."

Cassandra Girard
COO & Co-Founder of Buyosphere

ClippPR

"I believe the best conversion hack is to actually spend time personally inviting the first 100 people to sign up. And personally responding to (at least) the first 500 people who sign up. The person connections you build, and the intimate insights into customers expectations make all the time spent *more* than worth it."

Thomas Knoll
CEO of ClippPR

.CO

"Making the path to purchase as simple as possible. Although it's tempting to fill the page with multiple messages, we find that a little restraint goes an extremely long way."

Juan Diego Calle
CEO & Founder of .CO

Codecademy

"We put our product on the homepage!"

Zach Sims
CEO and Co-Founder of Codecademy

Author's note: Codecademy's answer sounds obvious, but their decision wasn't. They could of asked people to signup first, with the promise of teaching them how to code. Instead, when you go to Codecademy's website, you can start right away. No signup, no forms, no email verification. Nothing, just get straight to using their product. There is something to learn from them.


Curebit

"Curebit provides referral systems for ecommerce companies. When someone refers an online store, they are sharing a coupon that gives their friends special access. We used to display these coupons on the landing page that a new customer comes to, so all they had to do was copy it and use it. Then we introduced "Like Gating", which required the new customer to click a Facebook Like Button to get their coupon code. This had an interesting effect: the click-throughs on the landing page were reduced from about 46% to about 15%, because a lot of users weren't ready to Like something they weren't familiar with. However the clicks to the landing page greatly increased, because customers were resharing the page each time they clicked the Like button. When we first introduced the feature, overall conversion into new sales dropped, but after several rounds of iteration on the design of the landing page, we came out with about a 54% improvement over the previous numbers!

You can see this visually below.

Here's what our funnel looked like when we did not do Like Gating. Key numbers to note below: 46.4% clickthrough on landing page (conversion from clicks to site visits). 3.72 clicks per share. Overall "lift in sales" of 20.21% for our users due to using Curebit:

And here's what our funnel looked like with Like Gating. Note both of these tests ran at exactly the same time, and had an equal number of impressions (about 2500 for each variant). Key numbers to note below: 15% clickthrough on landing page (conversion from clicks to site visits). 10.223 clicks per share. Overall "lift in sales" went up to 31.15%.

The big lesson here for us was that sometimes in order to greatly increase conversion, you have to redefine the process and totally change the numbers. In our case, one of the numbers went up (clicks per share) but another went DOWN (visits per click). Overall it still led to a big improvement. Focusing on any individual number wouldn't have worked -- we had to keep the entire picture in perspective."

Allan Grant
CEO & Co-Founder of Curebit

Distil.it

"To convert web visitors into signing up for a trial account, the one thing that has had the biggest impact was for us was installing and manning Live Chat to allow us to engage with every customer as they navigate through our website.

Once a customer has either put in an RFI or signed up for a trial account, to improve the stickiness of each request we improved our onboarding process with more quality assurance checks. We took our signup from being self service to being a hand held process with a scheduled migration involving our support team. This has dramatically improved the conversion rate of customers actually using our solution after signing up."

Rami Essaid
Founder and CEO of Distil, Inc.

Everlane

"The most effective thing we did to drive conversion was to test the timings that we presented users with our viral invite flow. By targeting times of high engagement (around signup, post purchase, and the like), we were able to more than double the conversion to our invite system without sacrificing on other key conversions like drop-off and purchase rate."

Nan Yu
Lead Engineer at Everlane

Fetchnotes

"My favorite technique was just asking for a username rather than a full account sign up at first. It's the foot in the door principal — ask people for something small (a username) before showing them fields for more personal things like email and password. Once they fill in their username, they feel like they've already invested some time in creating the account and might as well finish."

Alex Schiff
CEO & Co-Founder of Fetchnotes

Flowdock

"Many of the small incremental changes we've done haven't resulted in mind-blowing improvements in conversion: it's the marathon, not the 100 meters. The most significant things we've done was re-designing our signup process to one page, and adding Google login, which is now used by more than half of the users."

Otto Hilska
CEO and Co-Founder of Flowdock

Foodoro

"Nothing has converted better for us than free shipping."

Jay Moon
Founder of Foodoro

FreshDesk

"Removing links/images/text not directly contributing to the signup cause - works for every page; be it the actual signup form page or a campaign landing page, even a feature web-page."

Sreelesh Pillai
Marketing Manager at Freshdesk

FutureAdvisor

"Press coverage from respected media sources. This changed not only the type of traffic that came to the site, but more importantly changed the mindset of all folks who would search for us, read the articles, and then come to the site."

Bo Lu
Co-Founder at Future Advisor

Geeklist

"Our Twitter integration and the ability to High 5 achievements was the best conversion engine to date for Geeklist, however our recent release of Communities and some big upcoming integrations deeper into the social sphere should top that nicely."

Reuben Katz
CEO & Co-Founder of Geeklist

Get Glue

"A couple things for us:

- Minimized number of sign-up choices to be only Facebook or email.

- Offered clear step-by-step signup process setting expectations upfront"

Alex Iskold
CEO & Founder of Get Glue

Getable

"Reducing the number of steps during check-out improved our conversion rate the most by speeding up the experience and decreasing in-process second thoughts from customers."

Ludo Goarin
CTO of Getable

GiftRocket

"We removed a step in our purchase flow. Users who were looking to make a purchase were originally greeted with an empty search page asking them what business they'd like to choose. Once they chose the business, they'd hit the order form.

We tried another version where we skipped that page, and instead integrated the business search into our order form. That upped our conversion substantially."

Kapil Kale
Co-Founder of GiftRocket

GinzaMetrics

"For us, the biggest impact we've seen on conversions / sales has been to focus on the quality of our product, first and foremost. We've tried lots of different tactics with regards to online marketing, conversion optimization, etc. (and we still have a lot of room to improve in those areas) but at the end of the day we are in a demanding industry and live or die by how good our product is."

Ray Grieselhuber
CEO & Co-Founder of GinzaMetrics

GoInstant

"We recently redid our website so that in and of itself has changed / improved conversions. But specifically, I would say that we spent a great deal of time learning about our customers - who they are, what they're looking for, how they purchase / express interest in products - and beefed up the content specifically for those customer segments. As a result, we're now speaking more directly and successfully to the people that we want to speak with (through the site), which increases conversion."

Ben Yoskovitz
VP Product at GoInstant

GoPollGo

"The one thing we did that had the strongest positive impact on conversions was showing people a preview of the product on the home page with a screenshot. This allows people to instantly see what they're getting when they come to GoPollGo rather than having to dig around or read reviews."

Ben Schaechter
Founder of GoPollGo

Help Scout

"Benefits over features. Instead of ticking off feature after feature, focus your content on the benefits for customers. How are you solving pain and making their life easier? Features don't stand on their own, but benefits speak to people."

Nick Francis
Co-Founder at Help Scout

HitTail

"I adjusted a 60-day trial down to 30 days and began touching base via email with people in their trial period (via an email follow up sequence). During their trial people now receive a handful of emails that educate them on SEO content topics, and also on how to use HitTail to accomplish those tasks. My conversion rate from trial to paid nearly doubled once this was in place."

Rob Walling
CEO of HitTail

iDoneThis

"The one thing we did to improve conversions was make the site more human -- faces, quotes, case studies, etc."

Walter Chen
CEO & Founder of iDoneThis

Influads

"A phone number: It's that simple. Technology overrides personable too much and providing a sense of assurance and proximity seem to work."

Anibal Damião
CEO of Influads

Keepsy

"By far, the biggest factor in increasing conversions was putting two big green buttons smack in the middle of our homepage with clear, obvious calls-to-action."

Blake Williams
Co-Founder at Keepsy

Kentico

"We started with conversion optimization back in 2009, initially of our conversion pages, with changes to layout, graphic appearance and especially the online form. With a 200% increase in conversions as a result, this proved to be our most efficient course. Three years later we use the online marketing platform built into our own CMS to conduct all marketing optimization; everything from A/B and multivariate tests to content personalization. Each of the method we leverage moves us on upper levels."

Petr Passinger
PR Manager at Kentico Software

Kicksend

"Simplified our landing page from a one-pager with lots of text and images to a much more focused one."

Pradeep Elankumaran
CEO & Co-Founder of Kicksend

Leaky

"We've done dozens of A/B tests and so far the biggest improvement came from showing users how their auto insurance prices change in real-time as they answer questions. This improved our conversion rate by nearly 70%."

Jason Traff
Founder of Leaky

Magoosh Test Prep

"Adding testimonials from past customers significantly increased our conversion rate. Social proof goes a long way in the test prep industry. Visitors identify with past customers and realize they can get the same positive results."

Bhavin Parikh
CEO & Co-founder of Magoosh

Manpacks

"Put a live chat widget on our website, and made sure we were available to chat several hours a day. We use live chat as a way to quickly identify points of confusion that can be addressed by improved design or messaging. We then produce a bi-weekly report highlighting the juiciest bits of feedback, and spend the next two weeks acting on what we've learned. As a service-driven company, this also allows us to build trust with new and existing customers by helping them accomplish website goals more quickly -- and trust is such a critical factor in converting sales."

Ken Johnson
Customer Experience Officer & Co-Founder of Manpacks

Munchery

"The one thing we did that had the strongest positive impact on conversions for Munchery is launching our daily menu email. So far, it is our most successful conversion funnel due to:

1. A daily changing menu

2. Short, yet engaging writing by our copy editor

3. High quality food photography, alongside with tasty descriptions

4. Shows limited availability of meals"

Tri Tran
Co-Founder at Munchery

Nimble

"Our registration process was a difficult, often frustrating one-page form. We increase our conversion rate by 10% by breaking up and simplifying the form, and guiding users through each field along the way."

Jason McDowall
Director of Product at Nimble

OhLife

"One interesting test we ran inside the app was on our new user welcome flow. Conversion was defined as the number of new users that responded to the first email we send on signup. We tried quite a few variations, like:

1) Short paragraph format (3-4 sentences) describing how we work and what they need to do next (go to their email, respond).

2) Lots more text describing all the different features we had (assumed they weren't going to their email right away, so tried to motivate them by letting them read about all the cool things they could do).

3) The winner: 3 detailed steps, split into three boxes, describing what just happened (sent them an email), what they need to do now (reply to the email - highlighted), and what happens afterwards (it shows up on the site). It's the version that's up now.

I think the reason it won is that it clearly defined exactly what was going on, and what they needed to do at that exact moment. It's a little different than most web apps in that we need our users to do a context switch once they've joined - they need to immediately go to their inbox."

Reman Child
Co-Founder at OhLife

Onboardly

"We represent a unique challenge as we work with numerous startups in different industries, from eCommerce to video animation. I can't say that there is one blanket approach that works best for conversions, but a very very strong and thorough content marketing strategy coupled with a PR plan, helps to not only bring attention to the brand (PR) but keeps them there longer (Content). From Conversions to retention, the mix of the above is what works best."

Renée Warren
Co-Founder at Onboardly

Picplum

"Depending on the state of a user's account, we send them one of three lifecycle emails. One email gets send if they haven't made an order at all and reminds them what Picplum does and urges them to take a tour of Picplum. Another lifecycle email is sent after another few weeks of inactivity and offers tips for getting started with Picplum. If users have purchased from Picplum before, we send an email after a few weeks of inactivity simply asking them to upload some photos. These mailers are completely automated and separate from our monthly newsletters."

Paul Stamatiou
Co-Founder at Picplum

PunchTab

"We are a freemium service so the most important part of the conversion funnel for us is convincing site owners to install and activate their incentives programs. In the early days we used a text-heavy install flow that yielded activation rates that were on par with other social sharing services (e.g. sharing toolbars). When we rewrote our install flow to be more visual (including big platform logos and previews of end-user experiences) we saw a step up of more than 50% in install and activation rates. We've continued to add products and platform support but strive to maintain as visual an install flow as possible."

Ranjith Kumaran
Founder at PunchTab

RingRevenue

"Adding a RingRevenue campaign-specific phone number to our online media (website, banners, lead forms, and search) not only drives high-quality inbound calls from customers but also substantially improves the clickthrough rates. We have some case studies on our site that detail this, but the bottom line is that adding our phone numbers increases the click-through rates on website banners an average of 12%."

Arden Bullard
Marketing Coordinator at RingRevenue

SendHub

"We used to only offer Facebook login, but we switched to multiple sign-ups - our own, Google, and Facebook. We saw an immediate impact on conversions, with only 15% of people using Facebook to sign-up and have found that most people prefer signing up with their phone number only."

Ash Rust
Co-Founder & President of SendHub

Simply Measured

"Making our trial request form more interactive, by allowing users to submit specific data they want to track during their trial, greatly improved the conversion rate on SimplyMeasured.com."

Adam Schoenfeld
CEO of Simply Measured

Soluto

"The one thing we did here in Soluto that had a strong positive impact on our conversion was finding the right key messages that our users can really relate to.

We used "Must-Have Score" (http://musthavescore.com/ - which is an awesome service to collect and analyze users feedback) to find out how our users perceive our product and how they actually speak about it in their own language. Based on this, we AB tested different messages on our homepage, using our users own words to find the message with the highest conversion rate."

Merav Oren
Product Manager at Soluto

Sourcebits

"Putting a prominently featured video on our home page provided the single biggest boost to conversions on our current site. We saw a conversion bump of more than 20% when we put up the video in 2010, and we've seen consistently lower bounce rates, higher engagement, and higher conversions since then."

Rohit Singal
CEO of Sourcebits

Thumbtack

"Including multiple press logos together on our landing pages increased conversions by 17%."

Sander Daniels
Director of Business Development at Thumbtack

Trada

For ads - "Breaking ad groups up by customer type and offer type (and more), then writing creative, attention-grabbing ads with clear calls-to-action - and testing them. (How do we have the bandwidth to do this? We put multiple PPC experts to work on a campaign, and collectively they have the time, expertise and diversity of thinking to create - and keep creating - ads and keywords that get the best possible results.)"

For website conversions - "Deliver the promise you made in your PPC ad. If the ad says you'll have a specific type of running shoe, send the click to a page that shows that shoe. If you have promised a whitepaper download, make sure the user can find that whitepaper within one second of arriving at your landing page.

Videos, live chat, pop-ups, testimonials, big whizzy arrows... all of these things can improve conversions as well, and you should try them! But don't listen to me. Trust your own data. Run an A/B test for each new element (one at a time, please) and optimize over time to drive up your conversion rate."

Anna Sawyer
Marketing Manager at Trada

Unbounce

"This might sound a little too much like a plug for KISSinsights, but honestly the thing I've done that had the biggest impact on conversions was to ask our visitors using KISSinsights how they wanted to interact with the page they were visiting. I put a case study together about it."

Oli Gardner
Co-Founder and Director of Marketing at Unbounce

UserTesting

"Increasing site speed increased our conversion rate. We sped up our home page so it loaded 83% faster, and that boosted our conversion rate 78%."

Dave Garr
Co-Founder at UserTesting

Vidyard

"Reducing each requirement or step in the sign-up process increased our conversion ratio (visitors to trial-ers) exponentially - that's no surprise.

On this realization, our signup process slowly became simpler and simpler. As traffic ramped, we invested in Optimizely to A/B test sign-up variations.

Our final modification was to go from a light-box that launched on the clicking of a single large call to action that requested the user's e-mail, to having the e-mail form built right into the homepage.

As you can see [from the images below], removing the lightbox and forcing e-mail collection on our homepage improved our conversion rate over a 3 week period by nearly 55%."

Michael Litt
CEO at Vidyard

Lightbox:

Email Form:

Their results:


WorkFlowy

"Last June we did an experiment, almost as a joke, where the only thing fully above the fold was the sign up form, and it dramatically increased sign ups. Previously, we had a large video next to the signup form. Removing the video decreased average engagement, but the increase in signups was so much larger that it more than compensated."

Jesse Patel
Co-Founder at WorkFlowy

YouEye

"One of the strongest positive impacts on conversion that was experienced was through the use of social advertising on sites like BuySellAds.com. They tended to reach a drastically different audience than the display ads or paid search options we were trying."

John Donmoyer
Director of Product at YouEye

BONUS QUOTE!!

NatureBox

"One change that had a strong impact on our conversion rate was tailoring the landing page and conversion flow to the audience. For example, we have different landing pages for organic traffic vs. paid traffic. Customers that come through on a paid channel usually have a shorter attention span, so you want to grab their interest and show them a checkout page as soon as possible. Customers that come through organically will usually have the patience to find out more about the product, so you want to direct them to a homepage that can cater to that. In addition, make sure you have a retargeting pixel place from day 1 so you have a way to reach potential customers that don’t convert on the first visit."

Gautam Gupta
Co-Founder and CEO of NatureBox

I'd like to thank all the companies that participated in this project. Hopefully we can all learn a little something from each of them!

What conversion techniques have worked for you? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author: Zach Bulygo is a blogger for KISSmetrics, you can find him on Twitter here. You can also follow him on Google+.

  1. Zak – Thanks for writing the post.

    One additional thing we’ve seen have an impact on conversions, and this sounds simple, but make sure people are finding your content on your site, and not on someone else’s site.

    Web scraping and content theft are a growing challenge and a lot of companies are loosing visitors and potential conversions to other websites that harvest/duplicate their content.

    Thanks again for the piece. 54 people is a lot of companies…

  2. I’m surprised real-time cart abandonment wasn’t mentioned here: no doubt it’ll be the biggest influence to conversion in the future.

  3. great post ! Thx !

  4. good post which covered by expert inputs. so we can measure ratio/thoughts about positive techniques on conversation rate.thanks for your contribution.

  5. Great list. Definitely think that the NatureBox comment can help us.

  6. This.Is.Awesome. Great job, Zach.

  7. Thanks for boasting Bo Lu from Future Advisor but now, how do we get quality paper articles?
    Realy good post by the way Zach!

  8. Thanks for the post

    It’s full of ideas.

    I love what Freshnotes did. Very cool idea with a username entry first before the rest of the sign up field comes up. And I like what Sreelesh Pillai said about removing images and links not directly related to sign up. Jesse Patel’s joke experiment rivals Guns & Roses’ Sweet Child O’Mine lick. Accidents are genius sometimes.

  9. This is a truly impressive list, I’m surprised this has not been expanded into a book or manual already. I can so relate to Anna Sawyer’s (Marketing Manager at Trada) quote…. about Delivering what you promise in your PPC ad.

    In one of the newer niche i’m working on, the conversion rate doubles my older more established niches simply because customers who signs up get unannounced bonuses (cheatsheets, how-to guides and videos) on top of what I promised them. It created buzz and they were more than willing to click on the social likes (fan gate) before accessing the content I promised them. So now I have loyal fans who are raving about it on social media. The social signals from that pulled Google’s attention in like a magnet, bringing up my rankings and bringing in more fresh organic traffic as well!

    I’m still learning, a lot of these stuff comes from both trial and error as well as advices/tips from blog-posts such as this one. SO Thanks a million!

  10. This is such a great list of real-life experience and advice.

    What we’ve been doing at http://www.pinkemma.com is have a very simple shopping cart and checkout process from day 1. We assumed that most customers only purchase a single item. So we started out building a checkout process that went straight from Add To Cart to Check Out, i.e. no chance of adding quantity nor adding another item. No need to create account either. Successful checkout rate was close to 50%. For an emerging market where ecommerce is still in its infancy, this is relatively high.

    Now we have added a “Continue Shopping” branch, placed rather obscurely thinking that experienced shoppers will spot it anyway.

    We are still learning every day. Tweaking never stops.

  11. This is such a great list of real-life experience and advice.good post which covered by expert inputs.

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