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Steal These 5 High-Converting Website Tricks

Have you ever wondered which websites convert best, and what they’re doing right? Many people immediately name Amazon as one of the highest converting sites based on the sheer variety alone and the volume of products it ships – but some sites out there convert even better than Amazon – two to three times better, in fact. Here’s who they are, and what you can “steal” from them to help improve your own conversion rates.

Conversion Trick #1 – Make Your Site Incredibly Easy and Straightforward to Search and Browse

schwans homepage

It’s hard to fault Schwan’s on anything when it comes to analyzing their website. They include all the best practices including making similar product recommendations, a large call-to-action button, product reviews and ratings, and an overview of what’s in your cart.

schwans search results

Even the site search delivers convenient one-click access to both products and recipes. Considering that Schwan’s makes it easy for catalog customers to order, as well as first-time customers to browse, it should be no surprise that their site gets a whopping 41.7 conversion rate*

Conversion Trick #2 – Test Checkout Process Length

proflowers homepage

Two of the top converting sites, ProFlowers and Land’s End, seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the checkout process. Land’s End gets the job done in just a few pages, where visitors to ProFlowers will fill out dozens of form fields before their order is finally submitted.

land's end 4 step checkout process

Land’s End has 4 total pages in its checkout process. ProFlowers has a much more thorough checkout process:

proflowers step1

proflowers step2

proflowers step3

proflowers step4

proflowers step5

ProFlowers includes upsells in its checkout process and always keeps the user’s cart items in view (without displaying the price). They also have a progress indicator at the top of the checkout screen. Despite the longer checkout process, ProFlowers enjoys a 26.1% conversion rate, one which is comparable to Land’s End.

Conversion Trick #3 – to Build Lifetime Customer Value

amazon email recommendations

Amazon employs some of the most ingenious conversion rate “tricks” around. Beyond recommending additional products and accessories and pioneering (and patenting) the 1-click shopping experience, the giant online retailer keenly understands the benefits of remarketing.

If you get emails from Amazon or have your Amazon account hooked into Facebook, you’ll get very specific recommendations based on your purchases, as well as those from your friends. Got a friend’s birthday coming up? If they’re connected, you can see their Amazon Wishlist.

amazon facebook 1 click connect

Amazon will also check out your “Likes” on games, music and movies, and make suggestions as well as help you find others who share your interests. Even though its conversion rate for all products was around 16.5 percent, that rate was calculated before the new social component came into play – so it will be interesting to see what affect social shopping will have on the world’s biggest e-tailer.

Conversion Trick #4 – Marketing with 404 Pages

great 404 web page example

It happens… We set up our site, move things around, delete old posts and stuff gets lost. Even though most 404 pages give you suggestions on how or where to search, or take you back to the home page, Dunstan’s from 1976Design combines everything you’d ever want in a 404. Even though it’s not on the list of Top 10 converting sites, as far as error pages go, this is the best example of how it’s done.

Conversion Trick #5 – Make Your Words and Graphics Count home page

fostersmith homepage

Some of the highest converting pages make use of an oversized graphic with a call to action. Online retailers across the spectrum, from office supplies to clothing, have all caught on to the simple fact that getting the customer’s attention and getting them involved in browsing the site is only the first step – but it’s an important one. When you combine this action with remarketing efforts, social recommendations and an intuitive site search, there really is no “trick” to getting great conversions – it’s just a matter of putting the user first.

But These Sites Have Low PageRanks!

It should go without saying that most of these companies have built up a massive user-base over the years through their direct mail and catalog orders. Establishing an online presence, for them, is just one more spoke in the profit wheel. With such a strong emphasis on understanding the lifetime value of a customer, search engine optimization and social promotion to new users have taken a backseat in favor of focusing on current customers.

Smaller or newer companies might have to work twice as hard to build up that audience and brand awareness. But it’s not impossible. Many of the companies featured here still use tried-and-true conversion strategies like prominent call to action buttons, benefit-laden headlines, shopping cart previews in the sidebar and much more.

What are your thoughts? What are some examples of other high-converting sites we could learn from? Share them in the comments below!

*(Conversion rate data from Nielsenwire study)

About the Author: Sherice Jacob creates beautiful, high-converting landing pages, in addition to designing blogs and writing compelling content. Learn more at iElectrify or @sherice on Twitter.

  1. In todays minimalistic design trend those site are chunked with too much text and images. If you take example of that site is simple and no fuss around there with simple checkout process.
    Sometime, it’s company fate and branding makes it stand.

    • Yea, I know what you mean. I took a look at flipkart and you’re right, the site’s very simple and easy to use. Also the checkout process is also great.

  2. It’s interesting the difference in the checkout process between pro flowers and Lands End. I like the way Pro Flowers keeps your shopping cart visible minus the price.

  3. Hmm, now I know the secret to high converting sites.. hope to implement it right away..

  4. Excellent tips for increasing conversion. I think it’s important to learn from what’s really working for other websites. Personally, I think being upfront with pricing is very important. If I can’t figure out the (total) price of what I’m looking at, I assume the company is hiding the price because it’s high… and I move on. Give people the information they want… now! Jackson

  5. Justin Winter Apr 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Good summary of high level goals for generating conversions. I think using catchy language like, “Steal” & “Tricks” goes a long way toward creating conversions too ;) Not quite sure building lifetime customers or improving your checkout is a “trick”. Researching how any site can improve the checkout process and create lifetime customers (loyalty) should definitely be part of an ongoing UX strategy though.

    Thanks for the write up.

  6. Love the ideas on the 404 error pages. I’d never taken our own 404 errors to that level before, but I love how it’s laid out and what they did. Definitely going to have to implement some of those ideas. Great tips!

  7. From a domain and website perspective and building lifetime customers I wonder if the established brands you show would have ever tested keeping existing customers routing to the existing sites and for “new” visitors have them direct to a more minimalist design as you mention above…
    Would seem to get more customers as well as build the loyalty with the better pages after they have converted…

    • Yes and at the end of the day, different pages work for different types of conversions so you really just have to a/b test it all out. It’s a process, but if you can double your conversion rate, that’s what counts, right?

  8. Good top 5 tips! I also like to look at companies website that are in the direct response marketing business like or the these pages are obviously getting from above the line, however, their conversion would have to be through the roof!

  9. I think “Marketing with 404 Pages” is extremely smart and effective. What a great way to covert a sad visitor in a user!

  10. Juhani Tontti Jul 06, 2011 at 9:45 pm


    a very useful text, thanks! The cases were about quite big players, but how a one man operation could use these ideas? If a site has a good opt-in address data base and most of the names have never bough anything, but given their names only to get the free email course, how to make them to buy. There is not a buyer behaviour information. And how to connect the social sites, like Facebook or Twitter into this system?

  11. wow! this is a great steal! it’s all worth it and will make your site more beautiful and appreciated. If that doesn’t do the trick, I don’t know what will!

    – Jack Leak

  12. A great post, Sherice. I am always inclined to an large graphic with a call to action, while my website designer rejects because he’s worrying about which will affect loading time. Will let him read this post!

  13. Great information. The name of the game really is conversion and this helps a lot to direct clients to winning concepts.

  14. Shanika Journey Dec 15, 2011 at 8:10 am

    I am SO GLAD you put up tips number 1, 2, and 5. I’ve seen so many websites make those very mistakes over and over again. I’ve mentioned this before to other colleagues that have their sites running and are suffering setbacks. These 5 tips have been a part of my website checklist for quite some time. Good someone else is also bringing these points up.

  15. Great blog post! I would also add:
    – Give option for user to sign in as “Guest” and/or with Social Media accounts they already use (e.g. Facebook)
    – Ensure quick page load times!
    – Let them know how much shipping is going to cost at first stage of checkout process
    – Make the “Add to Cart” button big, prominent, and ideally in a different colour than anything else on page
    – Above all reassure customer by shopping at your site, and not a competitors, they’re making the right choice!

  16. Nice post! It’s incredible how much a good 404 page can do. In the B2B a funny page will do to.

  17. Thanks to Elance for Tweeting your post. There’s plenty to learn in internet marketing and I thank you for sharing your knowledge! Exceptional post that demonstrates some things I needed to hear.

  18. @Robert: Great addition! Social Media icons on 404 page work great!

  19. I think design is the most important criteria. Websites should have simple and clear desgin like apple’s Iphone. ( As a user if I have to spend even a second to understand how things are going to work on your website, I would close and gladly switch to something simpler. I recently saw this great UI using HTML 5 they have done a great work It was inspiring.

  20. Ruby kanaujiya Jun 11, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Agree i think Suyash raj is saying right thing it should be visible to everyone if he or she is not that smart to understand the content of the sites or blogs i am really happy to see such a good post here.

  21. I agree with all who said the design is the way to lead conversion but i found that the design of is more simpler then flipkart. I searched for clothes on flipkart after book section but its take 5 – 8 minutes in their all categories section for finding shirts for men its look like directory where lot of items are listed. finally i closed the flipkart and open snapdeal because i mostly use these two online shopping sites for my online purchase. when i searched on snapdeal i searched the item what i found in 2-3 clicks. Finally i purchased from snapdeal.

  22. I just received an email linking to this 4 years old article… maybe time to actualize it ;-)


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