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7 Conversion Tactics You Should Be Using but Probably Aren’t

It’s a never-ending battle, isn’t it?

With website conversions there’s always something to test, something to improve on. Of course you have the biggies like accessibility, third-party endorsements (think Trust Seals like Verisign and Comodo) and a clean, fast-loading design, but there are also several “small” things lots of people miss.

Here are 7 you’ve probably never heard of. Individually, they can each give a nice bump to your conversion rate, and collectively, the effect can be enormous.

1. Remove (or Change) Your CAPTCHA

A CAPTCHA is a form visitors have to fill out to prove they are human. It gives them a series of random letters, numbers or words that are hard for a human to read and it nearly impossible for a computer, helping stop spambots. You might be using one on your registration or comment form.

The problem with CAPTCHAs isn’t that they don’t work. It’s that they often work a little too well.

This study from SEOmoz shows that, while the CAPTCHA was pretty good at keeping out the riff-raff, the number of failed submissions that happened when it was turned on vastly outweigh the few spam messages that came through.

If it’s too difficult to figure out, lots of people get frustrated and leave. If the CAPTCHA is on your comment form for your blog, then maybe that’s not a big deal, but if it’s on your registration or sales page, it could potentially be costing you thousands of dollars.

Still, if you get a good bit of spam on a daily basis, not having a CAPTCHA on your form simply isn’t an option. If that’s the case, choose one that’s as user-friendly as possible. Personally, I would recommend NuCAPTCHA, an up-and-coming alternative which has a simple but highly effective method for sifting out the spambots without causing readability issues for normal visitors.

2. Contrast Your Button Colors

While it defies all logic, choosing a button color that fits in with your overall color scheme can actually hurt conversions.

For instance, in a button color test run by Performable, the red button outperformed the green by 21%. When you consider the connotations that red versus green have and how they affect our everyday lives, it’s surprising. You’d think green would do better.

But in general, it’s not only about colors. It’s about contrast. If you look at the example below, the red pops out because the rest of the page is so subdued.

Lesson learned: Don’t be surprised if changes to something as simple as a button color make a dramatic difference in your conversion rate. Use contrast to make your buttons standout, so visitors don’t miss them.

3. Explain What “Free” Means

You’d think that telling people your offer is free would get them to sign up, right?

Well, it used to, back in the glory days of the web, but people have gotten so used to free offers that they’re getting more and more suspicious. They start looking for the catch.

For instance, will they have to:

· Go through a lengthy sign-up process consisting of multiple upsells?

· Give you all of their personal information, exposing them to email pitches and telemarketers?

· Handover their credit card, so you can bill them a few weeks or months later?

Chances are, they feel like they’ve been tricked before, and they don’t want it to happen again. If you want them to move forward, you need to qualify your call to action.

Use phrases like, “Instant Access,” “No Registration Required,” or “No Credit Card Required” to let them know you’re not trying to dupe them somehow. In general, the smaller and easier you make the commitment, the higher your conversion rate will be.

4. Make Returns Easier

One of the most difficult parts of buying online is not being able to hold the product in your hand. Sure, you can see pictures, but who’s to say they are accurate? Most of the time, you don’t know if it’s what you really want until you get the product and have a chance to use it.

And that scares people.

What if they buy it and don’t like it? What if they accidentally bought the wrong model? What if it doesn’t work?

All of the “what-if’s” can stop them from buying. That’s why many companies with strong online presences are offering more liberal return policies.

One of the most heralded examples of a great customer returns policy can be found at Zappos, where the company foots (haha) the bill for shipping both ways. If you buy the wrong shoe, no big deal. You can just return it and get another one.

5. Display a Privacy Policy on Your Opt in Forms

This one is simple enough, but it’s also easy to forget. How often have you put up a new website and intended to have a privacy policy, but he never got around to drafting one?

These days, you don’t even have to do it yourself. You can use a generator like that makes creating a privacy policy push-button simple.

6. Offer a Video Option (Even if your Users Don’t Use It!)

ReelSEO did an interesting study regarding the use of video on product pages. Even if participants didn’t watch the video, conversion rates on those pages increased –sometimes by as much as 46%!

There are several reasons why:

  • People like to see what they’re buying, as well as who they’re buying from. If you’re willing to show your face, your office, and your product on camera, then chances are it’s not a scam.
  • If you’re likable, your personality will probably come through a lot stronger on video and audio. And people buy from who they like.
  • We live in a TV culture. We’ve been conditioned through years and years of TV and movies to enjoy watching videos

So, give it a try. Look for a way to demonstrate your product, a story you can tell, or a lesson you can give, and film it. Then upload it to your website as a video.

7. Capitalize on Your Error Pages

Are your error pages letting sales slip through the cracks?

Obviously you should try to fix any missing pages that show up in your analytics, but for some sites, it’s not always possible. In these cases, use error pages strategically to corral them to related products or articles they may be interested in. RedEnvelope even goes so far as to give people a 10% discount when they happen to land on a Not Found page.

It’s about Making It Easier for the Customer to Buy

Sometimes, we get caught up trying to sell people, when all they really want is for us to make it easier for them to buy. If we can just make it simple and pain-free, they’re ready to take action.

So, concentrate on removing barriers. Go through your sales process and think about what might be stopping your customers from buying, and then figure out how to make it easier.

It won’t just give you a better conversion rate. It will also make your customers happier, giving you the chance to do business with them for years to come.

Start improving your conversions today

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About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve web design, performance and conversions at

  1. Great list of common sense! Might I add:
    Don’t require info you don’t need (No, you don’t need my street address to sell me a PDF, thank you.)

    And while you’re removing barriers: get rid of your comment moderation delay. Not friendly, get a better spam plug-in and trust me.


    • It’s ALL about common sense! I agree wholeheartedly on removing the unnecessary form questions and slow loading comments (not just moderation!) I wrote a post about alternatives to Disqus for this very reason:

  2. I really like the tip about including video.

    It almost has given me enough motivation to go video all our products right now….

    But I think I’ll wait until tommorrow.

  3. Everything you said is beneficial. I can use it all. Thanks!!

  4. very impressive! facing huge problems with conversion! will implement the ideas and see :)

  5. I hadn’t realized how big an effect the colour of a response button might have. That Performable study really is interesting. I’m going to tweak our own site now and see what happens.

  6. Phyllis Nichols Oct 02, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Great tips. I definitely need to get a privacy policy and video.

    I also need to improve my comments section – thanks for the resources!

  7. Sherice, it’s rare to find a conversion based web designer – is that what you are?

    • Yes! I design blogs that are made to convert. I also do copywriting – since a good design does nothing by itself unless the copy is there to back it up!

  8. I’ve been avoiding captchas for a long time now, and I suggest only using them if absolutely necessary. Not only are a lot of conversions lost when after a failed captcha, but a lot of potential conversions are lost when the user sees one on the page.
    The mentioned honeypot trick plus a good spam filter on the backend is very often good enough.

  9. Great tips, clearly written and all very actionable. Thanks for sharing – we can implement most of these on our new marketplace to help improve conversion.

  10. Very good point about CAPTCHAs. I used to use one. After I stopped, engagement went up a lot.

    Button color is probably the easiest split test there is!

  11. philip ramsey Jan 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Thank you for the tips. While reading tip #2 I started improving the “Submit” button on our registration page – changed button background color from silver to red, increased text size to 33px, increased font-weight to 800 (bold), increased button size to 44×111 (px). Already had a privacy page. We have been considering video taping our breakfast meetings and posting them on the site but decided against it because of privacy reasons.

    We will be going over the tips again for further enhancements.

  12. Capitalizing error page is the most interesting one. Thanks for the helpful post.

  13. Excellent thoughts here. Particularly the one around the error pages. Love the idea of turning a potential drop-off point to an opportunity to save the customer.


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