Kissmetrics Blog

A blog about analytics, marketing and testing

Built to optimize growth. Track, analyze and engage to get more customers.

What The Highest Converting Websites Do Differently

Did you know that companies that take on a structured approach towards conversion optimization are twice as likely to see a large increase in sales?

Given this, you’d think more companies would test and run experiments. Yet 61% of companies do less than 5 tests per month.

My gut tells me the reason for this is MOST companies are too caught up in the “business as usual syndrome”, and they rarely take a second to stop and think about really focusing on conversion optimization.

In this post we’re going to go over what the highest converting websites do differently. But before we get into the details, we want to highlight a few points to get you thinking first:

Got that? Ok, let’s get into what the best do differently….

1. They Make Their Unique Value Proposition(s) Clear

Visitors should clearly see on your homepage or landing page why they should do business with you and the benefit of it.

A great example of this is MailChimp:

mailchimp free

There are plenty of email service providers out there, so for a company like MailChimp it’s quite difficult to differentiate yourself from the pack. MailChimp made themselves different by focusing on making email campaigns easy.

If you think about it, whose usually tasked with sending out the email newsletter? It’s usually someone who’s specialty is not marketing, who’s not technical, and has a never ending “to-do” list. Making it easy is really important!

And by looking at their home page, they make this very clear:

easy email newsletters

Not to mention, if you have ever used their service – everything from campaign creation to sending out your emails is really simple and clear.

Another example is Helzberg Diamonds. They are a little more subtle about their USP, but they definitely address “Why you should buy from them”.

For example they state free shipping on orders over $149:

helzberg free shipping

Scroll down the page a little bit, and you’ll see some reassurances:

helzberg reassurances

Certainly having 12,266 fans on Facebook doesn’t hurt their conversion rate, either.

What are the reasons customers should buy from you? Is it a money back guarantee? Free shipping? Find what yours are and make it clear.

2. They Test Their Calls-to-Actions

Hubspot featured a company on their blog that increased their conversions 105.9% by having a clear call-to-action that leads to a whitepaper. In this whitepaper, the company informs the visitor about the company & what they offer.

The company also made a more effective headline and used meaningful graphics to help guide the user.  Just these three changes led to more than doubling their conversion rate.

Mozilla increased downloads of their popular Firefox browser by having a stronger call-to-action. “Download Now – Free” performed better than “Try Firefox 3”. They made it clear that Firefox was free and called the viewer to download the program.

Proflowers is a site known for high conversion rates, with some estimates being around 40%. They make it really easy for customers who are in a hurry to buy flowers – they can start by simply picking a day they need the flowers by:

pro flowers call to action

ProFlowers eliminates any initial questions that the prospect may have. The prospect knows right away the answer to the question “can you get this to me by __?”  They’re helping to overcome any obstacles to a purchase. See if you can do something like Proflowers has done—answer one of your most popular questions in a clear, above the fold headline. If some obstacles to prospects purchasing from you are:

“I don’t feel comfortable purchasing from a small company like yours” – then some ideas to help overcome this fear could be:

  • Include a behind the scenes video of your company and how your operations work.
  • Include a banner at the top with customer testimonials, each one showing for a few seconds.
  • Give your unique value proposition right at the top. Tell how long you’ve been in business, how many orders you’ve shipped, customer satisfaction rate, etc.

How do you find out what questions your customers have?

You should always be asking your customers questions to get their feedback. Understanding your customer’s pain points, confusion and what they are really looking for can help you design a site that converts higher. KISSinsights is a tool that allows you to do just that:

3. They Test Their Headlines

The headline can make or break your website, and possibly a sale. As mentioned in the intro, the first impression is formed quickly, and the headline is a big part of that impression. It’s important to test and see what resonates most with your visitors. There is no magic formula, but there are some good guidelines that you can follow.

37signals improved conversions of their Highrise product by 30% by having the headline “30-day Free Trial on All Accounts”. Their worst headline was “Start a HighRise Account”.

highrise headline

The key lesson from this is that it’s important to have a clear headline with a unique value proposition. “Start a HighRise Account” doesn’t tell of any benefit. They don’t give a reason why they should sign up now. Consider having adding free trial in your headline or try “Save __% and start [enter the benefit of your product here]”. The important thing is to test to see what works.

CityCliq improved their conversions by making a clear headline that tells the user what they’ll get. First, the tested headlines:

  • Businesses grow faster online!
  • Online advertising that works!
  • Get found faster!
  • Create a webpage for your business

The winner:

city cliq headline

This is the best headline because it’s clear and avoids any language that you may find in your spam folder. Be creative with your headlines and inform the visitor of what you do or the benefits of your product.

One more tip: having a headline that addresses a pain point has in one case, increased conversions by 32%.

4. They Tend To Have Short Forms

Conversion expert Tim Ash recommends keeping forms to only the essentials. How many times have you been ready to sign up for something, continue and see 25+ fields that you have to fill in? I have many times and I’ll often just leave the site. It’s important to respect the users time. If you’ve gotten the user as far as wanting to sign up, it’s pivotal that you don’t let them drop off because your form is too long.

Take a look at Dropbox’s signup form:

Dropbox signup form

Dropbox is only asking for what they need. No username, no security questions, no birth date, no verification code, no re-enter password field, nothing unneeded.

For Proflowers, they don’t force you to signup before you order. If you’re a first time buyer, they’re not interrupting your buying process at all. You don’t have to create a new account; you have the option to do that after you make your purchase. Proflowers is removing any obstacles to ordering.

proflowers signup

Building more concise forms is important.

Test the number of form fields!

Most conversion experts will agree that simplifying forms and making them clearer should be the direction you want to aim for when you ready to start iterating.

Sometimes, having more fields can improve your form conversion rate. However, in general, fewer fields tend to produce better conversions (it depends on what your form is for). The point is: Don’t look for rules of thumb, test and find out for yourself!

Other Techniques To Try

The important thing is to test and experiment. What has worked for you? Let us know in the comments!

About the Authors:

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

Sean Work is the Director of Marketing at KISSmetrics. Follow him on Twitter @seanvwork.

  1. George Featherstone May 09, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    This article completely blew me away! I love seeing “percentage of increase by doing this or that”, but having this many AND having the credible sources cited as well is awesome. I guess I’m commenting on the form of the article not the content.

    As far as what is suggested, home run guys. All the main points are critical. This is why I subscribe to this blog. Thanks again!

    • The article blew you away? Really? your that impressed? For someone who this page is targeted to , you should already know or understand the majority of these ideas, tips and tricks. And, if you don’t then you really shouldn’t be involved in any form of SEO or online Marketing until you receive the proper training. i.e Educational, not online training!

      • Aren’t you a little ray of sunshine. Not everyone is at the same level. How about you keep your smarmy, self-righteous attitude to yourself.

      • Check your ego at the door, and remember that people are always starting out in new fields of interest and might be surprised by what they read. Empathize and share knowledge – don’t beat people down.

  2. One of the best posts on this topic I’ve read in a while. Quality information like this keeps me reading. Thanks.

  3. Connecting what the websites did and how it impacted the conversion rates makes this article must read.

    I really loved all the suggestions with their impact and will be trying/testing them as soon as possible.

    Thanks for the wonderful article.

  4. Some of these points are really valid. We tried shortening our registration form and only asking the minimum amount of information from the customer…We saw our conversion rate increase.

    The only problem is the information that is lost by doing this. You can always capture this at the end of the process if you really want to.

    • Great to hear on the increased conversion rates! It seems like all the great websites out there have short signup forms.

      If the information is really important you probably should get it later. But perhaps people were also interested in your product or service because you ask for so little information.

      Either way, short signup forms are great!

      • I agree w/ Zach on getting other important information later once more trust is established. Make the initial barrier to entry easy.

  5. Fantastic read, thanks guys!

  6. Sorry, but most of this is nonsense. The most important part is the product itself. People are using mailchimp because of the way you can send a newsletter, not because they put a big headline on there website. People should stop working too much on forms, polls and headlines. They should work more on their products or the stuff they offer and the way you can pay. If the product is crap nobody cares about any of the stuff that you mentioned.

    • It’s never stated in the post that product isn’t important.

      You can have a great product, but if your signup form is 10 pages long, you likely won’t get many customers. And if you’re not testing A/B testing your landing pages, you’ll have less conversion rates.

      You first have to get people in the door, then making a great product is a whole new conversation.

  7. Great post and great stats. We constantly stress to our customers the importance of A/B testing and just testing all elements in general of your website that can make such a big impact in conversions.

  8. The big list at the end of this article is worth the price of admission on its own – thanks.

    I must admit, I’m a bit uncertain about MailChimp making email marketing easy – I’ve always rather felt I was fighting their interface over there. But I agree, it’s a great headline.

    Loved the post in general – we’re going to feature it over at the Internet Marketing Gourmet later today, since it definitely fits our remit of showcasing the best advice on IM every day!

  9. Some really great tips here. Design has really evolved. It’s increasingly about converting the user and branding than it is creating the page for SEO.

  10. It’s because those companies have huge budgets and teams to work on it that they can test changes like that…

    Only kidding – we can do it too, just start small, test 1 thing at a time, adapt some of the stuff here into your own site…

    Man I love this stuff!

  11. Absolutely great topic. Will absolutely start testing more often!

  12. Thank You for the excellent insight.

  13. Love the subject of this article, but please…find a good copy editor to catch mistakes. Like the basic ones in this sentence: “If you think about it, whose [should be who’s] usually tasked with sending out the email newsletter? It’s usually someone who’s [should be whose] specialty is not marketing, who’s not technical, and has a never ending “to-do” list.

    I think highly of KISSmetrics, but these grammar mistakes detract from your credibility. I stopped reading when I got to that sentence.

    • Thanks for the feedback Heather. I reread my posts many times, but occasionally some errors slip through the cracks. I hope you keep visiting our blog, it has great content!

  14. Andy Feliciotti Jul 13, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Love all the ideas at the end of this post

  15. Only 8 seconds to impress a visitor, that was a bit of a shock, but how to implement the perfect “Capture” statement?

    I guess every product need a different approach and appealing to the right emotions would be a positive factor.

    One thing we offer is Samples and this gives potential buyers time to reflect at home, and it does work cookie days have been over 400 on ocassions.

    Thanks for a great article.

  16. All great reinforcements of core concepts. In general I think more landing pages (my own included) need to spend more time testing headline copy and language context.

    On one of my project websites where the main conversion point is user feedback via a form we were able to increase conversions several hundred percent through a combination of removing unnecessary distractions (in this case it was the main navigation) and adding social proof (examples of recent contributions from other users).

    Thanks for the post.

  17. Dennis van der Heijden Sep 21, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Hi Zach, excellent article. I love A/B testing and with we just added Kissmetrics integration so we can now use both really easy. Keep these articles coming!


  18. This article is stunning! I’m a website designer and often have to try and advise customers on this subject. It has given me a massive amount to work with and think about. I am shocked and amazed by some of the things you have mentioned, such simple things as changing the colour of a buy now button. Amazing.

  19. We did (what seemed to be) an absurd amount of testing to get the right CTA, layout, testimonials, everything, to make our page convert better. Now we have a pretty sweet website.

    The big surprise? It turns out our headline with profanity converted better than a more traditional headline. Even though some people found it offensive, in the long run, we were able to get a considerable amount of conversions.

  20. One of the best posts on this topic I’ve read in a while. Quality information like this keeps me reading. Thanks.

  21. Fantastic article presented in such a simple way.

    This has really added to the current book I am reading – Landing Page Optimisation: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions.



  22. Some great landing page optimisation tips. I am furiously working on my PPC landing pages and have found that ensuring your web forms are above the fold and stand out using color really helps increase sign ups.

  23. This is an awesome post. A great read before doing a redesign! Thanks for supplying this info. We are going to get our clients site to convert like a champ!

  24. Chris Navarre Sep 05, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    MailChimp has a great design and seems to be quite powerful but are there any REAL competitors to MailChimp as far as newsletter systems go?

  25. How has this changed for mobile since this article was written?

  26. Jonathan Weberg Jan 30, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I have to say…Wow!
    This post covered so many critical and key topics that you need to understand to have successful conversion.

    I have found that A/B testing has proven to be very credible when trying to improve conversion.

    You did a great job with this Zach, keep it up!

  27. Very interesting about the color of your CTA button. I have been using CTA that contrasts with the site colors which varies based on the site.

  28. I have seen some sites especially Ecomm sites have their blog as a tab/page instead of it just being a stand alone blog. Have you done any data concerning this?

  29. Please could someone explain what “ensuring your web forms are above the fold on landing pages” mean? I don’t get what the “fold” is

  30. Great post! Working on a client’s site and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. So many golden nuggets. Thank you very much

Comments are closed.

← Previous ArticleNext Article →