If you run a business it is conversions that matter most. Not traffic or Google rankings but conversions.
Sure, you need traffic in order to have someone to convert but unless you can capture a good percentage of visitors in some meaningful way you are largely wasting your time. All of your marketing, copy writing, SEO and social media efforts will amount to nothing.
In this article I am going to show one very basic but vital principle that will help you increase your conversions on everything. It is not complex or secret in any way but it is extremely important; especially if you don’t have it. Oh, and make sure you read all the way to the end as there is a nice little surprise at the bottom.
What exactly are conversions?
Just so we are all on the same page it is important to take a quick look at exactly what we are talking about when we say conversions. Because this blog is about online marketing we will stick mainly to internet products that you are attempting to get your visitors to interact with. These include:
- Affiliate products
Any affiliate product that you are promoting requires a conversion in order for you to get paid.
- Email subscriptions
The most important conversion in my mind, converting a visitor in to a loyal email subscriber is a very big part of growing an online business.
RSS or social network subscribers
Just like email subscribers, any time you get a blog or website visitor to subscribe to your feed or social media accounts you are making a conversion.
The end game for many bloggers is where you convert visitors in to paying customers that buy your product. This is the most difficult of all because people are paying you money directly.
As I said, product sales are the hardest conversions because it is a direct transaction with you and your blog. You don’t have some other third party website doing all of the hard work. For this reason I am going to focus this article mostly on product conversions because if we can convert visitors there we can do it anywhere.
How to increase conversions
The following tips and strategies are things I have used on my own offline and online businesses for years. As always, however, I would love you to leave a comment if you disagree or if you have anything to add. It seems that Blog Tyrant’s commenting community has a lot of experienced knowledge to offer.
Build blue-shirt trust
When my little brother was attending an interview to get accepted into Medical School he put on a brand new baby blue shirt. I asked him why he bought a new shirt when he had a bunch of other nice ones and he told me that his mentor has said that blue is the best color to wear because it conveys trust and calmness and helps people to perceive you as reliable and successful.
Obviously the Medical Board doesn’t admit students based on their shirt color but it may have had a subtle impact on their perception as well as giving my brother more confidence.
And, yes, he got in.
Blue-shirt trust is all about the initial reaction.
If you want to convert visitors on the web you need to be perceived as blue-shirt trustworthy. As a general rule people are skeptical of websites (especially when using a credit card) and as such you have to work extra hard to help them feel safe. And this never happens by accident.
Some of the things that help in this regard include:
- Using the right color schemes
If I am building a website that I want people to trust I never use black or dark grey color schemes. They evoke thoughts of night, distrust and other objectionable frames of mind. Unless they are done right they often also look amateurish. Make sure your use white as a text background and stay away from too much darkness.
- Use safe fonts
Go to any bank website in the world and they will use Arial, Verdana or Helvetica fonts. Why? Because they are safe. People recognize them and feel comfortable reading them. Their eyes don’t have to do any adjusting and as such a barrier is removed. Stick to a safe font with a reasonable spacing to ensure your website “feels” familiar.
- Being careful of hot spots
A few weeks ago we took a look at blog hot spots and how important they are for converting traffic. One thing I failed to mention, however, is that you have to make sure these areas look nice and are encouraging. Seeing as people’s eyes fall here first you want to make sure you are giving them something that makes them want to go deeper.
- Appearing big
In The Art of War the famous general Sun Tzu said that when you are small you need to appear big. This is an important marketing point for bloggers to remember as it relates to social proof. As I mentioned in my Problogger Guest Post on blog problems, you need to appear to have a busy community so people don’t get scared off thinking that they are the first. At all times your readers must feel like they are part of a community.
- Minimizing warning signs
There are some things that always make me nervous when I see them on a website. For example, one of my loyal readers here on Blog Tyrant has a website with an unsafe certificate. Now, I know she is a trustworthy person but I never visit her site because my browsers warns me everything I click her name. This is a warning sign. Some others include red text links as they are associated with spammers and design elements that look chopped up or hacked. Everything needs to appear solid.
Do not underestimate the importance of initial impressions. Initial impressions are why companies spend millions of dollars developing a very simple logo. If you create a negative frame of mind with your initial impression you are less likely to convert when it comes payment/submit time.
Want to be judged by the Blog Tyrant community?
Are you worried that you don’t have blue-shirt trustworthiness? Are you concerned that maybe you have become too familiar with your blog or website and no longer know whether it appears safe, strong and successful to outsiders? Leave a comment and tell us what is worrying you and we’ll see if the Blog Tyrant community can offer their initial impressions on your site.
Beware. Once you ask you have to be brave enough to handle the criticism.