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How to Increase Conversions – A Member’s Case Study

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In this session, we discuss how to increase the sign-up conversions on a WordPress website. One of our members asked how to make her site’s value more apparent to the first-time visitor and get more signups.

Video Transcript

Rick: And we have one little part I’m really excited about which is to chat about Deborah’s site. We’re going to start off with that. Deborah, I’m unmuting your microphone. Good evening, Deborah.

Deborah: Hi, how are you?

Rick: I’m doing great. How are you?

Deborah: Good, good.

Rick: Good. So tell me about your site.

Deborah: Well, it is a blog with tutorials on Microsoft Office and it’s aimed at people who work in law offices – lawyers, paralegals, legal secretaries, etc.

Rick: It seems like it has one other area of specialization and that is related to Word Perfect.

Deborah: Yes, one of the big issues with people who work in law offices is a lot of them still prefer Word Perfect to Microsoft Word. So one of the things that I concentrate on is… because so many legal professionals have to use Word in some circumstances because their clients really demand it, I try to get them sort of over the hump so that they… they know a lot about Word Perfect but if they’ve got to use Word, here’s how you do it in a pinch.

Rick: And so what is it that you want people to do once they come to your site?

Deborah: Well, the first and foremost call to action is going to be sign up for the weekly newsletter. There are some secondary calls to action like I’m getting ready to start offering some e-courses for people to sign up for. But basically, signing up for the newsletters so that I could continue to contact them and continue to get them back to the site over and over again.

Rick: And so what are you going to do with… I mean, is the weekly update a marketing letter or are you offering new products? Or is it just… is it an information letter? Is it some kind of a combination? What’s the… from your standpoint?

Deborah: The main purpose is just to update them on what’s been published recently. And also, in the sidebar of the newsletter, to alert them to any new products that they may be interested in like the e-courses, etc.

Rick: Okay and what is the primary benefit they get out of getting this email?

Deborah: I guess assembling a… or being able to solve one particular problem that they may be having with Microsoft Office at a particular point. The way I tend to think of my site is that it’s that friend that comes to your desk whenever you say, “I don’t know how to do this. Can you show me how to do this?” So the newsletter is just… is basically an update for them to say, “Hey, here are some other tips and tricks that you might find useful.”

Rick: And so the benefit they derive is…

Deborah: Yeah, save time, save effort, save frustration.

Rick: But I mean, the benefit that they derive from getting the email is that they are alerted to new information.

Deborah: Yes.

Rick: So you know… and that’s the main thing you want people to do when they come to your site?

Deborah: Yes because right now, my return rate is not as good as I would like for it to be so…

Rick: What do you mean ‘return rate’?

Deborah: I’m getting far, far more new visitors than I am returning visitors. And I like for that portion to change somewhat.

Rick: Do you have a reason to believe that it should?

Deborah: I think my chances of making the site profitable are better if I have a readership that has a reason to come back periodically and check out new things.

Rick: Okay and so from a business standpoint, the way this business is profitable… the only way this is a profitable business is if at some point, they buy something from you.

Deborah: Yes.

Rick: That is… I mean, if you look at my business model, I have a couple of different avenues of income off of my site. I have the primary one is if somebody signs up for a subscription, right? They subscribe to the site. But there’s a secondary one and that there are affiliate… there is affiliate advertising on the site that people do click on and do go purchase. And there is some revenue that comes from that. But you’re not tapping into that kind of revenue stream on your site.

Deborah: No, not yet. I think the affiliate income is going to be a little bit difficult with this audience. You know, I could do some modernization like Amazon or something like that but…

Rick: Oh sure, you could definitely do you know, reviews of updated books on Amazon or for whomever, right? If you did a review and you had an Amazon associate then you know, you could make a little bit of money if somebody says, “Oh that sounds like a good book. I think I’ll click on it.” Not that that’s likely to be a lot of money but there are things you could do like that.

Rick: And so… and there’s nothing right now for anybody to buy on your site.

Deborah: Right. I’m preparing to do that.

Rick: Okay. So you’re getting about 10,000 visits a month right now?

Deborah: Yes.

Rick: And do you check your analytics to see what the most popular pages are and what the most popular searches are?

Deborah: Yes, I do.

Rick: So what is the page that people come to the most often, as the first page on the site?

Deborah: There is a tutorial about how to print very large Excel spreadsheets that is very, very popular. A close second is one about how to put multiple lines in an Excel cell. Those two kind of flip first and second position pretty frequently.

Rick: Okay and have you done anything special on those pages to optimize them to get people to sign up?

Deborah: Other than putting the sign up box basically below every post, no.

Rick: Okay. If somebody goes to that, do they… does that have a high bounce rate? Do they bounce away from it or they look at other things on the site?

Deborah: Generally, they bounce away from it. I have about… and I don’t know all those specific pages if they tend to stick… but I think generally speaking, it’s very much like the rest of the site that has about an 80% bounce rate.

Rick: Okay so then you have a few things going on here. One of them is that you may not be enticing them to explore your site from their main avenues of entry. And then you probably could do a better job of capturing their interest at the point of their greatest interest which are those 2 tutorials or those few tutorials. You could probably optimize those to do a better job of capturing people’s email addresses.

So having said all of that you know, what I was struck… I guess the most important thing that I see on the homepage is that there are a variety of calls to action. And your most important call to action is not particularly prominent. And I would say that if your main goal of your site is to direct people to sign up for your mailing list then that main goal should be prominent. I mean, it should be the most important call to action. It should be the one thing people can’t miss. And so you know, I really think that on the homepage, this might actually belong up here somewhere. Coupled with that is the need I think for a value statement or value proposition associated with this transaction. Because everybody… nobody likes to get spam and there is… and this really isn’t a value proposition. This doesn’t really give anybody a reason to join this. The only reason they would sign up for it is if they’re already thoroughly enamored with the site and they absolutely want to hear from you every week. And they don’t really care what it is they hear. And I think it would be much better if you gave them the reason. So it’s not get weekly updates. The fact that the email is weekly is not… there’s not any real value there. The fact that it’s an update isn’t necessarily a value and you could easily reconstitute this into you know, get solutions to common problems in your inbox every week. Something like that… some way of making it clear what the value to them is for signing up to your emailing list.

So as we’re looking at this, those I think, are the two most important things really is making this more prominent and making it overwhelm any other calls to action. So you’ve got a call to action here, WP lovers start here, which you know, I know this is probably just the problem from my perspective which is WP stands for WordPress, right? But they probably come to this understanding that WP stands for Word Perfect.

Deborah: Yeah, they do.

Rick: But nevertheless, this is a call to action, right? And on this call to action, they skip over everything else if they act on this one. And then this is a call to action, right? Video – take a tour of the Legal Office Guru.

Deborah: Yeah, that’s coming down.

Rick: And so those are various calls to action. And if they aren’t calls to action, they are very prominent. This draws your attention. And so it certainly draws your attention away from the call to action because if this is… I mean, this is so important that if they see this “Diagnosing and Fixing Formatting Problems” and they click away to that then you know, they’ve moved off of that main call. Now you’ve got a chance to capture them again but they’ve moved away from that.

Deborah: Yeah and let me… if I can interject a couple of things here. That particular page I had started because of some advice that I’ve gotten elsewhere, trying to group tutorials in subject matter. You know, somebody had told me that you know, you need to highlight the various subjects that you’re covering. So you know, I started doing that. Also there is… I have Pop Up Domination installed on this site which maybe doing a somewhat better job of you know, a more ‘in your face’ call to action. I’m not sure if it’s active right now because it was some issues with the 3.3 upgrade. But just an FYI.

Rick: Yeah, I haven’t heard that Pop Up Domination is working 3.3 but it’s definitely… it has been a source of problems for lots of people. And Pop Up Domination… as long as the people who are… you know, there are some kind of… some people are totally turned off by that. But as long as that Pop Up Domination has a good, clear value statement that is better than I think, get weekly updates but really tells them what benefit they’re going to derive from getting email from you every week. As long as that does that, that actually would play an important role in this because we’re looking at this in isolation. We’re just looking at the homepage.

Deborah: Now this area, the get weekly updates, would you suggest substituting something that is a link to a full blown sales page?

Rick: Not necessarily, no. I would suggest that your sign up form be prominent and have a good, clear value proposition as its call to action rather than you know, “Opt in to my email list.” I had a client who had that on her thing for a long time. “Opt in to email list” and that’s… not only does it make it a jargon but it’s not also very appetizing.

Deborah: Right, right. Now what about the one that’s at the end of the post? Is that something that I could substitute there, you think? If you click on one of the actual posts and go to the end of it, you’ll see one.

Rick: This here? Did this post help you? No, I don’t think so. No. I think that this almost looks like a survey, right? I mean, it starts off with “Did this post help you?” Now I understand that you’re wondering… you’re asking them to reflect on whether or not they got value out of this. But on the surface of it, it looks like a survey. I mean, it’s bold enough, right? It is strong and eye-catching enough but the value proposition isn’t clear enough, I don’t think. And I would… I mean, I would just sit and meditate on that a little bit you know, what is the thing that… I mean, what’s the real benefit that people are going to get that will compel them to give you their name and email address and will make them happy that they got it from you… I got an email from you each week. That’s what you’re looking for. I mean, this is the right link, I think you know, to phrase or you know, 2 short sentences. That’s the right link for it. But it’s… and you know, this is actually the call, right? Sign me up. Well, maybe ‘Sign me up’ is not bad. But you know, “Send to me this week’s” might be better, right? And so it’s… we have this… sometimes we put blinders on about these buttons and we say “Submit” or you know, “opt in” or “Sign me up” or whatever. I think “Join Today”. I think sometimes, it’s worth considering doing something a little bit more active than that. And in this case maybe you know, “Send this week’s tip to me” or something like that. Again, it’s reinforcing the value that they expect to receive from it.

Deborah: Okay.

Rick: But this is the kind of… I mean, this is very bold, right? That is the intensity that your primary call should have. So if you come back to your homepage, it shouldn’t look like this. It should look like this. Now I don’t know whether or not Content Slider is a useful thing in this situation or if it will be better just to dump the Content Slider altogether and simply place the call to action here. But you know, if in this section, “Let me make your life in a law office a little easier.” If this was a nice, succinct value proposition for your services for the site, not for the email list because you’ve got 2 things going on right? Here, you’re not really talking about your email list at all. Here, you’re just talking about your site and here, you’re talking about your email list. If you have a decent value proposition about your site and your call to action where the call includes a value that they’re going to… clearly defined value that you’re going to get in exchange for their information you know, that might be a better way to use this space.

And if you don’t use it that way, you might want to consider using a static front page then and making your static front page essentially a sales landing page where the front page talks about who you are, what you do, what value people get out of exploring it. And then you have a blog page where people come to… where people will click away from the article that they’re looking at to the list of articles. So you might consider that too. That is the one sort of problem with this page, sort of conceptually. What you have is a blog page that’s kind of trying to be a landing page too, right? This blue thing at the top is really a landing page-type of content. And so you’ve got a little bit of both going on here and maybe it makes more sense to consider a static front page with a blog page where the blog page is not attempting to be a landing page. It’s simply being a blog page all by its lonesome and your homepage is your landing page that is essentially your sales pitch.

See, you’ve got a really good sales pitch here. If you go to your About LOG, this is a really good sales pitch. And right here, “If you’re a legal professional…” this sentence is outstanding and right now, it’s hidden. It’s on your About page. Now, people may get around to clicking your About page when they want to find out more about you. But really, you’ve hidden your very compelling, punchy sales pitch on your About page. And you know, it seems to me like your homepage is really the page for that.

Deborah: Okay.

Rick: And so okay… so then we’re talking about sort of contrasts. Because Legal Office Guru, Let Me Make Your Life in the Office A Little Easier Weekly Roundup… these are all very close in size and scale to each other. And in particular, the Legal Office Guru and Let Me Make Your Life a Little Easier, those are very close in scale to each other. And it’s not… you know, your eye is drawn to Legal Office Guru first but it could be actually that your headline in this case is more important. So it might make sense to reduce the size of this and increase the size of this so that your… again, your value statement for your site gets top billing and it’s the thing that people’s eyes are drawn to.

Deborah: Okay.

Rick: Then when you look at this you know, think about contrast and strength. You know, if we step away from the heading and the slider area and we look at contrasts, what’s the stronges graphic element you have on the page?

Deborah: You know, I’m blind to it now. You know, maybe the colored pictures next to each of the posts.

Rick: You know what? I think the 0 is the strongest graphic element.

Deborah: Yeah and I have had that item on my to do list about suppressing that and I hadn’t figured out how to do it yet.

Rick: Yeah you know, if you have 500 comments, great. But what you’ve got is a bunch of zeros and those actually are working against your value proposition because they’re announcing that nobody thought this was important enough to make a comment on. And you’re making that point as clearly as you possibly can with a big 0 and a big black box that is the strongest contrasting element you know, anywhere else on the page. Take it down to lawyer list, I mean, this is a very strong element. But most of your images don’t have that very you know, strong color.

And then again, looking at contrasts you know, it almost suggest that these, your social networking buttons are unimportant because they aren’t contrasted. They’re very understated. In fact, they almost look like they’re semi-transparent in comparison to the very strong colors elsewhere in your site. And then you come down to get weekly updates and then that has no contrast to it really. It starts… in fact, this entire block right here, it’s hard to distinguish one thing from another in this.

Deborah: Yeah and 2/3 of that comes from another vendor so I haven’t been able to get it… you know, that one underneath the post? I had to pay somebody to do that.

Rick: What do you mean?

Deborah: Well, the ‘get weekly updates’ and the member login, those are driven by my membership software.

Rick: Okay but they don’t necessarily have to be there, right? You could probably change their color. You know, you could probably take this… I mean, if weekly updates is here… I mean, if weekly updates goes up there and it gets a big, strong color, that’s fine. Then it’s out of the way. But now you have… if it’s not the case or even if it is the case, what you have is you know, fairly lightly colored elements. Follow Legal Office Guru, search Legal Office Guru, member login… fairly lightly gray-colored objects along here at the top of this bar. And you couple that with what seems to me to be a very small margin here between these two things. Let’s see, you almost have as much margin between the image and the text as you have between this text and this text. And you know, whether you need a line down here to distinguish these two from each other or you need a contrasting color or you need something, I think, to separate this from this.

Deborah: Okay.

Rick: And the first thing I would think about is increasing the padding and margin in this space so that there is a bigger space in between these, so this stands off more on its own. Because when you look at this, this font size actually is smaller than this font size and this text is denser than this text. But because they are so close together, I just think they compete with each other too much.

So let’s see, what else was I going to say about all of that? Okay well, in terms of the graphics, the most important thing should be the thing that draws your eye first. So if the most important thing is ‘get weekly updates’ then that should up near the top and it should be big and bold and hard to miss. Now it doesn’t need to be… it could all be white right here. You’ve got the dark blue color around it. This ‘get weekly updates’ could very easily be a white box because that will stand out strongly against the blue background. But it needs to be something that… where the value is clear and where people’s eye goes every nearly at the beginning, even if they read this first. That’s what I think you need to do in order to increase the number of sign ups, essentially.

And then your best pages, that is the pages where people come the most, I would do that… well, let’s just pretend this is one of them. I would do that right here then. I would do that like a feature box above the title. You don’t have to do it everywhere. You don’t have to do it on every post. But those posts that get your highest content or your highest traffic, I would put that at the very top as well as the very bottom.

And if you look on the DIY Themes blog and they talk about optimizing and look at their articles about optimizing your most important pages, I think you’ll get some good suggestions on that. I think they’ve got some other good ideas about how to identify your most important pages and then how to optimize them for conversions.

Deborah: Okay.

Rick: So I guess that’s mostly what I have to say. You know, we have discovered painfully that small changes make a big difference. You know, we made some small changes on your site here back in October that killed sales. And when we switched the site over to this style, sales picked right back up again. No change in price. Nothing other than simplifying our message and simplifying the content on the site or essentially the sales pages, the landing pages. That completely changed our sales in mid-November. And it’s just those kinds of changes. So we’ve learned… we have a first-hand sense of what happens when you make changes that… it seems like it’s adding good information for people or adding good options. But in fact, what it really turned out to be was decreasing the simplicity of the call to action, decreasing the simplicity of the message and then you know, essentially giving people a reason to just bookmark it and move on. And once they do that, the chances are, they’re not coming back to you. So those are my thoughts on this.

Deborah: Okay, alright. I appreciate it.

Rick: Okay and I’d love to you know, continue the conversation with you as you work on this kind of stuff. And if you disagree with stuff I’ve said, I’d love to hear why because this is the sort of thing everybody’s trying to figure this out. Everybody’s trying to figure out what makes the most sense in order to accomplish what I want to accomplish on my site. So it’s interesting to watch you do it.

Deborah: The putting the feature box above individual posts, I mean, I guess that’s a custom functions.

Rick: Yeah you know, you could use my Shortcode Contents Widget. That’s what I would do. I use the Shortcode Contents Widget plugin and then use a… you’re essentially creating a sidebar inside of the post where you put the call to action code. Say you create a shortcode that’s going to be your call to action. You drag a text widget in and it has the stuff styled into that. And then you just drop that shortcode into the blog posts that you want it on.

Deborah: Okay now is that going to appear above the title or…

Rick: Actually you know, you’re right. That would not appear the title, no.

Deborah: Okay. But at least, it would be close enough at the top where it would be.

Rick: Sure. In that case, I would put it down in here someplace.

Deborah: I mean what about substituting… this is a completely random thought… substituting a graphic on those particular pages that if they click you know, a call to action graphic instead of the photograph? Because in some cases, the photograph is completely superfluous. It’s just to add some visual interest to the page.

Rick: Yeah.

Deborah: Something that would take them to a sales page about the email list.

Rick: Well, I think having a sales page about the email list is not necessarily a bad idea. But there’s no getting away from the value of them entering that information here and not making them click away.

Deborah: Yeah well because even in the content slider, I’m not really going to have a way for them to add anything directly there.

Rick: But you could toss the content slider in exchange for something else, can you? Or is the content slider actually built in to this header?

Deborah: It is. It’s built in to that skin, yeah.

Rick: Well, I’d rethink that then. You know, I’d rethink using this. Yeah you know, I don’t… I mean, I think content sliders have benefits for people and some context. But they are deliberately trying to get you to go someplace else. That’s what they’re there for. And if your main purpose is… if the main thing you want people to do is sign up for your email list then you should remove everything, you should simplify the page down to the point where that is clearly the most prominent element on the page and that people clearly want to take that action.

Deborah: What I’ve got envisioned of that content slider in fairly short order is for each of those boxes to be a call to action to a particular e-course and or the main email list itself so that everything that they click on there is a sign up to something.

Rick: Yeah and so now it’s not a landing page. Now it’s a catalog page and what you’re doing is cycling through products, essentially. Even if one product is a free product, you’re still cycling through products. And that’s not a bad concept but it does work against what I asked you in the first place which is what’s the most important thing you want people to do here? You know, if the most important thing you want people to do is browse around your site and look at your product offerings then the content slide is probably a good idea. For the most important part of your site is… or if the most important thing you want people to do is sign up for your email list then you don’t want this content slider competing with that.

Deborah: Well, in each case though, anything that they… any of those products is an email list of some sort.

Rick: Yeah, I’m talking about right now. If you have 4 actions that you want people to do and they can pick any one of those 4, you don’t really care then you know, having a content slider like that is probably not bad.

Deborah: Yeah because in every case, I’m going to have their email and be able to contact them again.

Rick: Yeah well that’s why you really have to sort of narrow down what you want people to do and what your expectation is. Because if your expectation is to get more people to sign up for your weekly updates… and maybe that’s all you want to do. Maybe all you want to do is increase the number of people who sign up. Well, if all you want to do is increase the number of people you sign up, it needs to become more prominent on the page and you need to give them a value for signing up.

Deborah: Okay, alright. Well, I appreciate your help.

Rick: Okay. I look forward to talking to you about it more in the future.

Deborah: Okay.

Rick: Okay, talk to you later.

Deborah: Thanks.

Rick: Bye bye.

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