Tag Archives: Conversion Marketing

15 Resources to Help You Use a Repeatable Process for Conversion Rate Optimization

If only marketing were more like tires.

I recently discovered that the tires on my Nissan LEAF were recalled, not the specific tires on my car, just that tire model. And it turns out, only the tires manufactured between February 5th and February 18th in a specific plant of that model were included in the recall.

That is impressive. In general, tires are manufactured with such repeatable high quality, that defects can be pinpointed to just a 13-day span among years and years of tire production.

Marketing is not nearly as consistent.

One way to improve the consistency of your marketing is with a repeatable methodology. And if you’re a repeat reader of MarketingExperiments, I’m sure you’re familiar with the MECLABS Institute Conversion Sequence heuristic which can bring structure, clarity and a repeatable framework to any marketing conversion goal you have (MECLABS is the parent research organization of MarketingExperiments).

This is more than just a tool you can use on landing pages. In fact, people around MECLABS have discussed using it to get their children to eat healthy. I’ve used it on college recruiting trips to help students understand elements to consider when choosing a first job.

Since its introduction more than a decade ago, we’ve written and talked about the heuristic a lot on MarketingExperiments. But others have as well. So let’s take a look at some advice from around the web suggesting ways to increase conversion — whatever your conversion goal may be — with this repeatable methodology:

How to create winning ad copy using a scientific approach by Microsoft’s Pruna Virij on Search Engine Watch

“The folks at MECLABS came up with a conversion formula that can be a framework for ad copy creation.”

Six ways to improve value and trust for your brand’s website by Tamar Weinberg on ClickZ

“Having a quality value proposition is vital for a website. Researchers at MarketingExperiments concluded that value proposition is key to your conversion rate. Using its ‘conversion heuristic,’ they found that value proposition was second in importance, just behind a consumer’s motivation when visiting your website.”

3 free AdWords testing tools to adopt today by AdHawk’s Todd Saunders on Search Engine Land

“Each text ad should convey enough information to your audience before you pay for a click. What information is ‘enough?’ Try out this formula from MECLABS Institute.”

5-Step Guide to Optimizing Landing Pages by Magdalena Georgieva on HubSpot

“While we keep advising marketers to test with their specific audiences, there are actually a few best practices you should take into consideration. In fact, the folks at MECLABS came up with a formula to create top-performing landing pages.”

6 Ways to Use Clarity to Improve Your Conversion Rate by Shanelle Mullin on ConversionXL

“Similarly, Marketing Experiments created this conversion formula, which puts a focus [on] clarity as well …”

Why You Need to Know Heuristics for Conversion Optimization by Jeremy Smith of Jeremy Said

“One of the most popular conversion optimization heuristics is an equation. MarketingExperiments calls it a sequence. You could call it a shortcut. It summarizes the main factors in the conversion process.”

Conversion Optimization Overview – Applying a Conversion Heuristic to SMB Marketing by Marketing 360

“The conversion heuristic developed by MECLABS Institute is interesting. By definition, a heuristic is a problem-solving approach which concedes that an optimal, logical, and certainly exact solution isn’t possible. Heuristics use guesstimates; measurements are often rule of thumb.”

Conversion Rate Optimization: Three Strategies by Nathan Hill of NextAfter

“This heuristic, created by MECLABS, assigns relative weight to the variables at play in the conversion decision.”

How conversion heuristics apply to email marketing content by Shireen Qudosi of Benchmark Email

“The best way to understand the formula though isn’t by the ‘C’ for conversion — it’s at the opposite end; 2a is where the formula starts and the ‘a’ stands for anxiety.”

Real Estate Lead Generation by Travis Thom

“We used this formula to create our newest line of high converting Real Estate single property sites.”

An Introduction to Referral Marketing Landing Page Optimization by Jeff Epstein of Ambassador Software

“Each landing page should be targeted to a specific segment of your customer base, meaning there’s no exact science to a perfect landing page optimization. But our statistician friends over at MECLABS have come pretty close. They’ve developed a formula for creating an optimized landing page for any marketing campaign.”

Anatomy of a Conversion Optimization Formula by Diego Praderi of Tavano Team

“If you’re not a mathematician, don’t freak out, as this is not a problem you solve in the traditional sense. It’s a heuristic problem, meaning it’s a more concrete way to look at an abstract concept, such as the way we make decisions.”

Landing Page Optimization Conversion Index by Kim Mateus on Mequoda

“As with all marketing functions, landing page optimization is a constant work in progress. We don’t learn until we test and test again and sometimes it’s useful to have a mathematical formula assisting an otherwise creative process.”

A “formula” for landing page optimization by Dave Chaffey on Smart Insights

“To think through the fundamentals of what makes a successful landing page I think this formula developed by Flint McGlaughlin and team at Marketing Experiments is great. We use it in the latest update to our Guide to Landing Page Optimisation to set the scene.  We really like the way it simplifies the whole interplay between what the landing page needs to achieve for the business and what the visitor is seeking.”

Optimizing Landing Pages to Match Customer Motivation by Linda Bustos on GetElastic

“Today I want to look at motivation from a different angle. I want you to choose a landing page that is top priority for you to optimize. For example, your most profitable product with the highest abandonment rate. I want to get you thinking about which customer motivations are most likely to match your business, your products, your typical customer and your landing page presentation.”

Related Resources

And of course, we’ve written about the Conversion Sequence heuristic as well …

Marketing Management: Can you create a marketing factory?

Mobile Ad Campaign Optimization: 6 tactics from a high-performing marketer to increase conversion

How to Consistently Increase Conversion

Heuristic Cheat Sheet: 10 methods for improving your marketing

And we even have an entire course that teaches the Conversion Sequence heuristic …

Landing Page Optimization on-demand certification course

The post 15 Resources to Help You Use a Repeatable Process for Conversion Rate Optimization appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

Use this Research-backed Landing Page Template for Your Next Offer Page

After running thousands of a/b tests across hundreds of different companies in our research services program, we’ve seen significant patterns emerge. These patterns have led to some helpful tools like our conversion heuristic and our design of experiments planning method.

But they have also led to several page templates we use regularly to achieve wins inside of companies in every industry and of every business model.

Landing Page Template

One page that is generally consistent in almost any business is the main offer page for a product or service. This “landing page,” as it is often called, accounts for the main idea behind the offer.

After thousands of a/b tests, we’ve meticulously put together a template that draws from a meta-analysis of these tests. We examined the patterns common among most landing page tests we’ve run that have achieved a business result. What we found was a series of common denominators that we then integrated into our offer page template.

We’ve also added explanations into the template on how to conform it to meet your own marketing needs. For example:

Headline and Sub-Headline

An online interaction with a prospect is like a conversation with a potential love interest. You hopefully do not begin the conversation with, “I am available for dates. Here is my number. Call me.” That is too vague and offers no reason to actually call — also it is rude.

You need a pick-up line that clearly communicates your value proposition and a sub-headline that further delineates that value proposition and how this page helps the prospect obtain that value.


If your page is going to include an image, which is worth a test, the image must be instantly recognizable and reinforce the value proposition raised in the headline and sub-headline.

It must not tax the prospect’s mental faculties trying to make sense of the image. You do not want to slow down their cognitive momentum.

Primary Information Column

This is where your main body copy goes, including some easy-to-scan bullet points. You want the reader to be able to skim through this copy and pick out the main details they need to come to an informed purchase decision.

It is one column because multiple columns of vital information disperse attention and confuse. One column creates simplicity and velocity toward the call-to-action.

One Emphasized Call-to-Action

The call-to-action should emphasize in the actual wording the value proposition of the offer. In other words, “Get Instant Access Now” is preferable to “Click Here.”

There should not be multiple equally weighted calls-to-action because this forces the prospect to weigh the options, which decreases momentum and often stalls purchase intent.

Supporting Content

The primary information column will not suffice for some prospects. They will want more information before coming to a decision.

For these prospects, you can include additional information below the call-to-action. Supporting content can also include elements like testimonials, trust logos and additional copy and images.

Also, if you would like to get the other funnel-specific page templates we’ve put together along with a few case studies and explanation for how we conducted our research, you can download the complete PDF here.

The templates also include the following:

  • The case studies these templates draw upon
  • A walk-through of each template explaining how to use every element
  • An overview of the methodology behind each template so you can iterate and make them fit your own marketing needs

landing page templates

Please let us know in the comments if you find it helpful or if you see any way to improve it.

You might also like …

Landing Page Optimization on-demand certification course

Landing Page Optimization: Simple, short form increases leads 40%

Landing Page Optimization: Free worksheet to help you balance segmentation and resources



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CRO Cheat Sheet: Customer thinking guide for conversion rate optimization

All conversion optimization begins with the customer. Why are some customers leaving your website? Why are others buying? Why are they coming to your website in the first place?

A repeatable methodology to help you focus on the customer is the MECLABS Institute Conversion Index heuristic. Longtime readers of MarketingExperiments are already familiar with the Conversion Index.

But today we’re releasing a new tool to help you get the most value from it – a two-page PDF you can print out and hang in your office. It’s a simple guide for how to use the Conversion Index, with a deeper focus on the most powerful element — motivation. Use it to give you ideas for implementing the Conversion Index in your long-term strategy as well as your day-to-day marketing.

Here is an instant download of the free PDF. Read below for a deeper explanation to help you put this information into action.


Click Here to Download Your FREE CRO Cheat Sheet Instantly

(no form to fill out, just click to get your instant download)


Make sure to think about motivation

The Conversion Index is C=4m+3v+2(i-f)-2a. Here is the Conversion Index in a more graphically appealing form:

The “m” stands for “motivation of the user/customer.” It has the highest coefficient — 4 — because motivation has the highest impact on the probability of conversion. Simply put, the better you can tap into a customer’s motivation with your conversion rate optimization, the more likely you are to increase the conversion rate.

Here are some questions to ask to help you optimize for customer motivation:

Who are you optimizing for? You should seek to create a model of your customer’s mind. The more you focus on the customer (versus your product, company, offer, etc.) the more successful you will be. A CEO will need a different landing page than a junior employee. A millennial has different wants and needs than a senior citizen. A risk-averse or cost-conscious buyer will make different decisions than a reward-seeking or risk-taking buyer even when presented with the same information.

Where is your customer in the though sequence? Is this the first time they are interacting with your brand? Or have they had a long relationship with your brand and are ready to buy? Understanding where your customers are in their thought sequence when they get to your landing page — and as they make their way through your landing page — can affect everything on your landing page from the headline to the call-to-action.

Where is the traffic coming from? MarketingSherpa research has shown that organic search has the highest conversion rate, likely because customers are actively looking for something specific when coming from that source. Understanding where your traffic is coming from is another way to understand where they are in the thought sequence. This knowledge can help you provide relevant information to serve their needs and, ultimately, increase conversion.

What conclusions do they need to make? Every product, service, and conversion action has a prospect conclusion funnel. Whether you have mapped it out in detail or not, there are a set of conclusions your customers need to reach before taking any action.

What is the level of urgency? Adding urgency can increase conversion rates. But only if it taps into the customer’s natural motivation. Understand where they might have urgency around the conversion action and use that to optimize your messaging.

What are key pain points and values? What values can you tap into? What pain can your solution help customers overcome? This is key information to ensure your landing page copy and design squarely ties into customer motivations. MarketingSherpa discovered that 23% of marketers consider key pain point an important lead generation form field. This information helps them better meet their prospects’ needs.

What characteristics of your prospect (do you know)? Many marketers tend to focus on demographics and firmographics. But you can’t use that information in a vacuum. For example, you can use prospect characteristics to determine who your best customers will be and treat those prospects different from other prospects.

Once you have the above information, here are some activities to help better understand customers’ motivations and put that understanding into action with your marketing.

Empathize with the customer – Change the way you look at your prospect. They are not simply a target or a lead. Prospects are people just like you. It might seem silly to read that last sentence. Of course, prospects are people. But when we’re relying on databases and technology and driving so hard to meet our goals, it can be easy to overlook the need to empathize with potential customers.

Find someone in that customer type – When you try to create something for the many, it can water down its power. Try to find someone specific in the customer type and write directly to that person. That will help hone your copy. And if possible, talk to them. Get on a call. Meet in person. Try to understand them better. It’s all too easy to assume other people are like us, but they’re not. We are often not the customer, and our goals, fears, vocabulary, patience, drivers and many other characteristics can be very different from the ideal customer type for that product.

Role play with a group – This is a frequent tactic used in everything from boxing to debates to football. Assign roles based on the motivations you’ve discovered about the customer and see how they react to different messaging and offers.

Use personas from Market Intelligence – After analyzing the market, create personas that represent customer motivations. This is a popular marketing tactic. Some marketers like to create specific names for different personas or tie their personas to celebrity examples. Other marketers create personas around different industries or interests. However you create personas, the same general principle applies — writing to a specific customer/customer type will help hone your copy to their motivations.

Now that you have a firm understanding of your customers’ motivations, conduct an analysis of your current and soon-to-launch marketing. Identify gaps between the landing page (and other marketing communications) and the customer’s motivation. These are your opportunities for conversion rate optimization.

Always start with the Conversion Index … but which element?

While motivation is the most impactful element that affects conversion, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily start your CRO right out of the gate by trying to optimize for motivation. There is lower-hanging fruit.

Start with friction and anxiety first, because they are the easiest to see if you put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What can you remove, add or change to reduce these negative elements that hinder conversion?

When you’ve removed and/or changed page elements to fully minimize friction and eliminate anxiety, then you move on to value proposition (and incentive) second. What can you add, remove or change to optimize these positive elements that help increase the probability of conversion? Here is a simple worksheet you can fill in to keep track of the CRO changes you would like to make.

“If you ignore motivation, it is like you are multiplying by 0 — you are undermining all your other CRO work. If you simply understand and know motivation, it is like you are multiplying by 1 — you aren’t hurting your other CRO work, but you aren’t really helping either.” — Daniel Burstein

Third, leveraging your knowledge of and maximizing for visitor motivation can multiply your business results. This is one reason understanding motivation can be so powerful. You are essentially multiplying with motivation.

“If you ignore motivation, it is like you are multiplying by 0 — you are undermining all your other CRO work. If you simply understand and know motivation, it is like you are multiplying by 1 — you aren’t hurting your other CRO work, but you aren’t really helping either.”

But if you leverage and maximize what you’ve discovered about customer motivation using the previously discussed tactics, it is like you are doubling the impact of all your previous CRO work. Then, you are creating a fluid customer experience that provides value specifically for the reasons your customers want to buy. Not your reasons, but their reasons.If you ignore motivation, it is like you are multiplying by 0 — you are undermining all your other CRO work. If you simply understand and know motivation, it is like you are multiplying by 1 — you aren’t hurting your other CRO work, but you aren’t really helping either.

And that is the most powerful marketing — serving your customers’ motivations.


Click Here to Download Your FREE CRO Cheat Sheet Instantly

(no form to fill out, just click to get your instant download)


Related resources

MECLABS Institute Research Services – Get better business results from deeper customer understanding

Customer Service Can Be a Treasure Trove of Ideas For CRO

Most Popular MarketingExperiments Articles of 2018

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Most Popular MarketingExperiments Articles of 2018

Let’s get right into it. Here are your marketing peers’ favorite articles from 2018 …

Heuristic Cheat Sheet: 10 methods for improving your marketing

Marketing — far more so than other business disciplines — seems to be driven by gut. Or the individual star performer.

Marketing embraces a far less methodological approach than say accounting or manufacturing.

In this article, we provide a quick look at heuristics (aka methodology-based thought tools) created by MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingExperiments) to help marketing teams consistently deliver at a high level.

In this article, you’ll find heuristics to help you increase conversion, create effective email messaging, launch projects in the most effective order and more.



Conversion Lifts in 10 Words or Less: Real-world experiments where minor copy changes produced major conversion lifts

Sometimes it can seem like a massive lift to really move the needle. A new technology implementation. Investing in a vast campaign to drive more interest.

But marketing, at its core, is communication. Get that right and you can drive a significant difference in your marketing results.

This 13-minute video examines five experiments where small copywriting changes had a large impact



Mental Cost: Your customers pay more than just money

The monetary price of a product isn’t the only cost for customers. Understanding (and optimizing for) non-monetary costs can lead to significant conversion gains

What costs are you inadvertently thrusting on your customers? And how can you reduce them?



Not all of the most impactful articles from 2018 were published this year. Here are some evergreen topics that were especially popular with your peers …

A/B Testing: Example of a good hypothesis

Hypotheses should be an evergreen topic for marketers engaged in A/B testing. If you’re unfamiliar with hypotheses-based testing, this article offers a simple process to start shaping your thinking.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle advises in his blog article 41 Detailed A/B Testing Strategies to Skyrocket Your Testing Skills, “A trick to formulate a good hypothesis is to follow MarketingExperiment’s formula.”

Read this article to learn what a hypothesis is, and a simple method for formulating a good hypothesis.


(Editor’s Note: Our hypothesis methodology has advanced further since this article was published in 2013. You can find a more advanced explanation of hypothesis methodology in The Hypothesis and the Modern-Day Marketer as well as a discussion of hypothesis-driven testing in action in Don’t Test Marketing Ideas, Test Customer Hypotheses.)


Interpreting Results: Absolute difference versus relative difference

“NASA lost its $125-million Mars Climate Orbiter because spacecraft engineers failed to convert from English to metric measurements when exchanging vital data before the craft was launched,” Robert Lee Holtz reported in the Los Angeles Times.

Numbers are crucial for A/B Testing and CRO as well. So make sure you understand the vital distinction between absolute difference and relative difference. Much like English and metric measurements, they measure the same thing but in a different way.

I have interviewed marketers before who bragged about a 3% conversion increase from a test, and I mentioned that while I was happy for them, it didn’t seem huge. Only then did they explain that their company’s conversion rate had been 2% and they increased it to 5%.

While that’s a 3% actual difference, it’s a 150% relative difference. The relative difference communicates the true impact of the test, and every business leader who learns of it will better understand the impact when the 150% number is used instead of the 3% number.



6 Good (and 2 Bad) B2B and B2C Value Proposition Examples

What does a good value proposition look like? It’s a question we get asked often, and the article that answers that question was popular among marketers.

Check out these B2B and B2C examples. We included some bad examples for balance as well.



Customer Value: The 4 essential levels of value propositions

Some marketers think that the only value proposition that matters is the overall unique value proposition for the company. This can be disheartening because it is difficult for the average marketer to have a significant impact on that value prop (especially in a very large company).

In this article, we explore different levels of value proposition, including ones that even the more junior marketer impacts on an almost daily basis. At work, and even in life.



Related Resources

Here is some more content that was popular with the MarketingExperiments audience this year …

Conversion Marketing Methodology

Powerful Value Propositions: How to optimize this critical marketing element – and lift your results

Research Archive

The post Most Popular MarketingExperiments Articles of 2018 appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

Low-Hanging Fruit for the Holiday Season: Four simple marketing changes with significant impact

Testing and optimization can be difficult — from the challenges of deciding what to test amidst a dizzying array of priorities and ideas, to the time-intensive manual labor of implementing sophisticated back-end changes. With the year coming to a close and big marketing plans in the making, it’s important before making big changes and commitments to be sure that you have the right foundation to maximize the return from your grander strategy. That’s why we created this list of simple changes that can produce significant results and set your marketing strategy for the next stage on the right foundation.

20+ years and over 20,000+ sales paths have taught us that one of the foundational principles in which all marketing should be grounded is that marketers must always be at war with the temptation to prioritize company logic over customer logic. Over time, we grow so familiar with our product, our process, our brand and our own objective that we risk severe and expensive assumptions about what the customer wants and needs to know to make a purchase decision.

The goal of optimization is not to make changes to a page — but to make changes in the mind of the customer. Changing even a few words can alter the conclusion formed by the customer depending upon their levels of motivation and expectation. This means that even minor changes to our message can produce radical lifts in performance, as we have seen in thousands of experiments time and time again. So here are some simple, easy-to-implement ways you can shift from communicating company logic to customer logic and optimize the thought-sequence of your offer:

  1. Headlines — From hype to conversation

“Headlines are first impressions, pick-up lines. Use buzz/power-words, use numbers, make it value-first, make a promise, etc.,” are all ideas espoused often by some successful marketers. While some of these might be good ideas of how you could write a headline, they often leave us asking, “Why should I use this tactic over another?” When and how we deploy our tactics is determined by our objective, and all communication should be grounded in an understanding of your audience and a rationale for why.

Any idea might be considered a good or bad one until you have a purpose against which to evaluate it. Years of incrementally testing and refining research questions have demonstrated that a headline has at least two fundamental, primary purposes: 1) To capture attention, and then 2) convert it to interest. There are dozens of ways an effective headline could be crafted, but ultimately, it should be measured by how much attention it captures (from the right people) and how effectively that converts to a committed interest

  1. Copy — From marketer-value to customer-value

While variables like long copy versus short copy, or hero imagery, or ideal eye-path structure and prioritization of value are questions which can only be truly answered through testing and understanding, one universal mistake often made is failing to translate generalized claims and specific features about our product or service into clear benefits to the consumer. The customer is never simply choosing which product to buy, but also which product from who, how and when. It is critical to understand that your offer and the consequent micro-decisions required of the customer are always perceived in the context of their competing alternatives.

A simple but fun and effective question that MECLABS founder Flint McGlaughlin says should be applied to every marketing claim is, “So what?” That is to say, the customer is always asking, and we must always be answering the question: Why should I do what you want me to do rather than anything else right now?

“So what that you’re an industry leader?”

“So what that your product has these specifications?”

“So what that you offer a personalized solution, customer-service or integrated functionality”

On any given website, customers often expect to find words like “most,” “best,” “fastest,” “trusted,” “leader,” “all” and “customer-first.” Qualifying claims like this carry no measurable weight and, ironically, set a precedent of distrust unless somehow validated. Customers want to believe you, so you must give them reasons by clarifying your qualifying claims with measurable evidence. Quantify and specify wherever possible and appropriate so that your customers have no need to question the credibility of your claims, and they will trust you when you make others.

  1. Images — From irrelevant art to relevant messaging

Images are not only highly valuable real-estate but one of the marketer’s most effective tools for guiding the eye path. Yet so often, images are chosen based on personal opinion, the design department’s decision, how it looks and feels on the page, or its color scheme, cleverness, or worse, simply because it’s supposed to be there. Images, like each and every element in your marketing funnel, are part of and should contribute to the overall value proposition of your organization/solution.

When used properly, images are not merely decorative accents to liven a webpage’s personality; they should illustrate or support the core marketing message, and therefore be measured primarily by relevance and clarity. Ultimately, your core message (your value proposition) should be supported 1) Continuously, and 2) Congruently.

Continuity – The Continuity principle posits that your value proposition should be stated or supported continuously throughout each step of your sales process.

Congruence – The Congruence Principle posits that each element of your page or collateral should either state or support your value proposition (this is particularly relevant for imagery).

  1. Objectives — From multiple options to the primary focus

“What is the goal of this page or email?” A question we’ve asked countless times when working with marketers and organizations, and we’ve found surprisingly often that either the goal of the page is unclear or attempting to fulfill numerous goals other than its primary purpose. Since ideally each element of your page should move the target customer toward the “macro-yes” — conversion. Each distraction we place in the customers’ path risks leading them into tangential and unsupervised thinking rather than a controlled thought-sequence toward the objective.

The objective of the page is the benchmark against which we measure the relevance and efficacy of all the supporting elements. Avoiding things like evenly weighted calls-to-action, distracting images, competing ads and irrelevant page elements streamlines the customers’ path toward the objective. Clearly defining the action you want the customer to take and stripping away unnecessary elements to organize around the objective can be powerfully impactful in the psychology of the consumer.

Together, each one these subtle shifts in communication can produce outstanding lifts when executed well and set your messaging on the right foundation. We hope that you’ll find the same amazing results from becoming more customer-oriented that we have seen from testing these core principles time and time again.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays from MarketingExperiments!

Related Resources

Design Hypotheses that Win: A 4-Step Framework for Gaining Customer Wisdom and Generating Significant Results (register for the free A/B Testing Summit online conference and hear Flint McGlaughlin’s keynote session)

Ecommerce: 6 takeaways from a 42-day analysis of major retailers’ holiday marketing

Email Marketing: Last-minute holiday deals preview wins with customer-centric approach

Increase Mobile Conversion Rates (free micro course from MECLABS Institute)

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Conversion Lifts in 10 Words or Less

What if 5 minutes of work could produce a revolution in your conversion results?

It’s more than possible, but it’s also true that nothing’s ever easy. To know which few words to change takes a comprehensive methodology that accounts for the complexity of the customer’s mind.

In this video from our parent research organization, MECLABS Institute, Flint McGlaughlin walks through five experiments from our library of more than 2.5K where the least amount of changes produced the highest conversion wins.

Related Resources:

Lead your team to breakthrough results with a model of your customer’s mind: Get 25 years of research distilled into 21 essential concepts and tools at MECLABS.com/Services

Copywriting: 5 common headline errors
Research-based Lead Gen Swipe File
Test Planning Scenario Tool
How Aetna’s HealthSpire startup generated 638% more leads for its call center

The post Conversion Lifts in 10 Words or Less appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken?

Would you buy an Apple iChicken? Our CEO, Flint McGlaughlin, often jokes that “If Apple released an iChicken, people would be lined up and down the streets to buy it.”

But why?

At some point or another, we’ve all bought a product because of the brand name. But why do we prefer name brand cereal over the store brand? Why are Yeezys so much cooler than the $20 knock-offs on Amazon? Most of the time, it’s because we expect a certain kind of experience from the brands we trust. Cute logos and catchy slogans cannot build a brand powerful enough to sell the world an iChicken. The only way to build an effective brand is to earn your customers’ trust.

Trust, however, is not a static element; it is constantly changing. Every interaction with your value proposition impacts your customers’ trust, and in turn, your brand. Consider, for instance, what might happen after people bought the iChicken. Assuming the metaphorical product is as useless as it sounds, customers’ expectations of Apple would likely be damaged. Next time a new product is released, customers might think twice before jumping in line. Apple may have spent years building trust, but if a brand fails to meet their customers’ expectations, that trust is diminished.

Thus, this raises a more important question for the marketer: How do you build a brand that could sell an iChicken?

The most successful companies in the world do not rely on a brand promise, they cultivate a brand expectation. In order to build a trustworthy brand, marketers must use inference as a tool with which to create an expectation in the mind of the customer, and then deliver on it consistently. But people are not simple, and likewise, this process of earning their trust is not simple.

The Trust Trial

When engaging in a decision-making process, customers begin a subconscious cycle in the mind called “The Trust Trial.” This trial goes through five repeating phases: Customers must (1) observe your offer, in order to form a (2) conclusion about that offer within the context of their own needs, leading them to (3) decide what action they will take. This decision is then paired with an (4) expectation of your offer, which is ultimately calibrated by the (5) experience. Once a customer has experienced your offer, the trust trial restarts.

Let’s take a closer look …

#1. Observation

While it may seem obvious, observation is a complex and important phase for your customers. Customers are not simply looking at your offer, they are searching for your value proposition — a reason to invest interest. Every piece of data presented to your customer must lead them to infer the value of your offer. Marketing cannot make claims, it must foster conclusions. We often focus so much on achieving a conversion, that we forget the many other things our customers are focused on. When a customer is in the observation phase of The Trust Trial, the marketer must present the right data, at the right time, in the right order, within the customer’s thought-sequence, to guide them toward the desired conclusions.

#2. Conclusion

A customer’s conclusions are inferred by the data that has been made available to them. It depends entirely on the marketer to encode their message in a way that the customer comes to two ultimate conclusions: The product can, and the company will. These two conclusions are happening in a sort of micro trust trial throughout the cycle of trust trials. The marketer has value that needs to be perceived and a truth that needs to be believed. Trust is contingent upon the marketer’s ability to foster these necessary conclusions. But the marketer must remember that the conclusion is tentative; it only locks when you experience it. And it must be consistently reinforced.

#3. Decision

The decision phase is more than just the final decision to purchase. While the final decision may be the most important for your bottom line, there are many micro-decisions customers must make first. Customers must decide whether to read past your headline, to click on “learn more,” to fill out a form, etc. If the marketer fails to carefully guide their customer through each of these micro-decisions, then they won’t even make it to the final decision. Using the power of inference, the marketer must leverage the observation and conclusion phases to reinforce, not only the company’s value proposition, but the particular product’s value proposition as well.

#4. Expectation

All of marketing serves to create an expectation in the mind of the customer. Many companies talk about their “brand-promise,” but most customers don’t even know what a brand-promise is. And if it doesn’t exist in the mind of the customer, then it really doesn’t exist at all. Companies should not be focused on creating a brand-promise, but rather on developing a brand-expectation through the consistent experience of the value proposition. Every interaction with your brand develops an expectation in the mind of the customer about what they are going to experience. Whether or not this expectation is met determines the strength of your brand.

#5 Experience

Ultimately, brand is the aggregate experience of the value proposition. Each experience, from the first to the last, compounds to either build or diminish trust. Sometimes, the longer you know someone, the more you trust them. And sometimes, it goes the other way … Consider, for instance, a president who wants to be re-elected. They spend months campaigning, making promises and creating an expectation of how they plan to run the country. Then, after being elected, they fail to keep those promises. Four years later and it’s time for the next election, but the country no longer trusts this president. The experience did not meet the expectation that was created for them. Now, what do you think the chances of that re-election would be? Every experience begins a new trust trial in the mind of the customer and determines the probability of a future engagement. While you can gain your customers’ confidence in the inference process, it is ultimately the experience that calibrates trust — and trust which drives the power of your brand.

An Experiment

We put this concept to the test in an experiment conducted by MECLABS Institute, the parent research organization of MarketingExperiments, with an organization that sells language learning products for people who want to learn a language fast. The group asked MECLABS to run a test with the goal of isolating the variable(s) leading to high order cancellations and fewer people choosing to keep their product.

When analyzing the original page, the team found a small disclaimer hidden beneath all their marketing copy. Their 30-day free trial wasn’t actually so free; for each course you keep during your trial, the company bills you four monthly payments of $64 dollars. The team hypothesized that customers may be missing this disclaimer until it shows up on their bill, leading them to doubt the company’s honesty. If the information was presented earlier in the funnel, customers may be less likely to convert — but the goal of a test is not to get a lift, but to get a learning. So, the team designed a treatment in which the disclaimer was communicated more clearly and emphasized earlier on the landing page. As expected, the results showed a 78.6% decrease in conversions.

While this result didn’t make the company more money, it revealed how their offer may have been misleading their customers. Marketers often tend to prioritize a conversion over the customer relationship, but this mistake can have long-term impacts on a business. You may be able to fool someone with your marketing once, but if you fail to deliver on your promises, you will fail your customers’ trust trial and lose their loyalty — which is worth far more over time than one conversion.

What does this mean for marketers?

The Trust Trial is not a marketing technique; it is the essence of building genuine relationships. Often, marketers forget the human-ness of our customers. We forget that trust is the currency of any relationship. Whether deciding on a college, a spouse or even a cell phone, people must be able to trust they have made the best choice.

If we hope to create sustainable competitive advantage and a lasting brand, we cannot treat customers merely as “leads” and “opportunities” whose sole purpose is to increase our revenue. We must understand and care for each milestone of the customer’s experience of our value proposition. In the end, regardless of the size of your company, your brand depends on your customer relationship, and in order to sustain it, the marketer must earn their customers’ trust. And then earn it again and again.

Related resources

The Prospect’s Perception Gap: How to bridge the gap between the results we want and the results we have

Customer-First Science: A conversation with Wharton about using marketing experimentation to discover why people say yes

Value Proposition: In which we examine a value prop fail and show you how to fix it

The post The Trust Trial: Could you sell an iChicken? appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

Marketing Multiple Products: How radical thinking about a multi-product offer led to a 70% increase in conversion

The following research was first published in the MECLABS Quarterly Research Digest, July 2014.

Many companies — large or small, B2C or B2B, ecommerce or subscription — have more than one product. If you fall into this category, you face a common challenge: finding the best way to market multiple products. You could take a couple of approaches:

  • Pack your pages with as many products as possible, hoping that the sheer numbers will pump up conversions
  • Slim down to the bare minimum, hoping to focus your prospects’ attention on just one product

Certainly, we can make experienced guesses based on intuition at the effectiveness of these approaches. But at the end of the day, that is not what MECLABS is about — nor you, we expect. We want hard numbers to guide our thinking, not intuition. This led us to an extremely interesting experiment and three key principles to observe when marketing multiple products.

Experiment: Which product presentation would increase revenue? 

This experiment, Test Protocol 1903 in the MECLABS Research Library, was conducted on behalf of our Research Partner, an independent manufacturer and distributor of vitamin supplements. Prospects only reached the page we tested after filling out a form and clicking a “Get My [Product] Now!” button. When reaching the page, the question prospects had to answer was not, “Do I want to buy this product?” It was more of, “Which version of this product do I want to purchase?”

The control page features a standard list format with radio buttons. The “Best Value” option, which is also the most expensive, is pre-checked. The treatment page uses a horizontal matrix that generated lifts in other tests.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.2

The extensive form beneath the matrix auto-populates, so only the payment information also required on the control page needs to be entered.

Figure 1.3

Figure 1.4

Figure 1.5

Did we see a similar lift in this case? No, the control page outperformed the treatment by 70% in terms of revenue, while conversion changes were insignificant. 

Now the ultimate question: Why? A little digging on our part revealed three key principles.

Keys to Marketing Multiple Products

Key Principle #1. People do not buy from product pages; people buy from people. The art of marketing is not conversion; it is conversation.

We’ve covered this idea in many MECLABS Web clinics. The focus of our efforts as marketers cannot be on creating better pages; it must be on creating clearer, more guided conversations.

You want to have a conversation with the customer that allows them to understand the value that is built into the page. The page should be rooted in that value but presented in a thought sequence prospects will understand. By doing so, we’re able to guide them to the action we wish them to take.   

Key Principle#2. The goal of a product page is not simply to give prospects more options or products, but to lead them to the “one” option that is most relevant, important and urgent to them.

More options on a single page does not equate to more conversions. We create more conversions by guiding prospects to the best option for them. We do that through the conversations we build on our pages.

Presenting a dozen variations of the same product can be confusing for prospects, especially if there is no product-level value proposition. They may have questions like: Do I want any version of this product? If so, what’s the difference between them all? Which one is right for me?

All this confusion could lead the prospect to leave the page and, ultimately, your website.

We can decrease this confusion and friction by guiding them to the product that best suits them. We’ll learn how to effectively do that through the objectives provided in the next key principle.

Key Principle #3. Therefore, the marketer must use three key objectives when selling multiple products: eliminate, emphasize and express.

Eliminate means to minimize the number of competing choices on your pages as much as possible. Emphasize involves using visual weight to sequence the presentation of products. Lastly, express entails ensuring the product-level value proposition is clearly communicated.

If you can achieve these three objectives, you will have created a conversation that guides a prospect’s thinking and leads them to the best product for them, rather than simply a webpage that presents them with options. In the balance of this article, we will look at how to do this.

Objective #1. Eliminate competing choices

Many times, we unintentionally create too many equally weighted options on a product page. What does this mean? Look at the page depicted in Figure 2.1. On this page, three options make up the sidebar. The marketers hypothesized that they could achieve a lift in conversion by removing the equally weighted choices and simply placing those options in a drop-down box for the user to choose from, as shown in Figure 2.2.

Did it work? Yes, to the tune of a 24% increase in revenue.

Figure 2.1

Figure 2.2

 Indeed, by eliminating unnecessary choices, you can increase conversion. However, there is a caveat. It is possible to eliminate too much. In Figure 2.3, you see a page with three size options for a product. We hypothesized that we could increase conversion by simplifying things and just focusing on the most popular size of the product (while eliminating the extra options). That is not how it worked out. Instead, the new page delivered a 35% decrease in conversion.

Figure 2.3

Figure 2.4

Testing new designs is the only way to find out whether you can produce a lift by eliminating competing options, but the research shows in most cases, you can.

To discover whether your pages are good candidates for elimination, ask yourself the following five questions:

  1. Are the products on my page the ones my customers want?
  2. Can I visually group my products so they appear as one?
  3. Can I eliminate one or more competing products?
  4. Can I segment my traffic in the channel so products are more personalized?
  5. Is there a gap in my product mix that indicates I have eliminated too much?

Objective #2. Emphasize desired choices

When multiple products or options are necessary, you want to be careful not to make them equally weighted. That can lead to “unsupervised thinking” on the part of the prospect. Rather, you want to guide them to the option that best suits them. In Figure 3.1, the webpage has five options that are equally weighted. There is no guidance. The treatment in Figure 3.2 trims the options down to three, but, more importantly, it also adds emphasis to the option on the right, steering prospects in that direction. The change resulted in a 66% increase in conversions.

Figure 3.1

If you are not handling emphasis well on your pages, consider the five elements below to get back on track. Of course, test the results.

  • Size: How large is the product on the page?
  • Shape: Does the shape of the product distinguish it from others?
  • Motion: Is there a tasteful way to emphasize the product with motion?
  • Color: Does the color of the product distinguish it from others?
  • Position: Is the product being emphasized in the main eye-path?

Objective #3. Express product values

Three levels form a value proposition: process level, product level and prospect level (Figure 4.1). When working with a page consisting of multiple products, it is absolutely critical that the product-level value proposition is crystal clear. That’s the one that explains why a specific product is the best choice in a specific situation. If the product-level value is unclear, prospects will not understand the difference between products or which product best meets their current needs.

Figure 3.2

Figure 4.1 – The Proposition Spectrum

In Figures 4.2 and 4.3, you see the control and treatment pages of a couple recent experiments. The control pages fail to clearly demonstrate the product-level value propositions of the products. The treatments take a more copy-heavy approach, allowing us to really flesh out the specific value propositions for each product. The result was a 61% increase in purchases for the first page and a 93% conversion lift for the second.


Figure 4.2

Figure 4.3

Experiment: How did our treatment meet the three objectives?

Let’s come full circle, back to the experiment that started it all. We wanted to understand why the control page outperformed the treatment that was based on other successful experimentation. Let’s look at how it meets the three objectives outlined previously.

Figure 5.1 and Figure 5.2


We did not eliminate any products from the control to the treatment, so that did not factor into this specific situation.


The control page visually emphasizes the most expensive “best value” version of the product by automatically checking the radio button of that choice. Our treatment, however, visually emphasizes the second “most popular” choice, as noted by the red boxes. This change guided more prospects toward choosing the less expensive option, which explains why conversion was roughly equivalent while revenue significantly decreased.


Finally, in the treatment, we added a small “cost per serving” feature to the products. This showed that the “most popular” option produced a $0.66 savings per serving over the cheapest option. However, the “best value” option only produced a $0.12 savings over the middle option.

Figure 5.3

Increasing Conversion on Multiple Product Pages

If you find yourself in the same boat as most marketers (i.e., having to market multiple products), remember these key principles:

First, people do not buy from product pages; people buy from people. The art of marketing is not conversion; it is conversation.

Second, we must understand that our goal is to guide prospects through the multiple products to the “one” option that is most relevant, important and urgent to them.

Third, the marketer must use three key objectives when selling multiple products: eliminate, emphasize and express.

Related Resources

See more experiments in the MECLABS Research Catalog: www.meclabs.com/catalog

See how another Research Partner tested radio buttons and dropdowns against one another

Explore the MarketingExperiments Research Directory to see past clinics

Learn more about product-level value propositions

Download a special report by MarketingExperiments on unsupervised thinking, “No Unsupervised Thinking: How to increase conversion by guiding your audience”


For permissions: research@meclabs.com

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Optimizing Web Forms: How one company generated 226% more leads from a complex web form (without significantly reducing fields)

The following research was first published in the MECLABS Quarterly Research Digest, July 2014.

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.

— Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Case of Identity

It is highly unlikely that Sir Arthur was contemplating website forms when making the above statement. However, the sentiment certainly translates to our digital world, and is spot on in the case of web forms. Web forms might not elevate your heart rate, but these mundane little segments of your website actually contain some of your best opportunities to increase conversion.

In marketing, “friction” is anything that slows down the mental momentum that is driving the customer toward a buying decision. Web forms are essentially the definition of friction. By nature, people are wary of sharing their personal information. Asking them to enter that information requires two commitments from them:

  1. To decide if your offer is valuable enough to give out their contact Information
  2. To then take the time and effort to fill out the form

So to some extent, web forms cause mental and physical friction.

This is widely accepted. Most optimization strategies focus on reducing friction to increase conversion. This is worthy, but could there be a different approach? A strategy that is ultimately more effective? We ran a test to find out.

Experiment: Can form friction be negated?

The experiment, Test Protocol 1636, was conducted in partnership with a large news syndication company. The goal was to increase the number of leads the company received from a “Request More Information” web form. The form itself was not a core cog in its lead generation process, but the form received enough traffic to run a valid experiment.

The control form, as seen in Figure 1.1, contains 11 form fields, with 10 being required. It also features sidebar navigation and three equally weighted calls-to-action at the bottom of the page. We ran two treatments against this page.

Figure 1.1  (Click on images to enlarge)


Treatment A (Figure 1.2) eliminates the navigation and calls-to-action, but it also increases the number of total form fields to 15 — nine required ones. In Figure 1.3, Treatment B is similarly designed, but reduces the total number of form fields from 11 to 10, all of which are required.

Figure 1.2


Figure 1.3

Did either treatment improve the lead rate? If so, which treatment?

Both treatments outperformed the control. Treatment A produced a 109% lift, while Treatment B generated 87% more leads. Clearly, removing the side navigation and distracting calls-to-action were major contributors to the treatments’ successes, but when we further examined the test metrics, we discovered two puzzling and fascinating anomalies.

Web Form Anomalies that Impact Conversion

Anomaly #1. While Treatment A contained six optional form fields, every prospect who landed on the page filled in every field — without exception.

 Marketing intuition, and prior testing to some extent, trains us to assume that every additional form field decreases the probability of a prospect completing the form. Conversion rate decreases for every extra field you add. We know this, but now the data from this experiment stares us in the face and causes us to ask a simple question: Why did everyone who saw this form fill out every field, even the optional ones?

Anomaly #2. Even though both treatments outperformed the control, there was no statistically significant difference when we compared Treatment A to Treatment B.

The results conclusively showed the treatments both performed significantly better than the control.

However, when compared to each other, the treatments performed in a statistical dead-heat — we could not declare a winner. This raised another simple question: Why did the higher number of fields (more friction) not affect conversion rate?

Getting Higher-quality Leads without Sacrificing Conversion Rate

When we first began to analyze the control, we considered the objective of the form, which was to set up a phone call between the prospect and the business. Our analysts hypothesized that by helping the customer through the form, we could set an expectation for a productive in-person conversation. This led to the design choices you see in Treatment A (Figure 2.1). The tone of the copy is conversational, and at each step of the process, we ask a question that both personalizes the form and explains why the information is being sought from the prospect.

Figure 2.1

The result of this tone change is that the questions actually helped to reinforce the value proposition of the phone call the prospect was being asked to set up.

With whom will we be speaking?
(We collect your general information so we know with whom we will be speaking and how best to reach you.)

 Where are you located? 
(We collect information about your location in order to route you to the appropriate [company] representative.)

 What information are you interested in discussing?
(In order to make our conversation as productive as possible, we would like to know a couple of pieces of relevant information.)

The last question in particular was a key factor in building value. By explaining what they wished to discuss, prospects began to visualize the conversation and see themselves receiving the information they needed. This section consisted of the new optional fields added to the control’s form fields.

Fascinatingly, we increased the cost, in the minds of prospects, of filling out the form in Treatment A by adding form fields, while we decreased the cost in Treatment B by eliminating the optional field, as you can see represented in Figure 2.2. Yet, we generated the same lead rate on both pages because the value offered in Treatment A outweighed the value in Treatment B, as seen in Figure 2.3.

Figure 2.2 – Cost force


Figure 2.3 – Value force vs. Cost force

By guiding the visitor through the form and increasing the process-level value proposition, we were able to counterbalance the additional friction in the form — capturing higher-quality leads without sacrificing quantity.

How to Increase Conversion on Your Own Forms

In a bubble, this is an interesting case to study. But what does it mean for your own web forms? We uncovered three key principles to help you in your efforts.

Key Principle #1. Every action a customer is asked to take — even completing a form field — creates a psychological question in the mind of the customer: Is this really worth it?

It’s a weighing question – that’s what the fulcrum represents in the Value Proposition Heuristic (Figure 3.1). Is the cost greater than the value? Is the value outweighing the cost? Those are the questions the customer is asking.

If you can start seeing and breaking down your pages by cost and value, then you have a lot of control as a marketer.

Key Principle #2. Thus, optimizing web forms transcends simply reducing the number of fields. We must ensure that we build the right amount of value to offset the cost. Sometimes, the right “ask” at the right time can actually imply value.

 The way we present and communicate the “ask” can greatly impact how prospects interpret the amount of value. By communicating the benefits prospects will experience by answering the questions, we can offset the cost of giving up that information.

This resulted in two positives for this experiment. We could ask more questions without hurting conversion, and this, in turn, led to higher-quality leads.

Key Principle #3. Finally, we must see through our customers’ eyes. Our prospects personify our forms. They give them a tone, a voice, a personality. It is more than a transaction; it is a conversation — a conversation that you must guide.

How do we see through our customers’ eyes? We can’t think about our products and services in a company-centric manner. We should go through our checkout processes and fill out our forms as if we are the customers. Experience the experience of the customer. Only then can we engage them in meaningful conversation that will guide them in a way that makes sense.

When you begin to see your web forms through the lens of a conversation, rather than a transaction, you will immediately be better equipped to communicate value to the prospect. When you communicate value, you might actually increase cost and friction in the mind of the customer by asking for more information, and still keep your conversion rate the same.

If you are ready to tackle your forms and gain more leads from the traffic you already have, we have provided a seven-question checklist to get you started:

  • Does my form gather the information my company needs?
  • Can I reduce the number of required fields?
  • Should I increase the number of required fields for a higher-quality lead?
  • Can I group similar form fields and reduce the perceived length of my form?
  • Is there a justification (direct or implied) for why each field is presented?
  • How can I increase the perceived value of every field in my form?
  • Does the form logically guide the visitor through the process of filling it out?
Related Resources

Learn more about friction in the MarketingExperiments web clinic replay, Hidden Friction: The 6 silent killers of conversion

Review the methodology MECLABS uses when running tests for Research Partners

Learn about online testing and how to run a valid experiment in the MECLABS Online Testing Course

See how testing form field length reduced cost-per-lead by $10.66

Learn how optional form fields can affect form completions in the MarketingExperiments web clinic replay, Do Optional Form Fields Help (or Hurt) Conversion? How one required form field was hindering a 275% lift in conversion:

Read this MarketingExperiments Blog post to learn more about process-level value propositions, as well as the three other essential levels of value propositions:

Discover seven ways to reduce the perceived cost of lead generation offers

The post Optimizing Web Forms: How one company generated 226% more leads from a complex web form (without significantly reducing fields) appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

Product Pages Tested: How carefully pinpointing customer anxiety led to a 78% increase in conversion

The following research was first published in the MECLABS Quarterly Research Digest, July 2014.

 Product pages are a staple in nearly every business website in existence. Oftentimes, they represent the final hurdle before a prospect clicks “add to cart” or fills out your form. Therefore, if we can improve the performance of these key pages, we can see substantial increases in conversion and sales.


Figure 1.1

Look at the three pages in Figure 1.1. What do they have in common?

Granted, there could be multiple correct answers to this question. However, one similarity may have escaped your notice: anxiety. In every page, especially product pages, certain elements raise the anxiety level of the prospect. This should concern you for two very good reasons:

  1. In our experience, when we correct for anxiety, we see gains.
  2. The needed correction often involves only simple and small changes.


Figure 1.2


In the Marketingsherpa E-commerce Benchmark Study, we found ecommerce marketers are employing a variety of page elements that can be used to reduce anxiety (Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.3 – Page elements used by successful and unsuccessful ecommerce companies on product pages.
Anxiety-reducing elements highlighted.

We tested four of those minor elements to correct specific points of anxiety on the same page and to help us understand the interplay of anxiety and the corrections we make.

Experiment: Which anxiety correction had the biggest impact?

The experiment sought to improve the sales of e-books from a well-known retailer in the market. Our approach was to test four different variations of the product page against the control, with each treatment correcting for a different form of hypothesized anxiety:

  • Version A: Adjusting for anxiety regarding site security (Figure 1)
  • Version B: Adjusting for anxiety that the e-book would not be compatible  with their reading device (Figure 2.2)
  • Version C: Adjusting for anxiety that the e-book would not be of interest or value to them (Figure 2.3)
  • Version D: Adjusting for anxiety regarding the shipping time frame of the e-book (Figure 4)

What does your instinct tell you? Which, if any, of the corrections would most improve conversion?

The result: Version C was the winner, increasing conversion by 78%

After our complete analysis, we discovered three key principles as to why Version C was victorious, as well as what we can learn from the success of the other treatments.

How to correct for anxiety on product pages

Key Principle #1. Every element we tested on the page overcorrected some type of customer anxiety, with various elements performing more effectively than others.

It is crucial to note that while Version C produced the largest increase, each treatment page outperformed the control.  In other words, in every case where we took steps to alleviate customer anxiety, conversion went up. These results underscore the importance of this effort, as well as the relative ease with which gains can be achieved.

It is important to note the use of the term “overcorrect” here because anxiety is not always rational. You may know that flying in a plane is statistically safer than riding in your car, but, for many of us, our anxiety level is much higher in an airplane. Is it rational? No. Is it still very real? Yes. You may see no reason for concern about a given aspect of your page, but that does not mean anxiety is absent for customers.

Key Principle #2. The effectiveness of each corrective is directly related to how it matched the specific concern in the mind of the customer.

While all cases of anxiety correction produced lifts, one change impacted conversion significantly more than the others. Version C overcorrected for a concern that was most immediate to the prospect at the time. Therefore, it is crucial to discover the specific anxieties your customers are experiencing on your product pages. Among a plethora of options,  we have found some standard minor corrections you can make for specific anxieties:

Source                                                                             Correction

Product Quality Anxiety  ———————————> Satisfaction Guarantee

Product Reliability Anxiety  —————————–>  Customer Testimonials

Website or Form Security Anxiety  ——————->  Third-party Security Seals or Certificates

Price Anxiety  ————————————————>  Low-price Guarantee

Additionally, customer testimonials can be used to alleviate several different concerns. You want to choose testimonials that specifically deal with the point of anxiety the customer is experiencing (Figure 3.1).

Figure 3.1 – Examples of testimonials addressing specific points of customer anxiety


Key Principle #3. Location plays an important role. You can more effectively correct anxiety by moving a corrective element within close proximity to where the concern is experienced.

As in real estate, location is of utmost importance when correcting for anxiety on product pages. If you are correcting for form security concerns, you want the correction element right where the customer must click to submit the form. In Version C, we simply added a plot synopsis above the fold rather than farther down the page, and it led to the biggest jump in conversion. It’s not always about creating new elements, but instead, placing existing ones in a location that better serves the thought sequence of customers.

Overcorrecting for product page anxiety

Anxiety is lethal to product page conversion. It is always present, and it is not always rational.  By overcorrecting for predictable or discovered customer anxiety, you will empower more prospects to complete the sale.

The effectiveness of an anxiety corrective is dependent on two essential factors:

Specificity – How specific is the corrective to the source of anxiety?
Proximity – How close is the corrective to the moment of concern?

If you can identify the main cause of anxiety on the page and implement an overcorrection element in close proximity, you are on your way to higher conversion and more sales.

Related Resources

Landing Page Optimization: Addressing Customer Anxiety

MECLABS Research Catalog — Learn about other experiments performed in the MECLABS Laboratory

MECLABS methodology

Conversion Rate Optimization — Read how anxiety plays a role in building the “Ultimate Yes” to conversion

Online Testing: 6 Test Ideas To Optimize The Value Of Testimonials On Your Site

To learn more about anxiety and the factors that affect it, enroll in the MECLABS Landing Page Optimization Online Certification Course

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