|Optimizing Site Design|
|Wednesday, 21 February 2007|
We examine how reducing customer anxiety by matching your site’s appearance to prospects' preconceptions and expectations increases conversion to sale.
Topic: Optimizing Site Design:
Eight Ways to Increase Site Conversion by Reducing Customer Anxiety
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a 1,500-word version (“Brief”) of a 10,000-word live Webinar clinic. To get the full clinic, listen to the recording of it at:Site design tested: Reducing Customer Anxiety
Many online services offer a free trial as their primary incentive to attract new subscribers.
Generally, a free trial offer works well.
The research for this brief began with the question:
How does customer anxiety impact conversion?
As we continually test and tune our sites, significant gains get more and more difficult to achieve. Often we, as marketers, become focused on a small set of site attributes, such as a banner or button design, and satisfy ourselves with moderate incremental gains, when much greater gains are possible by recognizing the preconceptions and visual prejudices of customer prospects and match our sites to them in order to reduce purchase-related anxiety.
MEC Labs has identified five essential elements to website conversion, which are brought together in the MEC Conversion Formula. Attention to each element is necessary for optimal performance. In this brief, we identify eight key ways to increase site conversion by reducing customer anxiety.
Case Study #1
Here is what the top of the original page looked like.
We tested an official-looking page against the (already highly optimized) baseline product offer page, which had a professional, though “commercial” look and feel. The new official-looking page was intended to better match the expectations of target customers related to color, page layout, copy tone, and other visual attributes for this industry and product category.
Here is the top of the experimental page.
Here are the results:
What You Need To Understand: The official-looking offer page conversion rate was 12.7% higher than the baseline page. This gain translates to a projected annual increase of $366,988—at no increased cost in marketing budget.
As this case illustrates, matching the overall look and feel of the site with prospects’ visual biases will reduce anxiety and increase conversion. Once this is done, there are other measures you can take to further allay the fears of prospective customers.
Credibility indicators, site ratings, and third party testimonials can reassure visitors about your trustworthiness and stability, as we reaffirmed in our second case study with a company in the financial services sector.
Case Study #2
Indications from site navigation logs, test results, and demographic research suggested that customer anxiety was contributing to drop-out in the subscription order process. Consequently, a number of anxiety-reducing elements were incorporated into the optimized order process, including customer testimonials, third party credibility indicators, adjustments to language and tone, message personalization, and placement of the satisfaction guarantee near the call-to-action.
Following are the results:
What you need to understand: Optimization of anxiety reducing site elements yielded a 70.5% increase in conversion.
How visitors to your site perceive you plays an essential role in determining whether they buy from you or move on to your competitors. The primary factor at play in customer perception is anxiety. Two of the time-honored principles of sales are that fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain, and when appearance and reality clash, appearance always wins. The objective is to make appearance and reality the same. For more on this principle, read the MEC Labs Journal brief “Transparent Marketing”.
Through our research, MECLabs has identified five essential elements to website conversion, which are brought together in the formula below:
MEC Conversion Formula:
C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) - 2a ©
Below are eight essential ways to reduce customer anxiety for your website:
Each of these elements serves to reduce customer anxiety by reassuring prospects that doing business with you is safe and that you will deliver as promised.
As we discovered, reducing customer anxiety using the methods described in this research brief increases conversion-to-sale by reducing the number of customers who abandon the order process. Remember that the impression your site visitors experience in the first few seconds after arriving on the landing page will determine whether they stay long enough to objectively evaluate your offer or whether they quickly move on to seek a “safer” place to shop.
RELATED MEC REPORTS:
As part of our research, we have prepared a review of the best Internet resources on this topic.
These sites were rated for usefulness and clarity, but alas, the rating is purely subjective.
* = Decent | ** = Good | *** = Excellent | **** = Indispensable
Editor — Flint McGlaughlin
Writer — Frank Green
Contributors — Aaron Rosenthal
HTML Designer — Cliff Rainer