The Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Chapter 11: Bonus Advanced Tips and Hacks for CRO

The efficacy of this simple hack cannot be ignored. As the Tag Man blog reports, a mere 1 second delay in page-load results in a 7% decrease in conversions.[1] Ouch.


Pay attention to your site speed to ensure your optimization efforts aren’t in vain.

Here is a composite list of additional hacks and tips that we have collected to keep you on top of the game. As always—your approach should be tailored to your specific site. Try out what seems like a good fit for your needs and user base, then analyze, test and repeat.

Warning, if you’ve jumped right to this chapter you may be led wildly astray. Go back and start at the beginning. It will be worth it, and could save you from making some costly mistakes in the name of “hacking”. 

1. Site Speed

2. Always Be Closing

Think of your site as your indefatigable salesperson. Any salesperson worth their salt always markets their most appealing attributes. Double check your site and make sure you’re clearly communicating your true value.

Here are a few routes to consider:

  • Social proof. Testimonials can give users a feeling of security. If you’ve been positively reviewed by users, consider showcasing a few on your site. If you don’t have reviews, you can ask for them—especially if you have highly satisfied, big name clients—or invite users to submit them.
  • Appeals to authority. Can you tie yourself to a trend, belief, or position that’s advocated by someone of stature in your community or profession? By aligning yourself with share beliefs, you can reduce the amount of second guessing done by visitors.
  • Third party validation. A variant of social proof, but instead of testimonials you use the logos of trusted brands to appropriate some of their brand equity for your brand. “As featured in The New York Times” or showing prominent client logos are examples of this.
  • Build a community. Give users a way to participate through comments, reviews and feedback, etc. It will strengthen your current user base by fostering a sense of belonging, in addition to foster growth among others who want to participate as well.
  • Referrals. Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth and friend referrals. Leveraging word of mouth is a guide in and of itself, but consider how you can incent sharing through incentives like discounts or free gifts to users who recruit others through email, social media, etc.

These are just a few free and inexpensive ways of connecting your site to more users.[3]

3. Raise Your Average Order Value (AOV)

Here are a few methods of increasing your AOV. You can improve your revenue even without improving your conversion rate.

  • Bundling. Combine numerous complementary products, giving the user a discount for purchasing them together. This often persuades them to purchase more than they originally would have.
  • Promotions. Promotions come in an array of shapes and forms— for example, free shipping on orders over $50 as a way to drive customers to spend more. Amazon’s “Free Super Saver Shipping” influences customers to not only spend over fifty dollars in a single purchase, but also to buy exclusively from Amazon dealers, as individual sellers are excluded from the promotion. Reminders that the customer is only “X” dollars away from free shipping may increase sales.
  • Cause-based incentives. Tom’s Shoes, which gives a pair of shoes or glasses to a disadvantaged child with every purchase, probably comes to mind. But they aren’t the only ones who’ve successfully used this strategy to raise AOV (why buy one pair of shoes when you can buy two and do twice as much good?) Sometimes a donation to a charity is enough to persuade customers who are on the fence.
  • Rewards. Loyalty programs can keep users returning. In particular, programs that reward higher levels of spending (escalating coupons are an example of this) can positively impact AOV, as well as purchase frequency.
  • Gamification. Gamification is a way to incentivize users to take actions beneficial to your business. Gamification can include leaderboards, chances to win, badges for completing tasks, and collections of accomplishments. It can be leveraged for AOV too. For example, McDonald’s annual Monopoly promotion only applies to customers who purchase a larger, more expensive combo item.[4]

4. How Friendly Are You?

  • Mobile friendly? There is a good chance that some of your users will be arriving via their phones and tablets, and almost nothing is more difficult to navigate than a site thats not mobile friendly. If a user cannot navigate your site, they can’t become customers.
  • Browser friendly? Not all browsers are built the same–that goes without saying, but do you know what browsers are most popular among your users? There is a chance that your site is awesome on Chrome, but a mess on Internet Explorer. Do the research. Load up the browsers and make sure a user’s arrival is always solid. Fixing any browser specific issues could result in rise in conversions.
  • Privacy friendly? It is good to show users their information is secure: signals, like SSL (https://) lock images, trusted badges, and social proof can all allay fears. Make sure you have a complete privacy policy linked from the footer of every page on your site.
  • Language friendly? There are 50 million Spanish-language Internet users in the United States alone. That’s more than the total Internet-using population of the UK. If you’re ignoring language support, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.
  • User friendly? No user will ever complain that your site is too easy to use, fast or clear. A mistake free site is a credible site.
  • Click friendly? How many clicks does it take for a user to get to your must have experience? Have you ever counted? Think less. Think the clearest and easiest path to revenue.
  • Time friendly? Information on your landing page should be prioritized by importance. You typically have five seconds to convince a visitor to stick around. Make the most of that brief moment in time. How good is your hook, and how well do you deliver on the promise?
  • Video friendly? A video on your landing page has the chance to drive conversions. Consider YouTube, or other services as long as users do not have to download additional plugins. Videos can elicit an emotional response that connects with users and drives conversion.
  • Rating & review friendly? If your site has a rating system for product feedback, it is best not to be totalitarian. Erasing all negative feedback will only have uses questioning your credibility. If you allow reviews on your site, make sure the quality is high. Zappos found that correcting spelling errors in product reviews increased conversion. Details matter![5,6]

Chapter 11 Notes