Want your customers to make a meal out of the time they spend on your website? Give them the meaty content they want and you’ll increase conversions.

Spending the time to create a great website and drive masses of targeted traffic to it is your first step in building a great inbound marketing funnel. Unless you can convert those visitors into leads and the leads into sales, however, you’re not really achieving any business goals. In no particular order, here are 35 golden rules to follow to increase your website conversions.

  1. If you’re collecting information rather than focusing on sales, design your forms to collect the minimum data possible. Internet users will rather fill in a form that only requires their name and email address than one that asks for address, occupation and other information.
  2. If you must ask for more information from your customers, make as many fields optional as possible. Some people don’t want to provide their phone number, for example, and they might abandon your form if it’s a required field. Marketing Sherpa (@MarketingSherpa) proved that in one case, just one additional field decreased conversions by 11%.
  3. Add a live chat feature. Many internet customers don’t want to have to call your office to get answers. Intuit proved the truth of this and increased conversions by 211% by using Liveperson online chat features on their website.
  4. Change your site headline. Websites have experienced an increase in conversions of up to 90% after they did this!
  5. Figure out which site or platform sends you the most traffic, and then do more there. For instance, if LinkedIn sends you more traffic than Facebook or Twitter, focus on your LinkedIn marketing.
  6. Increase middle of the funnel content such as case studies, white papers and meatier articles. Most prospects will need to see more of this type of content in order to make a purchasing decision.
  7. Add a written guarantee and guarantee seal to your site. In fact, anything that proves safety and security on your site, such as SSL or a Trust logo will help to convert wary internet shoppers.
  8. When you can, choose red for call to action (CTA) buttons. When HubSpot (@HubSpot) changed the color of the button on Performable’s home page from green to red, they increased conversions by 21%!
  9. Spend some time considering UX and navigation. Studies have shown that the faster a user can find the information they are looking for, the more likely you are to convert them into a sale at some point in the process. (This will also decrease your bounce rate and offer other benefits!)
  10. Use testimonials or customer logos on your website. This is one of the ways Crazy Egg (@Crazy Egg) recommends using social proof, and it increased Voices.com’s conversion rate by 400%.
  11. Tinker with your CTAs. Something as simple as changing the text from ‘Buy Now’ to ‘View Prices’ has increased conversion rates on websites by up to 10%. Remember – visitors want to feel that they are making the buying decision, not that they are being sold to!
  12. Add a discount sticker. Showing the discount or saving next to an item on sale is a sales tactic as old as time, and one that will also increase conversions on your website.
  13. Create a sense of urgency by limiting the time that an offer is available. This tactic plays on the psychological scarcity sales trigger, and is another oldie but goodie in the marketing toolbox. There are several other psychological triggers that you can use, as noted on the Shopify (@Shopify) blog.
  14. You can use the scarcity motivator by including stock counts on an online store or offer, too. Customers are more likely to make an impulse buy if they know there is limited availability.
  15. Create pay-per-click campaigns around dedicated landing pages, tailored to your keywords. If your customers find your page through paid search using long-tail keywords, sending them to a page specifically related to your search will boost your conversions.
  16. Make sure that the content on your landing pages lives up to the expectation your ads create. In other words, deliver whatever it is that your ads promise as quickly as possible. If you don’t, customers will not trust you, and if they don’t trust you, your conversions suffer.
  17. Create trust by incorporating a personal video in your ‘About Us’ section of the site. Customers are more likely to trust a brand if they know that there’s an actual person behind it.
  18. Include pictures or even avatars for your team on your website. Again, customers like to know that they are dealing with real people, and who they are.
  19. Focus on benefits when you’re writing product copy. Features are great, and you can mention them, but customers want to know what’s in it for them. Make sure you tell them. An example would be when Hootsuite (@Hootsuite) calculates time saving when you sign up, or mention a specific cost or time saving, such as ‘proven to cut costs by 30%’.
  20. Keep conversion elements ‘above the fold’ as far as possible. Remember to check this on different screen sizes and types; to be sure they are placed correctly for all kinds of devises. Whatismyscreenresolution.net offers a multi-screen testing tool that you can use free.
  21. Include a Facebook Like box or Twitter follower ticker on your site – but only if you already have a large number of fans or followers. Social proof can help with conversions, but it’s a double-edged sword, and if you only have a handful of followers, it’s going to work against you.
  22. Include a CTA on every piece of content you publish. One of the longest standing truths about sales is that people who ask for them tend to have a better conversion rate, online or off.
  23. Avoid overly-salesy copywriting and jargon. Customers know when they are being sold to, and they don’t like it. Keep your website copy clear, concise, easy to read and avoid the hard sell. In an article about telling versus selling, Kissmetrics (@Kissmetrics) they refer to this shift in copywriting as ‘speaking human’ which is a great way to categorize this sort of writing.
  24. Use A/B or split testing to test variations of your CTA’s, buttons and forms. Sometimes, minor changes to position, color, wording or other factors will have a marked impact, and the only way to know for sure is to try different combinations, document results and find the one that works best.
  25. Include detailed product information. Go beyond one thumbnail. People want to know details. Specifications, weight, dimensions, colors, features, benefits and any other relevant information can all help buyers to make a purchasing decision.
  26. Get rid of the clutter. The best landing pages are simple. They should focus on only the action you want your visitors to take. A headline or banner, some simple information and testimonials, and a call to action should be the limit for most landing pages.
  27. If you don’t already have a privacy policy, write one. Customers are wary these days. They know that their information is valuable, and they don’t want to share it with just anyone. A privacy policy will help to reassure visitors, and that will make them more likely to take the action you want them to.
  28. Use exciting, action language. Grab yours now! Reserve your seat! Your copy should be exciting and inspire users, and encourage them to take the next step in the process – whether that’s contacting you, signing up for a list, or making a purchase.
  29. Offer various payment options. PayPal, Money Bookers, Square, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments and Stripe are all great options, and there are many others. Although many people do use PayPal or credit cards, others prefer not to, so give them options.
  30. Consider allowing reviews, particularly if you offer products for sale online. Zendesk (@Zendesk) published the results of a study related to customer service experience and reviews, where they noted that 88% of respondents said that reviews influenced their buying decisions. So if you’re offering great products and services, let your customers evangelize on your behalf.
  31. Use high quality images and graphics. Nothing says cheap and nasty quite like fuzzy graphics on a landing page, and unless you want that perception about your company, you need to invest in quality images.
  32. Play with color on your site too. Different colors and color combinations evoke different responses in visitors, so make sure you test a few versions to see which one gets the results you want.
  33. Don’t make your links text based and hard to find. Use big, bold, impossible to miss, easy to click buttons. They are proven to convert better, and, as Copyblogger (@Copyblogger) pointed out, they are designed to trigger a response in our unsophisticated ‘lizard brains.’
  34. Point your customers in the direction you want them to head. Literally. Visual cues help to draw the eye to the information you want noticed, so throw in a tasteful arrow or another visual marker.
  35. Wherever possible, use a single column layout. Pardot (@Pardot) actually studied website layout, and concluded that when they tested single column layouts, they saw up to 681% increase in conversions!

There are many tweaks, large and small, that can influence conversion rates on your site. It’s not possible for me to list them all here, but I’d love to hear your ideas for doing so. Leave me a comment below.