How to avoid mistakes and increase conversions, even if you think you’re doing everything right

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Dan Siroker

Dan Siroker


Dan Siroker is the Co-founder and CEO of Optimizely, which makes it dramatically easier for you to improve your website through A/B testing.

This guide is based on Mixergy’s course with Dan Siroker.

Dan Siroker knew that a website can make or break sales, so he used A/B testing to help the 2008 Obama campaign raise an extra $100 million in donations through its website. It was all done by increasing conversion rates, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Dan is the co-founder and CEO of Optimizely, which makes it dramatically easier to improve your website through A/B testing.

Here are the actionable highlights from the course.

1. Test words and phrases to find the ones that convince people to buy

Dan says that LiveChat tested the phrase “Try it free” in place of “Free trial”, and the new wording boosted sign-ups by 15%.

Take Action:
Open an account with an A/B testing service like Optimizely, and run a test replacing your website’s text with new words and phrases.

2. Emphasize calls to action so visitors know what to do next

Dan says that the Libertyville Dental Associates website should feature a call to action that says, “Call today for a consultation” so visitors understand what the business wants them to do.

Take Action:
Use clear language to tell website visitors the next step you want them to take, like making a phone call or signing up for a newsletter.

3. Change big things before small things so you won’t be tied down to a certain layout

Dan recommends that businesses experiment with different layouts and design changes for their websites before tweaking small details because that way they can make significant improvements first.

Take Action:
Submit your homepage to 99designs for designers to come up with new layouts for your site, and try different layouts before you make smaller changes.

4. Simplify your website so visitors won’t get confused and hit the “back” button

Dan says that businesses should remove optional fields from sign-up forms because shorter forms have better conversion rates.

Take Action:
Remove any words or extra features on your website that aren’t essential for converting prospects, and keep sign-up forms as short as possible.

5. Update your website’s design so visitors will think you’re a serious business

Dan recommends that Hire Your Personal Assistant get a new site design and get rid of dated colors and unnecessary text.

Take Action:
Run a contest on 99designs or ask a contractor to design a new site for you, and use designs and logos that have a modern look.

6. Show off your product’s benefits so prospects will be convinced it’ll solve their problem

Dan likes the New Relic website because it shows how engineers could benefit from New Relic’s software and highlights the free t-shirt customers get, but it doesn’t make visitors feel like they’re being sold to.

Take Action:
On your homepage, show what customers gain from your product, and don’t try to sell your product before convincing visitors that they’ll benefit from using it.

7. Show the human side of your business to build an emotional connection

Dan says that Wealthcare for Women should show pictures of the women who follow its financial advice instead of showing just the face of its male financial advisor.

Take Action:
Display photos of people who use your service, and focus your site on the human side of what you do.

Start Course Now!
Written by Sarah Brodsky, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

  • Lauren

    Great advice, but don’t use 99designs. It rips off designers: I would know, I’m a designer. I haven’t touched 99designs, but I’ve only heard bad things. Please do not encourage artists to work for free.

  • Justin Roff-Marsh

    I’m not a designer but my starting assumption would be that designers are rational, like other human beings.

    Therefore, I would have to conclude that, if 99Designs is a fraud, as you claim, designers must stay away in droves — meaning the demise of that service is surely immanent.

    But they aren’t and it isn’t.

    Maybe you can expose the error in my non-designer reasoning.

  • Katrina

    I have used 99designs several times as a buyer. My thoughts are:

    1) It is excellent for canvasing a wide range of different concepts and ideas from low to medium skilled designers. It is good for generating basic ideas, and finding fresh directions.

    Example: Client wanted to see new ideas for their brand. I gave an open brief on 99designs and out of 80 submissions had around 10 that I showed the client.

    2) To get the highly skilled designers to submit a concept to your job you need to pay the highest dollar amount. For the same amount you may as well work with one designer on oDesk.

    If I was a highly skilled designer I wouldn’t bother with 99designs. I wouldn’t work for free/chance.

    If I was a new designer with no portfolio I would absolutely get into 99designs and use it to practice and build my portfolio, but wouldn’t expect to make money.

  • Martin

    I’ve supervised design work in the past and the client I worked with still uses my process:
    Step 1: Get a wide range of rough ideas and sketches, either by your graphics department, creative interns, or (cheap) freelancers.
    For example, we started out with 30 logos to get a feeling of what would meet everyones interests and quickly discussed them in a team, then got another smaller batch of the 5 best rated logos.
    Step 2: Narrow down and get your project redone professionally. In our case, we hired a designer I knew personally, presented our sketches and let him transform them into a great piece of art, for a appropriate, but affordable fee.
    Step 3: Hire an expert to review & improve your results (only sensible for large projects) or make very narrow additions. In my example, the client already had a webmaster who could change their corporate branding colors so that the new logo would fit in perfectly in both web and print design. We had a short final discussion and pretended to act especially professional, then walked away with the fuzzy feeling of a job well done.

    In all steps, people knew exactly what we wanted (no “edgy design” or “Web 2.0 feeling” buzzwords) and they knew they were going to get paid, and I think you need both to ensure quality work.

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  • Barbara Mckinney

    Thanks for the list and agree to all the points you have laid down here. It can help website owners sell.

    Conversion is all that b2b marketers want. Every visitor that visits your website is very important that is why giving them the information that can answer their needs means a greater chance for you to have them.

  • Andrew Warner

    I hope the rest of it was useful.

  • WPFix Team

    We think showing and telling the benefits of products make people to buy the product and website much be designed in such a way that it makes users to stay rather then leaving the site.

    “First impression is last impression”.

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