Conversion optimisation: 11 tips to encourage user action

You’ve built your website, you’re managing to drive traffic to it through good SEO, but is it providing a good return on investment?

It’s important to think about the purpose of your website. What is the main business goal that you’re trying to achieve? The most common answer is to generate leads, to drive more sales. Assuming that’s the case, is your website effective at this? How many website visitors do you need to generate a single lead?

A case study

Imagine you’re a dentist and you’ve calculated that every customer has a lifetime value of £5,000. You also know that it takes 10 leads to convert into one customer. That means every new lead is worth £500 to your business.

Now imagine that your website is getting 800 visits per month. Of those 800 visitors, maybe 20 people get in touch. That’s a 2.5% conversion rate. Your website would be generating £10,000 (20 x £500) of new business per month.

What if, using conversion optimisation best practices, you could increase that conversion rate to 5%. It still doesn’t sound like a lot, but you would be generating an additional £10,000 of revenue per month.

Hopefully this demonstrates the power, and value, of conversion optimisation. Now for the advice.

Conversion optimisation tips

1. Design matters

People judge books by their covers. Good visual design will set you above the competition and portray you as a professional, trust-worthy company.

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

Many website owners make the mistake of trying to be too clever with their website. This often happens with website navigation, where people think it’s a good idea to have fun menus, where the user has to explore. Everyone loves exploring, right? Wrong! This is a very bad idea.

The most important thing that you can do is to help your users find the content that they want to find – quickly and easily.

Keep to web standards such as:

  • navigation at the top or left of the screen
  • use words, not pictures, for main site navigation
  • utility links (login, shopping cart, etc.) in the top-right of the page
  • contact link/information in the footer

3. Visual hierarchy

Make important things stand out on the page. You can do this using size, colour, positioning and space. However, make sure that only a few things are tying to grab attention – if everything is standing out, then nothing is.

4. Be user focused

Another common mistake is that websites are too focused on the business, and not on the users (I’m guilty of this and will be changing it with my next redesign).

It’s not about you. Your site should be focused on the user and what you can offer the user – the benefits that you give to them.

5. Relevancy

It’s easier to convert users that are actually interested in your product. Focus on driving quality, relevant traffic to your website and watch your conversion rate go up (and marketing spend go down).

Once you get the right people to your site make your content relevant. One way to do this is by using landing pages tailored to specific keywords

6. Don’t sell too fast

Most people don’t buy in their first visit, so don’t try to force the sale. People need time to make a decision. Give them the information that they need.

Don’t let them get away though! Collect email addresses is you can and market to them using email campaigns.

7. Clarity

People won’t buy what they don’t understand. Be clear – not fancy, funny, technical or smart. Use language that people understand, not industry jargon.

Use clear call to actions (CTAs). These are the buttons and links that encourage people to ‘Buy now’ or ‘Subscribe here’. Make it obvious what clicking the button will do, and why they should do it.

8. Reduce friction

The vast majority of visitors to your site won’t interact with it. Often they’re not ready, but sometimes things get in the way. This is called friction.

Friction can come from doubts, hesitations, and perceived risks about:

  • trust
  • quality
  • benefits
  • value
  • time pressure

Reduce friction by:

  • shortening forms
  • building trust using expertise, social proof, security credentials
  • clearing showing the value of your product/service

9. Eliminate distraction

Similar to reducing friction is the idea of eliminating distraction. Many websites try to display all of their offerings at once. Some offer many variations of the same product/service. This can lead to choice paralysis. Make it easy for users to choose a product, and don’t distract them with other offers (until the appropriate moment).

This is key for checkout pages, where there should be the bare minimum of distractions. Some websites even remove the main navigation at this point.

10. Urgency

One way to increase conversions is to create a sense of urgency. Be wary though, people can spot false urgency a mile off, so use this technique with caution.

There are three main types of urgency:

  1. Quantity – “Only 4 left in stock”
  2. Time – “Buy today – Offer ends Monday”
  3. Contextual – “Buy now for Christmas”

11. Testing, tracking and iteration

The number one bit of advice for conversion optimisation is to test ideas, track their performance and iterate – over and over again.

There are many web analytics tools out there that allow you to test your conversion rates. The best free one is Google Analytics. This will allow you to set up goals and experiments, so that you can compare two, or more, versions of a web page to see which performs the best.

You can test:

  • headlines
  • body text
  • call to actions
  • colours
  • images
  • layout
  • content order
  • and just about anything else that you can think of


Conversion optimisation is a huge topic, and this article barely scratches the surface, but hopefully you’ve been convinced of the power of these techniques, and are ready to try some yourself.

Choose an idea, implement it, test it, choose the winner, and profit.

I’d love to hear how you get on. Email me at to share your story.


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