Best Practices For Conversion Rate Optimization – Part 1 of 6

Last week, I discussed what Conversion Rate Optimization is and why it is one of the most crucial processes of Growth Marketing. Today I will be listing down the best practices for conversion rate optimization.

I searched for meaning for Best Practices, and the definition that I got on the first page states, “commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.”

Best Practices In Marketing

Best Practices in any industry are achieved based on data drive analysis. Mostly marketers draw inspirations from related websites, renowned web designers. However, implementing them based on confirmation bias is not a good idea.

If your goal is to design a highly convertible landing page, there are an infinite number of ways to achieve that. There are several guides to create a landing page, and you can always take them as inspiration. But, even the best practices has the room for experimentation & interpretation for them to work effectively in your case.

Best practices are an excellent point to start, but keep the room for improvement backed by the data drive approach.

Before we dive deeper into the Best practices for conversion rate optimization, I would like to mention that the following content is based upon the learnings that I did during the Second Week of Conversion Optimization, my nano degree course at CXL Institute, led by Peep Laja & team.

I will be dividing the practices into six parts to ensure maximum readability & thorough understanding.


best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

Whenever we think of conversion, forms are the necessary steps to optimize. We use them for a variety of purposes.

  • Sign up forms
  • Checkout forms
  • Payment forms
  • Quote request forms
  • Lead generation forms

When we talk about optimizing the forms, we mostly focus on reducing the friction to ensure a smooth & precise flow for the visitor filling the form.


Set Clear Expectations

Let’s consider a step by step procedure. You want to try out a new SaaS tool, and you visit their website. There is a form to sign up for Free Trial. The journey will be somewhat like this.

  1. Visit the website
  2. Search for the Sign Up option.
  3. Signup/Login with Google or any other provider, or fill in your details.
  4. You see the Payment form with Visa, MasterCard & PayPal icons.

BOOM, you instantly drop-off, as when you clicked on Free Trial Sign Up, Credit Card requirement was not mentioned. There will be huge drop-offs if you put a one-liner, Credit Card Required. Or maybe write to No Credit Card Required to encourage signups.

best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

Minimize The Number Of Form Fields

One of the standard best practice is to only ask for information that is required. Marketers need to get over their Greedy Marketer Complex.

Another Best Practice is to avoid optional fields if you don’t need them.

You certainly don’t them to fill Mr, Mrs, or Birth-date if the purpose is to buy a PDF from your website.

Sometimes, you might need some optional fields. As I stated in the start, even the best practices need to have experimented.

Intentionally Increase Friction To Improve Lead Quality

Sometimes, increasing the number of fields helps in getting a better quality of leads. You only et people who are more motivated towards the objective of form. Since long forms contain a lot of information, it’s easier for you to segment them.

Lastly, long forms filter out the unqualified people already, as they do not fill the complete form.

Multi-step Forms

There come such situations where removing the fields is not an option. Either you have to skip some crucial form fields, or you can reduce the perception of friction.

You can achieve this by splitting the form into multiple short steps. Another strategy is to get more of the vital information in the first step, such as name, email & phone number. Now even if the person doesn’t’ complete the second step, you can still follow up on them.

Alternatively, you can break the form into sections too, which might reduce the perceived hassle.

best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

Start With Easier Fields.

Always start with easier fields, so the person builds momentum along the way, and the chances to complete the form increases.

Most of the time, you can use dropdowns & radio buttons to ease the process too. A simple tactic is to use radio buttons when people have less than five choices, such as gender selection. However, go for dropdowns if there are more than five choices. You should also use smart fields such as country search & select, so the person doesn’t have to search manually through the options.

Pre-select What You Can

As I discussed smart fields, there are various ways to auto-populate the fields. You want people to fill in their location, try getting that via their IP Address. In the US, most of the time, the city & state are auto-filled when the person inputs the zipcode.

Feedback And Error Validation

This one is important. Every time, you show the correct error or feedback to the visitor, you are scoring huge gains.

The priority is to create intuitive forms that have real-time in-line validation for feedback. It happens a lot of time that the phone number doesn’t get accepted because it isn’t correctly formatted.

Let people enter data; however, they want. If you want it in a particular format, that formatting should happen in the backend, done by your code. (spaces and dashes welcome!)

Avoid Captchas

best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

After testing more than 1,100 people, gathering 11,800 completed surveys, and studying 14,000,000 samples from a week’s worth of data from eBay, a study carried out by Stanford University into the use of CAPTCHA by humans, revealed just how difficult CAPTCHA has become for humans. The study showed that on average:

  • Visual CAPTCHAs take 9.8 seconds to complete
  • Audio CAPTCHAs take much longer (28.4 seconds) to hear and solve
  • Audio CAPTCHA has a 50% give-up rate
  • Only 71% of the time will three users agree on the translation of a CAPTCHA
  • Only 31.2% of the time will three users agree on the translation of an audio CAPTCHA

Address FUDs (Fears, Uncertainties, Doubts)

Whenever a visitor is asking for sensitive information, it creates resistance to fill the form. The strategy is to avoid all the possible FUDs (fears, uncertainties, doubts), and then address them one way or another in the form to reduce friction.

You can put keywords that encourage safety or try putting badges & seals from verified third-party tools. You have to test & figure out what works best for your audience. Mentioning Safe, Secure, Privacy Protected can give a sense of security to the person filling the form.

best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

Form Analytics

There are three ways to assess your current forms & friction.

  1. User testing, to identify the resistance
  2. Screen recordings (using Hotjar or Inspectlet)
  3. Form analytics tools

As designers and optimizers, it’s our responsibility to embrace the power of forms, to optimize them, and ultimately to get higher conversions out of them.

Buttons And Call To Actions

How likely visitors are to take action depends on whether

  1. they notice the CTA begin with,
  2. the next step is obvious and makes sense, and
  3. they see value in the next step.

To make the CTA noticeable, we will go through some of the basics.

One Primary Call To Action

For every page, you should identify a single button to progress towards your primary goal. This doesn’t mean you can’t have secondary CTAs, but those need to be secondary in prominence too & less dominating.

Check this example at Nonfig, notice the difference between the primary & secondary CTAs.

Button Is Usually Better Than Link

Buttons come in all shapes & sizes, whereas links are not so noticeable. So the use of buttons is encouraged. However, there might be scenarios where the link is essential to ensure the dominance of primary CTA.

Make It Big (enough)

Big Buttons drive more clicks. They are prominent and as per Fitt’s law, the bigger an object and the closer it is to us, the easier it is to use it.

Take a look at this example of the MeetEdgar landing page.

Use The Right Amount Of White Space

Anything that clutters your page has to be removed. CTAs can only be prominent if we provide an adequate amount of space around them. This ensures better visibility & a higher click rate. Make sure you are using a different colour for your CTA as compared to the website.

Use The Right Copy

Whenever you are writing the copy for CTA, ask yourself three questions.

  1. Is it specific?
  2. Does it convey a benefit?
  3. Does it trigger the user into clicking?

Protip: Don’t use a CTA like “Submit”. Very few people want to submit.

Fold And Page Length

Every time, a visitor visits your website, there is a specific top portion of the page, that gets displayed as a first impression. This top section or part is called fold. Everything you put in this section determines if the visitor will scroll down to the other content or not. Hence critical stuff needs to be above the fold to captivate their attention, ultimately ensuring higher conversions.

Fold 101

The term above the fold originated from the newspapers industry. Printing companies used to put the fresh content & creative headings in the top half, which is more visible to captivate the attention.

There is no specific length for this fold portion. It varies on devices and screen resolution as well. A common practice is to put the top 650–700 pixels for fold, considering the common desktop browsers.

best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

Working With Fold And Long Pages

There is a lot of research on whether people scroll or not. Chartbeat, a data analytics provider, analyzed data from 2 billion visits and found that “66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold.” — What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong.

Whenever you have to design a page, keep in mind to prioritize the content placements based on their importance. The least important information should always be served in the last, whereas most crucial information needs to be at the top.

You can use SessionCam for getting the scroll report for your website.

The Fold Isn’t Just For Home Pages.

As we talk about the fold, the best practices aren’t limited only on the landing page. The fold can be considered in several different scenarios.

  • Checkout Page — users must be able to checkout without having to scroll to proceed.
  • Cart Page — users can click on the CTA button easily; you can achieve this by putting two buttons. One above the cart, and the other underneath it.
  • Pricing Page — users should be able to click on CTA from above the fold.

Alternatively, you can guide the user to scroll down to take any action.

best practices for conversion rate optimization - jibran yousuf

Image Courtesy: SessionCam

Ideal Page Length

The idea length is dependent on the objective of that particular page. Considering the transactional sites, you need to put content that intrigues the visitors to take the desired action.

There can be different criteria for choosing the length of the page. Page load speed, visuals, content, & navigation are a few factors.

This content is Part 1 of 6 blogs focusing on the Best Practices for Conversion Rate Optimization.

Have any questions? Feel free to comment down. 


    Introduction To Conversion Rate Optimization

    If we analyze the paradigm shifts of the Internet, we come across three paradigms in the past three decades, starting from the 1990s, with Yahoo & Lycos, to Google in the 2000s, followed by Social Media sites in 2010s.

    Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

    And now the Internet is easily accessible by almost everyone, even in remote locations, which intrigued the businesses to grow their digital presence. And now every industry, including eCommerce stores, SaaS businesses, non-profit organizations, or even political campaigns, focus on their online presence. Now they all own a website, has their location on Google Map, takes online orders & sell their services, and influence the people around the globe right from their comfort of home.

    Analysis of customer behaviour shows that between 70–80% of people research a company online before visiting a small business or making a purchase with them. 97% of consumers go online to find a local store or local services.

    These paradigm shifts not only introduced a new scope of work but also added several new growth & marketing strategies & tactics to be implemented online for the hypergrowth of startups, & established businesses.

    In this article, we will discuss one of the essential processes in growth marketing, i.e. Conversion Rate Optimization or as we call it CRO.

    Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

    Before we dive deeper into the CRO, I would like to mention that the following content is based upon the learnings that I did during the First Week of Conversion Optimization, my nano degree course at CXL Institute, led by Peep Laja & team.

    This course’s lectures were conducted by Brian Massey, the Managing Partner at Conversion Sciences.

    Introduction To Conversion Rate Optimization

    When we talk about online marketing, there are two ways to increase your revenue. Either you start driving more traffic to your website to increase sales, or you improve the overall website effectiveness to increase the number of people who purchase something from you. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) focuses on the second way. Let’s get started.

    Conversion Rate Optimization

    Why CRO?

    Let’s consider that you have a website, and you are not getting enough conversion, visitors are not purchasing your products, your services are not selling, and you are not getting enough leads to convert them.

    There are two ways to tackle the current situation. Either design a new website landing page OR gather the data based on current visitors, & analyze it. Based on this analysis, update the chunks of website layout design. Which one sounds better? I am sure you would go for the latter. However, went for the first one, in November 2012, and updated the whole website layout.

    Finish Line Website on November 18, 2012
    Finish Line Website on November 19, 2012

    This step, damaged Finish Line business with an estimation of 3 Million US Dollars with a few weeks. This is where CRO comes into play, enabling you to do test-driven updates to your website, minimizing the risk factor of crashing the business.

    CRO primarily focuses on the following:

    • Decrease the Cost per Acquisition (CAC)
    • Increase the number of leads
    • Get more sales

    So If your business has fewer leads, high bounce rate with a high cost of acquisition, you must focus on CRO processes to grow your business exponentially without risking the current growth.

    The Basics

    When we talk about improving the Conversion Rate, try sharing this objective with the colleagues around you. You will be bombarded with ideas, from your team, your boss, or the ideas that you took as inspiration from your competitors.

    And most of the time, these ideas make their way onto the live website, without a proper framework to validate all those ideas. This happens due to several reasons, sometimes due to the political will of your superiors, while sometimes due to your confirmation bias of the idea that you suggested.

    How to avoid this problem? Most of the people would say, let’s learn how to manage these ideas. No, the human brain has the built-in ability to distinguish ideas. We use this ability in our daily lives. Now, remember how many times you analyzed the current situation and curated a perfect status update or tweet for your social media profile, that brought a lot of engagement?

    The last time you bought a product from Amazon, you got stuck between two variants, and you quickly went into reviews to decide which one to buy? All of these are the example that the CRO mindset is already wired into our brain; we just need to use in our business.

    Understanding Conversion Rate Optimization
    Photo by Raquel Martínez on Unsplash

    The above examples are also the daily life example of A/B testing. As you compare two updates, analyze the data, and choose the one that benefits you at most.

    Now that you have an idea of what CRO is, we will talk about the three founding pillars:

    • Managing the ideas
    • Increasing the sample size
    • Improving the quality of the sample.

    Managing Ideas

    Managing Ideas for Conversion Rate Optimization
    Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

    Ideas are the oxygen for a digital marketer, that is large in number. As I said before, share the objective with your team, and you will be quickly having 10–20 ideas within an hour. Our brain is programmed to have multiple ideas. So how to decide which one is worth trying? And how to politely decline the idea of your boss or any senior authority in the business?

    Simply, create a spreadsheet, and write down all the ideas in that list, gather it from the team & even from your boss.

    Writing A Hypothesis

    Now, write a hypothesis for every idea, in the given format.

    The hypothesis to enhance ideation

    Taking an example of Nonfig, I had the idea to change the text on the CTA button in your lead opt-in form on your main landing page, so I wrote the hypothesis for that.

    If I update the CTA button text of opt-in form to Claim Your Free 3 Months
    I expect to get more leads.
    As measured by Number of leads in Google Analytics

    Ranking Ideas

    Once you are done with the hypothesis, rank your ideas based upon these three factors, usually rating them from 1 to 5.

    • Impact — the effect of the idea post-implementation
    • Confidence or Proof — the probability of achieving the desired impact
    • Effort to Test — the amount of work required to conduct this test

    Updating the CTA button text can create a significant impact, has the credibility to succeed based on the Copytesting rules, and the effort to test this change is minimal. Whereas changing the graphical assets used on the landing page from photos to vector might create a huge impact too. But the effort to test is high, and therefore we know the first test can be easily prioritized.

    Sources Of Insight

    Whenever we talk about initiating a test, it’s recommended to analyze the ideas based upon a number of data sources.

    First of all, Google it. In this continually changing world, a number of marketers are regularly running tests and putting their findings on the web. Go through them, and check if your ideas are even testable or not.

    Find out what is required to execute these ideas, maybe some just need a simple fix, whereas some need an update in layout design.

    Gather Insights for Conversion Rate Optimization
    Photo by Stephen Phillips – on Unsplash

    One of the most recommended sources of data is your website analytics, and it has everything that you are looking for before running a test. Analytics can help you save hours of work, and you will be able to understand the visitor behaviour more accurately analyzing the patterns.

    Apart from the above, many tools give you insights and save you from the disappointment of running a test that shouldn’t be run in the first place. A few of these tools are:

    • Hotjar — provides feedback through tools such as heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys.
    • SessionCam — provides a click heatmap, a scroll map, and a screen recording feature to view how users behave on pages.
    • Tobii — focuses on sensor technology that makes it possible for a computer or other device to know where a person is looking.

    A/B Testing Basics

    A/B Testing in Conversion Rate Optimization

    Whenever a person listens to the term Conversion Rate Optimization, their mind instantly thinks of A/B Testing. However, CRO is much more than just A/B Testing.

    A/B Testing is the best way to collect visitors’ behavioural data by presenting them with different versions of a creative, or layout, or even a copy on your website.

    When we talk about getting feedback about a particular feature, or an update, we consult it with our team, our friends, & the family circle. Most of the time, the feedback is not accurate, and they act as pretenders & liars.

    A/B testing allows you to run the test, with both ends. As they both ends do not know the actual person behind the insight that you receive. CRO specialists will only get the numbers in forms of analytics. Whereas the visitor won’t even know that they are being tested, so their response is natural.

    The key to running A/B Testing is to understand which tests need to be run. This is vitally important to avoid running tests where they are not required. Also, keep in mind that it’s not necessary that the test variant that you are supporting only because of your own confirmation bias will lead the test.

    Bring It All Together – Conversion Rate Optimization

    Conversion Rate Optimization is one of the fundamental processes of Growth Marketing. We learned what CRO is & why is it important. We also shed light on how great ideas are lost, while ideas supported by political will make it to the top. However, we came across the framework to manage ideas. Insights are essential. Once you have the list of sources of raw data, combined with the powerful features of excellent tools, it becomes the perfect recipe to run A/B Tests.

    In the next article, I have discussed the Best Practices for the CRO.

    Do you have any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.