7 Awesome Conversion Rate Optimization Case Studies To Kick Off The New Year!
So here we are. It’s 2014, and once again one of your resolutions is to “make my website better.”
Yeah, it’s at the top of my whiteboard too.
Problem is, all the metrics look pretty ok. So where should do you start if you want your tests to mean anything?
Because there was such a great response to “My 6 Favorite Conversion Rate Optimization Case Studies,” I thought you might be interested in seeing even more.
Like before, there’s a lot of ground to cover here. So to get the most out of this list you should:
- Find the case study that best reflects where you are today
- Look beyond “what” is being done. Instead question “why” it worked so you can adapt the test for your site
- Leave any burning questions about the case study in the comments
- Share this article with anyone who you think it could help.
1. SuperOffice Increased Lead Flow By 166% By Using HelloBar
I like this case study because the increase in lead flow is a direct result of understanding the visitor’s behavior and presenting them with a logical next step.
This idea— page flow—isn’t new, but it’s also something that many of us aren’t paying attention to, especially when it comes to moving people from blog readers to subscribers.
SuperOffice published 3-4 blog posts a month & received approximately 3,000 visitors. The problem was, visitors weren’t reading the company white papers or converting to leads.
By installing HelloBar, SuperOffice could match individual blog posts to in-depth white-papers on the same topic, effectively giving blog readers a “next step” if they wanted deeper learning.
This was made even more effective by programming Hellobar to show only if the visitor made it to the bottom of the post—indicating they read the article.
Between matching the free content to the lead generation content, SuperOffice created a stronger sense of “flow” between their pages, and experienced a 166% increase in leads in the first month of making the change.
With the case study, it’s important to realize the lift wasn’t because of Hellobar, but rather because Hellobar was a way to present visitors with the option of what to do next.
For SuperOffice, the best next step was to send visitors to a white paper. For another site it may make more sense to direct visitors to another article, or ask them to share the content via social network.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for where to send your visitor next. For the absolute best results, the “next step” should be based solely on what makes sense for each piece of content, and determined on a case-by-case basis.
Read the full case study on Search Engine People.
2. Basecamp Experiences 14% Increase In Conversions After A “Simple” Redesign
Being released in 2010, this case study is practically ancient. But it shows just how powerful it can be to remove excess noise from a design and illustrate your points more clearly.
What’s interesting about this design in particular was that it demonstrated the company’s confidence that its work in other areas was paying off. Being the 5th iteration of the web page, and the company having established itself in the 7 years prior, they could safely assume many visitors knew what they did.
This design is my favorite, because it’s a the perfect snapshot of a company that’s on the rise. It still communicates all it’s value on the front page, but doesn’t inundate the reader, because they likely already know what they’re about to read.
After this design, Basecamp’s homepage would only get simpler, focusing primarily on social proof and customer satisfaction. The features/benefits are already so well known, it’s almost redundant to mention them up-front .
Notorious for their “assume nothing, try everything” approach, Jason Fried and team knew they wanted to include more visuals and use less text to make a “generally simpler and less dense presentation” in order to drive more clicks to the plans and pricing page.
First they created a simple sketch to communicate the basic concept of what the page should be about.
Building on the sketch, they added subheadlines to ask the questions that BaseCamp ultimately solved.
Ultimately, they felt spelling out the benefits was overkill, so they inserted icons in place of the text. This turned out to be a great move.
During an A/B test against the original homepage, they found the simpler design increased clickthroughs by 14% while maintaining their existing conversion rate. In other words, free customers!
If you’re considering a redesign, resist the instinct to let the old design influence the new.
Instead, consider how much you’ve grown since the last redesign and if people know more about you than they did before. State what you are, of course. But also allow your reputation to influence the way you present yourself.
If everyone already knows what you do, it’s not your job to tell them what they know. It’s your job to show them why you’re better.
Read the full case study on 37Signals.
3. Dustin Curtis Gets More Twitter Followers
This is another older one, but it demonstrates just how powerful changing language from passive to direct can influence a visitor’s clickthrough behavior.
Though this study is specifically about playing with text to get more clicks to a Twitter account, the underlying principles of language use and, more specifically, how you phrase link text can dramatically impact whether people dig deeper into your content.
UX developer Dustin Curtis included a link to his Twitter account at the bottom of certain blog articles not really expecting much. To his surprise, what was intended to be a throw-away link, received a 4.70% CTR, which made him wonder if it could be improved.
Dustin decided to switch the call to action from a statement (“I’m on twitter.”) to a command (“Follow me on twitter.”)
“The result of switching to a command is pretty remarkable; the click through rate jumped by 55% to 7.31%.”
With that being a significant lift, Dustin figured, “Why stop there?” He made the command stronger and more personal, saying, “You should follow me on twitter.” The result? The click through rate jumped to 10.09%.
Taking it a step farther, Dustin decided to add a literal callout to the link, saying, “You should follow me on twitter here.” This resulted in a clickthrough rate of 12.81%.
Why is this important?
As Dustin says, “The data shows that users seem to have less control over their actions than they might think, and that Web designers and developers have huge leeway for using language to nudge users through an experience.”
The obvious advice would be to test your major calls to action, but that’s too simple. Let’s take it a step further.
Go to your blog and open the post that receives the most search traffic. Look at the phrases that link to deeper pages on your site.
Can you rephrase those links to create a curiosity gap and make them want to click?
Could you make links irresistible in your guest blog content and snag their attention before they reach your byline?
If you get more people to your stuff with minimal effort, it’s definitely worth a shot.
Read The Full Case Study on DustinCurtis.com.
4. How Kissmetrics Averages $13,000 per Webinar
I absolutely love this case study! It demonstrates the extreme power that marketing automation can have when you pay careful attention to how all the pieces fit together. For KISSmetrics, this added an average of $13,000 for each webinar, so who knows how much it could mean for you.
The other thing I really enjoy about this case study is how it walks you through running successful webinars step by step. From identifying the best content to getting more people to sign up, to building the landing page, and improving the webinars every time.
This is a must-read case study if you plan to use webinars as a part of your strategy in 2014.
In the past, Kissmetrics used the standard GoToWebinar landing page to encourage signups for their webinars and experienced a 4-6% in conversions for registration.
Knowing better conversion rates were attainable, they switched to Unbounce so they could completely control the look and feel of their landing pages.
The switch to Unbounce alone was enough to increase webinar signups by 1,000%, but it was asking a simple question, “Would you like a demo of KISSmetrics” that helped them average $13,000 per webinar.
After attendees filled out the KISSmetrics webinar form, Unbounce would send them to a trial sign-up page, rather than a generic “Thank you” page.
With Zapier, KISSmetrics could take advantage of AWeber to fully control the look and feel of the follow-up emails and automatically follow up with everyone who participated in the webinar.
Because follow-up is automated, it frees everyone to speak with prospects instead of worrying about sending out follow-up marketing.
Automate your marketing in the places where it makes the most sense. Pre-writing & scheduling follow-up emails can be a huge time saver, especially if you’re solo or on a small team.
The other thing, though, is to be respectful of the person on the other side. What’s interesting about how KISSmetrics used their automation was that they were only scheduling demos and doing the “sales” follow-up with people who asked for it (through the option on the form).
This level of segmentation allows the marketer to sell ONLY to the people who want to be sold to while still providing tons of value for everyone else. While they don’t explicitly mention segmentation in the case study, it’s very likely the reason they average $13,000/ webinar now.
Read the full case study on Zapier.
5. The Sims 3 Doubles Registrations By Identifying Most Compelling Offer
Even if you’re selling something intangible like virtual goods, you can get people to buy with methodical conversion testing.
There are two great things about this case study:
1.) It demonstrates the value of identifying micro-conversions and strategically moving people between each step rather than trying move people from “completely anonymous visitors” straight to “buyer.”
2.) It showcases just how important it is to make wildly different offers to determine what will work best.
Too often we get hung up on repackaging the same offer rather than testing out very different things. Without knowing what people really want, we burn energy unnecessarily.
This was something The Sims 3 Marketing team realized when they contacted WiderFunnel to help increase player registrations for the latest Sims game.
Because they already had a process in place for converting registered users into paying customers and paying customers into repeat customers, they knew the biggest challenge was to get more people to see the value in becoming a registered player.
WiderFunnel implemented 5 variations of the opening screen to encourage anonymous players to register.
Variations A1 & A2
Simplified versions of the control page page (pictured above) were re-designed to improve eyeflow and include a headline with game tips—with the emphasis on free stuff—and a prominent call to action. A1 & A2 were identical except from the background, which was white in one variation and blue in the other.
Variation B – Shop
This variation focused on the overall benefits of registering and offered free content. In addition, this variation linked to the Sims Store, where players could buy content, and the Exchange, where players could get content for free.
Variation C – Free Stuff
This variation put a strong emphasis on the the game’s free in-game content and highlighted a specific offer to receive free points—the game currency—and free town upon registering. Links to the Exchange and store were also included, but all bullet points were excluded to remove unnecessary copy.
Variation D – Free Town (Winner!)
This variation focused getting a free town and 1,000 Sim Points for becoming a registered player. The town itself was the background for the offer, while the general benefits of registration were listed as bullet points.
Variation E – Free Points
This variation focused specifically on the 1,000-free-points offer, and the background imagery depicted content that could be downloaded by redeeming the points.
Results – “Free Town” Increased Game Registrations by 128%
Turns out, making the free-town giveaway the primary focus of the login screen made a huge impression on non-registered players. The “Free Town” offer delivered a 128% lift in registrations, while the runner up, “Free Points” (Variation E) resulted in a 79% lift, revealing that players respond to specific “Free” offers.
“This test not only resulted in an improved conversion rate but it provided valuable insights into the type of offers The Sims 3 players find the most compelling.” ~Wider Funnel
First, understand the “micro-conversions” that need to happen for your visitors to go from anonymous visitors, to email subscribers, to paying customer and repeat customer.
It seems simple, but after reading this case study, I was blown away by how little you hear about micro-conversions for everything from e-commerce to getting more subscribers and customers from your blog. Every prospect has an incremental journey they need to take, so really consider those steps.
Second, simultaneously test different offers to understand what works best for your visitors. It could be free stuff, X% off coupons, white papers, buying guides or something else.
Read the full case study on WiderFunnel.
6. Adding An Extra Step for Anti-Bedhead Product Gains 43.54% More Revenue
Kickstarter-funded Morninghead—a hair product that eliminates bedhead without the need for running your head under a faucet—increased their revenue by adding another step to the conversion process.
I like this case study because it’s so simple and powerful and reiterates the point Jason Fried of 37 Signals is always making, “Assume nothing, test everything.”
As you can see in the screenshot above, the original order page for Morning Head included the standard “quantity” drop down above the main call to action.
While this page had seen results, conversion firm Landers Optimized felt there was a major problem with this page.
“…a visitor will only be concerned about quantity when they have already made the buying decision. It’s almost like me asking you what toppings you want on a pizza you’ve yet to order. It also creates friction in the user’s mind since it’s an extra decision that needs to be made.”
To alleviate this problem, they removed the drop down from the main page and included a second “How Many Do You Want?” page that asked buyers about quantity after they made the decision to buy.
This simple change resulted in a 43.54% lift in revenues, bringing the average cost per visitor up from $0.16/visitor to $0.23/visitor.
What makes this test even better was that it came after revenues had already been increased by 37.21% in another series of tests!
Similar to The Sims 3 case study from the last section, the hardest part about optimizing your sales funnel isn’t necessarily getting people to buy, or even to buy more. Sometimes it’s just about removing unnecessary things to think about, so you can make the buying decision easier.
While adding steps may be against “best practices,” it’s worth testing secondary pages IF that second page cuts the noise that makes people hesitant to buy in the first place.
Read the full case study at Landers Optimized.
7. How CrazyEgg Grew Conversions by 363%
Finally, I’d be doing you a disservice by not including this incredible case study about CrazyEgg!
With there being four major areas of improvement, this case study is LONG so for the sake of brevity here, I’m going to cover one of the major changes and highly recommend you check out the full study here.
When CrazyEgg reached out to Conversion Rate Experts, the site was already converting well, and they wondered if it could be improved even more.
To find out how they could help Crazy Egg, the team at Conversion Rate Experts interviewed existing customers and qualified, non-buying prospects to discover their primary objectives. Here’s what they found:
- People were unclear of how heatmaps worked.
- Price was a objection (but was also a little misunderstood).
- Some visitors couldn’t tell the difference between CrazyEgg and Google Analytic’s overlay report.
- Some visitors thought CrazyEgg had fewer features than competitors’ tools.
Conversion Rate Experts also interviewed CrazyEgg’s customer support team to understand common customer questions and how they were answered. Many of the customer-support answers were incorporated into the new text on the challenger pages.
Noticing that the main landing page only used text and images to communicate CrazyEgg’s benefits, Conversion Rate Experts recommended they create an explainer video to appeal to visitors with a visual learning style.
Using what they learned from their interviews, they created a 2½ -minute explainer video script that succinctly communicated the best information about CrazyEgg.
Even though the video was similar to the written message on the page, it resulted in a 64% increase in conversions. It’s important to note, though, the video worked because the script incorporated most of the feedback Conversion Rate Experts found during the customer research.
Neil even wrote specifically about why the explainer video worked on the QuickSprout blog.
“…it works so well that the video drives an extra $21,000 a month in new income….
The most important part of a video is the script and not the actual video quality. Whether you have a high quality video or a mediocre one, if the script isn’t good, it won’t convert well.”
Realize not all of your visitors process information the same way.
Try different media formats to re-communicate the main benefits of your product or service and make things more accessible for different types of learners.
If you primarily use text and images, try using videos, PDFs or slideshows to have something more visually compelling.
If you primarily rely on people watching your videos, try adding more text to your landing pages so each feature and benefit is highlighted in its own section.
Read the full case study on Conversion Rate Experts.
8. Empire Today Grows Revenue By 200% With Inbound Calls
The best thing about this case study is that it moves beyond on-page optimization and instead uses newer call-tracking technology to bridge the gap between phone calls and web analytics.
Previously, it only seemed possible that if someone called your phone number from your website or an ad, all of your attribution metrics were lost. But with Empire’s technology solution, they could track calls AND, in some cases, even discover which pages on the website the caller had seen. Cool right?!
Industry research shows that phone leads convert roughly 3 times higher than web-form leads.
Problem is, as soon as a lead calls in, you’ve lost all of the data that tells you where they saw your ad, what pages they’ve visited on your website, which keywords convert best, and so on.
For Dan Altman, the marketing manager for Empire Today, this problem was made even worse because the company’s “800-588-2300, Em-pire, Today!” jingle is widely considered one of the most recognized in advertising history.
How could they expand their marketing presence to include affiliate websites, mobile search, and more traditional forms of marketing like print and radio while maintaing proper attribution data?
Fortunately, Dan found Invoca, a call tracking company that combines the power of phone calls with the transparency of web analytics.
With Invoca, Dan was able to generate unique phone numbers for every single campaign.
If he was using Google’s Click-To-Call ad extension, he’d generate a specific phone number for a set of keywords.
When he worked with affiliate websites, the website could generate unique phone numbers for every visitor. If that visitor called in, the phone number would sync to the IP address in Google Analytics and show which pages of the site the caller had visited.
By combining the call-tracking technology with various marketing campaigns, Empire Today was able to include an additional 2,000 calls a month, exclusively through new media channels.
If your business sees better performance over the phone than through online sales, look into using a call tracking service so you can bridge the gap between phone calls and analytics.
This will help you to make better use of your marketing budget, and stop doing things that just don’t convert.
Read the full case study at Invoca.
Remember, Focus On The Customer First
What I love about these case studies is the underlying theme of getting to know the customer better.
Whether it’s directly asking them, like in the Conversion Rate Experts studies, or testing out very different offers, like in The Sims study, each study experienced increases in conversion because the tests were designed on the premise of understanding the person on the other side of the screen.
So, if you’re still wondering what to test first, maybe you should just ask for a little honest feedback.
Who knows, it just might be what you need to start 2014 with a bang!
Check out Tommy Walker’s other Crazy Egg articles here.