#SMX East Day 3 Session Recap: Conversion Rates & The Law of Diminishing Astonishment

SMX East has come to a close. We laughed. We ate LUSCIOUS food. We longed for sleep. But most importantly, we learned. Day 1 saw us exploring brand differentiation, creative, AdWords and Bing Ads updates, and tools. On day 2, we dug into account structure and testing. Day 3 did not disappoint. We learned practically everything there is to know about conversion rate optimization in the aptly named session, “Conversion Rates & The Law of Diminishing Astonishment.” Read on for the lowdown.

After the click: Conversion rate optimization

Increasing conversion rates through visual communication
Getting a web user to click through your ad at a reasonable CPC is one thing, but how do you get them to convert? Amy Balliett of Killer Infographics kicked off the session, discussing how to drastically increase conversion rates through visual communication. Here’s why:

  • On average, users read just 20 percent of the content on a web page with more than 600 words of text, and it’s generally the content at the top of the page
  • Articles with visuals receive 94 percent more traffic, on average
  • Visual information connects to the brain 60,000 times faster than text
  • 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Text paired with images improves comprehension by 89 percent
  • 94 percent of first impressions of a brand are based on the design they see, not the text they read

Use of video
When presenting information on your landing page, Amy recommends starting with motion then following with static data and, finally, text. Users prefer to see a video first. Having a video on the landing page can significantly increase conversion rate – in one of Amy’s cases, by nearly 86 percent – but there’s a catch. Your video must be an original, high-quality video. What aspects make a video high quality?

  • Audio: An original score and sound design will carry the action forward
  • Design: Use custom design, not stock, to best represent your brand aesthetic
  • First impressions: You want your first impression to communicate a commitment to quality, not a commitment to doing things the cheapest way possible

Almost as important, get the video length right. Amy’s rule of thumb is to keep a video around 90 seconds with the problem statement in the first 30 seconds. In the next 30-45 seconds explain why your product is the solution. In the final 15-30 seconds provide a clear call to action for the viewer.

Developing your conversion optimization process

A process?
Many advertisers don’t have a defined conversion optimization process. They throw random tests at the wall, sometimes with one control variable being tested against thousands of challengers. Ayat Shukairy of Invesp proclaimed that it doesn’t matter what your starting conversion rate is; developing a consistent, calculated process will allow you to move the needle.

Chris Goward of WiderFunnel was also on board, declaring that you should be skeptical of so-called best practices. The best growth-optimization process enables both exploration for ideas and validation for confidence. He shared the secrets to his Infinity Optimization Process, which includes two separate mindsets: Explore and Validate.

In the Explore phase, the goal is to combine diverse information through the lens of the customer experience to generate surprising customer insights to be validated. Explore components include:

  • User Research
  • Digital Analytics
  • Persuasion Principles
  • Business Context
  • Test Archives

The hypotheses generated from the Explore phase feed into the Validate phase, which highlights Goward’s LIFT model. This model provides a conversion-optimization framework based on the viewpoint of a page visitor:

  • The value proposition and urgency drive demand
  • High relevance increases conversion rates
  • High clarity increases conversion rates
  • Consumer anxiety decreases conversion rates
  • Consumer distraction decreases conversion rates


Goward went on to show how specific areas of your website fit each of the principles that he outlined above. These are the areas that you explore, generate hypotheses for, and then ultimately validate.


Tips for landing page testing
It can be overwhelming to choose an area to begin testing. Many advertisers have hundreds or thousands of variables that could be tested; where do you start? A logical starting point is the website home page for organic traffic or paid landing pages that are generating a high amount of traffic.

When testing a landing page, evaluate what you’re portraying to the user. Ayat recommends focusing on the following:

  • What are you selling? Most advertisers get this right
  • How will it be of value? This is where it gets a little tricky. Focus on the product benefits and value proposition
  • Why should someone buy it? Very few advertisers hit the nail on the head here. It’s all about establishing an emotional connection with your visitors

When you’ve identified your target page and have generated a solid hypothesis to test, it’s important that you use both quantitative and qualitative data in your conversion rate optimization process. The quantitative data focuses on the “what,” while the qualitative data focuses on the “why.” When you have data, next dive into what is preventing the customer from making a purchase. Here are a few examples:

  • Can they find the information they need?
  • Will the product work for them?
  • Is it the right color?
  • Can they find the shipping costs?
  • Are they just comparing prices?

Remember, it’s our task as marketers to persuade visitors to take an action by gently guiding them towards a conversion. Establish trust with your visitors and know that your promises alone aren’t enough; you need a solid value proposition. Test with focus, develop a process and you’ll see conversion rates start to climb.

Thanks for joining us on our SMX adventure! Until March, keep calm and carry on converting.

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