VIDEO TRAINING: Secrets for Optimizing Conversion Rates (And Our 10 Best Experiments!)

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

This video training is a deep dive into the concept of conversion optimization and presents real life tests and experiments that have increase conversion rates substantially. Enjoy!



Craig Smith:
Hello there. Good morning or good evening. Welcome to the webinar training. My name is Craig Smith, I’m the founder of Trinity. And today we’re going to be talking about secrets for optimizing conversion and our 10 best experiments, a real deep dive into the topic of conversion optimization. To give you guys a framework and to give a bunch of examples of different ways you can approach your website to optimize it to drive more leads and to drive more sales. I think you’re going to get a lot out of this webinar. We have a lot of great stuff in here in terms of different tactics and ways to approach this type of program, and hope that you get a lot of insight from it. So let’s just jump right in.

As far as my background, I’ve been in e-commerce and digital for about 20 years. I used to work for eBay, and ultimately started Trinity back in 2006 as a agency that supports brands through scaling their online business. We do a lot of different things in email and UX, conversion, SEO, et cetera. But really, my goal for today is that you leave here with a plan of attack. That coming out of this, you’ll have new ideas and perspectives relating to the topic of improving your website and conversion that you can share and embrace and kickstart your growth in this function.

Now, what I’m going to do today is first share a proven methodology, an overall framework that we execute for fortune brands and enterprise retailers. And it really corresponds with four primary areas. Data, research, design, and technology. All of these four areas need to work in unison and they have to be integrated, so that as you’re going through your conversion optimization workflow, you’re maximizing the opportunities that exist. Also today, we’re going to provide clear examples and ideas, our best performing experiments in the last couple years, and show you exactly what we changed and what was the economic impact from that. I personally believe this is probably going to be the most interesting part of today’s chat, so definitely stick around for it. And also, there’ll be a webinar replay link sent out after the conclusion of the webinar.

So let’s first dive into methodology. What things do you need to consider? What are the different pieces on your chess board that need to be in the right spot to make sure that you can get this type of program to work within your company? I think you should follow this type of approach, and it starts really with research and planning. When you look at research and planning, I highlighted three components there. There’s others, but these are the three key ones. The first thing is to make sure you have the right data. A Google Analytics audit, I like to call it. Make sure you have the right intelligence with your activity and your click stream. Second is looking at your UX, your user experience. Where is your site tripping up people? Where is there what we call friction in your forms or processes? And then lastly is developing your roadmap, which is the data that explains what is the economic upside of some of these changes and how do we fix them?

You can see here, this is a snapshot of a Google Analytics audit that we conduct for our customers, but something you need to have done. To go in and make sure you have the right script across all tracking, to make sure you have accurate data, and to make sure all your subdomains, your different views, your filters, et cetera, your JavaScript library, plugin, everything needs to be right. Because without having this data be right, you’re operating in an environment where you don’t have truth, and that’s not going to serve you well in experimenting. So no matter what you do from a standpoint of optimization, the first thing you should do is make sure your data is correct.

The second step after you know you have data that’s accurate is looking at your user experience and all of your page templates, and deciphering where in that experience are you providing issues, causing friction, not answering questions, providing a mobile experience that’s inferior, providing a page that takes too long to load. You really want to inspect your site from the user perspective to uncover pain points and opportunities.

Some of the things that you want to consider, I highlighted on the left in those bullets. One is your brand presentation. Is it clean? Does it continue the same look and feel throughout the whole site and process? You want to look at your conversion funnel flow. Your categories to subcategories to product to cart to order. How are people flowing through? Are the pages clean and easy to navigate? Trust and security. Frequently see people get this wrong, where they’re not incorporating security badging and messaging, trust icons, giving details into your history. This is going to reduce some of the hesitation that you might experience with new customers. Mobile and touch usability. Also very, very important. Making sure the site is geared around phones and design mobile first. So there is a couple different things you want to consider. But you want to make sure you’re documenting it and sharing it internally and scoring it so you can have this information help dictate what you want to test.

On the left are some examples of things that you would get from that type of efforts, heuristic insights. Is the logo displayed? Is there a header that’s clear of clutter? But on the right is probably more interesting, which is getting data around your performance. You want to look at your website, your desktop and tablet segment, and your mobile segment, and you want to document bounce rate. You want to document how far people are progressing in the site. You want a document for each page template, what are the percentage of people that are going to the next page? This is going to help you with understanding the economics behind your site improvement efforts. If you move the needle from 10% to 11% on a product page progression rate, you can figure out using math, what is going to be the dollar value, the profitability increases, that we’re going to have in our enterprise? So a really important step to go through your insights and your data to make sure you’re deriving your economic model for optimization.

From there, now you have some ideas. You have different sections of the site you want to optimize, you need to prioritize them. We prioritize using what we call a P.I.E rating to potential, which is based upon the progression rates that are existing and based on the UX scoring that we do. The importance, which is, is this page getting a lot of traffic? Is it in your marketing channels? Are we paying for traffic? If you’re paying for traffic for a certain page or experience, obviously it’s more important than what you’re not paying for. And then lastly is the ease of implementation. This is really important as well. Is this going to be a really difficult test to implement, or is this going to be an experiment that’s going to be fairly simplistic? What is going to be required with either internal development or external development to get it live and running? All these things should be considered as you weigh out your roadmap and how you want to experiment and what are the ones you want to do first.

After that, now that you have a good plan of attack, you want to then move into the testing and personalization effort where you’re designing tests, you’re running them, you’re analyzing the data, and you’re ultimately hosting in the cloud or integrating back in your site. The first thing is that every test really should have a plan and a hypothesis that you construct. The hypothesis is what you’re going to test. What are the exact changes? What’s your target audience? What’s the amount of time? And by breaking this down in a specific effort for each experiment you’re going to run, you’re going to have better alignment within your organization. You’re going to have clear expectations from your development or IT team into changes that you’re looking to make or will be making, and it just makes it go smoother. So for every test that we deploy at Trinity and that you should deploy in your company, you need to have a testing plan that outlines all this data where everything is broken down.

In parallel with the testing plan, you need to have the alternative concepts of what you’re looking to construct. Many times these are done in wire frames, but you can just do the creatives yourself. In this case, we’re showing for the control version, the combination version, what are we changing within the new look and feel of the site that we’re going to be optimizing? And typically, designers or user experience specialists create this type of concepts.

After your concepts are done, you then move to development. This is where you use custom CSS and custom JavaScript and manipulate your website to put it in your website in an ABC or AB or multivariate testing environment. We use a platform called Visual Website Optimizer. We’ve been partners with VWO for almost 15 years now. They’re a great tool to use, but there’s other ones out there as well you can try. And basically, these tools inject it into your code, but you will need custom CSS and JavaScript to manipulate the structure to make a really effective test where you’re really changing out the guts of a page. But a critical piece is to get this code right.

And then also, a critical piece is cross browser compatibility. Frequently, we see tests in the wild with other companies that maybe aren’t QA as much as they should be. This is a really, really important step, and one that should not be neglected. Make sure that your development team takes the time to run the variations through every browser and device type, using tools like the one we’re using in our process, to make sure it’s bullet proof, to make sure it renders perfectly. Because again, you could really hurt your overall revenue if you’re launching a test that’s not working effectively.

As your test is in the wild and now is getting data, we incorporate a live reporting site in Google Data Studio. But you want to have someplace that you can access it daily to look at your performance. In this case, what’s your landings, your sessions, your bounces, your overall submissions? And this type of data is going to give you that daily insight into how the test is performing. And you should be able to get, if you have a highly trafficked site, intelligence pretty quickly. Data is deployed usually in a 48 hour validation period. And the real key number to think through here is 95% statistical significance. When you reach a 95% statistical significance number in your test, that’s when you know the variation is the winning variation, and ultimately, you can stop the test and then run all traffic to that version to really maximize the economic value of that page.

Now let’s go into some of our top performing tests. And really, this is going to be probably extremely interesting for those taking the webinar today. What we did here is went back a couple years and really wanted to look at our most effective experiments that we’ve been running, and to share them with you so you can leverage this type of knowledge and incorporate it within your own business.

The first test is what we call a value proposition test. This is where within this customer, we did a sitewide header modification that was across all pages in a certain section where we’re highlighting reasons to choose, in this case, the customer. Our thesis was that if we take some of these real important things and present it on every page with a call to action that associates, we’re going to get a lot more interactivity within the website. Our thesis was totally on point. We got a 45.7% increase in form submissions through this effort. And now, this quick form became the main driver of new leads, and we’re able to decrease the number of visible fields while still capturing the intelligence that the customer wanted. So again, the big number here, 45% increase in form submissions by just adding the sticky header type presentation. So regardless if you’re in e-commerce or lead gen, think about your value prop and think about a core call to action that you can incorporate into this type of presentation and test it out on your site. It probably will work really well.

The next test to highlight is our quote form test. This is a good case study for any B2B organization who has a quote box. In this example, we were able to drive a 28.4% increase in overall form submissions by doing a couple different things. The first was altering the visual presentation. We wanted to make it cleaner and to have more fluid error messaging when people didn’t have certain characters in the form. We also wanted to reorder the form fields, and we also wanted to condense them a little bit. And by doing so, we thought we would have the form complete at a higher rate. And also, the treatment in this experiment added a global information bar showing, again, value propositions. And also, lastly was the call to action button, which provided an additional opportunity for users to interact with the price analysis form. So long story short, not crazy modifications here. But ultimately, the small slight changes drove a 28% increase in form submissions.

The next experiment that was extremely interesting was our packages presentation test for a client in the hospitality and travel sector. Really, what we were trying to do here is reduce analysis paralysis. When there’s too much information for people to digest, they usually bail. And when we looked at the data with this customer on these pages, we saw what we thought was a higher than expected abandonment rate. What we did, we increased the clarity of the packages and content, but presenting them all in a single presentation versus a tab presentation related to certain types of packages.

We thought by doing this, we would get an increase to the checkout, and we did. Overall here, we had a 19.42% increase in progression rate, folks who went to this page who would then continue onto the book now page. Users in this experiment responded really well to the treatment. The vertical layout opposed to horizontal layout eliminated some scrolling and provided logistical details more rapidly and easier to digest. You can see that on the right. The left, you have to go down in that grid layout. This was more condensed, and it was a great test. And really something that if you’re selling packages or you have multiple options like a SAS business, this might be a great test for you to consider.

The next experiment that drove a 54% increase in conversion rate for this customer was related to the checkout value proposition. In any business where you have that key last step, where you’re asking for credit card or you want them to submit their order or submit their lead, a great easy strategy is to put your value prop right at the very last step. In this case, the start my trial button. This client is in the subscription business, and you can see that here at that last step, after they put the credit card in, we put in a couple small things. Refundable trial, free shipping, and a guarantee. In doing so, we thought it would help, but we didn’t expect a 54% increase to conversion, but that’s what it drove. So you can see the power of just simple, clear value proposition messaging on the last mile of your checkout process and what it can achieve.

The next test that did really well was mobile presentation and checkout. And this relates to a lot of folks are still not presenting their input types in numbers instead of the QWERTY keyboard. So what that means is, is that when someone’s putting in credit card information, you want to make that dial pad of the phone be how they put a numbers, not the QWERTY keyboard. In this case, we really just redesigned the checkout presentation in mobile, made it bigger, made it more modern, made it more sophisticated. Used, like I just mentioned, the input different, making it dynamic based upon what type of information we’re looking for. And this really saw a strong listing conversion immediately after launch. It made the checkout flow more intuitive, more friendly, and drove a 7.5% increase in checkout conversion.

This next test related to the product page, and really modifications and optimizations we did at the product page in giving people a faster jump point to information. What we noticed was is that a lot of folks weren’t, for this customer, scrolling down below the fold. But yet in our research, we found out that people really wanted to know information. They wanted to read about the supplement, both reviews and the description. What we did is just by putting in an additional module above that breadcrumb, where we gave the user a quick pathway to the overview, the reviews, and the knowledge base, we saw an 11% increase to add to cart rate by giving this type of presentation. These were just anchor links that would point people quickly down to the corresponding details on the page, but indicate to visitors that information is available, and also provide to them an easy way to navigate to that information. It made people more comfortable, and ultimately led to have more people add to the cart to purchase.

This next one drove a 21% increase in conversion. And really, here it was all about personalization. Personalization. If your website in some way relates to personalization in products or services, by presenting the form in its entirety throughout the entire personalization process in this case really, really did well. So instead of one page putting your name and information in, what we did is as someone went through and typed in information of what the personalization would entail dynamically changed on the page. And we’ve really found that this new page layout was much, much more effective than the existing layout for entering personalized information. In this case, a 21% increase to conversion.

This next one relates to check out again. What we did here drove a 11.77% overall conversion rate. And it’s just by modifying the modules and how they’re laid out on the page, and the forms and context of those forms. Again, we’re getting this result and we’re not going to a new e-commerce platform. We’re moving that order summary to the top right, we are providing a more intuitive design in terms of colors and background. Just cosmetic changes is it probably a better way to put it. These cosmetic changes drove this type of impact. So I definitely recommend if you’re in e-commerce, look at your checkout and cart pages. Do they look attractive? Are they easy to look at, both in mobile and desktop? Sometimes these cosmetic changes, and also in this case, suppressing the navigation, can provide a tremendous impact to your overall metrics.

This may be my favorite test out of every one that we ran. It drove a nearly 30% increase to conversion rate within a [inaudible 00:20:11] customer. And really, what we did here is we tied in the testing platform to the e-commerce platform so that in any instance where products had less than 10 items, we would show the number of items left in stock. Which our thesis was, would add urgency to that user session, which would drive them to add to cart at a higher degree. It totally worked. We had a 12% increase in add to cart rate, and again, a 29.69% increase to conversion rate by doing this.

Now, doing this definitely took a little bit of custom programming. There’s data we need to pull in from an e-commerce platform into the product page with the testing system to show this. But look, you can even do this in more of a generic fashion. But we strongly believe that if you’re in e-commerce, by having stock messaging on products less than 10 will lead to that sense of urgency, which will improve your conversion rate across your entire site, not just one category or page.

This last one is our checkout order summary test. The order summary is the last mile. You’ve gone through, you’ve sold the product, someone added to cart, they’re putting in their credit information, and they’re going to submit their order. This is a really important page. And in this example, for this informational retailer who sells an informational product, we’ve redesigned the order summary to increase clarity. Our thinking was that by redesigning the summary, making it more clear, we’re going to get an increase to overall conversion rate. What we did, we moved it to the right side of the page in the upper right. You see it right over here. And we also added more context, just to make a checkout experience they’re more familiar with. And just this simple change drove a 24.7& increase to overall conversion.

Well there, you have it. There was our breakdown of optimization methodology and conversion that you can leverage in your business, and some of our most effective tests of the year. I hope you found it interesting. If you’d like to get a free 30 minute strategy session on your brand to look at your site from a user experience perspective, please go to that URL,, and you can book it right there. It’s 100% complimentary for qualified brands. And again, we’ll go to the followup process of looking at your site. If you like, we can go into your analytics, we’re going to look at your user experience, and we’re going to come to you with a variety of ideas and plans from an optimization perspective of how you can grow. Again, 100% free, and it would be our pleasure to conduct this for your business.

So with that, thank you very much. We appreciate your time today being on the webinar. If you have any questions, again, that address to come to is You can find us there and book your discussion with myself or one of our solution specialists. So have a great rest of the day, everybody. Thanks again for tuning in, and we hope to see you real soon on another webinar.

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Secrets for Optimizing Conversion