The Good News Is That You Don’t Have to Be a Cheeseball to Sell More Online

Break Conversion into Its Core “Ingredients” to
Understand How & Why Your Customers Buy

The Marketing Experiments conversion formula has been around for as long as I’ve been involved in conversion optimization. So a good 4 years.

But almost no one references it when discussing conversion rate optimization. It’s overlooked.

And it’s so publicly available, I can’t help but think of it as ubiquitous. Yet where are the posts on it? Where are the t-shirts stamped with it? Why doesn’t anyone get how freakin’ gorgeous this thing is?

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a ©

We have endless conversations – in the online marketing and startup world – about how to increase our conversion rate.

  • We hold brainstorming sessions to ‘throw out ideas’ for what to A/B test on our sites
  • We stare at our analytics, click-tracking and KISSinsights reports… and feel stumped
  • We run contests for someone to dream up the next great A/B test idea
  • We run painful tests – like trying to see which button color will convert better

We want to convert more visitors. We want to turn our traffic into money.

But we act like there’s just no solution.

…And meanwhile the Marketing Experiments conversion formula just sits there. In plain sight. Presenting a formulaic approach that puts the ‘art’ of conversion-rate optimization to shame.

The formula just sits. Waiting to be noticed.

Get to Know the Formula Intimately Today
So You’ll ALWAYS Know How to Optimize Your Site

There are exactly 5 easy-to-grasp elements that work together to move your site’s visitors from browsers to buyers.

Those 5 elements comprise the recipe – if you will – of key ingredients that, when mixed in the correct proportions and baked at the right temperature, produce an amazing + tasty dish… called conversion.

[highlight]Once you know the ingredients and how important each one is to the conversion process, you can reliably move people to purchase whatever you’re selling.[/highlight] Here is a breakdown of the key components of this formula:

C = Probability of conversion
m = Motivation of user
v = Clarity of the value proposition
i = Incentive to take action
f = Friction elements of process
a = Anxiety about entering information

Once you see how conversion can actually, truly be influenced with the above formula, you are on your way toward writing high-converting copy. And guess what! You’re going to learn exactly that right on this page.

Let me repeat the formula for you:

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i-f) – 2a ©

The numbers shown alongside each ingredient describe how important each one is to your site’s conversion rate.

In other words, motivation (m) is the most important ingredient, followed by your company’s value proposition (v).

The difference between any incentive you’re offering and the amount of friction you create for your site visitors (i – f) is slightly less important, as is the amount of anxiety (a) that people feel while exploring your site.

Now, you need to get a quick grasp on what the ingredients really mean. So you can apply them ASAP.


Ingredient 1: Write Copy That Reflects “Motivation”

Show Visitors How Relevant You Are to Their Needs!

Let’s start with motivation, since it carries the most weight in the formula.

Motivation: “I Need Shoes”

Your site visitors arrive with varying degrees of motivation, and tapping into their motivation is simply a matter of connecting what you offer to the visitors’ needs or goals.

How about a real life example. What motivates you to go looking for new shoes?

  • Is your existing pair of shoes worn out?
  • How you decided to take up a new sport?
  • Do you have an important event to attend?

When you arrive at the shoe store, you are already motivated to find a solution to your problem. You want to cure your ‘pain’.

But the type of shoe store you visit — department store, boutique, athletic, outdoors — depends on the type of shoes you’re looking for.

And that’s known as relevance.

Now, here’s the key to delivering relevance on your startup site: Your home page or landing page should describe exactly what you offer, so that people can tell whether they’re in the right place or not. This is less about persuading people to stay, and more about explaining what product or service you provide.

Seems insanely simple… but it’s something that 9 in 10 startups forget to do.

High-converting “copy hackers” tap into people’s motivation by communicating their product’s relevance to a particular problem, pain or situation.


Ingredient 2: Showcase Your Value Prop on the Page

Do You Know How to Write a Value Proposition?

Unlike people’s motivation for visiting your site, your value proposition is actually something you control with your copy.

It’s where you should plan to spend some time. After all, your value proposition permeates throughout your Web site and marketing materials.

Getting this right will have a huge influence on your site’s conversion rate!

Back to the shoe store analogy. Let’s imagine that you’ve decided to take up the sport of racquetball, and that you need a pair of athletic shoes suitable for the indoor court. There’s your motivation.

So… which athletic shoe store do you visit first?

Value Proposition: The Awesomest Things About You

Value Proposition: The Awesomest Things About You

As you explore the various athletic store options online or in the phone book, there are things you’ll use to determine where to go.

Where is the store located?
What is their selection like?
How late are they open?
How knowledgeable are the sales staff and how much help can you expect when you arrive?
And how are the prices?

All these things feed into a company’s value proposition and help you decide where to start shopping.

Applying this approach to your Web site means crafting a value message that shows people that they’re in the absolute best place to find whatever they’re looking for.


Ingredient 3: When You Write Web Copy, Highlight INCENTIVES

You Don’t NEED Incentives – But If You’ve Got ‘Em, Flaunt ‘Em!

Incentives: Why Hide ‘Em?

You likely already know plenty about incentives (e.g., discounts, special offers, etc.) and how they influence people to buy, so I won’t go into much detail about them here.

But the final two conversion formula elements – friction and anxiety – can’t be overlooked.


Ingredient 4: Reduce Friction to Boost Conversion

Why Are You Letting Your Copy Get in the Way of Selling? It Should Help!

Back to that fictitious shoe store… you’ve decided to look for running shoes at a nearby racquet sports store, because they specialize in everything related your new sport, they have awesome hours of business, and they talk a lot about personal service and attention to detail.

(Motivation and value proposition are working their magic.)

So you decide to drive to the store after work one day.

Friction: What’s Making It *Hard* to Buy From You Right Now?

Now imagine this ugly scenario:

It’s raining and parking spots are at a premium. You reach to open the door to the store and it’s extremely heavy and stiff. Upon entering the store, you wander over to the wall of great-looking shoes, but you notice there are no prices displayed, and the shoe sizes are nowhere to be found. And after 45 minutes of trial and error, you finally select a suitable pair of court shoes, only to learn that the debit and credit machine is down.

Now that’s friction.

The scenario above may seem like a stretch, but this stuff happens all the time – especially on the Web.

And as Web marketers, so much of it is within our control.

Effective site design and copy can work wonders to reduce friction for your visitors. But you need to know what to look for and how to eliminate it.

We’re getting close…

Ingredient 5: Relax Your Anxious Visitors

Why Aren’t Your Buttons Getting Clicked? Could It Be Anxiety?

The final element of the conversion formula is anxiety.

And like motivation, it’s something visitors arrive at your site with already firmly in place.

Now imagine that the horrific in-store experience I described earlier was actually very pleasant, devoid of any friction, and that you thoroughly enjoyed the store and the staff.

Anxiety: Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

Sounds delightful, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have any anxiety about your purchase.

  • What if the shoe doesn’t hold up in your first racquetball game?
  • Will the return process be painful?
  • Can you get a refund or just an in-store credit?
  • Heck, will the store still be in business if you need something down the road?

There are so many sources of anxiety in real life and on the Web.

In the online world, your copy can have a huge positive impact on the anxiety of your site visitors. The right words in key places can seriously minimize your potential customers’ worries.

It’s just a matter of anticipating their key stressors and writing copy that will make those stressors vanish.

So, Now That You’ve Now Met the Conversion Formula,
What Are You Going to Do with It?

The cornerstone of a successful – by which I mean “profitable” – business is bringing more money in than you pay out.

Optimizing your site using the conversion formula is THE way to do that. You now KNOW the ingredients. There’s no denying them. No overlooking them.

It’s time to look at conversion in a new light. It’s time to use the formula.

…Unless you don’t think conversion is going to help your business. I’ve heard people say that increasing traffic is more exciting than conversion optimization because “traffic changes are instant”. You can see more traffic come to your site very quickly after launching a PPC campaign or performing well on Reddit.

But traffic isn’t money.

Traffic is just traffic. And low-quality traffic is worse than low-quantity traffic. Traffic is only exciting if your influx of visitors signs up or buys. That is, traffic is only exciting when it converts.

Before you drive a hundred thousand random strangers to your site, make sure you’ve got a site that stands a chance of converting them.

Why Should You Optimize Your Site?
Because Optimization Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

Just like the Jelly of the Month Club, optimization keeps giving and giving. (But optimization, to my dismay, can’t be put on toast.)

If your conversion optimization efforts bring your conversion rate from 1.5% to 2.2%, from that point on – unless you make changes without testing first – your site will continue to convert at or around 2.2%. It doesn’t stop working just because you stop testing. A winning test is a winning test.

You do the optimization work in October.

And it pays off in November, December, January…

That leaves you to work on traffic. Who doesn’t want to drive more traffic to a higher converting site?

If you like passive income – as I know I do – conversion optimization is the biggest no-brainer. I mean, imagine what a 0.7% increase month after month could do for your business. Or a 1% increase. Or more. It’s seriously sick. And what’s the upfront cost? Google Website Optimizer and this post are both free, so the real cost to optimize is $0. (Compare that to splitting your profit when you use affiliate marketing to boost sales.)

Okay, so, now that you know the basic formula for converting, all you need to do is take what you’ve learned and apply it. I know it may appear easier said than done, but it’s not.

Here’s what optimizing your site today comes down to:

  • Set up a testing tool (GWO’s free; VWO has a trial and is uber-easy)
  • Test out a hypothesis about what motivates your visitors, such as the activity they want to complete that your offering can help them with
  • Rewrite your value proposition and showcase it as the headline on your home page & key landing pages
  • If you have an incentive – whether a discount or bonus ebook – don’t hide it!
  • Minimize the friction-y things that get in the way of converting, like too many form fields
  • Neutralize anxieties about return policies, shipping costs, free trials, etc by writing informative FAQs on your catalogue page and positioning anxiety-reducers near buttons & the cart

We’re talking a handful of hours. A day of work – max.

For the possible pay-off, I guarantee you will find this to be time extremely well spent.

Naturally, I wouldn’t mind one bit if you used my Copy Hackers ebooks to help you sort through the copy you’ll need to put it all on the page 🙂 – but that’s neither here nor there.

Until next time,
Yours in copy hacking & conversion,