A couple of weeks ago I published a monster post chronicling how I was increasing my email subscribers using a variety of different techniques.
Since then I've had a few people ask about other resources to learn about conversion rate optimisation. So here's my list of the best resources for improving conversions on your website with a special focus on increasing email optins.
If you want to dive deep into conversion rate optimisation, there are a few “heavyweight” resources you should bookmark. These are the folks who do constant research and publish their latest findings. They look beyond just tips and teach you why some things work and some don't so you can apply the lessons to your own situation.
Your first port of call should be MarketingExperiments. This is the most comprehensive source of optimisation information. They run regular webinars where they do live optimisation on viewer submitted sites. And they have a huge backlog of research papers and webinar recordings.
A great place to get started is their primer on Building To The Ultimate Yes.
Online marketing veteran Bryan Eisenberg has a great series of Conversion 101 blog posts that cover everything from landing pages, webinar invites, sales videos, etc.
Practical Hints and Tips
Blogs and resources with regular articles on improving conversion rates and email optins.
Peep Laja's ConversionXL site is pure conversion. It's got article after article on tested conversion strategies. No fluff. Targeted at the intelligent reader. I'm a subscriber – you should be too.
The Kiss Metrics blog regularly showcases the best guest writes on conversion and web optimisation topics.
Michael Aagard is another Nordic conversion expert (must be something in the water over there). He often reports on extensive tests he does of button designs, headlines, etc. on his blog Content Verve.
Clay Collins does regular videos on optimising website optins and sales and frequently includes free downloadable templates and entire web pages (or you can use the rather excellent LeadPages software that Clay sells). Check the MarketingShow blog for details.
Case Studies and Examples
Often the best way to learn conversion optimisation is to see it applied to live sites.
Conversion Rate Experts have a series of excellent case studies and infographics showing how they optimised seomoz.com and crazyegg.com. They talk not just about the results, but the research steps they went through to figure out what they needed to do to improve conversion. Check out the Articles section and the Learning Zone for details.
In this post, the Aweber team show the changes they made to their primary signup page to quadruple optins.
One of the classic case studies in optimisation is 37 Signal's repeated updates to their signup for Highrise. Here's the first article on the original changes they made.
And here's what happened next.
Of course, the learning resources at Marketing Experiments are full of examples and case studies, as are their live webinars.
Brian Dean has a long list of tests and results in his CRO guide. And finally, Which Test Won is a dedicated site for reporting split test results (you can only see the latest tests for free so it's worth keeping up to date with the latest posts).
Tools for Improving Conversions
One of the challenges many smaller businesses and solo professionals have is creating effective landing pages and optin forms without needing to know any complex code. Here are the tools I recommend:
Premise is a good option for removing all the clutter and making simple opt-in or sales pages – especially if your standard theme doesn't include a landing page template. A lot of my current sales pages and optin pages are based on Premise.
Optimizepress (wordpress theme) is a good choice when you want to create a micro site with a good basic optin page design. There are a handful of templates based on best practices.
LeadPages is the solution I'm currently using to create all my new landing pages. It's a fill-in-the-blanks system that enables you to create effective landing pages based on a variety of best practice templates that are being added to all the time. You can get a high converting landing page up and running in 10 minutes or less.
Unbounce is a site that lets you create Landing Pages based on their standard templates on their site and with a bit of tweaking, to invisibly redirect some of your website pages there.
Lander is a new service similar to Unbounce that lets you quickly create effective hosted Landing Pages using a drag and drop interface and/or predefined templates. I've not used it myself yet, but it comes highly recommended.
If you really want to make improvements to your conversion rates, the ultimate solutions is to test how things work in your own specific market rather than relying on best practices from others and hoping they'll work for you. Use the best practices for ideas on what to test, then see what actually works for you.
The basic testing tools for small businesses and solo professionals are:
Google Content Experiments. Sadly Google have downscaled their website optimizer tool, but it's still good for simple tests and has the benefit of being free.
Visual Website Optimizer is a powerful suite with an easy to use interface meaning you can set up tests without knowing any code.
Optimizely is the new kid on the block with apparently an even easier to use interface. I've just started using it to run a few quick tests and it is indeed very easy – and a bit cheaper than Visual Website Optimizer especially if you don't get a ton of traffic.
That's my selection of the best of the best – do you have any recommended resources for optimising conversions on your site? Pop your recommendations in the comments box below. Would be especially interested in comments from anyone who's used Lander or Optimizely.
* I've used a couple of affiliate links for some of the paid tools I mention so I'll get a nice little commission if you end up buying one of them. With the exception of Lander I've used all the tools myself and continue to use LeadPages, Optimizepress and Optimizely today as my main tools.