For most startups, your website will be your most valuable source of bringing on new users.

While you might consider 8% a solid conversion rate for a “typical” consumer web product, imagine if you were able to double that?

You’d have to try half as much to drive traffic to your page.

But what if you could raise your conversion rate all the way to 30%? Don’t tell me it’s not possible, because 30% is the rate a product called BrandYourself converts new visitors on their page into members. Here’s a snapshot of how this looked like over one high-traffic period of only 60 hours:

brandyourself conversion

Patrick Ambron, CEO of BrandYourself gives a lot of credit to the product’s growth to over 200,000 users to its ability to convert sustainably. Whether it’s a homepage, a landing page, the principles are similar.

What are these methods of powerful conversion?

Recently, Patrick revealed some of the principles behind their heavily tested homepage at one of our recent meetups (link to actual video) in NYC. Keep in mind this is an outstanding rate, and your results with vary by product.

1. Specific unique selling proposition

The more simply you can say what your product does, and how it’s different in the main heading, the better you’ll convert. Often times with a startup, you’re competing against irrelevance and a simple value proposition is all you’ll need 🙂

Brandyourself’s “Improve Your Own Google Search Results” heading does this job well. It’s not like the typical vague advertising slogan, pushing a brand or a concept.

brandyourself homepage1

Instead of taking the temptation to be general, take the opposite approach and focus in on the specific value a user will get in return for their attention. Keep the copy tight, and use additional supporting text in the subheading if you need to add more detail. As soon as possible, use the language your customers actually use when talking about your product.

The point is to keep all the specific information a potential user needs easy to understand and obvious above the fold of the site. This saves valuable seconds when a person first hits the site and makes your call to action so much easier to click.

2. Clear call to action

For BrandYourself, the “Create a Free Account” call to action stands out inside a green button which contrasts to the site’s blue-toned background. It’s also easy to see the white input fields a user needs to fill out on the form.

Although the form on BrandYourself takes up valuable homepage real estate, testing proved having a simple form with only three fields was more effective. After all, if you can have a user sign up on the homepage, you don’t have to worry much about your activation funnel, and potentially losing users who must click through another page. When you’re signing up a new user, only ask for what you need.

If you’re in the optimization stage with your product, one site I love to help build and test out different call to action buttons is dabuttonfactory. The site gives you the option to easily make buttons both as images (JPG, PNG) and in CSS.

There are a few benefits to using CSS over an image to consider. A CSS generated button can decrease page load time. It saves your users from having to potentially download multiple images and use of javascript for an onmouseover event. If you’re familiar with CSS, it may also be easier option to make quick changes to a button in your stylesheets, instead of having to edit and keep replacing an couple image files.

3. Meaningful visuals

Visuals help catch attention and quickly establish credibility. But make sure they’re related to your product. Your images should support your case in the valuable first few seconds someone lands on your page.

Pinterest takes advantage of this, by showing the visuals that are a natural part of the product.

pinterest homepage

Multiple studies show adding a face on your page can help improve trust and leads to higher conversions for eCommerce sites. An appropriate iStockPhoto can work, but it can be much better to include high-quality images of your actual customers.

Videos like one the zendesk homepage can be another visual way to define a problem for a customer, and for more complex sales where explanation of the product may be needed.

zendesk homepage

4. Social proof

Social proof is defined as “looking for others to guide our decisions.” When faced with the initial uncertainty of a new website (which might be described as chaotic if you look into how we read on the web) we tend to defer to indicators of value from other people.

If your customers include some of the Fortune 500, why not include their trust worthy logos?

box homepage

Once you have the first three points above nailed, find creative ways to add social proof. Ideally this would come in the form of customer logos, but press, social media mentions, statistics such as number of users, and testimonials can also improve conversion.

5. Be easy

Just like you the above points focus on easily explain your product’s value, you should also make it easy to have a user give you their email, sign up or use your product.

Think of a conversion as = desire – friction (If you’re critical about the math, you might have to throw in some exponents and division in there, but the relationship still holds).

Your initial landing page is part of your product. You’re looking to give new visitors that “must have” experience as soon and easily as possible.

In its simplest form, this is a promise for something compelling in the future in exchange for an email which is the typical landing page you’d create with an Unbounce or Launchrock.

In a more advanced case, you can actually have someone dive into using the product immediately. Google after all has its simple search bar, which trains you to immediately use the product and get results. Twilio makes building a first app simple for a developer, and comes with plenty of well thought out documentation.

Next Steps

While the above principles to start strong, rigorous A/B testing will help you know which variation works best. You’ll probably be surprised.

Starting a test is simple, and you can begin by by adding a few snippets of javascript to hook up to a product like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer.

Have you found these principles to have helped you bring on more users? Let me know in the comments!