Picture of anxious lady

Anxiety is tough to find a good picture of on iStockPhoto!

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Don’t you hate it when people write headlines like “Boost conversions 3.67 times by . . .?” Somebody once figured out that exact numbers are more believable than round numbers, so every marketer in the world uses exact numbers now. “Buy my software and increase your profits $24,105.67 monthly!” What nonsense!
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The particular company in the case study I’m going to refer to here actually boosted their conversions from 2.4% to 8.8% with some pretty simple improvements, which is 3.67 times better. Is that huge, or is that huge?  Wouldn’t you like to do three times as many facelifts or mommy makeovers (or whatever) as you do now?

In this particular case, a conversion was getting the visitor to request a quote for VOIP telephone services.  A little different than trying to get a consult request, but the lesson is still applicable.

There are a couple of things that affect conversions on a web page. Actually, there are dozens of things, but they can be grouped into two primary areas:

  1. Things that increase or reduce resistance, sometimes called friction.
  2. Things that increase or reduce anxiety.

We’ll talk about the anxiety piece of the conversion puzzle in this post.  I’ll do another post on reducing friction.

A useful way to think of the whole conversion process is realize that the sale or opt-in or consult request that you’re trying to get is the “big yes.”

Prior to that, you need to get several “little yes’s.”

  • “Yes, I’ll read your headline.”
  • “Yes, I’ll read the first sentence or two.”
  • “Yes, I’ll read further. And further.”
  • “Yes, I’ll read the benefit statement.”
  • “Yes, I’ll fill in the fields with my information. “

Then the big one . . . “Yes, I’ll click ‘Submit’, or ‘Request a Free Consult’.”

The problem, of course, is that at any point along the way, a single “no” derails the process. Your task is to avoid any “no’s” due to anxiety over any step.

One example of an anxiety-producing step is requesting a phone number. Immediately, your visitor is wondering if she’s going to be assaulted by a fast-talking, pushy, aggressive telemarketer.  The telemarketer who couldn’t care less about her and her situation, and who is only interested in making a sale, and will say whatever he has to say to get the sale.

Eliminate the phone number request, and you substantially reduce anxiety.

We need to bear in mind that consumers don’t trust us, and we need to anticipate and correct, even over-correct, potential causes of anxiety.  (Physicians and Dentists are more trusted than most, but still, consumers are wary of being taken advantage of.)

Eliminating the phone number requirement is one example, but there are other potential anxiety generators that we can’t eliminate, so we have to over-correct for each of them.

You do this by (1) focusing on the specific concerns about the product or service, (2) right at the point where it comes up, (3) with extra intensity.

So you recognize that people are wondering:

  1. What’s this really going to cost?
  2. Is this the lowest cost version?
  3. Are there any fees or hidden costs?
  4. How does this compare with other solutions?
  5. How’s the quality?
  6. Are you reliable, experienced, established, reputable and really good?
  7. Why do they need my personal information?
  8. What are they going to do with it?
  9. What happens when I click “Request Appointment”?
  10. Are they going to call me and pester me?
  11. Is there a better option?

And maybe lots of other things.

You counter by meeting the anxiety with Before and After pictures, testimonials, information about your training and reputation and teaching appointments, “As Seen On” stories, BBB and other badges– anything you can show that will reduce anxiety, right near the place on the page where the anxiety might arise, using intense language:

“Stanford-Educated”  “Harvard Trained”  “Thousands of Delighted Patients”  “Chief Resident in Plastic Surgery at Johns Hopkins”  “Voted Cosmetic Surgeon of the Year”  “Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery Hall of Fame”  “As Seen on Channel 4”  “Best-Selling Author”  “Frequent Lecturer on Advances in DIEP Flap Surgery”–  all these and others like them will help reduce anxiety.

This, of course, is what good copywriting and good page design is all about. It’s a huge subject.

Fortunately there are lots of free resources.

There’s a great hour-long video on this particular point, that shows specific examples of how sales pages and order pages were improved according to these principles at:


Remember that small changes on a page can drive large changes in visitor behavior, so you have to test. Divert part of your traffic to a new page that incorporates the change you want to try. Let both pages run for a while until you have a clear winner, then test that page against a new one, and keep doing that.

(The “clear winner” part is a big subject all by itself. We’re happy to chat about it if you want to contact us.)

If you’re doing it correctly, you’re always testing. You never stop, because there’s always something you can try. Remember that improvements compound on one another (see our post on Split Testing ), so you, too, just might get a 3.67 times better conversion rate after not too many anxiety-reducing improvements!

We’re happy to take a look at your page, and in fact we offer a free hour-long Strategy Session. It’s a mini-consult, not a sales pitch, and it always results in at least a couple of ideas you can execute on, on your own.

Can’t lose, right?