When it comes to conversions, time is everything. The more time you can shave off things, the better your conversion rates will be.
What time am I referring to?
There are two types of timing issues that can negatively impact conversions.
- Page load time: You must improve your page load time to improve conversions. Just a 1 second delay in page response cut conversions by 7%!
- On-page convert time: Once the user is on the now-loaded page, how long does it take him to convert? This is critical but often overlooked area of conversion optimization.
If you’re tracking conversions in analytics, you can better understand how long it takes your users to convert in terms of sessions and days. Here’s an ecommerce sites whose visitors mostly convert on the first visit, 89% of the time.
Knowing how many sessions/visits it takes a user to convert is part of understanding the customer journey.
But we want to look even closer, at the detailed on-page experience. How long does it take the user to convert once they’re on the page? This is called conversion duration.
Unfortunately, conversion duration isn’t a ready-made metric that you can view within Google Analytics, though it is possible to track it with custom cookies and timestamps, as explained on the e-nor.com blog.
I recommend tracking this information, since it can provide valuable information about your conversion process, including the checkout process.
For example, if you find that your checkout process is taking a long time — ten minutes or more — it might mean that your checkout process is too complicated. With conversion duration metrics in hand, you can also identify how long it takes during the checkout process for most people to leave.
Improving Conversion Duration: The Theory
Theoretically, if you can cause the conversion to happen faster, then you will gain more conversions.
At every stage in the funnel, people are leaving the site. There’s no such thing as a funnel that transmits 100% of the users. Along the course of the funnel, users are exiting.
Think of your funnel in terms of the time it takes, not just the steps it takes. Logically, the longer the funnel, the more people will leave. If you can shorten your funnel, then fewer people will leave.
To prevent more users from abandoning the funnel, you need to make the funnel shorter in terms of time.
Here’s how to do it.
Practical Steps to Reducing Conversion Duration
In the remainder of this article, I’m going to provide a few practical things that you can do to improve your conversions by reducing the time it takes for that conversion to happen.
Keep the theory in mind. We’re focusing on shortening the amount of time it takes for the user to convert, so we can gain higher conversion rates.
Time is a huge source of friction. By destroying this friction source, we can better create a high-converting site.
My first point of advice is more theoretical than tactical. I do, however, think that it is important.
Psychologists have identified that urgency is a powerful motivation for human behavior and action.
The obvious goal in a conversion situation is for the user to act. That’s why we have a call to action on every page. Since urgency causes the user to act faster, then we should increase urgency to produce this action.
Urgency is a two-edged sword, though. Sometimes, urgency can cause humans to act rashly. In one study reported in Clinical Psychological Science, a team of psychologists from the University of Kentucky studied a group of individuals to better understand two models of urgency. The study concluded that urgency has two possible outcomes:
- “Rash action.”
- “Ill-advised inaction”
Note: Psychologists refer to “rash action” when discussing urgency. In some life situations, “rash action” is a negative outcome of urgency. In an ecommerce situation, however, “rash” is positive, leading to a shortened conversion duration and increased conversion rates.
What makes the difference between the first type of action and the second — inaction?
Some of it has to do with the individual, but it’s more dependent on the context of the urgent situation, and how the urgency is implemented.
In an independent study of urgency, published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, psychologists discovered that in order for people to act on their urgency, they need “specific action plans.”
In other words, if you want users to convert quickly, you must give them obvious instructions on how to do so.
It works like this:
Step 1: Raise the urgency level on your website or landing page. The user is feeling the urgency both emotionally and cognitively. She is ready to either act quickly or stall and not act at all.
Step 2: Give the user a clear and obvious plan to act on her urgency. This is simply the call to action.
That’s the theory behind urgency. There are plenty of ways to increase urgency. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use time-specific language. E.g., “Buy it now.” “Closing at midnight.”
- Impose deadlines. E.g., “Application cut-off on Tuesday at noon.”
- Add a timer to the site. The timer would simply tick off the seconds remaining until closing, or the time that the user has spent on the site so far.
- Display inventory limitations. E.g., “Only 4 left!”
Place CTAs after every section on the landing page.
Users will convert at different rates. Some users will need to ponder longer or take more time on the page to think about your offer.
The goal of your landing page is to convert every user. That’s why you have lots of copy on your landing page, as in the case of longform landing pages. Not every user will read every word, but some will. You want to reach as many people as possible.
If you use a longform landing page, then give your users a chance to convert at whatever point they’re ready to do so.
On the Tavern landing page, there’s lots of copy. The landing page designers provide several points at which the user can convert.
The point is, you should never make a user hunt around for the CTA. There’s a chance that they could take too long, get bored, and bounce. Reduce the time it takes for the user to find and act on their call to action.
Create clear CTAs.
Your CTAs are of utmost importance in creating a successful landing page that reduces conversion duration.
As I discussed above in the psychology of urgency, people need to know exactly what to do once their urgency level is high. Urgency creates some cognitive interference. People aren’t thinking as clearly when they feel urgent. Because they have a single and urgent objective, they may have a harder time being sensitive to other cues and page elements.
For that reason, your CTAs need to have the following characteristics:
- Large. Make the buttons themselves bigger.
- Explicit. Tell the user exactly what you want them to do.
The clearer your CTAs, the easier and faster a user will convert.
Remove extraneous funnel pages.
The fewer funnel pages you have, the better.
I’m a major proponent of the one-click conversion action. For example, this is what we’ve done with CrazyEgg. The user can get what they want with a single click.
Once the user enters that point in the funnel, they get a partial result. There are still a few more steps in the process.
What we’re trying to do, however, is remove any unnecessary funnel pages in order to make the conversion fast and easy.
Users don’t want a choose-your-own-adventure landing page. Don’t give them a lot of ideas or options that could derail the conversion: “view all plans,” “choose your type of server,” “first, enter your ZIP.” Ask yourself, are those really necessary for the funnel to be successful?
The shorter the funnel, the more conversions you’ll have.
Create a popup.
One of the fastest ways to cut straight to a conversion is to use a popup. I’ve discovered that popups produce huge levels of success.
The popup is a great example of a short funnel. Most popups are used to gain an email address, which is a pretty simple conversion action.
Remember, this is simply one of the methods of reducing conversion friction and increasing conversion rates. To really understand the impact of time on your conversion rates, be sure to watch your analytics and conduct split testing.
This aspect of conversion optimization — conversion duration — is one of the least-talked about areas of optimization and conversion. I know of very few CROs who are actually monitoring this metric, and identifying its impact on conversion rates.
What is your experience with conversion duration and its impact on overall conversion rates? I’d love to hear your experience.