Convert Every Click

By: Benji Rabhan



We all know that web site optimisation is critical. It helps us deliver on our objectives: better sales, better reference, better awareness.

The problem is, these optimisation exercises generally focus on one page at a time.  Benji Rabhan believes this is where many companies go wrong. He suggests we need to take a holistic approach and consider optimisation of the sum of the parts. No single component works in isolation. Everything affects something else. Our websites are a reflection of an eco-system.  When we tinker with one part, are we able to understand the impact that might have on other parts?  Rabhan suggests not.

Holistic Conversion Rate Optimisation (HCRO) considers this eco-system. Whilst we may look at individual pages and metrics, HCRO considers the big picture.  What happens when people hit the website is equally important as to what happens after they leave. 

In “Convert every Click”, Rabhan takes us through a step by step process to apply HCRO principles effectively. Unfortunately ten minutes is not enough to go through each step so we’ve focussed on a few areas where we feel immediate benefit through the use of Rabhan’s advice can be achieved. But before we cover these areas, here’s a sound piece of advice from the author.

Change, Test, Assess, Consolidate.

As mentioned, the underlying model of HCRO is that of an ecosystem.  A web-site is a series of co-dependent components that work together. It is this fact that influences Rabhan’s persistence within the book that whatever we do we do so with deliberate measurement.

First we identify what we intend to change.  The rule for success here is to make it measurable.  By doing so we can more easily measure success or failure and that’s what the second step focuses on.

Like any good statistician, we need to form and evaluate a hypothesis.  We are changing component X because we believe it will result in better Y.  We need to test this hypothesis:  measure before attainment, make the change, leave for an appropriate period and then measure the new outcome. Does it align with expectations?  Yes?  Good, but we don’t stop there. We need to progress to step three – Assess.

In the assess stage we are looking at consequential actions. By changing X and improving Y did we affect Z? Was that effect positive or negative?  Obviously if we find a positive outcome we can go ahead to step four and consolidate the change: make it permanent. But if we turn up negative outcomes we need to rethink our strategy.

With the above evaluation principle applied to every iterative change, we can gain the benefits of HCRO in a sustainable and understandable way.  Now let’s focus on a few areas where immediate impact might arise.

The Fold

Let’s consider “the fold”.  The term comes from traditional newspaper printing where the broadsheet was folded in half for ease of delivery and shelf space. Consequently, the top half of the front page of the newspaper became important and where the “scoops” were placed. In the context of a web page, above the fold is the area we can see before we need to scroll.

In some cases, online marketers have polarised the idea by saying that everything should fit above the fold if we want to convert someone.  Others now conclude that people have learned to scroll more, which supports designer’s ability to be more creative.

Relevance and Design

It’s all about meeting the expectations of the RIGHT customer. Let’s think about graphic design. It generally focusses on the ideals of beauty and other elements, such as branding. Applying these principles to our web site may give us a pretty site. Although these things are important, they are just one small factor from a conversion rate optimisation perspective. 

According to Rabhan, making it pretty and stylish is important but a secondary consideration. His first consideration is the belief that visitors evaluate a web page in a fraction of a second. According to Rabhan, there are three pychological conversion checkpoints our brain goes through in a fraction of a second before the conscious mind even sees a web page: Is this page relevant? Is it credible? Is what they’re offering a good enough value to get the conversion?

The ultimate goal is to make our prospect’s lizard brain happy by providing a web page design that passes these checkpoints with flying colorus. 

Rabhan suggests we take an objective look at the page and ask ourselves:

  • Is it relevant to our audience?
  • Does it have a credible feel to the target visitors?
  • Does it look professional enough to trust?
  • Is the offer a good value?
  • Does it come close to visitors’ true desire?
  • Is the offer clear enough to be understood in the amount of time they are visiting?

If our answer is no to any of these questions, then we’ve found a good place to start revising  - and testing of course. 

Color, Contrast  and the Eye-Blur Test

Rabhan points out the way that we colour our page and the concentration of colours on certain spots on a page can subconsciously affect the users and significantly affect the way that they interact with it. 

For example if we have an entire page that’s mostly black and white, and we use one bright red element in the bottom right corner, visitors’ eyes are going to be drawn to the bright red element because it stands out from the rest of the page. While that may seem obvious, the same logic is true when the difference is more subtle.  In other words, contrast makes one object stand out and be more visible when viewed against something, such as a background or another object on the page. 

In addition to contrast, colours have certain associations in the brain. Maybe you associate green as serene like a grassy field, and red as intense like fire. Or maybe you think green means “go” and red means “stop.” Just be aware of the audience and what colours might mean to them and don’t forget that colours have different associations in different cultures, too.

Rabhan gives us a quick test to identify the impact of colour and contrast – the Eye-Blur Test.

The idea is to look at the screen and squint our eyes until our vision is unfocused and the screen is blurry. Small text on the page should fade away, and lower contrast elements, such as grey text on a white background, will fade away so much that we won’t even see them. Other brighter or high-contrast elements or colours will stand out. You’ll instantly see how the page is weighted for the user based on the colours and contrasts. 

A Call (or two) to Action.

Turning back to “the fold” one way to optimise above and below might be adding a call to action for each part. This can increase conversions by making our offer once per screen, instead of once for the entire page. 

According to Rabhan, not only does adding a call to action on each screen give people more opportunities to convert, but it also gives us the opportunity to target different types of people.

For example,  people who scroll down below the first fold tend to be the people who are research minded and want to learn every detail about the product, so opt-in offers, such as educational guides, lengthy tutorials, and demos tend to work better below the fold.

Spontaneous or quick-decision personalities will act on their impulses above the fold, so a call to action in the form of a button, link, or short capture web form would be good to put above the fold. 

Copy? What’s in it for me? 

Copy is all the text that makes up our headlines, offers, value proposition, product descriptions, pay-per-click ads, and e-mails—any writing involved in our marketing and sales.

Copy contributes to the value side of the checklist by conveying the offer or the message in persuasive terms. People need to know what they’re getting and how it’s valuable to them. Copy can contribute to credibility by talking about guarantees, achievements, awards or media appearances, or by giving testimonials and endorsements. 

Human beings are, at the most basic level, inherently concerned about themselves when making decisions.  “What’s in it for me?”. Make sure that the copy on your website is not company-centric, otherwise the prospect will have to translate it to what that means for them, which can serve as another step preventing them from converting.  

The Get Principle

Rabhan points out that people want to get something: they want to get information, a product, a service, self-esteem. They want to get confirmation that they were right about something. 

Whatever they want, give it to them. But don’t tell them what we’re going to give them, tell them what they’re going to get. GET not GIVE. When in doubt, we need to use the word ‘get’ to focus our brain thinking in the right direction. In addition, using the word get in our buttons and links will almost always increase conversions over words such as ‘submit’ or ‘find out more’.  People don’t want to submit; they want to get, so remind them of their side of the exchange, not ours. 

Make me an offer I can’t refuse!

To finish, let’s look at Rabhan’s eight key to writing an enticing offer. 

  1. Base our offer on prospects’ true desire.  The closer we get to what they truly desire, the more they’ll be willing to give in terms of money, information, time, and so on. 
  2. Write a persuasive headline.  It should contain some mention of the problem the visitor is trying to solve and our solution.
  3. Prove it!  Every claim we make could benefit from some sort of proof behind it, whether that’s graphs, screenshots, or testimonials. 
  4. List benefits, not just features.  Features are what we’re giving, and benefits are what they are getting. 
  5. Include several calls to action (use buttons, links, and images).  Put at least one call to action above the fold. 
  6. Give bonuses.  People love getting stuff for free. 
  7. Make it easy. Whether they admit it or not, people like things to be easy.   
  8. Use numbers. Numbers make things tangible, and they can be a big help in our copy.