Ask an Optimizer: How to guide visitor thinking


Editor’s note: During our October 28 web clinic about properly guiding visitors to your conversion objectives, researchers Boris Grinkot, Corey Trent, and Heather Andruk fielded several audience questions.

Q: Does left navigation diminish conversion rate?

It all depends on the purpose of the page. For a simple landing page to which you drive prospects from PPC ads, affiliates and banner ads, this additional navigation will likely distract visitors and drive down conversion rates. It ends up being just one more competing objective. The answer to the “What can I do?” question now has multiple answers.

Of course, there are degrees of distraction. Deemphasized navigation with supportive elements such as FAQ is less distracting than very prominent navigation with several drop-downs and hover-over pop-ups.

For a page that is an integral part of your site, navigation is often essential to help guide your users through the overall site. If there is navigation on every other page, having one or two pages without navigation will cause a disconnect and you will likely lose the visitor.

Overall, you must remember that these are just guiding principles developed from our years of research. In the end, the best answer is to test these elements to see how they affect conversion on your specific pages.

Q: How do you know when to offer competing products?

There is no single answer, but we can give you a few good test ideas. If you have secondary products that do not compete with your primary offer, you may try to offer them before a purchase is made. If you have auxiliary offers that may distract from the primary offer, wait until the purchase is complete to offer the upsell. An excellent example is, which is a master at upselling additional products both in the cart and after purchase.

To decide what to test, look at your metrics to see where people enter and exit your site. For example, do they hunt for different features or go straight to purchasing a product? From these metrics, try to decipher what products users may be looking for in addition to what you are currently offering. The metrics can provide actual data to back up your decision about which competing products you want to test, and where you want to offer them.

Q: Do the five elements of directing visitor eyepath apply to B2B sites with long sales cycles?

These are tactical recommendations meant to help guide your visitors’ thought process through a page. The specific product or offer does not matter, since we are not trying to optimize a page; rather optimize the thought process of the visitors to a page. So using shape and color to emphasize your key points, and size to draw attention to your headline only helps more effectively express your value proposition in the conversation you are having with your customer.

Therefore, these elements apply to any page and it is worth noting that they may be especially important for B2B sites. This audience tends to scan pages more frequently than consumer audiences, so using color and shape to help emphasize key points in a way that is easier for your audience to digest is especially relevant.

Q: Are there any tools that can help me select colors?

Yes. and can help you choose color palettes.

Q: Should images have humans in them?

It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish with the image. For some products, it makes more sense to show a point-of-view orientation to give visitors the sensory feel of what it is like to use the product, such as showing the driver’s view from a car or the view from a hotel. For others, you need people in the picture to show the product being used.

When you do use people, having a good understanding of your demographic is extremely useful. Use images that your visitors can relate to (e.g., young, middle aged, seniors).

Images of people will also help guide visitor eyepath. The image should be “looking” at where you want the user to go. So for example, if you have an image on the left and copy on the right, be sure the person in the image is looking to the right to direct the user’s eyepath towards the copy.

As you test your pages, keep in mind how powerful images are. In the initial one or two seconds many visitors take to judge your page, your images can connect with them and draw them in or repel and cause them to bounce. Be careful in using stock photography, as consumers are becoming increasingly savvy to its use and may consider it to be misleading – especially if used with believability elements such as a testimonial.

Have additional questions? Other things you’d like to Ask an Optimizer? Use the comments section below or post your questions to our MarketingExperiments Optimization group.

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1 Comment
  1. ana says

    Use images that your visitors can relate to (e.g., young, middle aged, seniors) – this is new advice that i will consider on our next landing pages. thanks.

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