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How we increased the conversion rate of Voices.com by over 400%

At the start of 2009, Voices.com, one of the leading marketplaces for voice-over talent, began working with Conversion Rate Experts. The result? Its conversion rate increased by over 400%—from less than 5% to 22%.

How we achieved those improvements

The most important part of any project is the exploratory work that occurs at the beginning; FORTUNE’s article about us described this stage as the “detective work.” (One of our consultants described it, rather unglamorously, as “dumpster-diving for details.”) Our in-depth analysis of Voices.com included the following:

  • We studied Voices.com’s analytics account to understand which components of the sales funnel contained the biggest opportunities for improvement.
  • We analyzed 510 visitor surveys to understand the mindset of those who arrived at the Voices.com site but didn’t ultimately subscribe.
  • We studied all of Voices.com’s sales literature and interviewed the company’s CEO so we could identify all of the company’s “persuasion assets.” This is a term we use to describe a company’s assets that would likely impress prospects. Persuasion assets can come in many forms, and we’ve discovered valuable overlooked persuasion assets in the businesses of every client we’ve ever worked with.
  • We analyzed Voices.com’s competitors’ websites to understand the strategies they were using and what the opportunities were for positioning Voices.com against them.

Once we understood the prospects’ main objections, and what could be done to overcome them, we created new test pages.

Here are a few things that gave us quick wins

We achieved the 400% increase by doing eleven experiments, which we carried out at five different stages of the conversion funnel. Some of the changes we made were very specific to Voices.com’s business, but others will likely work for most other businesses. Here are the ones that might apply to your business, regardless of what kind it is:

1. Finding and communicating proof

Adding proof to the homepage had a significant effect: Voices.com had some impressive “claims to fame” that could really influence prospective customers but that weren’t clearly communicated on the website. For example, Voices.com’s customers happened to include many household names:

2. Segmenting (by visitor type or by visitor intention)

The site had two distinct types of visitor: voice-over artists and companies looking for voice-over artists. There was a great benefit from immediately and clearly segmenting these types of visitor into separate conversion funnels.

3. Demonstration videos

Often, the biggest obstacle facing prospects is that they don’t understand what they are about to sign up for. Voices.com overcame this obstacle by adding clearly communicated demonstration videos.

4. Hidden opportunities in the sales funnel

Once you’ve increased the conversion rate of one section of your sales funnel, it’s important to take a “50,000-foot view” of the business, to look for new opportunities that have arisen because of the improvement.

Many clients expect us to work only on their landing pages and are surprised that we analyze the whole customer journey—from the initial ads to the retention of long-term customers—in order to identify opportunities. For one client, we identified an opportunity for offline marketing and devised a hugely successful direct mail campaign; for another, we identified an opportunity for viral growth and implemented a “Tell-a-Friend” program that became one of its top sources of business.

Once we had increased the conversion rate of Voices.com’s sales funnel, we identified that there was a big opportunity for email marketing. We then designed a hugely successful email marketing campaign for increasing its lifetime customer value.

Handy lessons

  • Find out why customers aren’t converting; don’t just guess. If you don’t know what the objections of your customers are, your chances of overcoming them are very slim.
  • Don’t “hide your light under a bushel.” If your company is the best at something—and if you have proof—make certain the proof is prominently placed on your website.
  • Consider segmenting your visitors. How do you know whether to segment visitors? If your most common visitor intentions can’t be addressed with the same message, you should segment them. Similarly, if you have more than one type of visitor, and all visitors can’t all be served by the same message, you’ll probably have to segment them. Beware that segmentation can create a lot of extra work, so do it only if you absolutely have to.
  • People don’t buy what they don’t understand. Clearly explain your service, so that prospects are more likely to feel in control and take action.
  • Sometimes, video is the best medium for explaining things—and for providing proof. Web video needn’t cost a lot, as we’ll reveal soon (subscribe to our newsletter to receive details). Screen capture videos can easily be carried out using Camtasia (for PC) or Screenflow (which is our preferred option for Mac).

Some of the tools we used

  • For running split tests and multivariate tests, we used Google’s split-testing tool.
  • To better understand how users interacted with the website, we used Crazy Egg.
  • We identified user-experience issues by commissioning usability tests from UserTesting.com.
  • The videos were hosted with YouTube. (Here’s a great guide for advanced YouTube techniques.)
  • We analyzed survey feedback to understand visitor intent and to identify common questions and objections. We use many survey tools, including Survey Monkey and Survey Gizmo (we highly recommend Survey Gizmo).

Have you tested audio yet?

We were customers of Voices.com three years before it became our client. In 2006, we managed to achieve a double-digit increase in conversion for one of our clients by adding an auto-playing audio message, which was recorded by a voice-over artist we discovered from Voices.com. Good voice-over artists are like good graphic designers—they make your company seem extremely professional. They can be particularly useful for tutorial videos, for auto-playing audio messages, or even for automated telephone systems (IVRs).

If you haven’t already used Voices.com, it’s one of the most pleasant tasks you’ll ever carry out as a web marketer. You just paste your text into Voices.com’s window, and then within hours you’ll receive many audition recordings from voice-over artists. You then play the role of Simon Cowell, deciding which voice-over is the best. (To get in character, you might even decide to pull your pants up to your rib cage.)

You can host the audio easily using Xiosoft Audio.

Learn more

David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.com, described the process as being a “fascinating and profitable experience.” Watch this video to learn more.

A video of Voices.com CEO, David Ciccarelli, describing the project.

We’d like to thank David for sharing this case study. If you think you’d benefit from adding nicely spoken audio to your website, visit Voices.com.

Will these techniques work on your website?

This article is subject to our Testimonial Protocol, which is described here. A 400% increase is extreme; not all experiments yield the same spectacular results. However, we’re using these techniques every day, and we expect at least some of them to be valuable to your business.

Want more case studies like this?

If you want to see more of our clients’ results, our “Clients and Results” page contains a big list of them. If you want to be notified whenever we publish another case study, join our mailing list.

If you’d like to hear how we can help your company increase its conversion rate, get in touch with us.

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