In this episode, Michael and Chris discuss what conversion websites do well. In part one of our series, we discuss:

  • Why page speed is so important
  • Where to put CTA and other action-oriented tools on your website
  • How live chat can help
  • How to tie content and SEO into your conversion strategy

For more information about the tools and techniques discussed in this website, please visit

You can find the transcript for this episode below.

Episode Transcript

Chris Raines: This is not all good news. Some of this is hard, it’s hard to get used to this, but the people who can be quick on the draw and get someone set up to just capture that personal connection and have it be a fast one, they’re going to drive more business and get more leads and have websites that convert better.

Chris Raines: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from, the experts in digital marketing for the trades.

Chris Raines: All right, welcome back to Grow Your Painting Business, the podcast from My name is Chris Rains, I am joined by Mike Utley.

Michael Utley: You’re adjusting your head … Am I a little bit loud. A little high? A little too exuberant?

Chris Raines: A little high.

Chris Raines: I love talking about conversion optimization Michael.

Michael Utley: It feels like a Friday afternoon.

Chris Raines: I get a little bit exuberant.

Michael Utley: It is just a Tuesday morning.

Chris Raines: I get a little exuberant. God help me if we’re doing this on a Friday.

Michael Utley: That’s right.

Chris Raines: I’m going to break the microphone.

Chris Raines: Michael, today we’re going to talk about something called conversion rate optimization. And so first of all, this is kind of an internet marketing E-term. So, let’s start off by just tell our listeners what do we mean by conversion rate optimization or the conversion rate of a website?

Michael Utley: Yeah, so great. Welcome, this is our first of three parts. We’re going to do this topic in three episodes and our title is Make Your Website Convert More Traffic Into Leads. So what that means is, if you’re a painting company, like a commercial painter serving for example, all of the Chicago area, you might have a service here that goes out hundreds of miles, but at some point there’s a limit to your service area. And some of that traffic is not as good because it’s not geographically targeted. But for all of that geographically targeted that is qualified traffic, how many of them are having an experience on the page that’s going to actually make them become a lead? And think about this, think about out of all the traffic, if you have say a thousand visits to a website in a given day, and 10% of that traffic converts to become leads, that would be really, really strong.

Michael Utley: That would be-

Chris Raines: Outstanding.

Michael Utley: Yeah, that would be a hundred leads.

Chris Raines: Probably unrealistic.

Michael Utley: It’s probably closer to like 2%. Well, what if it could be 2.5%? So, we’re going to talk about out of all the traffic that is coming to your website that is qualified traffic, it’s a good geo source, meaning it’s local to you, they’re actually in the market looking for the need. Maybe they’re [inaudible 00:02:49], maybe they’re not, but it’s a real actual visitor to the website for what you offer. Then, how many of those can you get to actually raise their hand and say, “Hey, yeah, we need to talk to somebody.”

Michael Utley: So, we’re going to take three episodes and talk through this. And some of this stuff is common sense and you’re going to say, “Well yeah, I know that, we’re doing that already.” But not everybody is. So, we might be talking to them, other stuff’s going to get in some technical requirements and the show notes of these podcasts would probably make a great checklist to hand off to your web team and just say, “Hey, are we doing these things?”

Chris Raines: Very practical stuff. And this isn’t just voodoo magic, so this is literally like science-based. These are things that are born out by research and experience and the way people behave on the internet. So this is literally things, like you said, you can take and turn into a checklist and most high converting websites are doing these things we’re going to talk about.

Chris Raines: So Michael, let’s get right into it, man. So, first off we got, in terms of do things that you need to do on your website for it to be high converting have pages that load fast for mobile and desktop users?

Chris Raines: The more we build out platforms like smartphones, and this goes back more than a decade, the more we build out places that can access the internet, the smaller the bandwidth gets. So even though websites might be loading really fast for a desktop user, Google now is since October of last year, has really been emphasizing, “Hey, but what about how your website works for mobile users?” They are sort of wanting to be geared up to be the internet for any mobile device. And so they’ve raised the bar on how fast a page needs to load and there’s some really, we’re not going to do a bunch of stats and all that stuff in this show, but you can look online at some things like when Amazon improved page speed time, how much it improved conversion rate. There’s some other examples like that that are just really clear indicators of how much this stuff matters.

Chris Raines: But even a small improvement in page load time can drastically improve the conversion rate because people don’t get frustrated clicking around waiting for pages to load and bounce out, they actually just tend to stay engaged and it’s not something they consciously think about necessarily, it changes how people behave with your website.

Michael Utley: And even things like a half second. I mean, this stuff is really sensitive, so yeah, number one, just to make sure at all costs, your page is loading fast, super fast.

Chris Raines: All right, number two. Have contact methods and a phone number in the header. And I would even go further with that and say have a sticky header so that when people scroll down that call to action, both schedule a consultation or get a free quote, whatever your form fill action is, I would say that and a phone number should always be in view on desktop and mobile experiences no matter what.

Chris Raines: We’ve had companies show up to us and I’ve said, “Hey, do you want people to call you?” And they say, “Oh yeah, yeah, we want the phone to ring.” And we’ve said, “Well, hey, here’s a concept. Let’s put the phone number all over the freaking website so that nobody ever wonders what the phone number is for a second. Make it impossible for them to have to search for the phone number.”

Michael Utley: And they don’t have to say, “There’s a really good book out there on web usability called Don’t Make Me Think.” And the primary driver of that is if someone has to go and search around for your phone number, they’re not going to do it, don’t make your user think. If you want him to contact you, like you said, put the number right up there, make it sticky and make it a push of a button.

Michael Utley: In the early days of thinking about internet usability, let’s go back say 15 years, a lot of phone numbers were hidden because what companies were doing, they were trying not to expose themselves to having to handle more customer service activity, but in the world of lead generation that’s just not the law of physics that governs our universe. It’s actually that we want to be eminently reachable and we’ll figure it out once they make contact. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to raise their hand if they’re looking for a job, if they need a quote for services, we’ll figure all that out on our dime, let’s just get them to raise their hand first. And so using that phone number everywhere is a good way to do that, especially in the header.

Chris Raines: Yeah, I love it. Number three, deliver a clear call to action above the fold. Now, Michael, let’s explain what above the fold, this is an old term from newspaper days.

Michael Utley: Yeah, it’s an old term from newspaper days, but it’s actually very handy. It’s what of the website can you see in the first page load? So, without any scrolling. And this applies to both desktop and mobile. So, above the fold means that first screen that’s visible. And I can’t tell you how many people think they need to tell somebody about their history or their values or their mission statement. Nobody cares. They have a problem, they showed up to the website with a problem. We have an industrial space and we need the floors polished and re-striped. Okay, they’ve got a problem. What’s your call to action? What are they going to see? Well, that call to action needs to be the prime real estate above the fold that they see. Whatever their problem is, it could be that they’re coming in for any number of the different services you have. So you’re going to write this in a way that’s essentially how can we help you today? But, you can make it second person imperative. Tell them what to do, get a free quote now for this, this, this, and this, here’s the form, here’s the phone number.

Chris Raines: And I’ll add something this, if it’s a button, say it’s a form submit button, please, please, please do not put the text of the button Submit.

Michael Utley: Yeah, we can do better than that. That’s a little bit of real estate that can carry some benefits if you give it some thought.

Chris Raines: So, think about, I want to and then fill in the blank, and that should probably be your button title. So, I want to get a free quote. So toggle your button, get a free quote.

Michael Utley: Send my free quote now.

Chris Raines: Yep, yep, there you go.

Michael Utley: So yeah, contact me now.

Chris Raines: Awesome. Okay, number four. Include forms using as few clicks and fields as possible on home and service page. So talk about form fields.

Michael Utley: Yeah, we’re getting away from making people click to go to a special location on the website. Either a form low on the homepage or a page that has a Contact Us or a free quote form. We’re actually trying to build forms into websites as close to the top of the page, typically above the fold on the homepage and then on services pages above the fold, maybe on the right side in a column, with a standard sort of Call To Action block.

Michael Utley: So, what does that do? Well, we’re reducing a click. Anytime you can reduce a click between the customer discovering you and getting their information submitted is good. You’re mathematically positioning yourself for greater efficiency and more volume of traffic turning into leads. So, think about where those forms are. They don’t need to be some special place or some separate page, just instead of using that real estate to talk about a form, just show the form, have the form right there on the page. And this is kind of where highly converting websites are going now.

Chris Raines: Yeah, and if you do need to use a lot of fields, let’s say to qualify someone and cole things down, you shouldn’t do that, but if you just have to do that, consider using a multi-step form to give the user a sense of momentum. They get the first one gone, you can maybe even put a momentum bar in the top where you can sort of not overwhelmed by say eight or nine different form fields, which they’re going to probably abandon.

Michael Utley: And if he did get an abandon, you can task someone to qualify, you can get name, phone, email on the first pass, the first step of it and then delegate that to someone who can go qualify them and see if it’s a real lead, and “Oh yeah, I got busy, I was in my truck and light turned green… ” And you know, whatever. But you don’t lose the information because you’ve got that initial slide filled in. And, we’ve had websites have gone live where clients insisted they needed these 12, 14 different piece of information and we turn it on and say, “Hey, we don’t think this is going to convert well.” And it doesn’t. And they come back and say, “Gosh, this is really bad, what did we do wrong?” “Well, you insisted on putting the onus on the customer to qualify themselves as a client. Why don’t we just collect enough information and maybe have one qualification-“

Chris Raines: Minimally qualify them, but they don’t need to know how many number of rooms, how many walls, that’s all part of the sales process.

Michael Utley: Yeah, all that intake, that’s probably a separate, you can use web forms to do that, but that’s not the lead form. That lead form, oh my goodness. Name, phone, email, go.

Chris Raines: Go, yeah. Get my free quote. Okay, number five. Use live chat. I love live chat Michael. You know why? Well, it where it’s 2019 almost 2020, we’re in the era of the text. You call people and then they don’t answer and then they text you back. So, people are more used to doing this and it’s a less intrusive … it’s a lower commitment form of reaching out. So, talk about the use of live chat on sites.

Michael Utley: And this actually has two applications. One, and you’re right, it is generationally appropriate, but this isn’t just if you’re marketing something to a younger audience, it’s actually just how people are getting used to communicating real time. So, I would say this definitely applies all the way up the line to sophisticated relationship-based industries that are heavily B2B. Just, I’m saying it, get used to it, there’s a new reality and it has two big applications.

Michael Utley: One is live chat on your website. So, having a little sidebar that says Chat With Someone Now or Talk To An Expert Now or something. We like to use Olark and I think their default integration is the bottom right corner of a desktop or a mobile, but then the other one is Facebook Messenger. And when somebody connects with you and sends you a message through Facebook Messenger, they’re really anticipating that that message is going to be responded to immediately. And so you’ve got to think about workflow. When we’ve implemented these programs, we’re thinking about how do we make this so that we never have dead air. So, we’re enforcing discipline to log out of chat if you’re stepping away from your desk, so that the applications revert to just an Email Us type experience for the customer. But yeah, these things, it’s really critical. And, this is not all good news. Some of this is hard, it’s hard to get used to this, but the people who can be quick on the draw and get someone set up to just capture that personal connection and have it be a fast win, they’re going to drive more business and get more leads and have websites that convert better.

Chris Raines: Yeah, like you said, if you could develop the discipline to have the chat bot there, if you’re away and logged out, it’s just a little contact, it turns into a contact form. But if you’re there, people want to use that, they want a nibble, they want to sample, they want to say, “Hey, do you have this, and such and such. I’m not ready to talk to a salesperson, I’m just wondering do you have this or that feature?” So yeah, I think it’s a good idea for any website. I really, like you said, no matter what product or service you’re offering, chat.

Michael Utley: Yeah, and like any other avenue, web form leads, phone calls, you’re going to have job seekers, you’re going to have sales people call you, you’re going to have some noise, but guess what? Get over it. That’s the job of handling that stuff efficiently.

Michael Utley: The better you can do it, if you can streamline it, it may not be that it’s your top salesperson who’s on the hook to respond to live chat, it may be that it’s somebody else. But you’ve got to figure out how to handle those communication flows and make them usable and get leads generated. As soon as somebody gets out of the realm of casting about haven’t really connected with too many people yet, over the sort of through the turnstile of I’ve talked to a person, then their brains shift into hunter mode, to relationship mode. And they’re going to actually stop contacting as many other companies because they’ve talked to someone. Chat’s another way to cut that cord and get them through that turnstile and get them thinking, “Oh wait, maybe I’ve got somebody, I don’t need to pull too many other loose threads and start too many other conversations, I’m in touch with a person now.

Chris Raines: Yeah, and there’s a little avatar there, it’s like, “No, I’m already talking to Michael. I mean, Michael, I see a smiling face on chat there, he seems pretty cool. We’re having some banter, we’re talk-“

Michael Utley: I’m making progress, I don’t need to go do Google searches again or put more entries in my consideration set spreadsheet, because these people are getting back to me and they’re telling me, yes they do paint striping, or whatever. And so it’s all progress, all personalization. It’s all moving toward what we call customer intimacy and it’s getting them out of this feeling that they’re on the wide open landscape looking for options.

Chris Raines: Yeah. I love it, I love it. Number six. I like this, by the way. Use creative that connects to the main pain point first rather than telling your story. You want to tell your customer story.

Michael Utley: This is kind of us ripping off an idea from another company here in Nashville that a guy named Donald Miller who just [crosstalk 00:15:52] a thing called StoryBrand. And Donald’s basic message is, be empathetic about your customer’s pain and what they’re trying to solve and start there.

Michael Utley: I cannot tell you how many people come to us with a website and I’m looking at the top nav and I see things like our history, our mission, our values. You can cut all of that stuff out. That can all go on the About Us page, you can link to it in the footer. The top nav needs to be residential interior, residential exterior, commercial interior, commercial exterior, industrial painting, industrial maintenance. Those are your top nav type items. And this empathy for the customer in starting with their pain in mind doesn’t just apply to the top nav, it applies to all that content above the fold, the images you choose, having a picture of your team on the home page is great, but your number one mission is not to get them to believe in you, your number one mission is to connect with and make them know that you understand their pain.

Chris Raines: And they’ll believe in you when they believe that you understand and empathize with their pain.

Michael Utley: Yeah, you have to connect to convert and connect has to happen first.

Chris Raines: Yeah, love it, love it. Number, where we at, seven here? Use compelling offers in multiple variations per page. Well, explain what you mean by that.

Michael Utley: Shake it up. Put a little promo bar at the top of your page. Look at competitors and other markets and see what they’re doing that’s innovative. And we’ll typically run a promo bar on the top of a lot of websites and we’ll change it out. We actually maintain an editorial schedule for the year and say, “Hey, on this date we’re going to be shifting gears to winter projects and we’re looking for commercial interior work for Q4.” And so going into October, like right now, we’re launching a winter interior work promotions on promo bars and that can also be a full width block on the homepage, it can be something where we’re making sure that the blog content that’s hitting search indexes during September, October, is actually cuing us up for being competitive for winter work. So, think about that through the year and have multiple points of contact on the website where you’re pushing that message.

Chris Raines: And by this bar you mean it’s consistent, it stays up there like the hitter, right? Just to point that out.

Michael Utley: Yeah, it can stay up there above the header throughout the year, but you’re not just changing it when you’re desperate, you’re actually thinking ahead and saying, “Yeah, we’re going to do a day of free labor on residential jobs.” Or, “We’re going to do 500-off labor on full interior/exterior projects.” Whatever kind of crazy big thing you’re thinking of that you know you’re willing to do, go ahead and plan it and then have that stuff roll out to multiple touch points on the website all at one time and manage your stuff proactively, manage your messaging and your offers proactively.

Chris Raines: Love it. Number eight. Use modals to present a direct call to action. So Michael, explain what you mean by modals, in case people don’t know what that is.

Michael Utley: Back in the day we had something that was not really a good technology called a pop-up window, and it was actually opening, I guess technically, a new tab or a new window. This would be Internet Explode or Netflix era type stuff. Since then, something that’s kind of taken its place is actually better technology and it’s an okay user experience, but it turns out it’s actually effective. And that is one of these little interruption messages that pops up that says, “Hey, how can we help you today?”

Michael Utley: And I would say you’ve got to craft this to aim down the middle. I think these are a good tactic if they’re done in a limited way. I like to have them hit a user only once during an experience. So, anytime that customer or that person, or if that IP address visits a website over a period of say 90 days, you only pull this card once. So, not having it constantly nagging them, but you’ve got to have the right technology in place to run these. And don’t assume they want to be a lead, just say, “Hey, are you ready to talk to an expert?” Name, phone, email. Talk to an Expert Now button.

Chris Raines: And I’ll take it one step further there and make sure there’s a benefit associated with it. There’s a big difference between, “Hey, sign up for our email newsletter.” And, “Hey, do you want to download our 78 point maintenance checklist for property managers?”

Michael Utley: So yeah, that’s my idea with the Talk to an Expert. It’s, “Hey, it looks like you might need some help, would you like to speak to an expert?” And, what you’re doing is you’re being empathetic toward them, you’re kind of starting with their problem and working backwards.

Chris Raines: All right, number nine. Use visuals and then make a human connection until your audience’s story.

Michael Utley: Yeah, faces, puppies, kids. There are certain visuals that convert better and it’s-

Chris Raines: Someone’s out there split on a painting contracting site ,is split testing a human and a puppy. I hope that’s happening.

Michael Utley: Yeah, I hope so.

Chris Raines: And I hope the puppy’s performing way [crosstalk 00:20:40].

Michael Utley: Yeah, hope the puppies winning.

Chris Raines: Just a puppy.

Michael Utley: There is a lot of truth to the fact that people have a basic tendency in human psychology to connect with faces. But here’s what we’re adding to that idea. We’re not just saying use faces. We’re saying use faces within creative that are empathetic to your customer’s problem. So you can use faces and just say, “Here’s our great team.” Or, “Here’s our beautiful office staff.” And that’s fine, that’s lower on the page stuff.

Michael Utley: But wouldn’t it be better to show a satisfied customer interacting with a professional? Maybe you’re finishing a walkthrough and somebody’s getting a over your shoulder photo and a media release and permission to do this with the customer, and get a picture and show some real pictures. And if they can be real pictures of your staff and your customers, that’s even better. And that’s not easy to do, it takes work. What we found is shooting some video and then looking for really great screen captures where you get that right moment where the client is smiling and interacting and shaking hands with someone.

Michael Utley: Sometimes you can get lucky and get some really good creative, but showing creative that’s both human and starts with the customer’s perspective in mind, that’s the stuff that converts the best and works the best, especially when it’s authentic. And Chris, you can talk about this, not fake stock photo-y stuff.

Chris Raines: Yeah, spend the extra money to get a photographer. Because people can sniff out, I don’t know what it is. Sometimes you can’t even pinpoint it, but people can sniff out if somebody just went out and paid $25 on iStock to get a photo. Use a real photo. I harp on this constantly, especially for ad creatives.

Michael Utley: I got upset this week when I saw, going through our QA process, a paintbrush. Someone was painting a door and there was no paint on the brush and, “Come on, man.” You bought a 30 cent brush at Walmart and now you’re going out and doing a photo shoot and-

Chris Raines: Because they were doing a hundred different shots trying to make 10 bucks a piece on the-

Michael Utley: Cranking through the prop bucket from a Walmart cart.

Chris Raines: Can we just turn this episode into a stock photo rant? I can go on and on.

Michael Utley: I think I could go there. So, iPhone photos, getting a photographer to go out with you, doing some video production.

Chris Raines: Yeah, make it quality. There’s a balance here between a blurry iPhone photo. Probably not great, but I don’t know, maybe you can-

Michael Utley: But if it’s good, if somebody can [crosstalk 00:23:04].

Chris Raines: If it’s good. I’m not against using an iPhone.

Michael Utley: But if I had to pick authentic over production quality, I would pick authentic.

Chris Raines: True, true, I would too. All right, number 10. This is the last one and this is less conversion and more like just overall a good practice search engine. But, make sure your site works well with search engines.

Michael Utley: And this is, of course, watch the previous 31 episodes.

Chris Raines: Yeah. You’re not going to get any traffic.

Michael Utley: Not watch, but listen to the previous 31 episodes to understand what this means. But yeah, if you’re not functioning and taking responsibility for the basic fundamentals of how search engines work, the traffic is not going to get there in the first place. And it’s not even going to be easy for them to do things like tell a friend. If somebody tells a friend and that person can’t find you with a brand name pretty easily in search engines, you’re going to have other trouble. So, this is common sense, but websites that convert well, they also attract well.

Chris Raines: Michael, what’s a 3% conversion rate off of zero?

Michael Utley: Oh, it’s everything in the world. I mean it’s, yeah.

Chris Raines: No, I’m saying if you have zero traffic, does it matter [crosstalk 00:24:07] So it’s-

Michael Utley: Yeah, 3% of zero is zero.

Chris Raines: That’s right.

Michael Utley: Yeah, so bump it up. Your conversion rate doesn’t matter if you don’t also cover the base of showing up and attracting well.

Chris Raines: For sure. And if you’re curious about that, you can literally take the next eight hours and go through the library of content of Grow Your Painting Business. Episodes one through [crosstalk 00:24:24] there’s lots and lots of good material there.

Chris Raines: That wraps up this one. This is part one of a three part series and so we’ll catch you on part two.

Michael Utley: Yep, outstanding. The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing.