The Simple CRO Framework that LIFTS Conversions (CXL Review #7)

Imagine having this problem…

You feel your website should be making more money.

Though you don’t know what to change first.

Should you change the CTA buttons? The landing pages? Or start again with a new theme?

It's true...All these things can help. But too many changes can often make things worse.

And if by some miracle the changes do work, it’s often hard to know why.

But what if I told you there was a tried and tested strategy…

That the world’s leading companies have followed to increase their sales and conversions.

Would you be interested in knowing how it works?

If so, read on!

Because I’ll share how you can use this CRO framework and improve any page where you sell goods or services online.

Introducing The Lift Framework

The Lift Framework was developed by Chris Goward in 2009. However, I only found it (and fell instantly in love) recently during my study of CXL’s CRO Mini-degree.

Chris is the founder of Widerfunnel, and he developed the Lift Framework to help make better A/B hypotheses. Put simply,  to helps] people know what to test and why.

Here’s what the framework looks like:
LIFT Framework

If you’re like me, you’ll love the imagery used here.

It makes it easy to see what we need to make our online businesses fly and achieve LIFT.

I won’t go too much into too much detail for  the components as there are some great resources already online. But it would be remiss if I didn’t explain what’s going on and why it’s so important.

Plus, I’ll be giving some real-world examples along the way.

The Value Proposition

It’s clear from the model that to fly we need a good value proposition.

A “good” value proposition answers the “What’s in it for me?!” question we ask ourselves everyday.

If I hand over my money, my time for this, how does  it improve my life in any meaningful way?

Just this week, I saw a value proposition that fell completely flat. A great example of what not to do.

Here’s a quick back-story...

I was on an SEO Facebook group and one member said he was spending thousands of dollars on a tool I’ve never heard before - BrightEdge.

Intrigued, I searched for their website and this is what I found:

brightedge tool

Now, I know nothing about this company - apart from someone just like me is paying thousands of dollars for their services.

They must be successful, but that is not a word I would use to describe this homepage...

And rather ironically for a company named BrightEdge - I’m struggling to read the white font with the value proposition.

Here’s what it actually says:


SEO at the Speed of Search

The industry’s first and only SEO solution to give marketers real-time research recommendations and rankings - everything an SEO needs all in a unified platform.

But I don’t quite get it. “What’s in it for me?!”

The headline “SEO at the Speed of Search” is unclear. Plus it's only paid off if you struggle through the text beneath it.

I already have a collection of tools that I pay a fraction of the cost for.

Why should I buy this? Because it’s faster? So what?!

And this isn’t a dig at BrightEdge, I’m sure their tool is worth the money. The website copy and the design on the other hand…:(

Let’s compare this home page with one of their competitors - Wincher.


The difference is night and day.

Here we have a clear value proposition that we can actually read.

The copy is on point, the visual hierarchy is great, and the micro-copy plays its part perfectly (more on this later…)

I can figure out pretty easily what’s in it for me. I get to track my keywords and my pesky competitors. And they promise it will be easy. Excellent!

Another thing I link is that I can instantly get a free trial.

Compare that to BrightEdge whose CTA is to arrange a call with someone and maybe get a demo…

Leaving BrightEdge behind for a while, let’s return to the other elements of The Lift Framework.

The Relevance Factor

Relevance in the Lift Framework is referred to as a "Conversion Driver".

Essentially it asks the question, “Does the webpage give users what they expect to see”?

For example, if your Google Ad mentions a free trial or a massive time-saving feature, can it be found easily on the landing page?

Another example I saw recently is an awareness mismatch. This happens when the ad is specifically targeted to somebody who is problem aware. I.e

“Are you struggling with your MCAT Exams?”

And then the landing page begins with a big section, “What are the MCAT exams”?

Or worse, clicking the ad takes you to the home page which doesn't mention MCAT exams at all...

The Clarity Factor

Clarity refers to how easy it is to understand the value proposition and CTAs on a webpage.

As we saw above, Wincher really nailed this. BrightEdge….not so much.

Here’s the above-the-fold content from another Enterprise SEO competitor, the rather aptly-named SEO Clarity:

seo clarity

Again, light-years different from BrightEdge (I must stop these puns!).

But seriously, the value-proposition is extremely clear - make better decisions, make things easier, and find success.

I’ve also chosen this example because of their CTA copy. Rather than use something generic like “Learn More” or “More Info”, they have “Explore The Platform”.

I am under no doubt to what I’ll get to see after I click the button.

Eliminating Anxiety

Anxiety refers to anything that stops the visitor from taking the conversion action.

This can be a lack of trust or feeling they’re not credible enough.

Anxiety is why many email CTAs explicitly say “We will not spam you”.

It’s also why Wincher use micro-copy to say “No lockup and no credit card required” under their free trial CTA.

Addressing anxiety up front is a great way to get more conversions on-board.

Avoiding Distractions

Distraction is anything on the page that diverts your visitor away from your goal.

This could be:

  • Having numerous pop-ups and captchas
  • Having many (i.e > 3) CTAs on the page
  • Having CTAs to different pages that are all the same shape, size and color
  • Having walls of text to read and scroll through
  • Links inside product pages that take you to the blog
  • Websites that play audio or have videos that auto-start

And the list goes on…

The overriding concept is to make things as easy as possible. To limit friction and close the deal.

When the visitor has to stop, think and make a choice they become conscious. (Referred to as “System Two” in the best-selling book, Thinking Fast and Slow)

As this blog post from CXL points out, that’s usually not a good thing in terms of conversions.

Urgency - We need to take off NOW!

The thrust that gets the LIFT Framework off the ground is urgency.

As Widerfunnel points out, urgency has two components:

1. Internal Urgency - How you visitor is feeling when they arrive on your page
2. External Urgency - Factors (like limited offers) that we can introduce to the visitor

Urgency works so well that we receive emails with countdown timers telling us this once-in-a-lifetime deal will disappear for good on Friday….

Or, it will *possibly* be bought back in the a much higher price-point.

The travel company Agoda employs some subtle ways of leveraging urgency.

Here’s one of their search results for a hotel in Hong Kong:

agoda CRO

Note the copy with the red background...If the “One-day only” deal isn’t enough, they also tell you when it was booked last.

Click into a hotel listing and they double-down on the urgency:

agoda cro 2

You’ve probably seen the same kind of thing used in other eCommerce websites and sales funnels, too.

External urgency is so prevalent because it’s much easier to leverage than internal urgency.

For me, being able to understand and leverage internal urgency is the holy grail of conversion copywriting.

To do it, we have to really understand what our customers care about and where they are in trying to solve the problem.

And as the LIFT diagram shows so effectively, it provides the boost that lets “Conversion Airlines” take flight.

A Quick Recap

Here’s a quick recap of the elements of the LIFT framework and how you can use it on your own website.

Conversion Drivers

1. Value Proposition

Make it clear what’s in it for me. Answer the question “So what?!” and why I should choose you and not the competition. Oh, and make sure people can actually read the value proposition...

2. Relevance

Is the look, feel and copy of the landing page consistent with the ad or search result that brought the visitor to your page?

Is your page also relevant for your visitor and their stage of product awareness?

3. Clarity

Do you use generic CTAs and micro-copy? Or do you light up the runway and tell visitors exactly what to expect when they click?

4. Urgency

Does your page leverage both internal and external urgency?

Can you show how taking action today will bring massive benefits to your customer?

Conversion Inhibitors

1. Anxiety

Do you address anything that would cause anxiety upfront?

Do the testimonials and social proof that you use help reduce anxiety and build trust and credibility?

2. Distractions

Does your page have a poor visual hierarchy? Are too many things competing for your visitor’s attention?

Or can they get to your conversion goal almost on auto-pilot?

Are you already using the LIFT framework to get more conversions? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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