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Conversion Rate Optimization, Beyond the Test (Teaser)

We are doing a lot of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) of late. With the traffic costs going through the roof, and organic SEO much less predictable, optimizing your site for conversion should be a top priority.

Most CRO campaigns are looked at as more of a start and stop project. You hire an agency, create some new landing pages or maybe a variance on home page layout, pick a winner, and your are done. In my opinion, you are just getting started.

Depending on what platform you are on (my favorite is Optimizely, there are others like Monetate or Adobe Target) you can go beyond just a test. What if you could create a user experience for each visitor, custom tailored to him or her? No site can be built for each and every demographic. And by utilizing aforementioned technologies readily available at your disposal (and others), you can create custom experiences by not only the basics like geography, time of day, seasons (and weather), but you can also tap into IP=based demographic databases and DSP’s that can give you a full make of a user. What if you could dynamically generate a site based off of a few indicators that you know about that individual?

It might seem daunting, but technology is getting better and this will only get easier, so its time to start thinking about how you to can start creating custom experiences with the product or service you are selling.

I will get into the details of custom experience optimization in a subsequent post. This is a short teaser to hopefully help you open your mind a bit to the technologies available to you. Come back in a couple of weeks for the follow up!

Posted in Internet Trends, Online Marketing, Usability | Leave a comment

Radical Vs. Evolutionary Web Design – Which works best?

Evolutionary web design is not my idea, nor is it a new idea, it is just often overlooked. I figured I would resurface the differences and options between the two.

Every 2-3 years, a company decides its time to redesign its website in order to make it relevant to current standards. An agency is picked, the site is created, and whala, a totally new website and user experience is launched. God forbid it contains any elements from the previous site. Its almost like buying a new car. You are sick of your red 4 door sedan, its time for a new big black truck! In the web design world, this is called “Radical Web Design”. This is the standard protocol and utilized 95% of the time.

There is another lesser known strategy in web design which is called “Evolutionary Web Design”. Google, Amazon and many others implement this strategy. This is when you take small elements of the website, overtime, and test them. The site constantly evolves, one part at a time. The process never really ends, and there is never a drastic change. One might test 2 different navigation layouts, category colors, page layouts, fonts, etc.. Sure, if you looked at the site between 2-3 year gaps, they would be really different. But on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, it would be hard to see the differences. Changes are slow, most users don’t see them, and only things that are proven to work with conversion testing are made live permanently. To use a similar reference to the car buying one above, this would be like buying an old clunker and tinkering with it overtime, painting it, adding to the engine, to create the perfect vehicle.

Think about this. When was the last time that noticed Amazon.com redesign their website since the 1990′s? You haven’t. Amazon.com is the poster child of Evolutionary Web Design. If they decided to do a radical shift in layout, colors and flow, their conversions would plummet and they would most likely lose billions in revenue over the weeks post-launch. Most of the hundreds of new site launches I have been involved in saw a lower conversion rate for the first couple of months post-launch.

Their are times where Radical web design is appropriate, there are times when evolutionary is. Here are some basic tips for each:

When Radical Web Design is best
1. Your site doesn’t have the technical capabilities to perform the things its needs to. Perhaps you sell stuff online but your site lacks the core eCommerce functionality
2. You have rebranded your company and its important, beyond just the web, that your site matches your brand.
3. You have changed your product line drastically
4. Your site is greater than 5 years old (probably too late to go
5. Budget constricted – Evolutionary web design is typically much more expensive. Since there is no project, rather, an ongoing effort, you will need to incorporate monthly budget to it, forever.
6. Site traffic is less than 5k a month. You would have too little traffic / theories involved in evolutionary web design.
7. Your boss or investors are waiting to be “wow’d” by a new site. Bad reasoning, but hey, sometimes that matters!

When Evolutionary Web Design is best (For the record, so long as you have enough traffic to test, this is 99% the better route to go)
1. You are simply trying to increase the conversion of your website, but the core functionality/technology is adequate.
2. You have greater than 20,000 visits in traffic (yes, doesn’t match up to the radical web design traffic number, there is grey zone here)
3. You have budget and patience.
4. You have the support from the company, and you can incorporate testing into the culture, and part of the business process.

If you have any questions on this or want to chat about this topic, email me!

 

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Google / Bing – if you want sites to follow guidelines, make it fair

Duanne Foster of Bing came out and spoke against artificial link building. You can read the full post here.

In summary, Bing appears to be gearing up to take action against people getting links for the sake of ranking.

I can understand taking action against Black Hats that are doing what they can to spam the engines for irrelevant sites. However, what about the legitimate website owner who has absolutely no chance of ever ranking against large companies with huge PR budgets. These companies by default have a very natural linking profile. However, the little guy, with very little marketing budget, has no hope.

Google and Bing can continuously pitch that they are trying to level the playing field. However, what they are doing is the exact opposite. Most commercial searches done are full of big box sites dominating ranking as their smaller counterpart doesn’t have enough links or they were penalized for simply trying to compete against them.

I hope one of these days they wake up to this massive imbalance and give some power back to the little guy.

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CRO is Imperative for Any Successful Paid Search Campaign

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A couple weeks ago our CRO Director Keith Lovgren wrote an excellent piece on “5 CRO Tools That Make Conversion Rate Optimization Better”. I wanted to follow up on this and why I think CRO is important for the success of any Paid Search campaign.

Over the years I have managed hundreds of Paid Search accounts with very little emphasis on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).  This always blew my mind considering the amount of money that was being poured into Paid Search.

Clients were willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars into buying quality traffic but rarely analyzed the on page experience once the traffic, at times as much as $50 per visitor, landed on their site.

Getting the relevant person to your website is only the beginning of a successful Paid Search campaign.

With the online space more competitive than ever, and the ability to compare retailers and service providers with ease, it has become very challenging for advertisers to generate a “converting” user.

On many occasions I was at the mercy of a website that was not optimized for conversions, crossing my fingers that somehow we would be able to generate a lead or a sale.

Many times website owners focus on the aesthetics of a site instead of the user experience. It’s a mistake that costs them money on a daily basis.

Once a user gets to your website, we need to maintain consistency, relevancy and usability in order to ensure we don’t lose customers that we just paid for.

I compare this to a brick and mortar store; just because you get people into your store does not necessarily mean they are going to make a purchase.

You need to create an experience that resonates with the customer whether that is customer service, product placement, product demos, self -checkouts, etc.

For example, the Apple store is designed to facilitate the user experience by encouraging customers to engage with their products. Their laptops, iPads, iPhones and iPods are set up to encourage a passerby to experience & use their products.  Grocery stores display candy bars and magazines in the checkout line to facilitate impulse purchases.

These retailers have “optimized” the customer experience and maximized the probability of every single customer into making a purchase.

Here at Incubate, we are constantly testing new layouts, content, offers, headlines, images etc. on an ongoing basis so that we can maximize revenue and ROI for our clients.

Optimizing is a never ending process, just like brick and mortar retailers who are constantly testing the consumer experience.   With the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) being well understood in the Paid Search world there is going to be a point where there is only so much we can do (search query analysis, new ad copy, bid optimizations, day parting, geo targeting, etc.)  to move the needle with any significance.

At the end of the day, if you are not optimizing your on page experience you are leaving money on the table.

Give us a call to assess your website.  We’d be happy to help optimize your traffic and on page experience.

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5 CRO Tools That Make Conversion Rate Optimization Better

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If your company isn’t devoting resources to improving the conversion rate of your website

you’re very likely leaving money on the table on a daily basis.

Note: None of the links below are affiliate links nor do we have any financial incentive in linking to these resources. We offer our blog readers the same unvarnished advice that we offer our clients.

Here are a five tools that I use everyday to help clients improve their website conversion rates and generate more revenue using their existing traffic.

optimizely Optimizely

With any conversion rate experiment you’re going to need a good testing platform. There are a lot of options available. They range from free like content experiments in Google Analytics to full blown personalization and segmentation platforms like Monetate which can run 8k a month or more.

We run the majority of our experiments on Optimizely. We’ve used a few different platforms and we’ve found it to be the best in regards of pricing and ease of implementation.

Some quick examples of the ease of implementation.

-First time visitors can behave much differently than repeat visitors.  It makes sense to experiment with these two distinct segments.

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Want to run a mobile only experiment? It’s as easy as this –

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If you’re looking for a great testing platform that won’t bust your budget, I can’t recommend Optimizely enough.

 

Which test Won Logo

 

 

Which Test Won Premium

 

If there’s a CRO site that’s a better resource and more fun than Which Test Won, I’d like to know what it is.  Featuring over 350 conversion rate case studies across a wide swathe of industries, a one year subscription of $75 it’s hard to imagine a better value than this subscription.

Each case study is presented in a quiz format with a screen shot of each test page. You’re tasked with picking the winning variation. After you vote you’re taken inside to details on the case study. You also get to see how everyone else voted. There’s a great community of CRO people who leave their thoughts and opinions of the experiment in the comments.

Which Test Won Conversion Rate Quiz

If you’re not already a premium member, I  think you’ll find it the best $6.25 a month that you spend on conversion rate optimization.

 

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Conversion Rate Experts

 

 

The name says it all. The men and women of Conversion Rate Experts are on the top of their game. Some of the biggest brands in the world have hired them to implement conversion rate testing.

They don’t publish often, but when they do, I set aside a block of time to pour through every word. They offer a huge selection of very good CRO reading resources. Although it appears discontinued, one of my favorites is “Resources We’ve Bookmarked” Here’s one example.

Bookmarks March 15

I hope they bring it back soon even if it’s as a paid subscription. In the meantime, I’ll be happy with their infrequent blog postings.

crazy-egg

 

Crazy Egg

 

This eye tracking software is really useful to show clients how website visitors are behaving on their site. It’s one thing to tell a client why a visitor might be getting confused onsite. When you can show them via easy to understand heat-tracking maps of where visitors are clicking and not clicking, then you’ve really got their attention.

Compared to similar services, Crazy Egg is very affordable.

Take a look at this screenshot.

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unbounce-2 Unbounce

Unbounce makes it easy to create and edit landing pages without needing an engineer. Even having use of a great tool like Optimizely, there are some occasions where we need to go through several iterations in a short period of time. Unbounce is great for this

When we use this for lead gen clients it’s really handy that it easily integrates with mail chimp.

Unbounce also hosts some really great webinars with some of the top people in the conversion rate optimization field. Keep a close eye on their blog for some great CRO articles and announcements.

 

incubate-logos Incubate.com

By increasing your conversion rate, you’ll increase your revenue. Why not get in touch with us and let us help you turn more of your website visitors in customers? We’ve conducted a lot of experiments across just about every vertical our there.

Give us a call, 760-501-0439, and we’ll make your website more efficient and more lucrative.

 

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