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Posts Tagged ‘landing page optimization’

Ask MarketingSherpa: Mapping the prospect conclusion funnel [includes free PDF example]

August 29th, 2018
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi Daniel, I’m following up on the conversation started on Twitter about your blog post. My questions are:

– What was the main realization that took you to write this article?

– Do you think that this works for businesses in any industry? For example, some businesses are mostly offline, is it wise to invest time in creating a funnel for those as well?

FYI, this is the article I’m talking about — Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thanks.

Dear Reader: I wrote the article because I received questions following the publication of this article: Website Development: How a small natural foods CPG company increased revenue 18% with a site redesign

Yes, the funnel works for any fairly complex purchase. This was true before the internet. Think about buying a car before the internet. First you saw the ad. Then maybe you filled out a business reply (BRC) card. Got invited in for a test drive. Test drove cars at competitors. Get to price negotiations. Etc, etc.

The funnel is a human decision-making phenomenon

I’ll go a step further. The funnel works for any fairly complex human decision, not just purchases, and certainly not just online. For example, you don’t instantly decide someone you meet in college is going to be your best friend. There’s a process.

And that begins with exposure to that person in the first place. You made micro-decisions to attend the same club meeting that person did, you approached them after the meeting, you had a good conversation, you invited them to hang out with your buddies, your buddies liked that person (third-party verification), you hung out more and more, you confided trust in that person (form fill with annual revenue info), that person confided trust in you … 40 years down that funnel, your best friend is giving a toast at your daughter’s wedding (the final purchase).

In a vacuum, the funnel still exists

The reader asked if it is it wise to create a funnel. It’s important to note that the funnel exists whether you choose to actively manage it or not. Take the example above. Your best friend didn’t choose to create a funnel to end up giving a toast at your daughter’s wedding. There were a set of decisions that you naturally made to get to that point.

It’s the same with the buyer’s journey. If you’re selling a car, there are a series of decisions a buyer will make on the path to deciding whether to purchase that car, whether you’ve set up a funnel or not.

What you can do is try to discover what these paths to purchase are, and then how you can use your marketing, sales and other resources to help them make that decision.

Let’s look at an example where we map business activities in a funnel to a set of conclusions a prospect has to reach for a B2B services contract.

Prospect conclusion funnel example

[Click here for an instant, free download of a PDF version of the Prospect Conclusion Funnel Example]

Let’s break down the example.

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Marketing 101: What is website usability?

April 19th, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Simply put, website usability is how easy, clear and intuitive it is for visitors to use your website. This is from the visitor’s perspective, not your company’s perspective.

Of course, website usability isn’t so simple at all. You essentially have to read someone else’s mind, so the expected user experience matches the web experience you design. However, as 18th-century poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Go oft awry.”

As I said, you’re trying to read someone else’s mind (many people, in fact). So the challenges of web usability aren’t necessarily unique to the web. These challenges are the very fundamentals of human behavior and interaction. Here’s a very visual example that UXer Oliver McGough shared on Twitter …

There are many terms related to website usability that you might have heard:

  • User experience — how people experience your website. This may be very different than you intended because you may not be able to take an outside perspective of your website and assume visitors will understand something that they don’t, or understand differently, from you (more on this in a bit).
  • User experience design (or UX) — the practice of creating websites, computer programs, apps, etc. with the user in mind. UX can also be used as shorthand for website usability. (e.g., “That site has good UX.”)
  • User interface (UI) — where man meets machine. For example, an operating system has a graphical user interface. UI continues to evolve and isn’t always visual. Thanks to virtual assistants like Alexa, the human voice now interacts with a UI as well.
  • Usability — in general. This is, after all, broader than just websites. Any digital offering has (or lacks) usability, from a website to a computer game. But physical objects have usability considerations as well. For example, OXO is a company that is well known for kitchen utensils and housewares usability. When I first learned about usability, the instructor used a car brake pedal as an example. I had never noticed before, but it is a lot wider than the gas pedal for a reason. If you’re accidentally going to stomp on one of them, it’s better to be the stop than the accelerate!
  • User testing — Get your visitors’ opinions about what works well on the site and what doesn’t, what processes and mechanisms are intuitive and which are confusing
  • A/B testing — Measuring your visitors’ behavior to see how well they are able to actually use the site, and if the actual user experience matches the intended website design

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Marketing 101: What is above the fold?

March 2nd, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Above the fold refers to the part of an email message or webpage that is visible without scrolling. It refers to a printing term for the top half of a newspaper which is, literally, above the place in the newspaper where it is folded in half.

Unlike a newspaper, however, email and webpage fold locations aren’t predictable. The fold may be affected by the user’s preview pane, monitor size, monitor resolution, device type (i.e., mobile vs. desktop) and any headers placed by email programs such as Gmail or Yahoo!

Material in the above-the-fold area is considered more valuable because the reader sees it first. According to the Wikipedia entry for Above the fold, “Most web design advice available today encourages designers to place important information at the top of the website, but also to prioritize usability and design.”

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Call-to-Action Optimization: 132% increase in clickthrough from changing four simple words

February 14th, 2018
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Think of all the money you invest in attracting customers before they even get to the call-to-action … buying media or traffic, designing websites and landing pages, crafting just the right offer.

If you can squeeze just a bit higher conversion rate out of your calls-to-action (CTAs), it increases the ROI on the rest of your marketing investment.

And that’s just a few percent. What about more than doubling the conversion of that CTA? Without the need for any IT or development resources?

A recent experiment MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) ran with a Research Partner did just that. Let’s walk through the simple word changes and what you can learn from them as you craft your own calls-to-action and button copy.

Experiment design

This experiment was a landing page test that encouraged people to get a physical copy of a textbook mailed to them. These people are decision makers. They choose a product that will lead to significant product sales from others. By getting the sample in these decision makers’ hands, they are more likely to select this product and, therefore, drive significant sales.

The experiment had a control and two treatments. There were several differences between the control and the treatments including changing the image, headline and call-to-action. Both treatments improved clickthrough rate (CTR), with the second treatment generating a 277% increase in CTR at a 99% level of confidence.

That clickthrough increase carried its way through the funnel to an increase for the final conversion as well — an 82% increase in conversion for Treatment 2 at a 99% level of confidence.

But here’s where it gets more interesting. While the team changed several variables between the control and the treatments, they only changed a single variable between Treatment 1 and Treatment 2 — the call-to-action — to discover the impact of the CTA wording.

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Marketing 101: What is a vanity link (or vanity URL)?

September 15th, 2017
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

A vanity link is a URL that is in plain English and very easy for a potential web visitor to type in. URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator — the webpage address. Every page on the World Wide Web has a URL, even this one. To find the URL of any webpage, simply look in the browser bar at the top.

Vanity links make it easier for people to visit your landing pages

If you’re sending people to a landing page, blog post or online article from a webpage, it’s easy enough to use a hyperlink — like this — to allow your visitors to click and visit the other page.

However, there are times when you would like to create a call-to-action to a webpage that readers or listeners will actually have to type into a web browser themselves. An example might be a TV or radio ad. Or a print advertisement. For this reason, a vanity link isn’t technically a “link” at all, but rather a URL (i.e., the web address).

For example, the URL for our customer satisfaction study is fairly easy compared to some URLs: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/freestuff/customer-first-study

However, why put that on the customer? It’s in the “Free Stuff” section of MarketingSherpa, so that’s why those words are in the URL. But why make the customer type that in? Or even the hyphens between “customer” and “first” and “study.” The HTTP and www aren’t necessary either.

When we wanted to direct someone to that website and couldn’t use a link, we created this simple vanity URL: MarketingSherpa.com/ConsumerStudy

Notice how much easier that is to type in and remember. Also notice the camel casing — I made the first letter of each word a capital letter so the URL is easier to read and remember, although visitors could type the URL with all lowercase letters and still get to the webpage.

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Marketing 101: What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

September 1st, 2017
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Conversion rate optimization, often abbreviated as CRO, is the practice of improving the conversion rate in any advertising, marketing, sales or other business practice that has a goal of getting a person to take an action. (The conversion rate measures the number of prospects who take an action that you’re requesting.)

For example, let’s say you have an email that asks people to click to a landing page to buy a product. CRO would focus on getting more people to click on that email (improving the conversion rate of clickthrough), in addition to getting more people to purchase on the landing page.

CRO (or at least elements of it) is sometimes also referred to as marketing optimization, website optimization, landing page optimization (LPO), growth hacking, optimization and testing, customer experience (CX), usability (UX) or marketing experimentation.

Despite the prevalent use of the word “optimization,” it is a very different discipline from search engine optimization (SEO). CRO is focused on optimizing for human behavior, and SEO is focused on optimizing for machine behavior.

Web design, copywriting and analytics interpretation are key skills that go hand-in-hand with CRO. This is because many CRO changes are either to design or copy. Also, the ability to understand analytics will (1) give ideas on where in the conversion process you should make CRO changes to have the biggest impact, and once you’ve made the changes, (2) how impactful they have been to your conversion goals.

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Email Marketing for Nonprofits: Communicating value proposition

June 26th, 2015
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We generally think of only companies or campaigns having value propositions. For nonprofit companies, communicating the value proposition effectively is necessary for survival.

There is a value prop behind every action, including each email sent — why should people read your entire email or click through to a landing page? In the case of nonprofits, it seems this challenge is stronger, with no promise of a product at the end of the cycle.

This value proposition of action for email marketing answers the question behind why customers should take a specific action when they get your email — click.

Once people land on your page, that’s when you give them the reason to take action.

At Web Optimization Summit 2014, Tim Kachuriack, Chief Innovation and Optimization Officer, NextAfter, shared his experiences of working with nonprofits on email and landing page designs.

He explained that he was inspired at a MarketingSherpa conference a few years prior, when his page was selected for live optimization and critiqued in front of the entire MarketingSherpa audience.

Although confident that the page could more effectively communicate his value proposition, he mentioned his reservations when asking to test this page for the first time, saying,

“You guys helped me create this ugly, Frankenstein-looking version of the landing page,” Tim said. “It took much convincing and pleading, and many adult beverages. I convinced my client to actually let us,  in fact, test this.”

It resulted in a 274% increase in revenue for the nonprofit.

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Web Optimization: How AARP Services boosted renewals by increasing usability

March 11th, 2014
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Eyeglasses launched across the table. A focus group member was irritated, experiencing difficulty reading the AARP Services website.

“‘I can’t see this content because you’ve got a grey background!” the member complained. “There is no place for me to increase the font size!”

This was just one of the observations that helped drive the optimization of the AARP Services website, making it more user-friendly for its senior demographic. At Optimization Summit 2013, two members of the company’s team shared AARP Services’ secrets to success.

In this excerpt of the presentation “How AARP Services increased referrals and membership renewals,” we learned how focus groups helped fuel the first test’s goal – make the site easy to read and share.

 

Preeti Sood, Digital Channel Manager, AARP Services, admitted that she was initially opposed to using a focus group. However, by observing frustrations of customers, AARP Services was able to use data from a focus group to convince management to perform additional testing around readability and social media sharing.

This short clip showcases how changing the background color, font size and placement of the “email” button resulted in a 12% decrease in page bounce rate and 7% increase in social sharing – all beginning with information collected from a focus group.

Gaurva Bhatia, VP of Digital Strategy, AARP, also said he was skeptical about focus groups, especially given the subject matter at hand. He thought that website visitors could easily just change font size through their browsers. Why waste time and effort on this? After witnessing the frustrations from the focus group, it became clear that this was an area that needed priority when it came to testing.

This left Guarva with a valuable lesson.

“Listen to the members,” he explained. “Test what they’re telling you versus assuming about them and doing what you think is right.”

Watch the full free session from Optimization Summit 2013 to discover:

  • How AARP Services adopted a “teach and learn” culture
  • The benefits that can come from focus groups
  • Items to keep in mind with the “newspaper generation”
  • And much more

  Read more…

E-commerce: Does your website appeal to hunter-gatherer instincts?

March 7th, 2014
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For thousands of years prior to the advent of agriculture in 8,000 BCE, our ancestors survived as hunter-gatherers. I would say we are still, at our core, hunter-gatherers.

This idea becomes really interesting when we stop and consider some of our shopping behaviors.

Think about the last time you went shopping – where did you go?

My favorite place to shop, for example, is about 20 minutes from my house. After I park my car and walk into the store, I’ve committed maybe 30 minutes of my time to the shopping experience.

Once inside, I generally walk around the store counterclockwise. I look high and low, feeling fabrics, examining products and “hunting” for the items I want to buy. If I go without a specific need in mind, I generally end up buying the coolest, newest item that catches my eye. I also see many people wandering around just looking to buy something.

They have a perceived need; it’s just not clearly defined.

 

Hunter-gatherer instincts go beyond the bounds of brick-and-mortar

For an example, I need a new pair of jeans. As I walk over to the men’s department, I scan up and down. Retailers have a knack for placing impulse buying items where people will normally look. By the time I get to the jeans area, I may have invested 45 minutes in my quest to buy a pair of Levi 550 jeans.

When I arrive at my goal, I find out they have one pair of 550s that are the correct size, but they are perhaps too faded, or too dark or otherwise not quite right.

Now I have a decision to make and a few options: go to another store and search there, go home without any jeans, or buy the jeans that are there.

In this case, I buy the jeans and head home happy, having spent a total of about 90 minutes in total.

Now, what happens when I go hunting online?

My trip is likely going to begin with a search engine, where I enter “Levi’s 550 jeans” in the search bar and 324,000 listings are shown in to me in about 0.45 seconds – a little faster than my trip to the store.

As I scan the different listings, I see Levi’s, Amazon, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s.

So I click on Levi’s first, and it has my 550s front and center. But for some reason, before I can shop with the  company, it wants my email address first. 

 

Now don’t get me wrong here, Levi’s is taking some interesting and creative approaches to engage customers, as one of my colleagues recently shared.

But in this particular instance, the experience is not so welcoming as the perceived cost for hunting here is rather high right off the bat, so I immediately back out and search elsewhere.

 

When the hunt is overwhelming, choice becomes paralyzing

Amazon is next. Now I must admit, I am not a regular shopper on Amazon, so I’m a little overwhelmed by all of my choices. All I want is a pair of jeans.

 

One more click and I am back out again.

Although my lack of Amazon savvy is no fault of the company, I like this example because it highlights the paradox of consumer choice: While consumers want choices, having too many options can lead to indecision.

So the challenge in building a fantastic customer experience is in finding the right balance of options to make consumer choices easier whilst plentiful.

 

When you’re loaded for bear, nothing else will do

My next stop was J.C. Penney and although the hunting here is a little less overwhelming, there was one interesting thing I noticed.

 

In this shopping experience, I was offered alternatives to the Levi’s I wanted first, which made me a little confused and uncomfortable.

To play the devil’s advocate here, the research manager in me think’s it’s absolutely plausible that J.C. Penney’s could be doing some testing, you just never really know.

Ultimately, the distraction I experienced here prevented me from moving towards the ultimate “yes” and here’s why.

The psychological investment required to discern between my perceived need for Levi’s and the alternatives offered was much higher than I expected.

So I backed out and continued hunting.

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Web Optimization: 3 considerations for testing personalized webpage content

January 31st, 2014
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Content personalization is perhaps one of the fastest-growing optimization tools, enabling formerly static websites to segment visitors and deliver a more personalized message to optimize conversion.

With social media providing more data than ever about customers, online marketers can cleverly deliver a message.

Personalized messages are delivered through various audience segments, built according to customer data pulled from the user’s cookie. When a user with a qualifying cookie visits a page, their cookie will trigger the display of a more personalized message.

When effectively designed and utilized, this personalized page may closely match customer motivation, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

Recently, one of our Research Partners, a large mobile network carrier, challenged us with designing a test that would allow them to compare the performance of 10 personalized audience segments against a control.

Our Partner presented the question, “Does a personalized version of our webpage increase the chances of conversion?” Although it sounded like a simple task, we learned that there are many pitfalls when testing multiple personas.

Here are three considerations to keep in mind when designing your test for personalized webpage content.

 

Account for an overlap in personas or prepare for duplicated data

When designing personas for your webpage, it is important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all audience segment. There will inevitably be some overlap because we humans typically don’t fit into one box that defines us.

Our Partner’s test included segments ranging from DIYers, bookworms, the upwardly mobile and gift givers. But what if I am an upwardly mobile individual with a love of books, home repair and gift giving?

Which page will I see, and how will you know?

Another contributor to overlapped personas will be shared devices. It is important to remember we are only capable of evaluating visitors’ cookies, not the visitor personally. If the visitor’s device is shared with others who each fit into vastly different audience segments, we may not be able to accurately segment the visitor into the correct category.

To combat this challenge, we set up our test so our audience segments were mutually exclusive. This meant that only users qualifying for one segment were taken to a treatment, and any user qualifying for multiple segments were taken to the control.

However, this approach will inevitably result in less traffic to each persona. Keep this in mind when selecting the number of segments your test should have.

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