Businesses competing for attention online (and that’s everyone, right?) are always looking for shortcuts to success, and to take advantage of the latest lesser-known technique to get short-term gains in visibility online.
Now, you know as well as I do that shortcuts aren’t sustainable; and let’s face it, if the only way for you to get people to pay attention to your business online is to revert to tips and tricks, you have a bigger problem with your business.
So, death to all tips & tricks?
Not necessarily. Recently, my friends at Unbounce put on a fabulous “road trip” style conference where top experts in conversion optimization brain-dumped on us about copywriting, pay-per-click, video, email, landing pages, and customer experience. And from that firehose of information, I bring you thirteen places you can make simple tweaks to your various web assets for higher conversion (thank you to sponsors Bing and MailChimp for the candy and coffee, respectively, we couldn’t have kept up without you!).
Before I begin, though, remember the context of this article, that conversion optimization is delivering a better experience to the visitors you already have, not growing your visitor base with new sources.
Unbounce’s Oli Gardner (@oligardner) delivered a 12-step landing page makeover that is well worth the price of admission to any conference where he’s presenting it. Nine of those steps require a deeper look at your overall design, but these three steps are things you can implement immediately:
1) NSAMCWADLP – never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page. In other words, if you’re constantly driving visitors to your homepage, stop. Just stop. Figure out the offer that goes with that marketing message, and create a landing page to optimize the experience for your visitor around that message.
2) Lower your attention ratio (the number of things you CAN do on a page vs. the number you SHOULD do). This means removing or pulling back on nav menus, clutter, and anything else that creates distraction. So, pick one of your landing pages, or one of your popular web pages, and count the number of links or calls to action on it. Then, count the number of calls to action. That’s your attention ratio, and you should get it as low as possible.
3) Print out and read your landing pages out loud. Does it sound like a Shakespeare tragedy (or worse, a comedy)? Reading aloud can help you restructure your copy so that it’s easy for your visitors to digest.
Larry Kim of WordStream (@larrykim) arguably stole the show with a memetastic Game of Thrones inspired deck about pay-per-click conversion hacks. He brought up a great point that by trying to improve conversion by a few basis points, you aren’t really going to stand out. Instead, make big changes and grab opportunities like this one:
4) Use platform ad extensions like click to call on your ads for mobile, instead of directing them to a landing page. In essence, this kind of treatment on your ads changes them from cost per click to cost per lead. That’s huge, especially if you’re in an industry where you have a mobile audience and can provide a great customer experience over the phone.
Ellie Mirman of Toast (@ellieeille) had one slide that nearly made me squeal like a kid, it was so aligned with how I’m approaching our company’s email marketing program. Between that and two other super-easy ideas, the value of your email marketing program to its subscribers will go up almost instantly:
5) Align content with its place in the funnel or segment. Take a look at what you send your subscribers, and the actions you want them to take on that content. For example, if I have a new blog post about email marketing automation tips, that’s better suited for my client list than the marketing peers that have subscribed to our blog. Similarly, an article about testing and strategy resources is perfect for a peer, because it’s something they can share with their own audience.
Mapping out your segments and your content is a fantastic exercise that goes beyond just email marketing.
6) Build both your list and community by cross-promoting them. I’ve recommended this technique to clients, it’s where you create social content that encourages email signups, and introduce your social communities to your email list by showcasing content from the various channels.
7) Match the offer in the email to the offer on the website. Just like your landing page should echo the copy in your PPC ad, the website should echo the promotion in your email. Consider adding a banner graphic to your website that uses the same visuals as your email, so when someone comes to your site from your campaign, they can visually identify what to do next, and click right through.
Copywriting and Conversion
Michael Aaggard (@ContentVerve, and soon joining Unbounce) hammered home the importance of looking at the complete picture vs. simply a point in the funnel. It was a common theme from all the experts, but Michael’s takeaways will really help you focus:
8) Involve Sales & Support. They know the words being asked by customers, which you can then use in your landing page copy to connect better with prospects. Go ask your sales team the 10 most popular questions (because if they’re the most popular questions being asked, you aren’t answering them ahead of time, and that’s a big opportunity to improve conversion). Then, ask support for their 10 most popular questions (same reason).
9) Data-driven empathy. Map out the entire buying path, and see where the breakdowns are. Fix them first, then you can start to build bigger, more sophisticated tests. Especially if there are breakdowns at the end of the funnel, because no matter what you do to improve conversion ahead of time, you’re still going to have the whole thing fall apart at the end.
Conversion Optimization Testing
Daniel McGaw of Effin Amazing (@danielmcgaw) reinforced the “complete picture” approach with an excellent, back to basics, presentation. Two big takeaways you can use right now:
10) Match your images to your audience. If you’re selling t-shirts to hipsters, but your model doesn’t have a beard, add some facial hair via Photoshop to those guys and improve conversion. Why? The audience can identify with your images.
11) Look all the way down the funnel, not just at single pages. Focusing on raising conversion rate on a single page could bring all the wrong people to your customer base, people who are never going to buy. The action item is to look at the people behind the conversions of one of your landing pages: do they then turn into customers, if so, at what level?
Video Conversion Techniques
Chris Savage (@csavage) from Wistia…holy cow. He shared some research of video conversion, although I should mention that these tips might be better suited for videos embedded on your website, vs. videos you are marketing through YouTube and/or search. I feel there’s a different culture on the social and search channels for video than on a company website. Still:
12) The first 2% of your video (the Nose) is where you are going to win or lose your audience. Audience drop-off after that first 2% doesn’t change much regardless of the length of the video, so calculate what 2% equates to in your videos (for a 25 minute video, that’s about 30 seconds, for a 5 minute video, the Nose is only 6 seconds!). Make sure that content kicks butt.
13) Go custom…thumbnails and player colors lift video plays by double digits. If you’re hosting video on a custom player, these are easy changes you can make.
Bonus Takeaway: Focus on the Right Stuff
John Bonini of IMPACT (@bonini84) had my second favorite slide, because it represents the difference between people who use the web to make money vs. people who use the web to pursue celebrity, and I see so much of the latter in social media and online marketing circles.
There were more takeaways, of course, but these 13 things are easy to implement and will make a positive impact right off the bat.
Do you need any help with these or other ways to improve the experience your visitors get from your web presence? Contact Stephan Hovnanian at 781-538-5901.