email marketing

Welcome email tests that will help begin the onboarding process that turns tryers into buyers and buyers into long-term subscribers.

Email is still the most effective strategy for onboarding visitors. By “onboarding” we mean:

  • Getting tryers to use the product so they can become buyers
  • Getting buyers to use the product so they become long-term subscribers
  • Getting repeat buyers to share their appreciation of the product

Yes, email is important to your business. It can’t be done through Facebook or Twitter. It can’t be done through SMS. Maybe it can be done through direct mail. Maybe.

The first step in these processes is the ubiquitous Welcome Email. It gives customers a first impression of your business. Guides them through your product. And demonstrates the value that you can bring them. It’s what takes them from trial to paying user to a repeat user to a evangelist.

In fact marketers who utilize welcome emails find that they have a substantial effect on their conversions with some even experiencing up to a 50% conversion rate when implementing them into their onboarding marketing strategy. Impressive, huh?

Welcome emails aren’t as straightforward as you would think, however. They need to be tested. From timing to subject line, rigorously A/B testing the different aspects of your emails is a sure fire way to build the most effectual onboarding strategy for your business.

Today, we are going to focus on one aspect of welcome email A/B testing – Content.

Content is what entices your user to click-through and act. You need to get it right.

Welcome Email Tests to Engage Customers

Here are five A/B tests you should be doing on your content to optimize your onboarding emails and get users converting from trial to lifetime customers.

1. Test Simple vs. Hyper-Stylized Design

Let’s begin with design.

No matter how well-written your emails are, if it the look isn’t right the effectiveness will be hampered. Emails can be as simple or flamboyant as you wish. Generally they are divided into three types:

  1. The first type is E-zine style. It’s flashy, hyper-stylized with images and bold font taking centre stage.
  2. Next is SaaS style. It’s cleaner and simpler yet still professional.
  3. And finally Personal. This has no branding, no design. Just a straightforward email.

It’s up to you to test what works best for your business.

welcome email tests - stylized versus simple email design

Will your visitors prefer a stylized email or a simple “personal” email?

An interesting design case study comes from SitePoint, a specialist in content for web developers. After sending out over 40 newsletters, their campaign started to look a little lackluster.

Their initial emails were uncluttered and pared back in design. And they wanted to continue with this look but update it and get more clicks.

So they ran an A/B test.

The first thing they tested was the template, and the results were positive with an initial 16% rise in click through rates.

Next they tested images – should they include them or keep it plain text? SitePoint already had a hunch that their customers didn’t care for them and wanted a text only email.  This assumption proved to be inconclusive as the results were 118 vs. 114 clicks in favor of no images.

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn't prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn’t prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.

These welcome email tests were just the first round of experimenting for SitePoint. They went back to the drawing board and tested everything again. They experimented with images and templates until they found what worked best.

The winning email template after ab testing of welcome emails. Simple, but a little design can go a long way.

The winning email was simple, but a little design can go a long way.

The winning email retained the simple look of their original email. It was just updated, more attractive to readers and most importantly, increased their click-through rate.

Contrasted to this is Wishpond. After extensive testing of their own emails, they discovered images were just what their audience wanted. Using images produced a 60% higher click-through rate versus just using text alone.

These two contrasting examples are just to illustrate the fact that there is no single best design for all businesses.

There is no one template fits all.

You need to test to discover what your customers like and what drives results.

2. Test A Single Call to Action

When you send out your welcome emails we are betting you have one goal in mind – getting customers to use your product.

All too often we see businesses sending emails with multiple links and requesting customers do numerous actions. It’s confusing and will distract your user from your goal.

So here’s a challenge – try restricting your welcome emails to have only one call-to-action,

That’s exactly what Optimizely did.

In 2014 they began rigorously testing all aspects of their emails. One of the tests had a goal of increasing click-throughs on the call to action.

To do this they sent out two emails. The first having only one CTA, while the second had multiple.

Welcome email: test a single call to action. Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

There was one clear winner. The email with only one CTA produced substantially more click-throughs with a 13.3% increase.

Narrowing down your email to one call to action can be a tough task. You have a limited amount of onboarding emails to send. Yet you have so much to say.

Try removing any unnecessary call to actions you have in your emails and just focus on what you believe is most important.

Ask yourself what is the most important thing you want your customer to do after receiving this email and make this your call to action.

Then test.

3. Test Urgency Inducing Copy

When sending welcome emails to onboard your users there are some tactics you can use to convert those trial users into paying customers.

One method is urgency. Using a sense of immediacy in your email to get your customer to act now.

MarketingExperiments tested the effects of urgency in their email campaigns.

They planned a Web Clinic Invite and sent out two emails. One was just the simple invite. The other however, had three extra urgency inducing words – Limit 1000 Attendees.

Five welcome email tests to turn tryers into buyers - test urgency inducing copy.

Urgency may induce more of your email recipients to act.

The email containing the urgency had a 15.4% increase in click-throughs. Pretty impressive figures considering the only difference was 3 words!

When sending welcome emails, urgency can be incredibly valuable.

Here is another example of urgency from Sprout Social.

To get trials to convert to paying customers they use copy to imply urgency and encourage users to act now.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

They use phrases such as “Only 2 days left” and “Time Flies – your trial period is over in just 2 days”. It shouts “act now or you’ll miss out!”

It’s a clever way to optimize your emails and get more customers converting.

4. Testing Email Length (How Long Should a Welcome Email Be?)

When a customer signs up you want to tell them everything about your business.

Explaining every feature and what you offer in a long winded email is going to show them the value of your business, right? Well probably not.

Conversely, saying too little can be problematic also. Customers might feel under informed and might not act at all.

Research has shown that the average open time for an email is only 15-20 seconds.

With such a small window of time, you need to test how long your emails should be to have the maximum impact.

iMedia Connection decided to carry out tests, with two versions of an email promoting an upcoming conference.

One email was verbose, containing all of the information about the conference within it as well as links to the website.

The other was half the length, with only a short description and a link to a website containing the information.

Testing email length: A bigger open rate doesn't mean a higher click-through rate.

A bigger open rate doesn’t mean a higher click-through rate.

The shorter email proved to be more appealing. iMedia Connection reported that not only was the open rate on the shorter higher at 30% vs. 20% but the click-through rate was also higher at 11% vs. 5%.

Short, brief content was the winner here but that might not always be the case. Getting your emails length right must be tested.

Good ab testing will help you find the perfect balance between being informative while also being concise.

5. Welcome Email Tests: Test Personalization

Personalization is one of the most effective techniques to increase conversions from emails. Using a customer’s data to appeal to their interests has been proven to work time and time again. And it isn’t as complicated as you may think.

DoggyLoot, an online store experienced astonishing success when they began personalizing their email’s content.

They recognized that Rottweiler owners wouldn’t want the same emails as Chihuahua owners. So they began to segment in the simplest way possible.

They began collection “doggie data” by asking owners one simple question – is their dog small, medium or large?

Based on this data, they created three email segments based on dog size. Each segment received an email that had products that were suited to their dogs.

Welcome email tests: test personalization. DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

The results were impressive to say the least. The personalized emails that were targeted at large dog owners had a click through rate that was 410% higher than the average.

Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. Just find whatever works for your business.

Doggyloot just asked the right questions on signup, enabling them to segment their audience with relative ease.

Whether you just add a user’s name or build comprehensive buyer personas, testing personalization can be a real asset to your welcome emails.

5 Welcome Email Tests To Turn Tryers into Buyers: Summary

These 5 A/B tests and case studies are guidelines. Some may work for your business while others might make no impact at all.

It is important to focus on how customers are reacting to your email content. Measuring click-throughs and conversions is essential. See what makes statistical significance, gets users converting and becoming lifelong customers. For more advanced A/B tests read our Ebook “Welcome Your First Million Users: The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing Your Welcome Emails”.

Don’t give up on your email campaigns. If you feel frustrated by low click-through rates, keep one thing in mind: people tend to respond to emails at a higher rate than any other marketing channel.

It is possible that you just need to make a few adjustments to the emails you are sending to enjoy high open rates, high click-through rates and more sales.

Most businesses have disappointing open and click-through rates for their email campaigns. However, email marketing is as good as everyone says it is. You just need to approach it the right way. But first, let’s take a look at the wrong way.

Mistake #1: You Take the Email Shotgun Approach

There are two possible reasons no one is reading your emails.

The first reason is that your email isn’t relevant or compelling.  I like to call this the shotgun approach.

Back when email services were less sophisticated, sending lots of emails was a surefire way to get attention – but that’s no longer true today.

Your customers’ email inboxes are overloaded with emails they never read. If your content hasn’t been particularly relevant and compelling, your subscribers have probably forgotten who you are and why they ever signed up to receive emails from you. Sooner or later they will mark your emails as spam or just unsubscribe.

The shotgun approach is exactly like closing your eyes, counting to twenty, and firing a shotgun in the air, hoping to down a pheasant. It’s ineffective and can be dangerous.

Email campaigns are the same way.

Sometimes Less Is More

Emails cost your business money. Your autoresponder service costs money, and it costs money to pay the staff who write your emails.

Like any other business expense, there should always be a positive return on investment. This is why every autoresponder service gives you open rates and click-through rates on your emails, as well as many more statistics for your analysis.
Here’s a quick lesson in autoresponder statistics:

Click-to-Open (CTO) rates by industry.

Click-to-Open (CTO) rates by industry.

Most autoresponder services charge according to how many email addresses are in your lists. GetResponse’s autoresponder service, for example, charges $45 per month if your lists have 5,000 email addresses and $15 if you have 1,000 addresses. This tiered pricing system is used because larger lists consume more resources than smaller lists – and that’s where we need a change in perspective.

Most people will tell you that a bigger list is better, but if 4,500 of your 5,000 subscribers haven’t opened an email in the past six months, they are dead weight. Even worse, they’re costing you an extra $30 per month with a negative ROI.

Now, you might argue that $30 a month is chump change, but there is an additional, hidden cost with that. Every single one of those unwanted, unopened emails you send damages your reputation with the email service. The more you send with no response, the more likely you are to be relegated to Gmail’s spam folder – and that’s a costly mistake.

The more you send with no response, the more likely you are to be relegated to Gmail’s spam folder – and that’s a costly mistake.

However, there’s some good news. Properly targeting 500 active subscribers will yield you a much higher return than shotgunning 5,000 non-readers. You don’t need a massive list to get results – you just need to understand your audience and give them value.

Mistake #2: You Aren’t Emailing Enough

If your email marketing is limited to a once-per-month newsletter, you probably aren’t being very effective.
As I mentioned previously, your subscribers get a lot of emails in their inboxes. Once-a-month probably isn’t enough frequency to stand out.

If you want to learn how to install a successful drip campaign and start converting more with your email, Conversion Scientist has you covered.

How To Fix Your Mistakes: Bringing the Non-Openers Back on Board

So, let’s say you’ve found yourself with a high percentage of non-openers – how do we fix it?
The first step is looking closely at the subscribers who are not engaging with you.

  • How long ago did they sign up? Their needs might have changed if it was more than a few months ago.
  • Do their email addresses have anything in common? Your emails might have been running afoul of one service’s over-aggressive spam filters.
  • Do the names have anything in common? Perhaps they speak a different language from your own.
  • Is your writing style turning them off? You should be looking closely at your communication style in any case; perhaps you can bring these people back on board.

Once you’ve answered these questions, compose test emails to send to each of these groups:

Long-Ago Sign-Ups

If you are selling diapers, child car seats or other child-related items, then these subscribers might not need your products because their children are older than when they initially subscribed. The same is true if you have a seasonal offering or anything targeting a specific stage in life.

Do you have other products that they might now be interested in instead? Could you set up a joint venture with another company that sells products aimed at the parents of older children?

There are a lot of ways to monetize an email list, so don’t put yourself in a box. Your subscribers might have more children planned or on the way, so your products might still be relevant: You might just need to re-engage these subscribers.

Recipients With Over-Aggressive Spam Filters

Your email automation service will have spam-scoring tools that you can use to judge how likely your emails are to be marked as spam. You need to compose a few different test emails with very low spam-scores to send to a sample of this group.

If your emails have particularly enticing subject lines and special offers you might be able to persuade these subscribers to white-list you, so your future emails will get through to their inbox.

Sometimes, dealing with spam or the dreaded “Promotions” folder is as simple as periodically asking your subscribers to white-list your address.

Global Clients

Do you offer emails in alternative languages? Might it be worth considering this option? Yes, there is a translation cost involved, but translation services can be acquired extremely cheaply with sites like Fiverr and others.

Are your prices available in multiple currencies? While it’s true that most credit card companies will convert transactions automatically, your customers may be put off if your prices are only in US dollars.

Are your postage rates to foreign countries as low as they can be? Check around for new postage options that might have become available since you last checked.

Email Style

This is something you should be working on anyway in order to improve engagement with the people who have been opening your emails regularly. Refine your style with your active fans and see what they want. Make it more personal, adopt a unique voice, improve subject lines or use responsive email designs to accommodate subscribers who are using tablets and smartphones to open their emails.

Once you notice engagement rates improving send out a few test emails to some of your inactive subscribers.

Over to You

Have you checked your autoresponder statistics recently? Do you any other suggestions for trimming your list or reactivating inactive subscribers? We’d love to hear. Share your ideas in the comments section below.

How do you grow your email list quickly and effectively? Do you advertise on social media, use special list building software, or do you pray to the lead generation gods for better, quality leads?

How many tools do you really need to list build? Maybe a dozen?
60 online marketing experts were asked a simple question:
“If you could only choose 3 tools to grow your email list, which 3 would you choose?”
At Conversion Sciences, we like to break down our list building strategy into three parts. Content, destination, and calls to action.
We use the Content Cascade for transcribing webinars for a month’s worth of quality content. Hootsuite helps us share that content over time on social media. WordPress plugins help funnel the type of traffic we get from social media. We also recommend building a separate site for phone visitors. Finally, we’ve built a conversion mini course on our website and use to significantly grow our subscribers.
Here are just a few of the top tools recommended by 60 Marketing Experts in a poll by
Top Tools For Email List Building
Read the Robbie Richards Blog for more of the best tools for list building.

The Conversion Function is the number of actions taken for an online property divided by the number of visits to that property.

The Conversion Rate Function

The Conversion Rate Function: Actions over Visitors

Here is where we find the solid blue line in our websites.
It runs through our sites and our landing pages. It slices our prospects’ mobile phones, their tablets and their computers.
PPC, SEO and Content Marketing-Digital Transportation

We charter the digital vehicles that carry people to our online properties.

We begin by chartering the digital transportation that will bring people in under the line, these confounding and complex people we call visitors. This is not an inexpensive undertaking.
We cajole Google with it’s menagerie of penguins, pandas and hummingbirds. We cast our banners and our ads across the internet, chasing prospects as they surf. We create the content, we share on social, and we send the emails that bring them to us.
We pay their fares promising them a trip to a place meant for them. Our place.
They arrive below our line, looking for that solution, that thing that will make them feel better, that product to adorn themselves, that moment of entertainment when they can let go.
The blue line stands as a ceiling to our visitors and they image how things might be different if they could just get up there.
Above the line.
They are always tempted by the exit, the back button, the next search.
It is this blue line that our visitors struggle with, which means that we as online businesses struggle with it, too.
Those tempted by the line find reason and method to climb.
For some, this might be quite easy. Others will accept the help of friends and strangers.
We create the line. We draw our blue line. Sometimes higher. Sometimes lower.
It is our duty help more of our visitors to rise above this line.
How will you help your visitors become customers?
We choose the tools that will elevate them.
Will we let them devise a system of pulleys and knots with which to climb.
Will we provide the clear steps, a little boost in their efforts.
Will we ask them to make a leap of faith and trust in their agility to spring safely above our blue line.
Will we try to make it effortless using the machinery of our websites to transport them to a fixed location, a place above the line? And what will make them take that leap, to step on, to push the button.
The vision we have for our blue line is one in which many make the journey. They come with their money in hand, ready to spend, ready to engage.
Conversion happens when visitors rise above the blue line.
We see them coming with ample intuition and a nourishing supply of common sense, all calibrated by the way we see our business, ourselves and our world.
As it turns out what we call sense isn’t that common.
These frustrating people we call visitors aren’t like us. They aren’t even like the people we know.
They come with their own rules, with their own ideas of beauty and their own sense of how things should work.
They are not here to be manipulated. They are here to be understood.
When they are not understood, they seem mesmerized by the exit, transfixed and hypnotized.
Why are so many visitors drawn to the exit?
We paid to bring them here and they, in their flagrant individuality choose not to stay.
What Quicksand does your site create for visitors?
In our hubris, we create the quicksand that will trap them. Did our navigation confuse them, do our words lack clarity, did we call them to act in the way they like to act.
We are opaque to them, and this is scary. Our very visitors fear us like a bad dream on Halloween.
Your visitors have natural fears keeping them from converting.

Your visitors have natural fears.

Are we lurking behind our website, ready to pounce, to steal from them or, worse, to make them feel stupid and incompetent?
Do we fear being known for who we really are? For it is the unknown that allows our visitors imaginations to run to places we did not expect them to go.
How are we dealing with this complexity?
For this is a complex problem.
How high will we set our line? What distance must these lost souls cover to find their solution?
What have we provided them? Why should they put their fears aside? How will we transport them above the line?
For it is their journey from below the blue line that tells us who they are and who we should be for them.
I’m pleased to be exploring these questions over three days at Digital Elite Camp in Tallinn, Estonia.
Estonia via Google Earth
If you aren’t planning to be in Tallinn, you should follow us from right where you are. We’re going to be exploring some fun and helpful stuff.

There are few challenges more daunting than mailing to a purchased email list. In fact, I usually recommend against it. Nonetheless, it is often the only way to access a specialized audience, and list purveyors continue to lie about the value of their list.
If you are creating landing page for an offer to a purchased mailing list, you will have to work extra hard.

Stress Free School Supplies Page

The top portion of the Stress Free School Supplies Page works hard, but fails to nail the “lead.”

Such is the case with Stress Free School Supplies. The owner of the business is a former teacher and understands the problem schools have in getting parents to purchase the necessary supplies for the year.
Her offer is that she will create a custom list on for each school. This allows parents to buy everything they need with a click. Her business will also provide the flyers and emails needed for reaching out to parents.
Her audience is a purchased list of school administrators, whose job it is to solve this parents / supplied problem.
Any competent landing page will:


  • Makes an offer.

  • Provides a way to take action, typically using a form.

  • Delivers tangible proof.

  • Earns your visitors trust.

  • Shows relevant images.

For a “cold” email list the page must master two of these components: the Offer and Trust.
The initial questions for those who receive are, “How does this work?” and “Can I trust you?” Only then do you get permission to make the sale.

An Offer that Makes Visitors Want to Stay

OfferThe offer is the primary value proposition, the reason the visitor should buy — or at least the reason they should keep reading. For a cold email list, the offer must reach out and grab the reader by the throat.

Create a Stress Free Back-to-school shopping experience for parents.

Is the offer relevant to the reader?

Currently the primary offer reads “Create a Stress Free Back-To-School Shopping Experience for Parents.” This headline is directed more towards parents than it is to school administrators.
While I’m sure that school administrators love their kids’ parents, I bet we would do better if we wrote a headline that addressed their pain, rather than the parents’ pain. The key to a great headline is understanding the administrators’ pain.


  • That students will be showing up to school without proper supplies.

  • Teachers will have to accommodate unprepared students during a chaotic time.

Establishing Trust


Trust in this case has two components:


  1. How does this work?

  3. Are you legitimate?

“How it works” is buried in this case; the paragraph below the offer is dense, non-specific and lacks clarity.
Amazon is a powerhouse brand, familiar and trusted. Since Stress Free School Supplies is an affiliate, we suggested “borrowing trust” from Amazon and using their logo on the page. Currently the logo is buried in the fine print low on the page.

Amazon Affiliate

Why is this logo buried low on the page?

We also suggested logos from any PTA associations she may belong to as well as any business associations (BBB). Another suggestion was to put a face to the company. Doing this increases lead generation conversion rates because people know they will be dealing with a real person not a computer automated recording and begins building that trust.
We usually do not recommend social media icons on landing pages. Stress-Free School Supplies needs trust symbols, and we suggested she keep them on the page. However, we recommend moving them to a less prime location than directly under the form.

Enticing Action


The for is the way school administrators to taking action. The goal of the form is to make it easy for administrators to sign up for the service without looking like a “squeeze” page.

The submit button for this form is in a strange and confusing place.

The submit button for this form is in a strange and confusing place.

This form currently has six blanks, including 2 emails and a zip code. The more personal information you request on a form, the more abandonment you will experience. We suggested to her that requiring only their email would help to heighten form fills. But, the main issue with this form is not the blanks, but the button to submit the form.
The call-to-action button was lost on this page. It was up and to the right of where we had just finished filling out the form. If someone had scrolled down while filling out the form, they may miss this entirely. We suggested moving the CTA button under the form, which they have recently done.

Providing Proof


Currently the proof is given by testimonials and the FAQs.  However, The FAQs are at the bottom of the page, so 50% of people won’t make it that far and the testimonials are lost in a milky way around a vibrant picture that grabs the eyes attention to it, not the testimonials. A suggestion would be to put pictures of the individuals to these testimonials to drawl the eye and create an emotional response. Another good example of proof would be adding the number of orders filled.

Show the Product


What do the images on this landing page do for conversion? Bottom Line:“The goal of the images are to help me visualize owning and having whatever it is you offer.” The image in the page header is of school supplies. An image near the middle of the page shows… school supplies. This is not really why administrators sign up. Here the image takes away from the testimonials near it.

School supplies image

The Caption for this image may be “This is what school supplied look like!”

In Summary, this landing page needs to knock the offer out of the park and establish trust quickly. It’s the value proposition to its viewers through better targeted copy and adding an image that will explain the process.

For more information, please read: Discover the Chemistry Behind a Successful Landing Page [Infographic]

By avoiding our online marketing confirmation bias or Oedipus Complex we lay the path to greater insights and greater profitability.

This is a guest post by Craig Andrews.

Sorry, no salacious stories about sons killing their father and sleeping with their mother. But in Oedipus Rex, Sophocles had insights about Online Marketing more than 2 millennia before the internet. The play’s hero had a tragic flaw that plagues all of us. It is our Confirmation Bias or Oedipus Complex.

“My poor children, I know why you have come— I am not ignorant of what you yearn for.” – Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

The Greek tragedy opens with Oedipus, the King, telling the people he knows the source of their pain. It turns out that he is the source of their pain.

At some point, we all approach our internet visitors the same way Oedipus approached the Thebans. We are absolutely convinced we know why our website visitors have come and what they yearn for. But if we don’t continually test and challenge our assumptions, we are just as guilty as Oedipus.

The Origin of Our Complex (our Confirmation Bias)

We are passionate about our business and our customers. We invest time in serving and understanding our customers. When this makes us over confident, we can miss important insights. Even in looking at our website analytics, we can find data that confirms what we believed. This “confirmation bias” can cause us to quit scouring data when we find the data that supports our hypothesis. We must press further.

As an example, a client was convinced their customers wouldn’t visit the website using mobile phones. Yet 5 months after launching a new site, 1/3rd of their website conversions were from mobile phones. In another instance, we saw sustained double-digit organic traffic growth and assumed it was due to Google.

Turns out Google traffic was dropping while traffic from other search engines was rising. Haunted by the words of Oedipus – “I know why you have come” – I was wrong. Continuing with the wrong assumption without correction would have resulted in additional lost traffic from the world’s largest search engine.

No Fate But What We Make

Oedipus thought his ruin was the product of fate. We should not. Rather, we must continually test and challenge our assumptions.

In the digital world, every customer touch offers an opportunity to learn more:

  • Website visits, email campaigns & pay-per-click advertising all enable you to study customer behavior
  • Free analytics tools provide extensive demographic data and even a degree of psychographic data (interests & hobbies)
  • The technology customers use to access your site provides valuable insight into your customers’ context and experience

Don’t Gouge Your Eyes Out!

“You don’t know whether something will work until you test it. And you cannot predict test results based on past experience.” – Eugene Schwartz, author of Break-through Advertising

Take action and put a plan in place. Effective plans should include 2 types of testing: testing a new hypothesis and challenging an existing belief.

New Hypothesis Challenge an Existing Belief
The call to action isn’t clear The increased conversion rate is because of recent changes
Item X is causing friction & will be corrected by doing Y Our website visitors prefer using PCs
Site Navigation isn’t clear Most of our mobile visitors use iPhones
Our visitors don’t identify with a specific graphic Our website visitors are in a specific demographic
Our current graphic isn’t objectionable, but distracts from the conversion Our visitors are looking for bargains

New hypothesis testing is familiar – it’s classic conversion optimization. But testing to continually challenge existing beliefs is what really helps to avert our Internet Marketing Oedipus Complex. Our existing beliefs, held too tightly, can get us in deep trouble.

Our team recently improved a client’s home page bounce rate 10%. Immediately, conversions started shooting through the roof. Initially we thought the changes to the home page were an overwhelming success. It seemed logical. Change followed by success, right? We chose to challenge our belief. After digging into the analytics, we discovered a few things:

  • Indeed, reducing the bounce rate improved site conversions
  • Only about half of the increased conversions were attributable to the home page changes
  • A different high volume landing page (Page “R”) had also seen an increased conversion rate
  • No changes had been made to the other page (Page “R”)
  • The increased conversion rate on the 2nd page (Page “R”) appeared to be seasonal

We found our answer in analytics under Behavior => Site Content => Landing Pages. This lets us track conversion rates based on the first page visited on the site.

Home Page Page “T” Page “R”
Conversion Rate Improvement 48% -8% 39%
% of Total Site Traffic(as a landing page) 57% 15% 28%
Percent of total Conversions(as a landing page) 26% 44% 31%

Our focus was on the Home Page and Page “T” but ignoring Page “R”. Again, it seemed logical. The Home Page receives more than half of the site traffic and one of our home page changes directed traffic to Page “T.” Our confirmation bias initially led us to ignore the 39% improvement on Page “R” where we have a significant number of conversions. But without changes Page “R” seems to be seasonal.

Now We Know (More) Why They Have Come

This discovery put a finer point on what we reported to the client. Instead of promising the client continued conversions at the new rate, we showed them how some of the higher conversion rate would be seasonal. Now the client is happy because they have permanent changes that increased the conversion rate. They also have realistic expectations for the future.

As a conversion optimizer, we now have a new hypothesis to test. There may some seasonal surge in this one category. We record that and study it next season. If it is indeed a seasonal surge, then we can tune the website and email campaigns for this newly discovered seasonality, giving the client a strategic advantage they didn’t have before.

This is the power of challenging existing assumptions. In addition to perfecting our view of reality, it opens new opportunities. With these new opportunities, we can find new and innovative ways to increase conversions in our digital media channels.

Do you yearn for success?

When Oedipus discovered the reality of the situation, he gouged his eyes out so he wouldn’t have to see it. To be effective, we can’t fear the truth. We must pursue understanding even if it results in abandoning a strongly held belief that we want to remain true. That means we need to:

  • Commit to a thoughtful, structured and methodical process of testing
  • Regularly compile a list of hypotheses and rank them
  • Regularly identify currently held beliefs and rank them
  • Perform systematic testing on these hypotheses and beliefs
  • Always learn from each and every test – especially if the test appears to be a failure

When Oedipus proclaimed he knew what the Thebans yearned for, he was speaking from his gut and intuition. Intuition is a useful tool, but let’s let the data proclaim what our website visitors are yearning for. By avoiding our confirmation bias or Oedipus Complex we lay the path to greater insights and greater profitability.

About the Author

Craig Andrews is the Principal Ally and founder of internet marketing agency allies4me. Andrews brings extensive scientific and marketing expertise to allies4me. Over the last 25 years, his experience has spanned search engine optimization, internet marketing software, biomedical and semiconductors. Andrews is backed by a team of marketing allies who support start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

In recent years, clients have been seeking guidance from allies4me on Social Media strategies. Rather than jumping on the latest hype, Andrews sought to understand Social Media through solid metrics across large data sets. The result is an unconventional and insightful approach to Social Media. Testing and data driven decisions advise all areas of allies4me work. Solid metrics and disciplined parsing of data is where allies4me clients find results.

You can connect with Craig Andrews on Google+ and LinkedInYou can find allies4me on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

For more information about testing hypotheses that convert, check out the latest Conversion Scientist’s Podcast,  “Writing Test Hypotheses That Make You Money”.

It’s time to stop boring people with how good your open rates and click-through rates are. Tell them what each and every person on your list is worth in dollars by measuring Revenue per Recipient (RPR). When you track the results of your emails down to the dollar, you track your own value down to the dollar.
From Marketing Land: Marketing Power Processes: Tracking Email To The Dollars by Brian Massey

Subscribe to the Podcast

Tweetables: Click to Tweet

Power Process: Ignore Email Open Rates & Click-Through Rates
Revenue-Per-Recipient (RPR) Ties Marketing to the Money
Like trees in the winter, it’s important to prune and shape your email list.
Most email clients now show the subject line and the beginning of an email in the inbox view.

Mobile app or mobile site?These are the stories that caught the eye of The Conversion Scientist last few weeks. If you are a curious marketer looking to learn more about conversion, please subscribe my weekly recommended reading list, For Further Study.
The new book is being announced at Conversion Conference Chicago. For more, sign up to get a copy of my up-coming book: Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of the Conversion Scientist.

22 Amazing Mobile Email Marketing Statistics-Mass Transmit

Jun 11, 2012 06:06 pm
In my upcoming book, I make the case that email is preferable to social media for storing market attention. You might think that, in the era of mobile devices, my preference for email may seem quaint.
Think again.
Clearly, mobile devices and email go together like milk and Cap’n Crunch cereal. Only healthier. Enjoy these stats and keep that email coming!

Mobile Site or Mobile App: Which Should You Build First? [INFOGRAPHIC]

I only touch on the issue of Mobile Apps in my new book Your Customer Creation Equation. So I’m happy to share this very helpful infographic on Mobile websites vs. Mobile apps.
Is it just me, or is it clear that mobile websites are the way to go (except in extreme situations)?

Buddy Media CEO Makes Unforgettable ‘We Got Bought’ Video

Jun 05, 2012 08:06 am
How is this touching video different from your corporate press release? In every way. “The Human Voice is Unmistakeable.” In Your Customer Creation Equation (coming in June) I make the point that your business should be using the content it naturally makes to feed your audience.
Clearly Michael Lazerow is good with an iPad and Keynote.
What are you good with?

How to Build and Operate a Content Marketing Machine | SEOmoz

May 29, 2012 03:24 pm
It is a great sign that @SEOMoz included Conversion in their grand plan for Content Marketing. This infograph considers conversion a key component of content marketing, but in my upcoming book on conversion I make content a key part of conversion marketing. Different approaches, same result.
Enjoy the Infograph.

What makes a 30 second movie go viral? | Webreep Blog

May 14, 2012 07:26 pm
This is a very geeky look at what makes video go viral. Very geeky. That’s why I love it. Dr. Brent Coker introduces us to the Branded Viral Movie Predictor (BVMP). Yes, it even has an acronym. If you’ve considered doing a video in the hopes that it might “go viral,” read this first and be sure you have the appropriate doses of congruency, emotive strength, network involvement and paird meme synergy. Don’t you love science?



After nine months of writing, fifteen chapters complete and dozens of columns supporting the effort, you’d think that the easiest thing to do would be to pick a name for my conversion marketing book.
As it turns out, this is difficult.
So why read a post about selecting a book title? Because, it’s all about conversion – not just the book, but the title is about converting book prospects into book readers.
The title of your book is key to maximizing conversions. It is like the subject line of your email, like the headline of your landing page, and like the value proposition of your home page. Get these wrong and your conversion rates will plummet. However the book title can’t be changed. Once chosen you are stuck with it until you write another.
It’s expensive to test titles, and this makes a Conversion Scientist very nervous.
I’ve considered a number of approaches. These approaches will also inform your online marketing.

Leverage something familiar

My first thought was to leverage something familiar, something that is already popular. This spawned several mockups including The Bourne Conversion, Eat, Pray, Convert, How to Win Friends and Convert People, and Conversions with God.
Unfortunately, copyright issues will prevent me from using any of these.

Ask your SEO person

The next thing I had to consider was how people might find the book on search engines. Phrases like “online sales conversion,” “analytics,” “conversion rates,” and “social media” are some of the most commonly searched phrases in the conversion marketing space. With this focus in mind, several titles were considered:
Online Sales Conversion: The Science of B2B, B2C, Online Services and Social Media Websites
The Well Managed Web Site: Conversion Strategy and Analytics in Simple Terms
Managing Websites to High Conversion Rates
Online Conversion Strategy
In my opinion, words like “conversion” and “analytics” are too clinical. Furthermore, these conversion terms don’t really get that much search traffic, so this strategy became less important to me.

Leverage your existing brand

I’ve been marketing Conversion Sciences and The Conversion Scientist pretty consistently for six years now through writing, speaking and training. The business is familiar to many online marketers and business owners, the two primary targets for my tome.
Playing on the science angle associated with the brand yielded several interesting titles, including the original working title, Get a Reaction.
Marketing + Science = Customers: Online Conversion Strategies to Transform Prospects into Buyers
Conversion Science: The Proven Formulas for Transforming Online Prospects into Customers
The Science of Reaction: Proven Conversion Formulas of Internet Based Companies

Own a word

I’ve always like one-word book titles that are provocative, like Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and “Outliers.” I thought “REACTION” might be the word that sticks with people in my space.
REACTION: Getting visitors to take action on your website
Get a REACTION: Proven Strategies of the Conversion Scientist
The Science of REACTIONS: Websites that Convert Visitors to Leads and Sales
My feeling is that you have to have a large marketing budget to get a word to stick in the minds of potential readers. I didn’t get a multi-million dollar advance, unfortunately.

Surprise them

Seth Godin is great at naming books with unexpected titles, such as Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars and Meatball Sundae. I thought the unexpected or absurd might work for my book as well.
It’s Raining Soup. Get a Bowl. How to turn Internet traffic into a delicious business.
Glad I Stopped By: Websites We Love to Do Business With
They Did What?! Unexpected Strategies of The Conversion Scientist
Marketing Backwards: Unexpected Strategies of The Conversion Scientist
The Website Genome Project: Proven Research of The Conversion Scientist
The truth is, I’m not Seth Godin. Darn it.

State your topic plainly

We often get too clever for our own good when we’re writing headlines, subject lines, and book titles. It’s a business book, after all.
Managing Your Website: Conversion Strategy and Analytics for the Managers and Business Owners
Online Conversion Strategies for Websites that Dominate Their Marketplace
The problem with these is that the reader is more likely to fall asleep before finishing the title.

Ask your personas

If you follow The Conversion Scientist, you know that I believe creating visitor personas is the best way to get high conversion rates on your website. The same applies to books, and I have developed several personas for this book.
With this guidance, I was able to choose a book title that combines the right ingredients… I hope. Here’s what I know about my personas.
Most of my personas have heard of The Conversion Scientist through my columns, blog posts and speaking. This tells me to leverage the familiar science angle.
One persona studies marketing, and they are reluctant to read a book that will give them same advice they’ve already heard. Therefore, the title should indicate that it is presenting a fresh way to look at online marketing. Use terms like “unexpected” or surprise titles like “marketing backwards.”
Finally, all of my personas are human, which means they respond to things like metaphors, rhyming and alliteration (the repeated use of a sound in a sentence or phrase). This tells me I should use these tools.
After reviewing these persona requirements, we settled on the following title:
The Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Formulas of The Conversion Scientist™
The alliteration and rhyming nature of the main title will help people remember the name. It has the important search terms “conversion,” and “customer” in it. The terms “equation” and “formulas” evoke the science theme of my brand.
Finally, the strategies are “unexpected,” and indeed the book contains advice contrary to what you have been told. This was a tough decision for me. One of our personas is trying to solve a specific marketing problem. Calling my recommendations “unexpected” may not appeal to her. She will want to know about “proven” strategies, and I did consider the subtitle “Proven Strategies of The Conversion Scientist.” Yet, I knew she would find value in being “cutting edge,” and “unexpected strategies” should appeal to her.
Did we pick the right title? Which would you prefer to read? Let us know in the comments.

You won’t be converting much of anything if you start with the wrong kind of website. Find out which of five conversion signatures your website should be following with a free video that introduces some key concepts from The Customer Creation Equation.

Groupon emails appeal to all of the buyer personalities.

Groupon emails appeal to all of the buyer personalities.

Whatever you think of deals site leader Groupon, you can’t argue with their amazing success.

Since 2007, Groupon has built an email list of 50 million subscribers and have kept them enraptured even though they send an email almost every single day.

Is it the deals? I would argue that it is not. Groupon: Is it the Deals or the Copy?

Find out how the layout and copy of their daily inbox offering keep people on their lists and reading day after day.