for further study

The Conversion Scientists are reading some good stuff at the moment. Do you have any to add?

From Venngage – “7 Reasons Why Clicking This Title Will Prove Why You Clicked This Title”

“I don’t know about you, but anytime I see or hear mention of a story about a dog or a cute panda sneezing or a hippo farting, I get excited and immediately need to read or see more.”
The kind of traffic that comes to a “Clickbait” headline is often not well qualified. People come because of the headline’s hook, not because they need a product or service.
Having said that, the psychology of these headlines can be used to draw a more qualified audience to a content piece or landing page. Many of the best-performing headlines we’ve tested are abrupt and unexpected. It’s something they have in common with clickbait headlines: 79% of the ones analyzed in the Venngage used the element of shock.
So I offer this little study of click bait headlines. It’s worth the read if only for the dog videos. (Plus it turns out the farting hippo thing is real.)
Read more.
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From Medium – “Making a Murderer: 7 Hilarious Things Wrong with Ken Kratz’s Website”

We don’t normally advocate for website redesigns. In fact, we think there are only two good reasons to do them:

  1. Rebranding or repositioning
  2. A poor content management system (CMS)

Kratz’s website might fall into both of those categories.
“If Ken Kratz had a child build his website without his awareness and did not make changes at the fear of hurting their feelings, then that would be a permissible excuse.”
Enough said.
Read more.

From The Washington Post – “The surprising psychology of shoppers and return policies”

“Overall, a lenient return policy did indeed correlate with more returns. But, crucially, it was even more strongly correlated with an increase in purchases. In other words, retailers are generally getting a clear sales benefit from giving customers the assurance of a return.”
It’s counterintuitive that sales increase when you give people more chances to return what they buy, but the data is there. Return policies are important: two thirds of eCommerce shoppers look at them, and these policies are a large part of how consumers choose where to buy what they want.
Read more.
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What are the Conversion Scientists reading these days?

Forbes: Why CRO Is Absolutely Essential in 2015

Forbes doesn’t mince words when talking about CRO. Author Niel Patel has built several online businesses, including CrazyEgg and KISSMetrics. He would know.
The article starts off with a great insignt: “Conversion optimizaiton works.”
So, how did you do this year?
Read more.
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Conversion Conference: 8 Qualities of Successful Conversion Rate Optimizers

Lance Loveday’s keynote presentation at Conversion Conference this year shared eight traits that gifted CRO experts share. Wouldn’t you know it that Conversion Science’s own Brian Massey and Joel Harvey both ranked in Conversion Conference’s top 25 conversion experts in 2015, so they’ve definitely hit all of Lance’s high points.
Which of these qualities most helps you excel at CRO?
Read more.
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What has the Conversion Scientist been reading lately?

AdExchanger: Why Do Mobile Users Not Buy On Mobile?

We believe that mobile traffic is every bit as important as desktop traffic. Many businesses walk away from their mobile traffic because it doesn’t convert well. This is a mistake.
Two points found in this article drive the point home:

  • App and Mobile Functionality (sucks)
  • Mobile Represents a Different Type of user

Spend some time on your mobile site. Don’t just create a responsive version of your desktop website.
Read more.

Marketizator: 25+ Tools That Conversion Rate Optimization Pros Can’t Ignore

I often say we’re living in a golden age of marketing, in which we can find data to answer almost any question we have. And these tools aren’t expensive. Every marketer can benefit from these tools with a little curiosity and patience.
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Nielsen Norman Group: Long-Term Exposure to Flat Design: How the Trend Slowly Decreases User Efficiency

I reviewed 47 wordpress templates for a competition earlier this year. 98% of them used a “flat” design approach. Of course, we’re seeing this style of design pervade websites.
Is this a good thing? Nielsen Norman Group says we can use flat designs if we follow some smart guidelines.
Read more.
Got suggestions for what we should be reading? Share them with us!
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What’s on the Conversion Scientist’s reading list these days?

Business Insider: 20 Cognitive Biases that Screw Up Your Decisions

If I was to rename this article, it would be, “20 Kinds of Best Practices and Why They Won’t Work”.
It is bad news to rely on best practices that are unsupported by data or testing. This article gives you 20 reasons why.
This article is so interesting that it’s no surprise I decided to cover this topic on my most recent column for MarketingLand.
Read more.

LiftPoint Consulting: Data Scientists’ Critical Role in Marketing Today

The conclusion of this article says it best by stating “The days of Marketing as a ‘Creatives Only’ fraternity are over”.
Data Scientists are the left-brained necessity to every marketing department, but since that realization is so new, you might not be able to recognize a good one. They’re a rare breed, after all. There are four skill-sets they have that you need.
Read more.
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Econsultancy: Is Booking.com the Most Persuasive Website in the World?

This case study examining Booking.com reminded me a lot of my presentation on the Chemistry of the Landing Page where I talk about the different elements that make a landing page a success and also our post on impulse buying where we talk about how to reduce risk so that customers will feel comfortable spending money on your website.
Booking.com’s website is a great inspiration for formulating hypotheses that you can test.
Read more.
What are your suggestions for articles we should read For Further Study?

Last week was back-to-school for students all over the country, and they’ll soon be held accountable for how they spent their three months of freedom: exams and essays on their summer reading will be graded any day now.
We stayed productive and sharp the past few months between trips to the beach because we’ll always be students at heart, and here’s the proof.  For Further Study…Summer Reading Edition!
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Conversion Conference: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Writing Compelling Headlines

[pullquote]We almost always test headlines on the landing pages we optimize. It’s how we get some of our best wins to increase conversion rates.[/pullquote] This orthography is a great primer for writing headlines that you can test on your pages.
Getting headlines right is so important that someone in a webinar once asked me about some of my favorites. I answered that question by giving some tips of my own and also sharing some pretty ineffective headlines (plus how to avoid writing them).
Read more about crafting great headlines.

Jeremy Said: Let’s Talk About Image Sliders and Conversions

Rotating headers, called “sliders” are losing their favor on landing pages. Ultimately, this is a good thing. But these hedges don’t have to be conversion killers.
In the article’s summary of our tests on sliders, we’ve been able to make rotating hero images work by first testing the order. A large part of the increase in revenue per visit was from putting the most important panels first.
Notice that the two panels that delivered the best result were offer oriented (Same Day Shipping and Super Saver Shipping). It’s possible that we could remove the conceptual panels (“Make a bold outdoor impression” and “Leader in digital mesh banner printing”) without impacting the revenue per visit. This would save some load time.
Read more about the actual research behind sliders and how they affect conversion rates.
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Olark: How Clever Greeters Increase Conversion Rates

What is the equivalent of a good headline when you’re talking about online chat? It’s the questions your greeters ask. Like headlines, greeter questions provide better results when they are:

  1. Relevant
  2. Specific
  3. Not cliche, i.e. Unexpected

Often, being relevant and specific is surprising enough to meet the last requirement: unexpected.
Read more about how greeters can increase conversions.
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The Strongest Online Persuader You’ll Ever Encounter: Yourself

The things that make us effective marketers or stand in our way often aren’t external, but internal. Being a good marketer, copywriter or Conversion Scientist means coming to terms with our own demons, limitations and neuroses.

Dr. Aaron Balick maps out how our overburdened Ego does it’s best “while being goaded on by the Id and being told off by the Superego.”

Dr. Balick knows how to help us relate to these kind of issues in his latest article.
Read Aaron Balick’s article in its entirety here.

Why The New Google Search Ads Design Is a Subtle Work of Genius

If you didn’t know, Google has redesigned their search results pages recently. The change is primarily to the portion of the page that contains “sponsored content”, or ads.

The eye-tracking images provided by the folks at EyeQuant are telling.

The pages now drive more attention to the ads, taking attention away from the free results. Ironically, it also makes the ads more evident, with a bright icon beside each.

EyeQuant calls this “a Subtle Work of Genius”. What do you think?
Read this article in its entirety here.

11 A/B Split Testing Mistakes I See Businesses Make All The Time

Peep Laja has put into one blog post most of the hard lessons we’ve learned over the years of testing here in the Conversion Lab. Peep doesn’t mince words (“There is no best color”).

Don’t let all of this scare you. It’s better to try and learn from your mistakes than to not make any mistakes at all. Test away!
Read Peep Laja’s article in its entirety here.

Are you a CRO Junkie? It Could Ruin Your Split Tests

Do you get a shot of adrenaline every time you see an uptick in conversions? We do. However, we often find our early excitement tempered when a test turns out to be inconclusive.

It can be hard to announce to a customer that you didn’t find a winner. In fact, it’s a discipline here.

Find out what you can do to keep from getting addicted to good test results.
Read Stephen Da Cambra’s article in its entirety here.
 
For Further Study

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11 Steps for Creating the Best Converting Registration Forms

I recently went to a website to buy a new keyboard for a laptop. I found the site with the right price and delivery and put the keyboard in my cart.
When I went to checkout, the first question on the billing form was Gender.
Gender?
Why does an electronics part manufacturer need to know if I’m a man or woman?
It introduced enough doubt in my process that I left — I abandoned my order.
The unfortunate statistic is that 86% of visitors abandon forms of all kinds. It’s doubly heartbreaking when they do so in their cart, because that costs you ready buyers.
The eleven recommendations made here will set you on a path to reduce your abandonment rates. My favorites are:
5. Use a title that explains why the user needs to sign up
6. Show them their password (who said invisible passwords was a good idea?)
12. Put errors in an obvious place and make them visible.
To read the full article by Talia Wolf, visit 11 Steps for Creating the Best Converting Registration Forms.

How To Conduct A Conversion Optimization Experiment | Relative Bearing

Here’s the first line from this very helpful little post:
“0 sales! What? But we got 517 unique visitors this week!”
Airing your mistakes is not seen as smart marketing in many circles, but this kind of thing really is helpful. Besides the important moral of this story, there’s another:
Failing the right way leads to success faster. Failing without knowing why invites unnecessary failure.
I predict good things for these folks.
To read the full article by Ethan Jones, visit Clearpath.

Our Biggest Problem is Brand Awareness

@sethgodin says “awareness isn’t a scalable problem to solve.” As website optimizers, we couldn’t agree more.
He continues, “The solution lies in re-organizing your systems, in re-creating your product or service so that it becomes worth talking about.”…or in making your website so intuitive that it isn’t worth complaining about.
Seth sums is up better than we could have ourselves, “When you produce something remarkable, more use leads to more conversation which leads to more use.”
To read the full article by Seth Godin, visit Seth’s blog.
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48 Tweetable Stats To Make You An Online Marketing SmartyPants | Unbounce

@unbounce has provide a post with a double payoff. First, this is a great list of conversion-related stats and, second, a great example of how to design content to be sharable. The content is sharable for the following reasons:
  • The title contains the call to action “48 Tweetable Stats…”
  • There’s something here for everyone
  • The quotes are Twitter-sized for easy sharing in 140 character
  • Each quote has a call to action in the form of a “Tweet this” link. Every quote

So, if you’ve got something you really want people to share, follow this recipe. For article-style content, use pull quotes and put a “Tweet this” link with each.

These guys are real smarty-pants.

E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot | Custora Blog

The interesting graphic shown in this post by Custora shows how e-commerce businesses are gaining customers and how that has changed since 2009.

It is no surprise to see cost-per-click (CPC) search advertising growing over that time. However, it is gratifying to see that email has grown the fastest, far outstripping banner advertising, Facebook and Twitter.
In my book I say that email is the biggest social network on the planet. It appears to be so for e-commerce companies as well.
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7 Eye-Catching Email Subject Lines to Catapult Your Open Rates | Unbounce

@unbounce – Writing headlines and subject lines and tweets all have something in common: You have a limited number of characters to get a prospect’s attention in a very noisy environment.
Steve Young gives us some tested subject lines to consider in our campaigns.
Have some fun with your subject lines and don’t take yourself too seriously!

Should I Use A Carousel?

So, should you use a carousel, those rotating hero images now found at the top of most B2B and B2C websites?

The answer is “carefully.”
This clever little site illustrates the reasons rotating banners are so frustrating. The timing, the amount of text and the order all come into play.
We have been able to tune a rotating hero on an ecommerce site so that it outperformed a static image. But it took several test cycles and didn’t work in every case.
Have a little chuckle at yourself and enjoy the content on this site — if you can read fast.

No More Guesswork: 5 Website Formats Proven to Get Results | The Daily Egg

The folks at CrazyEgg have a wonderful summary of the five website formulas found in my book. Read this and you can skip chapters 3 and 4.
Want to get Brian’s For Further Study posts delivered right to your inbox? Click HERE to sign up.

7 Conversion Lessons Learned From Eye Tracking

@neilpatel collects some of the most interesting eye-tracking images available and provides seven insights that can help you design your pages and choose images. We have done our own eye-tracking study of business video and you can get the full report now. The report offers similar conclusions for the use of video in a landing page. It includes over 30 minutes of embedded video that you can watch yourself.
Neil’s conclusions include:

        

  • Be careful you you use [images of] people
  •     

  • That people love media (especially on search results pages)
  •     

  • That men and women look at images differently
  •     

  • That simple images can be more effective
  •     

  • The power of the left side of the page
  •     

  • The power of faces
  •     

  • That people love hand-written notes (my favorite)

Enjoy the images he provides.

Shopping Cart Abandonment: Why It Happens & How To Recover Baskets Of Money

@peeplaja offers a great post on shopping cart abandonment
In my book I say that abandonment is like cholesterol: There is a good kind and a bad kind. For each there is a strategy for reducing the impact of abandonment on your business.
Good abandoners leave because they aren’t done with their shopping process. The challenge is to get them to come back and buy when they are done. There are several strategies here for retargeting the visitor who abandons using email and ads.
Bad abandoners leave because you surprised them or didn’t provide the information they were looking for. This kind of abandonment can be treated by improving the checkout process and by using pricing and shipping strategies.
Abandonment is the most heartbreaking of conversion killers. it is also a fertile place to increase the performance of your website.