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What is the job of an optimizer? Is it just improving conversion rates? If not, what is the goal of a CRO professional and what are the steps of conversion optimization?

Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist, shares the steps of conversion optimization. He is the founder of Conversion Sciences, and author of the book “Your Customer Creation Equation”.

If you are new to conversion optimization or if you need to take your website conversion to the next level, Brian’s book is a fantastic foundation. It will help you understand the way an optimizer looks at the world and looks at a website.

What is the Goal of Conversion Optimization or CRO?

Let’s start off by talking about what conversion optimization means to me. I don’t see my job as just improving conversion rates, but getting the most value out of every visitor to your website.

In a lot of situations that might mean a conversion to a sale. But even on an e-commerce site, we might want to connect with visitors who aren’t yet ready to buy, so we try to get them to join an email list. We can get value from them by asking them for their name and email address in exchange for fantastic information, a discount, or something else of value.

In the mobile world, a conversion may look like a phone call. Click-to-call is a powerful way for prospects to take action when away from their phone.

There are a number of things we can do to get value from our visitors, and for us, everything is on the table.

The reason I want to lead the life of a conversion optimizer is because we do wonderful things for online businesses. This is probably why we’re so well-liked.

Benefits of conversion optimization. Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist, shares the steps of conversion optimization.

Benefits of conversion optimization.

Benefits of Being or Having a Conversion Optimizer

First of all, we do increase the revenue from the traffic that you’re getting. The net result of that is that it decreases your acquisition costs, your advertising spend.
If more of those clicks that you’re paying for turn into customers, then you get a positive return on your ad spend.

Having a site with high conversion rates often means people are staying on your site longer. They are buying more often. They are typically visiting more pages. Google understands this and rewards you with higher rankings. If people are staying on your site and not “pogo sticking” back to the search results page, well, your organic ranking will likely go up.

We, of course, increase your growth because we don’t just test what goes on your pages. We can test pricing, we can test bundling, we can test new features — we can test the things that are core to your business.

And we provide the data that makes you smarter at identifying where you should be investing your advertising and marketing dollars.

We’ll know which channels are converting best, which things you’re doing well and which you are not. And you can adjust your marketing spend accordingly.
So, conversion optimizers really are wonderful for a business.

Knowing which path your users are taking is a starting point to increasing the revenue from the traffic that you're getting.

Do you know which path your users are taking?

Logically, we might think that a path through our website should look a certain way, but in truth, the visitors want something different.

It’s our job to understand what that desire path is. For instance, in a park like this, people may be avoiding the paved path because it’s concrete which is harder on your knees when you’re running than dirt. It may not just be because it’s the shortest distance.

We want to understand the visitors’ motivations. That is what I spend my days doing. My whole job is to make sure that I’m not using mental shortcuts to make decisions.

Our biases keep us from providing the experience our users want. Steps to conversion rate optimization.

Cognitive bias codex.

The 3 lbs. of gray matter between our ears is just packed full of biases, shortcuts, and stereotypes. These biases, stereotypes and shortcuts, cause us to think we’re doing the right things when we’re making decisions about design, or about our products, or about our pricing.

But in truth, we’re doing it wrong for our users. We take shortcuts. We’re not really connecting with what our users want. This whole method, the steps to conversion optimization, is designed to keep us from relying on our biases to make decisions.

The Importance of the Optimizer

When you’re optimizing, you play a really important role in the design process and in your company. You are the one who is double checking the assumptions that are being made. You are the one making sure that those assumptions are what our visitors and our customers want.

When you're optimizing, you play a really important role in the design process and in your company.

The optimizer plays a key role in the design process and in their company.

The Benefits of Conversion Optimization

An optimizer has many benefits. They save time. There’s nothing that wastes more time than launching a campaign, spending your marketing budget on that campaign and then not having it work. So, by doing a little extra work on the front end, collecting some data, you can make sure that your campaigns are going to be more successful so you don’t have to start over and relaunch them.

The Value of Data (and its many uses)

Data is a great way to deal with what we call helicopter executives, executives who feel that maybe the team isn’t making the right decisions. They feel that they have to come in and review your creative and your campaigns, making changes to what you’re doing. Of course, their assumptions are based on the same biases that anyone’s are.

If you are able to say, “Well, we have some data that says this is the best thing,” then they’re more likely to think, “OK, this makes sense. Go ahead.”

You’ve just removed one cook from the kitchen.

How a conversion optimizer should handle agencies and teams.

How a conversion optimizer should handle agencies and teams.

Oftentimes you’ll get creative from your agency and think, “Is this really effective creative?” Your agency may present you with options and ask you to choose. As an marketer, your answer should always be “I don’t know, go collect some data to find out which one of these ideas is most likely to be the best choice”. This should be the job of your agency’s experimenter. This is a powerful way to manage teams effectively.

Steps to Conversion Optimization: Gathering Good Competitor Ideas

We like to take ideas from our competitors and from other websites that we like, but we often steal bad ideas. Just because our competitors are using them doesn’t mean they’re working.

An optimizer wants to take ideas and test them before stealing them. At Conversion Sciences, we say, “Steal like a scientist.”

Digital Marketing Careers Require Experimentation

If I haven’t made the point abundantly clear, people with the skills of an optimizer are very valuable. And right now these skills are hard to find and expensive. In a few years, these skills are going to be absolutely required. So, if you don’t have these skills, you’re not going to be able to work in premiere digital marketing roles, in digital product management, or run a business that requires the web to succeed.

Experimenters Can Take More Chances

As a conversion optimizer, you can take more chances because you know how to create experiments that allow you to be more creative.

Experimenters take these really creative ideas that would otherwise sound risky, find a way to collect some data, and then understand whether or not that idea is actually going to improve things. You also avoid implementing a bad idea. We call this a “design insurance”.

You don’t have to always play it safe with your campaigns. You can come up with crazy ideas and experiment before you actually launch and take all of the risk.

Being able to take more risks, a CRO expert can get more leads, more sales, and lower acquisition costs.

Being able to take more risks, a CRO expert can get more leads, more sales, and lower acquisition costs.

And, of course, you get more leads, you get more sales, you lower your acquisition costs, you grow your business.

That’s what most people want from their conversion optimizer. But conversion optimizers are so much more valuable.

My day deals almost exclusively with ideas. Ideas for how to improve a website, ideas for how to improve a customer’s journey, ideas for what kind of content we should be putting on the page, ideas for how we should discount, ideas for how we should lay out a page. Ideas for what we should be doing and advertising. For almost anything that’s going to be seen or experienced by the user, there are ideas for improving it.

How to Find the Right Ideas: good reasons to kill ideas

I’m going to walk you through the process of figuring out which ideas are the right ideas.

When we first start with a client, we go through their website and perform an analysis. This includes an analysis of  their existing data. We come up with a very long list of what looks like really good ideas for improving the conversion rate.

Our job is to kill some of those ideas and get them off the list so that we can move on to the ones that are good ideas. In fact, the scientific method that I use on a daily basis is designed around this.

The job of an experimenter is to come up with ideas and then find out why that idea is wrong. When you test a hypothesis, you are actually testing against the null hypothesis trying to prove that idea won’t improve things. If you can’t, despite trying everything, then you’ve got a winner.

So, what are the good reasons to kill ideas? We evaluate ideas based on these criteria. Is there a reason that we should keep this idea on the list?

Reasons to Kill an Idea

1. That’s a lot of work

Some ideas require too much work to test and implement. We might say the website needs to be redesigned. That’s very risky because it changes everything. And so we’ll often just pull that idea out right away.

Ironically, this is the way most website redesign is done. 90% of the market is still redesigning websites this way.

They start by hiring a creative agency or bringing in a creative team. That team does a little research at the beginning of the process, and then they make all sorts of design changes based on that research. Then, they push it all out and hope that they made the right choices.

That’s very risky, and so full-scale redesigns don’t stay on our list very long.

2. It’s too small of an idea

Some ideas just aren’t that impactful. For instance, if we had an idea to change something in the footer of a page, we can tell from our heatmap reports that few visitors are seeing the footer area. We would say that’s too small of an idea. It doesn’t have enough of an impact and we’ll drop it from the list.

Likewise, changing the color of a button or changing the font of our headings are low-impact changes. We tend to just get rid of these ideas.

3. No one is seeing it

There are pages on your site that are important to the customer’s journey, but not a lot of visitors are visiting it.

For example, sometimes FAQ pages can be really important to our visitor’s journey. If we had a hypothesis that said we’re going to change the order of FAQ questions, but we looked in analytics and saw that few visitors were actually visiting the FAQ page, we would say it’s probably not a good thing to test.

On the other hand, few people are seeing the checkout process on an ecommerce website, but those visitors are in the process of buying. In this case, we want to keep checkout ideas at the top of our list.

4. I don’t have any data on it

For each idea on my list, I have to ask myself, “Can I find some data on this idea.” This is the question we ask ourselves over and over and over. If I can’t find data on an idea, or I can’t generate data on that idea, then it’s not a testable idea.

A good example might be things on a website that encourage people to visit a physical store. There are technologies to track this cross-channel behavior, but it’s very expensive technology. Even if we have really good ideas about how to drive more people to the brick and mortar store, we really don’t have a way of collecting success data related to that idea. So, that would be something that we would eliminate because we don’t have the data.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: Gather Existing Data

Let’s talk about sources of data. Once we’ve gone through our list, we’ve got things on it which we think are good ideas. We think they are easy to implement or can be implemented in a reasonable amount of time. We think people are visiting those pages, and we think we can find some data on them.

One of the first places I like to look when I’m building a landing page are the client’s paid search ads.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: Gather Existing Data.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: Gather Existing Data.

Using this made-up example for the U.S. Mint — that’s the part of the US government that prints money — let’s pretend that they’re offering 50% off dollar bills.

Now, you might think this is a crazy offer, better than anything you have. But the truth is that we all have an amazing offer: a great product or service that’s priced right. It saves time. It saves money. It solves a problem. Yet, you still have trouble converting people. Well, don’t be too discouraged, because the U.S. Mint would have trouble giving a dollar bill away for 50 cents.

Go to your paid search team or your advertising team and ask them for a spreadsheet with the last six months or a year’s history of ads.

  • How many impressions they generated
  • How many interactions they generated
  • How many conversions they generated

Go through the data and look for those ads that had a lot of impressions or more importantly, had a lot of impressions AND conversions.

If we look at the third one in our example above, we see it has an interaction rate of 2.8%. That seems like the highest rate, but it was only 37 interactions. This sample size is a little bit too small for us to have confidence in. I’m more interested in those that have 612 or 943 conversions.

It seems that “50% off dollars for a limited time” has a better conversion rate than “Dollar Bills: Buy one, get one.” When I write copy for my landing page, I’m going to favor language that includes “50% off”.

I would not be as excited about “Discounted Dollar Bills” because it had a 0.3% conversion rate and a high enough number of interactions that we can believe that this data is probably accurate.

You see how I can use our ads to understand which words, which headlines, I should be using in my landing pages and in my copy. It’s on my list.

Social media Ad Performance and Conversion Data

We can do this with social media as well. For instance, if we want to put a video on the landing page or video on our homepage, video ads can help us understand what people are interested in.

Use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to look at our competitors’ ads. Find out what words they’re using and if they have a lot of keywords that they’re using.

Previous Email Campaigns Data

Email campaigns are another great source of data. I looked at the subject lines for emails that Conversion Sciences sends. We send emails for new blog posts all the time. I wanted to know which subjects — which titles of our blog posts — were getting the most clicks. I took six months of data and I ranked it based on their click through rate.

Previous email campaigns data: email subject performance.

Previous email campaigns data: email subject performance.

Looking at the top ten, we see “writing”, “copywriting”, “persuasion”, “value proposition”, “persuade people”, and “business taglines”. My audience is interested in the words that influence conversions.

I was a little surprised, but we were able to use this data to produce a free copywriting report on how to write copy for conversion writing, and this converts very well for us.

Download these 21 quick and easy CRO copywriting hacks.

Download these 21 quick and easy CRO copywriting hacks.

In this case, the data really did point us in the right direction. The data created a hypothesis, an idea, and then gave us the data that said you should launch this. Then we used the conversion data, the number of leads that we’re generating on our website, as the final proof that this was a good idea.

Steps of Conversion Optimization: User Testing

Another step in conversion optimization is user testing. Everybody thinks that a conversion optimizer spends most of their time split testing. This is the best data we can generate, the best tools that we can use. But in truth, I want to gather data faster and doesn’t require me to use precious visitor traffic.

We only want the most important and best ideas to go to AB testing while using user testing to figure out which of my creative ideas is best.

Our user testing includes things like a 5-second study. A 5-second study works great when I have three or four different headlines and three or four different images that I want to consider for a landing page.

We’ll use a service like UsabilityHub or Helio and we’ll ask for 25 people to come and look at each of our mockups. The 5-second test works like this: test subjects get to see the mockup for five seconds and then it disappears.

But five seconds in the human brain is quite a long time. After the five seconds is up, we’ll ask questions like,

  • Does this business seem credible?
  • What do you think this business does?
  • Do you know what we were asking you to do?
  • Where would you click if you were going to take action?
  • Can you remember any of the bullets or any specific information on the page?

We can score these twenty five people in each of these areas. The image and headline combination that scored the best tells us that it’s probably the best idea.

We now have some data from real world people that is telling us which idea to take to an AB test. There might be a couple of these that score well. So, we want to take the two best ideas to an AB test, but it also means we don’t have to test the others and waste traffic on those.

There are a number of tests that you can use for user testing. Usability hub or Helio, offer a question test where the visitor gets to look at the page as long as they want and answer questions.

A first click test measures how quickly someone can find where they’re supposed to click based on the prompt that you give them. How many of them get it right in test layout or how clear the call to action is on your page.

User testing tools like UserZoom or allow us to set up a scenario and ask the visitor, for instance, to go through and purchase on a website. We watch them as they try to complete the task. We see where they get confused, where they get tripped up. They’re talking out loud as they’re going through it.

You’re going to see issues in these user tests that you wouldn’t catch otherwise. It can be very enlightening. We can really learn quite a bit from that user testing videos.

More Data Sources: User Intelligence Tools & Reports

Another step of conversion optimization is to look through user intelligence reports. User intelligence is different from user testing.

User testing uses strangers and pretenders. These are people who aren’t actually trying to solve a problem, but we’re using them as a focus group to play with our creative and see how effective it is at communicating with human beings.

User intelligence tools are actually watching your visitors as they interact with your website.

Analytics has the most obvious user intelligence data. Google Analytics is a great behavioral database. It’s all the people who are coming to your website to try to solve a problem. It shows you where they landed, what channel brought them, what pages they visited, how long they were there, where they left, if they bought, how many of them bought, what their computer setup was, what browser they’re on — all of this information is in Google Analytics.

It’s a great database for asking questions. I probably spend at least 10 to 20 percent of every day in analytics, and if I’m working on an analysis, I’ll spend the entire day in analytics, it’s such a rich source of data.

The other thing we use is what are called heatmap reports. They tell us how far the visitors are scrolling when they visit a page, where their mouse is moving on a page, and where they’re clicking. These are great tools for answering specific questions about a page.

You don’t have to be a Ph.D. in science to understand them. If you can read a weather radar map, you can read a heat map.

Here is an example.

Heatmaps of a website page for golf resort in Hawaii.

Heatmaps of a website page for golf resort in Hawaii.

This is a resort in Hawaii, a golf resort. They assumed that since it’s a golf resort, people who are considering booking a room are going to be interested in golf.

On this page, which lists all their specials, they listed the golf specials at the top. When we went in and looked at where people were clicking on this page, we found out that “Free Breakfast” was most clicked item, even though free breakfast is down near the bottom of the page.

People don’t behave the way you think. What is the cost of breakfast? At this resort, it might be 40 or 50 bucks. If you’re going to save a couple of hundred dollars on golf, it would seem to be a better value, right? Not according to the visitors.

These are the sorts of insights that conversion optimizers love to find.

I also spend time watching session recordings. With session recordings you get to watch visitors as they’re working through your site. You see where their mouse is moving and what they’re clicking on. It takes a while, but you find things that you wouldn’t otherwise discover.

Session recording of golf rates page.

Session recording of golf rates page.

If you watch a bunch of these, you begin to understand what’s bothering your visitors. If I’ve got a specific idea that I’m trying to remove from the list, I’ll spend some time watching session recordings.

Sticky heatmap.

Sticky heatmap.

A more advanced conversion optimization strategy is running an eye tracking study. Now, this doesn’t work directly with your website, but you can bring people from your website if they’re willing to take a look. And it’s just amazing that this technology exists because eye-tracking studies used to be so hard.

Submit a mockup to a company called Tobii, and they’ll bring 25, 50, 100 people to look at it. They’ll record what the visitors see on the page using laptop cameras. Laptop cameras have such high resolution that we can tell where people’s eyes are looking on the screen.

We can see what people linger on, what ideas they like, what offers they like, and where there are images that stop them on the page. This information is really valuable if you’re trying to critique your page layout.

Gamification: AB Testing

The last thing that I spend time on is AB testing. Because if we’re going to take something to an AB test, as it’s the best data we can collect, we only want to take the best ideas. And it takes quite a bit of work to get AB test results.

Here is an example of one that we did. We worked with a company called Automatic and they had a plug that plugs into your car and connects your phone to your car’s computer. They came out with this new Pro version, but everybody was buying the Lite version.

Why wouldn’t people buy the Pro version? Sure, it’s more expensive, but it’s so much better. Maybe we’re not communicating how much better it is effectively.

We did a “Thank you” page popup survey asking, “What made you choose Lite instead of Pro?” We found out that people didn’t understand the value of the Pro features.

We created a version of the product page was simpler. It was a shorter list of features, and we only highlighted the things that were most different. This is something you should consider any time you’re offering multiple plans or products on a pricing page.

We designed an AB test. One half of the visitors saw the original page, which we call the Control. The other half saw our variation. The result was a 13% increase in conversion rate for our variation. We also saw an increase in revenue per visit because more people were buying the Pro version.

After A/B testing, we saw a 13% increase in conversion rate by removing information from the page.

A/B Testing: automatic pro vs lite.

This achieved exactly what we wanted. The data we collected during the AB test was very reliable, because these tests are designed to eliminate as much randomness as possible.

What are the Steps of Conversion Optimization Summary

If you are going to be a successful digital marketer, you are going to be an experimenter. Your ability to use the tools and data of the trade will determine your future in a data-driven marketing economy.

Technically, a “bounce” is a visitor that looks at only one page, or a visitor that spends an embarrassingly short time on the page. Keep reading to find out how to reduce bounce rates.

A bounce is any visit for which the visitor only looks at one page and does not interact with it. This sounds truly unfair as someone may spend minutes on your blog post or landing page, and still be counted as a bounce.

A visitor bounces when they don’t find anything close to what they were looking for when they visit your site. Either you’re attracting the wrong visitors or you don’t know why they are visiting.

Bounce is the most extreme form of conversion problem. High bounce rates are an indication that you are throwing good marketing dollars down the tubes. Whatever you’re spending to get traffic to your site is being wasted.

How to Reduce Bounce Rates or the heartbreak of “bounce”


That’s the sound of someone finding your site, but not finding what they wanted ON your site.


That’s the sound of website content that doesn’t match your marketing.


That’s the sound of a website that talks about the company instead of the visitors’ problems.

High bounce rates are an indication that you are throwing good marketing dollars down the tubes. Whatever you’re spending to get traffic to your site is being wasted. Discover Keep how to reduce bounce rates.

Bounces Aren’t Helpful to Businesses

What are some strategies to reduce bounce rate?

This is a common question, and requires an understanding of the definitions of bounce rate.

The bounce rate is a bit slippery and requires some examination. The intention of measuring the bounce rate is to figure out how many of your visitors are leaving almost immediately after arriving at your site. This metric provides for a lot of error in interpretation.

“A high bounce rate means your site is crappy.”

This is rarely the case. A more accurate explanation is that your site doesn’t look the way your visitors expect it to look. Understanding what your visitors expect is the way to reduce bounce rates.

Instead, there are usually some more valid reasons for your high bounce rate. Here are the things digital marketing and conversion experts examine when confronted with uncomfortably high bounce rates.

1. You’re measuring it wrong

How you measure your bounce rate can give you very different insights. For example, blogs often have high bounce rates. Does this mean that visitors don’t like the blog?

Many analytics packages measure a bounce as a visit, or session, that includes only one page on your site. Visitors who take the time to read an entire article would be considered a “bounce” if they then left, even though they are clearly engaged.

We set a timer for our blog traffic, so that any visitor who sticks around for 15 seconds or more is not considered a bounce. You can set a timer to the amount of time you consider appropriate.

2. How to Reduce Bounce Rates: Diagnose Technical Difficulties

We are fond of saying that you don’t have one website, you have ten or twenty or thirty. Each device, each browser, each screen-size delivers a different experience to the visitor. If your website is broken on one of the devices popular with your visitors, you will see a bump in overall bounce rate.

If your pages load slowly, especially on mobile devices, you can expect a higher bounce rate.

Broken internal links and 404 pages are also cause for bounce.

If your page breaks out in a chorus of Also Sprach Zarathustra when the page loads, you may enjoy a higher bounce rate.

How to diagnose device-related technical problems

Your analytics package will track the kind of device your visitors are coming on.

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?

Is there a problem with this site when viewed with the Safari (in app) browser?

The Google Analytics report Audience > Technology > Browser & OS shows that there may be a technical issue with Safari visitors coming from within an app. This may also reflect visitors coming from mobile ads, and they may simply be lower quality. See below.

With Google Analytics Audience > Mobile > Devices report, we see mobile devices specifically. The Apple iPhone has an above-average bounce rate, and we should probably do some testing there, especially since it’s the bulk of our mobile traffic.

With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

With an above average bounce rate, visitors on an Apple iPhone may be seeing a technical problem.

3. Good Traffic Quality Helps Reduce Bounce Rates

If you are getting the wrong visitors, you will have a high bounce rate.

Remember StumbleUpon? Getting your site featured on the internet discovery site often meant a flood of new visitors to your site… and a crash in your conversion rate. Stumble traffic was not qualified, they were just curious.

Your bounce rate is a great measure of the quality of your traffic. Low quality traffic bounces because:

  • The search engine showed them the wrong link or a broken link. Do you know how many visitors used to come to our site looking for a “conversion rate” for Russian Rubles to Malaysian Ringletts?!
  • User intent. The visitors aren’t ready to buy. They were in a different part of the purchase process. Visitors coming from Social Media ads have notoriously low conversion rates. They weren’t looking, they were just surfing your product pages.

We take a closer look at the source of traffic to diagnose a traffic quality problem using Google Analytics Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels report.

Direct is one of our biggest traffic sources and brings in one of the two highest bounce rates.

Direct is one of our biggest traffic sources and brings in one of the two highest bounce rates.

Here we can see that traffic coming from social media and those visitors coming “Direct-ly” have a high bounce rate.

If you are driving a lot of visitors to your home page, you may want to consider presenting them with links to more relevant content. As Tim Ash says, “The job of the home page is to get people off of the home page.” He didn’t mean by bouncing.

With regard to social media, we may have a problem with broken promises.

4. Broken Promises Lead to Conversion Problems

Do your entry pages consider the source of visits?

If your traffic is clicking on an ad that promises 20% off on a specific propane grill, and they’re directed to your home page, you’ve broken a promise.

You might think that they will search your site for the deal. You might even think they’ll search your home page for the deal. You’re wrong. Many will jump.

Every ad, every email invitation, every referral link is a promise you make to your visitor. If they don’t come to a page that lives up to the promise, they are likely to bounce.

  • Does the headline on the page match the offer in the ad?
  • Does the product in the email appear after the click?
  • Are your calls to action in alignment with the landing page?
  • Are the colors and design consistent across media?
This Ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.

This Ad takes the visitors to a page that is almost designed to disappoint.

Looking at your ads on a page-by-page basis is necessary to diagnose and correct this kind of bounce rate problem.

5. Vague Value Propositions don’t help reduce bounce rates

Ultimately, if you’re not communicating your value proposition to your visitors clearly, you are going to enjoy a monstrous bounce rate.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your value proposition typically does not address your company or your products. It should be targeted at your visitor, why they are there, and why they should stick around.

Each page has its own value proposition. Your business may have a powerful value proposition, but each page should stand on its own.

A contact page should talk about what will happen after you complete the form. Who will contact you? How long will it take? Will they try to sell you something?

A landing page should clearly state that you are in the right place and provide reasons for you to stay and read on.

Reduce bounce rates: This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold. See the full case study and video.

This landing page delivered a strong value proposition in above the fold. See the full case study and video.

A home page should help you find your way into the site. Most home pages are treated like highway billboards. No wonder people just drive on by.

6. Finally, Is Your Stubborn Bounce Rate Mocking You? [AUDIO]

Most of us, at one time or another, have not only been frustrated with our bounce rate, but completely puzzled about what to do about it.

In this podcast, I will guide you toward a more accurate bounce rate. I will walk you through the steps to use The Timer Listener to time the visit duration of each of your visitors and get those percentages down where they belong.


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Ultimately, we don’t want to reduce our bounce rate. We want to improve our conversion rate by bringing the right traffic, to the right page, with the right message, and avoid technical issues that get in the way.

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Brian Massey Marketing Land article, Using A Google Tag Manager Listener To Get Your Real Bounce Rate


Is analytics really going to make a difference? Will I benefit by getting deeper into my analytics? Find out how exciting one man can make Google Analytics.

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Analytics is not one of those words that inspires action. It’s not a word like “Rose” dripping with alternate meanings and romantic associations. It’s not like the word “Disgust”, a word which evokes emotions and even specific facial configurations.

Shakespeare never wrote “A Midsummers Night’s Analysis”.

There has never been a hit pop song with the word Analytics in the title. And I didn’t even bother searching to make sure.

So, it is no wonder that it’s hard for us to imagine ourselves spending time in analytics. It’s a shame. Because, there, amidst the pageviews, conversions, events, and revenue are the hopes and dreams of our visitors. Their trials. Their triumphs, Their frustrations.

If there was anyone who would write an Ode to a Graph I saw in Analytics One Dewy Morning, it is my guest. He is genuinely excited about analytics, and Google Analytics specifically.

He is infectious. That means that, if you listen, you might get excited about analytics, too.

I know this. Your visitors hope you get excited about analytics, because it is the fastest way to make your website better for them.


Chris Mercer aka ‘Mercer’ is not only good at analytics, he’s good at teaching analytics. That’s what he spends his days doing as the Co-Founder of Measurement Marketing dot I-O.

Chris and his team help people like you discover how to grow your business using tools like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Data Studio and more.

Chris is my go-to guy whenever someone asks how they should start in analytics. His model is great for small business owners or marketing teams who want to learn and expand their skills and build a system to help them grow.

Essentially, Chris helps people get to know the numbers – to grow the numbers.

So, how can anyone plug into Google Analytics? And where do you start?

You’ll be surprised by some of Chris’ answers. Here are some examples.

Where do we start when it comes to analytics?

I want to know the results. Number one I want to be able to see my results. So which traffic sources are causing which results. How am I getting those results.

It’s not just results.

It’s not only knowing what your results are but it’s knowing how you’re actually achieving those results.

Start with a question in mind.

We say it’s like the myth of the jade monkey. People think their data is like this jungle that they have to hack through and come up on these ruins that they find, and there is this little jade monkey worth of data that makes them a superhero. From a marketing standpoint, that doesn’t exist. Stop looking for that.

When you get back to the office…

Think back to a time that you had to trade off immediate desire for a long-term payoff, something that amazed you.

  • Did you ever watch Sea Monkeys grow as a child?
  • Did you ever plant bean seeds and water them daily?
  • Did you ever care for an ant farm.

These are all examples discovery over time. This is the gift of analytics. Your website is the ant farm and the glass is analytics.

No, your customers are not ants. But they want to understand them. Analytics is the way.

Watch Mercers Quick Start “How to” video –for free — and get some other freebies at

Resources and links discussed:

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Should you be stealing ideas from your competitors? Wouldn’t you like to know how their website is converting first? It turns out that you can, and Mike Roberts wants to make it cheap and easy.

Novelty Bias.

It is the tendency of new things to increase our interest in them. For a digital marketer, it means preferring one design over another because it is cool, interesting, or just new.

We are rapidly leaving what I call the era of the carousel. This was a period of time in which rotating carousels were added to the top of almost every business website on the planet.

One person did it. It was cool. Several more followed suite. Before long website templates made this a standard part of their designs.

And for many of you, it actually lowered conversion rates.

This is Novelty bias at work. It often involves stealing ideas from others without knowing if they work, simply because they are new or interesting.

We’ve always said you should “steal like a scientist” riffing on the title of Austin Kleon’s book “Steal like an Artist.”

This means testing any ideas you want to steal from your competitors or other sites.

But, what if you could just see the analytics of any of your competitors’ websites?

UPDATE: Nacho Analytics No Longer Available

In July of 2019, the data feed that powers Nacho Analytics became unavailable. As a result, the Nacho Analytics service is no longer available. Nonetheless, I hope you’ll enjoy my conversation with Mike Roberts.

Nacho Analytics with Mike Roberts

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Your online competitors are now exposed. Intended Consequences Podcast

Your online competitors are now exposed. Intended Consequences Podcast

Who is the most curious person you know?

I make a good living trafficking in curiosity, and it’s been on my mind for several episodes of this podcast, Intended Consequences now.

Tim Ash told us how to build a curious business (Listen).

Dr. Diane Hamilton tested me using her Curiosity Code Index (Listen). Would you be surprised to learn that my curiosity is quite suppressed?

But, who is the most curious person you know?

For me, the answer is Mike Roberts. Mike called me late last year and told me about a new product he was launching that would let me see the analytics of any website. Then he told me the name: “Nacho Analytics.” I’m sure I woke up babies all over the neighborhood.

I knew that companies would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for this data. Mike wasn’t interested in this.

Mike is the Founder and CEO of SpyFu and Nacho Analytics. He is a digital marketing pirate, if you will. As I’m writing this, I realize he could be the “Dread Pirate Roberts” from “The Princess Bride.”

Find out why he’s pricing this so ANYONE can access it, and what Google said when they learned he was pumping his data into Google Analytics for easy access.

When you get back to the office:

If you’re afraid of Google Analytics, you are double handicapping yourself. Not will you not understand your own visitors, you’re missing out on understanding your biggest competitors’ businesses.

When you get back to the office…Subscribe to this podcast.

Because next time, I’m talking to Chris Mercer of My question to him is this: “How can anyone plug into Google Analytics? Where do we start?”

You’ll be surprised by some of his answers.

Resources and links from the Podcast

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Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist™, shares how to combine data from video hosting services with Google Analytics to measure video impact on your revenue and conversions.

In this episode of The Conversion Scientist Podcast, Brian Massey tells you how to gain insights from third-party tools in Google Analytics. He uses several video hosts as an example to show step by step how to integrate these “In-App” video metrics with Analytics. And how to use Google Analytics to measure the impact of video content on your revenue.

Remember to check the very last section of this article to watch the free eight-part bit-sized video mini-course, “Video that Converts”

When “In-App” Analytics Are Not Enough to Gauge Impact on Conversions and Revenue

We were working on a client that sells a software application. After completing a test, we identified a single change that could increase the number of demo requests by 29%.

What was the change that would cause such a dramatic lift in conversion rate?

We removed a video from their demo request page.

Why? A quick look at the analytics showed that only few visitors were watching the video. We had a hunch that it was probably a barrier to conversions. And it was blocking more important information — information that could persuade more visitors to fill out the form on the page.

Video is just one of the many third-party services commonly implemented on ecommerce websites. Others include exit-intent overlays, live chat, ratings and reviews, faceted search or personalized and predictive product recommendations services.

The vast majority of third-party services will offer “in-app” analytics to help you assess their impact on your visitors’ behavior. Even though these “In App” analytics can provide insight into your online customers, they cannot show you the tools’ impact on leads and sales.

Integration with primary analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, is a must when identifying opportunities to optimize.

Using Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Revenue

Now, let’s take a deeper look at how integration of third-party analytics with Google Analytics can help answer difficult questions about our video ROI.

In-App Analytics

The vast majority of third-party tools offer useful analytics.

Let’s consider video hosts first. These services host your marketing videos and allow you to embed them on your site, landing pages and/or social media channels. Their promise is simple: faster, more reliable streaming than your basic website servers. Plus in-app video analytics.

We have used a variety of these providers in our video conversion projects, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Ooyala, Wistia and Vidyard. While YouTube is free, it gives your visitors too many opportunities to leave the webpage. The rest require a monthly video hosting fee.

All of these services offer some kind of dashboard with basic in-app analytics. Some of the metrics they share are:

  • Number of times a video is loaded
  • Number of times a video is played
  • Percentage of visitors who clicked Play
  • Average percentage of video watched
  • Geo distribution of your video audience

A Wistia Analytics Example

We can see on the Vimeo graph below, the load counts, play counts and social sharing counts for this particular video.

Vimeo offers load counts, play counts and social sharing counts. The graph shows how many visitors saw the video, how many watched and how many shared it.

The graph shows how many visitors saw the video, how many watched and how many shared it.

More interestingly, the Wistia report below, on an eight-part video series shows that viewers did not watch them in order. And we can deduce which of the topics captured our visitor’s interest.

Audience Retention Analysis: Vidyard and YouTube Examples

Wistia in-app analytics allows you to compare plays and play rates for multiple videos in a series.

Wistia in-app analytics allows you to compare plays and play rates for multiple videos in a series.

If you are interested in finding which part of a video is less interesting to your video viewers, Vidyard and YouTube have a viewer drop-off graph. You may use it to gather how many stick around until the end.

Almost half of my viewers drop-off within 20 seconds.

In this Vidyard chart we can see that almost half of my viewers dropped off within 20 seconds. This video needs a stronger intro.

The results can be quite informative.

Consider this audience retention graph from a YouTube account. See the pronounced viewer drop-off in the first few seconds? Something made more than 10% of video viewers leave within seconds of starting the video. What could it be?

Something made over 10% of visitors leave within seconds of pressing play on the video.

YouTube audience retention graph.

This audience retention visual report can be found inside your YouTube channel, synced with the video you are analyzing.

Our hypothesis was that viewers lost interest due to a vanity logo sequence. And it was costing us viewers.

We picked another video without vanity intro and we noticed a much smaller initial drop-off at the beginning. This supported our hypothesis.

Notice that there is a slight lift at the beginning of the video that has no branded intro.

The YouTube chart for the video without a vanity intro shows a slight engagement lift at the very beginning.

Vanity, thy name is logo. Even we at Conversion Sciences have given in to our egos with similarly unpleasant results.

Our vanity video intro definitely chased viewers away.

We were chasing our viewers away.

It goes without saying that we no longer use the cool branding sequence in our marketing videos.

Measuring the Impact of Video on your Bottom Line: Integrated Analytics

The biggest barrier in-app analytics have is that they cannot be linked to our revenue metrics, namely leads and sales.

Predictive metrics like Engagement or Attention are not definitive. They can only suggest what might happen.

And as we have said again and again, increasing engagement may actually decrease conversion.

These are the questions we need answered by our analytics:

  • Do those customers who view the video buy more often?
  • Are they more likely to complete a lead form?
  • Are they buying more or less?
  • Does their buying behavior change if they only watch part of a video? If so, how?
  • Which videos generate more sales than others?

Time to bring in this third-party vendor data and integrated with Google Analytics.

The good news is, most of these third-party platforms or applications provide a way to generate Google Analytics events on visitor interaction. Events like watching a video, performing a filtered search or starting a live chat.

Integrating Google Analytics could be as simple as entering your Google Analytics ID, enabling a Google Tag Manager pre-written tag or adding some Javascript tracking code to your page.

Integrate Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Conversions

Video platforms generally fire Events when somebody plays the video, for the duration of the play and when the video has been watched to completion. Therefore, we don’t have much control over the type of Events the video platform provides.

Nevertheless, this is usually enough for us to create some advanced segments and assess the impact of the video on our sales or lead conversions.

We tested both Wistia and Vidyard in-app analytics integrated with Google Analytics on our eight-part video mini-course.

To see the Events generated by either of the embedded video players, choose Behavior > Events in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Events: Integrate Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Conversions.

Google Analytics Events menu.

Here you will be able to see which Events are being generated by either of the video platforms. In this case, both send us Events when a video was played and for how long.

A screenshot of the Events sent by Wistia and Vidyard to Google Analytics.

A screenshot of the Events sent by Wistia and Vidyard to Google Analytics.

Now, switch from Event Action to Event Label as the Primary Dimension on your Google Analytics report to see which videos are being watched.

Both video platforms set events sharing which videos get played.

Both video analytics are sending the videos that are being viewed.

But all of the above data can be found within the respective tools’ dashboards. Let’s dive into more interesting information by creating Advanced Segments.

Creating a GA Advanced Segment with Wistia’s Events

To measure and isolate sessions in which the visitor played a video, we built an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics. This is particularly useful for online shops. It allows us to find out the impact of these videos on customer’s purchasing habits.

We used Wistia’s Play Event to isolate those sessions in which any of the eight videos in our series was viewed.

By creating an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics, we can look at sessions that include visitors who watched a video.

By creating an Advanced Segment in Google Analytics, we can look at sessions that include visitors who watched a video.

Our Wistia’s Played Video Advanced Segment includes sessions where a visitor played a video.

Use this segment to filter your ecommerce site Revenue, Conversion and Transaction data. Identify those visitors who watched one or more videos. Now, discover if this affected their buying behavior.

Advanced Segments reports in Google Analytics to measure the impact of video on revenue and conversions for a fictitious ecommerce site. Comparing a buyer who interacted with a video to the “average” site visitor, we observe a drop in conversion rate and average order value.

Comparing a buyer who interacted with a video to the “average” site visitor, we observe a drop in conversion rate and average order value.

In this example, the report strongly implies that website buyers who watched the video were less likely to make a purchase and bought less.

A simple integration of you video platform’s data with Google Analytics can derive stronger insights to find out the true impact of video on your bottom-line. Which ones will you find in your analytics now? Is your third-party app helping or hindering your sales or leads?

For more on Google Analytics to Measure the Impact of Video on Your Revenue, Listen to the Podcast

In this episode of The Conversion Scientist Podcast, Brian Massey tells you how to gain insights from third-party tools in Google Analytics. He uses several video hosts as an example.


Subscribe to Podcast

Link to Article on Marketing Land

Watch the free eight-part bit-sized video mini-course

Since you are a student of our Conversion Course, you get the entire mini-course Video that Converts.

An important eight-part series on creating marketing videos that convert visitors to leads and sales from Conversion Sciences.

  1. How Faces Influence Video Marketing
  2. Using Video to Solve the Subject Matter Expert Problem
  3. How Marketing Videos Chase Viewers Away in the First Seconds
  4. Video Hosting-Why Youtube is the Wrong Choice
  5. How the Brain Processes Video
  6. Headlines that Get Visitors to Click Play
  7. How Motion in Marketing Videos Affects Viewer Attention
  8. Video Marketing Using Animation

Special thanks to Vidpow for producing the videos in our Video that Converts Mini-course.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

If you are anything like me, you’ve made your fair share impulsive purchases online.

Unlike trekking into brick-and-mortar, I never get on the Internet with the intent of pulling out my credit card. Yet, inevitably, I’ve got two food delivery subscriptions and a blouse from the JCrew factory store shipping out tomorrow.

Are your visitors like me? How much of your business comes from impulsive behavior?  Most importantly, are you converting your impulse visitors before their craving to buy passes?

In this post, I will show you how to quantify the number of impulse buyers on your site using Google Analytics, and I will also share strategies on how to get them to convert.

The Impulsive Buyer

We define an impulsive buyer as someone who is poised to take action. These are our spontaneous buyers, more likely to be relational than transactional. They may not be impulsive in life, but are behaving in their spontaneous mode on your site right now.
What makes an impulsive buyer impulsive?

  • They perceive the risk of taking action as low.
  • They perceive the value of taking action as high.
  • They perceive the cost of shopping as high.
  • FOMO: Fear of missing out may drive their behavior.
  • Familiarity with your products makes a purchase decision easy.
  • Repeat buyers simply restocking will act as if they are impulsive.

For these visitors, leaving a browsing session without having pulled the financial trigger is like leaving the confessional before they’ve received their prescription of penitential prayers. It’s a complete waste of time and fundamentally misses the point of the exercise.
For these buyers, you should dedicate a portion of your site to mitigating risk, building value, pointing the way to purchase, creating scarcity, and spelling out the facts.

[pullquote]Impulse buyers aren’t the crazed shoppers that can be found assaulting each other in the Walmart on Black Friday.[/pullquote] These buyers may be thoughtful and methodical in their approach. However, they will buy from someone today, unless no alternatives present themselves.

If they don’t buy from you now, they will most likely not return.

Finding Impulse Buyers in the Data

Impulse buyers don’t announce themselves upon arrival at your website, but they leave footprints in your digital sand. To start, we’re looking for those one-hit wonders, the drive-by shoppers. Google Analytics tracks this behavior for us with the “Time to Purchase” report.

Where to find time to purchase in Google Analytics

Where to find time to purchase in Google Analytics

Impluse buyers are, by definition, those visitors who purchase within their first visit. Thus, we want to know which transactions are completed on our site within a single session.

The number of sessions it takes to convert

The number of sessions it takes to convert

For an ecommerce website, a single-session percentage of more than 80% indicates that quick buying behavior is contributing to your overall conversion rate. You’re probably serving your impulse buyers well.

If single-session conversions make up less than 60% of your total transactions, one of two things is happening.

  1. You are selling something that methodical customers are going to purchase, such as appliances or a college education.


  1. You are not satisfying the impulse-buyers’ craving before it passes.

Google Analytics makes it easy to track impulse buyers on your site. Create an advanced segment for those visitors who purchase in one session.

When you look at your Google Analytics reports through the lens of this segment you will see how impulse buyers are impacting your business.

Impulse Buyers (blue line) are a significant portion of all revenue (orange line) for this ecommerce business.

Impulse Buyers (blue line) are a significant portion of all revenue (orange line) for this ecommerce business.

Use this segment to answer other questions as well. In the graph below, it is clear how an email promotion to existing buyers affects the impulse buyer segment.

Email campaigns appeal to return and repeat buyers and less so to first-time impulse buyers

Email campaigns appeal to return and repeat buyers (orange line) and less so to first-time impulse buyers (blue line).

How did these visitors get to your site? Where did they land? Did they use site search or navigation to get to a product page? What items did these quick buyers purchase?

Search is clearly not important to most impulse buyers for this site.

Sessions with Searches: Search is clearly not important to most impulse buyers for this site.

Answering these questions will help to develop a map of impulse behavior on your site.

With this blueprint, you’ll be able to pinpoint the areas of your site that attract impulse buyers and begin to test conversion optimization efforts that focus on them.

Reducing Risk

When customers are poised to buy, they do a risk assessment. Impulse buyers love low-risk transactions. This is the job of what we call risk reversal tactics.

A risk reversal tactic is anything that takes the risk out of a transaction. Risk reversal comes in many forms.

  • Money-back guarantees
  • Warranties
  • Trust symbols, such as the BBB logo
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Free shipping offers
  • Low-price guaratees

Often sites signal that they can’t be trusted without even realizing it. They hide their return policies, or make them so complex that they become meaningless. They don’t display free shipping offers in a prominent place.

Impulse buyers have a quiet voice in their head asking “Is this a good idea?”.  What can you do to make sure the answer to that question is always “Yes”?

Case Study: JetPens

The vaguest, most theoretical thing you should be doing is making people feel good about giving you their personal information.  Trust symbols must be obvious but subtle enough to avoid that “Trust me!  Trust me!  Trust me!” vibe that we get from used car salesmen, so incorporate them as naturally as possible.

Take, an online store selling Japanese pens and stationery.

JetPens naturally decreases risk reversal with the trust symbols on their checkout screen.

JetPens naturally decreases risk reversal with the trust symbols on their checkout screen.

This store is somewhat specialized, so it doesn’t have the same degree of trusted name recognition as an office supplies store like Staples or Office Depot.  One way it resolves the issue is having the Google Trusted Store symbol in the lower right corner.  It sticks to every page, not just the checkout screen.

This is called “borrowing trust.” Sites can borrow trust from current clients, credit card companies, and certification organizations like Google and Buyer Safe.

Increasing Order Size

While you may see free shipping as a pricing issue, it really acts to reduce risk. It reduces anxiety about spending money on a website. It is can also increase the average order of impulse buyers.

JetPens offers free shipping for orders over $25, and they make it really easy for you to hit that mark.

You know exactly how much you need to spend to get free shipping.

You know exactly how much you need to spend to get free shipping.

There’s no need for their impulse buyers to do any math.

In lieu of free shipping, it pays for your site to be up-front about what shipping will cost. This takes the surprise out of the transaction, reducing cart abandonment.

JetPens uses a Calculate Shipping button for just this purpose.

You don't even have to leave the checkout page to fill your cart to the $25 mark.

You don’t even have to leave the checkout page to fill your cart to hit the $25 mark.

Getting to the $25 mark that signals free shipping is pretty good motivation for most people to spend more money, but once someone is in the checkout screen, do you really want them to leave it?  By placing a few items from account holders’ wish list at the bottom of the page, JetPens makes it easy for impulse buyers to double-down. Customers see how much more they need to spend and a great suggestion for how to get there.

If the visitor hasn’t added anything to their wish list, why not add a few inexpensive suggestions of your own?

Case Study: ModCloth

With online retail, shipping information needs to be easy to find.  Free shipping isn’t the only reason people convert: they’ll also be more likely to buy if they think it will be easy to return what they bought.  Someone doing lots of research on a product may be willing to hunt around for money-back guarantees, but impulse buyers need trust symbols to be much more in-their-face.

ModCloth, an online women’s clothing store, uses the top of its website to embed lots of different trust symbols.

The top of ModCloth's website is covers lots of trust-building bases.

The top of ModCloth’s website covers lots of trust-building bases.

Customer care and shipping information is at the top of every page, and when you visit the page on returns and exchanges, it’s also pretty easy to understand.

ModCloth's return policy

ModCloth’s return policy

Someone in a hurry to spend money may not make it all the way to this page, but she’ll know it’s there, and she’ll know that exchanges are free without even clicking.  Why wouldn’t she spend her money if it’s that easy to get rid of something that didn’t work out?

Introducing Scarcity

Scarcity is a term that includes limitied supplies, limited-time engagements, exclusivity and qualifications to buy. It imparts a sense of urgency to a shopping session, and impulse buyers are just looking for excuses to act. Give your impulse buyers excuses to act by making it clear that she will be missing out if she doesn’t buy right now.  Remember, impulse buyers see the shopping process as expensive and don’t want to waste their time.

Dwindling stock makes this item much more attractive.

Dwindling stock makes this item much more attractive.

Only one Window Shopping Chic Dress left?!  What am I going to wear when I go window shopping this weekend if that dress doesn’t end up in my closet!

Many impulse buyers like feeling like they’re part of an exclusive group. It feeds their egos and justifies the elitist tone they use when they brag about how the rest of us weren’t able to wear the right window shopping dress.

Increasing the Perceived Value of an Impulse Purchase

Free gifts and bonuses add value to a perceived purchase. The gift doesn’t have to be an extraordinary offer. It provides another excuse to act, often increasing urgency.

SheIn hits that impulse buying nail on the head not once, but twice.  First, a popover tells you that there’s an opportunity for a free gift.

Free gift offer from SheIn

Free gift offer from SheIn

But here’s the fun part.  You have to start a wheel for a free gift.  So it’s a game!

Shoppers play a game to get a free gift.

Shoppers play a game to get a free gift.

This strategy works for pretty much any kind of business, not just retail.  SheIn asks you to join a mailing list order to have the chance at spinning the wheel to get a free gift, so it’s a lead-generating strategy.

The Gift of Game

Gamification is much beloved by millennials, a group renowned for their impulsive buying behavior.  Quizzes and games make even the most mundane tasks so much more interesting.  Let’s say I’m looking for new running shoes, so I search “What kind of shoes should I buy?”

One result is from the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.  The name alone seems pretty trustworthy. What do they have to say about what shoes I should buy?

Running shoe buying guide

Running shoe buying guide

Yikes. This isn’t even half of the article! Luckily, I have another option to help me find the answer to my question.

Runner's World shoe quiz

Runner’s World shoe quiz

Runner’s World magazine makes things so much easier!  First I take a short quiz, then it spits out a shoe suggestion for me.

Running shoe suggestion

Running shoe suggestion

Runner’s World doesn’t want to sell me a shoe, but if I were on a retail site selling running shoes, how awesome would it be to be able to click “Add to Cart” from this page?

Go Mobile or Go Home

This weekend I had a movie night with some friends at my house because we urgently needed to watch the first Magic Mike movie.  We didn’t want to miss any major plot points when we watched the soon-to-be-released sequel.

I rented the movie on my phone using the Google Play Movies & TV app.  I tapped the purchase button, and openly lamented to my friends how easy it was to throw my money away.  I mean disgustingly easy.  Three taps and four bucks of my hard-earned money was gone, replaced by the privilege of having two days of access to a movie I hope my mom never finds out I watched.

Magic Mike to rent

First tap

Renting options

2nd tap…and 3rd tap my money is gone

Voila, I made a purchase I kind-of-but-not-really regret.  Your website could have that purchase!

On mobile, fewer people are doing research.  They’re either buying, or they’re leaving.  I wanted that Magic Mike movie, and I wanted it right then.  More obstacles would have meant using a different app or just watching a different movie I already own.

Buying something from you should be as easy as renting a movie on my phone.

Park the things you know about your desktop users. Think about the needs of your mobile visitors as if they were a different animal. They’re not unicorns or dragons or anything, but you wouldn’t put a leash on a cat. They just won’t stand for it.

As an example, Victoria’s Secret realized that promo codes are to mobile users what pull cords are to blow dryers. They’re not the right tool for the job.

Victorias secret doesn't ask mobile visitors to enter a promo code.

Victoria’s Secret doesn’t ask mobile visitors to enter a promo code.

Impulse Abandoners

Impulse buyers become impulse abandoners when your site doesn’t serve their need to take action. The moment they perceive that a transaction is low value, that the effort is too high, that a purchase is risky or that there is no urgency to take action, they become less impulsive.

It is not manipulative to feed their need for speed. Giving impulse buyers the rationale to act is exactly what they want from you. Why deny them?
Feature image licensed under Creative Commons and adapted for this post.

The little yellow message in the upper right corner of your Google Analytics report can be somewhat unsettling. It appears when you use custom segments on a website has grown to hundreds of thousands of hits. The message is a warning you that the report you’re looking at is based on sampled data.

Does this mean the data is wrong? Can you use it to make decisions about your site? Can you share it with your boss?

The answer is, “Sometimes.”

In my article Everything’s Bigger In Texas: Sampling & Google Analytics Reports, I’ve drawn three conclusions that, if kept in mind, will make sure your reports are telling you the truth about your website — or something close to it.


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1: The Amount of Data Affects Sample Size

The percentage of pageviews that Google Analytics reports in the yellow box can tell you how accurate your report may be. The more data that Google has to analyze, the longer it takes.  So, if your report covers a larger the time, the sample size Google Analytics uses will be smaller. For certain types of reports, you’ll be limited to 90 days.

2: Use Sampled Reports for Large Datasets Only

If the number of datapoints in your segment is low, you will find the data in your reports to be less accurate. A report with on a segment with 50,000 sessions that is sampled may produce nothing but noise. I show you how to determine this in the column.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

3: Dialing Up the Sample Size Helps

“Moving your sample rate from 5% to 10% feels pretty insignificant.  It’s not, especially for segments that return smaller datasets.”

The larger your sample size, the more you can rely on Google’s reporting because the bigger the sample, the clearer the picture that analytics will be able to make using the data.

When your website grows beyond a certain point, Google Analytics is going to start taking shortcuts.  [pullquote]Don’t be the victim of a big Google Analytics lie[/pullquote]. Know what those shortcuts are and know how to get around them so that you are relying on data that tells the true story.

There are special visitors on your site right now. They blend in with all of the others in your analytics, but they behave differently from the others.

They visit more pages, spend more time, share more often and are more likely to buy from you.

Would you like to know them better?

Would you like to know how to treat them better?

Would you like to have more of them?


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These visitors are your account holders. Some have bought from you. Some have not.

Account holders should walk around your site in their socks on the plush red carpet you’ve laid out for them.

  They’ve put forth more effort interacting with your site than your other non-buying site visitors because they’ve shown you buying intent.  And that’s a big deal for you.

In my Marketing Land column Use Google Analytics To Treat Your Account Holders Like Royalty I show you how to isolate these wonderful visitors and see how they behave.

What is tripping them up?

Where do they come from when they visit?

Do they respond to email?

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
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Why does the “online” marketer have to do something different from the “other” marketers at the beginning of a new year?

There are many reasons.

The online marketer is blind without accurate data.

The online marketer has wrested control from the grubby hands of IT.

The online marketer knows that

the seeds of holiday regret are planted in February procrastination.


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Don’t worry. We’ve prepared a list of seven things you should do now at the beginning of the new year.

Resolve to optimize the website before the next holidays

“If only” are the saddest two words in the English language.

If only we had a little higher conversion rate from all of that juicy holiday traffic.

If only Black Friday had put us a little more “in the black.”

If only our shopping cart had worked with Internet Explorer.

We know that the holidays are happier when we get more revenue under the Christmas Tree. This year let’s start getting more from the traffic we’re going to get next November and December.

Testing and optimizing does take time. Now is the time to start testing if you want your holidays to be merrier.

Change the passwords on your testing tools

The modern marketer has taken control of much of the website from the grubby hands of IT and the web developers. Today, tag managers give marketers an unparalleled ability to add measurements to a site without IT’s help. Split testing tools allow them to transform a website for a particular group of visitors at will.

With great power comes great responsibility.

Many marketing departments should adopt the best security practices of their IT brethren. If a malicious individual got the password to Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer, they could wreak havoc on the site at will.

Go ahead, change your passwords. And make them good passwords. We use the program PassPack to store and share hard-to-crack passwords with our team.

Check that all your pages still have analytics and testing software

A website is a complex piece of software. New pages are added by different stakeholders. Changes are often undocumented. Not everyone is concerned that your analytics and testing tools need to be added to each page and then checked.

Before diving into a new year, run through the pages on your site and make sure they all have the right tools installed.

There are automated systems for checking your site, but taking some time to explore by hand is very helpful. Get ready to start a punch list.

I recommend installing two browser extensions for Chrome: Tag Assistant by Google and Ghostery. Tag Assistant tells you if your Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager installation is broken on any page, and offers helpful tips. Ghosterytells you every tag that is installed on the page, so you can check for things like Click Tracking tools, session-recording tools and more.

Consider moving to a tag manager, like Google Tag Manager. This centralizes analytics setup.

Make sure your site still works with all devices and browsers

Your analytics will tell you which browsers and devices your visitors are using on your site.

Your analytics will tell you which browsers and devices to check.

Your analytics will tell you which browsers and devices to check.

Make sure your site works on the top devices and browsers.

Year over year evaluation

The end of a year means another year of data. Woohoo!

This means we have an entire year to compare our progress against. When we compare year-over-year data, we eliminate differences that occurred due to market changes. For an online consumer retailer, comparing October performance to November performance wouldn’t be fair, since the holiday shopping season starts in November. Instead it’s better to compare October of this year to October of last year.

Here are some of the things we like to look at in our year-over-year data.

Depth of Troughs

It’s the off-season that kills us. It’s the winter months for bikini boutiques and the summer months for mitten makers. However, if we are making progress on our site, we should see less of a drop revenue during the off-peak weeks.

And with shallow troughs we often see higher spikes during prime selling or lead-gen seasons.

Increasing Revenue Per Visit or Conversion Rate

Even it you got more traffic to your website in 2014, you may not see the increase in revenue. By measuring the Revenue per Visit (RPV) and Conversion Rate (for lead generation) you can see how your efforts in 2014 added to the bottom line independent of traffic volume.

Average Order Value

When people buy from you, are they buying more or less? This is what average order value tells us. Even if your traffic was flat and your conversion rate didn’t move, you may be getting more from each customer.

Bounce Rate

If you saw an increase in traffic to the site, did you see an increase in bounce rate? The Bounce Rate measures visitors who came and didn’t stay long. They saw only one page or left before 15 seconds had passed.

Bounce rate is an indicator of traffic quality. If lots of visitors are bouncing, then you may not be bringing the right visitor to the site.

Review your idea list

Where do you keep your punch list of things to try on the site? Go find it and give it a look. You’ll find some great ideas you forgot about.

Where do you keep your ideas for a better website

Where do you keep your ideas for a better website?

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Are you blind because your Google Analytics setup has blind spots?

Do you know when one of your visitors gets a 404 error? You should.


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Transcript: Google Analytics Blind Spots That Must Be Corrected

Do you know how your overlay popups affect conversion? They really should know.

Is Live Chat helping or hurting your sales? You should know.

These are three of the most common blind spots we see when setting up analytics for our clients. Find out exactly how to remove these blind spots in your analytics data.

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

Keep these proven copywriting hacks in mind to make your copy convert.

  • 43 Pages with Examples
  • Assumptive Phrasing
  • "We" vs. "You"
  • Pattern Interrupts
  • The Power of Three
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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