holidays

How do you choose a Christmas Card for your boss? Better yet, how do you choose one that will get you a CRO budget in 2017? Simply apply these Conversion Principles for a happy new year and a new budget.

We’ve examined a number of holiday cards to determine the one most likely to win you some budget in the coming year. Watch this critique and give your manager the card that will deliver.

Primary Conversion Principle Metrics

Christmas cards are a lot like landing page on the web. They have to appeal to visitors quickly and deliver something meaningful.
Christmas Metrics
We’ll be examining the Christmas Card Graph for each card.
Christmas Card Graph

Lessons Learned

Don’t be too safe.

Playing it safe often means being boring. Open rates will suffer.
 
safe-card-2017

Don’t let your designer make the decisions.

One man’s beautiful design is anothers reading nightmare. Don’t let design get in the way of communicating.
Over Designed Card

Don’t deliver less than you promise.

Making promises is the best way to get people to open your cards — and read your page. However, if you over-promise, you can do more damage than good.
Try Flattery

Use copy that engages the reader.

Our brains need to be challenged to be engaged. Rhymes, humor and alliteration will work to engage the reader and get them to take action.
Rhymes Card

Be interactive.

Sometimes you just have to get them involved to get them interested. Consider asking them to do something on your page.
Budget Secured Card
 
It shouldn’t be a surprise that all of these lessons can be applied to your website and landing pages. This is what we do at Conversion Sciences.
Once you’ve secured that budget, schedule a free Conversion Strategy Session.
Christmas Conversion for the Boss Featured Image

Retail season is just three months away.  Surprise!
Come again?! Yes it’s true. Between the months of November and late December, many businesses who generate significant profit online will experience an increase in traffic and (hopefully) sales.
How do you know if your website is fully prepared to take full advantage of the holiday rush? Instead of Santa Claus loading up his sleigh with merchandise from your warehouse, you could see an increase in shopping cart abandonment, low sales, and a whole lot of tears in your eggnog.
Most online businesses generate the majority of the year’s profit during the holiday season. This can make ecommmerce sites a little nervous. Business managers get conservative, locking down the site and taking no risks for months before the blessed start of the shopping season.
They seem to be just waiting until the season is over with their eyes closed, praying to the retail gods that things will go well.
Don’t be that guy this year. Pick the right strategies to optimize in time for retail season. Here’s how some of the top online retailers prepare for the rush of retail season. These are high-stakes, low risk ideas that you can put in place before Black Friday darkens the holiday sun.

Idea One: Don’t Jump Into A Total Site Redesign

Many businesses think they have to change with the holiday seasons. The fact of the matter is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What you think is broke is often perfect to your visitors.
Instead, enhance what’s already been working on your website. Brian Massey said it best himself last Christmas. In the weeks before the holidays he realized his house was still decorated for Halloween.
Rather than taking down his skeletons and spending money on new decorations, he took a more creative approach. He added a special twist of his own to the unique decor. When his 17-year old daughter and her friends came by the house, he received positive reviews and praise. Remember, the opinion of your visitor matters the most.

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

Idea Two: Identify Where You Get Conversions and Leads

We work with many eCommerce companies from high-end jewelry and gloves to furniture sales. Our job is to analyze this behavior and data to best optimize your online business. The Channel Report in Google Analytics helps us locate streamlined conversions and where clients see significant sales by traffic source. With the Overview section, you can make an Advanced Segment to locate which specific sites are the source of your leads and how those leads navigate your website to become a customer.
Let’s say we want to focus on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social efforts. Here’s how we set up one advanced segments:

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to better analyze site conversions.

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to analyze site conversions better.


Now that you know where your conversions are coming from, you need to understand what components on your site aid in these conversions. If we want to see how one of each of our landing pages performed, we would create an Advanced Segment that highlights our goal URL. This will help us determine which landing pages converted best. Perhaps your home page needs to be better optimized, or maybe you can cut back on ads that deliver unfavorable results.
We can also gather data on which devices lead to more conversions, whether visitors are new, and how many sessions each channel produces. It’s important to understand the type of traffic comes to your site, how visitors move through your site, and which features deliver the most conversions. This data will help you better craft your next step in prepping your eCommerce strategy.
[sitepromo]

Step Three: Lay Out Your Conversion Roadmap and Retargeting Ads

I was recently asked to be a groomsman for my best friend’s wedding. Great, I thought. Bachelor parties, booze, and a whole lot of money down the toilet. We recently had a fitting at The Mens Wearhouse. Look at us! Aren’t we a great bunch of guys?

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend's wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend’s wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.


After all was said and done, we decided to not to rent shoes for $20. Think about it: that’s almost the price of half a decent shoe. Since most guys can use a good new pair of shoes, we decided to check out several online shoe stores to find the right style and avoid another brutal trip to the mall. Let’s be real, no one enjoys shopping with six other dudes that have absolutely no sense of style.
We scoured the web and came upon a pair of great looking shoes on Nordstrom.com, but we said no to purchasing. They were just too expensive.
The Retail Giant, however, was kind enough to fill my Facebook Newsfeed with wonderful retargeting ads. Thanks a lot for the added temptation.
After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.

After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.


Did I mention that we were shopping for a “wingtip” style shoe. This fact wasn’t lost on Nordstrom. They tracked my shopping activity and knew what I was looking for. Since my initial search on their website just didn’t ring up a sale, they decided to retarget me with a similar wingtip shoe that was significantly marked down in price.
Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.

Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.


Had this shoe been in the wedding party’s price range, we would have definitely been a customer. It fits the motif of the overall look for the wedding and is a killer shoe. It’s also discounted, a big plus.
But wait, there’s even more to this landing page. Drumroll please. Nordstrom included a “People Also Viewed” section on the right of this page, listing two additional wingtip style shoes in a more affordable price range. Well done guys, well done. Unfortunately for Nordstrom we were still too cheap to buy, but it was still a solid effort.
Remember to lay out exactly how you will navigate a variety of customers through your funnel. Think of your email subscribers, returning visitors, new visitors, and don’t forget your impulse buyers.
Once you’ve segmented your visitors, analyze their behavior. Did they convert? Which items did they purchase? What was their overall spend? By knowing these key statistics, you can craft better retargeting ads and email offers that resonate with their buying habits. What kind of ads will you be showing site visitors, customers, or shoppers who abandoned their cart? Nordstrom.com knows their stuff. Now how can you turn lost opportunities into sales?

Idea Four: Brainstorm High Converting Lead Generating Campaigns

You need some ammunition for retail season that brings in new customers and sales. Early fall is a great time for executing high converting lead generating campaigns. We’re talking giveaways, contests, and special offers. Since web optimization is a given for increasing conversions, we’re going to talk about email list building campaigns for leads.
Let’s take another look at our friends at Nordstrom.com. I noticed they were having a special giveaway on their site. It didn’t look obnoxious like some online giveaways, and I was intrigued by the red letters at the top left corner of the site that said “Want a $1,000 Gift Card?” YES. I DO. So I clicked on it.

Screenshot 2015-07-22 01.07.43

Click the red letters! Win money.


Once I checked out the official rules, I was taken to an additional landing page to sign up for the giveaway.
Screenshot 2015-07-20 19.49.31

Keep your giveaways simple. Too many rules or procedures turn people away.


This contest has a very particular call-to-action: write a review on one of their products you’ve purchased. Once entered, I was sent an email with a CTA to continue shopping. Campaigns like this are simple to generate a moderate lead flow and are rather common.
Be creative with your giveaways. Don’t make the contest too complicated, and always offer an incentive to those who enter, like a special coupon. They are not likely to win, but you will, especially since you’ve given them a reason to buy.
Again, you want your email list to be as fat as possible come the holiday season, especially if you find that your list converts higher than your site traffic.

Idea Five: Structure Your Email Blast With Offers and Take Leads Through Your Funnel

Spend some time thinking about how to dial up the value on your email blasts for the holidays. People who give you their email address are inviting you to their already very full inbox, so make the most of it. There are lots of ways to do it and many elements to email marketing. The offers below can translate into high converting emails: which tactic would work with your business?

A New Arrival

Some shoppers love to splurge on the latest and greatest. Add this to the top of your email. Perhaps even include it in the email subject line. Local Austin jeweler Kendra Scott has a unique approach to their email blasts. In this email we see the new arrival promo at the top.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott's new Mystic Bazaar collection.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott’s new Mystic Bazaar collection.


Now what if customers aren’t interested in buying anything new? Although we commend Kendra Scott for featuring new arrivals at the top of their email, the flow becomes rather confusing after that. It’s literally a maze of jewelry! I found it difficult to look at additional products and offers.
Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!

Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!


See what I mean? Focusing on a subset of customers who are likely to convert is a great idea, but your entire email needs to be easy to navigate or it’s a waste of space.

A Bestseller

You know this product will sell with or without a marked down price. You can sell this product with your eyes closed, so why not include it in the email? Having analyzed countless email blasts from CountryOutfitter.com, I was surprised to know that they continuously included a new pair of boots in their campaign. Repetition can be a good thing for sales.

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

Theme Your Emails

I once tried to get a job at a high end furniture store fresh out of college and was lucky enough to be invited to interview for a marketing position. It was a very fancy and expensive store. Who wouldn’t want to spend $10,000 on a dining room table made from reclaimed Grecian wood?
An important lesson I learned from that interview was how furniture salesmen increase their commissions by including add-ons that compliment the purchase, from furniture displays to the final sales pitch.
“Would you also like some table lamps, a rug, and perhaps this painting of a naked man to compliment your one-of-a-kind love seat from Romania?”
Someone willing to drop a small (or medium) fortune on a couch is likely to be willing to drop even more to make sure the couch isn’t sitting in an empty living room – or worse, a living room where the other decor doesn’t match the couch.  That’s where the money comes from.
Here’s a great example of how one online retailer themes their email blasts similarly to furniture store displays. This particular campaign was all about skulls.
Screenshot 2015-07-22 16.45.15
And you can’t buy a skull sweater without getting the matching purse and mug. Do you really want to be the fool with the skull sweater drinking out a cat mug and carrying a hobo bag?  Absolutely not.

You must purchase the matching accessories!

You must purchase the matching accessories!


Even better, every item in this email is 20% off. HotTopic, eat your heart out.

A Coupon Code or Free Shipping

Adding a coupon code or a free shipping incentive (like “get $50 off a purchase of $100 or more” or “free shipping when you spend $50”) will help visitors spend a specific amount of money or help them purchase an item that is designed to be a quick money maker.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

A Promotional Story

For those brands engaged in a content strategy, adding a promotional story to an email blast can help drive serious traffic. Here’s how a competitor of CountryOutfitter.com sent their email blast the day Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced their divorce. They used a headline announcing the divorce in their email subject line, along with a photo of the couple at the top of the email.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.


This email was more than just the Country Music story of the day. When visitors opened the breaking news email, this retailer included a CTA to shop above the story, and free shipping for all orders $75 or more.
Below the breaking news image was a “Shop Now” image directing traffic to a product page. Although this traffic may not be interested in shopping and would much rather read up on Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, you can still segment this surge in traffic for retargeting ads (remember the Nordstrom.com example?).

Step Six: Give Your Leads A Reason To Return To Your Website

Set an expiration date to your coupons, create limited time offers, or activate that retargeting ad that will make visitors come back for more. One of the most interesting findings I came across while gathering data for this post was a feature on RebelCircus.com. At the top of the site, there was a ticker that gave shoppers exactly one hour to use a coupon and make a purchase.

You've got 1 hour to make a purchase! The agony.

You’ve got one hour to make a purchase! The agony.


When I returned to the site, the clock was still ticking. I was kind of afraid my computer would blow up if I didn’t purchase one of their skull t-shirts. They definitely get a thumbs up for creating a sense of urgency when shopping.

Idea Seven: Gather Data From Your Campaign, Analyze It, and Prep For Next Year

This can be the fun part, or the not so fun part, depending on how the season went. Gather your data from Google Analytics. Dissect the info and highlight the pros and cons of your retail campaigns. Where did you see more conversions, email signups, and social media engagement, and how did this affect your overall strategy?
Your marketing plan should always continue to change and refine itself over the seasons. Your approach this year should be a lot different from next year’s. But when you just can’t get the answers right, or no longer have the time to optimize give Conversion Sciences a call. We’d be happy to bring good tidings of joy to your business this Holiday Season.e was still decorated for Halloween.
Rather than taking down his skeletons and spending money on new decorations, he took a more creative approach. He added a special twist of his own to the unique decor. When his 17-year old daughter and her friends came by the house, he received positive reviews and praise. Remember, the opinion of your visitor matters the most.

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

The Tim Burton approach worked well for holiday decor

Idea Two: Identify Where You Get Conversions and Leads

We work with many eCommerce companies from high-end jewelry and gloves to furniture sales. Our job is to analyze this behavior and data to best optimize your online business. The Channel Report in Google Analytics helps us locate streamlined conversions and where clients see significant sales by traffic source. With the Overview section, you can make an Advanced Segment to locate which specific sites are the source of your leads and how those leads navigate your website to become a customer.
Let’s say we want to focus on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social efforts. Here’s how we set up one advanced segments:

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to better analyze site conversions.

This is how we traditionally set up segments in Google Analytics to analyze site conversions better.


Now that you know where your conversions are coming from, you need to understand what components on your site aid in these conversions. If we want to see how one of each of our landing pages performed, we would create an Advanced Segment that highlights our goal URL. This will help us determine which landing pages converted best. Perhaps your home page needs to be better optimized, or maybe you can cut back on ads that deliver unfavorable results.
We can also gather data on which devices lead to more conversions, whether visitors are new, and how many sessions each channel produces. It’s important to understand the type of traffic comes to your site, how visitors move through your site, and which features deliver the most conversions. This data will help you better craft your next step in prepping your eCommerce strategy.
[sitepromo]

Step Three: Lay Out Your Conversion Roadmap and Retargeting Ads

I was recently asked to be a groomsman for my best friend’s wedding. Great, I thought. Bachelor parties, booze, and a whole lot of money down the toilet. We recently had a fitting at The Mens Wearhouse. Look at us! Aren’t we a great bunch of guys?

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend's wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.

While getting fitted for tuxes for our friend’s wedding, we decided not to rent shoes.


After all was said and done, we decided to not to rent shoes for $20. Think about it: that’s almost the price of half a decent shoe. Since most guys can use a good new pair of shoes, we decided to check out several online shoe stores to find the right style and avoid another brutal trip to the mall. Let’s be real, no one enjoys shopping with six other dudes that have absolutely no sense of style.
We scoured the web and came upon a pair of great looking shoes on Nordstrom.com, but we said no to purchasing. They were just too expensive.
The Retail Giant, however, was kind enough to fill my Facebook Newsfeed with wonderful retargeting ads. Thanks a lot for the added temptation.
After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.

After leaving Nordstrom.com without purchasing an item, they decided to retarget me on Facebook.


Did I mention that we were shopping for a “wingtip” style shoe. This fact wasn’t lost on Nordstrom. They tracked my shopping activity and knew what I was looking for. Since my initial search on their website just didn’t ring up a sale, they decided to retarget me with a similar wingtip shoe that was significantly marked down in price.
Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.

Nordstrom knew I was looking for a wingtip style shoe and have even recommended several pairs that are more affordable.


Had this shoe been in the wedding party’s price range, we would have definitely been a customer. It fits the motif of the overall look for the wedding and is a killer shoe. It’s also discounted, a big plus.
But wait, there’s even more to this landing page. Drumroll please. Nordstrom included a “People Also Viewed” section on the right of this page, listing two additional wingtip style shoes in a more affordable price range. Well done guys, well done. Unfortunately for Nordstrom we were still too cheap to buy, but it was still a solid effort.
Remember to lay out exactly how you will navigate a variety of customers through your funnel. Think of your email subscribers, returning visitors, new visitors, and don’t forget your impulse buyers.
Once you’ve segmented your visitors, analyze their behavior. Did they convert? Which items did they purchase? What was their overall spend? By knowing these key statistics, you can craft better retargeting ads and email offers that resonate with their buying habits. What kind of ads will you be showing site visitors, customers, or shoppers who abandoned their cart? Nordstrom.com knows their stuff. Now how can you turn lost opportunities into sales?

Idea Four: Brainstorm High Converting Lead Generating Campaigns

You need some ammunition for retail season that brings in new customers and sales. Early fall is a great time for executing high converting lead generating campaigns. We’re talking giveaways, contests, and special offers. Since web optimization is a given for increasing conversions, we’re going to talk about email list building campaigns for leads.
Let’s take another look at our friends at Nordstrom.com. I noticed they were having a special giveaway on their site. It didn’t look obnoxious like some online giveaways, and I was intrigued by the red letters at the top left corner of the site that said “Want a $1,000 Gift Card?” YES. I DO. So I clicked on it.

Screenshot 2015-07-22 01.07.43

Click the red letters! Win money.


Once I checked out the official rules, I was taken to an additional landing page to sign up for the giveaway.
Screenshot 2015-07-20 19.49.31

Keep your giveaways simple. Too many rules or procedures turn people away.


This contest has a very particular call-to-action: write a review on one of their products you’ve purchased. Once entered, I was sent an email with a CTA to continue shopping. Campaigns like this are simple to generate a moderate lead flow and are rather common.
Be creative with your giveaways. Don’t make the contest too complicated, and always offer an incentive to those who enter, like a special coupon. They are not likely to win, but you will, especially since you’ve given them a reason to buy.
Again, you want your email list to be as fat as possible come the holiday season, especially if you find that your list converts higher than your site traffic.

Idea Five: Structure Your Email Blast With Offers and Take Leads Through Your Funnel

Spend some time thinking about how to dial up the value on your email blasts for the holidays. People who give you their email address are inviting you to their already very full inbox, so make the most of it. There are lots of ways to do it and many elements to email marketing. The offers below can translate into high converting emails: which tactic would work with your business?

A New Arrival

Some shoppers love to splurge on the latest and greatest. Add this to the top of your email. Perhaps even include it in the email subject line. Local Austin jeweler Kendra Scott has a unique approach to their email blasts. In this email we see the new arrival promo at the top.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott's new Mystic Bazaar collection.

This is an email promo for Kendra Scott’s new Mystic Bazaar collection.


Now what if customers aren’t interested in buying anything new? Although we commend Kendra Scott for featuring new arrivals at the top of their email, the flow becomes rather confusing after that. It’s literally a maze of jewelry! I found it difficult to look at additional products and offers.
Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!

Omg. Too confusing. Where do I click?!


See what I mean? Focusing on a subset of customers who are likely to convert is a great idea, but your entire email needs to be easy to navigate or it’s a waste of space.

A Bestseller

You know this product will sell with or without a marked down price. You can sell this product with your eyes closed, so why not include it in the email? Having analyzed countless email blasts from CountryOutfitter.com, I was surprised to know that they continuously included a new pair of boots in their campaign. Repetition can be a good thing for sales.

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

CountryOutfitter.com knows their boots sell. Each week they include a different style of boot in their email blasts

Theme Your Emails

I once tried to get a job at a high end furniture store fresh out of college and was lucky enough to be invited to interview for a marketing position. It was a very fancy and expensive store. Who wouldn’t want to spend $10,000 on a dining room table made from reclaimed Grecian wood?
An important lesson I learned from that interview was how furniture salesmen increase their commissions by including add-ons that compliment the purchase, from furniture displays to the final sales pitch.
“Would you also like some table lamps, a rug, and perhaps this painting of a naked man to compliment your one-of-a-kind love seat from Romania?”
Someone willing to drop a small (or medium) fortune on a couch is likely to be willing to drop even more to make sure the couch isn’t sitting in an empty living room – or worse, a living room where the other decor doesn’t match the couch.  That’s where the money comes from.
Here’s a great example of how one online retailer themes their email blasts similarly to furniture store displays. This particular campaign was all about skulls.
Screenshot 2015-07-22 16.45.15
And you can’t buy a skull sweater without getting the matching purse and mug. Do you really want to be the fool with the skull sweater drinking out a cat mug and carrying a hobo bag?  Absolutely not.

You must purchase the matching accessories!

You must purchase the matching accessories!


Even better, every item in this email is 20% off. HotTopic, eat your heart out.

A Coupon Code or Free Shipping

Adding a coupon code or a free shipping incentive (like “get $50 off a purchase of $100 or more” or “free shipping when you spend $50”) will help visitors spend a specific amount of money or help them purchase an item that is designed to be a quick money maker.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

CountryOutfitter.com includes a free pair of flip flops with the purchase of $75 or more.

A Promotional Story

For those brands engaged in a content strategy, adding a promotional story to an email blast can help drive serious traffic. Here’s how a competitor of CountryOutfitter.com sent their email blast the day Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton announced their divorce. They used a headline announcing the divorce in their email subject line, along with a photo of the couple at the top of the email.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.

Miranda Lambert & Blake Shelton divorce, but Country Fashion retailers are making money.


This email was more than just the Country Music story of the day. When visitors opened the breaking news email, this retailer included a CTA to shop above the story, and free shipping for all orders $75 or more.
Below the breaking news image was a “Shop Now” image directing traffic to a product page. Although this traffic may not be interested in shopping and would much rather read up on Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, you can still segment this surge in traffic for retargeting ads (remember the Nordstrom.com example?).

Step Six: Give Your Leads A Reason To Return To Your Website

Set an expiration date to your coupons, create limited time offers, or activate that retargeting ad that will make visitors come back for more. One of the most interesting findings I came across while gathering data for this post was a feature on RebelCircus.com. At the top of the site, there was a ticker that gave shoppers exactly one hour to use a coupon and make a purchase.

You've got 1 hour to make a purchase! The agony.

You’ve got one hour to make a purchase! The agony.


When I returned to the site, the clock was still ticking. I was kind of afraid my computer would blow up if I didn’t purchase one of their skull t-shirts. They definitely get a thumbs up for creating a sense of urgency when shopping.

Idea Seven: Gather Data From Your Campaign, Analyze It, and Prep For Next Year

This can be the fun part, or the not so fun part, depending on how the season went. Gather your data from Google Analytics. Dissect the info and highlight the pros and cons of your retail campaigns. Where did you see more conversions, email signups, and social media engagement, and how did this affect your overall strategy?
Your marketing plan should always continue to change and refine itself over the seasons. Your approach this year should be a lot different from next year’s. But when you just can’t get the answers right, or no longer have the time to optimize give Conversion Sciences a call. We’d be happy to bring good tidings of joy to your business this Holiday Season.

Many business websites have to change with the holiday seasons, but you don’t redesign with each holiday.

We’ve been pretty busy here at Conversion Sciences. No complaints at all.
However, other parts of our lives suffer. In my case, it was decorating for the Christmas Season.
And in an unexpected way, this relates to your website.
I found myself with Christmas getting near and my Halloween decorations were still up. Before you laugh, isn’t this the same way you feel about your website? It’s needed a redesign for a while, but other priorities keep getting in the way.
That’s exactly how I felt.

There is little that can be done with Halloween decorations when preparing for Christmas... or is there?

There is little that can be done with Halloween decorations when preparing for Christmas… or is there?


This is not a traditional Christmas image.
But, since I was short on redecorating resources, I decided to redesign my decorations the way I would redesign a website: a little at a time.
I used small steps in my decoration redesign. I found some Christmas doll sweaters to put on my skeletons. Here’s the result.
This may seem a disturbing choice for Christmas decoration, but what does the data say?

This may seem a disturbing choice for Christmas decoration, but what does the data say?


Your first reaction may be that this isn’t much better. Honestly, that was my first reaction.
But I tested it against the most skeptical (and most important audience) I could: my 17-year-old daughter and her teenage friends.
The response was resoundingly positive and unprompted.
Go figger.
It’s unexpected, unique and didn’t require a decoration redesign. This is the same approach we recommend for your website.
You may think your site needs a re-do. You may feel it’s dated, familiar, or too old. As we like to say in the business, “Your opinion doesn’t matter.” It’s the opinion of your visitors that matters, and they may not see your site with as critical an eye as you. They may even love it as it is.

The Right Reasons to Redesign

There are two really good reasons for a redesign:
1. Your brand is changing completely.
2. Your site is not maintainable and needs a new foundation.
If you aren’t facing one of these two situations, consider a stepwise redesign.
We’ve been able to modify a site completely using testing tools before the business committed to the redesign.

We were able to test a complete redesign for this ecommerce site before committing it to code.

We were able to test a complete redesign for this ecommerce site before committing it to code.


 
We found with this test that the redesign would not be expected to have a negative effect on revenue.
Test the navigation design.
Test a revised value proposition on your home page.
Test a new layout for each of your important pages.
Test a new checkout process.
Test a new ecommerce category page layout.
Test a new mobile layout.
Piece by piece, you’ll learn what improves your bottom line and what doesn’t. We call this data-driven creative.

Faster Results than a Redesign

Doesn’t this testing process take more time that a redesign?
We’ve accompanied several clients through redesign. A website is a complicated piece of software. We’ve rarely seen a redesign come in in less than twice the time predicted.
So, no, we think our approach is faster.
And, as you find wins, you get to enjoy higher conversion rates, higher revenue and more leads as the site is redesigned.

Enjoy Your Holidays and Your Redesign

Don’t take our word for it. Author and optimizer Rich Page cited a Hubspot study that found one third of companies who implemented a redesign were unhappy with the results.
This doesn’t have to be you.
Having the resources to make your website a better place for your visitors is a great advantage over your competition. Let the competition spend months on one big shot.
Meanwhile, you can learn what your visitors want and deliver more of it month after month, until you possess a site that the competition will have trouble keeping up with.
Merry Christmas from everyone here at Conversion Sciences.

Our data-driven wish for a happy holiday.

Our data-driven wish for a happy holiday.


[sitepromo]
[signature]

One Republic’s breakout hit in 2007 was “Apologize.” It’s a very sad-yet-beautiful tune.
It’s also one of those songs that our brains like to play with.
“It’s too late to order fries. It’s too laaaaate.”
Every year when September rolls around, my brain hears a different word than “Apologize.”
“It’s too late to optimize. It’s too laaaaaate.”
Do you hear it? Many of the businesses we work with have huge spikes in traffic during the November and December holiday season. Unfortunately, if we hear from them in September, we have to confess that they’ve missed the window to do meaningful conversion optimization before the holiday rush locks everything down.
“It’s too late to optimize…”


It may not be too late to optimize.

Right now, it’s not too late to optimize. We can make meaningful progress on your conversion rate before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit.
If you would like to ride the holiday season with 10% or 15% more sales, we can help you.
But we have to start soon.
Contact us now and ask about our Conversion Catalyst™, our proven 120-day process for finding improvements quickly and scientifically.
Optimize so you don’t have to apologize.
You tell me that you need me, then you go and cut me down.
You tell me that you’re sorry, didn’t think I’d turn around, and say.
It’s too late to optimize. It’s too laaaaaate.

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Every March, the annual college basketball tournament inspires basketball binge-watching behavior known by most as “March Madness”.
There’s another kind of March madness. It’s the period of time in which ecommerce companies begin to think about the holiday shopping season again (at least the good ones).
“Didn’t we just finish the holidays?” they ask. Yet, they remember the last minute scrambling they had to do like Dayton’s Vee Sanford, who eliminated Ohio State in the last seconds.
It’s easy to ignore the holiday shopping season. November seems so far away. But the Holidays are about ecommerce upsets, when the little guy can out-sell the big guy.
Upsets don’t just happen. You have to prepare for them.

Preparation Meets Inspiration

The mental and physical preparation that goes into engineering your own upset takes time. The summer is your off-season. How will you train?

        

  • New products
  •     

  • New offers
  •     

  • More traffic
  •     

  • Crank up the Conversion Rate

The products and offers are the picking, shooting and dribbling fundamentals. These require a honed knowledge of game fundamentals.
Driving traffic is like selling tickets. A winning season means more fans. Ultimately, you don’t have control of prices, game times and TV schedules. As an ecommerce site, you invest in traffic knowing that it can change at any time (and probably has).
Working on the Conversion Rate is where it all comes together. This is watching game films of your team and your competitors. It is building strength and endurance for the team. It takes time, but what you gain no one can take from you.
It’s the same with website optimization. As the revenue you generate from every visitor goes up, your site improves. You own it.
Plus the additional revenue compounds like a bank loan. Each month that you find something that generates more sales from the same traffic – a “Win” – it builds on last wins from previous months.
If you increase your conversion rate by 7% a month, you will have doubled your conversion rate within a year. That’s a serious upset to your competitors.
It’s time to work on your fundamentals. We are the drill coaches that get you there. Have a conversation with a Conversion Scientist and let us show you how you can move into brackets you never thought you’d be playing in.
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As scientists, we like to break things down to their essence, to understand the things that make them work. This works well when we’re optimizing websites.
Now it’s St. Patrick’s Day. What are the components of this rowdy holiday?

We decided to create our own website optimization holiday modeled on St. Patty’s Day. Our analysis indicates that we need two things:

  1. A Patron Saint
  2. Beer

Here’s what we did for today’s celebration.

Select a Patron Saint

How CRO is Like St. Patrick's Day: Tell us who your patron saint will be.

Tell us who your patron saint will be. Image Credit: iconsatoare.

In selecting a patron saint for our holiday, we considered a number of the saints of the Web.

St. Phatty is the the patron saint of online apparel stores. St. Maverick is the patron saint of industry changing online services like Amazon. St. Splatrick is the patron saint of online paintball vendors. St. Hattrick is the patron saint of magician websites. Can you guess the what St. Latte is the patron saint of? You pick your own patron saint and get ready to celebrate.

We decided that St. Buyschtuff would be the patron saint of online business. We created a mythology for St. Buyschtuff.

St. Buyschtuff: The Patron Saint of Marketers and Advertisers

St. Buyschtuff is a mythical figure frequently credited with influencing important purchases. For example, St. Buyschtuff is credited with selling both the watch fob and brush set detailed in the classic story “The Gift of the Magi”. When the three wise men were debating what to get the future king of the Christian faith, who did they consult? St. Buyschtuff is often credited with recommending the Frankincense and Myrrh, but thought the gold a bit garish.

St. Buyschtuff’s name is invoked whenever transactions are made. He is rumored to have been the original Easter Bunny and to have worked under the pseudonym “St. Valentine.” Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) is said to have consulted with him about how to best use flying reindeer. Historian Herman Sellers said, “History is rife with bad deals and ill-advised transactions. However, whenever there is a purchase or transaction that results in great good for both buyer and seller, St. Buyschtuff’s name is frequently invoked.”

Tell us who your patron saint is in the comments.

Before we can have a party, we have some work to do. The second step is to “make beer.” For this article, “make beer” is a euphemism, like “make bank”, “print money”, “rev the revenue”, or “buy papa a new pair of shoes.”

If you’re St. Patrick and just had a long day of driving snakes out of Ireland, you want a cold brew with a little kick.

If you’re St. Buyschtuff and just had a long day driving abandoners out of websites, you want cold hard cash with a big kick.

St. Buyschtuff’s Day Brew or How CRO is Like St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patty’s brew is created in a boiler with hops and malted barley. Heat is applied at key points and carefully monitored to bring out the starches. Then yeast is introduced as a catalyst that turns the starch into buzz-inducing ethyl alcohol.

The St. Buyschtuff brew, in similar fashion, is created on a website rather than a boiler. It is filled with content and offers instead of hops and barley. The heat comes from traffic. Trust and proof are the catalysts that convert visits into buzz-inducing conversions.

Content and Offers

Before you begin brewing your content and offers, you need to go through a process of cleansing the content of self-serving, posing and irrelevant messages. You want a pure value proposition, enticing offers and nothing more. We’ll add some of your company information into the mix near the end of the process.

Don’t neglect images and video. Avoid filler images and stock photography, what we call “business porn”. Instead use images to better communicate your value proposition.

Turn on the heat (more how CRO is like St. Patrick’s Day)

Our mix is heated in the fire of live traffic. Traffic may come from search engines, paid ads, email or social networks. Each of these kinds of traffic burns at different intensity levels.

Our beer-brewing brothers and sisters must maintain the temperature of the flame in a tight range. We try to control our traffic quality as well. We may get less traffic than we could, but bringing qualified visitors is key to keeping the right temperature.

StumbleUpon traffic is the wrong traffic for most businesses. Social media networks deliver visitors who were doing something else, and work mostly for spontaneous purchases. Where are your qualified visitors. Yes, this is the question we are always asking. We never stop asking this.

Add some Catalysts

To drive fermentation, beer brewers introduce a bacteria called yeast. It processes the sugars extracted from the barley and convers them into CO2 and ethyl alcohol. The CO2 is vented off. The alcohol is kept.

Likewise, we need to add a catalyst to our website. We choose trust and proof. If your brand, company and products demonstrates proof or builds trust, now is the time to introduce this to the site.

Proof and trust process the content on the site and convert it into abandonment and conversion. Abandonment is, by definition, vented off. It is an inevitable part of the process.

Conversion is kept and will give us a nice “checkbook buzz” on the celebratory day of our patron saint.

Experiment (yes, CRO is like St. Patrick’s Day)

Brewmasters experiment with their mix, and they can’t just test one stage. They change the process, the temperature, the length of each stage and even add unexpected elements like fruit to the process.

But they always complete the beer before judging their changes. They can’t sample the “wort” or the “trub” and predict how the final beer will taste.

Likewise, we must test our website to the dollars. We like metrics like Revenue per Visit and Revenue per Click when testing. Testing to “engagement” or email “click-through rate” doesn’t let us test the right result.

We always measure to the dollars.

Happy St. Buyschtuff Day!

We celebrate our wins like the Irish celebrate the St. Patrick’s driving away of the snakes. We summarize the results, take the credit, and slap high fives.

Then we start working on the next conversion rate increasing brew.

Tell us what you’re brewing up for your day of celebration in the comments.

Brian Massey

Valentine’s Day is an emotional time, even for a Conversion Scientist. It is a time in which we, like so many people in love, celebrate beautiful relationships. It’s a time to stop seeing our visitors as “traffic,” “visits,” “bounces,” or “conversions.” We dispense with talk of hypotheses and statistical significance and turn instead to those things we share as cohabitants of a website.You Convert Me
You may feel that I’m fickle, but I grow teary-eyed just thinking about the person visiting my website, whoever they are at this moment. I love you.
I also feel my heart race when the shoe is on the other foot and you help me solve a problem on your website. It makes me feel like the prettiest girl at the ball.
So I’ve written you a poem, my fleeting visitor or humble host. With it I hope to celebrate something we can share, something we both will love: the big red button.
Technically, it is “a high-contrast element containing a compelling call to action that draws a visitor’s eye and clearly communicates how a visitor can complete the next step in their conversion process.”
But you and I know it is so much more.
It is seductive, calling like a siren. It is even a bit sensual to click on such a thing. For this Valentine’s Day, let’s put aside our arguments about headlines, copy, images, and offers. Today, let’s rejoice in a persuasive gift that brightens any landing page, and has started so many new relationships between a visitor and a business.
Ode to the Big Red Button
It is a gift both wise and sage
The big red button on my page
It calls, it beckons without retort
“Join,” “Add to cart,” “Get that free report”
Yes, I think a link is fine
So blue and bright and underlined
It’s not for me, your clicks will sink!
That’s why it’s called an “anchor” link
But when my eyes grace a page
And I desire to spend my wage
I want to buy! I am a glutton!
So serve me up a big red button
Designers cry, “There is a catch!”
“The site and button have to match!”
But if they do, then I do fear
Your call to action will disappear
And what of rainbow’s other gifts?
Of blue and green and amethyst
Try them, test them, this is smart
But big and red is where I’d start
It won’t be hard to understand
What I should do when I land
The button tells me everything
It doesn’t have to dance or sing
I will not suffer a gray “Submit”
Big and red is where I click
It will not let me hesitate
‘Cause if I bounce it’ll be too late
A happy couple, it’s the norm
To wed the button with a form
And though my fields are all complete
There still remains that final feat
If you will charge my credit card
That final click can seem so hard
The big red button makes it fun
Isn’t that true for everyone?
So tell me this my brillig friend,
What do you want in the end?
To abandon you before I’m done?
Or click big red with abandon?
Won’t you be my Valentine?
I think you’ll find the terms sublime
I’ll convert, there’ll be no friction
If you feed my big red addiction
By Brian Massey, The Love Scientist
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Origami Christmas Tree 1

Image courtesy fangol on sxc.hu


On the first day of CROstmas my website gave to me
An increase in RPV.
On the second day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the third day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Three fresh sales, Two split tests and An increase in RPV.
On the fourth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the fifth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the sixth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Six bounces staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the seventh day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Seven Testers testing, Six bounces staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the eighth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Eight maids emailing, Seven Testers testing, Six bounces staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the ninth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Nine tweeters tweeting, Eight maids emailing, Seven Testers testing, Six bounces staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the tenth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Ten forms completing, Nine tweeters tweeting, Eight maids emailing, Seven Testers testing, Six bounces staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the eleventh day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Eleven cards a-clearing, Ten forms completing, Nine tweeters tweeting, Eight maids emailing, Seven Testers testing, Six bounces staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests and an increase in RPV.
On the twelfth day of CROstmas my website gave to me
Twelve pages landing, Eleven cards a-clearing, Ten forms completing, Nine tweeters tweeting, Eight maids emailing, Seven Testers testing, Six bouncers staying
Five Add to Carts
Four calling leads, Three fresh sales, Two split tests
And an increase in RPV.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Conversion Sciences.
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Will the holiday card we chose convert “Bah Humbug” into the “Love Bug?” Follow along as we express our gratitude to you and show you why we chose the holiday card we did.

 
We hope we’ve been able to make 2011 a great year for you, since you’ve made it a great year for us here at Conversion Sciences.
Look for us in 2012 as we continue to educate, optimize and have fun doing it.
I’m completing the chapters of my new book due out in this Spring. Find out how you can get a free copy of the book when its available.
Brian

How do you create a warm, joyful feeling from ordinary paper?

Children, puppies and heart-felt copy: these are the hallmarks of a card that can convert even the biggest scrooge into a quivering pool of good cheer.
What are you sending to your clients and prospects? Is your card working to get them to open what is inevitably only one of hundreds of cards they will receive?
In classic Conversion Scientist style, our Holiday Wishes come with a bit of education. Join the Conversion Scientist as he shows you how to choose and create holiday cards that appeal to the widest audience.
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Wishing you the warmest of Holidays,

Christmas Conversion Science