online sales conversion

In your rush to get as many Likes, Follows, Connections and +1’s as you can, have you thought about how you are going to turn those fans and friends into leads and sales? This 13 minute video introduces you to the tools you need. You’ll learn:

  1. What are the components of social conversion?
  2. What is a Social Media Landing Page?
  3. What is the difference between an on-network and off-network strategy?
  4. What can you do with Facebook applications to increase conversion rates?

Watch on YouTube

This was originally presented at PubCon Las Vegas and you can see me at PubCon Hawaii in 2012.

 

lemonade-standNo parent relishes having “the talk” about conversion rates. No one wants to tell their kids: “Kids, conversion rates are still only around 2 percent” or tell them the naked truth about all the sites out there that were never optimized. Or point out that they’re hanging with the wrong crowd when it comes to web development and creation.

But if we don’t tell the kids about the benefits of hanging with fake people—called personas—who will?

We have to just pick the right time and be ready to be vulnerable.

When confronted with a difficult question like “Daddy, should I put up a squeeze page?” we can just say: “I just don’t know. Let’s explore that together.”

As hard as this is, it’s better they learn about value propositions from you than off the street. Check out my article on Search Engine Land: 7 Things to Teach Your Children About Conversion to learn how to do this the right way.

The Iliad and The Odyssey, TV Sitcoms, your Website….what do they all have in common? The Hero’s Journey.
Recently I read that Dan Harmon, creator of the quirky TV show Community (NBC) uses the literary device of the Hero’s Journey to map out his episodes. They all involve taking someone from his comfort zone, through a process of seeking for something, finding it, paying a price, and coming away changed.
It’s a classic, universal theme every website can employ to connect with every visitor.
Think of it, all visitors to your site are on a quest. You need to make it possible for them to leave your website as heroes, having accomplished their objectives. Check out the map of this journey on my Search Engine Land article Eight Ways Landing Pages are Like a TV Sitcom.
Embryo-Dan-Harmon
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What makes people trust your Website more? As you know building trust with your visitors is critical to maximizing conversion. Here is some research that helps us to understand what makes visitors trust our site.
Here are some highlights.

An 11-minute Summary of Webpreep’s Research on the Web

1:43-People trust more attractive websites.
2:21-Attractive websites are those that follow conventions.
3:05-Biggest source of frustration? Ability to find relevant information.
3:31-Website owners must increase the relevance of their information.
5:00-The best way to retain customers is to provide relevant information.
Why Relevancy is dropping across the Internet.
6:10-How an Internet store is different from a physical store.
8:02-People who are on Facebook are more likely to recommend companies that they see on Facebook.
9:30-Satisfaction is what it is all about, affecting conversion and referral behavior.
10:00-Clam chowder

Which of the following pages will get more people to download an E*Trade mobile application for their smartphone?
The answer is, I don’t know, but I have  pretty good idea which will convert better.

Version A

Version B

Landing pages often start out with lots of corporate baggage
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Matthew Roche currently of Bo.lt created page B in “about 30 seconds” from the original E*Trade landing page. He wrote in response to my announcement that I would be speaking about landing pages at the DFWSEM group.
Matt would know something about landing pages as he is the co-founder of Offermatica, now Adobe Test and Target.
Most landing pages look like Version A: complex, leaky, distracting, confusing. What does it take to make a page that is focused like Version B?
I say you have to design it backwards.
I take you through the steps to develop a backwards landing page in my new ClickZ column The Backward Landing Page.

Roy H. Williams, benefactor of the enigmatic business school The Wizard Academy has a simple formula that you should study:
Salience
“Salience” is that magical moment when your message enters your prospects’ long-term memory. It means your message will not be swept from the short-term memory that most marketing messages float in.
Relevance is simply how important your message is to a prospect’s current problems. Messages gain relevance when they are helpful, educational, titillating or entertaining.
Frequency is the number of times someone is exposed to your message.
The enemies of Relevance, then are messages exclusively about your promotions, your company or your products, or messages sent to infrequently.
The enemies of frequency are lack of repetition and invisibility. Social media messages have very short lifespans. Thus, for most people, they are invisible. The ubiquitous Leo Laporte complains that, when his posts suddenly stopped appearing on Google Buzz and Twitter, that no one noticed. He didn’t even notice for two weeks.

Email for Salience

Email is highly visible. It is the biggest social network on the planet. Most business professionals spend their day in email. It is how they managing their work.
If email is not working for you, it is probably because of low frequency. Email is a personal medium, and we all are afraid of being seen as spammers by sending too much email.
In The Instant Curated E-Newsletter That Your Prospects Will Love I describe how to automatically create a relevant, frequent email from the industry articles that you are reading every day. You are curating the content, but other talented writers are doing the work.
All you have to do is bookmark relevant articles.
Subscribe to “For Further Study” a curated e-newsletter from The Conversion Scientist.
Read the article

Levitation 3I’ve written about being the “Cheerios Guy” of your organization; that is, running around talking up what you’ve learned as you’ve tested things on your Web site. Yes, it’s can be irritating, but it is VERY necessary.
The real question is, how do you equip your CMO to be the Cheerios Guy? You can’t show him or her the charts, spreadsheets and test results. When they get button-holed by the water cooler or broad-sided in the board room, they need a little swagger. You need to tell the story that lies in the data.
You need to give them a Book of Swagger.
Rose Holston takes us through the Book of Swagger, a device invented by digital communications guru Korye Logan in The Agile Marketer and the Book of Swagger.

The aim of the “Book of Swagger” is to be simple:

  • A prologue. A short narrative that sets the stage for the story. Statistics and web analytics define a baseline from whence we came (the past) and where we are today (the present).
  • Conflict and resolution. Talk about the drama of “wins” and “revelations” as the team completes scrum after scrum.
  • The future. Your communications toolkit becomes the basis for looking to the future. This is where your “Book of Swagger” illustrates the wins and losses that feed our mid-management and C-suite folks with information that helps to set the agenda.

Read the entire article
Photo courtesy bizior.

The common wisdom among social media marketers is “put links to your social media everywhere.” The idea is that you should build as big a social media “tribe” as possible.
As it turns out, this isn’t always a good plan.
If you’re paying for traffic to your Web site – and what traffic doesn’t require some cash, blood, sweat or tears to earn – then why would you send it off to Facebook or YouTube or LinkedIn to disappear forever?
You wouldn’t. But you might be.
In my Search Engine Land article How Mark Zuckerberg Stole Your Search Traffic & What To Do About It, I show you how your social media advertisements may be costing you conversions.
I also show you how to use social media in a conversion-safe way.
Read the entire article
Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist teaches businesses of all sizes how to get more leads and sales from the traffic coming to their Web site.
Contact Brian Massey

We have a little fun with Copywriters in my newest Content Marketing Institute post, How to Find the Right Copywriter for your Landing Pages.
Pencil-pusherIf you could only hire one professional that would increase the number of people who buy or become a lead on your site, it would be a copywriter.
They can paint more detailed pictures than a photographer.
They can use more colorful language than a designer.
Communicate with humans and search engines.
If you’re going to dominate your competition online, it is because they write their copy themselves. I suggest you find a good direct response copywriter and let them do their work.
To help you get familiar with the kinds of copywriters you might meet in a dark alley, I’ve described five that I’ve run into on a regular basis.

  1. The Styrofoam Sandwich Writer

  2. The SEO Substituter

  3. The Frustrated Novelist

  4. The Soviet-era Propagandist

  5. The Persuader

Most copywriters you meet will be a combination of some of these.
Tell me about your favorite copywriter in the comments. Let us know what combination of the above he or she exhibits.
Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist teaches businesses of all sizes how to get more leads and sales from the traffic coming to their Web site.
Contact Brian Massey
 
Photo courtesy nkzs.

Landing Page Basics: Don’t let your content go out without a strategy to draw readers back to your site and a landing page to get them to convert – even if that conversion is to get your next content offering.

In this article I’ll show you an example of how content can drive a reader to action. I also talk about landing page basics like these five important landing page strategies:

  1. Pitch the offer, not your company
  2. Remove distractions
  3. Let the visitor know where they are in the process
  4. Make forms the right length
  5. Only ask for information you will use

Content marketers sometimes focus on the content and forget about the marketing.

Yes, we want to inform.

Yes, we want to educate.

Yes, we want to be seen as the thought leader in our space.

But, we also want more traffic to our website, more leads and more sales.

One of the easiest yet most often overlooked marketing tactics is the call to action. I recently gave you ideas on how to include calls to action in your content marketing, but where should you send people and what do you say?

Landing pages: Where visitors like to land

A landing page is a page on your site dedicated to delivering on promises made by the offers in your content. The goal is to get a consumer of your content to take another step toward becoming a customer.

Your home page is not a good landing page. Instead, you want to send your prospects to a page where they are asked to do something specific and logical.

So what makes a good landing page? Reader Sarah Mitchell responded to my last call for samples with a web page that illustrates how to integrate content marketing and landing pages.

She wrote the product page for ezytire.com. I like this example because businesses tend to use this space to talk about themselves and their products. They forget about the visitor.

A visit to your product page is a “buy sign,” making it a great place for calls to action. Mitchell does a good job of keeping the copy focused on the prospects, their businesses and their customers. She is also not shy about giving the prospect opportunities to take action.

Landing page basics: ezytire about page with markup.

ezytire about page with markup.

Landing Page Basics: Calls to action

In 12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action, I implore content marketers to put calls to action, also called Conversion Beacons, in their content marketing. Mitchell’s ezytire page is the poster child for in-content and ad-based calls to action.

Notice that there are not one, not two, but five calls to action on this page to start a free trial. In addition, she has secondary offers to start a chat, “register your interest,” and watch a how-to video.

The bottom line is this: You never know when a prospect finally gets enough information to feel comfortable taking action, so you must always be offering ways for them to do so.

Is this a bait and switch? It isn’t, and we should never attempt to mislead our prospects. The page offers details on the product. Contact information has been moved to a dedicated “Contact” page.

Mitchell’s links go to a landing page that starts the trial enrollment process right away. It should be obvious that sending visitors to the home page here would have been disastrous for ezytire.

ezytire landing page trial. Landing page basics.

ezytire landing page trial.

We know this page is working. The bounce rate is very low, with only 14 percent of visitors leaving the page immediately. That means the page isn’t scaring people away despite having a total of eight primary and secondary calls to action.

Fully half of the visitors are starting a free trial, and 15 percent of them will purchase the service when their trial is over.

That’s a beautiful bottom-line conversion rate of about 6.45 percent. Many businesses are proud of a two percent or three percent conversion rate from landing pages.

Landing page basics

Here are five things this page does well, things that you should consider when you develop your landing pages.

Pitch the offer, not your company

The page is all about the trial, not about Ezytire.

No distractions

All of the content on this page is designed to help the reader get through the trial process. Ezytire should consider removing the top navigation as well to keep from distracting visitors.

The visitor knows where they are in the process

If it’s a pretty long conversion process, it’s considered a best practice to always let the visitor know where they are. You can see the “Step 1,” “Step 2,” etc. on the page that will provide the visitor with this feedback.

Forms are the right length

Long forms can be more daunting to visitors than multiple steps. For a “soft” offer like a trial, I recommend shorter forms and more steps. You should try different approaches with your audience.

Only ask for information you will use

The first step is pretty efficient: Name, email address, password. Ezytire could ask some qualifying questions, and may be tempted to ask for a phone number. Additional fields will, in general, decrease your conversion rates, so don’t ask if you won’t’ use the information.

The ezytire page Sarah Mitchell inherited only generated nine conversions in three months before Sarah reworked it. If you’re not thinking, “I need someone like Sarah to look at my pages,” you’re not really a business person, or your pages would have bottom-line conversion rates above 7 percent.

In my next post, I’ll share some ideas on how to find a great landing page copywriter.

Keep reading our article on landing page best practices.

Originally published article I wrote for the Content Marketing Institute