online sales conversion

Online services are making things so easy for online marketers, but they’re also creating an enormous number of blind spots. These are the services that host our webinars, sell tickets to our events, let people buy our products, manage our appointments and almost everything else we do as online marketers.

Sometimes, these services behave as if they don’t want us to know the conversion rates of their services. They are unmeasurable, opaque to analytics.

I wrote an open letter to them at Search Engine Land.

Dear Service Provider:

I expect to be able to measure you. I expect to have transparency into what my visitors are experiencing inside your systems. I pay good money to bring prospects to my site and I don’t want to send them off to a black box when they buy my products or sign up for an event.

It’s time for you to prioritize measurement and to give me control of the signup, subscription, or purchase process.

Here’s what you need to do if you want me to use your service. These features are going to appeal to the largest users, those customers that you really want because they will pay for a lot of your services.

Analytics Reporting & Integration

Eventbrite is running away with the event ticket sales market. Do you know why? Because they know what works and what doesn’t. They know what features sell more tickets for their customers. They eliminate those things that reduce ticket sales.

They recently did a study and can tell you (to the penny) the average revenue generated by a Facebook share or a Twitter tweet or an email invite.

Most importantly, they share the analytics love with people like me, their customer. This allows me to be as good in my marketplace as Eventbrite is in theirs.

I know where visitors to my Eventbrite page are coming from, and how many of them buy a ticket. If the copy on my event page isn’t working, I know it right away.

Dear everyone else: let me measure the visitors I am sending to your service. Tell me who is bouncing, who is completing the process, and make it easy for me to get to that information.

Your Service Providers Should Help You With Your Conversion Rate

Your Service Providers Should Help You With Your Conversion Rate

Customizable Steps

I can’t recommend a shopping cart to my clients. I haven’t used them all, but I refuse to work with carts in general. They are universally inflexible and opaque. It’s as if the Shopping Cart Guild has decreed that only engineers can design them, and if those engineers don’t really understand the buying process, all the better.

I want to setup many different shopping carts on my site. I want to split test them. I want to test a three-step shopping cart against a ten-step shopping cart. I want all of this and I want to know which step is causing people to abandon the process. See above.

I expect to control the placement of the buttons, the location of trust symbols, the appearance of product images and the treatment of tax and freight charges.

I demand that you let me collect a name and email address on the first step, so that I can use email retargeting, but I do not want my visitors to have to create an account.

Dear shopping cart vendors: shopping cart abandonment rates are atrocious across the web and you aren’t helping. Please start thinking about the shoppers a little more.

Control Of The Thank You Page

When I complete a purchase, signup for a webinar, download a white paper or sign up for a trial, my eyes are assaulted by the bright white blankness of the “thank you” page. Usually those words and a logo are all that appears.

This is one of the biggest missed opportunities in all of conversiondom.

What could be used in this space?

First, I need to add some copy that tells the new customer what to expect in my brand’s words.

I want to add links to my social networks. Genius.

For my events, there needs to be a link that adds an event to a prospective attendee’s calendar.

I want to list some of the other good content I have on my site.

Dear GotoWebinar: you won’t think of everything I will want on my “thank you” page. Send them to me when the signup process is complete. I know what to say to them.

This will also let me measure conversions in the software of my choice. That makes the first item on this list easier for you.

Subdomain Support

Unbounce, a online landing page platform knows that conversion rates go down when visitors are taken to a different domain to buy. It feels phishy to them. So, Unbounce enables me to send people to their landing pages using my domain. It’s called a subdomain.

Unbounce tells me exactly how to create a domain like “offer.buyschtuff.com” and point it to their system. When my visitors go from my site at www.buyschtuff.com to a landing page on their site, they see “offer.buyschtuff.com,” not “wp2.unbounce.com/id=8fdire*#$#.”

Thus, they don’t feel like they’ve been handed off to spammers. They feel at home. People who feel at home don’t abandon me.

This strategy also makes it easy to integrate Unbounce pages with my analytics package. Again, see above.

Dear online service company: don’t we all want higher conversion rates? Support subdomains, please.

Control Of Emails

The emails sent in the 24 hours following a purchase or signup will determine in large part the success of my product or the attendance at my event. It will determine how much social sharing will occur.

Unfortunately, dear service provider, the notification emails that come out of your system seem to work against me. The language seems to deter the very actions we want them to take.

I need to determine what goes into every email that gets sent out. Don’t tell me you’re trying to thwart spammers. My customers may like spam for all you know. My email service provider deals with spammers all day and night and seem to be doing just fine in the spam department.

I won’t use you if you’re going to subject my customers and prospects to your drivel written by the same guy that programmed the email delivery software. He doesn’t’ understand my business or my prospects.

In Closing, Dear Service Providers

You are benefiting and profiting from a time of great decentralization. Online marketers are using a different service for their meetings, another for their webinars, another for shopping carts, another for subscriptions, and yet another for appointment scheduling. There has never been a better time to be a provider of services.

However, if you want to be the leader in your space, you need to understand how we are using your service. You must provide measurability, customizability, domain support, and effective email tools. Then you need to watch us do our thing. What you learn will put you ahead of the competition.

Originally Published on Search Engine Land.

Our social media avatars don’t have to be boring, and in fact they can be quite instrumental in engaging with visitors to our Web site, Facebook profile, Twitter stream and more.

We are well into the digital publishing world. I am fortunate to have my work appear several times a month in a variety of places.

Yet, I still love to see my mug in print, I don’t know why.

So, my digital friend, I thought I would share my mention from Chief Content Officer Magazine (free subscription) and fill in a few more details on the method to my headshot madness.

Your Social Media Avatar and Conversion Tips.

Your Social Media Avatar and Conversion Tips.

The Conversion Scientist’s Social Media Avatar Tips

1. Include something unusual in the image, something representative of your personal brand.

I wear the lab coat in every shot, even if it isn’t showing much. The human mind remembers such things.

2. Control the viewer’s eyes with your eyes.

Eye-tracking studies have shown that our gaze is drawn to faces that are looking at us. In fact, we may stare at a pretty girl long enough to forget why we came to your page in the first place. Have several versions of your headshot and aim your eyes at things you want people to see: calls to action, content, headlines, etc.

3. Be unexpected.

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One of the things we want to do is engage the mind of the viewer. Things that will light up someone’s brain activity are the unexpected, off-center and the need to “fill in” an image.

4. Consider integrating action.

You can tell a story with a one-frame headshot. So, tell it. What am I doing in this shot?

I’m talking to an audience. I must be a presenter. Why, yes, I am! But, what am I holding (unexpected)?

I’m going in for the hug! That means I’m a connector, right??

Other avatar actions: Being passionate, banging a table, thinking deeply, contributing at a homeless shelter.

Our avatars don’t have to be boring, and in fact they can be quite instrumental in engaging with visitors to our website, Facebook profile, Twitter stream and more.

Hand-drawn avatar courtesy Kathleen McElwaine.

Headshot logo by David Holston.

Headshots by Korey Howell Photography.

Image with mic courtesy Eugene Hsu.
Contact Brian Massey

As you might expect, I work with a number of eCommerce sites. Companies that sell things online is a faaaaaast moving target, so I’m glad to have folks like Willo O’Brien to keep me up to date on best practices.

Warning: You’re being left behind by some very innovative companies.

Which companies? Check out my notes form her SXSW presentation Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Online.

Click to Enlarge

INFOGRAPH-Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Online

INFOGRAPH-Social Shopping: The Future of Selling Online

Also from SXSW: 63 Great Subject Lines from the SXSW Catalog

Get more sales from the traffic you’re getting today. Sign up for a free consultation with The Conversion Scientist.

Brian

The art works, but bad science lowers lead conversion rates and keeps you from capitalizing on their genius. What to do?

Perhaps the hardest thing to do in Conversion Science is getting the art right.

Your value proposition, value statement, unique selling proposition or offer are critical to getting seen, heard or read.

At Enviromedia the art works, but the science keeps them from capitalizing on their genius.

Good Art, Good Engagement

I love bold value propositions. “Business-savvy Tree-hugger” and “Capitalist pigs with a social conscious” communicate the value system of this company much better than something like “An environmentally-focused communications company.”

It will totally turn off businesses that aren’t concerned with environmental issues. Conservative republicans will leave the site quickly. This company has staked it’s claim and isn’t worried about losing the wrong business as it enchants the right clients.

Bad science lowers lead conversion rates.

Bad science lowers lead conversion rates.

Enviromedia has a great value proposition but their implementation is not conversion friendly

Enviromedia has a great value proposition but their implementation is not conversion friendly

Bad Science Lowers Lead Conversion Rates

For some reason, this fabulous value proposition was implemented as a flash panel. It took close to five seconds to load on a very fast broadband connection.

I almost didn’t see it.

Search engines won’t see it.

Why? So that the words can shimmer.

Why is this bad science?

Slow load times increase bounce rates and reduce conversion rates.

The human brain is hard-wired look at movement. Movement draws the eye.

In this case the eye is constantly drawn away from the page content. Doesn’t Enviromedia want me to click on “Who we are” and “What we do?” If not, why put them on the page.

The coup de tat? This big attention-drawing graphic isn’t clickable.

DOH!

Good Science Increases Lead Conversion Rates

Rip out the flash. Put the exact same words in an image. Make the image clickable so that I can see what you mean by “business-savvy tree-hugger” and “capitalist pigs with a social conscience.”

Now I’m engaged. I’m into the site. I’m vulnerable to offers to start a conversation.

I’d hire Enviromedia.  I like and understand their value proposition. Of course, they could make it easier for me to hire them with a little conversion science in the mix.

Your Turn

Would you like us to look at your site? Sign up for a free conversion consultation with The Conversion Scientist™.

Readers may be involved in your content, like the chicken is involved in breakfast. How do you find the readers that are committed to your content, like the pig who is providing the bacon? Better yet, how do you get readers to take action?

The most common question I get from clients when I recommend a healthy diet of content is, “And how is giving away content going to increase sales?”

It can seem like content marketing finds a lot of chickens, those that are involved with a brand. But where are the committed pigs, the ones who will put some (pig) skin in the game?

If you see your content as a place to advertise, you can add some meat to your breakfast, generating traffic, leads and sales.

Conversion Beacons (or Bacon) and Calls to Action

To add some hickory-smoked goodness to your content breakfast, I recommend advertising in your own content.

I’m not talking about some namby-pamby “For more information on Company X…” message. I mean a meaty call to action, what Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg call a “Conversion Beacon.”

Press Button. Collect Bacon. Looking for committed readers. Conversion beacons and ways to get readers to take action.

Press Button. Collect Bacon. Looking for committed readers.

If you were to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to develop content or to advertise on someone else’s website, you wouldn’t create a call to action that said “For more information on our company call….” You’d create an ad that:

  • Gets the reader’s attention visually
  • Offers something of value (“learn more about our company” is not a valuable offer)
  • Includes a clear action for them to take: Call or click
  • Shows up in the part of the page that contains Grade “A” Choice cuts, the best placement that you can afford.

Since you’re probably spending hundreds or thousands of dollars creating reports, white papers, webinars, seminars, articles and videos, you should be using this same approach to point the reader/viewer/attendee to the next exciting thing on your content menu.

Better yet, ask them to buy or try something.

12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action.

12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action.

Ion Interactive offers content marketing with their content marketing. Their content offers a white paper on the side. The folks at Ion Interactive know that the conversion process answers a series of questions, and each delivered answer should anticipate the next question.

In this example, Ion Interactive provides five tips for lead generation. Those prospects who are studying the problem will want to learn more. The report offers more detail, but asks for contact information.

Those prospects who aren’t really studying the problem can select to join Ion Interactive’s Twitter stream.

Ion interactive uses some best practices here as well, including:

  • Showing the product
  • Using the magic word “free”
  • Underlining blue text which is the international standard for “click here.”
  • There is little room for confusion about the next step.

12 Ways to Get Readers to Take Action

Be bold. Be inline. Be shameless. Be frequent. Incentivize. Merchandize. Be mobile. Be creative. Be generous. Be miserly. Be a tease. Be exclusive.

If you are a content marketer and you’re doing the old palm-to-head routine right now, there is hope. Here are some tips for turning your content into sources for traffic, leads and sales through powerful calls to action:

  1. Be bold. Catch the reader’s attention. Offer something of value, even if it’s more content.
  2. Be inline. Put calls to action right in the copy.
  3. Be shameless. Let the reader know this content is part of a promotion for your products and services. Readers should get used to having promotional messages included in the excellent content you provide.
  4. Be frequent. Tease your “special offer” at the beginning. Include your pitch or insert an ad in the middle. Close with the “hard sell” even if it’s another piece of free content.
  5. Incentivize. Put a coupon on your print and digital offerings.
  6. Merchandize. Show the product.
  7. Be mobile. Add QR codes so your readers can go on a little adventure to your next offering.
  8. Be creative. Just like an ad in any medium, you want to create compelling calls to action for placement in your valuable marketing content.
  9. Be generous. Have great content.
  10. Be miserly. Hold something back that the reader or viewer has to click through to get. In the example above, Ion Interactive held back five of their ten tips.
  11. Be a tease. Put it on the cover. If you let the reader know there is a special offer inside your content, you’re going to get more people to dive in. How many unread white papers are on your hard drive right now?
  12. Be exclusive. Offer something exclusive to consumers in your content. In the example above, Hubspot doesn’t offer a free email and consultation to everyone. You have to be on the webinar.

Advertise Your Content in This Space

I’m going to give you a chance to advertise in this space.

Send me links to your content marketing and show me how you are advertising in your own content. Your content could be one of the examples I use in my next column when I talk about landing pages for in-content ads.

Present your content here or email me through my author page.

Originally published on The Content Marketing Institute

bacon and eggs bam signature

Elements of Successful Business Web Sites and the reactions they create for your business.

Can something as complex as online sales conversion be boiled down to some like a chemical reaction? The answer is yes, and these basic marketing reactions make it easy to create interesting new combinations.

Do you recognize this chemical equation?

Marketing Chemical Reaction: The Components of a Landing Page

Basic formula for developing a landing page.

It is the basic formula for developing a Landing Page:

  • Some Content, preferably persuasive in nature
  • An Offer
  • A Form to entice the visitor to action, which can be a simple button or even a link.

This shouldn’t be a revelation to any regular reader of The Conversion Scientist. However, you will see many pages that lack content, an explicit offer or both.

Of course, a landing page will not generate any leads or sales without something more.

Here’s the formula for a lead generation landing page:

Marketing Chemical Reaction: Converting Traffic to Leads

Converting Traffic to Leads

This formula is important in that it highlights the fact that your landing page must generate equal parts Leads and Permission in order to continue the conversation with prospects.

Why? Because, we need Permission to satisfy this little equation:

Components for generating effective email

The Email Conversion Reaction.

Combining Content with Leads for which you have Permission to communicate provides the components for generating effective Email.

Given an amount of Email, what reaction would you create to turn your email into Web Traffic? Find out in my post The Chemistry of Content at The Content Marketing Institute.

Hint: Consider what mixing an Offer with your Email would do.

Stay tuned to The Conversion Scientist as we explore the Elements of Successful Business Web Sites and the reactions they create for your business.

Here’s a preview:

Youranium: Elements of Successful Business Web Sites

Youranium: Elements of Successful Business Web Sites

Youranium is a powerful radioactive element derived form your knowledge of your visitors.

Sales: The Elements of Successful Business Web Sites

Sales: The Elements of Successful Business Web Sites

Sales is gold to a business.

You should subscribe to the The Conversion Scientist by email to find the reactions that create gold for your business.

Brian Massey is a veteran online marketing strategist, writer and national speaker. His practice, Conversion Sciences is conducting experiments to determine how business Web sites can turn visitors into leads and sales. Follow our blog and put some science into your online marketing.

Your conversion marketing practice is actually a “stack” of disciplines or online marketing strategy components each of which you will have to master or have some level of capability with.

Mastering all of these online marketing strategy components may sound like a tall order, and it is. However, if you are marketing online, you are involved with conversion issues by definition.

The Quintessential Guide to Online Marketing Strategy Components

You may be wondering if marketing automation is really worth the investment. But if you’re a performance-oriented marketer–focused on the science of turning prospects into future customers, always concerned about knowing exactly which of your marketing efforts worked and why – that’s like asking if you’re getting your money’s worth from Microsoft Word; it’s something you just can’t do your job without.

In this article, I’m going to walk you through the modern online marketing strategy components – a strategy that cannot be implemented without automation.

To automate something, we must first understand it. Performance marketers are focused on turning their online channels into lead generation engines or revenue streams. They focus on conversion.

“Conversion” is the term given to a series of magical events in the life of a customer,in which a stranger becomes a suspect, a suspect becomes a prospect and a prospect becomes a customer.

In online marketing, a marketer focused on converting visitors to prospects or sales must embrace a set of capabilities, each enabled by and depending on its predecessor. These steps create a capability “stack” (see Fig. 1) that is helpful in planning the implementation of the efforts that make conversion marketing possible.

The online marketing strategy components for conversion you need to master.

Figure 1: The Conversion Marketing Components

The Online Marketing Strategy Components or Conversion Stack

Today, when one thinks of conversion marketing, one generally thinks of Website Optimization or Conversion Rate Optimization. These practices focus on measurement and optimization, and represent the top of the stack of capabilities that online marketers must master to outpace competitors online.

Before a business can begin measuring and optimizing a website or other online marketing strategy, the foundational issues of business goals, visitor profiles, content requirements, and delivery channels must be addressed.

Every business with a Web presence has invested at some level in the conversion stack. However, those companies that embrace these capabilities develop a momentum and velocity in their online strategy that allows them to accelerate past entrenched businesses.

These businesses use the conversion stack to leverage their marketing efforts, changing the math of marketing in their favor. The goal is to grow revenue while reducing real marketing costs.

Marketing automation helps marketers define and carry out each capability in the stack with a precision that would be difficult if not impossible to achieve otherwise, and therefore plays a crucial role in an organization committed to performance marketing.

Business Goals: The Base of the Marketing Strategy Components

Knowing exactly what you want your website to do for your business.

The digital space cannot meet all of the goals a business has for growth. However, your business can accomplish things online that are impossible or cost prohibitive through another channel, such as:

  • Improve the quality of leads, reducing sales costs and increasing close ratios.
  • Reduce inbound calls for information by moving interactions online.
  • Eliminate expensive marketing channels.
  • Reach prospects not found via other media.
  • Add online services that make your offering more valuable.
  • Increase cross-sells and up-sells.
  • Increase average sales price.
  • Steal market share and mind share from our competitors.

At this stage, we seek to define the integration points of our marketing automation system, and to establish our baselines performance metrics.

Defining Your Marketing Automation Integration Points

While we can measure many things with sophisticated marketing automation tools, it is critical that we focus on those capabilities that are necessary to our business goals, and ignore (or defer) those that are not.

If our business has a long sales cycle involving direct sales efforts, integration with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is crucial; it is how we track our leads through the sales process.

If we are tasked with reducing the sales cycle, we will want a two-way integration between our CRM and our marketing automation system so that we can monitor our success over time. Otherwise, a simple one-way integration may be sufficient.

Likewise, if we seek to increase the average sales price of new customers, we will need to integrate with our financial system to retrieve and measure that goal.

Choosing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

There is a metric that we can use to either define our success for each goal, or approximate it. For example, “reducing sales costs” means that the sales efforts are converting more leads into customers.

However, there is no off-the-shelf metric for “sales cost” reported by our marketing automation systems.

Instead, the close ratio – the number of leads converted divided by leads generated – would be a reasonable proxy for reducing sales costs.

Likewise, the success of cross-sells or up-sells may be measured by the frequency of repeat purchases or by the average lifetime value of existing customers.

There should be a small set of KPIs that define your top-level online business goals. All other metrics help you answer the question of “why.”

Don’t let the metrics drive your curiosity. Let the business goals drive the choice of metrics.

Defining Your Baselines

There are lies, damn lies and analytics, to paraphrase author Mark Twain. Analytics are rarely accurate.

You must instead measure changes in your KPIs. To measure changes, you must first establish baselines for each.

In most industries, a year’s worth of analytics data is necessary to fully account for seasonal changes in the marketplace, but don’t let this stop you. Implement your analytics tools and let them begin collecting data. In the mean time, estimate your KPIs manually, by gathering data wherever you can. Eventually, your analytics will determine your baselines.

The goal is for the current performance of any KPI to exceed its baseline. Proper reporting is done in terms of percentage increase or decrease. If a KPI consistently rests above its baseline, you have established a new baseline to beat in the coming weeks and months.

These baselined KPIs define your “dashboard.”

However, as you will soon find out, dashboards are unsatisfying because they don’t answer the question, “Why is this KPI changing.” We’ll talk about understanding “why” a little later.

Visitor Profiling: Aligning Your Business Goals with Visitor Buying Habits

Let’s review the second of the online marketing strategy components. Understanding the best visitors needs, the reason they are visiting today and the information they need to feel comfortable taking action. Traditionally, there has been a disconnect between the websites and the needs of visitors. Most business sites follow a “brochure” style approach, in which the site talks about the company and its products.

This is not what your visitors want.

They want you to talk about them and their problems.

Touchpoint Personas differ from traditional customer segments in one significant way: We are only interested in what they need at the moment they are interacting with our measurable online communications. This singular focus allows us to zero in on those things that a visitor needs. Touchpoint Personas are the important tool at this stage and you can click on the link to read my article on touchpoint personas and points of resolution.

These become the content that you will use on your website, in your outbound marketing and throughout your channels. As you will see, content allows us to answer the question “why” when our performance changes, for the better or worse.

Content Strategy: We are No Longer Marketers

What content will you create for these important visitors? Will it be articles, video, or audio? These are important considerations made easy from your touchpoint personas.

We are no longer marketers, but publishers. In almost any industry, any market, it is absolutely necessary that we provide information, guidance, education and entertainment to the marketplace. The Internet has turned our prospects into researchers, and we must provide them with the content that answers their questions.

Our personas give us a complete picture of those visitors that will move our business forward. We know why they are visiting and how they like to receive information. Their demographic profile will tell us which technologies they use and this helps us select the proper format for our content. The points of resolution tell us exactly what our content should cover.

At this point, our content strategy should unfold like the board game “Clue.” In the popular board game, we use a process of elimination to understand who committed a murder, which weapon was used, and where the deed was done.

In our game of “persona clue”, we create a list of similar actions. We deduce who we are targeting, which point of resolution we are addressing, and where this information will be delivered.

We might say, “Darla Decider will download ‘Ten Reasons Projects Fail’ as a white paper on our website.” What we have done with this step is change the conversation from, “Which landing pages do we need to develop?” to, “How can we make this important content available to our best prospects?” Content is the coal that will stoke the furnaces of your marketing automation system and one key ingredient of the online marketing strategy components you need to master.

Media and Channels: Mixing Media in the Right Proportions

How do your visitors want to hear from you? Where can your visitors be reached? Your choice of channels may include webinars, email, social media, blog posts and more.

If our content strategy is about giving prospects what they need, our media strategy is about placing content where our prospects can find it.

Touchpoint personas will be immensely helpful in identifying the right mix of channels through which to deliver and advertise content. Demographics will give you some idea of your prospects’ media preferences.

For example, prospects over 55 are still best reached through email.

Media selection is an evolving process, especially in a world in which so many new channels are appearing every year. In a few short years, we’ve moved from Web pages, email, and banner ads, to search marketing, social networks, RSS feeds, blogs, microblogs, and mobile applications.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer.

This is where marketing automation becomes indispensable. It is your publishing and distribution system. It must help you manage a stream of content delivered through a variety of channels and track results along the way. Your investment in publishing automation will also allow you to test multiple versions of your content to see which affects your KPIs most positively.

Your System Should Be Easy to Use

You should be able to intuitively setup a variety of content campaigns and see the results. The days of the “launch and watch” website are over. In most industries changes must now come weekly or daily.

Your System Should Not Be a Silo

Producers will need appropriate access to create and stage new content. It should be easy for members of the team to check content and settings to ensure the campaign will launch successfully.

Your System Should Offer a Variety of Metrics

Each content format and channel will be measured differently. You must be able to track downloads of whitepapers. You must be able to track the conversion rates of email-based content. You must be aware of how often a link is shared on social networks.

Needless to say, you will need some help coordinating all of this activity and measuring the results. And this leads us to the another one of the online marketing strategy components. If you aren’t intimate with your marketing automation tool, you’re not doing performance marketing.

Online Marketing Strategy Components: Measuring and Optimizing

Putting the analytics and processes in place to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. This often means designing your online presence differently to enable tracking of visitor behavior. Testing your assumptions is the only way to achieve the high conversion rates that make you seem invincible to your competitors. This is how you reduce the cost of all online marketing efforts.

At the pinnacle of the online marketing strategy components is optimization.

Optimization involves making changes based on the metrics you’ve captured.

Every communication is a test.

Each time you send a communication, you are testing a set of assumptions – assumptions about what your prospects want and need in their buying process, about the format of the content, and about the places they want to consume it.

Every communication can tell us the “why” of our success or failure.

For each communication, you must devise a strategy to measure the effectiveness of the content. Each communication will have a set of primary KPIs.

An email newsletter may invite readers to purchase a new line of shoes, and to join your Facebook page as well. If the primary goal is to sell shoes, you must be able to measure the conversion rate of the email.

It isn’t sufficient to increase sales of the shoe. You must have a strategy to know how many sales were generated by this email.

Watch the Results

The final step of each communication – the step too often overlooked – is reviewing your results. When the communication has run its course, you simply look at the KPIs to learn the secrets desires of your audience.

  • Which articles are read most?
  • Which subject lines convert well?
  • Which discounts generate sales?
  • Which tweets draw the most visits?

Your marketing automation system should provide easy drill-down to the metrics that define the success of each effort.

The Online Marketing Strategy Components You Need to Master: Conclusions

You are sitting in the monthly executive meeting. You have created a slide deck with your top-level KPIs as reported by your marketing automation system. They are a summary of how your individual efforts have affected the bottom line.

When the questions come, you know the “why” and the “what’s next” for your marketing efforts. “Why did our conversion rates go down, but our revenue go up?” the VP of Sales asks.

You know the answer. You tick off the four or five programs that delivered solid results, and then list those that drew unqualified traffic to the site, stating that they will be modified or discontinued.

You’re a performance marketer.

The Business that Knows Grows

Each item of content you produce will have different versions, be available through multiple channels, and will be measured differently. Today’s online businesses won’t function without a useful marketing automation system, a tool that be used by many members of the team.

The Online Marketing Strategy Components aren’t linear, and businesses can expand their capabilities in any of these areas.

However, those businesses that dominate in their industry through online marketing will be proficient in all of the capabilities presented here.

Online Marketing Strategy Components Resources

For an explanation of KPIs read “Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity” by Avinash Kaushik.

To develop touchpoint personas, read “Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing” by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg and Lisa T. Davis.

For designing measurable social media campaigns, read “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day” by Dave Evans

Online Marketing Strategy Components: Don’t Worry

The good news is that the folks at SiteTuners.com, lead by the always brilliant Tim Ash have put together the Conversion Conference.

The attendees will be leading the online charge in each of their industries.

I can think of no better way to get up the many learning curves that your conversion practice needs than this two day conference.

Topics at Conversion Conference include:

You’ve likely read books written by some of the Conversion Conference Speakers, like Landing Page Optimization and Web Design for ROI. There’s no question that the speakers at this conference are the folks you want to be learning from. Check it out. You can even save $250 if you use promo code CCE650 when you register on the Conversion Conference website.

If you won’t be there, I pray that your competitors won’t be either.

P. S. I do a complete writeup of the Online Marketing Strategy Components in The Quintessential  Marketing Automation Guidebook, Conversion  Stack: Marketing Automation for Performance Marketers. It is free and you should find it enlightening.

What is your social media ROI? Can you measure the increase in traffic quality coming to your site from your social media actions?

Tell me your social conversion rate

“Social media is revolutionizing customer care.” Yawn.

“Social media is helping brands build awareness.” That’s sounds interesting (not).

“Social media increases the quality of the traffic coming to your site in measurable ways.” Now you have my attention.

Don’t Hate Me for My Myopia

It is my choice of career that has given me this singular focus when it comes to online marketing. There are other people to create brand image. There are smart, dedicated people trying to improve their company’s customer service.

I say “you go!”

But, I want measurable, tangible data on how social media gets qualified prospects to a web property, and how it helps me carry on a conversation with them making them more likely to buy.

I can already hear Qwitter messages landing in my inbox. I hate Qwitter personally, but it is a FABULOUS metric, the equivalent of email’s unsubscribe rate. So, I have to listen. It’s an measure of my social media Return On Investment, my social media ROI.

What is your social media ROI? Can you measure the increase in traffic quality coming to your site from your social media actions?

What is your social media ROI? Can you measure the increase in traffic quality coming to your site from your social media actions?

This Attitude is Good for Social Media ROI

How many times do you have a great conversation in the social space only to find the company’s website opaque, posing, and irrelevant?

Social media won’t work if we’re transparent in our social graph and obsequious everywhere else.

Let’s encourage businesses to put content out that draws people to their website. They will quickly begin to realize that certain content works (educational, entertaining content) and certain content does not (home pages with self-aggrandizing copy).

ROI is the great informer for these companies.

The Importance of Social Media ROI

If our stuff is worth talking about, why hold it back?

There is a camp of social media digerati that believe social channels are not for promotion, that it is evil to advertise where conversations are the norm.

But, if conversations are going on around a brand or a company, why deny the social citizenry of a chance to own or use their offerings?

It’s just plain selfish to hold back.

When buying is an outcome of conversation, ROI tells a company how it’s doing in starting and continuing those conversations.

Online communities are arbiters and aggregators of ROI

Let’s face it. We want the support of companies as we complain and cheer about their products. We want them to hear us, to reply to us, and to see things our way.

And we are not above the occasional bribe.

How many times have you started a complaint with, “I spend $_____ with your company every _____, and I expect… .”

We regularly use ROI as a way to get attention.

Communities that raise their hand get more attention. They drive it, highlight it and can take it away. They should be rewarded for their financial contribution to companies with increased support, more say in product design… and the occasional bribe.

What do eBook Groupies and Designer Laptop Bags have in Common?

I’ve recently begun working with J’Tote Designer Laptop Bags, and heard a story that illustrates this concept perfectly.

It seems that the women of an eBook community have developed a love for J’Tot’e’s chic laptop bags. How do we know?

  1. Mysterious spikes in J’Tote’s Web traffic led to the discovery that people were posting about them on the forum.
  2. Boxes of bags were soon waiting to be shipped to the group’s members.

Visitors from this community stay on the J’Tote site longer than average, view more pages, and have a very low bounce rate (a measure of the number of visitors who leave immediately after visiting a site).

The folks at J’Tote now make it a priority to tune into the conversations on the forum, and are certain to give them warning when inventory clearing sales are imminent.

Companies speak ROI

It is the lingo of the bottom line; the babble of budgets; the conversation of the coin. If we want more companies to engage in social media for all the “right” reasons, we need to communicate with them in this language: more visits from interested conversationalists who buy their products.

We need to speak to them with ROI.

It’s one thing for a company to monitor our conversations attempting to gauge positive or negative sentiment. It’s quite another for them to know that their Facebook page is generating additional visits and sales.

There is a catch

Companies that don’t measure the ROI of social media won’t get the message. They’ll continue to ignore important communities, cut social budgets and generate plenty of negative social sentiment in the digital conversationsphere.

If you’re not measuring, you’re not listening.

J’Tote is listening. Are you?

On July 21, I’ll be showing you ways to measure your social ROI, and in particular, your social conversion rates.

Did you know there was such a thing as a social landing page? It’s nothing like your landing pages.

Did you know that there are six major conversions that happen when you add social media to your sales funnel?

My presentation is just one part of a spectacular Master’s Group Training being held in Austin by Webmaster World, the PubCon people.

Only, you don’t have to attend a full PubCon to go.

Not only will you learn from me how to measure your social media efforts, you’ll learn how to do the things that make social media work.

  • Andy Beal will tell you about social media reputation management.
  • Dan Zarrella will give you the low down on Twitter and Facebook optimization.
  • Brett Tabke will show you how he reached influentials in his social graph and put PubCon registrations slashed his marketing budget.

Oh, and there is also an search marketing track going on at the same time. Yawn.

We’re going to make people love your business through your website at The Conversion Scientist. Subscribe to learn the strategies and tactics that turn more of your visitors into leads and sales.

I want measurable, tangible data on social conversion rates, on how social media gets qualified prospects to an online property, and how it helps me carry on a conversation with them making them more likely to buy.

Read this article if interested in improving your social media conversion rates.

Tom had two sites targeting the same audience, and getting about the same traffic. Both had analytics installed. This was a rare opportunity to see how two very different approaches to website design affected online sales conversion out in the real world.

Read this before changing your website.

It’s time-consuming to offer 45 minutes of my time to anyone who wants to improve their online sales conversion rates. I just can’t think of any better way to introduce businesses to conversion concepts.

And the people I meet on the phone are priceless.

One such person is Tom Jackson of Heliski.com. His is a rare and instructive look at the power of the written word and the ineffectiveness of standard design strategies when it comes to conversion.

Tom had two sites targeting the same audience, and getting about the same traffic. Both had analytics installed.

According to him, one was “dated, awkward, wordy, but it’s working.” The other, he said, was “newer, looks better, better organized but WAY underperforming in lead gen.”

This was a rare opportunity to see how two very different approaches to website design performed out in the real world.

Which would you pick as the conversion winner?

Take a look at Tom’s two sites. Which would you pick as the hands-down winner? Which would you image would have cratered his income had he relied exclusively on it?

How analytics (and a session with the Conversion Scientist) saved one business's online sales.

How analytics (and a session with the Conversion Scientist) saved one business’s online sales.

I did a complete evaluation of these two pages in my Search Engine Land column, and you might be surprised at my conclusions: strong copy beat slick new design.

Two very different sites: one “dated, awkward, wordy;” the other “newer, looks better, better organized.” So why was the “dated, awkward, wordy” winning the conversion game so handily?

From a distance the two home pages couldn’t look more different. HeliskiingReview.com uses non-standard layout. Text is knockout white on blue, usually considered more difficult to read than Heliski.com’s black on grey.

The newer site uses a more “image- or brand-oriented play, establishing its value proposition as “the ultimate heliskiing destination.” Unfortunately, you can’t heliski on the site, so this is an empty promise.

The body copy couldn’t be more different in approach. HeliskiingReview.com uses plain language with specific, value- and benefit-oriented points in easy-to-scan bulleted format. Specifics are almost always important for conversion.

A designer might say that the big star with “send me info” was “too TV.” However, it certainly does draw the eye to an important call to action.

and the conversion champ is…

HeliskiingReview.com had a conversion rate of 2.27% vs. Heliski.com at 1.99%. That’s 14% better. However, HeliskiingReview.com delivered much more qualified prospects. Tom was able to book trips for 15.29% of the HeliskiingReview.com leads. Heliski.com had a close ratio of only 1.33%.

That’s 1146% more bookings and tens of thousands of dollars in sales.

What we can Learn from Tom (or How Analytics Saved One Business’s Online Sales)

The moral of the tale is that Tom measured his sites’ performance. He had the analytics in place, and was smart enough not to make changes to his site without being able to measure their effect. By leaving both sites up, he was able to rollback the changes.

Do you know how changes to your site affect your business? You should.

I’m offering a two hour short course on June 11 in Austin entitled Web Analytics: Tools and Best Practices. This is an Austin Entrepreneur Network short course, which means that it’s only $25. We love our entrepreneurs.

Join me and find out how you can avoid huge mistakes – mistakes that rob you of leads and steal your sales. This is the second time I’ve done this presentation.

Or you can book your own session!

Read my full report on Search Engine Land, and I hope to see you on June 11.

Not only should B2B marketers try everything that B2C businesses are using, they risk irrelevance if they don’t.

What are you afraid of?

The goal of my Ion Interactive presentation “What Can We Learn from the Bad Boys of Marketing?” was to shake things up a bit.

Conversion marketing is about bringing visitors to choice. B2B conversion marketers carry this same burden.

Can marketers in more conservative industries use techniques proven to increase online leads and sales in B2C markets?

In my Ion Interactive webinar, I use two B2B landing pages to illustrate how these B2C techniques can be used: Mary O’Brien Adwords Advantage landing page AdwordAdvantage.com and CoverActionPro.com.

The elements are the same for B2B conversion marketing as they are for B2C webpages.

  • Long copy
  • Bold headlines
  • Highlighting and bullets
  • “Johnson” boxes
  • Risk reversal
  • Testimonials
  • “Act” buttons
  • Signatures and postscripts

Check out Secrets of The “Bad Boys” of Online Sales Conversion for a detailed description of these Useful B2B conversion marketing elements.

I go as far in the Webinar to state:

“Business to business copy sucks. It’s horrible to read. There is a need, that when someone recommends a site to their boss that you look professional, but it doesn’t mean you have to write like an idiot.”

Ready for B2B Conversion Marketing?

Anna Talerico interviews Brian Massey • B2B Conversion Marketing

Anna Talerico Hosts Conversations on B2b Conversion Marketing

Certainly you can deliver a high-converting experience without harming your online brand, like CoverActionPro.

You have to work harder. You can’t ask a committee of executives to review your pages. You have to know how your page is performing and how changes are affecting your results.

You can learn more about analytics and their proper application at my AEN Short Course “Web Analytics: Tools and Best Practices” on June 11, 2010.

Enjoy the Webinar and don’t miss Anna Talerico’s Conversations on B2B Conversion Marketing podcast. Or give your sales a boost. Check out our lead generation solutions tailored to your industry.

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Brian Massey