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During the holiday shopping season, everyone seems to turn into Santa Claus. An infographic from Slant states that “nearly 2/3 of the top 1,000 e-retailers offered discounts” last year.
Frankly, I’m more than a little surprised that it was only two thirds. Offering discounts during the holidays kind of seems like a given. Everyone does it from the largest brick-and-mortar chains to the smallest Etsy shop. These sales are so pervasive that I imagine there’s a good deal of social pressure to give deep discounts, and as a consumer, I’d probably be a little curious about why a business isn’t taking that route.
How did the discounting trend get started in the first place?

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a very real phenomenon.

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is a very real phenomenon.


The fear of missing out is an emotional trigger that undeniably leads to people clicking the purchase button in higher numbers. And when I think about companies moving away from discounts, I’m reminded of the epic fail that was JC Penney’s rebranding and decision to stop using coupons in favor of lowering prices across the board. When the coupons went away, so did millions of dollars.
But what if discount culture isn’t helping you reap the benefits you think it is? Slant’s infographic makes the case that maybe you should reconsider discounts. If the thought of losing out on the upcoming money-spending frenzy that is the holiday shopping season is frightening, this infographic isn’t just dropping bad news on you and fleeing the scene. It also gives actionable solutions that are proven to drive sales.

Why Discounting Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Ultimately, the benefits of discounting are short-sighted. (And there was quite a bit more going on with JC Penney than getting rid of coupons. This is a prime example of a blunder that could have been avoided with split-testing.)

The short-term benefits of discounting aren't even all that convincing.

The short-term benefits of discounting aren’t even all that beneficial.


Cornflakes experienced a 500% increase in sales! That’s insane! I can clearly picture that email subject line turning up in the inboxes of the whole Cornflakes marketing crew. Too bad there’s a “but” in that sentence.
Groupon ran into this problem. Consumers love it, but it can be bad for businesses. One massage therapist complained that “everyone who came in for his promotion got a massage and then walked out. Most of them didn’t spend anything beyond getting the freebie. He lost money on the promotion itself and there was no way to recoup that loss.” That article about Groupon has both pros and cons, but the cons are big.
Discounts can hurt not only your business, but your brand. Slant’s infographic states that “81% of hoteliers [are] discounting more now than they were five years ago, with 75% saying this has done damage to their brand.” That’s an awfully big sacrifice for a boost in sales that isn’t even sustainable for more than a day.
All these sales mean you must be offing crappy merchandise.

All these sales mean you must be offing crappy merchandise.


The lower prices give your best item the intrinsic value of an outlet mall. To me, that means it’s kind of what I’m looking for, but I anticipate the Banana Republic outlet mall sweater I just bought is going to unravel much sooner than if had I bought it at a retail Banana Republic.
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Is Discounting Just Treating the Symptoms?

Why are you offering discounts in the first place? To boost sales.
Which means people aren’t buying.
You may believe that you can’t keep up with competitors because they’re offering discounts. Are you certain that they would buy if your competitors didn’t discount? If so, then you are essentially resorting to bribery.
What are the reasons shoppers don’t buy from you?
Only 2 percent of online shoppers convert on their first visit to an online store.
If only 2% of shoppers are converting right away, you either need to figure out how to boost impulse buying without a sale or put in more effort to get customers to return.
Free shipping is an example of an impulse booster. If the power of free shipping hasn’t been drilled into you enough, consider this.

People are four to five times more likely to buy the first bag.

People are four to five times more likely to buy the first bag.


Are you getting that these are the same exact bag? And you’d be paying the exact same price? Understand what you’re losing when you don’t offer free shipping: 61% of shoppers would abandon what’s in their cart if free shipping isn’t an option.
Equally important as free shipping, 61% of shoppers read reviews of products. Consumer reviews are even more important than the product descriptions.
61 percent of customers read reviews before purchashing

Are Loyalty Programs the Anti-Coupon?

One of the alternatives to discounting from the infographic is the use of loyalty programs. If discounts and coupons hold appeal for you, and you think they’d work well with your clientele, loyalty programs might be a worthwhile option.

Loyalty programs may hold the appeal you're looking for

Loyalty programs may hold the appeal you’re looking for.


One of our Conversion Scientists is extremely loyal to Southwest Airlines and has gone to great lengths – like booking extra, random flights – to secure a companion. Another one favors the loyalty program at a bicycle shop that gave a steep discount on his new bike.
I personally drive several miles out of my way to a local local grocery store because I get 10% off my purchase every quarter and a few bucks back at the end of every fiscal year. The entire film Up in the Air places an airline loyalty program at the center of the story.
You may be occasionally offering a discount or a coupon to your loyalty program customers, but this person demonstrated that they are unlikely to take the discount and walk away. There’s a level of commitment here that you aren’t going to find with a door buster sale. People don’t commit to brands that they perceive to be low-quality.
Check out the entire infographic for even more conversion boosting tips that will help stop the reliance on discounting.
How to drive e-commerce sales without discounting infographic
Thanks to Slant for sharing.
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How does one build traffic to a blog? That’s easy. One writes. One posts. One shares.
Unfortunately, not all posts are created equal. Not all topics interest the same number of readers. And not all keyword phrases get the attention of the great granter of traffic, Google.
Having blogged since 2005 on marketing topics, from email to conversion optimization. Every post has it’s own signature when I look at it in Google Analytics. There are Eagles, Icebergs, Burps and more.
I thought I would share them with you.

How We Look at Traffic

Our subscriber list gets an email each week of with new posts. We publish new posts three times per week. We put new posts on LinkedIn and Facebook, and will generally share with on Twitter multiple times over the course of a week or two. Our most active posts will get reposted on LinkedIn.
We count on this initial outreach to drive relevant backlinks for search engine optimization. I use Referral Traffic as a proxy for backlinks. While backlinks aren’t about generating referral traffic, there is a correlation between the amount referral traffic and the number of backlinks a post has.
So, when evaluating the performance of our blog posts, I’m examining:

  1. Email traffic
  2. Social traffic
  3. Referral traffic (for backlinks)
  4. Organic traffic

With these segments, I look at the Google Analytics Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report for individual posts that rank high in traffic generated, and go back more than a year.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

The Google Analytics Landing Pages report can be used to isolate the most visited entry pages on the blog.

Separating Social Referrals from Referral Traffic in Google Analytics

First of all, Google Analytics seems to include social referrals in it’s “Referral Traffic” filter. I want to look at social separately, so I created a filter based on the social networks that send traffic to us.
^t\.co|facebook\.com|twitter|pinterest|disqus|linkedin|
lnkd\.in|quora|plus.*\.google\.com|digg|netvibes|
scoop\.it|slideshare|instapaper|
meetup\.com|paper\.li|stumbleupon

The difference between Referral and non-social Referral Traffic-Graph-Arrows

This article shows that Google’s “Referral Traffic” advanced segment includes social referrals.

The Kinds of Posts You Find in Analytics

Every post is unique. Each has its own signature in analytics. However, there are some common themes I’ve seen in the data and I’m going to share them with you here.

The Burp

The Burp is a post that gets all of it’s juice from email and social media. There is a spike of activity followed by near “silence,” if you can say visits make a sound.
These are topics that may have been interesting to people when shoved into their inbox or social media timeline, but didn’t grab the attention of the search engines.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.

Burps are the most unsatisfying of all blog posts.


Burps can be blamed on poor search optimization, poor choice of keywords or just boring content. The post shown above had a nice email spike and got some referral traffic. But the referrals didn’t seed organic visitors like some. See below.

The Burp and Fizz

A variation of the Burp is the “Burp and Fizz.” This traffic pattern burps when email and social sharing are being done. Then it sizzles with search traffic – just a little – over time.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.

Strong email, social traffic and referral traffic resulted in only a rumbling of organic visits.


Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.

Only a small amount of organic traffic emerged from this post.


These may be long-tail topics, or the small amount of search traffic may be driven by less-relevant backlinks.

The Iceberg

Like its frozen namesake, the iceberg is massive and floats through your analytics, slowly melting over time. In our case, the iceberg has been one our most visited post since it was published in March of 2011. It has generated a large volume of search traffic, decreasing slowly.
Icebergs can be misleading. In our case, email is not how potential prospects find us, so traffic to this post is largely poor quality from a lead generation standpoint. As more visitors come to this post, our conversion rates drop.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.

This Iceberg generated a great deal of traffic, but is slowly melting over time.


We can see the influence of key backlinks here in driving search relevance. A new resurgence in traffic came after a swelling of referral traffic. A little investigation showed that the post was featured in January of 2014 on the Crazy Egg Blog.

Beach Ball at a Concert

Sometimes a post just won’t fly without frequent support. Here’s a topic – Generating Mobile Phone Calls from the Web – that looked like it was going to iceberg on us (see below). However, every couple of months we did a presentation on the topic of mobile and generating phone calls from the web.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.

This topic kept trying to die, but was buoyed by presentations and publication on other sites.


Each presentation included being mentioned in blog posts and online show marketing. So, we got new life from each, like popping a beach ball back into the air at a concert.

The Celebrity Curve

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.

This post mentioned SEO celebrity, Rand Fishkin.


I did one of my live Instagraph while Rand Fishkin was presenting at Business of Software 2014. Rand is well known in our industry as the founder of MOZ and it’s various products.
Our email list gravitated to his name, which you can see in the orange line below. His our social channels responded with less enthusiasm. However, we were on the search engines’ radars for his name, at least until his next thing became more relevant.
Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.

Celebrity posts offer short-lived organic traffic.


Celebrity is a fickle master, even when creating content.
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The Eagle

These are the posts you write for. You seed them with some email and social media attention, and then they spread their wings, riding the winds of the search engines. [pullquote]The Eagles are the posts that your blog is built on.[/pullquote]

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.

This post took on a life of its own thanks to the search engines.


Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.

Eagle posts take flight and drive organic traffic to your site.


It’s hard to tell what causes Eagles to soar. Some enjoy early social traffic. Others get early referral traffic. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to jump starting an Eagle post. However, most of our Eagle posts are not on conversion-related keywords, but focus on Adwords, Facebook, Live Chat, and Exit-intent Popovers to name a few.

The Blue Bird

It’s unclear how a blue bird post gets started. There’s little support in the way of email, social or backlinks. Yet, it nonetheless finds an updraft and takes flight.
 

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.

Even with little help from email and social outreach, some posts will fly. We call these Blue Birds.


A blue bird is just a gift of the search engines.

Dodo Bird

This form of post takes a while to get off the ground, but soon evolves into a workhorse.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.

It took a while, but this post eventually caught on with search traffic.


For some reason this post didn’t take off for months, and it’s unclear what got it going some seven months after it was published. Who are we to argue. This looked like a classic Burp Fizz post for most if that time.

Identifying Blog Posts that Drive Organic Traffic

The signatures you use to grade your blog posts may vary from ours, though this approach has proven to be very effective for the business.
You need to take a long-term approach to content. It’s never obvious when a Burp Fizz is going to turn into a Dodo Bird.
When you understand what makes Eagles, Blue Birds and even Dodos soar; when you understand the impact of icebergs on your reports; when you can see the impact of celebrities on your traffic, then you can select the right mix of content to grow your site.
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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.
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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.

Email is still the most effective strategy for onboarding visitors. By “onboarding” we mean:

  • Getting tryers to use the product so they can become buyers
  • Getting buyers to use the product so they become long-term subscribers
  • Getting repeat buyers to share their appreciation of the product

Yes, email is important to your business. It can’t be done through Facebook or Twitter. It can’t be done through SMS. Maybe it can be done through direct mail. Maybe.
The first step in these processes is the ubiquitous Welcome Email. It gives customers a first impression of your business. Guides them through your product. And demonstrates the value that you can bring them. It’s what takes them from trial to paying user to a repeat user to a evangelist.
In fact marketers who utilize welcome emails find that they have a substantial effect on their conversions with some even experiencing up to a 50% conversion rate when implementing them into their onboarding marketing strategy. Impressive, huh?
Welcome emails aren’t as straightforward as you would think, however. They need to be tested. From timing to subject line, rigorously A/B testing the different aspects of your emails is a sure fire way to build the most effectual onboarding strategy for your business.
Today, we are going to focus on one aspect of welcome email A/B testing – Content. [pullquote position=”right”]Content is what entices your user to click-through and act. You need to get it right.[/pullquote]
Here are five A/B tests you should be doing on your content to optimize your onboaridng emails and get users converting from trial to lifetime customers.

1: Test Simple vs. Hyper-Stylised Design

Let’s begin with design.
No matter how well-written your emails are, if it the look isn’t right the effectiveness will be hampered. Emails can be as simple or flamboyant as you wish. Generally they are divided into three types:

  1. The first type is E-zine style. It’s flashy, hyper-stylized with images and bold font taking centre stage.
  2. Next is SaaS style. It’s cleaner and simpler yet still professional.
  3. And finally Personal. This has no branding, no design. Just a straightforward email.

It’s up to you to test what works best for your business.

Stylized versus simple welcome email design.

Will your visitors perfer a stylized email or a simple “personal” email?


 
An interesting design case study comes from SitePoint, a specialist in content for web developers. After sending out over 40 newsletters, their campaign started to look a little lackluster.
Their initial emails were uncluttered and pared back in design. And they wanted to continue with this look but update it and get more clicks.
So they ran an A/B test.
The first thing they tested was the template, and the results were positive with an initial 16% rise in click through rates.
Next they tested images – should they include them or keep it plain text?  SitePoint already had a hunch that their customers didn’t care for them and wanted a text only email.  This assumption proved to be inconclusive as the results were 118 vs. 114 clicks in favor of no images.
A/B testing images in welcome emails

This inconclusive test demonstrated that readers didn’t prefer nor mind images in their welcome email.


 
These tests were just the first round of experimenting for SitePoint. They went back to the drawing board and tested everything again. They experimented with images and templates until they found what worked best.
Winning email template after A/B testing welcome emails

The winning email was simple, but a little design can go a long way.


 
The winning email retained the simple look of their original email. It was just updated, more attractive to readers and most importantly, increased their click-through rate.
Contrasted to this is Wishpond. After extensive testing of their own emails, they discovered images were just what their audience wanted. Using images produced a 60% higher click-through rate versus just using text alone.
These two contrasting examples are just to illustrate the fact that there is no single best design for all businesses.
There is no one template fits all.
You need to test to discover what your customers like and what drives results.

2: Test A Single Call to Action

When you send out your welcome emails we are betting you have one goal in mind – getting customers to use your product.
All too often we see businesses sending emails with multiple links and requesting customers do numerous actions. It’s confusing and will distract your user from your goal.
So here’s a challenge – try restricting your welcome emails to have only one call-to-action,
That’s exactly what Optimizely did.
In 2014 they began rigorously testing all aspects of their emails. One of the tests had a goal of increasing click-throughs on the call to action.
To do this they sent out two emails. The first having only one CTA, while the second had multiple.
 
 

Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.

Optimizely tested emails with a single call to action against their one with several.


There was one clear winner. The email with only one CTA produced substantially more click-throughs with a 13.3% increase.
Narrowing down your email to one call to action can be a tough task. You have a limited amount of onboarding emails to send. Yet you have so much to say.
Try removing any unnecessary call to actions you have in your emails and just focus on what you believe is most important.
Ask yourself what is the most important thing you want your customer to do after receiving this email and make this your call to action.
Then test.

3: Test Urgency Inducing Copy

When sending welcome emails to onboard your users there are some tactics you can use to convert those trial users into paying customers.
One method is urgency. Using a sense of immediacy in your email to get your customer to act now.
MarketingExperiments tested the effects of urgency in their email campaigns.
They planned a Web Clinic Invite and sent out two emails. One was just the simple invite. The other however, had three extra urgency inducing words – Limit 1000 Attendees.

Urgency may induce more of your email recipients to act.

Urgency may induce more of your email recipients to act.


 
The email containing the urgency had a 15.4% increase in click-throughs. Pretty impressive figures considering the only difference was 3 words!
When sending welcome emails, urgency can be incredibly valuable.
Here is another example of urgency from Sprout Social.
To get trials to convert to paying customers they use copy to imply urgency and encourage users to act now.
Urgency can be communicated in may ways.

Urgency can be communicated in may ways.


 
They use phrases such as “Only 2 days left” and “Time Flies – your trial period is over in just 2 days”. It shouts “act now or you’ll miss out!”
It’s a clever way to optimize your emails and get more customers converting.

4: Testing Email Length

When a customer signs up you want to tell them everything about your business.
Explaining every feature and what you offer in a long winded email is going to show them the value of your business, right? Well probably not.
Conversely, saying too little can be problematic also. Customers might feel under informed and might not act at all.
Research has shown that the average open time for an email is only 15-20 seconds.
With such a small window of time, you need to test how long your emails should be to have the maximum impact.
iMedia Connection decided to carry out tests, with two versions of an email promoting an upcoming converence.
One email was verbose, containing all of the information about the conference within it as well as links to the website.
The other was half the length, with only a short description and a link to a website containing the information.

A bigger open rate doesn't mean a higher click-through rate.

A bigger open rate doesn’t mean a higher click-through rate.


 
The shorter email proved to be more appealing. iMedia Connection reported that not only was the open rate on the shorter higher at 30% vs. 20% but the click-through rate was also higher at 11% vs. 5%.
Short, brief content was the winner here but that might not always be the case. Getting your emails length right must be tested.
Good testing will help you find the perfect balance between being informative while also being concise.

5: Test Personalization

Personalization is one of the most effective techniques to increase conversions from emails. Using a customer’s data to appeal to their interests has been proven to work time and time again. And it isn’t as complicated as you may think.
DoggyLoot, an online store experienced astonishing success when they began personalizing their email’s content.
They recognized that Rottweiler owners wouldn’t want the same emails as Chihuahua owners. So they began to segment in the simplest way possible.
They began collection “doggie data” by asking owners one simple question – is their dog small, medium or large?
Based on this data, they created three email segments based on dog size. Each segment received an email that had products that were suited to their dogs.

DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.

DoggyLoot sent different emails to owners with different sized dogs.


 
The results were impressive to say the least. The personalized emails that were targeted at large dog owners had a click through rate that was 410% higher than the average.
Personalization doesn’t have to be complicated. Just find whatever works for your business.
Doggyloot just asked the right questions on signup, enabling them to segment their audience with relative ease.
Whether you just add a user’s name or build comprehensive buyer personas, testing personalization can be a real asset to your welcome emails.
And remember
These 5 A/B tests and case studies are guidelines. Some may work for your business while others might make no impact at all.
It is important to focus on how customers are reacting to your email content. Measuring click-throughs and conversions is essential. See what makes statistical significance, gets users converting and becoming lifelong customers. For more advanced A/B tests read our Ebook “Welcome Your First Million Users: The Ultimate Guide to A/B Testing Your Welcome Emails”.
Guest post by Emma O’Neill

Emma O’Neill


Emma O’Neill is a content creator for SparkPage, a platform which lets marketers test and optimize their customer lifecycle messaging. She frequently posts on SparkPage’s “Journey to the First Million Users” blog. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

It’s time to stop boring people with how good your open rates and click-through rates are. Tell them what each and every person on your list is worth in dollars by measuring Revenue per Recipient (RPR). When you track the results of your emails down to the dollar, you track your own value down to the dollar.
From Marketing Land: Marketing Power Processes: Tracking Email To The Dollars by Brian Massey


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Tweetables: Click to Tweet

Power Process: Ignore Email Open Rates & Click-Through Rates
Revenue-Per-Recipient (RPR) Ties Marketing to the Money
Like trees in the winter, it’s important to prune and shape your email list.
Most email clients now show the subject line and the beginning of an email in the inbox view.
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7 Eye-Catching Email Subject Lines to Catapult Your Open Rates | Unbounce

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

Should I Use A Carousel?

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

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

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

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

Visitor Personas and Video Games | Orbit Media

@crestodina I spoke at the Conversion Conference #convcon this week about flipping your message according to your Web visitor. This can be applied to subject lines, search ads, display ads and landing pages.
One of the most powerful “flips” is between the four kind of visitors outlined by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg in their book Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?.
Here is a creative twist on the four kinds of visitors you’ll encounter on your website: video game characters.
Is the page, post or email you’re working on right now targeting Frogger or Mario or Galaga or PacMan?
It should.

INFOGRAPHIC Crafting the Subject Line that Gets Your Email Read – Litmus

Jan 28, 2013 03:37 pm

Comments:

        

  • We’ve seen in email tests that subject lines can have implications far beyond the open rate. We’ve seen two identical emails with identical landing pages have the same open rates and the same click-through rates (CTR), but one generated more sales than the other.What’s the difference? The subject line.In short, subject lines are important.
    And they are difficult to write.
    This infographic does a great job of boiling things down to help remove the indecision when you are writing subject lines.

by: Brian Massey
read more

Build a Conversion Rate Heatmap by Hour & Day of Week in Google Docs

Jan 26, 2013 04:02 pm

Comments:

        

  • When we dig into a site’s analytics, we try a number of different approaches to the data. Sometimes interesting things pop out, and sometimes the data looks “as expected.”This is an analysis we are going to start adding to our analysis: Heatmap of Conversions by Hour of Day. We will modify it for our ecommerce clients (as we track Revenue per Visit, or RPV).You might try this and see if there is an interesting pattern in your data.

by: Brian Massey

It’s Not My Job: Why Marketing is Broken

Jan 26, 2013 09:58 am

Comments:

        

  • @TheGrok (Bryan Eisenberg) is one of the founders of the performance marketing movement — we’ve called it conversion marketing. He has the cred to ask the hard questions. In this very impactful article, he asks “Really, is this so hard to do?” of the email marketers whom he sees as “broken.”These examples should leave you with a feeling of, “Oh yes. I get it now.”That can be a very valuable feeling.

by: Brian Massey
read more

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The process of naming SXSW panels is part of the process of getting them accepted. The fine folks at SXSW seem to prefer interesting, surprising panel titles. Of course, they may be swayed by the votes that cleverly-named panels get at the start of the selection process. Thirty percent of the decision to choose a panel comes from the number of votes garnered.
An unexpected title might just help get votes.
Each year, I do a study of the SXSW panel names, looking for inspiration and common themes that I can use in my own email subject lines. This year, I present examples of panel titles that use the following hacks:

Things That Don’t Fit Together: Non-Sequiturs

Our brains are wired to discard the familiar faster than a bear can spell Constantinople. It is the unexpected that gets the attention of our conscious and prepares us for action. These titles demonstrate the use of twists to pull readers out of their inbox apathy.

Lists of Three

There is something memorable, readable, and easy-to-count about lists of three. This method is especially successful when the third item is overly specific or doesn’t fit. See “Things that Don’t Fit Together” above.

Shock and Awe

Boring subject lines make me want to poke needles into my eyes! Sometimes it makes sense to hit readers over the head with something that is just plain shocking. Sometimes.

Rhymes and Alliteration

Sensual subject lines supplement the bottom line. Alliteration is the repeated use of consonants. Rhymes grab your readers like a musical phrase. Don’t be afraid to add a little poetry to your prose.

Create a Common Enemy

You may find your reader united behind you by identifying a common enemy – like the delete key.

Insult Someone

Don’t be a wimp. When all else fails drop the political correctness and tell the reader what you really think.

Lead With a Number

Four session titles that use numbers. When we offer the reader a specific number of things, they know they are going to get a manageable set of tips or tricks that is easy to scan and digest.

Make Up Words

If you find yourself with subjectlinitis, tossing a memebomb or two may be your best hope. New words can turn a deletophile into a reader.

Pop Culture References

If you know your audience, you slip them some “Funky Cold Medina” in the form of a pop-culture reference. For your geeks, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars” will do. For the younger generation, something from the “Harry Potter” series might make a connection. Music is usually a sure bet. Can you name the sources of the following references?

Metaphors and Similes

Similes are like can openers for the mind. Metaphors are the batteries in the flashlight of your email. The technical term for this style of messaging is “transubstantiation,” using the characteristics of one thing to add meaning to another in the eyes of the reader.

Target an Audience

Right-handed marketers, take note! Targeting your audience can significantly increase the relevance to two groups of people: those to whom you are speaking, and those who feel left out by the fact that you aren’t speaking to them (you left-handers felt a twinge of anger at being left out, didn’t you?).
This approach takes guts, as you are consciously ignoring part of your audience in the hope of truly engaging another.

Sex Sells

Even the “oldest profession in the world” required some persuasive messaging. Your reader may see sex as the most base or most exalted activity humans can engage in. This is the risk and the reward for bawdy banter in your email subject lines.

Big Promises

If you’ve got the goods, big promises will make you rich in as little as three days. Big promises make the reader ask, “So, how can you do that?” even if they are skeptical. Of course, if you can’t deliver on the promise with sufficient proof in your email, all is lost – including your credibility.

Add an “i”

New This Year, turn your subject line into an iLine! All it takes is one little vowel.
I give you over 100 examples of each of these in my ClickZ column 14 Email Subject Line Hacks. I promise you’ll be amused and inspired.
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BourneConversion-Cropped
eatprayconvertcropped
Conversions_with_God_Book

After nine months of writing, fifteen chapters complete and dozens of columns supporting the effort, you’d think that the easiest thing to do would be to pick a name for my conversion marketing book.
As it turns out, this is difficult.
So why read a post about selecting a book title? Because, it’s all about conversion – not just the book, but the title is about converting book prospects into book readers.
The title of your book is key to maximizing conversions. It is like the subject line of your email, like the headline of your landing page, and like the value proposition of your home page. Get these wrong and your conversion rates will plummet. However the book title can’t be changed. Once chosen you are stuck with it until you write another.
It’s expensive to test titles, and this makes a Conversion Scientist very nervous.
I’ve considered a number of approaches. These approaches will also inform your online marketing.

Leverage something familiar

My first thought was to leverage something familiar, something that is already popular. This spawned several mockups including The Bourne Conversion, Eat, Pray, Convert, How to Win Friends and Convert People, and Conversions with God.
Unfortunately, copyright issues will prevent me from using any of these.

Ask your SEO person

The next thing I had to consider was how people might find the book on search engines. Phrases like “online sales conversion,” “analytics,” “conversion rates,” and “social media” are some of the most commonly searched phrases in the conversion marketing space. With this focus in mind, several titles were considered:
Online Sales Conversion: The Science of B2B, B2C, Online Services and Social Media Websites
The Well Managed Web Site: Conversion Strategy and Analytics in Simple Terms
Managing Websites to High Conversion Rates
Online Conversion Strategy
In my opinion, words like “conversion” and “analytics” are too clinical. Furthermore, these conversion terms don’t really get that much search traffic, so this strategy became less important to me.

Leverage your existing brand

I’ve been marketing Conversion Sciences and The Conversion Scientist pretty consistently for six years now through writing, speaking and training. The business is familiar to many online marketers and business owners, the two primary targets for my tome.
Playing on the science angle associated with the brand yielded several interesting titles, including the original working title, Get a Reaction.
Marketing + Science = Customers: Online Conversion Strategies to Transform Prospects into Buyers
Conversion Science: The Proven Formulas for Transforming Online Prospects into Customers
The Science of Reaction: Proven Conversion Formulas of Internet Based Companies

Own a word

I’ve always like one-word book titles that are provocative, like Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” and “Outliers.” I thought “REACTION” might be the word that sticks with people in my space.
REACTION: Getting visitors to take action on your website
Get a REACTION: Proven Strategies of the Conversion Scientist
The Science of REACTIONS: Websites that Convert Visitors to Leads and Sales
My feeling is that you have to have a large marketing budget to get a word to stick in the minds of potential readers. I didn’t get a multi-million dollar advance, unfortunately.

Surprise them

Seth Godin is great at naming books with unexpected titles, such as Purple Cow, All Marketers are Liars and Meatball Sundae. I thought the unexpected or absurd might work for my book as well.
It’s Raining Soup. Get a Bowl. How to turn Internet traffic into a delicious business.
Glad I Stopped By: Websites We Love to Do Business With
They Did What?! Unexpected Strategies of The Conversion Scientist
Marketing Backwards: Unexpected Strategies of The Conversion Scientist
The Website Genome Project: Proven Research of The Conversion Scientist
The truth is, I’m not Seth Godin. Darn it.

State your topic plainly

We often get too clever for our own good when we’re writing headlines, subject lines, and book titles. It’s a business book, after all.
Managing Your Website: Conversion Strategy and Analytics for the Managers and Business Owners
Online Conversion Strategies for Websites that Dominate Their Marketplace
The problem with these is that the reader is more likely to fall asleep before finishing the title.

Ask your personas

If you follow The Conversion Scientist, you know that I believe creating visitor personas is the best way to get high conversion rates on your website. The same applies to books, and I have developed several personas for this book.
With this guidance, I was able to choose a book title that combines the right ingredients… I hope. Here’s what I know about my personas.
Most of my personas have heard of The Conversion Scientist through my columns, blog posts and speaking. This tells me to leverage the familiar science angle.
One persona studies marketing, and they are reluctant to read a book that will give them same advice they’ve already heard. Therefore, the title should indicate that it is presenting a fresh way to look at online marketing. Use terms like “unexpected” or surprise titles like “marketing backwards.”
Finally, all of my personas are human, which means they respond to things like metaphors, rhyming and alliteration (the repeated use of a sound in a sentence or phrase). This tells me I should use these tools.
After reviewing these persona requirements, we settled on the following title:
The Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Formulas of The Conversion Scientist™
The alliteration and rhyming nature of the main title will help people remember the name. It has the important search terms “conversion,” and “customer” in it. The terms “equation” and “formulas” evoke the science theme of my brand.
Finally, the strategies are “unexpected,” and indeed the book contains advice contrary to what you have been told. This was a tough decision for me. One of our personas is trying to solve a specific marketing problem. Calling my recommendations “unexpected” may not appeal to her. She will want to know about “proven” strategies, and I did consider the subtitle “Proven Strategies of The Conversion Scientist.” Yet, I knew she would find value in being “cutting edge,” and “unexpected strategies” should appeal to her.
Did we pick the right title? Which would you prefer to read? Let us know in the comments.

You won’t be converting much of anything if you start with the wrong kind of website. Find out which of five conversion signatures your website should be following with a free video that introduces some key concepts from The Customer Creation Equation.