tools

Search engine algorithms are evolving at higher paces than ever before. The frequent updates to these algorithms – especially Google’s search algorithm updates – have made it harder to “game” the system using Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This has forced companies to bring at least one SEO specialist on board in order to gain and keep high rankings for their websites in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

At the same time, advances in data-collection tools has made conversion rate optimization (CRO) one of the highest returns on the marketing investment (ROI). Ironically, CRO is one of the most underused activities in the marketing department.

This paradox becomes apparent once you consider that obtaining the click that brings someone to your website is only the first step toward converting the visitor into a paying customer. From this perspective, CRO carries the burden of managing the entire user interaction, as opposed to SEO, which arguably only brings the visitor to the “front door.”

SEO and CRO Are Meant to Work Hand-in-Hand

With SEO, the basic point of focus is the webpage. In conversion optimization, the central concept is a PPC ad and a matched landing page. Nevertheless, the principles of search engine and conversion rate optimization are undeniably compatible. In fact, here are a few fundamentals that apply to both SEO and CRO:

  • A conversion optimized page will prove user friendly and more likely to receive inbound links and referrals, thus improving SEO.
  • Having clear and relevant headlines, as opposed to excessively creative ones, will improve both SEO and CRO.
  • Using clear content hierarchy with proper heading tags will help with SEO and keep focus on the progression of the message, which will help with conversion.
  • A conversion optimized page should be using plenty of relevant keywords that match what visitors are searching for.
  • Replacing complex presentations with digestible pieces of content will improve your SEO and conversion rate.
  • Search engines will favor pages that are updated frequently. Keeping layouts and content fresh will prove beneficial for both SEO and CRO.
  • Pages that focus on a single topic or product achieve better search engine rankings and improve conversion rate.

SEO Factors Inform CRO Efforts

The SEO field has been revolving around the standards imposed by search engines, especially Google’s ranking factors. Some of these are documented by Google, some are relatively obvious, others are not confirmed, and some sit at the brink of speculation or wishful thinking.
Since SEO revolves around ranking factors, which basically dictate the actions and tools needed in this field, it’s only natural that the SEO insights most relevant to CRO are rooted in these ranking factors.

1. Focus on User Behavior

Conversion optimization is data-driven, much like SEO. Web analytics are your greatest asset, but you will need to do additional research into user behavior. Segmentation analysis becomes quite important. Ask yourself this: “How do different segments interact with your website, and how can you optimize their particular experiences?”
The user interaction factors most likely to be useful in CRO and impact on conversion optimization are:

  • Dwell time and click backs focus on how long people spend on your page before returning to the original SERP. Session duration is also important. It measures the amount of time people spend on your site and may be used as a quality signal by Google.
    Average session duration in Google Analytics

    Average session duration in Google Analytics

    If you’re having trouble differentiating dwell time, session duration, and bounce rate, read this article published by Neil Patel on Search Engine Journal. It will clarify the topic.

  • Bounce rate is used to calculate the percentage of users who navigate away from your site after viewing a single page. Bounce rate probably cannot be a ranking factor by itself. Metrics that can’t be applied broadly, with the objective of identifying relevant and quality content, usually are not Google algorithm factors. However, bounce rate will surely influence the way you strategize for conversion, especially in creating the A/B tests fundamental to CRO.
  • Direct and repeat traffic are powerful indicators of quality for Google. They use data collected through Chrome to determine how often users visit any particular site. Pages with a lot of direct traffic are favored in SERPs, because they are much more likely to contain quality and engaging content.

2. It’s Not Just the Landing Page, It’s Also the Website

Conversion optimization extends beyond single pages, creating what we call conversion paths throughout the website. SEO dictates that breaking up content into multiple steps is usually a bad idea. CRO specialists tell us that multiple-step landing pages can convert better, by engaging respondents in a mutually productive dialogue and facilitating proper segmentation. For this reason, some form of consensus needs to be achieved in order to allow both SEO and CRO specialists to reach successful results.
Some of the site-level SEO factors most likely to influence CRO are:

  • Site Architecture and Sitemap improve your site’s relationship with Google, since they allow the engine to index your pages and more thoroughly organize your content. Make sure your website can accommodate conversion paths without messing up its logic.
  • Domain TrustRank is a very important ranking factor. TrustRank is a link analysis technique described in the famous paper Combating Web Spam with TrustRank by researchers Zoltan Gyongyi, Hector Garcia-Molina of Stanford University, and Jan Pedersen of Yahoo!. SEO by the Sea tells us more about TrustRank.
  • Google indexes SSL certificates and uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. People are reluctant when offering credit card details and other personal data over the Internet. Obtaining an SSL certificate is crucial to offering assurance to customers and letting Google know that you are running a legitimate business.
  • Mobile friendly sites rank better with Google. Even before the April 2015 “Mobile Friendly” Google algorithm update, it was not unthinkable to assume that mobile friendly sites had an advantage in searches from mobile devices. Google actually displays “Mobile friendly” tags next to mobile search results.
    Google's mobile friendly tags

    Google’s mobile friendly tags

    Also, keep in mind that Google has precise standards for evaluating what constitutes mobile friendly design. Google WebMaster Central offers details about mobile friendly requirements. To assess your website’s current mobile performance, check out this Mobile Friendly Test.


21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks to Skyrocket Conversions

21 Quick and Easy CRO Copywriting Hacks

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

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


3. If Content Is King, the Webpage Is Its Kingdom

In both SEO and CRO, content is king. In SEO, this wins you links. In conversion optimization, it wins you customers. You should never allow technical aspects to eclipse what is truly important: compelling value propositions and meaningful brand experiences.

Page-level SEO factors that will prove crucial for conversion

Using keywords correctly throughout webpages is critical when trying to improve your search engine ranking and your conversion rates as part of your online marketing strategy. Keywords must be used in:

  • URLs.
  • Title tags. Place top-performing keywords in descending order and make sure that the title tag reflects the most important keywords used on that particular page. Here are 9 best practices for optimized < title > tags (Search Engine Land).
  • Description tags. This MOZ article states, “While not important to search engine rankings, [Meta Description Tags] are extremely important in gaining user click-through from SERPs.”
  • Heading tags. The heading tag is useful in outlining whole sections of content. It impacts both the SEO and usability of websites. For information on how to use these tags, consult this article from Woorank.com.
  • The body text. Fairly distributing the keywords throughout the content is crucial. You may want your keywords to be the most frequently used elements on the page. However, do not overstuff content with keywords. Use them intelligently and always favor usability. A link or review from an established source – thanks to the quality of your content – will weigh much more than keyword density. On the other hand, keyword prominence might be an important relevancy signal. Make sure to include your keywords in snippets and in the first 100 words of your content.

A great page layout influences rankings and conversion, if not directly as a quality signal, at least by scoring in the “user friendly category.” This keeps readers coming back for more. The page layout on highest quality pages makes the main content immediately visible.
Content length. While life on- and off-line speeds up and our attention span keeps narrowing, you would expect content to get shorter in order to efficiently catch the attention of users. On the contrary, long articles rank and convert better than short ones. Review the results of an A/B testing experiment conducted by Neil Patel, demonstrating the superior efficiency of long copy.

4. Build Links, Build Trust, Build Rapport

One of the driving goals of SEO is link building. Conversion optimization deals with links mostly in terms of conversion paths. Landing pages usually do not contain links themselves other than for the call to action (CTA). However, many SEO factors concerning link building can apply to CRO in crucial ways. Here are some examples:

  • The quality and word-count of the linking content make a big difference in link value. For example, receiving a link from a 2,000+ word well-written article weighs in much more than a link from a short comment or a poorly written blog post.
  • “Poisonous” anchor text pointed toward your site may be a sign of spam or a hacked site. Either way, it can hurt your ranking and your conversion rates, particularly when the anchor texts in question are stuffed with pharmaceutical keywords.
  • If there are low-quality links pointing to your landing pages, or you receive unnatural links warnings from Webmaster Tools, you can always use the Disavow Tool. It will not remove the harmful links themselves, but at least it will eliminate them from Google’s assessment of your site.

    You have the option to disavow links

    You have the option to disavow links

  • Contextual links – links placed within the content of pages – are more valuable than links found in sidebars, footers, or anywhere else on the page. So on top of the PPC ads, try getting your landing pages mentioned in relevant content on relevant websites.

5. Your Brand Needs a Social Identity to Attract and Convert

In terms of the decision to purchase, user behavior has been shifting toward a multi-source, multiple stage process over the last few years. Regardless of how persuasive your landing pages are and how well they bring customers to the realization that you have the answer to their specific needs, your brand needs to back up its claims with a healthy social media presence and an SEO effort that encompasses social factors. Here are a few of the factors that can inform CRO specialists on what needs to be done:

  • Google officially favors real brands and real businesses, with real offices and real people, so it only makes sense they would verify businesses and brands by their website and social media location data. MOZ goes even further and suggests that Google looks at whether a website is associated with a tax-paying business.
  • Brands have Facebook pages with many likes and Twitter profiles with many followers. Moreover, serious businesses have proper company Linkedin pages. Interestingly, Rand Fishkin, co-founder of MOZ, states that having many Linkedin profiles that list working for your company will improve your rankings and might actually constitute a brand signal.
  • Social media account authority weighs considerably in SERPs, especially since social media has become a major influencer of consumer behavior. An infographic published by Social Media Today shows how social media influences consumers, the types of content that deliver the most impact, and more.
A link shared on multiple accounts will be more valuable than the same link shared multiple times on one account.

A link shared on multiple accounts will be more valuable than the same link shared multiple times on one account.

Wrapping It Up

Looking ahead, experts predict a major detachment from traditional ranking factors to a much deeper analysis of perceived site value, authority, structured data, and social signals. Automation is transforming digital marketing, turning SEO and CRO into much more precise and effective fields in the process. Ideally, within this decade Google’s services and search algorithm will evolve to a level that will allow us to fully customize our proposals according to our customers’ buying cycles.

Feature image licensed by Bgubitz through Creative Commons and adapted for this post.

The fight for online leads and sales has traditionally been fought at the search engine. That is changing.

Web analytics, bid management, competitive intelligence, ad testing and ad management tools are all common staples of any serious paid search effort. Return on ad spend (ROAS) is being tracked all the way through the sign up or purchase process and ad strategies are being adjusted accordingly.

Quietly, the battle for online leads is moving to a new front. This new front is measured by revenue per visit, and it’s kissing cousin, conversion rate. Like the tide that floats all boats, website optimization is being seen as the way to reduce all marketing costs by dropping the acquisition cost of new prospects and customers.

Why do we say this is happening quietly? That is the conclusion we came to when examining an unusual data set from SpyFu.com. We were able to determine which businesses had conversion optimization tools installed on their website. This, we reasoned, gave us a pretty good idea of which businesses would dominate in the world of online marketing — assuming they were actually using the tools.

Conversion-Scientist-Podcast-Logo-1400x1400


Subscribe to Podcast

In this month’s podcast, based on the Marketing Land column Data Exposes Scandalously Low Adoption Of Conversion Optimization Tools, Brian the Conversion Scientist explores the usage of conversion optimization tools for two industry segments: Higher Education and B2B Software.

In one report, 73% of businesses are spending between $500 and $5000 per month on paid search ads. Almost a quarter are spending between $5000 and $50,000 per month. Yet, only 14% of businesses have at least one website optimization tool installed.

Who are going to be the winners in this new front? Where does your business fit in this statistic?

To get the most out of his column, download one of the free reports that share all of the data he uses.

In these reports you will learn:

  • Why your team needs time to review analytics.
  • Why businesses with smaller ad budgets should focus more on acquisition costs.
  • How to decrease your Search Ad costs.
  • Why you shouldn’t invest in social media sharing.

The online marketing landscape is more competitive than ever – doubly so if you’re a university or college that’s trying to attract the right kind of students.
Although many people think of conversions as something related to business – a sale, a a lead, a subscription, etc. – conversions are just as important to educational institutions. To build a student body, you need applicants.
To get applicants, you need to optimize your online marketing so that it converts your web traffic into prospective students.
Our latest report was compiled from data from over 9,000 educational institutions and student service providers. It offers insights into how colleges and universities use conversion optimization and analytics-based marketing to competitively bring in their next batch of students, and to do so at lower and lower costs.
[pullquote position=”right”]Only 19% of colleges and universities have an optimization tool installed.[/pullquote] This means that most schools have a high acquisition cost. They pay a lot for each new student acquired online.
This high cost of acquisition means that schools must spend and spend on advertising because it takes so many clicks to get one more new student. Conversion optimization reverses this, requiring fewer clicks for each new student.
This report is free to download. Click the image below to get the report, and let us know what you think.
[collegepromo]
 
[signature]
 
 

How do you grow your email list quickly and effectively? Do you advertise on social media, use special list building software, or do you pray to the lead generation gods for better, quality leads?

How many tools do you really need to list build? Maybe a dozen?
60 online marketing experts were asked a simple question:
“If you could only choose 3 tools to grow your email list, which 3 would you choose?”
At Conversion Sciences, we like to break down our list building strategy into three parts. Content, destination, and calls to action.
We use the Content Cascade for transcribing webinars for a month’s worth of quality content. Hootsuite helps us share that content over time on social media. WordPress plugins help funnel the type of traffic we get from social media. We also recommend building a separate site for phone visitors. Finally, we’ve built a conversion mini course on our website and use CommerceScience.com to significantly grow our subscribers.
Here are just a few of the top tools recommended by 60 Marketing Experts in a poll by RobbieRichards.com
Top Tools For Email List Building
Read the Robbie Richards Blog for more of the best tools for list building.
[sitepromo]

Google AdWords is a very impressive advertising platform. It provides us with numerous tools and features to work with and make our campaigns better. As long as you have the right mindset, resources and strategy, you can make your campaigns rock!

I’ve always said: “you just have to get creative and analytic with the tools you are provided with.”

So with that in mind, I decided to create this guide with twelve ways to advertisers take their campaigns to the next level, especially when focusing on conversions. Please keep in mind that the features and techniques listed below are not sorted in any priority order. You decide which ones to implement first based on your specific case:

1. Start Rotating Ads to Optimize for Conversions

Ad Rotation is a basic feature that you put in place when you’ve already accrued a certain number of conversions (no specific number) and have started converting regularly. This feature gives you the power to rotate through several different ad versions to find out which works best for a given set of keywords.

It only makes sense to have your ads “Optimize for Conversions” when that is your main purpose, but when is it not? If you’re “Optimizing for Clicks”, you’re assuming all clicks turn into customers at the same rate. The ads that serve more and receiving the most clicks are not always the ones driving leads and customers.

2. Ad Scheduling Bid Adjustments

When it comes to e-commerce you may want to have your campaign running 24/7, since customers can complete a purchase online 24/7. However, certain times of day may generate lots of expensive clicks, but few purchases.

Use adwords to report on the hours of the day and days of the week to when your customers are really converting.

It may pay to schedule ads for e-commerce campaigns that exclude early hours of the day (after midnight and before dawn). I call this the “zombie hours” because I rarely see customers taking action during these hours. At these hours, customers just browsing around and this turns out to be a big expense that leads to higher cost per action (CPA) and lower return on ad investment (ROI).

You may see something different. It makes sense to exclude some hours and adjust bids based on the times you are experiencing more conversions.

For example, in the screenshot below you can see that I started doing ad scheduling (4 am – midnight), because in this particular case, there were very little to no conversions between these hours. Hence, I’ve raised bids on Tuesday and Friday to maximize the conversions on these days, since they convert very well, at a lower cost and lower position.

3. Location Target Bid Adjustments

If you’re running a nationwide campaign or one that is targeting multiple locations (states, cities, metro areas, etc.), take some time to figure out where most of your conversions are coming from. You would be surprised on how differently users behave from different locations, and it is sometimes best to target them geographically with targeted tactics.

The Adwords Dimensions tab gives you a good general insight on how each location contributes to your overall campaign’s performance. Use the “User Locations” View.

I guarantee you that if you have been running a campaign for a long time and have not taken the time to look into this, you will find locations that have a ridiculous cost/conversion or no conversions at all, representing an unnecessary expense for your campaign.

In this case, it is the best to exclude these locations from your existing campaign. If these locations are really important to your business and you want to really exploit them, you can target them on a separate campaign with a separate approach. All of these, after building an effective strategy based on that location’s user behavior and data pulled from Google analytics.

4. Bid Strategy: Enable Enhanced CPC

Enhanced CPC tells Google that they can raise your bids on ads that seem to generate more conversions. Use this feature carefully, because it works for some campaigns and not for others. Nevertheless, AdWords is all about testing, optimizing, analyzing results, and making decisions. Don’t be afraid to try new things, use features you have never used before or don’t understand very well. I always encourage everyone I talk to about AdWords to get creative and think out the box and get out of your comfort zone.

One of the best scenarios where I would recommend using this setting is when your campaign is in its early stages. If your campaign is converting regularly and has at least 15 conversions in the past 30 days, then it is probably eligible for Conversion Optimizer (which we will discuss further).

Enhanced CPC is 1 step away from Conversion Optimizer, which is why it is more reasonable to work with this setting if your campaign doesn’t have that much historical conversion data, yet you are looking forward to drive more conversions.

5. Implementing Conversion Optimizer

Some advertisers and business owners are skeptical about using the tool, because they are afraid of “giving Google control their bidding strategy”, which is why they take the conservative road and stick to manual bidding (this can also be the case of Enhanced CPC).
In order to have success with Conversion Optimizer, one must have solid knowledge of how it works and be careful how you set your CPA bids in order to obtain your goals.

The Conversion Optimizer is a very powerful tool. There are essentially two bidding types:
Conversion Optimizer
Max CPA:
Use this bidding type when budget is not limited or your CPA (Cost per-acquisition) is not very high. The algorithm will try to maximize the amount of conversions based on the conversion data.

Upon selecting this option, it will suggest a Max CPA bid (the most you are willing to pay for a conversion) based on the historical conversion data.

Target CPA:
Use this bidding type when your CPA is too high and you want to make it more profitable. This option helps you to reduce the CPA while continuing to bring in the same or higher amount of conversions (Google AdWords will also suggest to start Target CPA bid based on your historical data).

Before choosing any of these bidding options, you need to figure out what exactly it is that you want to achieve; whether this is an increase in the amount of conversions while sacrificing a higher CPA, or if you are struggling to reduce your CPA and trying to find a solution on bringing this down.

Something very important is to remember that once you choose your bidding type, the selected CPA bid will be applied to all your ad groups. You would need to review this afterward and adjust it accordingly.

Typically, every ad group has a different CPA and it should not be set to the default CPA bid suggested by the system. Adjust it according to your criteria, based on what CPA is best for each ad group.

6. Focus on Converting Keywords and Ads

On a campaign that is performing very well, there are ad groups, keywords and ads that are the main drivers for these conversions. Sometimes, 1 to 3 ad groups are responsible for 60% of the campaign’s overall results. The other ad groups convert every now and again at a decent CPA, and that is why we decide to keep them running.

  • Once you’ve identified which are these keywords and ads, create variations, try to identify other potential keyword variations for your campaign based on the ones that have converted.
  • Create keyword variations in different match types to cover more ground.
  • Create ad variations based on the best performing ones, whether this is just changing the call to action, headlines or parts of your description lines – even small changes can have an impact.
  • Analyze how these elements are performing over time and perform bid adjustments based on what has been the best ad rank to work with.

These are just a few of the creative and analytic adjustments that you can do with your keywords and ads.

7. Implement the Best Converting Ad in Other Ad Groups that Are Applicable

I like to compare ads’ performance across my campaign. There is always one specific ad that is your “killer ad”. It is important that we identify why this ad does better than the others. Whether it is a result of the call to action, description line, or benefits mentioned in the ad.

Once you’ve identified the driving factor, compare this ad with ads in other ad groups. If all ad groups are promoting the same products or services, but with different keywords, it would be beneficial to start using this ad across all other ad groups that are applicable.

8. Pause Non Converting Keywords to Focus Your Budget on Converting Elements

A beneficial practice is to perform a campaign evaluation at the end of every month, every 3 months and every 6 months. This facilitates a better grasp of how the campaign is doing from time to time. Performing a monthly or quarterly assessment is important, because it helps you identify historical trends, spikes and areas of opportunities.

One of these areas of opportunities is reallocating your budget to focus on what is actually being productive. For instance, you might have a campaign with 200+ keywords, but less than 50% of those keywords are productive.

I encourage you to take a look at your campaign at a keyword level, create a customized filter to show only keywords that have not converted in the past 3 months, and another filter for keywords that have converted at a higher CPA than your actual goal (or above ideal CPA).

You will be surprised of how many keywords will show in that filter, and how much money has been wasted on them throughout the duration of your ads.

Once you make a full assessment and decide to pause most of these keywords, you will have space to exploit your budget and focus higher bids on productive keywords.

9. For E-commerce Campaigns: Use Google Analytics E-commerce Transactions

If you’re running a campaign for an e-commerce website, it is crucial that you work with Google Analytics and that the e-commerce transactions tracking is setup properly. Google Analytics will provide you with an abundance of data to assist you in the success of your ad campaign.

With E-commerce Transactions tracking, you have the most granular level data; data for strategic account management, and business driven decision making.

As long as your AdWords account is linked to Google Analytics and reporting accurately, you will be able to determine:

  • revenue driven per ad group
  • per keyword
  • per ad
  • bounce rate
  • visit duration
  • and more.

Analyzing an AdWords e-commerce campaign through Analytics can be eye opening. One can be under the impression that the ad group or keyword that drives the most conversions in AdWords is the most profitable one, but there are times when having more conversions doesn’t necessarily mean more revenue.

The prices for each product differ and that is why an evaluation in Analytics is indispensable. You will be able to determine which ad groups and keywords are producing the most revenue and which ones need improvement.

10. Add Converting Keywords from Analytics that Perform Well in Other Traffic Sources

With goals setup in either Analytics, or “Ecommerce Transactions Tracking”, you are able to analyze and determine which sources are more productive for you; whether this is Google Organic, Direct Channel, Google CPC, etc.

One of the most competitive sources is Google Organic, particularly if your client is doing SEO and has decent ranking in Google Organic SERP. This is something that you should exploit and add the benefits from that source to your AdWords campaign.

One approach is to review Google Organic Source to see what keywords are driving conversions. To do this:

Go to Analytics > Go to All Traffic > Select Google / Organic > as Primary Dimension, choose Keywords.

Select a larger time frame than just the last 30 days, and do a comparison with the keywords in your campaign and other keywords from this source to determine which ones you have not implemented. Add them to your campaign and you will see results if implemented with the best practices.

11. E-commerce: Focus on Top Converting Products

Another way to exploit Google Analytics and E-commerce Tracking is by easily identifying which your best selling products are, how much revenue they represent to your total and work with them accordingly.

In Analytics, under the Ecommerce Overview, you will see: Your top selling products
Image 5

Review this list however you want, within the interface or by doing a csv export, and run with it. Research the life of your campaign and see which of these products you are not advertising directly (as in using targeted keywords with the name of the products), include these in your campaign, tightly themed with some killer ads, you’re all set!

12. Explore Other Campaign Types Such as a Remarketing Campaign

From small to large companies, search campaign is one of the most effective online marketing efforts when your purpose is direct response. However, you can’t disregard the fact that there are other marketing channels to be explored and exploited.

Some marketers and business owners still are hesitant to expand their marketing efforts to other channels once they are doing well with a Search Marketing campaign. It only makes sense to invest more to get more. If you limit yourself with budget, you are limiting the reach of your success.
That is why expanding to other marketing efforts is so important, once you’ve already killed it with one channel.

There are so many other effective campaign types and efforts such as:

  • Remarketing – Remarketing lets you show ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse the Web
  • Display Campaign -You can reach a wide range of customers with broad interests, choose which sites or pages to appear on, and engage users with appealing ad formats when ads are in the display network.
  • Product Listing Ads – A unique ad format that allows you to include rich product information like an image, title, price, promotional message, and your store or business name.
  • Shopping Campaigns – Shopping campaigns are a better way to manage and optimize Product Listing Ads to promote your products online using retail-centric tools.
  • Dynamic Search Ads – Dynamic Search Ads automatically show your ad based on the content of your website.

Don’t be afraid to expand and explore other marketing efforts, as you can see there are many options available to you.

Be Analytic, Creative and Always Think Out the Box

The Online Marketer that works on AdWords platform and doesn’t use Google Analytics for a better grasp on their user behavior analysis or to track ROI to produce measurable results, should now be expanding their marketing efforts with Google Analytics.

I encourage everyone who is still not working with the combination of these tools to get started – more than likely, you competition is using them already. If you are passionate about AdWords and Google Analytics, your deeper understanding and use of all that Google has to offer, you will stop at nothing short of success in your marketing efforts.

“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.” – Napoleon Hill

Derek Hooker is Chief of Search Marketing at White Shark Media™. He is both Google AdWords Qualified and Bing Ads Accredited. Derek is determined in constantly providing his Clients top results via his a ROI/customer care-driven approach. He specializes in both eCommerce and local search campaigns. You connect with Derek on GooglePlus and LinkedIn.

For further reading on maximizing conversions through Google, please read the following articles:
It’s All About You: The Future of High Quality Link-building

A New Kind of Marketing Battery: Google’s New Smart Lists

The Conversion Function is the number of actions taken for an online property divided by the number of visits to that property.

The Conversion Rate Function

The Conversion Rate Function: Actions over Visitors


Here is where we find the solid blue line in our websites.
It runs through our sites and our landing pages. It slices our prospects’ mobile phones, their tablets and their computers.
PPC, SEO and Content Marketing-Digital Transportation

We charter the digital vehicles that carry people to our online properties.


We begin by chartering the digital transportation that will bring people in under the line, these confounding and complex people we call visitors. This is not an inexpensive undertaking.
We cajole Google with it’s menagerie of penguins, pandas and hummingbirds. We cast our banners and our ads across the internet, chasing prospects as they surf. We create the content, we share on social, and we send the emails that bring them to us.
We pay their fares promising them a trip to a place meant for them. Our place.
They arrive below our line, looking for that solution, that thing that will make them feel better, that product to adorn themselves, that moment of entertainment when they can let go.
The blue line stands as a ceiling to our visitors and they image how things might be different if they could just get up there.
Above the line.
They are always tempted by the exit, the back button, the next search.
image
It is this blue line that our visitors struggle with, which means that we as online businesses struggle with it, too.
Those tempted by the line find reason and method to climb.
For some, this might be quite easy. Others will accept the help of friends and strangers.
We create the line. We draw our blue line. Sometimes higher. Sometimes lower.
It is our duty help more of our visitors to rise above this line.
How will you help your visitors become customers?
We choose the tools that will elevate them.
Will we let them devise a system of pulleys and knots with which to climb.
Will we provide the clear steps, a little boost in their efforts.
Will we ask them to make a leap of faith and trust in their agility to spring safely above our blue line.
Will we try to make it effortless using the machinery of our websites to transport them to a fixed location, a place above the line? And what will make them take that leap, to step on, to push the button.
The vision we have for our blue line is one in which many make the journey. They come with their money in hand, ready to spend, ready to engage.
Conversion happens when visitors rise above the blue line.
We see them coming with ample intuition and a nourishing supply of common sense, all calibrated by the way we see our business, ourselves and our world.
As it turns out what we call sense isn’t that common.
These frustrating people we call visitors aren’t like us. They aren’t even like the people we know.
They come with their own rules, with their own ideas of beauty and their own sense of how things should work.
They are not here to be manipulated. They are here to be understood.
When they are not understood, they seem mesmerized by the exit, transfixed and hypnotized.
Why are so many visitors drawn to the exit?
We paid to bring them here and they, in their flagrant individuality choose not to stay.
What Quicksand does your site create for visitors?
In our hubris, we create the quicksand that will trap them. Did our navigation confuse them, do our words lack clarity, did we call them to act in the way they like to act.
We are opaque to them, and this is scary. Our very visitors fear us like a bad dream on Halloween.
Your visitors have natural fears keeping them from converting.

Your visitors have natural fears.


Are we lurking behind our website, ready to pounce, to steal from them or, worse, to make them feel stupid and incompetent?
Do we fear being known for who we really are? For it is the unknown that allows our visitors imaginations to run to places we did not expect them to go.
How are we dealing with this complexity?
For this is a complex problem.
How high will we set our line? What distance must these lost souls cover to find their solution?
What have we provided them? Why should they put their fears aside? How will we transport them above the line?
For it is their journey from below the blue line that tells us who they are and who we should be for them.
I’m pleased to be exploring these questions over three days at Digital Elite Camp in Tallinn, Estonia.
Estonia via Google Earth
If you aren’t planning to be in Tallinn, you should follow us from right where you are. We’re going to be exploring some fun and helpful stuff.
[sitepromo]
[signature]

How helpful would it be to know what prices and features your competition was thinking about using?
One of my readers just sent me a very revealing screenshot. It is one of the pricing pages that Optimizely is testing. It was found by “spying” on their test data.
 

We hid the pricing on this test treatment from Optimizely

We hid the pricing on this test treatment from Optimizely


We are able to see this because of an “exploit” that allows anyone to see what a site is testing if they are using the Optimizely testing software. Oh, the irony.
Venture Beat recently “revealed” this in an article. Those of us who use these tools have known about it for some time. It’s quite easy to decipher this test data.
Try dragging the following link to your browser bookmark bar.
Optimizely Spy
Now visit Optimizely and click on the bookmark to see what they are testing.

How is this possible?

Whenever we run a split test with Optimizely, the software uploads scripts and data into all of our visitors’ browsers to change the experience and track the results. Along with this is included not just the test our visitor is being entered into, but all of our tests for that account.
So it’s relatively easy to decipher this information and see what we’re testing.
Note that the snooper can’t see any actual results, just what kinds of things you’re testing.
We like this approach because it speeds up the delivery of tests. When we use one file with everything, it changes less frequently, and the file it can be cached on a content delivery network (CDN) specifically designed to deliver files faster.
Faster tests mean more reliable tests.
Convert.com also uses this technique, though they take steps to obsure the test information.

Why Aren’t We More Concerned?

In a worst case scenario, a competitor can see what hypotheses you are testing. They can then test those same ideas and perhaps win more customers.
However, only a small percentage of sites are even testing, let alone stealing your tests. I did a quick survey of sites selling plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery who are spending at least $500 per month on search advertising.
Of 2,958 domains, only 33 had some form of split testing software installed, such as Optimizely. That’s just 1.1% of these domains. Furthermore, we know that some portion of these testing are not actually using the software they have installed.

Plastic and Costmetic Surgery Websites with Testing Software

Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery websites are missing a significant opportunity to get more patients. Source: SpyFu.com


Here’s another surprise. There are ninety-seven (97) domains in this space spending over $50,000 per month on search ads. Only five of them have A/B Testing software installed, only 5%.
If you’re in the plastic surgery space and are testing, you have a major advantage over your competitors. So, the odds of someone stealing your ideas are far outweighed by the gains you will see from testing.

Our Recommendation

We recommend that you continue to test using Optimizely unless your page contains sensitive information, such as price.
If you feel uncomfortable with your test information being publicly available, move to Convert Experiments for some protection. Another popular tool, Visual Website Optimizer, does not use this technique meaning past and future tests are safe from prying eyes. There are also a variety of other highly recommended AB testing tools available.
Whatever you do, don’t let this issue take the steam out of your testing program. As you can see, testers have a significant advantage, snoopers or not.
PS: If you are in the plastic and cosmetic surgery industry, you should contact us.

Ghostbusters was a touchstone for us. Seven years ago, we were launching into a new marketplace – conversion optimization. Like the Ghostbusters, many didn’t understand the value of what we did. Like the ghosts of the movie, the goblins in a website were invisible and ethereal.
So, we turned up the volume, donning lab coats and teaching anyone who would listen. Today, conversion optimization is quickly becoming a must-have discipline in any online business.
Four Ghostbusters
We have always taken inspiration from the trio of Venkman, Stantz and Spengler, collectively known as the Ghostbusters.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the Ghostbusters movie, we offer nine important lessons that we’ve taken from this classic comedy.

1. Get Yourself Some Cool Toys

“It’s technical. It’s one of our little toys.”
Batman had the Bat Cave. Ghostbusters had ECTO-1. We have CRO-1.
For us, we have to be able to bring our tools of choice to our clients. You probably don’t need the mobility that we do, but should have your own digital lab, stocked with the latest toys.

This modified ambulance carries some cool CRO tools.

This modified ambulance carries some cool CRO tools.

For us, we require a solid analytics setup to build on. We further like to add some click tracking tools to see how visitors are interacting with pages. Our split testing software allows us to segment visitors into tests and to inject JavaScript into their experiences.
In the past, we’ve used session recorders and eye-tracking software to get more info on how visitors are using a site.
Yes, we think these are pretty cool toys. You will too when you wield them with a little finesse.
Build your own digital lab for free at ConversionDashboard.com

2. Save Your Tests

“Please understand. This is a high-voltage laser containment system.”
The Ghostbusters went on quite a hunting spree in the first movie capturing all manner of ghost, ghoul and specter. What did they do with these? They placed them in a high-voltage laser containment system.
When you complete a test on your website, you need to save the results in a place that ensures you won’t forget what you’ve learned.

Ghostbusters store a ghost.

Store your tests where they can have the most impact.

We’ve never had a one-size-fits-all approach to documenting test results. We’ve used physical books that we call “Books of Swagger” so that our clients have the answers to questions at their fingertips.
We’ve kept detailed spreadsheets of tests.
Today, we rely most frequently on PowerPoint decks to save our “swagger” along with the details of the tests in our split testing tools.

3. Realize You’re Saving the World

“Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together — mass hysteria!”
Don’t underestimate the magnitude of the shift you’re bringing to your online business. Adding some science to your marketing is going to bring profound changes to your organization.
Decisions will be made differently. Old beliefs, superstitions and sacred cows will disintegrate.
It will be painful at times and will take some passionate convincing of doubters. In the end, you could be saving the business.

4. Get Some Strange Hobbies

“I collect molds, spores and fungus.”
You’ve got to be interested in some strange topics. Revenue per visit, statistical significance, correlation vs. causation… it’s quite different from product, positioning and pricing.
Yes, the geeks are going to rule the marketing world, so get your geek on.
CRO geeks are interested in the psychology of influence, the structure of the mind and in rudimentary statistics. We study images, copywriting, pricing theory and user experience theory.
The bottom line is that you are going to have to nurture an interest in some unusual topics to be a well-rounded online marketing scientist.

5. Clear Your Mind

“It’s the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.”
Expectations and attachments will dull your ability to apply science to your marketing. Often, our most cherished creative just won’t win in a split test.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals for your tests. However, expectations and attachments to outcomes can lead to poor decision-making.
If you’re sure a certain treatment is going to win in a split test, you’re more likely to call it a winner before the confidence level is high enough.
If you expect your results to “make sense”, you are more likely to throw out valid results as “unexplainable.”
We find that it is harder to come up with new hypotheses for a site we’ve been working on for a year or more. It’s harder to clear our minds of the knowledge we already have.
The more you know a thing, the less meaning it has for you. Clear your mind.

6. Don’t Cross the Streams

“Try to imagine all life as you know it ending instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”

Ghostbusters capture a ghost.

Don’t cross your traffic streams when doing multiple tests on a site.

The more tests we can run on a site, the faster we learn. Sites with a large number of visitors and conversions can run several tests, provided the audience can be segmented.
The idea of testing is to understand what is working and what is not. To do this, we need to isolate variables. This is science talk for “only change one thing at a time.” Ideally, only one thing will change for any visitor to your site.
However, if you allow a group of visitors to enter multiple tests, then more than one thing is changing. Imagine that a visitor comes to the home page and is entered into a test in which you remove the sidebar menu. Then they come to a test in your shopping cart in which you remove the discount code field.
When the tests are done, you won’t know which combination of home page sidebar and discount code field resulted in the most sales. The data for both tests have been polluted and cannot be relied on.
So, don’t cross your streams of traffic. If you are running multiple tests on a site, be sure that you segment traffic to only see one or the other.

7. Be Proud to be a Scientist

“Back off man. I’m a scientist.”

You should feel proud to have a data-driven marketing program up and running. Science isn’t perfect, and the fact that we are always trying to prove ourselves wrong means that our self-esteem may suffer.
Most importantly, you should be bringing others in your organization along the science learning curve.
Don’t be afraid to take a moment to explain statistical significance to a coworker. Go ahead and write up a memo on isolating variables or calculating the length of a test.
And when you have a success, be sure to do the money-dance in a very public way.

8. Tell Them About the Twinkie

“That’s a big Twinkie.”
At one point in our heroes’ adventures, Dr. Spengler uses a Twinkie to illustrate the growth of “psychokinetic energy” in the New York area.
“According to this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing 600 pounds.”

Ghostbuster holding a Twinkie

Spengler uses a Twinkie to illustrate the ghostly trouble brewing in New York.

We really can’t take our graphs, charts and tables out to our organizations and expect others the understand what we’re seeing.
I think this is why we prefer to save our test results in slide decks. It is a system designed to tell an emerging story. These decks includes hypotheses, screen shots, data tables and conclusions. Everyone can open them and they can be as big as they need to be.
Sometimes, a map is better than step-by-step directions. Become a student of explaining and presenting findings. The better you get at this, the more cred you will build within your company.
Companies like Narrative Sciences are focused on turning data into stories.
Use your own Twinkies – analogies and metaphors – to help others understand the context for your discoveries and their relevance to themselves.
Charles Bukowski said, “Genius could be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way.”

9. Don’t get Slimed

“I feel so funky.”

Ghostbuster got slimed.

Don’t let the slime get you down.

It is one of the inevitabilities of the scientist to have her most amazing theories regularly proven wrong. Inconclusive tests, polluted data and external interference make testing disheartening.
Don’t let a series of disappointments bring your momentum and scientific excitement to a standstill. Don’t let yourself get slimed.
If you find yourself in a slump, it’s time to get input from outside of your echo-chamber. Pull in some fresh eyes from elsewhere in the company. Watch a few recorded sessions or collect some user feedback using any of a number of tools.
When you feel your energy ebbing, it’s because you got attached to your outcomes. Be humble. Stay curious. Stay out of the slime.
Thanks to Dan Akroyd, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis for providing the inspiration we needed to take ourselves a little less seriously than we would have.
[signature]
Are you troubled by high bounce rates in the middle of the night?
Do you experience feelings of dread in your CFO’s office?
Have you or your family ever seen you twitch, shake or cry?
If the answer is “yes,” then don’t wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals.
Images taken from Ghostbusters. All copyrights belong to their owners.

Those who are successful have a certain way of looking at things. They are committed to the end goal, but focused on the next ten percent.

The Next Ten PercentOur goals are reached one step at a time.

The next ten percent is the next face to scale on the climb, the next set of downs in the game, or the next year of raising a healthy kid.
The next ten percent is more than another step or a rung on the ladder. It’s a complete process that, when repeated results in success. Why ten percent? Because ten percent makes a difference. It’s a reasonable goal, but not necessarily an easy one.
You can get your first ten percent once by luck or fortune. Success comes from getting that ten percent time after time.
It’s invigorating.
For us, the next ten percent is the next cycle of website tests. Ten percent is a reasonable goal. Repeat the process five times and you will see a 50% increase in website performance. If revenue is your goal, that’s 50% more revenue. If leads make your business go, then expect 50% more leads. Grow your revenue per visit by just 7% a month and you’ll double your revenue in one year.
We’d like to introduce you to our ten-percent at a time process. We call it the Conversion Catalyst.
It’s a proven system to get you that next step month after month.
Reply to this email or give us a call at 888-961-6604.
[signature]
Brian Massey

I was recently conversing with a client who was unable to purchase a complete set of books on Amazon.com. He was extremely frustrated that the website would only suggest one book at a time, when he knew that they should be sold as a set. He eventually abandoned his session on Amazon and purchased the set elsewhere online. The injection of a live chat system may have saved the sale in this example; it may also have prevented my client from sharing this negative experience with me.
Kuno Creative published an entire article dedicated to when angry online shoppers turn to social media to vent their brand-frustrations.
To e-tailers selling is becoming less about driving lots of traffic to your website or online store and more about helping prospects buy. Many websites suffer from the “high-traffic, low-conversion conundrum” according to Fast Pivot , who gives the example of woman running a Yahoo! Store. She had only had two sales after ten thousand website visits.
Low conversion in online commerce is compounded by market saturation in a sector. Consider just how many e-commerce sites are selling shoes to women. The road to profitability for online or e-commerce businesses continues to become longer and longer. This article makes a case for implementing live chat systems as a pathway to an increased amount of onsite conversions.

A Brief Introduction to Live Chat

 
Live chat support is a powerful tool to initiate online communication between a brand and a consumer in real time or similarly during business to business communications online. Once the chat session has begun, a visitor can interact with a customer service representative or salesperson via text messages on the screen. The purpose is to have the brand or business address any questions or concerns of the consumer.
According to a recent survey by eDigital Research, consumers were more satisfied with live chat as a means for customer service than any other channel, including email, phone or social media. The response of these consumers suggests that they are familiar with live chat systems and that many online businesses use live chat support to connect with their customers and respond to their queries. The study suggests that consumer expectations are changing. They are no longer satisfied with intricate automated answering systems and delays when they pick up the phone. Furhermore, they expect answers to email queries quickly with less than a quarter willing to wait 24 hours for a reply from a brand. Social media is seen as an avenue for complaining more than a source for solving their problems
Live chat support systems do an excellent job of allowing you to respond to customer queries in real-time while addressing potential customer concerns before they are spread all over the internet. The Amazon example is tame when compared to the unforgiving customer criticism that we’re all familiar with.

Key Benefits of Live Chat for Businesses

 
While averting poor customer experiences and subsequently some bad press is important for your brand’s reputation, there are many additional benefits to live chatsystems for businesses. A survey conducted by Forrester Research reveals [pullquote]“Around 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a Web site can offer.”[/pullquote]
LIVE CHAT SAVES MONEY – Companies that use live chat have seen an overall reduction in the cost of serving customers. Such solutions are quick to implement and a lot cheaper than other customer service alternatives like phone or email support. The interaction time is reduced as well.   “Consumers are quite familiar with live chat software … those that use the Web-based functionality… are more likely to buy and less likely to abandon their sessions.”
According to the International Customer Management Institute, live chat systems save the customer time and the company money. The cost savings come from many angles.
First, the amount of customer enquiries directed at a call center are reduced with live chat systems. If these systems are managed correctly they could effectively replace an entire call center which equates to huge cost savings. With more money in your company’s pockets you’ll have a larger budget to invest in really understanding your customers.
LIVE CHAT LETS YOU LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS – In order to sell more of your products or services, it’s crucial to listen to your customers. A live chat support system makes understanding customers’ concerns and needs easier because you’ll have a written log of what is causing customer headaches that can be mined for data. The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to offer them solutions.
LIVE CHAT INCREASES CONVERSIONS – By this stage you’ve saved money and you increased your understanding of what your customers want. It’s time to start converting these customers.
According to an article on Sitepoint, the top ten reasons buyers abandon their online shopping sessions are often related to confusion and complications at checkout. Confused customers may have a question that they want answered in real time. Live chat support fulfills this need of addressing questions or concerns during the sales process, thereby increasing conversions or sales.
A recent Website Magazine article discussed this benefit, saying “Consumers are quite familiar with live chat software (just under two-thirds of U.S. shoppers have used live chat — a 15 percent rise from 2009). What’s more, those that use the Web-based functionality — be it on a retail or service site — are more likely to buy and less likely to abandon their sessions. It’s also a whole heckuva lot cheaper than running a call center.” Case and point for saving money and increasing conversions.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

 
Live chat systems aren’t perfect but they’re effective. With all the stats listed above, a case for live chat can clearly be made, however nothing can replace a true one-to-one human experience. One of the downsides to any text message experience, whether in live chat or using a mobile device, is the possibility of miscommunication. Without tone of voice or body language, live chat may have difficulty addressing a person’s concern if the text communication isn’t completely clear.
With the recent increase in live chat praise, it isn’t surprising that companies are already improving the ways that these systems operate to help fill the communication gap.
According to a recent press release by iPerceptions, “Live assistance systems can be significantly enhanced by recognizing the intent of individual visitors and initiating chat sessions with distressed buyers or other identified user groups. This greatly increases the effectiveness and return on investment made in live assistance systems.”
This company has recently created an engine to detect onsite user intent. In the case of live chat, this engine can be used to identify the right moment to inject live chat support. Live chat systems will never replace a live customer experience but they can be enhanced to become more effective, more intelligent and more efficient.
So, when is your business adopting a live support system? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

About the Author

Jenix is a journalist who specializes in discovering and documenting digital media. She makes a living as a copy writer specializing in web content and recently began writing for her personal blog: Jenix Writes. Jenix is also a proud new mother and when she isn’t writing she’s sharing in the daily discovery of her beautiful daughter. Reach out @JenixHastings