tools

In his blog post announcing a new version of Visual Website Optimizer, Paras Chopra makes it clear that they want to bring the scientific method to online marketers.

Internet Microscope DoodleYou can get the tools. Who is sitting in your chair?

We’ve been doing this since 2006.
Paras says, “[pullquote]Scientists and engineers have been using the scientific method of research-based experimentation for hundreds of years to make the world a better place. With VWO, we want to bring that philosophy to the world of marketing.[/pullquote]”
He also says something that I think is somewhat profound:

Think like a marketer, execute like a scientist.

This is analogous to our motto of “Rigorous creativity.” It means that the human side of marketing doesn’t get pushed aside by numbers and spreadsheets. If we use data to understand the human animal better, we will become powerful, compassionate online marketers and business owners.
VWO is just a tool, one we like and use. Let us show you how to use a little science to become the online business you’re capable of becoming.
Have a conversation with a Conversion Scientist.
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Brian Massey posed a great question to me the other day: If you could ask your site visitors only one question, what should it be? I love this question because it distills pre-conversion user research down to its essence: how can you best glean the “why” motivations behind what your users are thinking – and, equally importantly, the concerns they may be feeling – early in their experience? And how can you choose a question that, after you analyze user responses, will be actionable – will allow you to confidently make and test design updates that better address these concerns and improve your conversions?
In this article I’ll focus on what question to ask, and in a future article I’ll unpack where and how you should ask this question.

Start with the research end in mind

Start with the insights goal you’re trying to achieve by asking the question. Are you trying to expose the general concerns or questions (what marketers call “objections”) your visitors may have, or are you more interested in learning something more specific, such as whether your Product Detail page is missing any key information? If you’re new to user experience research, or your website hasn’t undergone any significant usability testing, you should typically start with the “general” goal and ask more open-ended questions.
In this article I’ll assume that you are asking the question of a person who doesn’t yet know and trust your brand and is early in her shopping experience (e.g. just arrived on your website or landing page). A different question – or set of questions – would apply for your converted customers.

First, avoid asking the wrong questions

First, let’s talk about questions you shouldn’t ask. The prospect is already on your site, so clearly your marketing has worked (at least partially). So early in the experience you should avoid asking marketing questions like:

  • How did you first hear about us?
  • What prompted you to start looking for this type of service?
  • What other competitors are you considering?

Instead, focus on the questions most tied to your research goals, and that uncover questions and concerns that would negatively affect your visitor engagement and conversion. Save the marketing questions for further down your sales funnel – for example, on order confirmation pages, in your social media channels, or on your email response pages.

Some possible questions

OK, let’s finally get to the question you should ask. Based on my experience leading research projects for six Fortune 500 clients, and my recent survey of the latest user feedback solicitation tools, here are my top 5 possible questions (in no particular order), along with some pros and cons for each:

Drumroll, please…

In my opinion, the #1 question I would ask is Question #5. Coming in a “Close 2nd” is Question #4.
The two questions are really variations on the same theme. By asking either of them you are communicating, “I value you as a potential customer and am truly interested in learning where our website is missing the mark relative to your needs, wants and expectations. This question is specifically not calling attention to your offer, it’s not “going for the close”, and it’s not asking your visitors to be designers; it’s simply saying “we care, we want to improve your experience, and we’re listening.”
A key thing to remember: for many shopping scenarios, “making a positive brand impression” or “building brand memory” is as important as closing a sale or generating a lead. Connect with the visitor first; sell to her later. Another thing to bear in mind: with the rapid growth of mobile devices usage, prospect experiences are often multi-touch:  the prospect hits your website on their iPad the evening of Day 1, briefly visits your site during lunch on Day 2, and again visits your site during an afternoon coffee break on Day 2. So, except in some small dollar amount, single widget sales cases, it’s not a “once and done” interaction (or if it is, it shouldn’t be).

A sample scenario

Let’s say that Judy, a middle-aged woman from Austin, is shopping for a place to board her dog Max while she’s on vacation. She’s willing to pay extra for a better facility and service. After doing a web search for “dog boarders austin,” she lands on www.campbowwow.com.

Camp Bow Wow

Judy’s main concerns are:

  • Pricing – how much will it cost for the week?
  • How much play time her dog will get
  • How clean the kennel is kept

Judy sees that these questions are not answered on the top half of the home page. After about 10 seconds of scanning, she’s a bit disappointed and clicks her browser’s Back button. End of experience – for now and perhaps forever.
If our “one question” were asked, she’d have the choice (and who doesn’t like choices?!) to express her questions and concerns. Even if Judy decides to go with another dog boarder this time, there’s a decent chance that a thought like, “Ah yes… Camp Bow Wow… they were the ones who asked for my input,” will get lodged in her longer-term memory. If she were not completely satisfied with the other boarder’s services or staff, a couple weeks before her next trip she might just give Camp Bow Wow a call.

Summing up

Whether or not you consider your organization “customer centric”, you need to start a dialog with your prospects. And the sooner you can do this, the better (both in the experience, and on your website release roadmap). By doing so you’ll discover expectations that your site is not meeting so that you can better address them through user experience and copy updates, and thereby grow your bottom line.

About the Author

Mark is the Owner and Research Director at Hallmark Experience, an agency that focuses on voice of prospect research, usability testing and expert design reviews. He’s had the privilege to work with top brands like Macys, Kaiser Permanente, American Express and AutoZone, as well as smaller, fast-growing companies in the San Diego area. You can reach him here.

 

This is a guest post by Simon Campbell

Facebook is not only the most popular of the many social networks; it’s also the most prone to changes. What worked well just a few short months ago on the site may not be the best formula to try in 2014.
Changes in the News Feed have been among the most recent from the site. With a much larger emphasis on quality content that weights well via Facebook’s unique algorithm, marketers are forced to up their engagement tactics in order to survive inside of News Feeds without being missed, ignored or forced out.
Along with other changes, such as the sheer size of the mobile market today, anyone’s Facebook ad tactics should be updated. Not overhauled, just tweaked to remain a relevant and engaging brand on the site.
Facebook Tactics

The Audience Growth Survey: Subscribers, Fans, & Followers – Report #22 by ExactTarget a Salesforce.com company

3 Must-Use Ad Tactics for Facebook Marketers

1: Find the Right App

Facebook presents many tools to help marketers achieve success without having to venture offsite for much of anything. However, creating, testing, tweaking and targeting content is exceedingly difficult to do without some third-party assistance. Marketers looking for a sharper edge this year should try to find a third-party ad-management application that offers freedom and ease of use.
What you’re looking for in the right ad-management app includes:

        

  • The ability to schedule entire ad campaigns
  •     

  • Automated campaigns with rules you (the user) create
  •     

  • A plug-n-play Google Analytics feature
  •     

  • A streamlined interface
  •     

  • Templates for saved work
  •     

  • Organizational folders
  •     

  • Split-testing capabilities
  •     

  • Easy features for creating ad variations
  •     

  • Full control over which ads are actually used.

The end results is an easily programmable app that allows you to create, change, test and launch entire ad campaigns on a schedule you select, using ads you personally deem appropriate for the task. Every other tactic’s success depends in large part on the app you select for your ads.

2: Expand on Proven Organic Content

While paid advertising will, by design, always trump organic reach, many marketers find that some of their best ongoing success comes by way of everyday posts that ultimately build an organic following. Due to changes with Facebook’s Promoted Posts feature, you can now take an ad that was already popular and really kick it into overdrive with a bit of paid targeting.
Used in conjunction with your ad-management app to fine-tune the targeting, a Promoted Post can provide you with a litany of benefits, including:

        

  • The ability to boost a post visitors have already been engaged with
  •     

  • Adding new life to a post you feel hasn’t run its course
  •     

  • More views in more News Feeds
  •     

  • A longer lifespan in News Feeds for quality, paid posts
  •     

  • An expansion of the audience every time someone engages with the post
  •     

  • The ability to pin the post to your own page
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  • An affordable way to keep pace with bigger brands

Along with greater reach comes greater recognition. Using a Promoted Post in 2014 is one of the safest, most affordable, and effective forms of Facebook advertising.

3: Target Small

Although niche marketing is a tried-and-true principle of advertising that doesn’t change much on a year-on-year basis, 2014 presents a couple of solid reasons to quickly narrow your advertising focus. With more brands, more mobile users, and many more advertisements, focusing on direct niche marketing allows you to target those most likely to engage. This offers quality control abilities you wouldn’t otherwise have.
When setting up your next advertising campaign, think about:

        

  • Starting with no more than 1,000 people
  •     

  • Split-testing and tracking variations of ads for effectiveness
  •     

  • Choosing a single interest so that you can directly target prospects
  •     

  • Split your campaign between male and female, measuring the results
  •     

  • Try age variations to see which demo bites the hardest

Targeting small, and in spurts, allows you to quantify your efforts easily and without must hassle. After seeing which group is most responsive to a certain ad type, you can begin expanding your efforts to draw more interest from more areas.

Bonus Tip: Tracking Advice

No matter the type of app you’re using, the type of ad you’re releasing, or the size of the market you’re targeting, your progress must be tracked in order to ensure the success of your tactics. Releasing an ad campaign and letting it run its course without a watchful eye could result in disaster.
Use Facebook Insights to your advantage to view your engagement numbers, such as Likes, comments, shares, etc. You can view an assortment of graphs to tell you if you’re heading in the right direction.
Using the right app for ads is also going to give you an easy way into Google Analytics. This is a more in-depth analysis of how your campaign is doing. You can track URLs, create separate landing pages, and pretty much customize the system for optimum convenience.
Tracking allows you to tweak when necessary, to cut your losses if needed, and to double-down on working tactics. A campaign that’s not being tracked is a campaign doomed to failure.
Simon Campbell, author
 
About the Author: Simon Campbell, a writer from a Facebook ad campaign tool – Qwaya. He loves to write different topics about social media and participates in some communities and forums. If you have more social media marketing questions, feel free to ask Simon on Twitter

imageThe Conversion Upside Report tells you what gains an optimization plan would give you.

We’ve redesigned our Conversion Upside Report so you can more quickly understand how much you should be investing in website optimization. We’ve used color and short commentary on six different criteria to help you understand where your site is on the spectrum of online businesses.
The Upside Report analyzes the current state of your online business and evaluates your readiness for an optimization program.
Every website will eventually add optimization to their tool belt. The question is when and how much should I spend?
The Conversion Upside Report seeks to answer that question.
All you need are the answers to three questions:

        

  1. How much traffic do you get a month on average?
  2.     

  3. How much new revenue does your site generate a month?
  4.     

  5. How much is a new order or lead worth on average?

At a glance, the report tells you some important things.

        

  • Do we have enough traffic to optimize reliably?
  •     

  • Do we have enough transactions or conversions to split test our ideas?
  •     

  • How much is a visitor worth to us? Is it more than we pay for a click?
  •     

  • How much more would we make in sales if we improved our conversion rate?

These are the questions you should be asking now if you want to have future success online.
Get your Conversion Upside Report and let me know what you learn.
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Brian Massey, Conversion Scientist

 

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.

Content Rules. At least that is what a lively trio showed us at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Forum in Austin. C.C. Chapman, Ann Handley, and an as yet unnamed robot shared the rules and tools of great content marketing.

Content Rules

That is what a lively trio showed us at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Forum in Austin.

#9: Have Fun

C.C. Chapman, Ann Handley, and an as yet unnamed robot shared the rules and tools of great content marketing.

#6: Stoke the Campfire

Here is the Converison Sciences Instagraph of their presentation, captured in real time.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Content Rules + Content Tools: INFOGRAPH

Content Rules + Content Tools: INFOGRAPH

CLICK TO ENLARGE

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

What are you afraid of?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I go as far in the Webinar to state:

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

Ready for B2B Conversion Marketing?

Anna Talerico interviews Brian Massey • B2B Conversion Marketing

Anna Talerico Hosts Conversations on B2b Conversion Marketing

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

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

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

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

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