Keyword data seems to be disappearing from Google Analytics. So. How do we know what to optimize our websites towards? How will we be able to know what supporting keywords to use in our texts? How will we be able to run keyword targeted conversion optimization on the organic traffic we have earned.
No worries. We’ll get to that. Obviously Google says they want you to work with your website, to increase your quality and better serve users with better content. However, you will now have to resort to paying some in order to get the juicy stuff.
Below is a set of tools that you can use in order to know.
1. Wordstream is the best keyword tool out there – use it
Wordstream is a tool that helps you to create Adwords keyword groups for your content. They help you find the most profitable niches and are available in many different languages.
I suggest you create a subscription account on Wordstream. It will cost you some money, but it is surely worth it.
2. How to bid on Adwords to get keyword data
Use Keyword tool – generate dynamic tracking URLs
Do not bid broad as you will lose a lot of data doing so as your exact match will not be displayed in your account
If you are simply interested in search volumes – use Google Keyword tool AND bid with minimum bids on all keywords you can possibly think of
Bid narrow and use negatives.
3. Activate internal search tracking in your Google Analytics
I find it awful that so few companies have activated their internal search tracking. MORE than 20% of the people on a website use search onsite. You will get the exact match on the keywords to optimize for PLUS deliver a brand building experience to your users if you work on your internal search.
To activate it. Open the profile you want to track > Click Admin in top right corner > Click View Settings > Enable Site Search to be tracked at the bottom of the General settings page > The parameter that you need to enter is the search query generate in the URL when someone searches for this blog – if you search for “search” - http://jesperastrom.com/?s=search – the parameter you would enter would be ?s=
4. Download the “Not Provided” kit
This was a kit – actually an analysis framework – that one of my former students Markus Frick gave me a tip about on Facebook. Download it from here.
Ok. So that’s 3 ways. I know you got one to add. Comment away!!!
A/B-testing is something that is quite frequently discussed as something you should do. Yet, most marketing managers and online communicators still don’t. In fact. They dread the mere notion of having to test and change their digital campaigns.
I will get to the solution and how to easily do an A/B-test. But in order to fully understand the notion that there is a problem to be solved here. I first need to explain the essence of the challenge of starting using A/B-testing as a methodology for constant improvements.
The challenge is threefold.
First off there is a problem with the relationship between marketing and IT. Marketing wants things to move along fast, whilst IT wants things to be done the right way. This has been a problem ever since IT became a part of the communication process.
There is a vast difference between building solid systems and supporting quick communication. This has bearing on the split testing as any such functionality has to be planned when building the architecture of the system according to IT, whilst Marketing gets frustrated by slow development causing revenue, participation and results to diminish.
This problem can now be solved.
The second problem is that the wish to test something has been seen as weakness. “What, you don’t believe in your idea enough… why test it if you believe in it..“.
This is something that has come out of traditional marketing structures where your idea went of to print or went out on air. There was no way that you could split test your campaigns during a campaign. The mere fabric of digital gives you an opportunity to change and fine tune your campaign, website and online presence so that it improves over time.
I like to view the A/B-split testing as a Formula 1 race, where I am the engineer standing in the pit stop ready to adjust any small detail to make perfection out of good. No one can say that any Formula 1 car (read creative) is slow (bad). But the conditions might be such for the day, that things need to be adjusted for it to work at full capacity. (Love that metaphor… WhOOt… you don’t like it.. well.. then.. then… pfff…)
Companies love to discuss 360 approaches to advertising. And yes. Different medias can support each other. But without using them properly, if applying the same methodology to digital as you do print, you are doomed to end up with less than the maximum effect of the campaign. With A/B-testing you can increase conversion rates, e-mail opening rates, click through rates etc, constantly giving you more for every dollar you spend.
And as I promised above. The challenge of time to market – from idea to implementation is solved. It doesn’t exist anymore.
Thus. This second problem can be overcome.
The third problem is that most marketing managers – clients – do not consider growth when considering the creative of an advertising campaign. They do not see it as a part of building a brand over time, but they rather see it as an instance to push a new product or meet a seasonal increase/decrease in demand. Advertising campaigns can have great success whilst the product they are meant to support doesn’t grow its default revenue streams. Meaning, in order to maintain your sales volumes at the hight of the top of the campaign, you have to campaign all the time which, in many cases, is a very expensive affair.
This is a much more difficult thing to overcome as it has to do with behavior and moreover habits. It is not a problem of lack of knowledge. It is quite easy to rack up the numbers. But still this seems to be a very difficult task for some (would really like to write most) marketing managers to wrap their arms around. Creativity is a lot more fun to purchase than growth, as you actually have to think and not only feel. However, as I will come to, A/B-testing is ALL about feeling, however, it doesn’t give you the power to choose as the data does that for you. Ie. you can still feel, but you need to be able to disregard taste.
To illustrate this I will show you the difference in growth and in simply having campaign success by studying two graphs of search queries made in Google. I use this measure as it is a great tool to estimate brand demand amongst consumers.
This is the search graph for Kodak – Successful campaigns, yet no gained growth. You can see that regardless of their marketing efforts. Their growth is negative.
This is the search graph for “Mitt Romney” and as you can see… no one cares about Mitt Romney if he doesn’t buy a shit load of media to get elected
Now. In comparison to growth which looks like this. First off is iPhone.
Secondly we’ll have a look at McDonalds.
There is a very strong difference in the way these brands have worked with campaigning. One uses the campaign to promote innovation in the product whilst the other use it as a way to promote more of the same.
By focusing on creating campaigns that allow for A/B-testing, we also allow users to respond to the way we market our products better. I believe that this is one great way to overcome the hurdle of taste, and “internal protectionists” that seem blinded by previous success. It is also a methodology to use data to implement a process of change and improvement in an organization without threatening anyones position. It is the data that says so. Not anyone smarter. Just the data.
Another way to overcome this challenge, is if we as analysts, developers and optimizers become as cool as the advertisers. That’s why I love the emergence of the infographic hype, growth hackers and the concept that everyone is a nerd. This actually helps us get through as they want to be like us, dress like us yet, they are too socially skilled to ever be like us.
So. Finally. What is A/B-split testing
Well, basically it is looking at some data and seeing that traffic doesn’t flow the way you want it to flow. It can be that they do not click on a website the way we want them too. It can be that they do not sign up to the newsletter, or simply that they do not fill in a specific form or find a specific document. As a result you get either lower conversion rates or more calls to your customer service.
STEP1 – The Hypothesis Gut
In order to improve this, you start out with listening to your own to gut.
First off. You try to do whatever it is that you want your users to do. Ie. Sign up, buy, click or find. Somewhere along the way you may realize that there might be a few other ways in which a user complete a task a lot faster. This gut feeling is what we optimizers like to call – Hypothesis. Not only does it sound a lot more valuable than “gut feeling”, but it also gives the client a honest hint that it is simply an educated guess.
The more experience the optimizer – or you – has, the better the hypothesis and probably the fewer tests needed.
STEP 2 – Setting up your test
Once you have your hypothesis in your head. You should start testing the changes. It might be a larger text, a variation in navigation or a change in a background color.
In essence a change to the copy, page or design in order to change the way the user uses it. Ok. So once you have that ready in your head, you should get to the nitty gritty of creating these variations.
Now. This has previously been extremely time consuming and problematic as you have had to create all these variations in code – meaning you have had to contact IT to do these variations for you.
This problem is now a segment of the past.
Several great tools such as Optimizely – which I can honestly say that I love (video embedded below this section) and Visual Website optimizer have given us simple drag and drop possibilities to make variations quick.
This means you do not have to implement 6 different versions of a design. No more waiting for coding. No more waiting for design templates. YOU can do this.
Step 3 – The implementation
You run the test. Get the numbers and see which one of your hypotheses actually created an improvement.
Now you have all the data. You can call IT and say with 100% accuracy (perhaps 95% or some confidence interval) that sales will increase with 40% by making these changes. It is thus a priority project. NO IT-person… no matter how big, rough skinned or flanell shirt pansared, can object to that. You won’t have to ask for resources as you can do the testing yourself. You are not there with a problem. You are there with a solution!
Regardless if you run A/B-testing on a website or if you do it on a campaign, or some e-mail copy or whatever you are testing, it is worth it. There are tools simple enough for you to be able to do this on your own. You can relax and go with your gut whilst the data takes care of the decision making.
You then send the solution rather than another problem to the IT department. You become the true hero of your organization as you just increased the bottom line result with 40%. Congratulations! You’re it!
A lot of people disregard QR-campaigns as yesterdays fad. The mockery of the little black dotted squares seems to be endless. I don’t blame them. Most people in advertising suck at digital marketing. Billions are spent every year and only a few good examples can be produced as “success cases”. Thus. I was not surprised when I managed to get excellent results using QR-codes for a client last year.
I am not saying that QR-codes work everywhere. I am just saying that they work if you use them correctly.
It was a long time since I published a tutorial blog post. So for that sake, I will explain how you can test your QR-campaign before you launch it, and almost guarantee that it works.
Each step in the test tutorial below should be passed with a YES answer in order for you to move onto the next step. If it fails somewhere along the line of steps, it will not be a successful QR-campaign.
The QR-Toilet test
STEP 1 – Put your QR code on a product. Is your code on a product YES/NO?
STEP 2 – Lift the product in one hand. Does it fit YES/NO?
STEP 3 – Take your mobile phone in your other hand. Can you hold your mobile in one hand and the product in the other YES/NO?
STEP 4 – Now go to the toilet. Can you open the door holding product and mobile without drawing too much attention to yourself YES/NO?
STEP 5 – Lift the lid to the toilet and sit down. Was the procedure easy YES/NO?
If you have reached this far in the QR-Toilet test it is highly likely that your QR-campaign will be successful.
Call to action on product
The call to action should not be direct. It should rather induce curiosity. The difference between a direct and a curiosity inducing call to action is quite simple to distinct. Users sitting on the bus, or on the toilet, or waiting in a shed whilst the rain blows by are in their research driven mindset. They are willing to explore. Using a call to action that is too direct/that explains what will happen on the landing page, might scare some people away.
Whilst “Compete and win” is a direct call to action. Something like “Open me” is a more curiosity inducing call to action. User thinks through their research driven mind – “what am I really getting here”… “what does open me really mean”… And as a result, they do not mind the friction of having to download a QR-scanner in order to scan the code. However, if they already know that it is a competition, the friction might be too extensive for them to go through with it.
QR-code scanning people do not do this to compete, but they might as well if this is what they end up with when having scanned a code.
Constructing the landing page
The prerequisites of your target page or content the viewer gets to when they scan the code are the following:
Easy form sign up – max 3 forms of which one is the e-mail or telephone number
Same Call to action on top of the landing page or content as you had on the product
Simple design, NO flash or moving graphics, no instructional video or sound (might change when 4G becomes broadly adopted)
Guaranteed results from this
I can almost guarantee results from this. The last campaign I used this for got the QR codes as the third largest traffic generator, only surpassed by Google organic traffic and Facebook traffic. This was for a website with above 20.000 monthly unique users on a regular basis, so we are not talking about chicken wings.
Ok. To be fair. All paid traffic combined surpassed the QR-codes as well, but if you looked at each individual source, the QR- codes killed them all by a landslide.
What was even more astonishing was that we managed to get 23% of the QR-visitors to convert to the member goal we had setup for the campaign.
What conclusions can we draw from this post
If you put your QR-code on something which is too big to scan in the privacy of the toilet. You are destined to fail.
Use mystery as the call to action as the behavior of a QR-scanner-person is not purpose driven. It is research driven. They do not want to do what you want them to do, they just might as well to keep busy.
Make landing page simple and keep scent – the call to action, look and feel – of the scanned product.
23 Videos own USPs were quite unclear. I heard the two words Simple and Control. Meaning it is simple to setup and it is easy to control. If you are a corporation looking for a good skin to a video website.
So. I read this blog post. It made me remember what I sometimes forget. People are idiots. Or moreover, some people are idiots. This guy, or girl, seems to have lost what that is the reasonable digital equivalent of Newtons second principle – namely relevance. Relevance is the air that we all breath, the blood that makes our limbs warm up and the reason people pay us to do our job.
Oh… did I mention what I do for a living… I am a digital dude! The rest of this blog post is directed to the author of the post I read today. My take on what he says. I hope my disbelief in his words, not only shine through or can be read between the line, but is so evident, that it leaves no one confused on where I stand.
A word on relevance and targeting
You seem to oppose targeting. Relevance is targeting. And although I understand, that you do not get how targeting, can equal relevance, it does. You most likely base your targeting assumptions on demographics, rather than behavior. You oppose targeting, because you say it limits reach. I never look for reach. I look for buyers. I look for buying patterns and behaviors and market, through targeted ads, towards those who display this behavior.
You write: “Marketers always overestimate the attraction of new things and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior.“ But, however, it strikes me after reading a few more of your posts, that you lack the understanding of how to analyze behavior in a digital setting. it is evident that you are an old school advertiser, blinded by your belief in universal creativity solutions. Scared by change, and diminishing client lists, you attempt to talk the talk, but do not know what the words coming out of your mouth means in practice. You yell “strategy”, whilst all that is proven to work, can be tied to tactics. It doesn’t matter how many times you fonies tell me that ideas are valuable. If you don’t know how to execute them, you should shut up about how to best perform them.
Admit it. You have never run an advertising campaign on Facebook ever in your life. You have never administered a Facebook page, nor have you created a viral campaign that is shared amongst thousands of visitors. You haven’t experienced the wonders of social. In fact, you have never even tried. Yet, you are determined that they do not work.
And if. But only if. You had successfully targeted an ad-campaign on Facebook. You would know that your targeting can induce real relevance by using a persons network in order to tie a story to a social capital – such as a friendship. “Person x likes y, thus you like it too.”. Considering 92% of all online consumers trust this type of advertising, I guess you neither have a belief in research. Actually, you say you don’t when you say that: “Brand studies last for months, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and generally have less impact on business than cleaning the drapes“.
So. You evidently haven’t tried to run a campaign on Facebook, and you do not trust market insights about it. Perhaps someone should try to create a catchy one liner and you’ll be able to catch on, what so many have already learned.
If you deliver an irrelevant ad, people will hate you for it. They will use their chance of interactivity, to distance themselves from you. This is the case with traditional advertising. You simply lack the relevance needed to make use of targeting. People are not the same, just cause they share a demographic. Their behavior and how they are connected to one another, however, does.
A word on facts and value
Perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps you aren’t an old school advertiser, considering the lack of efficiency in online advertising. Perhaps you are an SEO, scared of understanding the process of a pre purchase click chain. Not willing to see the importance of social media in the mix of a final purchase. Perhaps you are simply ignorant. Cause at the same time as you are writing “In fact, online advertising’s record of motivating consumers is alarmingly terrible. With all their clouds full of data, Facebook ads attract 5 clicks for every 10,000 views. This is mindblowingly ineffective.” You are providing your own visitors with neat little clickable ads to the right. I don’t know. Perhaps thinking they alone will sell your books. Or perhaps your lack of otherwise “valuable”, epic content motivates your placement of these ads in the same place as Facebook puts theirs. Yet. I don’t know. Just speculating.
Regardless, your numbers are wrong. Never had a CTR from Facebook lower than 1%. Never seen one under 0.25%. More importantly you seem, in line with my very limited knowledge of business, to display a stunning misconception of what value is, and perhaps less importantly, how to generate it online. In terms of direct value, a metric measuring success should never be a click, but a purchase. It should be money. It should be conversion to some pre determined goal. Not visitors. Not impressions. Not reach, nor impact. But sales.
For online sales, the traceability is simple as you can follow a person, using cookies, from first click to last click in a purchase funnel. For offline purchases, you need to tie this into something, I like to call redemption. Redemption is closely related to interactivity, something I will debug below, as you seem to believe that interactivity is bad. Either way, you need to understand that any analysis of consumer behavior online, and offline, includes a portion of research. Customers do research, before they buy.
Display probably isn’t the sole solution for driving brand awareness. However, it is a great and profitable way for driving sales. And if you agree with your own statement that “We don’t get them to try our product by convincing them to love our brand. We get them to love our brand by convincing them to try our product“, then sales are needed in order to build a strong brand. But if you believe that CTR equal sales, then you are off by a mile and a half… perhaps two… at least. And if you believe that you can generate sales without interactivity, then … well…
A few notations on Interactivity as a friend
Let’s take it one step at a time. You write about your two principles for online advertising.
Well. First off. I don’t think any DR marketeer would ever agree with you that interactivity is any kind of advertising enemy. Rather. Interactivity is, and must be, advertisings best friend. That is why we watch the super bowl commercials (by the way, Coke and Doritos have ads running on my FB right now..) willingly on YouTube as well as willingly hit the like button on brands we tend to associate with. That is why we redeem the coupon we get to our cellphone and that is why we purchase the deal being offered in the banner ad. I for god sakes make money – and loads of it – running a website completely filled up with deals and coupons. Demand fulfilling you might say…
That would be true, if I didn’t make some of the money from the website, but most of my money I from the e-mails I send and the posts I share on Facebook. JESUS!! I must be doing something odd, or marketing towards some really special group, cause these purpose driven people MUST be there waiting for me to fullfil them with my feed stories and e-mails. No. I build demand. Using digital channels. Leading to direct conversion. Using the one skill you cannot live without, or earn without in the digital space – namely the skill of writing selling and compelling copy.
You might still be living in the world of eyeballs. Where demand is created by repetition. But in the world of 2012, we need to create advertising that sells. Not tomorrow but today. We need to give our consumers an offer they cannot refuse to try out. We then need to give them reason to tell the story about what they experienced – through our product. We need to create traceable campaigns which you can visualize the results from, using Excel. ROI. This word you TV-praising advertisers hate. How can you prove ROI on a TV ad. Estimate it, yes. But prove it. No. Darn. Damn it. Bullocks. However I can. But I need interaction in order to be able to calculate it.
Interactions are our friends. Not our enemies. They guide us when we do something right and they help us improve what we do. But I guess you are too damn good to learn from the data. You’d rather create a TV-ad and hope and pray that it sits with your “audience”. Cause you are not able to change your stuff until it works. Something which is a privilege for those of us working with digital media. Online. But I suppose you have never heard of iterative marketing campaigns nor have you paid any notice to optimization and don’t give a damn about growth over time. You merely find it interesting to look at estimates of “impact” that you see as a result of your offline campaigns. Hmm… aren’t those estimates based on interview studies by the way… rather than behavioral studies… nrrr mind.
With all of that said. Your kind will diminish, my kind will prevail. Regardless of how good your kind is at telling a story, the story you sell will remain a lie as long as it cannot be backed by facts. Sadly, facts are nothing you will ever understand.
Do you have a mobile CSS on your website? I think it is time you’d better get one. Especially if you work with lead generation, sales or any type of transaction on your website. Mobile traffic is increasing like a mother fucker and you need to be prepared for it. Are you still asking the question of whether or not to build a native app or build a mobile website? Don’t. Build a website. First. Then see if you have the need for an app.
What is cloaking?
Going back a few years in time, a practice was used to deliver one content type to the visitor and another to the Google bot. This would make Google believe that your web pages were filled with valuable text and image content that was highly relevant for some keyword. Whilst, in fact, your page, when served to a normal user, had all but copy on it. It was simply a cluster of your most converting content put into a structure where it would convert the most possible visitors.
Webmasters did this so that they would rank for stuff their pages didn’t really deserve to rank for. This practice was called cloaking.
Google solved the problem by further developing their algorithm so that it would detect this practice. They also added manual checks of websites in order to rule out any sneaky bastards who had been able to reverse engineer the new changes to the algo. In a sense, cloaking is a part of the past, at least when it comes to PC/Mac to web interaction.
Mobile cloaking is here
However, as the web has expanded to also include delivering access to mobile devices our cloaking skills are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. People are to a greater extent picking up their mobile to search for whatever they want to find. From our analytics we have seen mobile usage, of the websites we monitor, increase gradually. For the past few months, this traffic increase has started to accelerate.
So, what should you do with this traffic when it comes to your website? My suggestion is that you cloak the living shit out of it.
So what do I mean when I say “cloak the living shit out of it”. Well, basically I am talking about offering another interface for your mobile visitors than you serve your computer browser users. Fair enough. But I mean seriously change the way it looks in the mobile. Users are lazy. Remove the unnecessary stuff. Give them only the essential for conversion. Either to a lead with an e-mail form, or through a simple one click to phone number purchase. Google doesn’t seem to penalize you for this. Perhaps, because you are actually delivering a better page experience than the one with all the text on it.
What is your Mobile cloaking opportunity?
This will not only improve your conversion rates, but it will also improve your usability for the visitor through the mobile phone.
And it is here that Google’s dilemma becomes escalated. They will probably never be able to penalize you for these differences in delivery. Users will not like pages with loads of text on them in their mobile phone. Thus, as Google has the ambition to deliver great content, they will have to adapt to finding a way to rank good mobile pages. The only way they can do that today is to use the web css delivery, regardless if you serve your visitors with something else through the mobile phone.
From all I can derive from the numbers, Google will rank you in the cellphone based on how your webpage is behaving to a “non-mobile” visitor. It will give you some advantage for localized content as well as for mobile CSS. HOW this mobile CSS displays the content on the other hand, seems to be of lesser significance.
People are searching the web through the phone. Ok. The search behavior is a bit different. It pays to keep an eye out for what Google suggest is giving the users as options for your specific niche keywords. Use it. People are lazy and more prone to use what is offered to them. Either way. You should be seeing more traffic from the cellphone. Both social as well as search traffic.
Thinking in terms of goal completion is essential when working with all types of SEO, social media and more specifically, the conversion of traffic in any shape or form from these channels. In this blog post I will present a way of working, you can use when you optimize your conversion funnel for 1. primary goal completion (usually some kind of purchase, download, signup etc.) and 2. secondary goal completion (such as sharing, linking, commenting). It will be tilted towards the secondary purpose as this article really came about when talking about the updates in Google Penguin.
So what’s to consider in terms of SEO, conversion and sharing?
When selling a product online you need to think in terms of two significant frameworks. First you need to consider landing pages, and secondly you need to consider user paths/user journeys/conversion funnels (virtually the same thing as they all should lead to a completion of a transaction you have determined).
Landing pages need to be optimized for two things. They need to be optimized for visibility and they need to be optimized to build desire to complete your proposed action. Ie. your visibility creates traffic that is essential, your USP and way of meeting your visitor makes them want to buy from you. User paths need to be optimized for ease. Ie. you need to decrease the friction the user experiences when they are attempting to convert.
There are several thousands of articles written about landing page optimization. Most of them focus on how you can increase the lust or desire to complete some form of task. To convert. There are quite few however that consider full user paths. This blog post aims at discussing user paths with the goal of adding some sharing to the conversion funnel. I don’t know what it is formally called, but I choose to call it “in-line conversion rate optimization”.
Why is it important to optimize for sharing?
Recent events within SEO have made it ever so clear that you need a wide range of different types of links to your website. One of my tweeps wrote a blog post that inspired me to write this one. It is a short summary of how the Google Penguin update is effecting you and what you should think about when working with on page SEO.
In terms of conversion rate optimization and SEO, you prioritize getting traffic to those pages that convert well for you. The best way of doing so is to increase the ranking of that page for the desired search terms in the search engine result pages. When we have Penguin in fresh mind, we know that the old facts about links have been turned on their head. Links are still needed to beat the competition, however, it has become increasingly important that these are contextual, next to semantic, and more natural than before. The easiest way of creating such links is through user interaction – sharing.
Thus, users and not machines have to start building a big chunk of your link juice. Besides improving the actual content on your pages, you should also focus on when you ask the user to link to you or to share your content (which means that they put a link to your web content on another page – ie. link to you.) As I wrote on Tribaling, it really doesn’t matter how good your content is, as long as it uses mechanisms that make people share.
People share what they want to share and what they are convinced to share. As I discuss in my guest blog post on Tribaling, you really need to start understanding what and why people share in order to improve your content. Once you do understand these patterns, it will become a part of your natural content creation. Then you can focus on how to boost the results by using different tactics.
So what the heck is in-line sharing?
In meetings with clients that sell stuff through online channels, I often get into the discussion of “how to increase sharing without taking the eyes of the prize”. Ie. they do not want to ask too many things of their website visitor, as they want to optimize for the ultimate conversion goal. In terms of in-line we are going to add one or several calls to share throughout the conversion funnel or user path.
What makes this in-line is the way that we do it. We make the sharing a part of the product rather than make it another step. Think about it. If you are selling shoes, your buyers might need advice when choosing between two options. Add a create image – post to wall for advice call to action. If you are selling a subscription you can put a matching functionality on your thank you page saying – Increase your knowledge, compare your preferences with someone you trust – connect to facebook/G+ whatever.
If you have a service that require contacts – ask people to make their first additon or call or whatever by syncing with who else has the service. Even before someone has started the conversion funnel, ask them to check out who else of their friends are using the service – connect to facebook and match with your friends. If no one has done this before, then use the call to action – “Ask for matching access from MAX 5 of your friends” or something like that. They need to think that it is their fault that there aren’t any users who have used the service before… getting side tracked… however… one more thing…
Let me elaborate on the shoe example. Let’s say your visitor is selecting between buying two different types of shoes. When browsing your website they have added both of them their checkout basket. Once ready to select they click their basket icon and see all the stuff they have selected. They now feel really anxious that they are about to make a poor mistake. This is a perfect time for you to prompt them with a call to action – “Create a moodboard and ask your friends on Facebook” or G+ or Pinterest or whatever. You get the point. The user gets to post it to the wall with a pre written question they can change – “Please help me select what shoes to buy – tag yourself on the one you vouch for”. Doubble time sharing as this is posted to their walls as well. Sweet.
Getting back to it. If they select get their friends opinion – share – then great. You feed them with a message – “Great, we will send you an e-mail with feedback once your friends have replied”. Or, buy now and have the option to change your mind when your friends have had their say. Or, woops your friends couldn’t decide, buy both with free 1 day delivery and 10% off your second item. Or something like that.
You start getting it I guess. You make sharing a part of your conversion funnel, rather than making it something people do statically. You give them a reason to share whilst making their decision, or to be able to boast, or for whatever other reason you can find when analyzing your website personas. DON’T put a share button on the page unless the page itself is a shareable object. Rather make sharing a part of the purchasing process. Wow… that paragraph became a blog post in its own right. LOL… getting back to it….
How do you optimize for sharing in terms of in-line conversion?
I have written about Biconic conversion models before, but that blog post still didn’t take into account the challenge of time, which is one of the greatest friction moments of any type of user path. If it takes to much time, they have time to think, and thus they are less likely to convert as their level of arousal that was created by the landing page, decreases as time goes by.
You cannot simply add steps between the user and their completion of the goal. You need to optimize some away first. This is really the focus for in-line conversion optimization. If you add something you have to optimize something so that it runs more smoothly.
So. To get to it. What should you do? Well, I usually do the following, if I don’t have the luxury of fancy fancy analytics tools:
I look at the average time a user spends from landing page to completing a preferred goal
That average time I assume to be the time a person is willing to spend to purchase anything from me
This average time thus works as a comparative, or an anchor for myself
If I manage to decrease that time spent, then 1. either more people will convert or 2. I can increase the value of their purchase given that they can perform these tasks within the same time period
I then use all my time optimizing to shorten the time spent by the user
Listen. I assume that sharing increases the value of my pages and my ranking for SEO traffic. You must be cautious here. Before you have a look at this, you really need to work to build your conversion rates in general, up to some average industry level. Then do a benefit analysis/ROI analysis which I will describe more clearly later in this blog post.
What types of call to action should you use?
So. We have now defined that your main KPI is the average time spent and you should try to decrease this. The purpose of decreasing the time is so that you can start completing your secondary conversion goal – ie. increasing the value of the page in terms of visibility. In terms of Google Penguin update, this is done by getting contextual placements of links back to your web content (plus a variety of contextual stuff on your pages).
In order to make someone share your content on their way to conversion, you really need to have your sharing call to action make sense. I mean. You cannot just write “share this” somewhere on the page and expect users to do all the work. You have to stick it into their face and describe to them why “sharing is caring” or why “sharing is valuable to you”, as described above. Just as on the landing page, you need to build arousal or desire to actually perform this task.
And you DO need to do it in-line of the user path. This is an important statement. This basically means that you should use
Calculate the ROI of sharing
In the end it all comes down to ROI calculations. If you believe that an improved ranking will increase your traffic by let’s say 1000 visitors. You know you convert 15% of these. Then you know that you will earn your price times 15% times 1000 by increasing your pages ranking.
If for example you increase your conversion rate by lowering time spent to convert by more than that, you probably shouldn’t add any in-line linking mechanisms to improve your rankings. Especially not if your page is already ranking well.
However, if you find that an improved ranking would surpass the decrease in conversion rate due to the in-line linking mechanism. You should probably consider adding it. Or in other words. If you find that you have optimized your conversion rate to a place you feel comfortable, then you should try to increase traffic, if the trafic increase doesn’t mean you decrease your net revenue.
Or in bullets.
Conversion rate is a function of time (and some other factors)
Traffic is a function of links
In order to make someone link to you, this will take time from them
If you increase time, conversion rates will drop
In order to find your optimum you need to consider both what a ranking increase would mean in terms of traffic and you need to consider how the extra time spent by a user when converting is effecting how many of them convert
If the traffic increase produces more money than the decrease in conversion rate takes away – it is a rational and good thing to do
So many words for saying so little. But I truly hope that this has given you some insight into how I think in terms of sharing, SEO value and conversion. Ie. when not only taking any of the important steps out of the equation.
So in terms of Google Penguin, your rankings and thus also traffic for relevant keywords is increasingly needed to be natural and contextual. It needs to be the result of natural sharing. Thus you need to focus your work on creating content that is shareable, and create mechanisms that actually help people share. I suggest in this blogpost how you can do this by putting the call to action for sharing in-line with the user journey to the primary conversion goal.