Category Archives: Search marketing

Where’s Your Passion?

1237532_68778616

In a recent meeting with an entrepreneur where we were talking about online marketing activities and building his business, I asked the question, “What are you passionate about?”

His answer…”Wow, let me think about that, that’s a great question.”

Besides the obvious ones of his wife, his child, his extended family, his friends, his favorite sports team, or his church, my question to this entrepreneur really caused him to pause and think.

The word passion can have so many meanings but let’s take the definitions that really apply here:

  1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate
  2. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything (i.e. a passion for music).

What led to this question was a discussion about whether online marketing had much of an application for his business.  As a group of highly educated professionals performing financial services, most if not all of their clientele come to them as a result of a referral.  Word of mouth was their key marketing strategy and there really wasn’t much of a need for him to put any real effort into improving his online visibility or reputation.  Blogging, social networks, search visibility are all good things, just for other people, not him.

You may be asking, David, what was his answer, what was he passionate about?

After some thought he said that he was passionate about helping people, and helping them to be more financially independent, so they can do what they really love to do, whatever that is, without worrying about money.

My next question was, “Do you like to write?” He said he does and that it has been a goal of his for some time to write a book.  Well, a book is a pretty big undertaking and maybe he could break that down into smaller pieces by writing short snippets, ideas that will help people or….a blog.

I did actually see a light bulb appear over his head.  He got it. A good friend of his had tried to convince him he needed to blog but had not explained it in exactly this way.

Write about what you’re really passionate about, not because it’s a great way to market yourself (even though it is) but just because you love to help people.  He left the meeting with much to think about.

In this world, those people who find their passion, what they really love, will be the ones that tell you that their work never really seems like work; that their success has been because they immerse themselves so completely in what they love and hence become very good at it.

Engaging in this phenomenon called social media requires time, effort and then some more time if you wish it to be successful.  Having a passion for what you are blogging, tweeting, friending, responding to will help you to stick with it.  Because, there are very few overnight wonders in social media.  Mostly there are people who have a passion for what they do and have been engaged long enough to start to see the great positive results that can be achieved.

What are you passionate about?

I’d love to know.

David

So Where’s the Payoff?

1122605_85856564

Website conversion, that somewhat illusive term that every site must accomplish, can have a number of meanings.  Generally, we marketers refer to it simply as what action we intend for the website visitor to take before leaving our site.  It may mean completing an online form to receive a technical white paper; it could also be requesting to be added to a mailing list to receive future newsletters or blog posts; or in its purest form, to complete a transaction where an exchange of a product for money takes place. The evaluation of website conversions is important whether your marketing efforts are directed towards the consumer (B to C) or whether directed towards another business (B to B).  Website conversions also take place regardless of industry, and this would include manufacturing, professional services, transportation and even not-for-profit.  The bottom line is, regardless of whether the intent behind the conversion is to generate leads, to sell a product, to take a survey or to gather market information, the conversion is the key measurement to success in Internet marketing.

I have had a number of clients ask me what kind of conversion rate they should expect as a result of their online search marketing initiatives.  As I’ve said in a number of previous posts, there are many factors that can impact your conversion rate, but you should also consider the sales cycle of your product or service.  If your product has a high price, your sales cycle is likely much longer and therefore a lower conversion rate is probably acceptable.  If on the other hand, you are trying to gather information on people who could potentially be a customer, then your conversion rate will depend on what value the visitor receives in exchange for the information they provide.

Internet visitors can come to your site from four very generalized sources:

  • Pay-per-click or Sponsored Search ads
  • Organic or Natural Search (a result of your SEO efforts)
  • Directly typing in your URL or having bookmarked your URL
  • Some other referring party

Even though traffic can come from an endless number of places, a study completed recently by Engine Ready looked at these categories and the traffic to 26 e-commerce sites over a 12 month period.  Although I will hit the highlights, the complete study is available at

http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=31373

You’re probably saying, David, we don’t do e-commerce on our website and that is a perfectly legitimate concern.  Although results can vary dramatically based upon what you have defined as a “conversion,” I just thought this study might be interesting in helping you evaluate whether you are getting the best value from your search strategies.

According to their findings, for these 26 “e-retailers” this was what they saw:

  • The conversion rate from sponsored search was 2.03% versus 1.26% for organic search.  This could be attributed to the fact that more design time is spent on the landing page of a sponsored search ad.
  • Not surprisingly, the best conversion rate, 7.38%, was from someone directly typing in the URL or clicking a bookmark.  The second best was the visitor who was referred by another website or who clicked on an email link, it was 6.58%.
  • The bounce rate, or visitors who immediately left after hitting the landing page was 43.9% overall, with organic search producing the worst bounce at 48.5% and direct access the lowest at 39.2%.  Many times either people don’t input quality search phrases or the search engines missed their mark.

So, where’s the payoff?  The clear answer is if they don’t know your domain name, then you definitely want to be referred by another website; it’s like word of mouth advertising.  But, I believe this shows that you simply have to have an overall strategic plan when it comes to Internet marketing and always measure, evaluate, adjust and then measure again.  Your thoughts?

Sincerely,

David

It’s Just Touch and Go

What, another landing page blog!?

Please indulge me for just one more post about how best to convert visitors on your website. I have had a number of my readers comment that they appreciated the subject so much that they wanted more. It isn’t really surprising. Thousands of dollars are wasted each day in email and Adword campaigns that drive lots of traffic but no conversions. Regardless of how you define a conversion, or what you want someone to do when they come to your website, it is the conversion that ultimately rings the cash register, right? Are you concerned that your visitors are doing the old “touch and go?”

I enjoyed attending a webinar the other day by Tim Ash of SiteTuners titled “The 7 Deadly Sins of Website Design and What to Do About Them.” He did such a great job of illuminating some very common design mistakes that I will do my best to sum up what his hour and a half webinar covered.

Sin #1
An Unclear Call-To-Action

Since the call-to-action is the actual conversion, it has to be extremely clear, even stupidly clear. The key here is “please don’t make me have to think too much.” If it takes too long for the visitor to figure out what to do, they will get frustrated or confused and hit the “back” button. Also, there are times where competing visual elements demand so much attention that the call-to-action is lost. Be sure that the call-to-action is obvious and it’s best if it’s above the fold.

Sin #2
Too Many Choices

Tim provided a great example of a Home page that had 146 clickable links! What exactly is the visitor supposed to do? For the sake of simplicity it is best to reduce the amount of detail so early in the process. The visitor doesn’t know you, therefore give them only what they need to know then provide sub-pages that they can go to for more detail if they choose. This grouping of choices into higher level categories will reduce confusion.

Sin #3
Asking for Too Much Information

This is especially true when someone is completing a form to be contacted or to receive a whitepaper, or sometimes even as the part of a shopping cart. If you ask for a lot of extraneous information (many times just for the purpose of gathering marketing information) it becomes too personal or it is not appropriate. If the process is too imposing or takes too much time, you’ll also lose them. Ask only for information that is absolutely necessary. If you don’t need a zip code, don’t ask for one. Reduce the number of fields in the form to the bare minimum which will also simplify. You can always get more details later, once you have established a level of trust.

Sin #4
Too Much Text

“Do I really have to read all of this?” How many times has that happened to you? We humans have very short attention spans especially online. In this case, less is definitely more. Unless you want your visitors to suffer some serious information overload, create very clear headlines and sub-headings in bulleted format. Use imagery if you can (only please, no overused stock photos). Most of all, put the important stuff, what you want them to know, first.

Sin #5
Not Keeping Your Promises

Every visitor to your website is there with a clear intent and in a particular frame of mind. They arrived because your email or pay-per-click ad gave them the expectation that they would find what they were looking for. The worst thing you can do is go back on that promise. Many times, because of a disconnect upstream, expectations are not met, and the “back” button is hit, only with vigor. Be sure you are representing what your ad talked about by repeating ad text or keywords. Provide clear access to information. Remember, your brand is a promise, keep it.

Sin #6
Too Many Visual Distractions

This used to be a huge problem back when Flash animation was all the rage. You would go to a website and be inundated with so much color and movement you’d thought you were having an epilepsy attack. Be clear about where on the page you want your visitor to look. Gratuitous graphics is like a visual assault, it interrupts the whole experience. I’ve seen websites where I can’t even separate content from navigation from branding. It’s just a hodge-podge. Studies have indicated that actually boring can convert better because there is no competition with the call-to-action. If your web designer is frustrated with boring, let them cut off their ear and be an artist!

Sin #7
Lack of Credibility and Trust

When a visitor comes to your website their first question is, “why should I trust you and buy from you?” Be prepared to answer that question and calm their concerns. You can do this with clearly displayed endorsements, trust symbols or social proof. In some cases, companies have featured the trust mark so prominently that is carries a heavier weight than the brand. Now that makes a statement: you are more concerned about your customer than you are about blowing your own horn. Whenever you can, use client logos and make sure you are providing generous money-back policies and guarantees.

My thanks again to Tim Ash and the folks at SiteTuners.

If you follow these guidelines and avoid these sins, your website visitors will not do the “touch and go” but will do the “touch and stay for a while and maybe even spend some money.”

As always, I welcome your comments.

Sincerely,

David

That Was a Great Landing!

CB057318

All of us hate a bad landing; it’s an unpleasant experience, it can at times be scary, and it does not meet our expectations. No, this isn’t going to be a post about flying, however you have to agree, a great landing is something we can all appreciate, right?.

I want to continue from my last post to explore the intricacies of website landing pages (or offer pages) and the effect that their design can have on overall conversion results. Of course the landing page should be designed for simplicity and ease of use, using the same brand identity of your company. They should be very specific to the offer you made in your direct mail piece or pay-per-click ad and should integrate your keyword research into the copy and design for each individual campaign. These are all the “must do’s” the very basics of landing page design. But, let’s think about what the next step might be, what could potentially take your campaign from good to great in terms of conversions.

As I stated before, there is not any two of us humans that are exactly alike, even if we’re twins. We have all come from different backgrounds and upbringings which can affect our tastes and preferences, not to exclude the differences in ages, sex or ethnicity. We have all had unique experiences, both good and bad. You can remember the time when you “bit” on an offer that was so unbelievably amazing that you just had to do it, later to find that the offer fell well short of its promotion. These kinds of experiences cause us to have hesitation as our trust factor has been violated. In “Marketing Experiments,” Hunter Boyle and his writers discuss the relationship between anxiety/friction versus incentive/value proposition in landing page design and testing.

http://www.marketingexperiments.com/improving-website-conversion/optimizing-landing-pages-increase-148.html.

What we’re really trying to understand is the emotional and psychological makeup of the person who has clicked on our email offer or PPC ad and by anticipating their needs, present to them the best and most optimized landing page experience that we can. Not an easy thing to do. Consider also that the time of day may come into play. The person that is up at 2:00 a.m. searching and browsing, unless they work during the night, we can assume is an insomniac and has more time to delve into the details of the landing page. Contrast this to that same person who is searching during their lunch break. They really don’t have time to spend, so the design of the landing page needs to facilitate finding the offer, realizing the incentive or value and converting, all very quickly. To complicate things further, if your product is sold internationally, you simply must take nationality into consideration.

The intricacies of landing page design and layout should not be taken lightly, as time and money is at stake without a careful plan of implementation and most importantly, continued testing. Even though you may think you have a fantastic design, if it doesn’t convert, it’s time to throw egos out the window and make changes. It is also important to partner with companies that have the expertise, experience, and technology needed to help you achieve your goals. You too can have a great landing.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Sincerely,
David Soxman

816.590.5038

david@davidsoxman.com

What Happens After The Click?

I have a question for you: Have you ever participated in an Adwords campaign (or other form of paid search) for the purpose of on-line lead generation or to sell your products through a shopping cart? Were you really happy with the results? Did you come away saying, “I don’t think this really works?” What about an email campaign that you put a lot of time, effort and expense into, specifically designing a strong call-to-action and a link to your website only to be frustrated that the lead generation results were dismal at best?

I’ve run across many clients that have experienced these same frustrations. When they looked at their website analytics they found that many people simply abandoned after clicking through. You spent a lot of money getting people interested enough to make that click, but then sent them to a website page that simply didn’t offer them what they were looking for. And guess what, it is estimated that you have less than three seconds to make an impression, perhaps the first and only impression that the visitor will get of your company and what you have to offer. If they don’t see what they want, you’ve lost them.

An optimized landing page (sometimes referred to as an offer page) is one viable solution to this problem. If all you’re doing is sending the person that clicked on your link to the Home page of your website, you’re forcing them to find what they were initially interested in with lots of clicking and perhaps even some frustration. Of all the products and services you may offer, they were really only looking for the specific one you mentioned in your email/direct mail or what they typed into their search query and since they didn’t find it immediately, they abandoned your site.

A landing page on the other hand is very specific to what you are promoting in your email/direct mail piece or for what they were searching. Without the distractions of other offers or products, you make it easier for your customers to focus on what you want them to do: buy something, enroll in a class, download a whitepaper, request information etc. It’s all about making this process as easy as possible and giving them exactly what they want. The other great benefit to the landing page is the ability to track the success of specific campaigns. You can have one landing page for your email campaign; one for your direct mail piece and one for your pay-per-click campaign giving you the ability to monitor how each is performing, not only from the standpoint of click-throughs but also who actually did what you wanted them to do.

Now it’s not just about throwing any old landing page up and hoping for success. Spend some time in the design of this page. Most importantly, it should carry the same look and feel as all of your other marketing efforts, both online and offline. We generally like the email or direct mail we send to have the same exact look as the landing page that we will take them to. Be sure that your branding is consistent. BNET Editorial does a very good job of describing the attributes of a landing page and what to avoid. http://www.bnet.com/2410-13237_23-168347.html

Now, since we are all unique individuals, with different experiences, tastes, upbringings, ages, ethnicity, sex, does it really make since to present the same landing page to every individual that responds by clicking on your link? In my next post I’ll deal with the concept of multiple landing pages for individual campaigns. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Regards,

David Soxman

http://twitter.com/davidsoxman

Mobile: 816.590.5038