Tag Archive | "Conversion"

Ask MarketingSherpa: Maturity of conversion rate optimization (CRO) industry

Marketers and experts weigh in on where CRO is in the adoption lifecycle.
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Campaign-level conversion actions now live for Google search, display campaigns

Campaign action sets are also available to optimize campaigns for multiple conversion actions.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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All Google Ads attribution reports will soon include cross-device conversion data

Make note, the change takes effect May 1.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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How to Optimize Your Conversion Funnel, from ToFu to BoFu

Posted by OliviaRoss

No matter who your customer is or what you’re selling, it’s more likely than not that your customer will have to go through several steps before choosing to buy your product or service. Think about your own shopping habits: you don’t just buy the first thing you see. The first thing you do is note that you have a problem or a need, and then you research a solution online. Once you find that solution, which could be a product or service, you then decide which manufacturer or company is the best fit for your needs based on price, features, quantity — whatever it is that you are looking for.

The sales funnel is a drawn-out process, so it’s important for you to understand your customer’s pain points, needs, and intents as they go from learning about your company to deciding whether or not they want to pay you for your services or products. The goal is for a customer to not only choose you but to keep choosing you over and over again with repeat purchases. By understanding where your customer is in the funnel, you can better move them through that funnel into a reoccurring sale.

What is the conversion funnel?

The “conversion funnel” (also known as the “sales funnel”) is a term that helps you to visualize and understand the flow through which a potential customer lands on your site and then takes a desired action (i.e. converts). This process is often described as a funnel because you’re guiding the customer toward your conversion point. And these prospects come from a gamut of methods such as SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, paid ads, and cold outreach.

Conversion rate optimization can occur at every stage in the funnel to improve the number of people you drive towards the most important action. To do this effectively, you need to think about the user experience at each stage — what they want, and how you can give it to them.

A typical conversion funnel has several stages: awareness, interest, consideration, intent, and finally purchase (buy).

Here’s a quick rundown of what to offer for each step of the funnel:

Creating your funnel

Before you even bother creating different offers for different steps in the funnel, you’ll need to make sure you’re tracking these goals properly. The first step is to set up a funnel visualization in Google Analytics. In building your funnel, focus on these three things:

  • The name of your goal: This goal should have a recognizable name so you know what you’re looking at in your reports. For example, “Document capture e-book A” or “free trial subscription B.”
  • The actual funnel layout: You may add up to 10 pages in Google Analytics for a conversion funnel. This will allow you to find out where prospects are leaving before completing the goal. Without this, you won’t know which areas need the most attention and improvement.
  • The value of the goal: In order to determine your ROI, you’ll need to decide what a complete goal is worth. If 20% of prospects who download a whitepaper end up becoming customers who spend $ 1000 with you, the download value might be $ 200 (20% of $ 1000).

A very important to thing to take note of is that your potential customers will be coming from several different avenues to your site. Assuming you don’t have a very small site with very few visitors, there are several likely paths prospects will take towards conversion.

If you try to push all of your prospects through the same funnel, it may look like your site’s conversion rate is extremely low. However, these customers may be getting to you through a different way such as landing pages.

You must account for all avenues of traffic. Image Source

Awareness stage

It’s no secret that customers need to know you exist before they can even think about considering you. So in this phase, you need to focus on attracting people to your site.

For this first step of the funnel, the goal is to create a strong first impression and to build a relationship with your prospective customers. This content should impress them enough that they fill out a form showing interest by giving you their email. Creating multiple TOFU offers gives you the information (company, name, email address) you need to segment and nurture leads further down the funnel.

Blogging

Let’s say Directive wants to create lead generation content. We’ll have some blog posts around PPC, SEO, and content marketing, and we will make sure to categorize these, either in the URL itself or on specific pages, in order to more easily segment our audiences.

So not only should you be targeting people based on the categories they’re visiting, but if you send people to very specific content upgrades or exit popups based on the content they’re reading, you’re going to increase your conversion rates even more.

Let’s pretend your conversion rate is normally just 3–4%, but a blog post talking about technical SEO saw an 18% conversion rate. This is because you’re sending a very specific audience to that page.

Look at how HubSpot lays out their resources navigation. There’s tons of valuable content to learn from.

HelpScout separates their content into categories, and each post is easily scannable in the 3-column card structure.

Social networking

People use social networks for everything nowadays, from getting advice to looking up reviews and referrals. They like seeing the behind-the-scenes on a business’ Instagram, they field their complaints through a business’ Facebook and Twitter, and they look for tutorials and how-tos on Pinterest and YouTube. Social proof builds trust and helps increase conversions. Therefore, create an active presence on the networks that make sense for your market in order to meet your customers. Social media can also indirectly impact your search engine rankings.

OptinMonster – Image Source

Interest / consideration

This stage of the conversion funnel is where you must start standing out from your competitors. If you offer service A at price B but so does Competitor #3, then how is that going to set you apart? What’s going to make the customer more interested in you over a competitor? The thing that makes you different is what will generate the most interest. This is why your unique value proposition (UVP) is so important.

According to Unbounce, your UVP, also known as a unique selling proposition (USP), is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs, and what sets you apart from the competition.

During the interest stage, your website and content are extremely important in creating that closer relationship with your customers. However, people merely visiting your awesome site is not enough. You will want to keep them engaged after they leave. Just like in the awareness phase, we do this by capturing their email. However, we want to push a little further now.

PPC and landing pages

You can easily increase conversions with email opt-ins that only appear to your PPC visitors. Using this page-level targeting can really boost the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns.

Focus on creating attention-grabbing content like headlines, carousel images, and banners all focused around your UVP.

Here at Directive, we’re constantly coming up with strategies to help our clients get the most leverage out of their content. We created a landing page focused around demo requests. This page was not performing nearly as well as we would have hoped, so we decided to change the offer to a demo video.

By switching an offering from a full demo to just a short 5-minute demo video, we saw a tremendous lift in conversion rates. It makes sense when you realize that the people in our target audience were in the awareness stage and were not interested in spending 30 minutes to an hour with a stranger explaining a product that they’re not ready to buy. As you can see, the demo video outperformed the full demo by an increase of 800%.

Now these leads aren’t anywhere close to buying yet, but it’s better to build that interest in a larger pool of people who can potentially turn into sales than to only have two sales qualified leads to start with.

Site optimization

If you notice that you’re getting decent traffic to your website but the prospects are bouncing after a short amount of time, the problem could be that your website doesn’t have the content they’re looking for, or that the site is difficult to navigate. Make sure to focus on making your web pages clean and legible. You only get one shot at a first impression, so your site must be easy to navigate and the content must explain the unique value of your product or service.

Think about creating supporting content, including a mission statement, blog posts, great promotional offerings, a competitive shipping and returns policy — whatever drives the point home that your customers need the services that only you can offer. Your content needs to encourage visitors to want to learn more about you and what you do. If you’re creating blog posts (which you should be), include a call to action for more in-depth content that requires prospects to join your email list to receive it.

The Calls to Action on your pages are extremely important to focus on as well. If the prospects aren’t sure what you’re offering, they’ll be less likely to convert. For this client, we changed the CTA text to “Get an Instant Quote” from “Shop Now” and right off the bat, it made a huge difference. We ended the experiment in about 11 days because it worked so well and the client was so happy.

When comparing the rest of the quarter after the test was complete to the same period before the test began, we saw a 39% increase in request a quote submissions, and a 132% increase in completed checkouts.

Along with concise and clear UVP-related copy throughout your website and blog, continue using white papers, guides, checklists, and templates. These are your lead magnets to gather more customer emails in exchange for your offer.

Gather qualitative data

Use qualitative data tools such as Hotjar to find out where people are clicking, scrolling, or getting stuck on your website. You can build your conversion funnel in Hotjar to see where customers are dropping off. This will tell you which pages you need to optimize.

In this Hotjar funnel, you can see that there’s a major drop off on the demo page. What information isn’t clear on the demo page? Is there friction on this page to keep customers from wanting a demo?

If you’re still not sure what to fix, sometimes it’s best to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Set up user polls on your site asking customers what’s keeping them from getting their demo/trial/product/etc.

Live chat and chatbots are another way to get user feedback. Gartner forecasts that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. People want answers to their problems as quickly as possible, so providing that live chat solution is a great way to keep people from bouncing because they can’t find the information they need.

Intent (also known as the evaluation or desire phase)

By now, you and some of your competitors are in the running, but only one of you can win first prize. Your potential customers have now started to narrow down their options and eliminate bad fits. According to HubSpot, companies with refined middle-of-the-funnel engagement and lead management strategy see a 4–10 times higher response rate compared to generic email blasts and outreach. Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% lift in sales opportunities. Clearly, this is an extremely important part in the funnel.

Customers in the middle of the sales funnel are looking for content that shows them that you’re the expert in what you do. Live demos, expert guides, webinars, and white papers that explain how you’re better over competitors are very valuable at this stage. Use social proof to your advantage by using testimonials, reviews, and case studies to show how other customers have enjoyed your services or products. Many qualified leads are still not ready to buy. So in order to nurture these leads and turn them into real paying customers, provide interesting emails or an online community such as a Facebook group.

Email

Start educating your potential customers about what it is you do. Build trust through automated emails sent to subscribers with answers to FAQs about your services and links to new content you have created.

In this email, we offer a piece of content relevant to our subscribers’ interests

Create location- and product-specific pages

Often times, your prospective clients are searching for a very specific product, or they need a service that’s local to their area. By creating pages focused around what these users need, you’re likely to get more conversions and qualified leads than a general overview page.

At Directive, we created location pages for a client that targeted the areas they serve. We optimized the pages to reflect bubble keywords that increased their rankings and we now rank for a few different keywords on both the first and second page on Google. Since then, the amount of conversions from these pages have been tremendous.

Click to see a larger image.

Continue using PPC campaigns

Click to see a larger image.

In this example, we brought a top-of-funnel CTA into bottom-of-funnel targeting.

We created ads that linked to a gated whitepaper on the client’s website. As you can see, there are a large number of impressions with 531 clicks.

The theory was that our targeting was enough of a pre-qualification. Instead of getting a custom practice evaluation, the user was offered a map to show them how much money they could be making per patient in their state.

Continue using landing pages

A specific landing page and call to action is more relevant to the visitor’s needs than your homepage and so is more likely to convert.

Following the multi-step model designed to ease visitors into a commitment, here’s a demo example from one of our clients:

Notice the questions being asked in the step-one form:

  1. Average Monthly Revenue
  2. Current E-Commerce Pain Points

These questions allow the user to stay anonymous. They also lead the user to believe that they will get a more custom response to their needs based on the specific information they input.

Next, they’re directed to the second-step form fields:

This step is asking for the personal information. However, notice the change in headline on the form itself. “Last step: We have your demo ready to go. Who can we give this to?” This second-step language is very important as it reminds the visitor as to why we need their information: it’s for their benefit — we want to give the visitor something, not take something from them. Time and again, I see a multi-step page outperform a one-step by 300%.

Take advantage of thank you pages

Even though you’ve already captured a lead/sale/sign-up/conversion, thank you and confirmation pages are a necessary step in the funnel process. Right after people opt in for the offer on your landing page, you’ll want to ask them to immediately take another specific action on the thank you page. For example, if you have a page offering a free e-book, offer a free demo on the thank you page to attempt to push those prospects farther down the funnel. They’ll be much more likely to take an action once you’ve already convinced them to take a smaller action.

When visitors land on the report thank you page, we provide them the download link, but we also provide next steps with an option to get a demo.

It’s important to tag people based on what they’ve downloaded or what posts they’ve read. That way you can create tailored messaging for these prospects when reaching out to them through email.

Action

Assuming you’ve optimized each step of the conversion funnel, you should have some qualified leads becoming paying customers. However, your work here is not done. You will need to continue nurturing those qualified leads. After someone has taken a desired action and converted on your website, you’ll want to get these people back into the funnel in order to coax them into repeat business. Retention is such an important part of growing your customer base, since this will be revenue that you don’t have to pay for — this audience already showed a definite interest in what you’re offering.

If the lead converts into a customer, show them your other products or services and begin the cycle again. For example, let’s say you provide tree-trimming services and your customer just had you come by to trim the oak trees in their large backyard. After the job is done, continue reaching out to this customer with other services such as grass treatment, stump removals, or whatever else could be useful to them. You can do this by inviting them to an email newsletter or your social media channels. Send coupons and promotions via email. If you have an online store, include loyalty materials in their shipped order so they understand how much you value them as a customer.

Along with nurturing this repeat business, focus on optimizing your product pages by removing friction and doing all you can to encourage shoppers to checkout. Examine and improve your checkout flow by answering common questions along the way.

Key takeaways

Optimizing your funnel is a process that takes time, so don’t be afraid to experiment. It may take a few different offers before you find one that sticks and garners the most conversions. So create as many TOFU offers as you can think of to cater to the many different personas that make up your customer base. From white books and e-books to free trials, your TOFU content is the first step to building that relationship with your customers.

From there, continue creating great content and nurturing those mid-funnel leads. If your content is relevant and your website is optimized, you’ll notice that you’ll be getting many more leads than you did before optimization. The more leads you gather and keep interested, the more likely you are to get repeat sales!

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Looking Beyond Keywords: How to Drive Conversion with Visual Search & Search by Camera

Posted by Jes.Scholz

Let’s play a game. I’ll show you an image. You type in the keyword to find the exact product featured in the image online. Ready?

Google her sunglasses…

What did you type? Brown sunglasses? Brown sunglasses with heavy frame? Retro-look brown sunglasses with heavy frame? It doesn’t matter how long-tail you go, it will be difficult to find that exact pair, if not impossible. And you’re not alone.

For 74% of consumers, traditional text-based keyword searches are inefficient at helping find the right products online.

But much of your current search behavior is based on the false premise that you can describe things in words. In many situations, we can’t.

And this shows in the data. Sometimes we forget that Google Images accounts for 22.6% of all searches — searches where traditional methods of searching were not the best fit.

Image credit: Sparktoro

But I know what you’re thinking. Image SEO drives few to no sessions, let alone conversions. Why should I invest my limited resources into visual marketing?

Because humans are visual creatures. And now, so too are mobile phones — with big screens, multiple cameras, and strong depth perception.

Developments in computer vision have led to a visual marketing renaissance. Just look to visual search leader Pinterest, who reported that 55% of their users shop on the platform. How well do those users convert? Heap Analytics data shows that on shopping cart sizes under $ 199, image-based Pinterest Ads have an 8.5% conversion rate. To put that in context, that’s behind Google’s 12.3% but in front of Facebook’s 7.2%.

Not only can visual search drive significant conversions online. Image recognition is also driving the digitalization and monetization in the real world.

The rise of visual search in Google

Traditionally, image search functioned like this: Google took a text-based query and tried to find the best visual match based on metadata, markups, and surrounding copy.

But for many years now, the image itself can also act as the search query. Google can search for images with images. This is called visual search.

Google has been quietly adding advanced image recognition capabilities to mobile Google Images over the last years, with a focus on the fashion industry as a test case for commercial opportunities (although the functionality can be applied to automotive, travel, food, and many other industries). Plotting the updates, you can see clear stepping stone technologies building on the theme of visual search.

  • Related images (April 2013): Click on a result to view visually similar images. The first foray into visual search.
  • Collections (November 2015): Allows users to save images directly from Google’s mobile image search into folders. Google’s answer to a Pinterest board.
  • Product images in web results (October 2016): Product images begin to display next to website links in mobile search.
  • Product details on images (December 2016): Click on an image result to display product price, availability, ratings, and other key information directly in the image search results.
  • Similar items (April 2017): Google can identify products, even within lifestyle images, and showcases similar items you can buy online.
  • Style ideas (April 2017): The flip side to similar items. When browsing fashion product images on mobile, Google shows you outfit montages and inspirational lifestyle photos to highlight how the product can be worn in real life.
  • Image badges (August 2017): Label on the image indicate what other details are available, encouraging more users to click; for example, badges such as “recipe” or a timestamp for pages featuring videos. But the most significant badge is “product,” shown if the item is available for purchase online.
  • Image captions (March 2018): Display the title tag and domain underneath the image.

Combining these together, you can see powerful functionality. Google is making a play to turn Google Images into shoppable product discovery — trying to take a bite out of social discovery platforms and give consumers yet another reason to browse on Google, rather than your e-commerce website.

Image credit: Google

What’s more, Google is subtly leveraging the power of keyword search to enlighten users about these new features. According to 1st May MozCast, 18% of text-based Google searches have image blocks, which drive users into Google Images.

This fundamental change in Google Image search comes with a big SEO opportunity for early adopters. Not only for transactional queries, but higher up the funnel with informational queries as well.

kate-middleton-style.gif

Let’s say you sell designer fashion. You could not only rank #1 with your blog post on a informational query on “kate middleton style,” including an image on your article result to enhance the clickability of your SERP listing. You can rank again on page 1 within the image pack, then have your products featured in Similar Items — all of which drives more high-quality users to your site.

And the good news? This is super simple to implement.

How to drive organic sessions with visual search

The new visual search capabilities are all algorithmically selected based on a combination of schema and image recognition. Google told TechCrunch:

“The images that appear in both the style ideas and similar items grids are also algorithmically ranked, and will prioritize those that focus on a particular product type or that appear as a complete look and are from authoritative sites.”

This means on top of continuing to establish Domain Authority site-wide, you need images that are original, high resolution, and clearly focus on a single theme. But most importantly, you need images with perfectly implemented structured markup to rank in Google Images.

To rank your images, follow these four simple steps:

1. Implement schema markup

To be eligible for similar items, you need product markup on the host page that meets the minimum metadata requirements of:

  • Name
  • Image
  • Price
  • Currency
  • Availability

But the more quality detail, the better, as it will make your results more clickable.

2. Check your implementation

Validate your implementation by running a few URLs through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. But remember, just being valid is sometimes not enough. Be sure to look into the individual field result to ensure the data is correctly populating and user-friendly.

3. Get indexed

Be aware, it can take up to one week for your site’s images to be crawled. This will be helped along by submitting an image XML sitemap in Google Search Console.

4. Look to Google Images on mobile

Check your implementation by doing a site:yourdomain.cctld query on mobile in Google Images.

If you see no image results badges, you likely have an implementation issue. Go back to step 2. If you see badges, click a couple to ensure they show your ideal markup in the details.

Once you confirm all is well, then you can begin to search for your targeted keywords to see how and where you rank.

Like all schema markup, how items display in search results is at Google’s discretion and not guaranteed. However, quality markup will increase the chance of your images showing up.

It’s not always about Google

Visual search is not limited to Google. And no, I’m not talking about just Bing. Visual search is also creating opportunities to be found and drive conversion on social networks, such as Pinterest. Both brands allow you to select objects within images to narrow down your visual search query.

Image credit: MarTech Today

On top of this, we also have shoppable visual content on the rise, bridging the gap between browsing and buying. Although at present, this is more often driven by data feeds and tagging more so than computer vision. For example:

  • Brahmin offers shoppable catalogs
  • Topshop features user-generated shoppable galleries
  • Net-a-Porter’s online magazine features shoppable article
  • Ted Baker’s campaigns with shoppable videos
  • Instagram & Pinterest both monetize with shoppable social media posts

Such formats reduce the number of steps users need to take from content to conversion. And more importantly for SEOs, they exclude the need for keyword search.

I see a pair of sunglasses on Instagram. I don’t need to Google the name, then click on the product page and then convert. I use the image as my search query, and I convert. One click. No keywords.

…But what if I see those sunglasses offline?

Digitize the world with camera-based search

The current paradigm for SEOs is that we wait for a keyword search to occur, and then compete. Not only for organic rankings, but also for attention versus paid ads and other rich features.

With computer vision, you can cut the keyword search out of the customer journey. By entering the funnel before the keyword search occurs, you can effectively exclude your competitors.

Who cares if your competitor has the #1 organic spot on Google, or if they have more budget for Adwords, or a stronger core value proposition messaging, if consumers never see it?

Consumers can skip straight from desire to conversion by taking a photo with their smartphone.

Brands taking search by camera mainstream

Search by camera is well known thanks to Pinterest Lens. Built into the app, simply point your camera phone at a product discovered offline for online recommendations of similar items.

If you point Lens at a pair of red sneakers, it will find you visually similar sneakers as well as idea on how to style it.

Image credit: Pinterest

But camera search is not limited to only e-commerce or fashion applications.

Say you take a photo of strawberries. Pinterest understand you’re not looking for more pictures of strawberries, but for inspiration, so you’ll see recipe ideas.

The problem? For you, or your consumers, Pinterest is unlikely to be a day-to-day app. To be competitive against keyword search, search by camera needs to become part of your daily habit.

Samsung understands this, integrating search by camera into their digital personal assistant Bixby, with functionality backed by powerful partnerships.

  • Pinterest Lens powers its images search
  • Amazon powers its product search
  • Google translates text
  • Foursquare helps to find places nearby

Bixby failed to take the market by storm, and so is unlikely to be your go-to digital personal assistant. Yet with the popularity of search by camera, it’s no surprise that Google has recently launched their own version of Lens in Google Assistant.

Search engines, social networks, and e-commerce giants are all investing in search by camera…

…because of impressive impacts on KPIs. BloomReach reported that e-commerce websites reached by search by camera resulted in:

  • 48% more product views
  • 75% greater likelihood to return
  • 51% higher time on site
  • 9% higher average order value

Camera search has become mainstream. So what’s your next step?

How to leverage computer vision for your brand

As a marketer, your job is to find the right use case for your brand, that perfect point where either visual search or search by camera can reduce friction in conversion flows.

Many case studies are centered around snap-to-shop. See an item you like in a friend’s home, at the office, or walking past you on the street? Computer vision takes you directly from picture to purchase.

But the applications of image recognition are only limited by your vision. Think bigger.

Branded billboards, magazines ads, product packaging, even your brick-and-mortar storefront displays all become directly actionable. Digitalization with snap-to-act via a camera phone offers more opportunities than QR codes on steroids.

If you run a marketplace website, you can use computer vision to classify products: Say a user wants to list a pair of shoes for sale. They simply snap a photo of the item. With that photo, you can automatically populate the fields for brand, color, category, subcategory, materials, etc., reducing the number of form fields to what is unique about this item, such as the price.

A travel company can offer snap-for-info on historical attractions, a museum on artworks, a healthy living app on calories in your lunch.

What about local SEO? Not only could computer vision show the rating or menu of your restaurant before the user walks inside, but you could put up a bus stop ad calling for hungry travelers to take a photo. The image triggers Google Maps, showing public transport directions to your restaurant. You can take the customer journey, quite literally. Tell them where to get off the bus.

And to build such functionality is relatively easy, because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. There are many open-source image recognition APIs to help you leverage pre-trained image classifiers, or from which you can train your own:

  • Google Cloud Vision
  • Amazon Rekognition
  • IBM Watson
  • Salesforce Einstein
  • Slyce
  • Clarifai

Let’s make this actionable. You now know computer vision can greatly improve your user experience, conversion rate and sessions. To leverage this, you need to:

  1. Make your brand visual interactive through image recognition features
  2. Understand how consumers visually search for your products
  3. Optimize your content so it’s geared towards visual technology

Visual search is permeating online and camera search is becoming commonplace offline. Now is the time to outshine your competitors. Now is the time to understand the foundations of visual marketing. Both of these technologies are stepping stones that will lead the way to an augmented reality future.

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Email Testing: 7 tips from your peers for email conversion optimization

We recently asked the MarketingSherpa audience for tips on running effective email tests. Here are a few of the most helpful responses to consider as you start to develop an email testing program.
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How to drive conversion using a value proposition-focused testing strategy in email marketing

Value proposition is the maximized, optimized force of the perceived value that you are offering to potential customers. Many marketers, however, leave it on the website and forget about it in email. We’re busy testing this subject line or that, without any real strategy in mind.
A peer example in this blog post will show examples of how to formulate a testing strategy for every element of email marketing, giving you an advantage over the competition and driving conversion.

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Marketing 101: What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

If you’re in advertising or marketing, it helps to have an understanding of what conversion rate optimization is. CRO can be a powerful tool to improve the success of every marketing campaign, initiative and website you work on.
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SearchCap: Bing Ads quality policy and conversion changes, Apple search ads & technical SEO

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Bing Ads quality policy and conversion changes, Apple search ads & technical SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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How "Message Match" Can Lift Conversion Rates by 212.74% [Case Study]

Posted by bsmarketer

Google offered to build a free mobile website for our past client. But rather than take them up on that very generous offer, they hired us to rebuild it for them (at about $ 20,000+ times Google’s initial estimate).

Smart or dumb?

The problem is that shoving an outdated legacy design onto a smaller screen won’t fix your problems. In fact, it’ll only amplify them. Instead, the trick is to zoom back out to the big picture. Then it’s a fairly straightforward process of:

  1. Figuring out who your customers are
  2. What they want
  3. And how they want it

That way, you can align all of the critical variables (thereby making your “messages match”) in order to improve their experience. Which, if done correctly, should also improve your bottom line; in the end, our client saw a 69.39% cost per conversion decrease with a 212.74% conversion rate lift.

Here’s how you can do the same.

How AdWords pricing works

AdWords is an auction. Kinda, sorta.

It’s an auction-based system where (typically) the highest bidder receives the best positions on the page. But that’s not always the case. It’s possible for someone to rank in the coveted 1–2 positions above you and actually pay less per click than you. (Not to mention convert those people at a higher percentage once they hit your site — but we’ll leave that until later.)

Any marketer worth their salt knows what’s coming up next.

The Quality Score begins to dictate effective pricing. It’s not the end-all be-all PPC metric. But it’s a helpful gauge that lets you know if you’re on the right path to prosperity and profits — or not. It’s a blend of several factors, including the expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Ad Rank is used in conjunction to determine position based on an ad’s performance. (That’s the 30-second explanation, anyway.)

Years ago, Larry Kim analyzed Quality Score in-depth to determine just what kind of impact it had on what you pay. You should read the full thing. But one of the key takeaways was this:

Note that if your Quality Score is below average, you’ll basically pay a penalty — up to 64% more per conversion than your average advertiser. In a nutshell, for every Quality Score point above the average 5/10 score, your CPA will drop by 16%, on average. Conversely, for every Quality Score point below the average of 5/10, your CPA will rise by 16%.

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Fast forward to just a few months ago, and Disruptive Advertising’s Jacob Baadsgaard analyzed their 2,000+ AdWords accounts (with millions in ad spend) to filter out a similar analysis. They ended up with strikingly similar results:

In fact, our results are strikingly similar to those reported by Larry Kim. If your quality score increases by 1 point, your cost-per-conversion decreases by 13% (Larry puts it at 16%). If your quality score decreases by 1 point, your cost-per-conversion increases by 13%.”

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Coincidence? Unlikely.

But wait, there’s more!

Jumping platforms for a second, Facebook introduced a “Relevance Score” recently. AdEspresso analyzed 104,256 ads over a 45-day period and saw a similar correlation between a higher Relevance Score and lower CPC rates. The inverse is also true.

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Okay. Three different analyses, by three different people, across two channels, with three similar results. What can we learn from this?

That the alignment of your ads, your keyword or audience targeting, and your landing pages significantly influence costs (not to mention, eventual results). And what’s the one underlying concept that affects these?

Your “message match.”

How to get message match right

Oli from Unbounce is a masochist. You’d have to be anyway, in order to spend a day clicking on 300 different paid ads, noting message match along the way.

The final tally?

98% of the 300 ads Oli clicked on did NOT successfully match. That’s incredibly bad, as this doesn’t take any PPC ninja skills. All it takes is a little attention to detail. Because what is message match?

You use the same headline, description or value proposition, and image from your ad:

great message match ad

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And include those same elements on the landing page people visit:

great message match landing page

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Sure, you probably don’t want to use clip art in your ads and on your landing pages in 2017, but at least they’ve got the basics down.

When you think about this concept holistically, it makes perfect sense. In real life, the majority of communication is nonverbal. Fifty-five percent, in fact, comes down to your expressions, gestures, and posture.

Online you lack that nuance and context. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to strike the same emotional chord with a text-only headline limited to 25 characters as you can through audio and video. It (literally) pays to be as specific and explicit as possible. And while it could take hours to distill all of this down, here’s the CliffsNotes version.

Step #1: Your audience/keywords

AdWords generated about 68% of Google’s revenue in 2014. Last year they made $ 75 billion. So we’re talking billions with a B here.

A lot of that comes down to a searcher’s (1) intent and (2) urgency, where you bid on classically bottom-of-the-funnel keyphrases and convert ~2–10% of those clicks.

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(Facebook’s kind of a different beast, where you instead build a funnel for each step.)

Even though it sounds trite, the best ways to come up with keyphrases is a deeper understanding of what makes your potential customers tick (besides doing the obvious and dropping your competitor’s domain name into SEMrush or SpyFu to see what they’re all bidding on).

A nice, actionable example of this is The Ad Grid from Digital Marketer, which helps you figure out which potential “hooks” should/would work for each customer type. build-traffic-campaigns-img5.jpg

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From there, you would obviously hit the keyword research market with your Keyword Explorers and SEMrushes and then distill all of your information down into one nice, neat little package.

Again borrowing from the excellence of others, my favorite approach would be single-keyword ad group (SKAG) from Johnathan Dane at KlientBoost.

For example, one Ad Group would have a single keyphrase with each match type, like the following:

  • Broad: +marriage +proposal +planners
  • Phrase: “marriage proposal planners”
  • Exact: [marriage proposal planners]

This, unsurprisingly, seems time-consuming. That’s because it is.

Don’t worry, because it’s about to get even worse.

Step #2: Your ads

The best way to scale your PPC ad writing is to create a formula. You have different variables that you mix-and-match, watching CTRs and other metrics to determine which combination works best.

Start with something simple, like Johnathan + Klientboost’s example that incorporates the appropriate balance of keyphrase + benefits + action:

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For bottom-of-the-funnel, no-frills keyphrases, sometimes simple and direct works best. You don’t have to get overly clever with reinventing the wheel. You just slap in your keyphrase in that little headline space and try to emphasize your primary value prop, USP, or benefit that might get people to click on your ad instead of all the others that look just like it.

Ad writing can get difficult and messy if you get lost in the intangible fluffiness of jargon.

Don’t.

Instead, focus on emphasizing concrete examples, benefits, and outcomes of whatever it is you’re advertising. Here are some of Digital Marketer’s hooks to borrow from:

  1. How does it compare the before and after effect?
  2. How does it make them feel emotionally/?
  3. How (specifically) does it improve their average day?
  4. How does it affect their status or vanity?
  5. Is there quantifiable proof of results?
  6. What’s the expected time to results (i.e. speed)?

You can then again strip away the minutia by boiling everything down to variables.

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For more reading on this topic, here’s a deeper dive into scaling PPC ad writing on WordStream.

Step #3: Landing page

Okay — here comes the fun part.

Marketing efforts in general fail when we can only (or are only allowed) to make surface-level changes. Marketing doesn’t equal just advertising, after all.

Made a ton of updates to an AdWords account? Great. You’ll still struggle until you can take full control over the destinations those ads are sending to, and create new dedicated pages for each campaign.

In an ideal world, each of your SKAGs created above would have their own specific landing page too. If you’re good at math, that landing page total in your head just jumped another 5X most likely. But as we’ve alluded, it’s worth it.

You start with a single new landing page template. Then think of each element as its own interchangeable variable you can mix and match (get it?). For example, the headline, hero image, bullet points and CTAs can evolve or update for one type of customer:

Attorney insurance quotes

And be quickly duplicated/cloned, then switched out for another to increase message match as much as possible:

Dentist insurance quotes

Perfect. Another incredibly time-consuming task to add to your list to get done this week.

Fortunately, there are a few tricks to scale this approach too.

Possibility #1: Dynamic Text Replacement

Unbounce’s ready-made solution will allow you to create a standard landing page, and then automatically (or dynamically) switch out that content based on what someone just searched for.

You can enter these dynamic text fields using their visual builder, then hook it up to your AdWords account so you literally don’t have to lift a finger.

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Each section allows you to specify default text to use (similar to how you’d specify a fallback font for all browsers for example).

Possibility #2: Advanced Custom Fields

This one requires a little bit of extra leg work, but it makes technical people smile.

My company used Advanced Custom Fields + Flexible Content to create these variable options on the backend of WordPress pages, so we (and clients) can simply mass-produce unique content at scale.

For the example used earlier, here’s what switching out the Hero section on the earlier landing page example would look like:

Click and upload an image to a pre-formatted space. Select a few radio options for page placement. Easy-peasy.

Here’s what the headline and subhead space looks like:

Now making changes or updates to landing pages (to get message match right) takes just a few seconds per page.

We even build out these options for secondary calls-to-action on a page as well, like footer CTAs:

This way, with the click of a button, we can set up and test how different CTA options might work.

For example, how does simple and direct…

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…compare with one of the hooks that we came up with in a previous step?

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For extra credit, you can combine these customizable features based on your inbound traffic segmentation with your exit intent (or overlay) messaging.

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How increasing PPC message match drives results

So back to the results.

After updating the ad account and making major modifications to our client’s landing page infrastructure, here’s what improved message match can deliver (in a competitive industry with mid-five figure monthly spend).

In 2015, before all of this work, the cost per converted click was $ 482.41 and conversion rate across all accounts was only 4.08%.

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During the same 30-day period in 2016 (after all of this work), the cost per converted click fell to only $ 147.65 and the conversion rate jumped to 12.76%.

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That means way more leads, for far less. And this just scratches the surface, because in many cases, AdWords conversions are still just leads. Not true sales.

We haven’t even discussed post-lead conversion tactics to combine all of this with, like marketing automation, where you would combine the same message match approach by sending targeted content that builds on the same topics or hooks that people originally searched for and converted on.

Or layering in newer (read: less competitive or expensive) options like Facebook, automatically syncing these leads to your aforementioned marketing automation workflows that are pre-configured with the same message match in mind.

The possibilities are endless, and the same laser-focus on aligning message match with each channel has the potential to increase results throughout the entire funnel.

Conclusion

When a sale is moved from offline to on, we lose a lot of the context for communication that we commonly rely upon.

As a result, the focus tends to shift more towards clarity and specificity.

There’s no greater example than looking at how today’s most popular online ad platforms work, where the costs people pay are directly tied to their performance and ability to “match” or align their ads and content to what people are looking for.

Clever vs. clear?

Who cares — as long as your messages match.

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