Tag Archive | "ideas"

Wanted: Session ideas for SMX West





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The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of…

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The Art of Finding Ideas

Every writer who has ever lived has lusted after ideas. Where are they, how do I get them, and how…

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Why You’re Missing Out if You Save Your Best Content Ideas

Imagine this, if you will. An old woman, near the end of her life. Shivering in a fleabag apartment without…

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8 Content Distribution Ideas to Meet Your Brand’s Goals

Posted by AlliBerry3

There’s a lot to consider when creating a content strategy in 2019. Not only is there more competition than ever online, but there are so many types of content and ways to reach your target audience. Do you start a blog? Do you podcast? Should you focus on research studies or whitepapers? How do you really know what to do?

But before you do anything else, you need to define what goals you want to accomplish with your content. 

I’ve written previously about the importance of having an audience-focused content strategy before — and it’s still relevant. Every single piece of content you create needs to be mapped to a goal, otherwise, it’ll leave your audience wondering why they should care and what to do next, assuming it even reaches your target audience at all.

But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you have your goals and your brand’s unique angle nailed down, you’ll also need to prioritize your means of content distribution. This is especially important if you’re just starting out — you should zero in on a few key distribution channels and master those before you expand into others, or you risk spreading yourself too thin and sabotage your chances of success in any of them.

This post will help you zero in on what distribution channels make the most sense for your goals, and how to create content that will perform well in them.

Content goal: Brand awareness

If you’re a new brand or a lesser-known brand in your vertical, it’s crucial to expose your audience to your brand and demonstrate how it can solve their problems. There are many distribution options for brand awareness, and they all involve using external platforms in some way to help you connect to a larger audience of people.

1. Syndication

If your brand publishes a large volume of daily content that covers broader, news-worthy topics, content syndication can be an effective way to get your brand in front of a new audience.

I work for a new affiliate marketing venture called The Ascent by The Motley Fool, and our coverage of broad, personal finance topics makes us a natural fit for content syndication. From Flipboard to Google News, major news outlets are always looking for money and finance-related content. Even though the SEO value is limited for content syndication, as links are typically no-followed, this is still an effective way for us to fulfill our brand awareness goal of reaching a wider, qualified audience. Just be sure any syndication partners will provide a canonical tag back to your site to ensure you don’t end up with duplicate content issues. The Fractl team did an impressive piece about understanding the networks of news syndication if you want to learn more.

Content created for syndication typically has a timely slant to it, as that’s what major news outlets are looking for from syndication partners. Whether it’s a finance topic related to an upcoming holiday (i.e. 7 Personal Finance Lessons Learned in 2018) or something happening in the news (i.e. How to Financially Prepare for the Government Shutdown), it needs to be a gripping headline with information valuable to a reader today. It also needs to be quality content, free of errors, and not miles long.

Answer the headline entirely, but eliminate the fluff. And don’t forget to include relevant links back to your site, so you can get this larger audience to visit your website.

Musts for Syndicated Content:

  • A catchy headline
  • A timely topic
  • 1,000 words or less
  • Links in the content back to relevant content on your site

2. Sponsored content or guest posts

If your own website doesn’t have a great following, engaging in sponsored content on a more prominent website can be valuable for building brand awareness. The type of sponsored content I’m referring to here is online advertorials or articles  that look like normal articles, but are tagged as “sponsored content,” typically.

BuzzFeed is a prominent platform for brands. Here’s an example of one of their finest:

At the bottom, there’s a pitch for Wendy’s with a link:

Because visitors can see that this content is “sponsored,” they are naturally more skeptical of it — and rightfully so. To create a quality native advertising piece, you’ll want it to be genuinely helpful and not overly promotional. It’s already clear it’s a promotion for your brand, so the content doesn’t need to reinforce that further.

This above example clearly does not take itself seriously. It provides a quiz that is on-brand with what a BuzzFeed visitor would expect and want to see. There’s no overt promotional play for Wendy’s in the quiz.

If you don’t want to pay for a sponsored content spot on another website, you could also look for relevant sites that take guest posts. This post you are currently reading is an example of that: I’m not paying, nor am I getting paid to publish this post with Moz. But, I am getting more brand exposure for my team and myself. And Moz is getting unique content with a fresh perspective.

It’s a win-win!

If you do pitch a site for a guest post, make sure it’s compelling and in line with what their audience wants. Keep it helpful and not promotional. You will need to establish trust with this new audience.

Musts for Sponsored Content or Guest Posts:

  • A budget (for sponsored content)
  • Content is not promotional, but helpful or entertaining
  • A pitch and link to your site at the end of the content

3. Paid advertising

One of the big advantages of utilizing paid advertising is that you can see results right away and get your content in front of a qualified audience, whereas, organic takes longer to see growth.

To get your content to perform well in paid search, it’ll need to be more niche and targeted to the keywords you’re bidding on, otherwise, your quality score will suffer. Google, Bing, and Yahoo all have their own forms of a quality score that takes into account a number of factors, including your expected CTR, landing page quality and relevance to your ad, and ad text relevance. This might mean you’ll need to develop more landing pages to cover your topics than you would for a page created for organic search. That’s not an issue from an SEO perspective as long as you no-index your landing pages.

For example, the query “podcast software” gave me a really relevant ad for Buzzsprout.com, not only using my keyword in the ad but also providing relevant extended links below.

Once on the landing page, it also gives me exactly what I’m looking for. The language varies slightly to “podcast hosting,” but it clearly answers my intent.

Similarly, both Facebook and Twitter have a ‘relevancy score’ that acts as the quality score. These social platforms are measuring your expected engagement rate with an ad, which indicates how well your content matches the needs and interests of the audience you’re targeting.

What this means is that, like with paid search, your content needs to be more niche and customized to your audience for higher performance.

So many different types of content can work for paid advertising. Visual content can be incredibly powerful for paid advertising — whether it’s through video or images. There’s no better way to know how something will perform in paid marketing than through testing, but it’s important your content has these primary components:

  • A catchy, keyword-aligned headline
  • Standout images or video
  • Content that supports your hyper-target audience and keywords

Goal: Organic acquisition

Organic traffic is often an appealing distribution method because prospects qualify themselves through their relevant search queries. Not only do you want to have targeted content for key search queries, but it is also important to build domain authority by acquiring relevant, authoritative external links.

For this, I have included two important tactics to achieve better results organically for your brand.

4. Blog posts

Blog posts are among the most common ways to rank well in organic search and acquire featured snippets. My team has almost exclusively been focused on blog articles up until this point, as it’s relatively easy and efficient to produce at scale.

There are many types of blog posts you can create, both for more the discovery phase of a prospect, as well as the mid-level, narrowing down phase in the customer journey. Some blog post ideas that tend to perform well include:

  • How-to articles
  • Question and answer articles
  • Comparison articles
  • Best of articles
  • First person stories (ideally from a customer perspective)

The key to successful blog posts is to have a targeted topic informed by keyword research. The Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool are great places to find topics for your blog posts. I have found both with The Ascent, as well as in my previous role at Kaplan Professional Education is that having blog posts that target specific long-tail keywords tend to perform better, and are more likely to pick up a featured snippet. However, the best way to know for your vertical is to test it yourself.

In my experience, writing using the inverted pyramid technique works wonders for featured snippets. Answer the query broadly and concisely at the beginning of the article, and then dive into more details further into it. It’s a technique from journalism, so readers are used to it and search engines seem to really take to it.

Musts for Blog Posts:

  • Have a target keyword/topic
  • Follow the inverted pyramid technique (cover the topic broadly and then narrow)
  • Contain a call-to-action

5. Original research

If acquiring external links is one of your SEO goals, conducting original research can be a powerful tactic for achieving success. What makes original research so powerful for link building is that you are the only source of your data. If you publish data that is unique to your organization or conduct your own survey or focus group and report the findings, it provides new data with unique insights to glean from it (assuming your methodology is solid, of course).

Here is a great example of original research about how frequently brands produce original research (how meta!). It also provides great data on types of original research brands do if you want to learn more. This original data came from a survey of 700 marketers, and it worked. It got linked to by all kinds of prominent industry blogs like Search Engine Journal, Content Marketing Institute, Orbit Media, and now, this one too!

If you don’t have any data that you can or want to publish from your organization directly and you don’t want to conduct your own surveys, there is also the option of mining official sources in your industry (government or census data work well in many cases) and finding a unique take and interpreting it for your audience to understand. Often, there is rich data buried in technical jargon that people don’t know about, and your original perspective can add a lot of value to your audience.

For example, my team published this secondary research during the government shutdown in January. All of the government data in this piece is accessible to anyone, but it’s time-consuming to find and difficult to interpret. Our writer’s original take on it surfaced important insights that journalists incorporated in their shutdown coverage.

Remember: Putting your own research out there won’t necessarily acquire links on its own. Even if you are a well-known resource, your efforts will be better served with outreach to relevant journalists or bloggers. If you’ve got the resources to dedicate to outreach, or the ability to hire an agency to help, this can be an extremely effective strategy that can help to build the authority of your entire site.

Musts for original research:

  • An original take with supporting data
  • A solid research methodology (explained in the content)
  • An outreach strategy with custom pitches

Goal: Lead generation

If generating leads is your goal, your content will need to be compelling enough for a prospect to give you their contact information. They know what’s in store for them by giving you their email or phone number, so they won’t sign themselves up for marketing messaging for just average content.

6. Whitepapers/E-books

Although we just talked about original research for link acquisition, original research can also be an amazing way to generate leads if you want to put your research behind a sign-up wall. While the basic principles remain unchanged, find a topic you can create a unique study on, and execute it using a solid methodology. You should focus on the prospective leads you are trying to attain and create a research study or whitepaper that is irresistible to them.

At Kaplan Financial Education, I developed e-books for each licensing prep product line. Using survey data that I gathered from previous Kaplan students, the intent was to help better prepare future Kaplan students for their journey through licensing and starting their career. The setup for creating this type of lead gen content was pretty simple: I pulled a list of previous customers and sent them a short survey via Survey Monkey. I asked:

  • What do you wish you had known when you were preparing for the licensing test?
  • What advice do you have for new professionals?

After gathering over 100 responses, I extracted the data and grouped them into themes, pulling direct quotes for future insurance professionals. This is still successful lead gen content because it’s evergreen — it tells real stories from real people who have gone through the licensing process and started a relevant financial career. Prospective students can better understand what they are getting themselves into.

At the time, this kind of advice from so many qualified professionals didn’t live anywhere else, making the e-book exclusive content. Qualified prospects were willing to download it for it’s exclusivity and saving them the time of having to conduct multiple informational interviews.

Ideally, when you have lead gen content, you’ll want all of your free content to naturally lead into a call-to-action for your whitepaper or e-book. That way, any traffic that you attain through organic or paid advertising will naturally flow into the download. Creating a pitch at the end of your articles is a good habit to get into, as well as linking within your articles as appropriate.

It’s also a good practice to only ask for the minimum amount of contact information that will allow you to market to these leads. If you plan to send them emails, only collect their email address, for example. The more information you require, the lower your conversion rate tends to be.

Musts for whitepapers and e-books:

  • An original take with compelling data specifically targeting prospective leads
  • A solid methodology (explained in the content)
  • Enticing content that leads users to the lead gen download
  • Minimal contact information required to download

7. Webinars

Webinars that provide informative content for prospects can be an extremely effective medium for lead generation, particularly if you are using visuals to help explain concepts. The “in person” element also allows prospects to build a relationship (or the illusion of one) with the presenter(s) because they can hear and see the speaker live. You can also play up the exclusivity angle with webinars because the content is only available to those that choose to attend.

Types of webinars that work particularly well for lead gen:

  • Demonstrations or how-to’s
  • Panel discussions about a relevant, timely topic in your industry
  • An interview with an industry expert
  • An in-depth presentation with a fresh take on a timely topic

Similar to e-books and whitepapers, you’ll want to collect the minimum possible amount of contact information on your sign up form. If you only need an email address or a phone number, stick to that. The more you ask for a life story, the fewer sign-ups you’ll receive.

Musts for webinar content:

  • Unique, relevant topic to prospects
  • Content that is designed for a real-time, audio and visual medium
  • Minimal contact information required for sign up

Goal: Revenue

Of course, any content program’s ultimate goal is to drive revenue. Content that leads to conversion directly, though, is often not given as much attention as some of other forms of content.

8. Product pages

Regardless of whether you sell your products online or not, your product pages on your website should be focused on driving action to purchase.

To do this, you should keep your pages simple. Each product, no matter how similar, should have a unique product name and description to keep you clear of duplicate content issues. Focus on what the product is and how it will ultimately improve the life of a customer in a brief description. Bullet points in the description help the user scan and digest the important features of the product. Ian Lurie at Portent recently wrote about utilizing Amazon Q&A to inform what common questions people have about your product, and answering those in your product page bullet points. If you can do that, that’s a winning formula.

Include images of the product, and if necessary, video too for a more holistic view of the product. And add a trust signal. Common trust signals include reviews, a customer quote, or a statistic about how the product helps customers.

Most importantly, you need a prominent, clear call-to-action. It should stand out, be above the fold, and have clear language about what will happen in the next step.

Must-haves for these pages:

  • Product Description
  • Visual of product (image, video)
  • Call to Action
  • Trust signal – ie. a quote or review, statistic, etc.

Of course, these are just some of the most common goals I’ve seen in content strategies — there’s plenty more goals out there. Same goes for types of distribution for each of these goals — I’ve only scratched the surface. But if I listed out every possibility, you wouldn’t have made it this far through the post! 

Over to you!

These are just some common goals that have proven effective to me with clients and brands I have worked for. I’d love to know what you think, now: 

  • Do you agree with my points? 
  • Do you have other tactics that work for any of these goals? 
  • What different content goals do you have if they weren’t mentioned?

If you’ve got other suggestions or ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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A Cool New Resource for Developing and Sharing Your Ideas

My husband once had the chance to ask novelist James Ellroy where he got the idea for one of his…

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3 Reasons Why Good Ideas Are a Real Threat to Good Writing

Ahh, the elusive “good idea.” Writers spend a large amount of time thinking about them and looking for them. It’s an undeniable part of the creative process. So why would I consider them such a pervasive threat to good writing? The answer is simple. Good ideas are just part of what it takes to produce
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Wanted: Session ideas for SMX Advanced

We want your input to help us plan our upcoming SMX Advanced conference, taking place June 12-13, 2018. Specifically, we’d love to hear from you if you have a great idea for a session that you think should be on the agenda. And if you’re interested in speaking at the show, the absolute…



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Countdown to Launch: How to Come Up with Great Testing Ideas

Posted by ChrisDayley

Whether you are working on a landing page or the homepage of your website, you may be asking yourself, “Why aren’t people converting? What elements are helping or hurting my user experience?”

Those are good questions.

When it comes to website or landing page design, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of potential elements to test. And that’s before you start testing how different combinations of elements affect performance.

Launching a test

The good news is, after running thousands of tests for websites in almost every industry you can imagine, we’ve created a simple way to quickly identify the most important areas of opportunity on your site or landing page.

We call this approach the “launch analysis”.

Why? Well, getting someone to convert is a lot like trying to launch a rocket into outer space. To succeed in either situation, you need to generate enough momentum to overcome any resistance.

To get a rocket into orbit, the propulsion and guidance systems have to overcome gravity and air friction. To get a potential customer to convert, your CTA, content and value proposition have to overcome any diversions, anxiety or responsiveness issues on your site.

So, if you really want your conversion rate to “take off” (see what I did there?), you need to take a hard look at each of these six factors.

Prepping for launch

Before we dive into the launch analysis and start testing, it’s important to take a moment to review 3 important testing factors. After all, no matter how good your analysis is, if your test is fundamentally broken, you’ll never make any progress.

With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you dive into the launch analysis:

What is my business question?

Every good website or landing page test should answer some sort of important business question. These are usually open-ended questions like “how much content should be on the page to maximize conversions?” or “what does the best-converting above-the-fold experience look like?”

If your test is designed to answer a fundamental business question, every test is a success. Even if your new design doesn’t outperform the original, your test still helps get you get some data around what really matters to your audience.

What is my hypothesis?

Where your business question may be relatively broad, your testing hypothesis should be very specific. A good hypothesis should be an if/then statement that answers the business question (if we do X, Y will happen).

So, if your business question is “how much content should be on the page?”, your hypothesis might be: “if we reduce the amount of content on our page, mobile conversions will increase.” (If you’re interested, this is actually something we studied at Disruptive Advertising.)

What am I measuring?

We hinted at this in the last section, but every good test needs a defined, measurable success metric. For example, “if we reduce the amount of content on our page, people will like our content more” is a perfectly valid hypothesis, but it would be incredibly difficult to define or measure, which would make our test useless.

When it comes to online advertising, there are tons of well-defined, actually measurable metrics you can use (link clicks, time on page, bounce rate, conversion rate, cart abandonment rate, etc.) to determine success or failure. Pick one that makes sense and use it to measure the results of your test.

The launch analysis and countdown

Now that we have the testing basics out of the way, we can dive into the launch analysis. When performing a launch analysis on a page of your site, it is critical that you try to look at your page objectively, and identify potential opportunities instead of immediately jumping into things you need to change. Testing is about discovering what your audience wants, not about making assumptions.

With that being said, let’s countdown to launch!

6. Value proposition

To put it simply, your value proposition is what motivates potential customers to buy.

Have you ever wanted something really badly? Badly enough that you spent days, weeks, or even months figuring out how to get it for an affordable price? If you want something badly enough (or, in other words, if the value proposition is good enough), you’ll conquer any obstacle to get it.

This same principle applies to your website. If you can really sell people on your value proposition, they’ll be motivated enough to overcome a lot of potential obstacles (giving their personal information, dealing with poor navigation, etc.).

For example, a while back, we were helping a college optimize the following page on their site:

It wasn’t a bad page to begin with, but we believed there was opportunity to test some stronger value propositions. “Get Started on the Right Path: Prepare yourself for a better future by earning your degree from Pioneer Pacific College” doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it?

There’s a reason for that.

In business terms, your value proposition can be described as “motivation = perceived benefits – perceived costs.” Pioneer Pacific’s value proposition made it sound like going to all the work to get a degree from their college was just the beginning of a long, hard process. Not only that, but it wasn’t really hitting on any of the potential pain points an aspiring student might have.

In this particular case, the value proposition minimized the perceived benefits while maximizing the perceived costs. That’s not a great way to get someone to sign up.

With that in mind, we decided to try something different. We hypothesized that focusing on the monetary benefits of earning a degree (increased income) would increase the perceived benefits and talking about paying for a degree as an investment would decrease the perceived cost.

So, we rewrote the copy in the box to reflect our revised value proposition and tested it:

As you can see above, simply tweaking the value proposition increased form fills by 49.5%! The form didn’t change, but because our users were more motivated by the value proposition, they were more willing to give out their information.

Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with this essential step.

Some websites lack a clear value proposition. Others have a value proposition, but it makes potential customers think more about the costs than the benefits. Some have a good cost-benefit ratio, but the proposition is poorly communicated, and users struggle to connect with it.

So, if you’re running the launch analysis on your own site or landing page, start by taking a look at your value proposition. Is it easy to find and understand? Does it address the benefits and costs that your audience actually cares about? Could you potentially focus on different aspects of your value propositions to discover what your audience really cares about?

If you think there’s room for improvement, you’ve just identified a great testing opportunity!

5. Call to action

If you’ve been in marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of a good call to action (CTA), so it should come as no surprise that the CTA is a key part of the launch analysis.

In terms of our rocket analogy, your CTA is a lot like a navigation system for your potential customers. All the rocket fuel in the world won’t get you to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going.

In that regard, it’s important to remember that your CTA typically needs to be very explicit (tell them what to do and/or what to expect). After all, your potential customers are depending on your CTA to navigate them to their destination.

For example, another one of our clients was trying to increase eBook downloads. Their original CTA read “Download Now”, but we hypothesized that changing the CTA to emphasize speed might improve their conversion rate.

So, we rephrased the CTA to read “Instant Download” instead. As it turned out, this simple change to the CTA increased downloads by 12.6%!

The download was just as instantaneous in both cases; but, simply by making it clear that users would get immediate access to this content, we were able to drive a lot more conversions.

Of course, there is such a thing as being too explicit. While people want to know what to do next, they also like to feel like they are in the driver’s seat, so sometimes soft CTAs like “Get More Information” can deliver better results than a more direct CTA like “Request a Free Demo Today!”

As you start to play around with CTA testing ideas, it’s important to remember the 2-second rule: If a user can’t figure out what they are supposed to do within two seconds, something needs to change.

To see if your CTA follows this rule, ask a friend or a coworker who has never seen your page or site before to look at it for two seconds and then ask them what they think they are supposed to do next. If they don’t have a ready answer, you just discovered another testing opportunity.

Case in point: On the page below, a client of ours was trying to drive phone calls with the CTA on the right. From a design perspective, the CTA fit the color scheme of the page nicely, but it didn’t really draw much attention.

Since driving calls was a big deal for the client, we decided to revamp the CTA. We made the CTA a contrasting red color and expanded on the value proposition.

The result? Our new, eye-catching CTA increased calls by a whopping 83.8%.

So, if your CTA is hard to find, consider changing the size, location and/or color. If your CTA is vague, try being more explicit (or vice versa). If your CTA doesn’t have a clear value proposition, find a way to make the benefits of converting more obvious. The possibilities are endless.

4. Content

Like your value proposition, your content is a big motivating factor for your users. In fact, great content is how you sell people on your value proposition, so content can make or break your site.

The only problem is, as marketers and business owners, we have a tendency towards egocentrism. There are so many things that we love about our business and that make it special that we often overwhelm users with content that they frankly don’t care about.

Or, alternatively, we fail to include content that will help potential customers along in the conversion process because it isn’t a high priority to us.

To really get the most out of your content, you have to lay your ego and personal preference aside and ask yourself questions like:

  • How much content do my users want?
  • What format do they want the content in?
  • Do mobile and desktop users want different amounts of content?

As a quick example of this, we were working with a healthcare client (an industry that is notoriously long-winded) to maximize eBook downloads on the following page:

As you can see above, the original page included a table of contents-style description of what readers would get when they downloaded the guide.

We hypothesized that this sort of approach, with its wordy chapter titles and and formal feel, did not make the eBook seem like a user-friendly guide. There was so much content that it was hard to get a quick feel for what the eBook was actually about.

To address this, we tried boiling the copy down to a quick, easy-to-read summary of the eBook content:

Incredibly, paring the content down to a very simplified summary increased eBook downloads by 57.82%!

However, when it comes to content, less is not always more.

While working on a pop-up for Social Media Examiner, we tested a couple different variants of the following copy in an effort to increase eBook downloads and subscriptions:

Just like the preceding example, this copy was a bit wordy and hard to read. So, we tried turning the copy into bullet points…

…and even tried boiling it down to the bare essentials:

However, when the test results came in, both of these variants had a lower conversion rate than the original, word-dense content!

These results fly in the face of the whole “less is more” dogma marketers love to preach, which just goes to show how important it is to test your content.

So, when it comes to content, don’t be afraid to try cutting things down. But, you might also try bulking things up in some places — provided that your content is focused on what your potential customers want and need, not just your favorite talking points. Our suggestion: challenge whatever you have on your site. Try less, more, and different variations of the same. It should ultimately be up to your audience!

3. Diversions

Unfortunately, having a great value proposition, CTA and content doesn’t guarantee you a great conversion rate. To get a rocket to its destination, the launch team has to overcome a variety of obstacles.

Same goes for the launch analysis.

Now that we’ve talked about how to maximize motivation, it’s time to talk about ways to reduce obstacles and friction points on your site or page that may be keeping people from converting, starting with diversions.

When it comes to site testing, diversions could be anything that has the potential to distract your user from reaching their destination. Contrasting buttons, images, other offers, menus, links, content, pop ups…like cloud cover on launch day, if it leads people off course, it’s a diversion.

For example, take a look at the page below. There are 5 major elements on the page competing for your attention – none of which are a CTA to view the product – and that’s just above the fold!

What did this client really want people to do? Watch a video? Read a review? Look at the picture? Read the Q&A? Visit their cart?

As it turns out, the answer is “none of the above”.

What the client really wanted was for people to come to their site, look at their products and make a purchase. But, with all the diversions on their site, people were getting lost before they even had a chance to see the client’s products.

To put the focus where it belonged—on the products—we tried eliminating all of the diversions by redesigning the site experience to focus on product call to actions. That way, when people came to the page, they immediately saw Cobra’s products and a simple CTA that said “Shop Our Products”.

The new page design increased revenue (not just conversions) by 69.2%!

We’ve seen similar results with many of our eCommerce clients. For example, we often test to see how removing different elements and offers from a client’s homepage affects their conversion rates (this is called “existence testing”).

Existence testing is one of the easiest, fastest ways to discover what is distracting from conversions and what is helping conversions. If you remove something from your page and conversion rates go down, that item is helpful to the conversion process. If you remove something and conversion rates go up – Bingo! You found a distraction.

The GIF below shows you how this works. Essentially, you just remove a page element and then see which version of the page performs better. Easy enough, right?

For this particular client, we tested to see how removing 8 different elements from their home page would affect their revenue. As it turned out, 6 of the 8 elements were actually decreasing their revenue!

By eliminating those elements during our test, their revenue-per-visit (RPV) increased by 59%.

Why? Well, once again, we discovered things that were diversions to the user experience (as it turns out, the diversions were other products!).

If you’re curious to see how different page or site elements affect your conversion rate, existence testing can be a great way to go. Simply create a page variant without the element in question and see what happens!

2. Anxiety

Ever have that moment when you’re driving a car and you suddenly get hit by a huge gust of wind? What happens to your heart rate?

Now imagine you’re piloting a multi-billion dollar rocket…

Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or an office chair, anxiety is never a good thing. Unfortunately, when it comes to your site, people are already in a state of high alert. Anything that adds to their stress level (clicking on something that isn’t clickable, feeling confused or swindled) may lead to you losing a customer.

Of course, anxiety-inducing elements on a website are typically more subtle than hurricane-force winds on launch day. It might be as simple as an unintuitive user interface, an overly long form or a page element that doesn’t do what the user expects.

As a quick example, one of our eCommerce clients had a mobile page that forced users to scroll all the the way back up to the top of the page to make a purchase.

So, we decided to try a floating “Buy Now” button that people could use to quickly buy the item once they’d read all about it:

Yes, scrolling to the top of the page seems like a relatively small inconvenience, but eliminating this source of anxiety improved the conversion rate by 6.7%.

Even more importantly, it increased the RPV by $ 1.54.

Given the client’s traffic volume, this was a huge win!

As you can probably imagine, the less confusion, alarm, frustration and work your site creates for users, the more likely they are to convert.

When you get right down to it, conversion should be a seamless, almost brainless process. If a potential customer ever stops to think, “Wait, what?” on their journey to conversion, you’ve got a real problem.

To identify potential anxiety-inducing elements on your site or page, try going through the whole conversion process on your site (better yet, have someone else do it and describe their experience to you). Watch for situations or content that force you to think. Odds are, you’ve just discovered a testing opportunity.

1. Responsiveness

Finally, the last element of the launch analysis is responsiveness—specifically mobile responsiveness.

To be honest, mobile responsiveness is not the same thing as having a mobile responsive site, just like launching a rocket on a rainy day is not the same thing as launching a rocket on a clear day.

The days of making your site “mobile responsive” and calling it good are over. With well over half of internet searches taking place on mobile devices, the question you need to ask yourself isn’t “Is my site mobile responsive?” What you should be asking yourself is, “Is my site customized for mobile?”

For example, here is what one of our clients’ “mobile responsive” pages looks like:

While this page passed Google’s “mobile friendly” test, it wasn’t exactly a “user friendly” experience.

To fix that problem, we decided to test a couple of custom mobile pages:

The results were truly impressive. Both variants clearly outperformed the original “mobile responsive” design and the winning variant increased calls by 84% and booked appointments by 41%!

So, if you haven’t taken the time yet to create a custom mobile experience, you’re probably missing out on a huge opportunity. It might take a few tests to nail down the right design for your mobile users, but most sites can expect big results from a little mobile experience testing.

As you brainstorm ways to test your mobile experience, remember, your mobile users aren’t usually looking for the same things as your desktop users. Most mobile users have very specific goals in mind and they want it to be as easy as possible to achieve those goals.

Launch!

Well, that’s it! You’re ready for launch!

Go through your site or page and take a look at how what you can do to strengthen your value proposition, CTA and content. Then, identify things that may potentially be diversions, anxiety-inducing elements or responsiveness issues that are preventing people from converting.

By the time you finish your launch analysis, you should have tons of testing ideas to try. Put together a plan that focuses on your biggest opportunities or problems first and then refine from there. Happy testing!

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