Tag Archives: content marketing

Content Marketer’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Your website is your number one tool for lead generation and likely your number one customer acquisition tool as well. An appealing site that catches your visitor’s eye is great, but what if that traffic is making zero impact on your bottom line?

It’s a common problem. In fact, the global eCommerce conversion rate in Q4 2016 was a mere 2.95%. So if your business is hovering around this rate, you are not alone. Competition continues to rise, making it even harder for businesses to drive online sales. To help you identify where your conversion rate optimization (CRO) strategy may be failing you and how to improve this strategy, we’ve narrowed down the best possible methods:

Write Compelling Content

Most people don’t actually read the majority of web copy, so this suggestion may come as a surprise. They may skim and absorb the headlines that stand out, but for the most part, do not read word for word. The reason for this is simple: web content is often poorly written.

So remember these points to attract readers and boost conversions with your content:

  • Voice: Use a unique voice that’s consistent across all of your marketing channels.
  • Be provocative: When appropriate, use suggestive headlines and copy that speak to your users about their frustrations.
  • Entertain: Even the driest topics can entertain readers if written well. If a particular page isn’t geared toward informing or educating the reader, it should at least be enjoyable to read.
  • Be professional: Avoid exclamation points. If you need to communicate excitement, use verbs.
  • Cite sources: It’s frustrating to read content that makes unsupported claims. If you are sharing your own perspective on a matter, cite the original.

Forms – Where the Conversion Happens

The form on your landing page is the most important component of your conversion strategy. It’s the final step an individual takes before becoming a lead or customer. With that in mind, it’s important to consider the following:

Number of fields

The optimal number of fields for your business will depend on your offer, but try to make it as few as possible. Only ask for the details you need from your leads. The more fields on your form, the easier it is for a contact to get overwhelmed with the effort involved and bounce (especially for those browsing mobile devices).

Placement

As we discussed earlier, people tend to skim web pages and look for key elements. If your conversion opportunity (form) appears below the fold, visitors may not even see it. Make sure it’s visible on all devices upon landing on the page, without the need to scroll, pinch, or zoom.

Form Errors

There’s nothing more frustrating than filling out a form three times only to get an unsuccessful error without any indication as to which part of the form was not filled out correctly. Make sure form errors are visible and descriptive.

Run Split Tests on Landing Pages

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is when businesses run experiments to determine which elements of their strategy are more effective. By creating two different versions of landing pages to run at the same time, it’s easier to pinpoint what’s driving conversions and what’s not.

Here are some examples of different elements of your conversion strategy you can split test:

  • Button color
  • Headlines
  • Copy
  • Forms
  • Page layout
  • Images

You can track the results of your split tests in Google Analytics; but using tools like Unbounce, Optimizely, or HubSpot can allow you to manage your experiments a little easier.

PRO TIP: Ensure that you are extracting meaningful data from your tests. The split test results may show you which call-to-action (CTA) performed better, but what information can you take away from that experiment to help your next CTA?

Establish Trust

It doesn’t matter how strong your offer is if your visitors don’t feel they can trust you. This is particularly important for eCommerce businesses. Why would shoppers give you their credit card information if they are the slightest bit apprehensive?

Include these elements on your landing and product pages, where the user is preparing to make a decision:

  • Badges: Antivirus, PayPal, Verisign for example
  • Reviews and Seller Ratings: Here is a list of the ones that Google recognizes, which means they stand to improve your click-through rate as well.
  • Testimonials: Include an image of the customer if possible (get permission first!).
  • Dynamic Social Proof: Yieldify has a tool that shows you how many people viewed a page or product in a given time frame. The same is used in travel industry when you see “300 people viewed this property today.” The same buyer psychology works for products in eCommerce.

Leverage Design Best Practices

If your website is not responsive (doesn’t adapt to the user’s screen size), this could be the number one reason for your low conversion rates. As desktop browsing continues to give way to mobile, your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices of all sizes.

The look and feel of your website should have character. A common trend in design currently is the minimalistic white look. But what’s memorable about that? Use about 2 to 3 of your brand colors throughout the site and do a side-by-side comparison with your competitor’s site to ensure that yours is unique.

At all costs, avoid using stock photos. These are typically unrelatable and generic. Invest in quality photography of your products, office, and team. You’ll be surprised how effective these images can be in establishing trust.

Incorporate Conversion-Driving Functionality

How can you expect visitors to convert on your website if it takes several seconds to load? People are impatient and can move to the next search engine result if your website loads too slowly. You can optimize your media and check your site load time periodically with Website Grader.

The goal of your website or landing page is to convert visitors so it’s important to keep them focused. Avoid unnecessary overlays or pop-ups that may be distracting.

Visitor experience on your website plays a key role in their decision to convert. This includes being able to serve your visitors the information that meets their needs, which is where personalization comes in. Website personalization displays content tailored to your visitor characteristics, devices, or actions, facilitated through your CMS and marketing automation platform.

Offer Incentives

As eCommerce competition continues to grow, shoppers have endless opportunities to search for better deals. Offering an incentive and making it clear how to take advantage of it can be an extremely effective method to drive conversions. Create a page dedicated to promo codes and link to it in your main menu or share the code directly on the product page.

If visitors don’t see what they are looking for on your site (like a sale or promotion they saw on another channel), they’ll use your search bar. Analyzing the searches on your site is beneficial not only in determining what your visitors are looking for but also in encouraging conversions by allowing visitors to find what they are looking for. Ensure that your search bar is visible on all pages and devices.

Do Not Underestimate the Power of Advertising

Another particularly effective type of advertising is remarketing. Remarketing ads are displayed to individuals who have already visited your site.

There are plenty of ways to use remarketing ads to drive conversions and beneficial to re-engage:

  • Past visitors
  • Individuals who abandoned carts
  • Existing customers

Use Your Data

One of the most important ways to continuously optimize your conversion strategy is to leverage your data. Uncover details about your customers, how they are finding your site, and how they are engaging with it by analyzing the data collected from Google Analytics, your advertising campaigns, social media channels, email efforts, and any other tools you are using.

Conclusion

Remember, optimizing your conversion strategy should be an ongoing experiment. These tips can guide you in the right direction, but the effort should be that of constantly evolving and improving. Start with SMART goals, test your strategy, analyze results, and make improvements and adjustments accordingly.

Please Note: This is a guest Post by Peter Dulay. He is a conversion expert with over 10 years of experience in digital advertising and conversion. He has helped many startups and fortune 500 companies to boost their conversion by 400% and more.

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Content Marketer’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization

Why You Should Have A Local Content Marketing Strategy

You’ve probably heard time and time again that content marketing is important in growing your business’s online presence. When done correctly, it can increase brand awareness, advocacy, and lead to more sales. The problem is many businesses are doing it wrong. Many business owners think they need to be creating X new pieces of content per week, which simply isn’t true. Producing content for the sake of producing content is not a productive use of time and will not rank you higher in Google or drive more sales. Sure the more quality content you can create, the more traffic you…

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Why You Should Have A Local Content Marketing Strategy

Neil Patel’s Advanced Content Marketing Summit

The best part of attending a conference is getting all the latest juicy knowledge in one place, all at the same time, and before the rest of the world knows about it. When a conference is good, you frantically write down notes, future to-dos, new strategies and you can’t wait to get back to eagerly implement all your newfound knowledge. But then there are the down sides: Booking flights and hotel rooms Remembering to do all your expensing Forgetting something at home Completely fudging up your schedule Putting your dog in the kennel And the sheer exhaustion by the end…

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Neil Patel’s Advanced Content Marketing Summit

Learn from the Best: an Interview with Content Marketing Rock Star Andy Crestodina

I first had the pleasure of working with Andy on a Kissmetrics blog post five years ago. A few months after his post was published, I looked at our traffic in Google Analytics and said: Whatever Andy touches becomes magic. The electric sparks that shoot off his finger tips as he types turn into thousands of social shares, ten of thousands of pageviews, and more importantly – unbelievable wisdom that his readers consume. Let’s get inside his head for a moment and learn a few new things! 1. In the current state of inbound marketing, are people getting suffocated by…

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Learn from the Best: an Interview with Content Marketing Rock Star Andy Crestodina

How to Use Customer Research to Get Better Results from Your Content Marketing Program

customer research for content

One of the first questions I ask a new content client is, “Do you have any customer research I could get my hands on?” Whether the answer is yes or no, people almost always act confused at first. I’m sure they wonder why I would need customer research to write a blog post. Here’s the thing: The purpose of content is to build the relationship between the business and the buyer. If you don’t understand the buyer, how can you possibly create content that builds a relationship with them? Let’s put this in perspective. Imagine you’re going to buy a…

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How to Use Customer Research to Get Better Results from Your Content Marketing Program

Why Your B2B Needs Account Based Content Marketing & How You Should Do It

abc

Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 report stated that over 60% of B2B marketers saw more success from their content marketing efforts this past year. What does this mean? It means – as so many of us have stated before – that Content is King. When it comes to digital marketing, there is truly no better way to convey value and transparent authority to your users. However, even if the majority of B2B search marketers are reporting strong growth stats, there is still a large discrepancy between how our content performs in theory and how it performs in reality. Ironically, content marketing…

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Why Your B2B Needs Account Based Content Marketing & How You Should Do It

How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

transform your ecommerce business

Online store owners swim in a sea of fierce competition dominated by Amazon and Best Buy, among others. You can’t always be number one. But with a strong desire and the right tools, you can become a leader in your niche. One of the best ways to get to the top is with a powerful content marketing strategy that blows the opposition out of the water. So, what are the secrets of creating and implementing an unsurpassed content marketing strategy that delivers the results you’re looking for? That’s what I’m about to reveal. Why Should You Prioritize Content Marketing Above…

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How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors

sup

Back in 2015, Unbounce launched its first ever exit overlay on this very blog.

Did it send our signup rate skyrocketing 4,000%? Nope.

Did it turn our blog into a conversion factory for new leads? Not even close — our initial conversion rate was barely over 1.25%.

But what it did do was start us down the path of exploring the best ways to use this technology; of furthering our goals by finding ways to offer visitors relevant, valuable content through overlays.

Overlays are modal lightboxes that launch within a webpage and focus attention on a single offer. Still fuzzy on what an overlay is? Click here.

In this post, we’ll break down all the wins, losses and “holy smokes!” moments from our first 2,345,864 exit overlay viewers.

Psst: Towards the end of these experiments, Unbounce launched Convertables, and with it a whole toolbox of advanced triggers and targeting options for overlays.

Goals, tools and testing conditions

Our goal for this project was simple: Get more people to consume more Unbounce content — whether it be blog posts, ebooks, videos, you name it.

We invest a lot in our content, and we want it read by as many marketers as possible. All our research — everything we know about that elusive thing called conversion, exists in our content.

Our content also allows readers to find out whether Unbounce is a tool that can help them. We want more customers, but only if they can truly benefit from our product. Those who experience ‘lightbulb’ moments when reading our content definitely fit the bill.

As for tools, the first four experiments were conducted using Rooster (an exit-intent tool purchased by Unbounce in June 2015). It was a far less sophisticated version of what is now Unbounce Convertables, which we used in the final experiment.

Testing conditions were as follows:

  1. All overlays were triggered on exit; meaning they launched only when abandoning visitors were detected.
  1. For the first three experiments, we compared sequential periods to measure results. For the final two, we ran makeshift A/B tests.
  1. When comparing sequential periods, testing conditions were isolated by excluding new blog posts from showing any overlays.
  1. A “conversion” was defined as either a completed form (lead gen overlay) or a click (clickthrough overlay).
  1. All experiments were conducted between January 2015 and November 2016.

Experiment #1: Content Offer vs. Generic Signup

Our first exit overlay had a simple goal: Get more blog subscribers. It looked like this.

blog-subscriber-overlay

It was viewed by 558,488 unique visitors over 170 days, 1.27% of which converted to new blog subscribers. Decent start, but not good enough.

To improve the conversion rate, we posed the following.

HYPOTHESIS
Because online marketing offers typically convert better when a specific, tangible offer is made (versus a generic signup), we expect that by offering a free ebook to abandoning visitors, we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.27% baseline.

Whereas the original overlay asked visitors to subscribe to the blog for “tips”, the challenger overlay offered visitors The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design.

add-overlay

After 96 days and over 260,000 visitors, we had enough conversions to call this experiment a success. The overlay converted at 2.65%, and captured 7,126 new blog subscribers.

overlay-experiment-1-results

Since we didn’t A/B test these overlays, our results were merely observations. Seasonality is one of many factors that can sway the numbers.

We couldn’t take it as gospel, but we were seeing double the subscribers we had previously.

Observations

  • Offering tangible resources (versus non-specific promises, like a blog signup) can positively affect conversion rates.

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

Experiment #2: Four-field vs. Single-field Overlays

Data people always spoil the party.

The early success of our first experiment caught the attention of Judi, our resident marketing automation whiz, who wisely reminded us that collecting only an email address on a large-scale campaign was a missed opportunity.

For us to fully leverage this campaign, we needed to find out more about the individuals (and organizations) who were consuming our content.

Translation: We needed to add three more form fields to the overlay.

overlay-experiment-2

Since filling out forms is a universal bummer, we safely assumed our conversion rate would take a dive.

But something else happened that we didn’t predict. Notice a difference (besides the form fields) between the two overlays above? Yup, the new version was larger: 900x700px vs. 750x450px.

Adding three form fields made our original 750x450px design feel too cramped, so we arbitrarily increased the size — never thinking there may be consequences. More on that later.

Anyways, we launched the new version, and as expected the results sucked.

overlay-experiment-2-results
Things weren’t looking good after 30 days.

For business reasons, we decided to end the test after 30 days, even though we didn’t run the challenger overlay for an equal time period (96 days).

Overall, the conversion rate for the 30-day period was 48% lower than the previous 96-day period. I knew it was for good reason: Building our data warehouse is important. Still, a small part of me died that day.

Then it got worse.

It occurred to us that for a 30-day period, that sample size of viewers for the new overlay (53,460) looked awfully small.

A closer inspection revealed that our previous overlay averaged 2,792 views per day, while this new version was averaging 1,782. So basically our 48% conversion drop was served a la carte with a 36% plunge in overall views. Fun!

But why?

It turns out increasing the size of the overlay wasn’t so harmless. The size was too large for many people’s browser windows, so the overlay only fired two out of every three visits, even when targeting rules matched.

We conceded, and redesigned the overlay in 800x500px format.

overlay-experiment-redesign

Daily views rose back to their normal numbers, and our new baseline conversion rate of 1.25% remained basically unchanged.

loads-vs-views

Large gap between “loads” and “views” on June 4th; narrower gap on June 5th.

Observations

  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).

Experiment #3: One Overlay vs. 10 Overlays

It seemed like such a great idea at the time…

Why not get hyper relevant and build a different exit overlay to each of our blog categories?

With our new baseline conversion rate reduced to 1.25%, we needed an improvement that would help us overcome “form friction” and get us back to that healthy 2%+ range we enjoyed before.

So with little supporting data, we hypothesized that increasing “relevance” was the magic bullet we needed. It works on landing pages why not overlays?

HYPOTHESIS  
Since “relevance” is key to driving conversions, we expect that by running a unique exit overlay on each of our blog categories — whereby the free resource is specific to the category — we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.25% baseline.

blog-categories

We divide our blog into categories according to the marketing topic they cover (e.g., landing pages, copywriting, design, UX, conversion optimization). Each post is tagged by category.

So to increase relevance, we created a total of 10 exit overlays (each offering a different resource) and assigned each overlay to one or two categories, like this:

category-specific-overlays

Creating all the new overlays would take some time (approximately three hours), but since we already had a deep backlog of resources on all things online marketing, finding a relevant ebook, course or video to offer in each category wasn’t difficult.

And since our URLs contain category tags (e.g., all posts on “design” start with root domain unbounce.com/design), making sure the right overlay ran on the right post was easy.

unbounce-targeting

URL Targeting rule for our Design category; the “include” rule automatically excludes the overlay from running in other categories.

But there was a problem: We’d established a strict rule that our readers would only ever see one exit overlay… no matter how many blog categories they browsed. It’s part of our philosophy on using overlays in a way that respects the user experience.

When we were just using one overlay, that was easy — a simple “Frequency” setting was all we needed.

unbounce-frequency

…but not so easy with 10 overlays running on the same blog.

We needed a way to exclude anyone who saw one overlay from seeing any of the other nine.

Cookies were the obvious answer, so we asked our developers to build a temporary solution that could:

  • Pass a cookie from an overlay to the visitor’s browser
  • Exclude that cookie in our targeting settings

They obliged.

unbounce-advanced-targeting

We used “incognito mode” to repeatedly test the functionality, and after that we were go for launch.

Then this happened.

rooster-dashboard
Ignore the layout… the Convertables dashboard is much prettier now :)

After 10 days of data, our conversion rate was a combined 1.36%, 8.8% higher than the baseline. It eventually crept its way to 1.42% after an additional 250,000 views. Still nowhere near what we’d hoped.

So what went wrong?

We surmised that just because an offer is “relevant” doesn’t mean it’s compelling. Admittedly, not all of the 10 resources were on par with The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design, the ebook we originally offered in all categories.

That said, this experiment provided an unexpected benefit: we could now see our conversion rates by category instead of just one big number for the whole blog. This would serve us well on future tests.

Observations

  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between categories.

Experiment #4: Resource vs. Resource

“Just because it’s relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.”

This lesson inspired a simple objective for our next task: Improve the offers in our underperforming categories.

We decided to test new offers across five categories that had low conversion rates and high traffic volume:

  1. A/B Testing and CRO (0.57%)
  2. Email (1.24%)
  3. Lead Gen and Content Marketing (0.55%)
Note: We used the same overlay for the A/B Testing and CRO categories, as well as the Lead Gen and Content Marketing Categories.

Hypothesis
Since we believe the resources we’re offering in the categories of A/B testing, CRO, Email, Lead Gen and Content Marketing are less compelling than resources we offer in other categories, we expect to see increased conversion rates when we test new resources in these categories.

With previous studies mentioned in this post, we compared sequential periods. For this one, we took things a step further and jury-rigged an A/B testing system together using Visual Website Optimizer and two Unbounce accounts.

And after finding what we believed to be more compelling resources to offer, the new test was launched.

topic-experiment

We saw slightly improved results in the A/B Testing and CRO categories, although not significant. For the Email category, we saw a large drop-off.

In the Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories however, there was a dramatic uptick in conversions and the results were statistically significant. Progress!

Observations

  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.

Experiment #5: Clickthrough vs. Lead Gen Overlays

Although progress was made in our previous test, we still hadn’t solved the problem from our second experiment.

While having the four fields made each conversion more valuable to us, it still reduced our conversion rate a relative 48% (from 2.65% to 1.25% back in experiment #2).

We’d now worked our way up to a baseline of 1.75%, but still needed a strategy for reducing form friction.

The answer lay in a new tactic for using overlays that we dubbed traffic shaping.

Traffic Shaping: Using clickthrough overlays to incentivize visitors to move from low-converting to high-converting pages.

Here’s a quick illustration:

traffic-shaping-diagram

Converting to this format would require us to:

  1. Redesign our exit overlays
  2. Build a dedicated landing page for each overlay
  3. Collect leads via the landing pages

Basically, we’d be using the overlays as a bridge to move readers from “ungated” content (a blog post) to “gated” content (a free video that required a form submission to view). Kinda like playing ‘form field hot potato’ in a modern day version of Pipe Dream.

Hypothesis
Because “form friction” reduces conversions, we expect that removing form fields from our overlays will increase engagement (enough to offset the drop off we expect from adding an extra step). To do this, we will redesign our overlays to clickthrough (no fields), create a dedicated landing page for each overlay and add the four-field form to the landing page. We’ll measure results in Unbounce.

By this point, we were using Unbounce to build the entire campaign. The overlays were built in Convertables, and the landing pages were created with the Unbounce landing page builder.

We decided to test this out in our A/B Testing and CRO as well as Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories.

clickthrough-overlays

After filling out the form, visitors would either be given a secure link for download (PDF) or taken to a resource page where their video would play.

Again, for this to be successful the conversion rate on the overlays would need to increase enough to offset the drop off we expected by adding the extra landing page step.

These were our results after 21 days.

clickthrough-overlays-results

Not surprisingly, engagement with the overlays increased significantly. I stress the word “engagement” and not “conversion,” because our goal had changed from a form submission to a clickthrough.

In order to see a conversion increase, we needed to factor in the percentage of visitors who would drop off once they reached the landing page.

A quick check in Unbounce showed us landing page drop-off rates of 57.7% (A/B Testing/CRO) and 25.33% (Lead Gen/Content Marketing). Time for some grade 6 math…

clickthrough-overlays-results-2

Even with significant drop-off in the landing page step, overall net leads still increased.

Our next step would be applying the same format to all blog categories, and then measuring overall results.

Onward!

All observations

  • Offering specific, tangible resources (vs. non-specific promises) can positively affect conversion rates.
  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).
  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between blog categories
  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.
  • “Form friction” can vary significantly depending on where your form fields appear.

Stay tuned…

We’re continuing to test new triggers and targeting options for overlays, and we want to tell you all about it.

So what’s in store for next time?

  1. The Trigger Test — What happens when test our “on exit” trigger against a 15-second time delay?
  2. The Referral Test — What happens when we show different overlays to users from different traffic sources (e.g., social vs. organic)?
  3. New v.s. Returning Visitors — Do returning blog visitors convert better than first-time visitors?

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

More: 

Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors