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How To Conduct Competitor Research For Better Conversion Optimization Results

Note: This is a guest article written by Shane Barker, a renowned digital marketing consultant. Any and all opinions expressed in the post are Shane’s.


You want to increase your conversion rate. And you’ve implemented several CRO, or conversion rate optimization, strategies to help you do so. But have you considered researching about your competitors?

Understanding competition is crucial for the success of your business in every aspect. It will help you determine what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do better. It will also help you identify and capitalize on the weaknesses of your competitors.

In this post, you’ll learn the basics of conducting competitor research to enhance your CRO efforts.

#1: Identify Your Top Competitors

Before beginning your research, you need to know whom to research. Who are your biggest competitors? The simplest definition would be businesses where your target customers can get the same kind of services or products you offer.

Include both direct and indirect competitors.

  • Direct competitors are businesses that sell the same products or services as you.
  • Indirect competitors are those who sell products or services that fulfil the same need.

For example, Burger King and McDonald’s would be considered direct competitors because they have similar product offerings, that is, burgers. But Pizza Hut or Domino’s would be an indirect competitor of both Burger King and McDonald’s. Although they’re both fast food joints, Pizza Hut and Domino’s specialize in pizzas while the other two specialize in burgers.

Here are some of the ways you can identify your top competitors to conduct competitor research:

Google Search for Relevant Keywords

Make a list of keywords relevant to your business, and conduct a Google search using those keywords. The businesses that show up on the first page of your search results are your top competitors. List them for further research.

Let’s say you’re a wedding planner based in Sacramento. You can conduct a Google search using keywords like, “wedding planning in Sacramento,” “wedding planner in Sacramento,” “wedding planner Sacramento,” and so on.

Your top competitors in this case are the businesses that show up in the local pack and whose ads are displayed on the top of the page.

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You can find more competitors on the actual websites that show up in your search results. For the above example, if there are any sites that list wedding planners in the Sacramento area, you would need to check out those as well.

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Use SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is a highly effective tool for identifying your competitors and determining their performance. All you need to do is type your website URL in the search bar and then click Start.

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This step generates an overview of your site’s ranking and traffic, as shown in the screenshot below. As the goal here is to identify competitors, you need to click the option that says, “Similar Sites,” as shown on the left sidebar.

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You will then get a list of some of the websites similar to yours, which you can sort based on the extent of similarity or ranking. Add them to your list so that you have a clear idea about who your competitors are.

Additionally, click each of these results to check where the websites stand in terms of ranking, traffic, and so on. This performance analysis can be used as part of the third step in this guide.

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#2: Try Out Your Competition

Another important step in competitor research is to experience their services or products first-hand.

When dealing with ecommerce stores, try ordering from them. Analyze every aspect of the purchase process to identify what they’re doing right and what mistakes they’re making.

Maybe they’ve implemented a chatbot to help their shoppers find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. To improve your CRO, consider adding a chatbot to your website as well.

You should also analyze the user experience (UX) of your competitors’ websites. Ensuring a good user experience is an essential part of successful CRO.

To analyze the UX of your competitors, ask yourself questions such as:

  • How easy is it for you to navigate your competitor’s website?
  • Are there too many distractions on any of their webpages?
  • Are you having a tough time reading the copy because of a bad font choice?
  • Is the process of completing a purchase easy?

Additionally, analyze their post-purchase service to see how well they respond to customer complaints. These questions can help you understand more about your competition. Analyze their services to determine what they’re doing well, what you can improve on, and what mistakes you should avoid.

In the case of a brick-and-mortar shop, try visiting the establishment to experience its service. Make a note of the store’s ambiance, how friendly the staff is, how well they present their products, and so on.

You can also ask the opinions of friends and family or your customers who have visited the place.

#3: Analyze Competitor Performance and Strategy

This is one of the most important steps in competitor research. When you think of analyzing their performance and strategy, several aspects may come to mind. Not sure what exactly to prioritize, or where to start?

Analyze the following to conduct your competitor research more efficiently:

Traffic and Ranking

One of the key factors to consider when analyzing the performance of your competitors is their ranking. Find out how they rank for specific keywords, and compare their performance against your own.

For competitor performance analysis, you can use SEMrush, which you can access for free. You also have the option to upgrade to one of their paid plans, which allow for more results and reports per day.

In the screenshot below, the tool gives you a report on the website’s paid and organic search traffic. Using this tool, you can compare the amount of branded traffic and non-branded traffic and get some insight into the PPC campaigns of your competitors.

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SEMrush can help you find out what your competitors are doing right so that you can use those opportunities to improve your CRO efforts.

The tool will also give you a list of keywords for which each website is ranked, along with the position and search volume for each keyword.

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SpyFu is another useful tool for conducting competitor research. The tool helps you find your competitors on typing your website URL in the search bar.

The most useful aspect of this tool is that it identifies the top organic and paid keywords used by your competitors. It also helps you to identify the keywords you share with your competitors.

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Link Profiles

Link profiles is another important aspect to help you conduct competitor research. According to Moz, link profiles are among the top search ranking factors.

A good link profile will improve your website ranking, which will improve its visibility. The more visible your website is, the better your chances are of improving traffic. Increased traffic often leads to higher conversions.

This means that you need to conduct competitor research to find out where they stand in terms of backlinks. Find out which websites are linking to them and how many backlinks they currently have. This will help you determine what backlinking goals you should set and which websites you should target through your backlinking efforts.

You can use basic tools such as Backlink Checker from Small SEO Tools to check which pages are linking to your competitors. For more detailed reports, you can use the two tools mentioned earlier, SEMrush and SpyFu.

SpyFu gives you a list of pages linking to your competitors. In addition, it shows the number of organic clicks and domain strength of the websites linking to your competitors.

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SEMrush is even more comprehensive. It gives you a report on the number of backlinks your competitor has and the number of domains linking to these backlinks.

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Also, you can use SEMrush to view the top anchor texts being used to link to your competitors.

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Landing Page Strategy

In addition to your competitors’ performance, you need to determine their ability to impress their audience. This means that you need to analyze their landing page strategy and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Ask yourself:

  • How strong is the headline?
  • Is the value proposition clear?
  • Is the landing page design aesthetically pleasing?
  • Are there any visuals on the page?

These are just some of the questions you need to ask when analyzing the landing pages of your competitors.

Pricing Strategy

When you conduct competitor research, it’s also important to analyze their pricing strategy. Their rates maybe are more competitive and, therefore, your target customers are choosing them over you.

What can you do to present your rates in a more appealing manner to enhance your CRO efforts?

  • Are your competitors offering multiple pricing options?
  • Are there any guarantees that make their offers more trustworthy?
  • Do they compare various pricing options?
  • What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of their pricing strategies?

Next Steps

Now you know more about how to conduct competitor research to improve your conversions rate optimization strategy. Next, you need to make a list of the top strengths and weaknesses of each competitor based on the data you have collected.

For example, one competitor’s top strengths may be an excellent landing page design and a good backlinking strategy. But the same competitor could be lagging in terms of organic search ranking and customer service as well.

From this list, you can identify opportunities to improve your CRO efforts. Your competitor research can also provide you with insights into the mistakes you should avoid and ways to improve your service so that it stands out from your competitors.

Got any questions about the tips provided here? Feel free to ask them or to share your ideas in the comments below.

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How To Conduct Competitor Research For Better Conversion Optimization Results

How to Leverage eCommerce Conversion Optimization Through Different Channels to Maximize Growth

Note: This is a guest article written by Sujan Patel, co-founder of Web Profits. Any and all opinions expressed in the post are Sujan’s.


“If you build it, they will come” only works in the movies. In the real world, if you’re serious about e-commerce success, it’s up to you to grab the CRO bull by the horns and make the changes needed to maximize your growth.

Yet, despite the potential of conversion rate optimization to have a major impact on your store’s bottom line, only 59% of respondents to an Econsultancy survey see it as crucial to their overall digital marketing strategy. And given that what’s out of sight is out of mind, you can bet that many of the remaining 41% of businesses aren’t prioritizing this strategy with the importance it deserves.

Implementing an e-commerce CRO program may seem complex, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of possible things to test. To simplify your path to proper CRO, we’ve compiled a list of ways to optimize your site by channel.

This list is by no means exclusive; every marketing channel supports as many opportunities for experimentation as you can dream up. Some of these, however, are the easiest to put into practice, especially for new e-commerce merchants. Begin with the tactics described here; and when you’re ready to take your campaigns to the next level, check out the following resources:

On-Page Optimization

Your website’s individual pages represent one of the easiest opportunities for implementing a conversion optimization campaign, thanks to the breadth of technology tools and the number of established testing protocols that exist currently.

These pages can also be one of the fastest, thanks to the direct impact your changes can have on whether or not website visitors choose to buy.

Home Page

A number of opportunities exist for making result-driven changes to your site’s home page. For example, you can test:

  • Minimizing complexity: According to ConversionXL, “simple” websites are scientifically better.
  • Increasing prominence and appeal of CTAs: If visitors don’t like what you’re offering as part of your call-to-action (or worse, if they can’t find your CTA at all), test new options to improve their appeal.
  • Testing featured offers: Even template e-commerce shops generally offer a spot for featuring specific products on your store’s home page. Test which products you place there, the price at which you offer them, and how you draw attention to them.
  • Testing store policies – Free shipping is known to reduce cart abandonment. Implement consumer-friendly policies and test the way you feature them on your site.
  • Trying the “five-second test” – Can visitors recall what your store is about in 5 seconds or less? Attention spans are short, and you might not have longer than that to convince a person to stick around. Tools like UsabilityHub can get you solid data.

Home Page Optimization Case Study

Antiaging skincare company NuFACE made the simple change of adding a “Free Shipping” banner to its site header.

Original

eCommerce conversion Optimization - Nuface Control

Test Variation

eCommerce conversion Optimization - Nuface Variation

The results of making this change alone were a 90% increase in orders (with a 96% confidence level) and a 7.32% lift in the average order value.

Product Pages

If you’re confident about your home page’s optimization, move on to getting the most out of your individual product pages by testing your:

  • Images and videos
  • Copy
  • Pricing
  • Inclusion of social proof, reviews, and so on

Product Page Optimization Case Study

Underwater Audio challenged itself to simplify the copy on its product comparison page, testing the new page against its original look.

Original

Underwater Audio Control

Test Variation

Underwater Control Variation - eCommerce conversion rate optimization

This cleaner approach increased website sales for Underwater Audio by 40.81%.

Checkout Flow

Finally, make sure customers aren’t getting hung up in your checkout flow by testing the following characteristics:

Checkout Flow Optimization Case Study

A Scandinavian gift retailer, nameOn, reduced the number of CTAs on their checkout page from 9 to 2.

Original

nameon-1

Test Variation

nameon-2

Making this change led to an estimated $100,000 in increased sales per year.

Lead Nurturing

Proper CRO doesn’t just happen on your site. It should be carried through to every channel you use, including email marketing. Give the following strategies a try to boost your odds of driving conversions, even when past visitors are no longer on your site.

Email Marketing

Use an established email marketing program to take the steps below:

Case Study

There are dozens of opportunities to leverage email to reach out to customers. According to Karolina Petraškienė of Soundest, sending a welcome email results in:

4x higher open rates and 5x higher click rates compared to other promotional emails. Keeping in mind that in e-commerce, average revenue per promotional email is $0.02, welcome emails on average result in 9x higher revenue — $0.18. And if it’s optimized effectively, revenue can be as high as $3.36 per email.”

Live Chat

LemonStand shares that “live chat has the highest satisfaction levels of any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.” Add live chat to your store and test the following activities:

Case Study

LiveChat Inc.’s report on chat greeting efficiency shares the example of The Simply Group, which uses customized greetings to assist customers having problems at checkout. Implementing live chat has enabled them to convert every seventh greeting to a chat, potentially saving sales that would otherwise be lost.

Content Marketing

Content marketing may be one of the most challenging channels to optimize for conversions, given the long latency periods between reading content pieces and converting. The following strategies can help:

  • Tie content pieces to business goals.
  • Incorporate content upgrades.
  • Use clear CTAs within content.
  • Test content copy, messaging, use of social proof, and so on.
  • Test different distribution channels and content formats.

Case Study

ThinkGeek uses YouTube videos as a fun way to feature their products and funnel interested prospects back to their site. Their videos have been so successful that they’ve accumulated 180K+ subscribers who tune in regularly for their content.

thinkgeek

Post-Acquisition Marketing

According to Invesp, “It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.” Continuing to market to past customers, either in the hopes of selling new items or encouraging referrals, is a great way to boost your overall performance.

Advocacy

Don’t let your CRO efforts stop after a sale has been made. Some of your past clients can be your best sources of new customers, if you take the time to engage them properly.

  • Create an advocacy program: Natural referrals happen, but having a dedicated program turbocharges the process.
  • Test advocacy activation programs: Install a dedicated advocacy management platform like RewardStream or ReferralSaaSquatch and test different methods for promoting your new offering to customers with high net promoter scores.
  • Test different advocate incentives: Try two-way incentives, coupon codes, discounted products, and more.
  • Invest in proper program launch, goal-setting, and ongoing evaluation/management: Customer advocacy programs are never truly “done.”

Case Study

Airbnb tested its advocacy program invitation copy and got better results with the more unselfish version.

airbnb

Reactivation

As mentioned above in the funnel-stage email recommendation, reactivation messages can be powerful drivers of CRO success.

Pay particular attention to these 2 activities:

  • Setting thresholds for identifying inactive subscribers
  • Building an automated reactivation workflow that’s as personalized as possible

Case Study

RailEasy increased opens by 31% and bookings by 38% with a reactivation email featuring a personalized subject line.

raileasy

Internal Efforts

Lastly, make CRO an ongoing practice by prioritizing it internally, rather than relegating it to “something the marketing department does.”

Ask CRO experts, and they’ll tell you that beyond the kinds of tactics and strategies described above, having a culture of experimentation and testing is the most important step you can take to see results from any CRO effort.

Here’s how to do it:

Have an idea for another way CRO can be used within e-commerce organizations? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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How to Leverage eCommerce Conversion Optimization Through Different Channels to Maximize Growth

7 Ways To Accelerate Product Adoption (Without Spamming Your User Base)

speed up product adoption

We tend to make a big deal about leads in the marketing space, and not without good reason. Everything starts with leads. However, for software companies, the real goal is product adoption. We need people actively and consistently using our product. Regardless of our business model, success occurs when users experience that “aha” moment that takes our product from an experiment to a core part of their day-to-day work. So how do we move people from lead to product adopter? How to we give them that “aha” moment? Two words: Strategic Repetition Repetition is a POWERFUL psychological force. Studies have…

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7 Ways To Accelerate Product Adoption (Without Spamming Your User Base)

Glossary: Value Proposition

glossary value proposition

A value proposition is what you guarantee or promise to deliver to your potential buyers in exchange for their money. It’s also the main reason why people choose one product over other. If it’s done right, it can give you the competitive edge and help you grow your business. The value proposition is vital to conversion optimization as it allows you to build a perception of the value that a user is getting. So, if you test it, these few sentences might have a significant impact on your conversion rate and sales. What the value proposition does when done right:…

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Glossary: Value Proposition

How to Setup Google AMP Webpages with Google Analytics Tracking

Google Amp and Analytics

If you have been following Google’s changes recently, you may have noticed that they became obsessed with mobile web. And there are a couple of strong reasons to support that. According to Search Engine Land, Google has officially confirmed that mobile search surpassed desktop back in 2015. Moreover, in October 2016, Google announced mobile-first indexing which focuses on prioritizing the mobile version of a website’s content over the desktop version when assigning search rankings. This obsession led to the introduction of Accelerated Mobile Pages (also known as AMP) which are primarily designed to provide the mobile user with an immersive,…

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How to Setup Google AMP Webpages with Google Analytics Tracking

The Road To Resilient Web Design

Editor’s Note: In the world of web design, we tend to become preoccupied with the here and now. In “Resilient Web Design“, Jeremy Keith emphasizes the importance of learning from the past in order to better prepare ourselves for the future. So, perhaps we should stop and think more beyond our present moment? The following is an excerpt from Jeremy’s web book.

Design adds clarity. Using colour, typography, hierarchy, contrast, and all the other tools at their disposal, designers can take an unordered jumble of information and turn it into something that’s easy to use and pleasurable to behold. Like life itself, design can win a small victory against the entropy of the universe, creating pockets of order from the raw materials of chaos.

The Road To Resilient Web Design

The Book of Kells is a beautifully illustrated manuscript created over 1200 years ago. It’s tempting to call it a work of art, but it is a work of design. The purpose of the book is to communicate a message; the gospels of the Christian religion. Through the use of illustration and calligraphy, that message is conveyed in an inviting context, making it pleasing to behold.

The post The Road To Resilient Web Design appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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The Road To Resilient Web Design

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Launching That Overlay

peter-parker
Be the Peter Parker of overlays. Image via Shutterstock.

You’ve heard it before: “With great power comes great responsibility.

And while Uncle Ben wasn’t explicitly referring to overlays when he said these iconic words to Peter Parker, the same could be said about these handy little conversion tools.

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.

Overlays are powerful marketing tools, not only because they are incredibly effective at snagging conversions, but also because they are so quick to launch.

This combination of power and speed means it’s dangerously easy to launch one without much consideration for user experience. Thus, they’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being effective… and disruptive.

But the disruptive nature of overlays is actually inherent to their effectiveness, because it focuses the visitor’s attention on a single offer. They eliminate the paradox of choice and present the visitor with a simple yes or no question.

However, there are ways to ensure the overlays you launch both achieve your goals and provide value to your visitors.

The first step in accomplishing this is to ask yourself the five Ws:

1. Why are you launching an overlay?

Overlays are most commonly used to accomplish one of three marketing goals: revenue generation, lead generation or traffic shaping.

overlay-goal

Do you want to build your blog subscriber list? Divert traffic to your pricing page? Entice visitors to make a purchase? This is what you need to figure out before you even consider building your overlay.

The marketing team at Hotjar recently implemented an overlay in their lead gen strategy for the first time. But just because it was their first attempt didn’t mean there wasn’t a clear goal. Nick Helm, Director of Inbound Marketing at Hotjar explains:

“We wanted to be able to nurture the new leads coming from different channels and bring them back.”

hotjar-overlay
Hotjar’s premier overlay built with Unbounce Convertables.

If you don’t have a good answer to the “Why” question though, just stop. Overlays, when used irresponsibly, can be intrusive and annoying. So if you don’t have a solid, strategic reason for launching one, hold on until you do.

Nick et al had a clear goal for their overlay and a detailed plan for how to achieve it, and it paid off: “We did get the quantitative results — which for us, measure better than industry standards.”

Your reason for running an overlay might be lead gen, rev gen or traffic shaping (or maybe something completely unique), but just make sure you have one — plain and simple.

Need some inspiration?

Our our latest ebook, 12 Proven Ways to Convert With Overlays, we share a dozen types of use cases you can use today.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

2. Where will you place your overlay?

Overlays offer a reliable way to fill gaps in your funnel, but you need to figure out where those gaps may be.

The easiest way to do this is to visit Google Analytics to determine your highest-traffic pages. Then whittle down the list to only include pages that don’t have a clear call to action — these pages are the low-hanging fruit you can start with to see immediate results.

You should have already determined what the goal of your overlay is; the diagram below will help you decide which of the CTA-free pages pair best with the type of overlay you’d like to launch.

overlay-placement

As you can see, different pages are associated with different levels of buyer intent, and so while a lead gen overlay might perform well on your blog, a rev gen overlay probably won’t.

Now, if you’re a keener and don’t have any high-traffic pages without a CTA then I present you with this anthropomorphic gold star:

giphy-2
Tina star gif via Giphy.

But I also challenge you to consider how you might use overlays on your highest-traffic pages to get even better results (because even though you have a CTA, it doesn’t mean people see it).

Adding an overlay with a complementary offer to your main on-page offer can help bolster the success of your page, because overlays leverage the psychological principle of pattern interruption  to focus the visitor’s attention on a single offer. Your sidebar CTA, on the other hand, can start to blend into the page, so people become blind to it.

Here’s an example from last year’s Digital Agency Day (DAD) signup page:

digital-agency-day

Whereas the signup page’s goal was to get people to attend the digital event, this overlay offered exiting visitors the opportunity to simply get the recordings, even if they couldn’t attend.

The results were some of the best we’ve ever seen: 1,991 full-form conversions on 10,005 views.

3. Who should see your overlay?

The key to high-converting overlays is presenting compelling offers that (1) align with the visitor’s buying intent and (2) are relevant to that visitor’s specific needs or interests. This means targeting, and the more granular you can get the better.

The first thing you want to find out is where your visitors are coming from. If you know that, you can better judge what type of overlay should be presented, because different types of traffic relate to different levels of buyer intent (social traffic, for example, is often less likely to make a purchase than paid traffic).

The following chart further illustrates this.

traffic-sources
Different traffic sources pair better with specific types of overlays.

Another thing you want to think about is whether the traffic consists of first-time or returning visitors, and — if they are a returning visitor — whether or not they’ve already opted in.

Chances are, your page traffic is a mixture of different referral sources and visitor types, so it can be tricky to present an offer that’s relevant to everyone. Fortunately, Unbounce Convertables recently launched referral and cookie targeting, so you can present more relevant offers by customizing the overlays visitors see based on where they’re coming from or what pages they’ve visited before.

4. What is your overlay offer?

By now, you should be seeing a trend — that creating an effective overlay means keeping the visitor experience at the forefront of your mind. And the sweet spot is where your marketing goals align with the goals of the user: you want the sale, they want the bargain; you want the email, they want the ebook; and so on.

So when you consider what your actual offer will be, ask yourself if your overlay is valuable and relevant to your visitor. If it’s not both of these things things, your results will suffer and you risk being obnoxious.

Let’s break this down.

Value

Conveying value means offering your visitor something worth converting for. Here are a few examples:

  1. Offer an exclusive discount, like this lead gen overlay from BustedTees, which offers a generous 40% discount on first orders:
busted-tees
  1. Entice visitors with free shipping, like this rev gen overlay from Diamond Candles:
diamond-candles
  1. Present a free resource visitors can’t resist, like this lead gen overlay from Copy Hackers which offers a free four-part conversion optimization course:
copy-hackers

Relevance

Another thing to consider when deciding on your offer is whether or not it’s relevant to your audience.

Here’s a real-life example: At Unbounce, our analytics showed that a roundup of the 16 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2016 was bringing in a lot of organic traffic. Assuming that people who read about marketing conferences are also interested in attending marketing conferences, we served up this overlay (with a ticket discount to sweeten the pot) that directed people to our Call to Action conference microsite:

cta-conf

And, might I point out, the above overlay is also an incredibly valuable offer — $650 savings? Yes please!

5. When should your visitors see your overlay?

We’ve sorted where your overlays should be seen and by whom, but there’s a final piece in the puzzle: When.

You have a few options around when to trigger your overlay, and depending on the type of offer you’re presenting, different triggers may be more effective than others.

Let’s dig in…

On arrival
On-arrival overlays appear when your page first loads. Use this trigger for offers you want users to immediately see (e.g., a coupon code or an event invitation) or for returning visitors who may no longer notice your onsite calls to action.

On scroll
An overlay using an on-scroll trigger will appear once the user has scrolled through a designated percentage of the page. Use it to present relevant offers to users who have implied interest in a topic after spending time on the page (e.g., a free quote) or to catch the attention of returning visitors who may no longer notice your on-site calls to action.

On exit
Overlays that trigger on exit appear when the user moves to abandon the page. Use them for offers that can “save” a potentially lost conversion (e.g., a coupon code or shipping discount) or for offering free resources or collecting sign-ups that enable you to save a user’s details for future communications.

After delay
Sometimes you’ll want your overlay to appear after a designated time delay, typically between five and 20 seconds. Use this type of overlay to present relevant offers to users who have implied interest in a topic after spending time on the page or for returning visitors who may no longer notice your onsite calls to action.

Psst: Unbounce Convertables include all the above mentioned triggers plus on-click trigger, like this one. Use it to present information or forms on demand without cluttering the page (e.g., “click here to sign up” opening an overlay with a form).

Be a conversion hero

That was a lot of information, I know, but as a marketer it’s your responsibility use your powers for good.

And remember: A thoughtful approach to implementing overlays benefits you and your visitor, because your goals are aligned.

Have you had success with overlays? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Launching That Overlay

A 4-Fold Approach to Increasing Conversion Rate on your Website

The problem with a traffic graph that’s going upward is that it’s not determinant of the number of customers. You can keep investing in traffic acquisition strategies until the cows come home, but that won’t yield any tangible results if you don’t optimize your website for conversions.

But how do you go about adopting conversion optimization and increasing conversion on your website?

A formalized conversion optimization program works like this:

  1. Researching into the existing data and finding gaps in the conversion funnel
  2. Planning and developing testable hypotheses
  3. Creating test variations and executing those tests
  4. Analyzing the tests and using the analysis in subsequent tests

In this post, we are going to run you through the ways to increase conversion rate through this scientific process:

Fold 1 – Digging Deep into Research

Research is needed to figure out your current situation and which among the existing processes need to be changed, or completely removed. Here are some steps that you can start with.

  • Finding the Current Conversion Funnel and Leaks
  • Performing Qualitative and Quantitative Data Analysis
  • Setting Goals that Prioritize ROI

Find the Current Conversion Funnel and Leaks

First and foremost, it is imperative to take stock of your current performance and workflows. You can apply an as-is analysis to gather insights on the current conversion rates, user’s journey, and the leaks in the conversion funnel.

Begin with the mapping of your company’s conversion funnel. You can visualize specific sequences in which users are becoming paying customers. This process will help you create a blueprint of how “strangers” can be turned into “promoters.”

Build Customer Journey to Increase Conversion Rate
Source

Peep Laja, conversion optimization expert and founder at ConversionXL has put together a step-by-step guide to creating user flows that are truly consumer-oriented.

In addition to identifying user flows, it is also important to study whether these are working. Are you experiencing churn in an area where you don’t expect to see it? Are you noticing less churn than you originally expected? Is your conversion funnel measuring the full customer journey or is it potentially missing a step?

Eric Fettman, developer of GoogleAnalyticsTest.com, a free resource for Google Analytics training and GA Individual Qualification preparation, makes some interesting observations on conversion funnels and customer journey:

  • Funnels help you visualize the process by providing a step-by-step breakup of the conversion data and churn.
  • User flow analysis helps your company understand points of customer confusion, and refine web copy and product positioning that affect your customer behavior. This analysis also highlights any “bugs” in the sequence that you may not have previously caught.

Perform Qualitative and Quantitative Data Analysis

After finding the workflow and gaps, the next step is to dive deeper into their causes. You can do this by researching on the What, How, and Why or what is often called the Simon Sinek’s golden circle:

Research to Increase Conversion Rate
Source
  • WHAT are users doing on your website
    This includes quantitative analysis of the amount of traffic landing, dropping off or converting from different pages of your website. You can use tools like Google Analytics (GA) for this purpose.
  • HOW are they behaving
    Now that you know a certain number of people are landing on your website, it’d next be useful to know what they are doing there. For instance, if they’re clicking a link or CTA, scrolling down, filling a form, or the like. Various visitor behavior analysis tools like heatmaps, visitor recordings, and form analysis can help achieve this.
  • WHY are they behaving that way
    You can also find out why your users are performing the way they are by qualitative on-page surveys and heuristic analysis.

Set Goals that Prioritize ROI

After peeking into the gaps with your conversion strategy, you should set clear goals for optimization.

It is important to arrive at a quantified expected conversion rate because that gives your testing efforts a direction. Otherwise, you might end up improving the conversion rate on a page by 1% and sit cozy without realizing its actual potential.

You can use benchmarking studies to decide the improvement you can expect through the proposed change. MarketingSherpa defines the following benchmarks for conversion rate optimization:

Conversion Rate Benchmarking

You should find the main goals of your business, based on the current strategy. What are you focused on now? Is it the total users acquired, is it the number of photos uploaded, or is it the revenue generated?

Whatever it is, you want to focus on something that’s neither too soft (“increase brand recognition”) nor too tactical (“increase page views per session”).

Fold 2 – Planning your A/B Tests

Based on this research, you should next plan your A/B tests to increase your conversion rate.

By now, you should have received enough insights to make an educated guess about what changes to your pages or funnel can bring about a desired change.

Construct a Strong Hypothesis

A structured hypothesis paves the direction for your optimization efforts. Even if the hypothesis fails, you can retrace your steps and correct it wherever it went wrong. Without this structured process, optimization efforts may go astray and lose their purpose.

At its core, a hypothesis is a statement that consists of three parts:

You believe that if we [make a change], we expect [a desirable result] because of [corresponding research].

Here’s an example of a good hypothesis.

I believe moving trust signals closer to the billing form will result in 5% more checkouts because the 56% bounce rate from that page could be due to lack of confidence.

For more information, read this post on building strong testing hypotheses.

Prioritize Your Hypotheses

After you have a list of testing hypotheses, the next step is to zero in on the hypothesis to test first. Here is a list of prioritization frameworks such as:

For detailed knowledge, you can read the post on prioritizing A/B testing hypotheses.

Fold 3 – Executing A/B Tests to Increase Conversion Rate

After the planning, it’s time for application. The plan that you’ve charted to optimize your business process needs to be deployed.

Which Type of Test to Run

A/B, Split, and Multivariate are not different alternatives to do a task. These are methods to do different tasks, so choosing any of these should depend entirely on the task at hand.

Split testing (or split URL testing) is used when:

  • Design needs major changes to the original page such that creating a separate page (housed on a different URL) is easier.
  • Back-end changes are necessary.
  • Pages to be tested already exist on different URLs.

Multivariate testing is used when multiple changes are proposed for a single page and you want to test each combination of these changes.

You should opt for an A/B test when the variations are few and not distinct.

How Long Should You Run the Test

You also need to decide the test duration before you start running the test.

The test duration is dependent on the number of visitors your website receives and the expected conversion rate you are looking for. You can use this free test duration calculator to find the duration you should run your tests for.

After you’re clear on these, you can begin creating variations and start running your tests.

Fold 4 – Analyzing Test Results

To conclude, you should also be able to check and analyze test results. This will arm you with information that you can not only apply to the current pages but also use as future learning.

No matter what the result—positive, negative, or inconclusive—it is imperative to delve deeper and gather insights.

When you are analyzing A/B test results, check if you are looking for the correct metric. If multiple metrics (secondary metrics along with the primary) are involved, you need to analyze all of them individually.

You should also create different segments from your A/B tests and analyze them separately to get a clear picture. The results you derive from generic, non-segmented testing will may lead to skewed actions.

Look at how experts derive insights from A/B Test results in this post.

Your Thoughts

How do you increase conversion rate on your website? Write to us in the comments below.

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The post A 4-Fold Approach to Increasing Conversion Rate on your Website appeared first on VWO Blog.

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A 4-Fold Approach to Increasing Conversion Rate on your Website

How Unbounce Used Overlays to Get 3,000+ Leads [Case Studies]

You’re a marketer, and a dang good one at that. You follow best practices. You always send campaign traffic to a dedicated landing page. You make data-driven decisions. You do post-mortems on all your campaigns and record your learnings.

But still, your visitors are dropping off your website without converting, leaving you with no way to nurture or convert them at a later date. And it sucks.

abandoning-visitors
No, wait, don’t go! Image via Giphy.

Things are no different for us at Unbounce. Despite our best efforts, we still miss out on a ton of conversions. Whether folks aren’t ready to hand over their information, or they simply aren’t finding what they’re looking for, they just. Don’t. Convert.

We knew there had to be a solution…

Overlays allow you to show relevant offers to specific users at the perfect time, making them less likely to leave your website without converting.

It’s a win-win really. You want the sale, they want the bargain. You want the email, they want the ebook.

But just like with any marketing tool (landing pages, emails, etc.), overlays need to be relevant, timely and valuable in order for them to be effective.

As you may have heard, Unbounce recently launched Convertables, a suite of easy-to-install overlays which can be triggered on-arrival, after delay, on scroll and on-exit. But before releasing Convertables to the masses, we were diligently testing overlays on our own web pages.

Two experiments in particular stand out, in which we used overlays to collect leads for online partnership events. In total, we were able to collect 3,200 leads and signups. We also learned a thing or two about how to maximize conversions, while at the same time respecting the goals of the user. We’d like to share our results and learnings with you.

Digital Agency Day: Sign up to get the recordings

On January 28, 2016, Unbounce and HubSpot co-hosted a brand new online event just for digital agencies. We called it Digital Agency Day (and sometimes, internally, “DAD,” because we’re goofs).

Digital Agency Day consisted of a combination of in-person and virtual events, bringing together expert speakers from the world’s top agencies and agency partners to share actionable advice on analytics, reporting, growing retainers, new business strategy, conversion rate optimization and much more.

In total there were 18 online events, with 6,500+ participants across 101 countries. Yep, you read that right — 6,500 participants. Many of which were captured via a hyper-relevant lead gen overlay.

The problem

The main goal of the Digital Agency Day microsite was to get people to register for the live event. But anyone who’s hosted a webinar or similar online event knows that getting attendees can be tricky. People just don’t want to commit, for fear they’ll be too busy to attend or have scheduling conflicts. Digital Agency Day was more than a single webinar, but the same perceived friction existed.

cro-day-microsite-cropped
The Digital Agency Day microsite. (Click for full image.)

We had to find a way to capture those visitors who just couldn’t commit to the live event before they left the site.

The solution

An overlay triggered on exit was the perfect solution. But rather than asking for visitors to sign up to attend the event, as was the goal of the microsite, the overlay prompted visitors to enter their contact info in exchange for the recordings.

dad-overlay

How it performed

We weren’t all that surprised that the overlay worked, due to its high level of relevance. That said, even we were a little surprised by the whopping 19.03% conversion rate.

dad-rooster-results

In the end, we chalked up its success to relevance, value and timeliness — the trifecta of effective overlays.

  • Relevance: The offer was similar yet complementary to the on-page offer.
  • Value: Rather than blocking a day off in their calendars, visitors could simply sign up for the recordings to watch at their leisure and cherry pick the ones that were relevant to them.
  • Timely: The offer was presented on exit, as visitors were about to abandon. Had it been triggered on arrival or after a delay, visitors who wanted to participate in the live event may have been confused.
Pro tip: While best practices indicate using no more than two form fields on your overlay to maximize conversions, you may opt for more should you require additional information to qualify or disqualify leads. At Unbounce, for example, we often qualify leads based on a four-field form. The trade-off here may be fewer conversions but with the benefit of qualifying or disqualifying leads right off the bat. Of course, this is something you’d want to test for yourself.

Want more overlay best practices?

Download Unbounce’s free guide: Best Practices for Creating High-Converting Overlays
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

CRO Day: Click through to get the recordings

After the success of Digital Agency Day, we decided to adapt the format for CRO Day — a full day of webinars for conversion-driven digital marketers.

Featuring five webinars, two panel discussions, one AMA, one Slack workshop and one… Five-Second Landing Page Showdown, CRO Day was a smashing success — thanks to amazing participants, dedicated team members and one kick-ass overlay.

The problem

Like Digital Agency Day, the goal of the CRO Day microsite was to get people to register up for the live event. But not everyone can commit to a full day of events.

We included some fine print on the page indicating, “Can’t make it? No worries! Sign up anyway and we’ll send you the recordings.” but it would be easy to miss.

digitalagencyday-microsite-cropped
The CRO Day microsite. (Click for full image.)

Again, we needed a way to isolate the message that if you couldn’t make the online event, you could still get the recordings.

The solution

Overlays are so effective because they focus the visitor’s attention on a single offer… like getting free recordings.

cro-day-overlay

Unlike the overlay for Digital Agency Day, we experimented with a traffic shaping overlay, which directed visitors to a secondary signup page focused just on getting the recordings after the event.

Typically, traffic shaping overlays are used to move visitors from low-converting pages (like your blog homepage or ecommerce category pages) to high-converting pages, but in this case we used a traffic shaping overlay to entice abandoning visitors with an alternate offer.

The flow looked like this:

cro-day-traffic-shaping

How it performed

Pretty. Darn. Good.

Using the traffic shaping overlay, we directed 27.31% of abandoning visitors to a secondary sign up page.

cro-day-overlay-results

Once on the page, 67% of visitors converted, filling out a six-field form!

cro-day-overlay-lp-results

Again, this overlay was relevant (a similar yet complementary offer), valuable (forget blocking off your calendar — watch the recordings you want, when you want) and timely (visitors were shown the overlay on-exit after they had seen the initial offer).

However, there’s another key principle at play here: Specificity.

specificity-cro-day
When will I get the recordings? The very next day. Can’t get much more specific than that!

By specifying that the recordings would be emailed to visitors the day after the event, we were able to boost our credibility, presumably resulting in more signups.

Tips, tricks and takeaways

Using the Unbounce overlay guiding principles, you can build overlays that convert like crazy… but not at the expense of visitor experience.

When planning your own overlay campaigns, keep in mind the following:

  • Make it relevant. If your visitor is reading a blog post about waterproof watch reviews, your overlay better not be about bikes. Rather, it should be complementary, like an overlay that directs the visitor to a features page about one of the watch models.
  • But don’t present the same offer. Presenting the exact same offer on the overlay as on page is annoying and needy. Don’t be that dude.
  • Make it valuable. Asking visitors for their personal info is a big deal. Make sure what you’re offering in exchange is of equal or greater value.

Make it timely. Choosing when to trigger your overlay depends upon the goal. (Psst: With Unbounce, you can trigger your overlays on-entrance, after delay, on-scroll and on-exit.)

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How Unbounce Used Overlays to Get 3,000+ Leads [Case Studies]

VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 | How Smart Enterprises Gather User Feedback

Gathering qualitative insights from your visitors can go a long way in deciding what to optimize.

On-page Surveys or website surveys are one of the most certain ways to solicit such qualitative insights on what users actually think about your website and the areas where you can improve.

However, these On-page surveys also need to be optimized for best results. This report aims to help you create better On-page surveys and fetch higher number of responses.

We studied 1,154 On-page surveys created by different enterprises using VWO. The surveys contained 2,661 questions and received a total of 457,797 responses. We identified trends and patterns on how enterprises used the surveys and how visitors responded to them.

VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 CTA

For each factor involved, we’ve analyzed both how websites have commonly used On-page Surveys and how their customers/users have interacted with them. The report contains detailed insights under the following headings:

Number of Questions Used per Survey

We took a peek into the number of questions used per survey by various organizations and how that affected the completion rate of the survey.

Quite unsurprisingly, surveys with the least number of questions, that is, single-questioned surveys received the highest completion rate.

Types of Question Formats Used

Next, we looked into the different types of question formats used such as select-based questions, checkbox-type question, single-line response based questions, and so on.

Checkbox type questions were preferred the most, as these gathered the highest completion rate while single-line and multi-line response-based questions had the lowest completion rate.

Campaign Triggers Used

The performance of a survey also varies depending on when it is flashed in front of the website visitors. You can choose different actions like “click an element,” “time spent on page,” “exit intent,” and so on, as triggers to display your surveys.

The report highlights that “click an element” resulted in the highest completion rate.

Position of the Survey

Analyzing the position or placement of the survey also bore interesting results. Most companies opted for surveys placed on the right which also yielded marginally better results. The right-handed surveys had about 80% higher completion rate compared to the left-handed ones.

Ideal Time of Completion of the Survey

Lastly, we looked into the most common time when visitors on various websites chose to fill the surveys.

Over to You

The report incorporates valuable takeaways on all these fronts to help you create your On-page surveys like a breeze. Download your copy from the link provided here.

VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 CTA

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VWO On-Page Surveys Report 2016 | How Smart Enterprises Gather User Feedback