Tag Archives: michael

Learn From The Best: An Interview With Product Designer Michael Wong

mizko portrait

Here at Crazy Egg, we’re infatuated with design. Graphic design, product design, UX, UI – all of it. And of course, there are a handful of designers that we really admire. Michael Wong is one of them. You can see Michael’s skill right away when you come face-to-face with his work. And since Michael is a product designer, you can bet your you-know-what he’s released some of his own products. Check out bukketapp.com We decided to reach out to Michael to ask him a few questions. What’s the best skill to have as a UX designer in today’s world? How…

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Learn From The Best: An Interview With Product Designer Michael Wong

Move Fast, Break Things and Get Rejected: Day 2 of the Call to Action Conference

Day two of the Call to Action Conference was stacked with a lineup of some of the brightest minds in marketing, including the wizard of MOZ, Rand Fishkin, copywriter and comedy-sketch genius Amy Harrison and our very own CRO viking, Michael Aagaard — just to name a few.

cta-spakrles
And there were sparkles.

It can be easy to forget that even the smartest people can make mistakes. Many of our humble speakers today had their own stories of failure.

But they also made it clear that mistakes aren’t game over.

They’re opportunities to change your perspective, test new ideas and even turn a disastrous situation into a delightful one.

Disappointment is an opportunity for delight

Stefanie Grieser, Unbounce International Marketing Manager and Call to Action Conference Founder, has seen her fair share of delightful marketing experiences… and not-so-delightful ones.

As much as we all aim to delight and over-deliver to our audience, sometimes we all mess up.

But for Stef, even the biggest goofs and gaffes are really just opportunities to delight.

Case in point? At Unbounce, we send a few more “oops” emails than we’d like to admit — whether we’re sending apologies for swag mix-ups or newsletters with broken !firstname merge fields.

And these emails have some of our hottest open and and click-through rates:

s-grieser-cta-2016

We’re talking 3x the opens and 5x the click-through of standard “non-oops” emails.

These emails get engagement because they are so clearly from one vulnerable human to another. They remind us that we’re speaking to a human, not a company.

And for marketers, they give the opportunity to connect with our audience and provide even more delight — by poking fun at ourselves or offering up something more (like an additional discount).

Open yourself up to failure and rejection

In the spirit of messing up, Aaron Orendorff of iconiContent had a thing or two to say about what makes for good content.

Contrary to what most people might think, you don’t always want to focus on success in your content. Sometimes, highlighting your failures can be more impactful.

This doesn’t necessarily work for all content (you wouldn’t want a hyper-tactical post about how to fail, would you?), but if you want impactful brand-defining content, you’re gonna have to be willing to air your dirty laundry.

What do we mean by brand-defining content? It’s the content that makes readers question what they thought they knew about your brand. Aaron uses Rand’s post, “A Long, Ugly Year of Depression That’s Finally Fading” as an example, or Domino’s Pizza’s, “The Pizza Turnaround” — a documentary addressing customer complaints.

These pieces of content — while not pretty — came from a place of transparency, vulnerability and failure. And guess what? They worked.

If you’re willing to share the dark stuff, you open yourself to criticism, failure… all that good stuff. But you also open yourself up to building lasting connections with your readers.

So, in the words of Aaron:

Get rejected. Make it about them, not you. Make it about salvation, not sales. Make it about failure, not success.

#letsgetrejected

Be bold and dare to break things

For most content marketing teams, the idea of simply freezing all content production sounds like a recipe for disaster. (Or a recipe for getting fired.)

But for Uberflip, it was about a shift in priorities. As their VP of Marketing Hana Abaza explained, more content doesn’t necessarily mean more results. It might just mean more wasted effort.

So they stopped producing content for three weeks, and instead focused on how they could optimize their existing content for more conversions. That meant putting better calls to action on high-traffic, low-converting content, and driving more traffic to posts that were already converting well.

If you want to run any kind of experiments, you have to be prepared for failure.

But being accepting of failure gives you the power to make bigger and bolder bets.

Pobody’s nerfect

It seems weird to have to reassure ourselves that it’s okay to be human.

But there’s something comforting in knowing that sometimes, it’s our shortcomings and flaws that draw people to us (and to our marketing).

After all, you’re only human, right?

Right?

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Psst. The Call to Action Conference might be over, but we don’t want you to miss out on any of the learnings — sign up for all the notes here.

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Move Fast, Break Things and Get Rejected: Day 2 of the Call to Action Conference

Get Inspired By These 10 Beautiful Landing Page Designs [FREE DOWNLOAD]

You’ve been designing and building landing pages for a while now.

You may even create landing pages for clients.

You’ve seen the benefits of landing pages first-hand, and cringe at the thought of sending PPC traffic to a homepage.

You pride yourself on creating pages that are both beautiful and delightful… a recipe for campaign success.

Micheal Phelps gold medal
If landing page building was an Olympic sport, you’d be Michael Phelps. Image via Giphy.

But then, unexpectedly, you’re hit with a massive wave of landing page creative block. It’s a thing, and it can happen to anyone.

Creative block creeps up when you’ve got all the tools to build a massively high-converting landing page, but the juices just aren’t flowing. And without those creative juices, your landing page could end up feeling stuffy and robotic.

Fear not, friends, there’s an easy cure for landing page creative block. Simply follow my two-step process and you’ll be pumping out beautiful, high-converting pages in no time.

Step 1: De-stress

Here are a few ideas:

  • Take several deep breaths.
  • Try this guided meditation.
  • Go for a quick walk around the office.
  • Watch this video.

Step 2: Download our FREE 2016 Spring Lookbook

Featuring 10 sensational real-life landing pages spanning multiple industries, the 2016 Spring Lookbook is sure to inspire you and get those creative juices flowing.

Feeling a little uninspired?

Download our FREE Spring 2016 Lookbook, packed with landing page design inspiration!
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

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Get Inspired By These 10 Beautiful Landing Page Designs [FREE DOWNLOAD]

How Unbounce’s Marketing Team Grew From 1 to 31 [PODCAST]

Hey podcast listeners! You can listen to all previous episodes of the Call to Action podcast on our brand-spankin’ new episode hub here.

Imagine being one of the only marketers on the team at a budding startup.

You need to know the best practices for all sorts of campaigns: paid, content, social, email, partnerships… the list goes on. What’s more, you’re responsible for both strategy and execution (no matter how brilliant you are, there are only 24 hours in a day… and fewer if you want to, y’know, sleep).

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That’s a lot of hats to wear. Image source.

Sound like a nightmare? Well, it was the reality for Georgiana Laudi back when Unbounce was just a baby company. Today, she is the VP of Marketing and has watched the department grow to have more than 30 employees.

And while the role was surely stressful (wearing a lot of hats can make you look goofy), Gia’s hands-in-everything position taught her a lot about being a marketer and a manager.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Gia gives her take on:

  • The ideal time for teams to start moving away from hiring “full-stack” marketers and toward creating a larger team of specialists
  • Why Unbounce held off on performance marketing for so long in favor of an inbound marketing strategy
  • How marketing teams can do a better job empowering women on their team to start a family without feeling like they’re compromising their careers

Listen to the podcast

Mentioned in the podcast

  • Call to Action theme music brought to you by the great folks at Wistia.

Read the transcript

Gia: Hi, I’m Georgiana Laudi and I’m the VP Marketing at Unbounce.

Dan: I believe today is actually your fourth Unniversary, as we like to say at Unbounce. So I was thinking, let’s start at the very beginning just to provide some context. What were you doing before you started at Unbounce?

Gia: I was consulting, actually. I was doing web marketing for some startups and some mid-sized businesses in Montreal. I had been doing that for about two years. I was also running a couple of tech events in the city and was pretty active in the technology community and startup community in Montreal, which helped, obviously, to sort of feed my freelance gigs and keep me very, very busy.

Dan: What enticed you to move all the way across the country and join a young, fledgling startup?

Gia: It’s funny because I actually didn’t think of Unbounce as that young then because I was working with a lot of startups that were significantly younger and smaller. I saw a job posting that was shared on Twitter, and the job posting was just so compelling. And I had been wanting to try Unbounce for clients for a while. I had already heard about it and was considering using it. I wasn’t using landing pages at the time. And then basically what I did was I worked from Montreal for four months before moving. So I did do a little bit of due diligence there.

And then I went out to visit the office. There were only about 15 people in the office at the time and everybody there was super enthusiastic, super smart, super in love with the product. Unbounce’s customers also really sold me on joining because they were super vocal about how amazing their experience had been with both customer success and how much they loved the product. So it was just those two things combined. I felt like there was actually a ton of momentum already.

And I kind of regretted not getting on board sooner, to be honest — like I was late to the party, a bit. Yeah, that was when there were 15 people and obviously, there are a lot more than that now.

Dan: I guess the company was already a couple years old, though, wasn’t it?

Gia: It was almost two years but they hadn’t actually –my understanding is they didn’t actually make their first hire until a year in. So many of the employees – there was an early developer, and Ryan (Engley) and Jacquelyn (Ma) were actually one of the first three employees, and they only started about six months before me. So it actually hadn’t been that long that they’d been hiring.

Dan: One of the benefits of having six cofounders is they’re able to be independent for a while.

Gia: For much longer, yes.

Dan: There’s a story floating around about one of our cofounders driving your car across the country. Do you know what I’m getting at, here?

Gia: I do.

Dan: So it’s true.

Gia: It is true. And actually, the part of that story that you’re missing is that he actually crashed my car. I don’t even know if a lot of people know about this. It was basically – I mentioned my early-on visit to Vancouver and to HQ. And during the negotiation process of discussing whether or not I was going to join the team, I raised the big issue: all my stuff and my car are on the other side of the country. We didn’t have these hiring and relocation budgets back then so yeah, Oli basically offered to drive my car from Montreal to Vancouver.

And I think just as he hit the Ontario border… did he roll it? No, I don’t think he rolled it but it spun out. Anyway, it was pretty bad and he was delayed – I was already in Vancouver. So it actually took him a month longer to get my car fixed.

Dan: What? He didn’t get very far if he was just at the Ontario border.

Gia: No, he had only been driving like 45 minutes. It was pretty bad.

Dan: That’s funny. Well, it probably wasn’t funny at the time but it’s pretty funny now.

Gia: No, it wasn’t funny. It took about a couple of weeks to be funny. It was funny to everyone shortly thereafter, but at the moment, no. It wasn’t funny at all.

Dan: Fair enough. So what was it like being the first full-time, full-stack marketer on the team?

Gia: Busy. Really, really busy. Like I said, when I had first visited and first met the team — everybody being so in love with what they were doing and so dedicated to what they were doing — it was just sort of par for the course that we all just worked like crazy and we loved it. So I did a lot of evenings and a lot of weekends for the first year and a half, two years. I remember it being surprising to me when people would leave the office at 5. When that started to happen, that was a moment in the history of the company. Like wow, people are going home for dinner. What a concept! Or I should say 5 or 6.

But yeah, it was really intense but it was great because the stakes were really high. There was a ton of ownership. If we did really well, it directly reflected the work you were doing. If we did poorly, well, you had to own up to that, too. It was sort of this environment of learning. It was really, really cool actually, and super rewarding. The immediate results of hard work were the best reward for that.

Dan: Do you remember the moment when it became clear that you needed to hire more staff?

Gia: Yeah. That was sort of baked in just because of the nature of the company and how quickly we were growing. We knew that within not a very long time, we would be growing out this team. That was always sort of the plan. It was just a matter of articulating a job posting, to be honest. I think I made the first hire in marketing within nine months of joining the company. The blog was – and still is – a large percentage of the efforts being made within the marketing department were focused on the blog, and big marketing, big content stuff.

What we were posting at the time was two or three times a week. I wanted to amp it up to five because what I had seen was a lot of our acquisition was largely coming from our content marketing and largely from the blog itself. So I wanted to amp it up to sort of run a test. I started doing that, Oli and myself, we went up to about five. So I started inviting a lot of contributing authors to the blog. But you know as well as I do, that is like almost more work than it does save it.

So yeah, we put a job posting up and that was actually the role that Stefanie Grieser was hired for. I brought her on to help with social and the blog management. So the three of us sort of went nuts on blog.

Dan: She’s now our International Marketing Manager, Stef.

Gia: Yeah, exactly. Stef’s been around since the early days, too. And so has Corey because actually, Corey was hired only a few months after Stef was and that was mainly because it became so obvious that our analytics were suffering. I don’t even know that we had GA properly installed on our website. That’s how chicken-with-my-head-cut-off it was. That’s how we were operating the department: just like one campaign after the next.

It was all about getting people to try Unbounce so even the foundational stuff hadn’t really happened yet. So that’s when we brought on Corey, too, to start thinking more about performance and funnel-type driven marketing. Yeah, that actually was three years ago at the end of this month.

Dan: Do you remember what your vision was for how you would build out the team from there?

Gia: Yeah, I remember early on looking to Moz and Rand (Fishkin), actually. The Moz blog — then SEO Moz — had a couple of posts about how to build to a marketing team and I remember one that sort of resonated with me, which was – I don’t remember what the post said, exactly. But what I got out of it was I had sort of imagined a marketing team broken into four. And so strategic partnerships and business development was a huge, huge part of our success for marketing in the marketing team at the time, as was our content marketing, as was our performance type marketing (so like funnel-focused stuff), which we were sorely lacking, like I mentioned why we hired Corey.

And then also social and PR; I saw a big opportunity for that, too. And so those were going to be sort of the four pillars that I had planned to build out on. I sort of went with okay, let’s find the team leads for these four areas to build out and those were my first four hires, including yourself, Dan.

Dan: Yeah. That was just a little more than two years ago. Now we have more than 30 people on our marketing team.

Gia: Yeah, like 32 or something.

Dan: Oh, man. When you think back to that original vision, how different does it look?

Gia: So yeah, it looks very different than it did. The vision that I’m describing is super early days and now – when the company was like 30 people. Now, at like 130 people, nearly, obviously with the addition of people comes the addition of ideas. And I don’t mean just within the marketing department but the whole organization has really changed in terms of direction and recognizing different opportunities. And so actually, what we’ve recently done, actually as of just this year but it’s been in talks for obviously the past couple months. We’ve actually turned towards a more tribe approach.

And what I mean by tribe is squads and chapters. I won’t get into the details of obviously how tribes work, but the organization itself made the decision a while ago that we would attempt a more tribe structure for our department. So the product team, engineering teams – obviously, it’s sort of an engineering approach, this tribe structure. And the marketing team has adopted this, as well, recently. And what we’ve done is we’ve laid it on top of our customer journey. So we now have teams dedicated to different parts of our customer journey.

So as opposed to those four areas of focus that I was describing, we actually have teams dedicated to the different phases that our customer would go through when adopting our tool.

Dan: Right, from awareness to evaluation to growth and expansion.

Gia: Yes, exactly.

Dan: What’s been the biggest challenge for you going from a full-stack marketer team of one who was intimately involved in everything from strategy to execution for pretty much all our marketing campaigns and content, to a managerial VP role?

Gia: Wow, there have been a lot of challenges. The most obvious, though, is communicating that larger strategy and vision when you’re one person, really only comes down to – for instance for me it was, “Can I get Rick (Perreault) on board and can I get Oli on board?” And they were the only two founders that I really needed to get full alignment with on my strategy. Other departments too, of course but only at the highest level. I only had to worry about myself. Obviously communicating a vision and strategy to a larger and growing team becomes increasingly difficult, especially as you add new members.

There was a certain point where we were adding new members on a biweekly and monthly basis. So aligning everyone, obviously, can be pretty challenging. I think that’s challenging for any growing team. Brainstorms were a great way, early on, to determine whether or not everybody was on the same page. So we would often run campaign brainstorms. And after those — I was rarely even the one running them — but I would attend with great benefit to know, “We’re way out of whack on this. We need to do a better job of communicating our strategy” or “Hey, great, we’re all on board.”

Because it would come out at the tactical level — it became obvious whether or not we were all on the same page or not. One of the things that’s been to my advantage is that I’m the type to provide feedback really early and often and immediately, which I think has been really useful for – I mean at the individual level. But also, because I did basically all of these jobs at some point, I have context that I think paired with relying on people’s specialties, which now the people on the team know way, way more about their individual areas than I will ever hope to know.

So pairing that context — that historical context — I think is of a huge advantage now, too. Because I can sort of get into the nitty gritty with everybody as I need to and I’m super happy to back out and let people lead the way. But I have a lot of that early sort of context. So I don’t know. It’s been hard to let go but it’s been so rewarding to let go at the same time.

Dan: Right. It’s got to be tricky to do sometimes to give that feedback, to be that involved and that direct with your communications at every step without coming off and feeling like a backseat driver, I would think.

Gia: Yeah, for sure. Earlier days, I had a way harder time with that for sure. But when it’s a smaller team, it’s an easier process. When you’re like five or six or 10, then everybody is sort of on the same path. But as you’re out to 30 or so, everybody’s got their own goals and their own focuses so I have a way easier time now than I did. Earlier days, I was way, more intimately involved, obviously. And now, I’m super content to let people – you know, you tell me how this should be done. Everybody’s been so, so amazing and enthusiastic and self motivated that it’s been easy.

Dan: One of the great advantages that I see — just to remove the fourth wall for a moment – within this new structure where I’ve also found myself in a bit more of a holistic role rather than in the weeds, is to make sure that you’re there. And we know that you’re there as a resource. Not necessarily as a bottleneck but that you have that expertise and that institutional knowledge. And I think that’s a really unique, valuable role to have within a team.

Gia: Yeah, totally. I’m totally down to get into the weeds whenever needed, and totally happy to stay out of them when it’s appropriate. So it’s just removing the lockers is really satisfying, too, to be in a position where I can remove those bottlenecks or help get things out of the way so people can move forward. That’s also a really rewarding part of being in this more holistic position as opposed to execution.

Dan: Do you think there’s an opportunity to keep growing within a team without giving up the full-stack marketer, have-your-hands-in-everything role, even as you get more senior?

Gia: That has actually probably been my biggest struggle, I’d say. Two of my four years was exactly that. I was struggling with management track versus individual contributor track. And as a generalist, you tend to end up on the management track. Unless you’re going to specialize, that’s just sort of the natural thing you end up in. There are like the Michael Aagaards of the world, who are senior, individual contributors. They’re masters of their craft. So as a full-stack marketer, I think it’s pretty tough to end up as an individual contributor doing executional sort of work like that.

As opposed to if you’re full stack and you have a wider, reaching perspective on your goals and your team’s goals, let’s say. You’d have to stay on a small team and begin the type of role where you get to wear lots of hats. But as soon as you get into a department of 20, 30 people, no, you need to start hiring more of those specialists, individual contributors. That level of expertise is just required at that stage. So yeah, I think it does come down to those two different professional tracks: management versus individual contribution.

Dan: At the same time, you wouldn’t want a Michael Aagaard to stop doing CRO and start managing a team. So I think to provide that path, yeah, you could keep growing your expertise, you could become more senior, your salary could evolve with you without feeling like you’re being taken away from what you’re good at. I think that’s really important.

Gia: Yeah, totally. And that’s the big struggle. We’re picking on Michael Aagaard, here, but it wouldn’t be unheard of for Michael to have a team. But that’s a decision that he has to make at a certain point: am I going to focus more on the management and professional development of my team and less on the actual fun, conversion rate optimization work? That’s a decision you have to make at some point.

It might be something he’s absolutely looking to do, and it might be: no, I don’t want to get into management; I’m not into the operational side of things. A lot of developers end up at this point in their professional careers and the same is true in any marketing department.

Dan: Yeah, I think it’s true almost anywhere. I think of the amazing teacher in school who gets promoted to principal and doesn’t make a particularly good principal, and then you lose that amazing, inspiring teacher. I think at any institution or organization, it’s important to think about these things and to map out those different paths. So you went on maternity leave about a year and a half ago, and you’re expecting your second child in the next few months. Any advice for other marketing teams on – first of all, congratulations! I should say that. I’ve told you before, but now that it’s on record…

So any advice for other marketing teams on how to plan for and manage a smooth transition when a senior member of the team, particularly the marketing director, goes on leave?

Gia: Yeah. I was gone for eight months, and I knew that I wouldn’t be gone for the full year. And I remember these early discussions with Rick and Oli and Corey trying to distribute responsibilities. And we made a lot of mistakes, to be honest. One of which was relying on somebody within the team with their own responsibilities to take over mine, as well, with the expectation that people outside the department would lend a hand when needed. But in retrospect, that was a really bad idea because especially in a company growing as quickly as Unbounce, people are very, very busy.

They’ve got their own problems to solve and depending on three people to fill in on one person’s role was a big mistake and we know that now. Advice? Now I’m in a position again where I’m trying to do sort of the same thing. One of the things that Leslie in HR has been really helpful with driving home and insisting that a very clear role is defined and that there’s a person in place to represent you in your absence. So there’s one person who is responsible for the entirety of your role and responsibilities.

And so they sort of operate as your stand-in in your absence. In the absence of having somebody doing that, you run the risk of causing a lot of confusion when you return, causing a lot of confusion around where your roles and responsibilities fall when you come back. To be honest with you, we didn’t get it right necessarily the first time. I’m hoping we get closer this time. As I talk to a lot of women who have gone on maternity leave, this is a much larger issue, obviously, and I could probably do a podcast about this topic on its own.

But roles will always change in your absence, especially with a growing company. So there’s no surefire way to assure you’re going to come back to the exact, same role, and that you’re going to

Dan: Yeah, and a company where roles change so quickly anyway.

Gia: Yeah, exactly. And you’re trying to take care of your team in your absence, especially when you’re in a management role. But yeah, we do the best we can and I don’t have a ton more to add to that, to be honest.

Dan: Fair enough. How do you think marketing teams could do better in empowering the women on their team to dive into family life without feeling like they’re letting their team down or compromising their career somehow?

Gia: Yeah, that’s a great question. There are a lot of things organizations can do in order to make it a little bit less scary for people to exit their roles. And it’s not just women. Some men decide to go on parental leave just as often as women. I know lots of cases where the guy will leave for months at a time. It remains true; any type of leave is something to contend with and manage, particularly though when we’re talking about gender. There are some biases that have worked into the way businesses are run.

And so there are a lot of things that can be done to remove those biases. Like there are standardization approaches to performance reviews. Again, this is not my area of expertise; I am not HR by any means. You’d be way better off talking to somebody like Leslie (Collin) for something like this. But I think standardizing the approach can help because it does aid in removing bias. And then yeah, what I was talking about before, making sure someone is representing you in your absence is another really important piece to it, whether you’re a guy or a girl or whatever.

Gender doesn’t really come into it. It’s just anybody who is on leave — there are lots of reasons to go on leave. So having yourself represented when you’re not there I think relieves a lot of reintegration problems when you return.

Dan: Right. There’s the question of reintegration but there’s also, I think, feeling confident about going on leave without feeling guilty about it. It sounds like it’s a problem when these things aren’t clearly defined ahead of time.

Gia: Yeah, it’s inevitable that feeling guilty would be a problem for certain types of individuals, particularly at a company where people love their team as much as we do at Unbounce. We believe so heavily in the company and what it stands for, and the founders and our coworkers and our work that anybody leaving that environment will inevitably feel some sort of guilt for – not abandoning ship, but you know what I mean.

Dan: It’s almost like a negative symptom of a really positive culture.

Gia: Yeah, exactly. I can speak for myself that, yeah, it was really hard to leave. When I was on leave, I was like, yeah, nothing fell apart. Everybody’s still there and still happy and still operating, which was so amazing from the outside to look back in for those eight months and know that everything was running along. Of course it wasn’t running 100 percent smoothly, but things aren’t running 100 percent smoothly now, either. But it was really rewarding to know that everything didn’t fall apart in your absence, kind of thing.

Dan: We’re glad to have you back and we have your back when you go away again, so don’t you worry.

Gia: Thanks, Dan.

Dan: Thank you, Gia. This was great to chat.

Gia: Yeah, for sure.

 


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How Unbounce’s Marketing Team Grew From 1 to 31 [PODCAST]

The 4-Hour Website Optimization Challenge: What Would the Experts Do?

4-hour-challenge-blog
You’re being lowered into a pit of anacondas over four hours, and only a lift of 0.01% or more could stop it — best get optimizing! Image by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.

As marketers, the clock always seems to be against us.

So when it comes to conversion optimization, most of us simply don’t have enough hours in the day to plan and execute a proper strategy — even if we do have the necessary skills and resources in place.

This led our team to a simple question: Is it possible to generate a sustainable lift for a website in just a few hours?

We each had our own opinions, but to dig deeper we reached out to five colorful characters in the CRO space — Brian MasseyAngie SchottmullerPeep LajaNeil Patel and Unbounce’s own Michael Aagaard — and asked them a simple question:

“If you could spend only four hours optimizing the marketing performance of a website, what would you do?”

The criteria

First, I must get this out of the way: There’s no such thing as a “get conversion-rich fast” approach.

Conversion optimization (CRO) is synonymous with continuous improvement, and with a few exceptions, simple changes won’t drive long-term results.

And further, mastering CRO takes time and a wide range of skill sets: analytics, marketing, user understanding, user experience, design, copywriting, development and project management.

So when I talk about having four hours to optimize a site, I’m not implying that a site could be fully optimized after a four-hour period. Rather, we wanted to know how our experts could demonstrate the power of optimization in a short period of time.

Will going to the gym five times get you into shape? No. But if you saw results after 5 sessions, would it inspire you to keep going? Yes.

And that’s the purpose of this post — to help marketers get their feet wet in CRO, so they can get excited about the awesome potential it holds.

So here we go!

1. Brian Massey: “Try a headline test.”

Brian Massey

Brian Massey is the founder of Conversion Sciences, a company that helps clients improve revenue and leads from existing traffic.

Brian is a regular speaker at corporate events, universities and conferences worldwide, and is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.

When I first asked Brian the question, here’s what he told me:

If I had only four hours to optimize a website, I would spend five minutes making myself a coffee, then three hours and 55 minutes looking for another job. Optimization doesn’t happen in four hours.

Ouch, not a good start. But I took his advice, and spent four hours applying for “management” positions at Best Buy and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

No dice.

I pressed Brian, and asked him to imagine he was being lowered into a pit of anacondas over four hours — and only a lift of 0.01% or more could stop it — surely there’s something he could do?

He relented, and offered me this:

Here are some ideas of what I could do in the four hours: Write 25 headlines for each of my landing pages. Pick the best for each and make the change. Setup Google Analytics and CrazyEgg on my site. Create some awesome, relevant content. Take a course in Web analytics. Spend four hours reviewing my ad campaigns to ensure I’m getting quality traffic. Collect the resumes of professional copywriters and hire one.

He then offered a strategy that involved breaking up the four hours.

Hour 1: Write 25 headlines for your best performing landing page and pick four that are very different from each other.

Hour 2: Create four pages (or four page variants), one with each headline.

Hour 3: Setup Unbounce, Optimzely, Visual Website Optimizer or Convert.com to send a quarter of the traffic to each. Up all of your ad spends to ensure you get several thousand visits over a week or two.

Wait at least one week, until the test reaches statistical significance.

Hour 4:  If there’s a winner, make the change permanent.


“If I had only 4 hrs for #CRO, I’d create and test 4 pages with different headlines.” ~@bmassey
Click To Tweet


Our take

Content matters more than anything else, and within the broad content sphere, headlines and value propositions are the heaviest hitters.

Brian’s approach is perfect for time-starved marketers seeking CRO results, because it gets straight to the point: Testing how users react to changes in your value proposition.

If you perform A/B tests on your value proposition, I can almost guarantee your conversion rate will change. It may go down, but failed tests provide almost as much insight as winning tests.

2. Peep Laja: “Tackle pages with the biggest drop-off.”

Peep

Peep Laja is the founder ConversionXL — one of the most popular (and respected) online marketing blogs on the web. He’s a popular speaker on the CRO circuit, and if you happened to catch his presentation at CTAConf 2014 in Vancouver, you know he tells it like it is.

When I asked Peep how he would spend his four hours, he responded in less than five minutes:

I would check Google Analytics to find where the biggest drop-offs are happening and would focus all my efforts on those pages. Heuristic analysis would reveal a bunch of insights, and this combined with some user tests via Usertesting.com would give some validation to my experience-based assessment findings. All of these things would be doable within a couple hours.


If @PeepLaja had just 4 hrs for #CRO? “I’d tackle pages with the biggest drop-off.”
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Our take

We like Peep’s approach because it mixes instinct (developed from years of work in CRO) with qualitative data.

Google Analytics is still the best tool for finding actionable data that sets you on the path toward a successful treatment.

Thanks for the insight, Peep!

3. Angie Schottmuller: “Interview your customers.”

Angie

Angie Schottmuller is a growth marketing consultant, author and speaker. She was recently named one of Forbes’ top 10 online marketers to follow in 2015 — so she’s no stranger to CRO.

I first met Angie at CTA Conference 2014 in Vancouver, where she gave an incredibly informative and entertaining presentation called “Optimizing Persuasion with Buyer Modalities.”

When I asked Angie how she would optimize a site in four hours, here’s what she said:

I would use an hour or two to better understand the audience. That means interviewing actual customers or prospects to learn why they DO and why they DON’T buy. Talk with customer service or sales reps at the “business front lines” for insights as well. Review the feedback to surface top recurring questions, concerns, interests or objections. Score hypothesis opportunities using the PIE framework. (I adapt this model to PIER — where “R” measures reusability of the learned insight.) Then use the remaining time to implement a fix or A/B test for the top scoring hypothesis from opportunities the audience specifically called out.

Video via WiderFunnel.

A rapid fire four-hour fix isn’t quite practical. However, nothing is more practical than going direct to the source — the customer — for some actionable qualitative feedback. The underlying objective of conversion optimization is to learn more about the customer: preferences, pain points and interests. The more you understand about the customer and how you can assist achieving their goal, the more likely you’ll be to achieve your own.


“In #CRO, nothing’s more practical than asking customers for actionable feedback.” ~@aschottmuller
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Our take

We love how Angie dives straight into a very important — yet often overlooked — aspect of conversion optimization: Understanding your customers.

All high-converting websites do one thing really well and that is answering the customer’s questions. But without interviews, we’re left to guess what those questions are.

Altering your site copy to address the questions of your customers is one of the simplest, least expensive and quickest conversion-focused changes you can make to a web page or landing page.

4. Michael Aagaard: “Focus on heuristic analysis.”

Aagaard

Self-confessed “split-test junkie” Michael Aagaard lives and breathes conversion. He’s spent the past several years conducting hundreds of copy-based A/B tests, which he shares in the many interesting case studies on ContentVerve.

Michael recently joined Unbounce as its Senior Conversion Rate Optimizer (catch him live at CTAConf 2016!).

So how would Michael optimize a website in four hours?

If I had four hours to optimize a website, I’d spend one hour digging through analytics data to identify areas that represent the biggest potential lift. Then I’d spend an hour conducting a heuristic analysis. After that, I’d spend 30 minutes coming up with an optimization hypotheses. Finally, I’d spend the last hour and a half actually creating the treatment.


#CRO in just 4 hrs? “Check Analytics for areas with the biggest potential lift.” ~@ContentVerve
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Our take

Europeans always stick together, don’t they?! Michael echoes Peep’s sentiments by zeroing in on areas with the greatest potential lift.

Michael’s approach shows that even if you’re experienced in the CRO space, you still must test your assumptions. With time and experience, your “gut” will become more reliable in making assumptions, but will never give you a definitive answer without testing.

5. Neil Patel: “Focus on your tags.”

Neil

Neil Patel runs the well-known blog Quicksprout, and is the co-founder of both KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. He’s a major influencer in all things online marketing.

Neil answered the question a bit differently than our other experts, instead choosing to focus on SEO and page performance. Here’s what he told us:

If I had only four hours, I would go through Webmaster Tools and fix any of the basic errors that they are showing. This would include crawling errors, 404 pages and even duplicate title tags or meta description tags. Sure these things seem small, but fixing them will help you generate more search traffic in the long run.

Next, he delved into performance.

In addition to that I would set up Google Pagespeed. One major reason websites don’t convert well is because they load slow. By using Google Pagespeed, you can improve your load speed, which should help increase your overall traffic and conversion rates.


“If I had just 4 hrs for #CRO, I’d fix crawling errors, 404s and duplicate title tags.” ~@neilpatel
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Our take

Neil gets right to the heart of an issue marketers often neglect. If your site is slow, or people can’t find it, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve optimized the on-page experience. Optimization should be about the bottom line, and sometimes you can get a tremendous ROI from looking at broader infrastructure or visibility factors.

Takeaways

A common thread throughout all our experts’ answers is the need to focus on changes that actually make a difference to your overall bottom line. When you only have four hours, you don’t have time to test low-impact hypotheses.

There are several simple and fast techniques to identify where you can get a large ROI. The right one for you will depend on what you have immediate access to.

If you can, start by talking to your customers. If that’s not an option right now, dive into Google Analytics and understand where people are exiting and if there are any slow pages.

Finally, you can’t go wrong testing vastly different headlines and value propositions. After all, conversion optimization is really about the art and science of communication, and your words matter.

So, if you had just four hours to optimize a website, what would you do? Drop us a comment.

And once again, many thanks to Brian, Peep, Angie, Michael and Neil for participating in this post.

Read this article – 

The 4-Hour Website Optimization Challenge: What Would the Experts Do?

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[AMA] I’m Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce. Ask Me Anything

If you’re serious about conversion rate optimization, then you’ve likely heard of Michael Aagaard: founder of ContentVerve.com, international speaker and, as of this year, the Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce.

His pragmatic approach to conversion rate optimization, focusing more on research and real results rather than mere “conversion lifts,” has made him a respected authority in the field. (Oh, and he’s a handsome and a super friendly guy to boot. He’s been described by his colleagues as a “norse god” and a “lightening bolt in human form.”)

Simply put: he’s the guy you want in your corner when you’re prepping your next A/B test hypothesis.

Well, we’re making that happen.

AMA-MichaelAagaard-Blog-Post
Unbounce’s Senior Conversion Optimizer Michael Aagaard.

Now’s your chance to get answers to those burning conversion queries that disturb your slumber (to make sense of the marketing mayhem that fills your waking hours).

All from the comfort of wherever you are right now.

Seriously — now! Scroll down to the comments section and ask your question! Whether you’re wondering about conversion research, formulating a hypothesis or what it’s like to transition from being a consultant to working in-house, Michael will be answering live on the blog on Monday, November 30th at 1 – 4 PM EST (10 AM – 1 PM PST).

OK, so you actually have a few days to ask your question, but seize the day! Carpe diem! (At the very least, set a Google Calendar reminder.)

Source article – 

[AMA] I’m Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce. Ask Me Anything

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Ask a CRO: How Do I Optimize My Landing Page When I Don’t Have Enough Traffic to A/B Test?

cta-conf-ab-testing-cover

How do I optimize my landing page when I don’t have enough traffic to A/B test?

It’s a question that Unbounce customers ask regularly, and one that plagues any marketer who wants to optimize their landing pages but just isn’t blessed with the traffic of a Fortune 500 company.

So it was no surprise when the question came up during the A/B testing panel discussion at the 2015 Call to Action Conference.

Luckily, conversion experts Ton Wesseling, Peep Laja and Michael Aagaard had all the answers. And it turns out that marketers with more humbly-sized traffic streams are going to be okay.. We can all breathe easy, because as Peep put it:

You can still optimize even if you can’t A/B test.

Even if you don’t have the 1,000 conversions per month recommended by our panel experts, you still have options for optimizing your campaigns. Read on to find out how.

Figure out where and why you’re losing conversions

A/B testing isn’t just about figuring out how you can get more conversions. It’s about learning why you aren’t getting more conversions in the first place.

That’s where conversion research comes in: digging into analytics and crunching numbers to determine where your biggest conversion lift opportunities lie. Regardless of whether or not you have enough traffic or plan to A/B test, Michael underlined the importance of this step:

“If you don’t have enough traffic to get proper data out of it, then [A/B testing] isn’t really helpful. But one thing that’s always helpful is doing the research – because you need that anyway.”

Michael related a story about some research that we did on our free trial landing page. When someone arrives at the page, it looks like all they need to do is enter four pieces of information to get a free trial:

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But when someone clicks the CTA button, a whole new set of form fields is displayed:

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When Michael looked at the data, he discovered that a significant number of people were abandoning the process at this step, where the actual signup process is revealed to be more complicated than the first stage of the form implies.

That discovery led to us taking a good, hard look at the process, and Michael is now working on optimizing that page to make it a more delightful, streamlined experience for marketers looking to try out Unbounce.

None of that would have been possible without researching where people were abandoning the process. But by learning the exact point of friction, Michael can continue testing and iterating towards new designs that aren’t burdened by similar issues.

Peep summed this up nicely:

If you don’t know what people are doing on the page, you’re in the dark. You need to record what’s happening on your page in order to identify connections between certain behaviors and conversion rate.

Conduct qualitative research by asking questions

Your landing page has one purpose: to convert visitors to leads or customers. We do that by appealing to our visitor’s needs. But, as Peep says:

If you don’t know what matters to your customers, you have to figure it out, or you can’t  optimize.

If you don’t have enough traffic to get quantitative feedback through A/B testing, you need to spend time gathering qualitative feedback. That means actually speaking with your customers to get to know them and their needs.

Ton agreed:

Talk to your customers. They’ll give you great answers on what they’re looking for that can help you a lot.

During the CTAConf copywriting panel, expert copywriter Amy Harrison of Write With Influence discussed getting to know your customers in order to address their needs.

Amy believes that too many marketers start by presenting the solution, because we know what the solution is – our product – and we know how we want it to be perceived. The problem is that if someone comes to your landing page and you’re not speaking specifically to their needs, they’re won’t relate to your solution.

What Amy does is take a few steps back and start with identifying the symptoms that a person might experience that would lead them to need your product. What problems are they experiencing, and how can you relate to them?

That’s what AppSumo founder Noah Kagan was forced to ask himself when he emailed 30,000 people about his new entrepreneurship course, How To Make A $1,000 A Month Business, and only 30 people purchased it. What went wrong?

ConversionXL reported that he sent a survey to everyone who clicked through but didn’t convert and asked them, among other questions, “Why not?” And then he rewrote and redesigned the page to address the most popular doubts.

Unsure if it works in your country?

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Worried it’s not for you?

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Failed before and not sure what will be different now?

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Images sourced from ConversionXL

Noah adjusted the copy to address all of his prospects’ biggest fears, and used their own language to inspire himself. That strategy echoes back to advice that Joanna Wiebe, the copywriting mastermind behind Copyhackers, wrote on this very blog back in 2012:

If you want to write great copy, swipe it from your visitors, customers and prospects.”

Don’t be afraid to take big risks

When you can test the impact of every change on a page, iterating individual elements for small wins is one way to grow your conversion rate over time. But when you don’t have the luxury of testing against tons of traffic, you’re unlikely to move the needle with mere iteration. As Ton advised:

Most small things make a small impact. You have to take bigger risks to get bigger rewards.

This is actually one of the things that Joanna herself addressed during her Call to Action Conference talk, Death to Fear And Laziness! How to Push Yourself to Write Sticky Landing Page Copy.

In her talk, she presented an A/B test she ran on two sets of ad copy. The one on the left is the control, and the one on the right is the (rather bold) variant. Or as Joanna referred to it, not trying vs. trying.

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The message on the left is what Joanna refers to as “word-shaped air”. There’s words there, sure, but what does it really say? The variant takes a huge risk by using words that might be stereotypically perceived as “negative,” avoiding the empty pleasantries of the control.

But this language is how their real audience actually talks and thinks. And the gamble paid off, with a 124% increase in clicks.

Whether you’re actually running an A/B test or simply changing something on a page and waiting to see the results, there’s one unwavering truth:

You never know until you try.

Stop stressing and start testing

There’s no arguing that testing and experimentation are the heart of conversion rate optimization.

But A/B testing is just one kind of test; you can still make huge conversion gains without it, simply by researching your weaknesses, talking to your customers, and taking real risks. Rarely is there such a thing as a bad test, or a useless result.

If you’re still not convinced, or just want to learn a lot about testing in not-a-lot of time, check out the full Actionable, Practical A/B Testing panel. If every good test starts with research, I can’t think of a better place to start learning.

From – 

Ask a CRO: How Do I Optimize My Landing Page When I Don’t Have Enough Traffic to A/B Test?

How to Win More Conversions by Building Trust on Social Media

Social-Media-Conversions-Cover-650
Trust is the building block of every relationship — even if it’s between business and customer.

Social media has gone from being the bold new frontier of advertising to being an assumed element of almost any marketing campaign. But just because social media campaigns are commonplace doesn’t mean that you can just tweet your new promo code and watch the conversions roll in.

But the nature of social advertising — interrupting or distracting from someone’s personal news feed — combined with the fact that everyone is doingc it means that if you want to get those clicks, you’ll really need to earn them.

And if there’s anyone that can help, it’s Michael Patterson: he leads co-marketing efforts at Sprout Social, a great social media management platform. (I know because I’ve used it!)

In our latest unwebinar, 5 Steps of a High Converting Social Media Campaign, he explained that before you can expect big conversions coming from social campaigns, you need to first increase your social reach. Or, as Michael put it:

Get into people’s faces and get them aware of your product.

But how can you do it? Check out the full unwebinar or read on for the distilled wisdom.

Experiment with real-time marketing

If you’ve ever read an article about marketing on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the infamous “Dunk in the Dark” tweet from Oreo during the infamous Super Bowl power outage:

Dunk-in-the-Dark
Make sure you watch the full webinar for all of Michael’s social media insights!

Riding the wave of a popular current event by offering a unique or entertaining perspective is one way to make your social messaging more relatable — and consequently, more shareable. Just make sure you’re actually adding to the conversation rather than just being tasteless and opportunistic, like, uh, this:

Spaghettios-Pearl-Harbor

Possibly the worst #brand tweet of all time. (Source: Huffington Post)

Harness the power of hashtags — responsibly

As Michael noted in his webinar, hashtags have gotten a bit of a bad rap. But that’s mostly been earned due to people not knowing how to use them.

Let’s look back at that Oreo tweet. Notice how they didn’t tag it #superbowl? Worldwide-trending hashtags like that get multiple tweets per second, so the hope of being seen within it is pretty much non-existent. Not only would adding that hashtag have not increased Oreo’s social reach, but it would have dumbed the joke down, and seemed more like pandering than a flash of inspiration.

According to Michael, there are two key ways to use hashtags effectively:

  • Joining in on existing topical hashtags — like our very own #CROChat — and contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way is one of the best ways to increase your social reach, because you’re participating in a targeted community that ideally already cares about something related to your product or service.
  • Creating your own hashtags gives you the ability to own and direct the conversation, and encouraging people to create or share content with your hashtag is sure to put your marketing campaign in front of more eyeballs.

It’s also important to understand how to use hashtags on different media platforms. Instagram users tend to pile them on, since there’s no limit and communities are organized around them. On the other hand, it’s rare to see a tweet with more than one hashtag, and even rarer to see a Facebook post with a hashtag at all!

Mention popular people or companies

Indiscriminately spamming influencers and big brands is one way to get yourself blocked. But if you do it smartly and appropriately, it can lead to a big increase in your social reach.

Pat-Fitzpatrick-Mention

Michael experienced this himself when he mentioned popular social marketing expert Peg Fitzpatrick on Twitter. She caught the mention and retweeted his tweet, bringing its reach to over 105,000 users. A far cry from his typical average of 268, and all it took was a simple @mention.

Look for ways to engage with influencers that are relevant to their field or craft, and only mention influencers in areas where your business participates.

Now you’ve got the reach. But how do you get the clicks?

Clickable content that fulfills its promise

Increasing social reach may grow the top of your funnel, but that increase in awareness needs to translate into an increase in business in order to justify itself.

When it comes time to turn those followers into conversions via targeted social media advertisements, you need to be producing clickable content that promises value and fulfills that promise.

Unbounce’s director of customer success, Ryan Engley, jumped into the webinar to illustrate the importance of message match in making the user feel like the ad’s promise is being fulfilled.
If the page looks or says something different, it’s liable to confuse the user or make them feel like they’ve fallen for a bait-and-switch.

The solution, according to Ryan:

Think beyond your posts — think about the full marketing experience. When you create any kind of a post, you’re setting expectations for your visitors.

The best way to meet those expectations and reassure your prospects they’re in the right place? A landing page unique to each social marketing campaign, with messaging and imagery tailored specifically to it.

Here’s a great example that Ryan shared from KISSmetrics:

KissMetrics-message-match

As you can see, everything matches. The ad says Content, Conversions, and Lead Generation and so does the landing page itself. Even though the landing page itself is sparsely designed, placing the bio images in both the ad and landing page lend it a sense of visual continuity.

There’s no doubt to the user that the page they’re landing on fulfills the promise of the original ad.

It’s all about trust

As I’d mentioned early, the nature of social advertising is inherently intrusive, taking up space typically reserved for one’s friends, favourite celebrities, and topics of interest. People are naturally pretty wary about advertising that’s delivered this way.

That’s why it’s so important to build trust in every stage of a social media advertising campaign.

  • Familiarize your audience with your brand by creating great, naturally shareable content
  • Deliver targeted social media ads that are relevant to the user and promise something awesome
  • Deliver on the awesomeness by creating a targeted landing page with messaging and imagery that matches the ad campaign

This piece just scratches the surface of all the amazing social media know-how Michael and Ryan dished out in the full Unwebinar, so make some time to tune in before launching your next social media campaign!

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Continued – 

How to Win More Conversions by Building Trust on Social Media

Ask a CRO Expert: What Should I Be A/B Testing?

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Before you hit the lab, you’ve got to do your research. Image source.

If you’re using landing pages for your marketing campaigns (and by golly, you should be), you’ve probably heard about A/B testing.

You may, however, not be sure where to start. Or you may have already started but aren’t quite satisfied with the results. Or maybe you’re just overwhelmed by the complexity of most articles about A/B testing.

As part of our Ask a CRO Expert blog series, we’ve asked our Senior Conversion Rate Optimizer Michael Aagaard to break down in the simplest terms what you need to do to determine what you should be A/B testing.

Psst. Michael will be one of our A/B testing panel members at CTAConf from Sept 13th – 15th. Get your ticket now for actionable insights from some of the world’s best conversion rate optimization experts!

His answer will help you to understand how to create an effective A/B test: how to create a hypothesis based on data, and how to conduct conversion research to gather that data.

So, let’s get you started on your way with some tips from a highly knowledgeable conversion rate optimizer!

What is the one thing I absolutely MUST do before starting an A/B test?

We asked Michael to explain the one thing that is crucial to starting an A/B test. His answer was simple:

You must form a hypothesis based on data-driven conversion research.

Great answer, Michael. Can you unpack that?

The main goal of A/B testing is to eliminate guesswork from your marketing optimization efforts. However, the simple act of running an A/B test is not enough to achieve that goal.

If you’re testing random ideas, you’re still relying on guesswork. All you are doing is pitting two guesses against each other to see if one is better.

So, in order for your tests to provide real value and insight, you need to know that you are in fact experimenting with an informed solution to a real problem. In other words, you need to have a clear idea of what problem you are addressing and why you think your solution is going to work.

A conversion rate optimization lesson learned the hard way

At the beginning of Michael’s career, blind testing was the norm. Occasionally he would stumble upon something that actually resulted in a conversion uplift, but most experiments missed the mark.

After wasting a lot of time (and, he admits, a lot of his clients’ money) he had to admit to himself that his process was fundamentally flawed. He says:

It became painfully clear to me that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to A/B testing and I needed to spend more time qualifying my ideas before dedicating time and resources to implementing and testing them.

He realized that having an actual hypothesis based on real user data would increase the quality of his tests as well as the potential outcome. By dedicating more time upfront to conducting research, he could build stronger hypotheses and save a lot of time and frustration in the long run.

These days Michael spends the bulk of his time doing conversion research to ensure that he has a complete understanding of the conversion experience before he even begins to think about an actual A/B test. This way Michael can pinpoint problematic areas in the conversion process and prioritize optimization opportunities according to effort and potential return.

Conversion research basics: Funnel analysis

Michael uses a “walkthrough” exercise to see the whole conversion process through the eyes of the user and better understand what they are experiencing:

I need to understand every step that the user has to go through in order to convert. So the first thing I do is to go through the entire conversion process step-by-step from initial touch point to final conversion goal.

Let’s use PPC marketing as an example.

  1. Prospect searches on Google
  2. Sees paid ad that matches search and clicks
  3. Goes to landing page
  4. Completes the form
  5. Is sent to a confirmation or Thank You page

It took five steps for this person to become a lead. Those are five opportunities for that person to bail. So, taking that initial walkthrough will let you experience first-hand what the user is experiencing. It’s a great way to start your conversion research.

Michael explains that once you’ve done the walkthrough, you need to get some quantitative data (from your web analytics setup) that shows you which steps represent the highest drop-off points. As Michael says:

The biggest problem might not be the landing page itself — it could be that the real problem is on the form page. If that’s the case, the form page is the real bottleneck, and you’ll never really get the most out of your conversion path unless you open up that bottleneck.

Getting insight on which steps represent the biggest “leaks” will help you prioritize your optimization efforts and focus on the most critical areas. If your form page is the real bottleneck, it would make sense to work on solving whatever is wrong on that page before you start working on the landing page itself – and vice versa.

Getting more specific: Honing in on the page itself

Once you have an idea of where the largest drop-off is happening, it is time to get more specific and get more insight on the page itself.

Michael’s go-to tool here is Google Analytics, which he uses to get a detailed picture of how people are interacting with the landing page. He looks at things like device mix, conversion rates per device, new vs. returning visitors and performance across browsers. Each of these bits of data contains insights that will help you to form a test hypothesis.

When I asked Michael to give us an example of a standard GA report that’s useful for landing page optimization research, he mentioned “Entrance Paths.” In Google Analytics you can use the “Entrance Paths” report to find out more about what pages users who did not convert visit immediately after the landing page.

You may be asking yourself, “Wait a minute here! A well-optimized landing page shouldn’t have any links!”

As it turns out, some people will actually just type your homepage address into their browser, or search for you on Google in order to get more information after viewing your landing page. Michael explains:

This is interesting and could very well be an indication that users are not getting what they need on the landing page. This insight is priceless if you want better understand your users and their needs.

Michael tells us that the second page on your site that prospects visit after bouncing tells you a lot about intent.

If 85% of visitors are going to your homepage or About page right after hitting the landing page, you might have an issue with credibility — or maybe you’re not giving them enough information.

Or this scenario: If the bulk of your users are visiting the pricing page instead of clicking your CTA, then chances are that they need to know more about prices before they can make a decision. And this is exactly the kind of information you need in order to qualify your test ideas and turn them into real hypotheses.

Here’s how to find the “Next Page” report:

Go to “Behavior,” click “Site Content,” choose “Landing Pages” and select the page you want to dig into. Then click “Entrance Paths” and voilà, you’ll get an overview of the top 10 pages that people visit right after leaving the landing page.

next-page-report

To see which pages users exit on, simply click one of the URLs under “Second Page.”

Make sure to get qualitative insight, too

While quantitative conversion research helps you find out where things are going wrong, qualitative insight helps you find out why things are going wrong.

When it comes to qualitative insight, Michael says that nothing beats jumping into the trenches, finding out what’s going on from the people who really know: Customer Service, Support and Sales teams.

These teams spend all day talking to customers and have in-depth knowledge of the problems and issues that they are dealing with – both in relation to the website and the product itself.

Not to mention the fact that they’re familiar with the decision-making process of the target audience. These teams can help you build a better optimization hypothesis because they’re on the front lines. They’re interacting with the people who are trying to get your product. They may even guide people through the process of making a purchase online.

These are the people that can give you meaningful insights that will help you hone in on the deeper issues users are experiencing – which in turn will help you craft much better hypotheses.

Creating your A/B testing hypothesis

When you’ve done your conversion research, it’s time to create your test hypothesis.

A simple way of crafting a data-driven hypothesis is to use this handy three-step formula that Michael developed together with CRO expert Craig Sullivan (this was the result of very long, friendly argument via Skype, where many ideas were introduced and ruthlessly demolished):

  1. Get data/feedback
  2. Hypothesize on change and outcomes
  3. Define which metric you will use to measure the effect

Put together, here’s what this looks like as a template:

Because we saw [data/feedback] we believe that [change] will cause [outcome]. We will measure this using [data metric].

The template helps you stay focused on the data that informed the hypothesis, as well as the data you need to collect in order to measure the effect of the change.

Let’s apply this to one of the scenarios above: GA tells you that the bulk of users on your landing page are going straight to the pricing page instead of filling out your lead gen form. In this case it is reasonable to hypothesize that pricing info is important to the decision-making process of the prospects and that featuring it on the landing page will help prospects make the right decision and fill out the form.

In this case, the fleshed out hypothesis could be:

Because we saw [data from GA indicating that most users go to the pricing page instead of the home page], we believe that [featuring pricing info on the landing page] will cause [more users to stay on the landing page and fill out the form]. We will measure this using [form conversion rate as our primary metric].

Run more effective A/B tests

Now that you know how to do some conversion research and create a data-driven hypothesis, you can start optimizing and testing much more efficiently.

You no longer need to just throw everything at the wall to see what sticks — you can now test with confidence, and optimize with the resulting data.


See the original article here – 

Ask a CRO Expert: What Should I Be A/B Testing?