Tag Archives: website optimization

Why Geo-targeting Your Website Content Is a No-brainer (and 3 Ways to Try It This Afternoon)

We all know marketing campaigns convert best when we segment and personalize them – which is where geo-targeting can come into play. In fact, a whopping 74% of consumers get frustrated on sites where the content has nothing to do with their interests, and 86% of customers say personalization impacts their purchase decisions.

The good news is, today you can tailor almost every marketing experience to a visitor’s location and other identifiers to make offers feel more personal. So why do even the best of us continue to use blanket-style, default messaging for every visitor?

More than half of marketers struggle to execute personalized campaigns, and reasons range from not having enough data about TOFU prospects to know what to personalize—to having trouble securing the resources to execute.

But making sure everyone sees relevant, location-based offers on your website doesn’t actually need to be a huge production. In our experience, it’s way easier (and could do more for your conversion rates) than you might think.

Why geo-target website content — and the fastest way to try this

Like all forms of personalization, geo-targeting is about relevance. And I should clarify off the bat, I’m not talking about using “y’all” in your headline if you’re targeting Texans, or splitting hairs on “sneakers” vs. “tennis shoes” based on regional preference.

What I am talking about is getting way more creative and specific with your offers. If visitors see offers that feel like they’re just for them, they’re more likely to click through, and convert.

For example, imagine targeting only locals in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle respectively with their own coupon codes and special hotel offers for your in-person event instead of blanketing your entire site with a generic message.

Now imagine if you didn’t need to rely on your web team to get those three offers up on the site and could do it yourself really fast?

One of the quickest ways to experiment with this type of personalization is website popups and sticky bars. The real key with these is understanding your options (and there are plenty of them!). Here are a few of my favourite examples to get you started:

Practical geo-targeting examples to try today

1. Experiment with seasonal offers by region

According to Steve Olenski of Forbes, “acknowledging [your] potential buyer’s location increases relevance, and the result is higher engagement that can translate into additional revenue.” It’s a quick win! And, with ecommerce in particular, there’s tons of opportunity to run promotions suited to specific locations.

As an example, if you sell sports equipment or apparel, you could run two or more different “winter sales” suited to the context of winter in different locations. Your ‘classic’ winter sale would appear in states like Colorado—and could feature an offer for 15% off ski gear, whereas your ‘Californian winter sale’ could showcase 15% off hiking gear.

An example of the two different “winter sale” popup offers by location.

Not only do you earn points by acknowledging your visitor’s location like this, but you also ensure each region sees an offer that makes the most sense for them. Running offers like this is wayyyy better than a single offer that’s less relevant to everyone and later wondering why it didn’t convert.

Recommended settings for this example:
Frequency: Show once per visitor
Trigger: On exit

2. Increase foot traffic with in-store promos by region

We’ve all seen the most common ecommerce discount popup on entry. You know the one — “signup for our newsletter for 15% off your first purchase”. And there’s a reason we’ve all seen it: it works. But, we can do better.

To take things a step further, you can target this type of offer by location. If you have physical stores in specific cities, you can offer an in-store discount in exchange for the newsletter sign up. Like this:

Example of a popup driving in-store visits, and potential for remarketing later

This can help you build foot traffic in different cities, and help you create location-specific mailing lists to promote more relevant in-store events, products, and sales to local shoppers.

Recommended settings for this example:
Frequency: Show once per visitor
Trigger: When a visitor scrolls 40% of the way down your page.

3. Target your event marketing to precise regions

If you’ve ever planned a party, you know how easy it is to fixate on details. Are three kinds of cheese enough? Is my Spotify Discover Weekly cool or do I need a new playlist?! None of this matters if nobody shows up. Marketing events are no different.

A well timed, geo-targeted popup or sticky bar can get your message in front of the people who will care most about your event. When you tailor event messages to your visitor’s location, you can include a more precise value prop. Targeting locals? Remind them how cost effective it is since they don’t have to travel. Targeting neighbors in a nearby state? Remind them that your conference can be a mini-vacation complete with conference-exclusive hotel discounts.

Pictured above: examples of local vs. neighbor city popup offers. *These CTAConf offers are just to help us demo. You can check out our real conference details for CTAConf 2018 here.

Recommended settings for this example:
Frequency: Show on the first visit
Trigger: Show after a 15-25 second delay on relevant URLs (you can use Google Analytics to determine the right delay for your site).

Tip: After triggering this popup on the first visit or two, set up a more subtle sticky bar for subsequent visits to keep the event top of mind, without overdoing it. You could even run the “maybe later” popup Oli Gardner’s a huge proponent of.

Hyper-personalize text on your popups

As a bonus: just as you can do with your Unbounce landing pages, you can also swap out text on your popups and sticky bars with Dynamic Text Replacement to match a prospect’s exact search terms.

This gives you a way to maintain perfect relevance between your ads and website popups in this case.

For example, you could choose to switch out the name of a product for a more relevant one in a popup. If someone searched for “House Prices in Portland”, you could automatically swap out the text in your popup to match exactly and maintain hyper relevance. You can read about a real Unbounce customer experimenting with DTR here.

Want to see how DTR helps you be extra relevant? (even on your popups?) See a preview of how it works here

How to create your own geo-targeted popups

On premium plans and above you can target Unbounce popups by country, region, and even city (which is wicked granular!). The possibilities for what you show, or how you show it, are nearly endless:

  • You can trigger: on exit, arrival, after a delay, on scroll, or on click.
  • And you can target: by location (geo-targeting), URL, referring URL, and cookie targeting.

The options you choose will come down to a few factors including your site, your buyers, ad standards you uphold for a great website experience, and testing.

Here’s how to setup popups and sticky bars on your site:

To get started:

  1. Hop into your Unbounce account , and on the All Pages Screen, click “Popups & Sticky Bars” in the left menu.
  2. In the top left, Select “+ Popup or Sticky Bar”.
  3. Then, click “Create a Popup.”
  4. Choose a Template (or start with a blank popup if you prefer), name your popup, and select “Start with this Template”.

Once you’ve created your popup, set your targeting, triggering and frequency. On your popup or sticky bar overview page:

  1. Set the domain and URL paths where you want your popup or sticky bar to appear.

  2. Choose your triggering option based on your engagement goals.
  3. Set your frequency to choose how often your visitors will see your popup or sticky bar.
  4. In the advanced triggers section, toggle location targeting on and choose which country, region or city you want to show (or not show) your popup or sticky bar.

For best results, personalize

As I hope I’ve illustrated, in the golden age of martech, it’s time to stop squandering valuable website visits on impersonal, generic experiences. You can now leverage useful information about where your visitors are coming from and, by extension, come up with creative offers that will be relevant for them. Small details significantly enhance customer experience, and I hope you can use the above three examples as a springboard for some experiments of your own.

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Why Geo-targeting Your Website Content Is a No-brainer (and 3 Ways to Try It This Afternoon)

What the Google Chrome Ad Blocker Means for Your Website Popups (Plus 8 Really Smart Targeting Tips)

Last week you likely saw a ton of news about Google Chrome’s Ad Blocker going into effect Feb 15, 2018. And nobody could blame you if you took one look at some of the reports and thought, “Oh no! Popups are dead. Google just outlawed them, and I have to take down the 35 I’m using across my web properties that are generating 12,000 leads per month”.

Well, fortunately, after combing through the details, I’m happy to tell you that — from our early interpretation — this doesn’t seem to be true.

You can still confidently use popups and sticky bars on your website and landing pages, and today I’ll take you through the news with a bit more nuance to explain why (and how to do so without compromising your user experience).

As I wrote in Technology isn’t the Problem, We Are. An Essay on Popups there’s a reason why bad marketing practices exist (spoiler alert, it’s bad marketers), and we all need to play a part in reversing these bad practices because frankly, we all deserve a better internet.

Here at Unbounce, we welcome this defense of higher internet standards by Google. But we do need to unpack the announcement to see what the potential impact could be on your marketing activities.

What is the Google Chrome Ad Blocker and Why Are We Talking About It?

On February 15th 2018, Google officially introduced an ad blocker to the Google Chrome browser that will screen for (and eventually block) what they deem to be “intrusive” ad experiences. This is further to Google’s partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads they announced previously with the January 10th 2017 change re: Mobile ad experiences.

In short, while it seemed like news last week, it’s an initiative that’s been in the works for some time.

The Coalition for Better Ad Standards

The Coalition for Better Ad Standards (CBA) is a group made up of trade associations and companies involved in online media. Their mission is to improve consumers’ experiences with online advertising and includes a set of global standards that address consumer expectations with online advertising.

As part of this mission, they performed a research study of 25,000 consumers to identify the ad experiences most likely to make those consumers install ad blocking software.

The study presents a range of user experience factors to discover which ones ranked worst. But before we get into the ads raising concerns, we should first address what constitutes an ad.

What is an Ad (In the Eyes of The Better Ad Standards Coalition)?

This is where things start to get a little vague. As per the Better Ads Standards website:

An “ad” is promotional content displayed on the web as the result of a commercial transaction with a third party.

In our interpretation, the above refers to a paid ad (such as Google AdSense) that appears on your website, not a popup containing your own marketing materials such as an e-commerce discount, a newsletter subscription, or a time-sensitive offer. The third party being an ad network and the ad being what’s delivered to the website.

If this is the correct interpretation it makes sense, because ads such as this are not related to the marketing efforts of the host website. They’re the result of the host website trying to generate ad revenue and presenting incongruent and somewhat random display ads.

However, at this time, it’s admittedly difficult to determine exactly what the coalition is considering an ad. To ensure we get you the best answer possible, we contacted Better Ad Standards directly to clarify whether our early interpretation of their definition is correct.

My main question is concerned with how the two parties will be evaluating the ads. Is it the content or is it the delivery mechanism? In other words, are Chrome and the Better Ad Standards coalition concerned with the interaction method of the message delivery? Or the content of the message? Or a combination of both?

My gut says it’s a combination, where the content must be considered an “ad” and the delivery mechanism falls into a few specific categories of interaction that are deemed as bad experiences.

Update from the Coalition for Better Ads

We got a response back from the CBA pretty quickly which was awesome. Unfortunately, the response didn’t really add any extra clarity to the original definition.

Here’s a portion of my question:

Are you able to confirm whether an ad in this instance includes website popups (or sticky bars) for our own business, placed on our own website? For example a newsletter subscription popup on our blog, or a discount popup on our pricing page.

Or are you referring to paid ads from an ad service such as Google AdSense that appear on a website, but are not part of that website’s business? For example, an ad for hair products that shows up on the New York Times.

And a portion of their response:

You should direct any questions about the Chrome browser and its plans to Google.

The Coalition does not currently provide specific evaluative guidance on questions of interpretation relating to the current Better Ads Standards. However, in conjunction with the Better Ads Experience Program, this service may be offered to participating companies in the future.

The Coalition for Better Ads plans to release additional details about its Better Ads Experience Program in the coming months. The Program will certify web publishers that agree not to use the most disruptive ads identified in the Better Ads Standards and will accredit browsers and other advertising technology companies that will assess publishers’ compliance with the Standards and filter digital ads based on the Standards. If compliance issues arise, certified companies will be notified and have an opportunity to address violations or to pursue review by an independent dispute resolution mechanism available through the Program.

The opening of enrollment for publishers that wish to certify their compliance with the Better Ads Standards and participate in the Program’s register was recently announced. Interested publishers can follow this link to learn more about the Program and the registration process. The Program expects to introduce an independent dispute resolution mechanism in the second quarter of this year.

Further updates on the Better Ads Experience Program are forthcoming, so please continue to monitor the Coalition for Better Ads’ blog and press releases page for updates. All Coalition initiatives and authoritative guidance are first published on the CBA website.

Based on this, I’m still not entirely sure if our interpretation is right or wrong.

If we are wrong, then it’s more important than ever to be creating the best possible experiences, and the easiest way for you to do that is with advanced targeting and triggers. You will find 8 examples of proactive great experience creation at the end of the post.

Here are some smart ways to do the right thing if you want to skip ahead to some implementation ideas:

  1. Campaign Scheduling
  2. Cookie Targeting
  3. Referrer URL Targeting
  4. Location Targeting
  5. Click Triggers
  6. Mobile Scroll Up Trigger
  7. Frequency
  8. Super Advanced Multi-Option Targeting

Which types of ad experience are raising a concern?

On desktop they refer to the following four ad experiences:

And mobile has an even larger set:

Again, while the images above could be alarming to anyone running popups, based on our early interpretation of the definition above I don’t think these are popups or sticky bars that you place on your own website with your own marketing content in them. I think we’ll end up finding as time goes on that the standards are targeting at neutralizing bad behavior with respect to third-party ads.

Does this mean you should ignore these guidelines if you’re not using third-party ads?

Not entirely, no. Conscientious targeting and triggering still reign supreme. You can continue to present popups and sticky bars to visitors on your website, but you should use the guidelines to do everything you can to deliver great experiences.

To help avoid getting warnings now that the standards are in place, Google offers a tool which can help you to determine if they consider your website to be infringing on the guidelines or not.

How to Check Your Website For Adherence Using The Google Ad Experience Report

The Ad Experience Report is designed to identify ad experiences that violate the Better Ads Standards, and you can check it for both desktop and mobile inside Webmaster Tools (now simply called Web Tools).

You can find the Google Ad Experience Report here.

When you choose your web property from the drop-down on that page, you will see this:

The video explains how it all works, and if you click desktop or mobile in the left navigation, you’ll instantly get a report like this one for unbounce.com:

If you receive any warnings you can make changes and request a fresh site review.

From Google:
Violations of the Standards are reported to sites via the Ad Experience Report, and site owners can submit their site for re-review once the violations have been fixed. Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition’s guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a “failing” status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days. All of this information can be found in the Ad Experience Report Help Center, and our product forums are available to help address any questions or feedback.

What Else Can You Do to Create Better Popup Experiences?

I fully embrace this news and the mission of the Coalition for Better Ads because it gives me the opportunity to broach the topic of popup misuse. As a platform offering popups, sticky bars (and landing pages of course) it’s incumbent upon Unbounce to take a stance and work hard to help marketers deliver especially respectful and responsible web experiences.

Popup misuse typically falls into the following categories:

  1. Interaction modes that prevent control of the experience by the visitor (such as easy and obvious close and bypass mechanisms).
  2. Manipulative copywriting that uses psychological means to coerce visitors into taking an action, such as the manipulative confirm shaming styles like this: [ Get Your Ebook ] [ No ebook for me. I prefer to kill kittens! ]
  3. Overly persistent frequency rules where you show the popup every time someone arrives.
  4. Multiple popups on the same page, at the same time.

To provide a method of evaluating popup experiences and to help combat bad behavior I created The Popup Delight Equation.

Essentially the equation reverse engineers an excellent popup experience and allows you to generate a percentage score by analyzing seven principles: clarity, control, creativity, relevance, charm, value, and respect.

I’d also recommend you read Stop Making These Common Mistakes with Your Website Popups (Includes Examples and Quick Fixes) which has some great ideas on the topic.

What is Unbounce Doing to Help Customers Avoid Ad Blocker Warnings?

Fabulous question! I asked Cole Derochie, one of Unbounce’s product owners, to elaborate on how we’re approaching the news and what it means for our customers.

“Unbounce respects this policy, and shares Google’s concern for ensuring users are able to easily access content — regardless of device.

Our goal with popups and sticky bars is to help our customers make offers that are relevant and valuable, and thereby increase their conversion rates, without harming the user experience.”

As I mentioned earlier, it does seem the news pertains to third-party ads, but having said that, we are determined to help marketers adhere to great internet standards. One way we’re doing that is by creating tips and warnings inside the Unbounce builder to help prevent some of the design methods that Google considers bothersome, in particular for the mobile experience.

For instance, in the screenshot below, a warning appears if you try to increase the height of the sticky bar beyond 100px:

Despite our belief that this announcement (and the general concerns of Google and the Coalition for Better Ads) isn’t specifically directed at regular popups and sticky bars, it does still represent an opportunity to take an honest look at the ways we’re all presenting our marketing, and step away from some of the more blatant behaviors mentioned in the research.

One of the best ways to ensure a quality experience is to use some of the more advanced targeting, trigger, and frequency settings that Unbounce provides to give your visitors a respectful interaction that’s as relevant as possible.

Using Targeting, Triggers, and Frequency to Improve Popup and Sticky Bar Experiences

From a high-level philosophical perspective, we should be thinking beyond surface level conversion metrics to focus on quality rather than quantity. I’m referring to tactics like showing popups on every visit, which in my mind is just a little desperate, and destined to not be delightful.

Here are some ways you can deliver a better user experience and stay on Google’s good side:

Method #1 – Campaign Scheduling

If you’re running a time-sensitive campaign, it’s important to only show your offer when it’s actually valid. I’m sure you’ve seen those “live” chat windows that tell you nobody is home. If nobody is home, don’t show the live chat box dummies! Similarly, you don’t want to show a discount or special offer when it’s already expired.

In Unbounce you can set your campaign schedule down to the minute.


Method #2 – Cookie Targeting

Cookies are a great way to create more personalized experiences, basing the display of you offer on previous visitation or behavior tracking. But they are equally as powerful when you use them as an exclusion mechanism.

Let’s say you have an offer for a discount on your SaaS product to encourage people abandoning your website, but you don’t want existing customers to see it (it could make them jealous or upset that they didn’t get the discount).

If you are able to set a cookie within your app somewhere to label a customer as a customer, you can then use the “Don’t Show” cookie targeting to make sure they are not shown the offer.

Bazinga!


Method #3 – Referrer URL Targeting

Context is king when it comes to communicating your message quickly, and if you target your popups and sticky bars using the referrer URL option you can present content that’s highly relevant to where the visitor just came from. This is especially effective for co-marketing where your popup or sticky bar can showcase both brands by including the partner’s logo, creating a more powerful connection between the two experiences.

Here’s another really interesting use case that uses the “Don’t Show” setting.

I’m in the middle of a reboot of our landing page course, and I’m running some popups containing Typeform surveys for the purposes of research.

The problem though is that the homepage of the course is a landing page on a subdomain of the primary course domain – and I’m running the survey on both the homepage and the internal pages of the microsite.

Course homepage URL: do.thelandingpagecourse.com
Internal course page URLs: thelandingpagecourse.com/*

There’s a lot of organic traffic coming to the homepage and also the internal pages. But I don’t want to show it to a visitor to the homepage, and then show it again when they click through to start part one of the course.

To solve this problem, I set a “Don’t Show” setting on the Referrer targeting like this:

Which means that none of the internal course pages will show the popup if the visitor got there via the course homepage. This is a brilliantly simple way of solving what would otherwise require a bit of complex coding to resolve.

Even better is the fact that you can add as many “Show” and “Don’t Show” targeting rules as you like.


Method #4 – Location Targeting

Unbounce location targeting allows you to drill all the way down to the city level, and all the way up the the continent level. Personally, I’d be stoked if someone from the Antarctic saw one of my popups, but there are times when you do need to hide your marketing from certain locations, or target it specifically to a location or locations.

Just like in #3, the great thing is that you can add as many rules in here as you like, so you could set it up like the image below to target every major city in Texas, avoiding rural areas if that so happens to not be your target audience. Or reverse it to target all rural areas and avoid the cities. YUSS!


Method #5 – Click Trigger

Undoubtedly the best trigger type is the click trigger. Why? Because it’s entirely user-driven. A great use case for this option is two-step opt-in forms where your popup with a form only shows up when requested. The conversion rates are typically very high because the initial click declares intent making the contents of the popup desirable.

With Unbounce you can set the click trigger to work on any page element by using the CSS id, or you can even apply it to a CSS class which could make multiple page elements interactive.


Method #6 – Mobile Scroll Up Trigger

Google has expressed discontent for certain types of popup that appear on entry, on mobile devices. For this reason we created the “Scroll Up” trigger. It works a little like an “Exit Trigger” on desktop as it may signal that someone is leaving the page. If you use this, and keep the size of your Sticky Bar to 100px in height or below, you can create a nice experience that’s not too interruptive, doesn’t prevent the visitor from leaving, and lets you notify them of something important.


Method #7 – Frequency Settings

What’s the frequency, Kenneth? If you don’t get that reference then either you’re really young or I’m really old. Either way, frequency matters. And when you get it wrong it hertz. << Please tell me you got that one.

Pro tip – once and done
When in doubt, the first option (“Show once per visitor”) is the best. Show it once, and go cry in your soup if it didn’t convert. Do NOT pester people over and over again. If they want it they’ll say yes. If they don’t, well that’s a lesson (in the form of a poor conversion rate) you can use to better understand your audience.

For the other options, if you wanna be super respectful and let people check out your site without any distractions, think about using the “Show only on visit x” option. Typically the x would be the number 2. Show it the second time they are there. That way they’ve had the chance to get to know you and your offer will seem more relevant.

For example, there’s nothing more annoying on a blog than when you get an entrance popup saying “Love this content! Subscribe for more!!!!!”. No, I don’t love this content cos I just got here, dammit! Whereas if you show it on the second visit, you know they liked you enough to come back. Done.


Method #8 – Super Advanced Multi-Option Targeting

How about this idea for some extreme relevance! You can use all four advanced targeting rules at the same time to get hyper-personalized. In the example below I’m targeting people in Vancouver, Canada who’ve got a cookie called “ILikeTurtles” who are coming from my partner’s site during the dates of my campaign. SICK!

In Conclusion: What Should You Do Now?

Well for starters I recommend that you go make 50 popups with “Every visit” targeting and a frequency of 100 times per visit.

Wait. Don’t do that.

Do what a thoughtful marketer would do and spend some time thinking about your visitors, and about the really cool things you can do when you combine triggers, frequency, scheduling, and advanced targeting rules.

The combinations are literally limitless. I’m not sure on my math there, so there may be some finite limit to what you can do, but whatever it is, it’s huge!

This is a hot and contentious topic, with much to discuss, particularly because of how hard it is to interpret some of the communications surrounding it, so please add comments with any intel or different perspectives you have.

We’re committed to staying on top of the situation as it continues to unfold, and will bring you more details and ideas as soon as they become apparent.

Here’s to better marketing standards, and better marketing in general.

Cheers
Oli Gardner

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What the Google Chrome Ad Blocker Means for Your Website Popups (Plus 8 Really Smart Targeting Tips)

All You Need to Know About eCommerce Conversion Optimization | An Interview with Tomasz Mazur

The following is an interview with Tomasz Mazur, a Conversion Rate Optimization expert, currently working as a consultant with Peaks & Pies.

Tomasz has several years of experience working on eCommerce conversion optimization and UX. He has previously worked with Zalando, Europe’s leading online fashion website.

Tomasz Mazur, Conversion Rate Optimization expert at Peaks & Pies

Tomasz answers our questions about conversion rate optimization from the perspective of eCommerce professionals.

Regarding the CRO Team and Sponsors

1) What does your ideal eCommerce CRO team consist of?

The team composition varies with the company. However, there are a few key members that every CRO team consists of (or should consist of):

  • A CRO manager who looks over the entire program—from strategy creation to website analysis and A/B testing
  • A design professional
  • A developer who can create functional test variations

The scale of the work of a CRO team mainly depends on website traffic. The objective is to make use of the entire website traffic always. Therefore, the greater the traffic, the larger a CRO team needs to be. Zalando, for instance, had a sizeable CRO team. I cannot disclose the exact number but there was a large number of CRO managers working on the entire website traffic. The web analytics team was also huge, working  on the minutest of details on the website such as product sorting algorithms. There was also a user research team that was in charge of qualitative research; the team used methods like usability labs, prototyping, focus groups, user interviews, and so on. As Zalando was operating in 15 markets and had a dedicated mobile website, the large size of the CRO team was justified.

2) Who should be the owner of a CRO program in an eCommerce organization?

The ownership of a CRO program should remain with someone from the higher management who understands the business impact of CRO. This person is the sponsor of the program. With understanding of the business impact of CRO, the sponsor doesn’t necessarily have to exhibit knowledge of all the nuances of CRO. The sponsor could be the VP of Marketing, or the VP of Product.

Sponsorship is necessary to ensure proper delivery of resources to a CRO team.

Regarding Coordination with Other Teams

3) Does a CRO team require help from other teams in an eCommerce organization?

One team that works closely with a CRO team is Marketing (especially, the customer acquisition department). The KPIs of the marketing and CRO teams are often aligned. The input of the marketing team is quite valuable—they know the product and the behavior of the customers.

The customer support team also plays a crucial role in highlighting pain points across a website. This team acts as a channel for customer feedback and helps a great deal in developing hypotheses.

A CRO team also needs to have the product team on its side. The product ownership mostly lies with the product team and their buy-in is essential. I know a few organizations where the product team has a “Conversion Lead” who acts as a bridge with the CRO team.

Regarding the CRO Process

4) What is the CRO process that you follow?

The process typically consists of the following steps:

  • Studying the quantitative and qualitative data of a website
  • Identifying problem areas on the website
  • Developing hypotheses that aim to address the problem areas
  • Creating variations per the hypotheses
  • A/B testing the variations
  • Analyzing the test results and sharing it with the team

Here is a graphic illustrating the process we follow in Peaks & Pies:

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 7.51.58 pm copy

5) How do you build a hypothesis?

I use website analytics tools such as Google Analytics to look for optimization opportunities across a website, for example catalog pages, product pages, and the checkout page.

When certain webpages are identified for optimization, these undergo rigorous analysis. I first check if a webpage has the essential eCommerce features (such as a recommendation engine on the home page) or not. If a certain feature is missing, we have got an opportunity for optimization. I use heatmaps and click-tracking tools to find elements or a functionality that require optimization. Gathering user feedback, taking help of usability testing labs, and checking out competitors’ websites are other ways of creating strong hypotheses.

I first check if a webpage has the essential eCommerce features (such as a recommendation engine on the home page) or not.

6) How do you prioritize A/B testing hypotheses?

I think a simple prioritization model like PIE—Potential, Importance, and then Ease—can work well for beginners. I personally like the model that is based on Potential, Confidence, and then Ease. This model gives a chance to the CRO team to take into account its past experience. A more sophisticated model can also include “political impact” as a criterion.

Moreover, prioritization needs to be a collaborative task to be successful. To estimate the “potential” of an A/B test, you might require the help of your marketing team. Similarly, the developers and designers can help you estimate the “ease” part.

7) What is the next step after hypothesis creation?

The next step is the design and development of a variation per the hypothesis.

However, before the variation is tested against a control, it must go through a thorough “quality assurance.” I think quality assurance is crucial for highly effective testing, but it is not emphasized enough in the CRO industry. You must make sure that all variations of an A/B test are free of bugs and issues.

Consider this: You are trying to improve a page that is already very optimized. You aim to achieve a humble 5% improvement in the conversion rate. If the variation doesn’t work for 5% of your traffic (because you forgot to optimize for mobile users or Firefox users), your test will invariably fail.

I think quality assurance is crucial for highly effective testing, but it is not emphasized enough in the CRO industry.

8) Is sales or revenue always the primary goal of your tests? Or do you look at micro conversions?

I would say the metrics or KPIs you are tracking should always answer your hypothesis.

In some cases, it is quite simple to track the revenue metrics (for instance, while adding new payment options on the checkout page). But in most cases, you have to track a combination of micro and macro metrics.

9) How do you analyze your A/B test results?

To derive valuable learning from a test, we need to conduct a thorough analysis.

I look at both micro and macro goals to get a better context of the results. I also dig deeper by analyzing the test results for different traffic segments. For instance, I compare test results for new visitors versus returning visitors. You need to deal with a concept called novelty effect. Your returning visitors, when encountering a test variation, will recognize the changes on the page and might hold strong feelings about it (similar to how people strongly respond to major changes happening on Facebook or Instagram). However, new visitors will be unbiased with your test variation and would interact without any prejudices. Another set of segments that is relevant to eCommerce is mobile and desktop visitors. The behavior of both kinds of users can vary significantly.

I dig deeper by analyzing the test results for different traffic segments.

An analysis is always followed by summarizing the test results and recommending a plan of action. You check if the hypothesis was valid and whether you need to implement the winning variation or run a follow-up test.

10) If you find that conversions increased for new visitors but decreased for returning visitors, what do you do?

You need to derive learning from the test and realize why the difference in user behavior exists. For example, this could be happening because of an offer for your new visitors such as “10% off for new visitors.” While the new visitors would be encouraged to shop on the website, the returning visitors might feel like they are not being offered the best deal and feel cheated. Your next step would be to set up a system to identify new visitors and display the “10% off on first order” deal exclusively for them. You can additionally have a loyalty program in place for your returning visitors.

The goal of CRO is to not just have winning A/B tests, but also gain more knowledge about your users so that you can provide them a superior experience. Think about the bigger picture—the entire eCommerce ecosystem. If you find that your close-up product pictures work better than zoomed-out ones, you can communicate this idea to your display marketing team and help them create better ads. If you find that the “free delivery” offer works better than a “10$ free voucher,” you can share the knowledge with other teams such as customer support and product.

11) How important is a long-term A/B testing calendar for high-traffic eCommerce websites?

I think a long-term A/B testing calendar is essential for any kind of website. You need to have a prudent approach; clearly define all the tests that you can conduct, along with the time that each test is going to take.

Think of time as a resource. If you are not testing all the time, you are wasting opportunities to optimize your website (the same time that your competitors might capitalize to move ahead of you). With a long-term calendar, you can easily identify time slots in which you can fit quick A/B tests and utilize all your resources effectively.

Here is a sample template that I would use as my CRO roadmap (you can access the template here):

Example Testing Roadmap Peaks Pies Google Sheets

12) How important is a knowledge repository of past A/B tests?

A knowledge repository is crucial to make your CRO program effective. It helps you know what works for your users (and what doesn’t) and helps you create better tests in the future. It is also used to introduce newcomers to the testing culture of an organization.

With every test you perform, it is important to document the details. You can start with a simple Google doc, and later get a sophisticated and comprehensive spreadsheet. Share the document with the entire CRO team so that everyone is on the same page and can avoid repeating any mistake. When the number of stakeholders is large, you can even think of a weekly/daily newsletter.

I usually archive my test results for every quarter.

Regarding the Nuances of eCommerce Conversion Optimization

13) Which eCommerce webpages do you think are key to a CRO program?

All of them. It’s important to go through the complete customer journey and find optimization opportunities. The most common customer journey path is from the home page to the catalog page to the product page to the cart page, and finally to the checkout page. Of course, there are other customer journey paths as well.

It’s important to go through the complete customer journey and find optimization opportunities.

However, a good CRO manager should always be able to identify low hanging fruits. I have seen that home page is the most tested page of eCommerce websites—mostly because it attracts the largest amount of traffic. Next in the list are product pages. These pages have a lot of traffic from channels such as affiliate partners and display ads. Third in the list are the register or login pages of websites.

14) With a large amount of traffic, how long do you run a test?

It is necessary to run an A/B test until it delivers a statistically significant result. However, with eCommerce websites, it is also important to consider the business cycle. For instance, the business cycle for fashion eCommerce is about one to two weeks. So even when a test delivers results in a few days, you need to run it for an entire business cycle to derive useful learning.

15) How many A/B tests do large eCommerce enterprises roughly run on a monthly basis?

That completely depends on the scale at which an eCommerce website is operating.

Large eCommerce enterprises like Zalando easily generate a traffic of millions of visitors in a single day. For example, Zalando had traffic from numerous markets and it could allow even 100 tests to run at an instance.

16) How does a festival season or a “sale period” affect a CRO process?

I have a good amount of experience working with fashion eCommerce. I’d say that the sale period definitely has an effect on their CRO process. One of the main goals in a sale period is to clear out the inventory. This is when the principle of “urgency” is deployed heavily in CRO campaigns.

This is when the principle of “urgency” is deployed heavily in CRO campaigns.

For other eCommerce websites, the heavy-traffic period can be markedly different. For example, I am working with an eCommerce enterprise that sells premium alcohol. The on-season period for them is winters when people tend to stay at home more and buy alcohol (for personal consumption or as a gift). As a result, this enterprise is focused on optimization activities more during the winter season.

Your Turn

What do you think about this interview? Do you have any question of your own that you would like to ask Tomasz? Post them in the comments section below.

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How to Get Top Management Buy-in for a Conversion Rate Optimization Program

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is gradually becoming a known concept across enterprises, globally.

And, as more and more enterprises become aware of the benefits of CRO, you would expect that most of them are putting CRO to practice.

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Many organizations still haven’t included CRO in their “growth activities” suite. Even among the few organizations that are practicing CRO, more than half don’t have a structured or documented process in place. Moreover, a lot of these organizations have little or no budget allocated for CRO.

This clearly indicates that the top management at enterprises are not yet convinced about the effectiveness of CRO.

If you are trying to introduce a CRO program in your organization, this post is for you.

We have listed five key ways through which you can influence your top management to buy into CRO.

1) Highlight Improved User Experience as a Double Win

Improving user experience is one of the top objectives of many organizations. Talking about the same can get your management’s interest in CRO.

Conversion rate optimization, in essence, is all about improving user experience. The underlying principle is that if a website offers unmatched user experience, visitors would convert more. (For example, nameOn improved user experience on its “cart page” by removing distracting CTAs, and saw an increase in conversions by 11.40%.)

CRO aims at helping you simplify every task that users have to complete on a website. Creating prominent call-to-action buttons, removing distracting elements, and streamlining navigation flow — these and other similar actions to help users complete a task quickly and improve user experience.

A superior user experience helps an enterprise in many ways. Some of them are mentioned here:

  • Better customer acquisition and retention because of a higher satisfaction level of visitors and existing customers.
  • Greater word-of-mouth publicity because of a higher satisfaction level.
  • Reduced overhead costs; minimal spend on support because visitors face less issues navigating through a website.

Now, we know that measuring user experience can be difficult — it’s not a quantifiable unit. Still, there are metrics that can indicate an upgrade in user experience. One such metric that you can use is Net Promoter Score, or “NPS.” This term is simply derived by asking users this question: “How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?” You can monitor NPS for your business before and after the implementation of your CRO program. If there’s an increase in NPS, it’s safe to assume that the user experience also improved.

2) Present a Competitive Analysis

Sometimes, “the competitors are leveraging it” can be the one reason that can help you influence the top management for starting a CRO program.

Or better, you can convince your bosses by showing industry leaders (or, companies that they admire) practicing and winning by using CRO.

You can start by building a list of companies that your bosses look up to. Next, analyze the tools these companies use for website analytics and optimization. Tracking the tools used by these companies should not be difficult: You can take the help of Built With or Datanyze (or any such software) used by the companies in your list. (You can even employ browser extensions such as Ghostery to identify tags of different web apps that are active on a company’s website or app.) Shortlist the companies that are using tools for website analytics, A/B testing, user behavior analysis tools, and so on. The software mentioned above can also give you an idea about how much these companies spend on CRO technologies. The higher the spend, the more involved the companies are with CRO.

Detailed technology usage report of bbc.com given by Built With
Detailed technology usage report of bbc.com given by Built With

Additionally, you can search for CRO-related case studies involving these companies. In fact, case studies that highlight CRO activities in any company from your industry can be effective in influencing the bosses.

3) Stress the Gaps in Your Current Approach

Often, the top management in enterprises is under the impression that its teams are already working on optimization. They, possibly, see CRO as a part of marketing team’s responsibility. The truth, however, is that a CRO program relies as much on marketing as it does on IT.

The essential members of a CRO team typically consist of the following:

  1. Strategist: Focuses on managing the program and deciding the goals. Usually knows the most about conversion journeys, personas, and persuasion design. Owns the KPIs.
  2. Analyst: Looks at the data before and after an A/B test, connects it with other important data sources, and helps everyone understand the test outcomes.
  3. Conversion Centered Designer: Focuses on conversion centered design.
  4. Copywriter: Someone who’s great with the written word and can write to reduce anxieties, ease friction, and persuade and delight visitors.
  5. Developer: To help you run your tests with optimized front-end code and send events or record goals in your analytics software.

A single team member can many times take up more than one of these roles. Nonetheless, the lack of any member possessing these skills in a team can lead to a substandard CRO program. Such a program might or might not deliver favorable results, that is, increased conversions. What is equally important is the (timely and transparent) coordination among these team members. The same can be ensured by having a documented CRO process in place.

A documented process helps you create a long-term calendar of CRO activities and sort these on the basis of their priority. Without that, you might end up conducting low-priority A/B tests that have little effect on the bottom-line. Another major risk is missing out on the learning from the first CRO activity and, therefore, not applying it to the later activities. (For instance, without a structured process, you might not archive the learning from a failed A/B test. And, because of that, you might continue creating A/B tests that run on hypotheses similar to the one that failed.)

Get your bosses’ attention to all such gaps (and possible pitfalls) in the existing strategy and practice regarding CRO.

What a CRO program consists of - a maturity model
What a CRO program consists of – a maturity model

4) Show Them the Money

For many enterprises, the marketing budget is majorly spent on traffic acquisition through channels such as pay-per-click (PPC), social media, and SEO.

However, it’s always difficult to generate satisfactory return on investment (ROI) from such channels.

  • It’s a tough task to ensure the desired quality of traffic through such sources. Users that are not your target audience can also visit your website through these channels. (The “targeting” options can be specific only to a certain point).
  • It’s not under your control on how you perform across these channels over a long period of time. For instance, a change in a search engine algorithm or an increase in cost-per-click on a PPC platform can always spoil the result/ROI of your traffic acquisition efforts.

CRO, on the other hand, lets you improve your sales figures by working on something that you’ll always control — your website. CRO aims at increasing the number of conversions from the existing traffic of your website. (Many times, even a small increase in the conversion rate impacts the revenue significantly. For example, BrookdaleLiving.com managed to increase its monthly revenue by $106,000 because of a modest improvement of 3.92% in the conversion rate.)

Example of conversion optimization across a funnel
Example of conversion rate optimization across a funnel

Now, while pitching the idea of CRO to top management, it is essential to highlight the forecast of such improvement in sales and revenue.

Kieron Woodhouse, UX Head at MVF Global, shares how financial projections helped them start their CRO program: “It’s important to speak to different parts of the business in a language that’s appropriate and tailored to their requirements. The commercial part of the business will expect a detailed analysis of how following a CRO program could positively impact the business. At MVF, before our CRO team was created we put forward a detailed financial projection of all of our top performing landing pages and estimated potential uplifts of 1%, 5% or 10% as a result of our actions.

This approach made the decision very easy for the commercial part of the business to understand and meant we had their complete support before the project began. Of course, it’s also important to have multiple scenarios to help pre-empt performance and manage expectation.”

5) Show Them the Data

It is always easy to convince the top management when you back your pitch with data. And with CRO, you get all the data that is needed.

The success of a CRO program can always be measured on the basis of quantitative metrics — sales and revenue, or micro and macro conversions.

Performance of a CRO program measured on the basis of data
Performance of a CRO program measured on the basis of data

This is in contrast to some of the brand-related campaigns that run on other channels such as PPC and social media. Often, those campaigns work on “improving the brand value,” the ROI of which can seldom be measured.

Further, the whole process of conversion rate optimization is scientific and is based on informed decision-making. There is little room for guesswork.

You use website data and user behavior patterns to identify the pain points on your website (and areas where the conversion rate can be further improved):

When traffic on your website is not converting, you fix the pages with the highest bounce rate and exit rate. When visitors don’t click a specific CTA button, you observe visitor recordings and heatmaps to identify the elements that are proving to be a distraction. When you do not get enough visitors to fill your website forms, you run a form-analysis to check which form fields cause friction. When you are not sure what is stopping visitors from converting on a web page, you employ an on-page survey to learn about that. The use-cases of CRO are endless.

Arguably, the best way to convince your bosses about the benefit of CRO is by showing them a quick but effective A/B test. (Don’t have an A/B testing tool? Start with VWO’s free-trial.) Use methods similar to the above to identify optimization opportunities that have the highest potential for improvement. When you succeed, share the results emphasizing the improvement in the bottom line. This is bound to get you your bosses’ attention.

Angie Schottmuller of Three Deep Marketing suggests, “Tests with interesting results quickly get management attention, and an addictive demand for more testing invariably follows.”

Nate Shurilla, CRO consultant at iProspect Japan, reveals a similar approach they follow: “We typically do a trial run before full-out testing.  We’ll do a little analysis of one page and come up with a small test or two, and then show the results in our full pitch.  Explaining how we can then replicate and expand upon those results site-wide usually gets them on board, especially when they see how even a little jump in CVR has huge effects on their revenue.”

Final Thoughts

Importantly, keep building your case for the need of CRO.

In the words of Jacob Baadsgaardfounder and CEO of Disruptive Advertising, “Don’t pitch once and back off if the idea isn’t immediately accepted. Challenge yourself to view this situation as your own CRO effort on converting your manager/boss! Those that are persistent and back it up with good data will win in the long run so don’t give up.”

Over to You

What do you think will invariably convince top bosses in an organization to run a structured CRO program? We’d love to know your thoughts. Use the comments section below.

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Cheat Sheet: CRO Plugins You Can Install In Under 30 Mins

At Crazy Egg, we talk a lot about the things you should be doing on your website to optimize your conversion rate.

But have you ever read one of our tips and thought, “Well that’s just dandy, but how do I actually make that happen on my website?”

For some of our recommended strategies, like better headline writing, CTA placement, or streamlined navigation, it only takes a bit of intentionality and testing to nail down. From a practical standpoint, you can do everything yourself.

For many of our recommendations, however, you can’t do anything without the right tools.

That’s what this post is all about: the right tools.

This isn’t a list of the best tools for CRO (yeah, Neil’s already done that). This isn’t a list of the most in-depth or comprehensive plugins.

Every tool on this list fits the following criteria:

  • Can be completely installed and running in under 30 mins
  • Free or low-cost
  • Compatible with WordPress websites
  • Will significantly boost your conversion rate immediately upon install

Okay, time for your cheat sheet.

1. SumoMe’s List Builder Popups

I could have populated this list entirely with SumoMe products. They’re that good. And they’re all either free or low-cost.

To start off, I want to highlight SumoMe’s List Builder app which works as a popup tool.

sumome-list-builder-popup

In addition to being 100% free, this app is easy to install and, best of all, highly effective at converting visitors into email subscribers.

After installing it on Uncompromised Men, a men’s blog I work with, their subscription rate shot up by 523% and their email list more than quadrupled in just 4 months! That’s pretty crazy, but it’s hardly breaking news.

The benefits of popups are well-documented. From a strictly CRO perspective, they are a no-brainer. Premium options can run you anywhere from $30-$100 for a monthly service or $50-$200 for a single-purchase plugin.

SumoMe’s List Builder offers a simple popup with a high degree of customization options for free. You can’t include a picture without coding it in, but the results I previously cited, as well as many of those mentioned in this Crazy Egg article, show that even simple text popups can dramatically increase your conversion rate.

2. Crazy Egg’s Hello Bar

Banner ads tend to be the highest priced advertising option because everyone sees them. You can’t miss the big prominent image at the top of a website.

Hello Bar, a product of Crazy Egg, allows business owners to apply this concept to their inbound marketing efforts.

jacob-mcmillen-copywriting

As you can see, the bar is noticeably prominent at the top of your website. It can utilize a simple “Click Here” CTA button, as shown above, or it can easily be configured to directly collect emails within the bar itself.

It takes less than 10 minutes to set up, and this simple little bar gets results. It accounts for 11% of Neil Patel’s revenue and 20% of Kimberly Snyder’s.

Go ahead and try it out. For optimal results, play around with a few different headlines or offers and see what converts best.

3. SumoMe’s Responsive Share Bar

I’m going to highlight one more product from SumoMe, because this app is pure gold.

Your conversion metric probably isn’t social shares, but more shares equals more engagement equals more conversions, so I’m going to stretch the topic just a little, because you need to see this.

sumomo-share-bar-conversion-rate

Now, there are a ton of social sharing options out there. At first glance, you might wonder what makes this one special.

For starters, everything you need in a share bar is included for free. Second, it looks good and stays out of the way of your content without any tinkering required (this is far less common than one would imagine).

But most importantly, SumoMe’s Share app will significantly boost your mobile shares.

How? Most share bars are static and not optimized for mobile. Check out how SumoMe’s share bar looks on your customers’ mobile devices.

Screenshot_2015-01-26-13-21-44

Unlike most share bars, this one is fixed to the bottom of a user’s mobile screen. It scrolls with them as they read and allows them to easily share at any time.

With mobile internet usage overtaking desktop usage in 2014, it’s officially time to start optimizing for these users. SumoMe’s Share bar lets you do just that. Bryan Harris saw his share count double after installing the app.

It’s free. It’s easy to install. It’s definitely worth trying out.

4. KingSumo Giveaways

A well-designed giveaway is a surefire way to blow up your subscription list.

Bryan Harris used a giveaway to land 2,239 emails in 10 days. Josh Earl landed over 60,000 emails through hosting a giveaway in the same amount of time. WWRD increased its subscribers by 11% using a sweepstake, and noted that customers acquired via the giveaway had a 21.7% higher order value than the site-wide average.

Giveaways work, but only if you add this one, very specific feature.

You have to give participants an incentive to spread the word.

If I’m entering a sweepstake, the more people that join, the less my chances are of winning. UNLESS you give me a disproportionately greater chance of winning with each new participant I sign up.

This is the feature that KingSumo Giveaways provides for you. It takes less than a minute to set up, so you’ll spend more time coming up with the right prize than you will setting up the giveaway.

buffer-conversions-giveaway

Lifetime use of this application costs $197, but given the ease of use and the results you can see with it, I consider it to be low cost.

If you haven’t hosted a giveaway yet, do it now. It’s the lowest hanging fruit on the tree.

5. Standard WP Text Widget

When it comes to posting opt-in offers on a website, I’ve fumbled my way through far too many broken plugins, complicated themes, and not-quite-there APIs.

I was constantly on a search for that elusive plugin that would let me design a simple sidebar or footer opt-in. A few months ago, I realized I had been making this way too complicated.

High-converting opt-in offers are as simple as a single JPEG in your standard WP Text Widget.

You don’t need to mess with coding in your design. You don’t need to fuss with APIs. You don’t need to limit your theme selection to something that works with a given plugin.

Just design an image and throw it into your text widget. Let’s look at what you can do with this.

instant-access

Here’s a sidebar opt-in I designed for a coaching blog. It shows an image of the ebook and a CTA button. It has everything you need and clicking any portion of the image takes you straight to the email subscription form.

Alternatively, here’s what it looks like as a footer opt-in.

footer-optin

Simply create a new image and you’re good to go. There’s no need to find and download a new plugin.

This Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult

I’m an avid reader of marketing topics, just like you. More often than not, I come away from great articles overloaded with information and trying to figure out how I can work in the concepts and strategies over the next year.

Rarely do I take immediate action on something I read.

My goal for this article is to give you something you will implement in the next 3o minutes. If you aren’t using any of the tools listed here, you should be.

Who doesn’t want a higher conversion rate?

I promise you, these literally only take a few minutes to install. Marketing success doesn’t always have to be difficult.

Go set them up right now and then come back and share your results with me.

Read more Crazy Egg articles by Jacob McMillen

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Cheat Sheet: CRO Plugins You Can Install In Under 30 Mins