Digital Presence & Marketing Strategy

When In Doubt, Test It Out!

I know, corny title but it’s true – if you are wondering about the effectiveness of a particular strategy, test, test, test. One of my mentors who sells memory foam mattress products is infamous for this – he’s always testing, trying, evaluating, and then re-testing to see what gets the best response over time.

Over the past few years I’ve worked with hundreds of clients in a variety of industries. Surprisingly, all of them want to see results and make sales 🙂 I’ve learned through my own testing that there are certain things that work consistently; other things may work great for my industry or what I’m doing, but they may not get the same response for a client doing a teleseminar on getting free advertising on the radio or whatever other ideas you might have.

I recently found a cool post while twittering. It is titled “Do Buttons Get Clicked More Than Text Links? A Case Study” by Justin Premick. It talks all about testing in regards to an email campaign. Justin and his partner Marc wanted to determine

…how to increase clickthroughs on the emails we send to our blog subscribers.

One of the ideas that came up was to replace the text links that we had been using to drive people to the blog with a “button.”

Previous testing on the website had shown that in many cases, buttons make better calls to action than text links do. We thought the same might hold true for email. (italics and bold added for emphasis)

So, Marc created a button-shaped image with the words “Read More” stamped on it:

We then created A/B split tests for our Blog Broadcasts, inserted this image into one version as the call to action (to read the full post on our blog) and continued to use text links in the other version as we had before.

The emails were otherwise identical – we kept subject lines, sending dates/times and templates the same for each version.

They had a question, they thought about things they’d done in the past that had worked, and they began the test.

I like that they pointed out the A/B testing: this is one of the only ways to really tell for sure which of two ideas is going to work best. Otherwise too many factors may contribute to the outcome. Like they said, besides the text link and button, “the emails were otherwise identical”.

They go on to talk about initial results:

As we expected, the button grabbed readers – attention and incentived them to click through, much better than the text link did…At this point, about 2 weeks into our test, it was tempting to say, “The button clearly draws more attention and clicks than text links. Let’s just start using buttons and move on to another test.”

Did they stop there? Nope!

We ultimately ran the button-versus-text split test about 40 times, over the course of several months.

For a while, the button continued to beat the text links – but we noticed that it wasn’t doing so by as large a margin as it first had.

While over our first five tests, the button beat the text by over 33%, after 20 tests it was only winning by an average of 17.29%, and the text version was beginning to hold its own in the win column.

With each new split test, the text asserted itself as the better call to action.

By the time we ended our experiment, text links were consistently outperforming our button, winning nearly two-thirds of the time, by double-digit margins as high as nearly 35%.

What can we learn from this? How does this apply to YOUR website? How do YOU plan to implement this testing case study?

To sum it up best, let’s read on to see what conclusion they came up with:

What works today may not work tomorrow.

Had we stopped our testing after one broadcast, or even one or two weeks, we would have concluded that buttons were better than text links.

It’s important to continually test your email campaigns to make sure that you know what works, rather than assuming you know what works.

Finally, one last point I feel obligated to make:

What works for someone else may not work for you.

The text links won out in our split test, but that doesn’t mean a button can’t be an effective call to action for you.

Again, don’t just take our word for it. Find out for yourself through your own testing.

Running an effective business, both on and offline, takes analysis like this if you plan to see the long term results you want to see. I am currently doing a test right now with a client email campaign and will let you all know the results in the upcoming weeks.

Website How To's

What is Persistence and Why do YOU Need It?

Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over. – Seth Godin

What a great quote from a world-famous marketing guru.  What a coincidence that I found this quote today: I recently watched the classic football movie “Rudy”.  Yes, I know, this is one of the best sports movies of all time and for some reason I’d never seen the show from start to finish. Rudy had a goal and boy was he persistent at achieving that goal. He wasn’t the best athlete, he wasn’t blessed with all the gifts of height, speed, or quickness; however, we was persistent and had “the same goal over and over.” Look where that persistence took him.

I have a passion for setting goals and the effect goals have on success in anything. Here are just a few reminders why you need to be persistent and achieve your goals in Q2 of 2008:

  • Goals give direction
  • Goals motivate
  • Goals push us to levels we never thought we’d get to
  • Goals help us use our minds more effectively
  • Goals help us monitor our progress

Now, I dare anyone to say goals aren’t necessary 🙂

Customer Engagement & Retention

Two of ProBlogger’s Top Tips for Beginning Bloggers

Darren Rowse, also known in the Internet world as ProBlogger, is one of the top bloggers I read on a pretty consistent basis. I “stumbled upon” an article today written by one of his bloggers titled “9 Tips to Start Blogging Successfully“. It lists some good tips, of which I want to focus on two in particular:

  1. Marketing Your Blog is Hard Work: So you mean running an online business isn’t a “turn-key” “get-rich-quick” thing? Ha Ha!  Shoemoney had some straight forward things to say about that. Mark Twain said it best, “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.” Just like anything that’s worth pursuing, running a blog, an online business, or building your current business will take strategy, thought, effort and WORK. Work is defined as “exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something.” I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the last few years and the majority say they want to change their financial situation by creating a new stream of income. The question I have is, “Are you ready to do what it takes to see the results you want?” Make sure you keep in mind that it’s important to work smart, not just hard.
  2. Research, Read, Reflect: I think one of the toughest things about starting a blog is most of us don’t know what we can write about. We think we have to reinvent the wheel or come up with breakthrough information. Many of the blogs I read analyze the news, talk about their kids from time to time, or just share a frustration or gripe about whatever. Do they still get tons of traffic and make good money? Yes, mainly because they do these three things: research, read, and reflect. The best bloggers are always looking for something new to associate to their area of expertise. They’re always reading articles, making comments, and then creating their own blog post that agrees with, contradicts, or takes a spin on what was shared elsewhere. Reflection at its best.

So now the question is, where do I start looking for information to blog about for my online business? Ever heard of Google? Google even breaks things down into News, Blogs, Video, etc. Go to these sources, type in one of your top keyword phrases, and start your research. Take notes, bookmark articles, and then combine ideas, put a spin on them, or take an opposing stance. Don’t forget to source where you got the information: in many cases this can help you start getting your name out there even quicker than you think.

The more you practice blogging about your area of expertise, the better you’re going to get. This concept is the same for article writing, press releases, or anything else related to online marketing. Practice really does help us become the best at what we do.

Just like one of my favorite quotes states:

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. – Robert Collier

Keep me posted about your success! Expect It!

Digital Presence & Marketing Strategy

Improving Online Sales and Conversion

I talked recently about continuing to educate yourself, even after your site starts making sales and things seem to be on the up and up. Education seems to be so essential in whatever field you are in. As some of you know, I love sports. The best athletes seem to be the ones who are “students of the game”. They know what they are going to do in every big situation because they’ve studied it out, watched film and are prepared to succeed. This preparation also has a direct effect on their confidence, which really separates the mediocre from the extremely successful.

One of the things I’ve been studying about a lot lately is online sales conversion. I found a great article that gave a long list of things to do to improve sales online and keep your clients coming back. These are a few of the things I felt were most important:

  • Set up an analytics program. I recommend two stat tracking tools – and Google Analytics. Both are pretty easy to use and free.
  • Track visitor trends. Watch where visitors are coming from,what they are doing on your site, what keywords they are searching for to get to your site, and work on improving bounce rate (the visitors who just come to the home page and then leave without doing anything).
  • Analyze keywords visitors are using to find your site. Make sure that the products matching the three most popular search terms appear on your home page.
  • Resize and compress your images using an image editor. While you can resize an image by simply changing the ‘height’ and ‘width’ attributes in HTML, that doesn’t make the file smaller. So someone may sit for 30 seconds waiting for that postage-sized image to download.
  • Always evaluate your home page. Does it have a clear ‘shop now’ call to action, above the fold? If it doesn’t, add one! Some of your visitors don’t even know they can buy from you, direct, online.
  • Remove any animation you have on your home page that doesn’t directly sell a product. It’s a distraction. Get rid of it.
  • Remember, you’re selling products. Everywhere you show a product, show a price and a ‘buy now’ button, or at least a ‘learn more button’. This is one I need to implement on my clogging shoes website.
  • Promote yourself! On your home page, make sure you have a heading that says why you’re great. “We ship overnight” or “All walnuts checked by squirrels” are great, compelling calls to action.
  • Ask for the sale! On your home page, show your products! So many online stores fail to do this. Instead, the front page is a testament to their web designers’ talent (or lack of talent). Don’t make that mistake.
  • Make products easy to find. If you don’t have a search tool on your site, get one. Google custom search is easy to set up.
  • Use your web real estate wisely. Don’t put ‘about us’ in the main navigation. Frankly, no one cares. They want to buy stuff, not hear about you and your three dogs.
  • Show multiple ways that visitors can contact you. Put your phone number and other contact information in plain view on each page of your site. It tells people that you’re for real.
  • Keep your text simple and easy to read. Use sales copy that scans well. Short, 2-3 sentence paragraphs and bullet points scan more easily than huge paragraphs of text.
  • Use a spell checker. Nothing says ‘You will never receive your order’ like a page full of misspellings.
  • Get a second opinion. Have someone else proof your writing.
  • Get names and emails from visitors. If you don’t make a sale to a new visitor, at least get them to sign up for something. A name and email is almost as good as a sale – it’s future sales if you use the list wisely.
  • Paid Search Marketing: If you don’t have a pay-per-click account, start one, at least with Google Adwords. Spend $.10/click or so to start, and see how it helps sales. These should be the first ad dollars you spend online. Nothing else makes sense until you’ve tested the PPC waters.

These are just a few ideas I found that I either implement now or plan to implement in the near future. Let me know how they increase your sales and which ones work best.