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Archive for the ‘Conversion Optimization & Usability’ Category

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Feel the Need. The Need for Speed.

By | July 1, 2014

Fans of classic 80′s movies will recognize the quote “I feel the need. The need for speed!” as the rally cry of Maverick in Top Gun. He was a hot-shot fighter pilot, but if you care about the success of your B2B web presence you also should feel the need for speed. maverick

In a recent Q&A at the SMX Advanced conference Matt Cutts from Google made a deliberate point to say “You really need to be thinking about mobile. Mobile is happening much faster than almost anyone expected.”  Is your website going to be a good experience for mobile visitors?

It is a reality of business that a website design project is often an exercise in compromise. All the desired elements won’t fit the budget or won’t fit the timeline for launch. Unfortunately, a common element left out of a website redesign or launch is optimizing the mobile version. If you were looking at mobile traffic to your site when you last redesigned it and mobile visitors were less than 10% I will bet that responsive website design or a mobile strategy was not included.

If that is the case, then your website in unlikely to perform well on mobile devices. “So, what?” you may ask. If you care about traffic from Google, you should care. They recently announced they may have a rankings demotion factor for slow mobile sites. Does “ranking penalty” set off any alarms in your cockpit?

Even beyond search engine implications, you should care.

If your website does not perform well on mobile devices, you are likely to frustrate your visitors. If you frustrate your visitors, your website will not convert them to clients or customers.

If you are convinced that having a good experience for mobile visitors is an important part of your marketing strategy and would like to have supporting evidence that your current site is not meeting that requirement, you are about to jump in the pilot’s seat.

pagespeedinsights Google offers a tool called PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter your website in the text box and in seconds (remember, we have a need for speed) a report is generated for you.  It will give you an overall score, which will let you know generally if you have problems.

The more useful part of the tool, however, is the practical and specific suggestions of how to improve your performance. There may be some simple code updates that will improve your site without initiating a large project.

The example I used is Google.com. As you would expect, they do really well.  You will also see that you can generate a report for the desktop performance of your site.  Tip: if your conversion rate is dramatically different between your mobile visitors and your desktop visitors, look at where there are the biggest gaps in performance.

Armed with this data, I dare you to light the afterburners on your website and buzz the tower to celebrate your better-performing website.  Aviator shades are optional.

 

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Higher Education Website Design: How to Choose the Right Imagery

By | June 10, 2014

Imagery is one of the first things prospective students see when they arrive at your website or landing page. Even if you aren’t able to hire your own professional photographer, paying close attention can help you make a memorable and accurate first impression on students. Find out how to choose the right images for higher education website design – even if you’re limited to stock photography:

  1. Choose imagery that reflects your school’s brand. This will help your visitors to immediately identify who you are and what you do. Pay special attention to lifestyle, demographics and even color pallet. The more ways in which you can align your imagery with your brand, the better.
  2. Pay special attention to color, vibrancy and style. Form a consistent, site-wide look by seeking out images that go together. Look for photos that will maintain a uniform color pallet and vibrancy. To be sure your imagery doesn’t compete with your call to action, look for photos with more muted tones.
    bus
  3. Include photos of people. Human faces tend to form a stronger connection with students than non-living objects, but even implied humanistic characteristics can work.
  4. Choose photos that display emotion. A connection can often be enhanced through empathy formed from an emotional response. When students experience certain emotions, their ability to be persuaded can often increase.
  5. Choose normal, everyday people. Stray from using models that look like they’re models. To form a stronger connection, choose photos of people who seem relatable or approachable.
    hotteacher
  6. Avoid the typical “stock” photo look. Try to choose photography that looks natural and not staged, posed or cliché. Staged photos can make you look phony or insincere, especially when you’re trying to build trust.
    librarian
  7. Avoid imagery that isn’t believable. Don’t use photographs that look unnatural or overly Photoshop-ed. Choose photos that appear crisp, in-focus and professional yet realistic.
    college
  8. Tell a story. Choose photos that offer a deeper message than merely a visual. Resist the urge to make the story too literal, but don’t tend toward overly generic either. Aim for a happy medium, leaving just enough up for interpretation to connect with the majority of your audience.
  9. Pay attention to images that could be subjective. A photo has the ability to completely change the meaning of a headline or other copy. Be sure your copy and imagery work well together.
    studentpointing
  10. Pay attention to directional cues within the imagery. There are many subtle cues in imagery that may seem subliminal, yet have a crucial effect on where users focus. Take advantage of cues such as line of sight, forward motion, pointing, or even the direction in which a model is facing to direct attention toward your call to action.

How do you choose the right imagery for higher education website design? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Get deep analysis and take advantage of the latest marketing trends in higher education:

Edu Standard, 2nd Edition

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Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and Why It’s Important in B2B Lead-Generation

By | May 6, 2014

What is CRO?

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a process of increasing the percentage of users to convert when on a website, landing page or email.

The biggest benefit of CRO is that it helps increase more revenue for a company’s online needs.

  • MAXIMIZE Return-on-investment (ROI)
  • Generate more sales or leads with the same amount of traffic
  • Enhances website and gives a competitive edge

Evaluating a page’s or site’s sales funnel can uncover opportunities to reduce anxiety and friction for the user. What sometimes catches people off guard is that even the smallest change can greatly increase conversions on a page. In fact, there have been tests that prove that simply changing the color or the wording on a button (call-to-action) can increase conversion rate by as much as 200%.

In the world of B2B conversions, the great thing about CRO is that it helps all marketing work better. Driving people to your site or landing page is not cheap. If you don’t give them an easy and exciting path to what they need, they will most likely not come back.

CRO Is More than Just Testing Color

CRO is more than just analyzing numbers and testing colors and layouts. It is all about the needs/wants of the customers and finding out where the website or landing page fails to fulfill that need or want. There are quick wins in most everything, and CRO is not an exception. Implementing some easy fixes to a site or landing page can yield significant increases in conversion. On the other hand, to get the full ‘lift’ potential, some investigation is required, such as:

  • Persona research
  • Who are the visitors? Finding the right people
  • What is/are the action ‘funnel(s)’?
  • What are the goals?

CRO is and should be top-of-mind for all companies that have a digital presence, be it B2B, lead-gen, e-commerce, etc.  The impact that it can have on maximizing ROI in itself is why everyone should have CRO on the top of the list for B2B lead-generation.

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Navigating the Sea of Marketing Changes to Boost Enrollments

By | March 21, 2014

Is your school’s website too cool? Yes, I said it. Teenagers and college-aged students (who take the cost of education seriously) don’t want to waste their time on a website that favors style over substance. And that might be costing you money if you’re like many university websites.

Additionally, the way prospects look for schools is different these days, from mobile browsing to asynchronous and around-the-clock research. This can be a problem—in a recent study, 48% of prospective students didn’t realize that a university offered the program that they were looking for even when it did—or it can be your competitive advantage.

EDU-2014_Qtly_Standard_CTAWhat does your university get out of its website (and marketing)?

  • Are you blowing budget on wasteful paid search advertising, or are you beating Google’s industry average of $4.36 per click?
  • What kind of click-thru rates do your ads see?
  • Are you getting found in organic search results by prospects in the early research stages?
  • Are your email messages taking advantage of fast, automatic loading of images in Gmail, a favored platform of your would-be students?
  • Have you tapped into the ripe potential of Bing Ads’ still immature marketplace for education keyword bidding?

These questions are just the beginning. See what else you should be thinking about as an education marketer in our 2014 EDU Standard.”

 

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How and Why You Should Give Buyers What They Want

By | February 25, 2014

Attention, service providers! To some of you, this is preaching to the choir, but I think a new Hinge study (via MarketingProfs) can teach those of you in accounting, marketing, legal, consulting, or tech firms how you should be “selling” yourselves.

 1,000 buyers stated the most commonly used resources for evaluations of professional services were:

  1. Service providers’ websites (81%)
    Translation: Make sure your website is in tip-top shape, from user experience to conversion potential to resourcefulness.
  2. Online search (63%)
    Translation: SEO and content marketing are going to help you get found, whether from organic or paid search results.
  3. Asking friends/colleagues whether they’ve heard of the person/firm (62%)
    Translation: Making a (good) name for yourself is essential.
  4. Using social media (60%)
    Translation: Obviously an extension of #3, you need to be aware of what questions people are asking about the services you provide … and what they’re saying/asking about your company.
  5.  Talking to references provided by the seller (55%)
    Translation: Keep customers happy ecstatic, and they will want to share that enthusiasm with others.

In light of these areas I would like to add that the original root words for sell mean “to serve,” as noted by renowned sales author Jill Konrath—who recently conducted a workshop at Fathom.

The notion of customer service being important may seem cliche or obvious, but extending its reach to the sales realm has serious ramifications. I would argue that the underlying question behind everything your business does to create new customers or retain existing customers should be:

Are you truly serving? 

In other words, are you meeting unmet needs and providing answers to questions even unasked? From every interaction a customer has with your business, from first point of contact to ongoing communication as a longtime loyal advocate, are you making them feel great about what you do?

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