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Archive for the ‘Conversion Optimization & Usability’ Category

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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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How & Why to Use Testimonials in Higher-Ed Marketing

By | January 30, 2014

Female college studentsWhen students face the decision of which school to attend, they not only require more information than needed for lesser decisions. They also often conform to others’ opinions. It’s a big decision that involves big research. And adolescents tend to look to their peers for cues concerning the correct decision. Adolescents are especially actively seeking social proof to assist them in decision-making.

Higher ed marketing professionals can help connect prospective students with the confirmation they require to find the right school. We often attempt to persuade them with well-written value propositions and flattering claims about the institution, but students are probably skeptical if your school is always complimenting itself.

If you’re not supplementing your content with confirmation or social proof, some prospective students will altogether dismiss what your institution has to say. One of the best and easiest ways to counter this is through the use of testimonials. Testimonials validate any claims by providing evidence from actual students or graduates that the institution’s message is indeed accurate.

When utilizing testimonials:


Choose testimonials that provide evidence that back your claims.

The testimonials should support and enhance your institution’s message.

Provide varied perspectives.
Testimonials should be carefully chosen to represent a variety of unique and specific details. Avoid using generic or impersonal comments that can be perceived as having the same voice or holding no authenticity.

Choose personas that will connect with prospective students on a personal level.
By utilizing testimonials from students or graduates who are most like your target audience, those testimonials become easily relatable and build a trusting rapport.

Focus on the student/graduate experience and success rather than your institution.
Make it less about the school and more about the student. How are current students and graduates benefiting from attending the school?

Provide personal details.
Revealing details about the person sharing a testimony, such as name, academic program, graduation year, or a photo of the student whenever possible, can add great value. Show your prospective students who the writer is and why their opinion matters. Otherwise, the person’s opinion might hold little significance.

Use short video testimonials in addition to written testimonials.
Video can add a lot to the authenticity of testimonials. It helps by putting a face and personality behind the opinion, helping the viewer to form a stronger personal connection. Avoid a scripted demeanor to maintain authenticity.

Add testimonials to other content.
Rather than clumping all of your testimonials together on one dedicated page, include them at various touch points whenever a little bit of coaxing might be needed. Your school can improve conversion optimization by placing testimonials near lead-gen forms or other calls to action.

How have you seen success with testimonials? Share your tips in the comments.

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Learn about how to nurture across the student life cycle and earn $26 for every $1 invested in marketing automation:

Nurturing Across the Student Life Cycle

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How Creative, Conversion and Analytics Joined Forces to Reinvent the Fathom® Website

By | January 16, 2014

About one year ago, Fathom decided to focus even more tightly on areas of industry expertise.

At this time, the Fathom website –the most important medium for reaching new customers and generating more sales – was in need of a new identity to reflect our evolving approach, services, areas of expertise and brand identity.

(Cue superhero music) Enter a dedicated marketing team with the sole purpose of promoting and establishing the Fathom brand.

PRIORITY #1: RECOGNIZE THE ISSUE

As we began digging into the analytics of the website, we found ways to boost the conversion rate, audience engagement, and overall user interaction.

From a design perspective, the original version of the website was not mobile-friendly, and was not automated to react responsively to browser window sizes. Responsive Web design (RWD) is an approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors). A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids,flexible images, and CSS3 media queries.

Also, there was an incredibly large amount of real estate in the upper-left-hand corner of the home page that was ripe for repurposing. Your top priority “above-the-fold” should be establishing who you are and how your products or services can benefit your potential customers. Think of it as your storefront window; it is a peek inside of your business. If it is not appealing almost immediately, then chances are that your prospects will move on very quickly (attention deficit issues are at an all-time high on the Web these days, if you haven’t noticed).

 

Issues with the problematic homepage included wasted space and a lack of conversion elements.

Elements to focus on with a redesign of the homepage included wasted real estate, mobile viewing, and a lack of conversion elements.

Another balance designers must achieve is aesthetics vs. usability, i.e. user-centered design (UCD). UCD is focused on the usability of a site, or what makes for an easy and seamless user experience, including the ability to complete tasks (especially conversions, from the commercial perspective). We needed to integrate conversion-centered design (CCD) with a total creative redesign of the website. UCD and CCD do intertwine, but the major distinction of CCD is that it aims to persuade the user to achieve your business goal while ideally matching it to the user’s.

To sum it up, CCD is a discipline targeted specifically at designing page-level experiences that achieve a single business goal. It seeks to guide the visitor towards completing that one specific action, using persuasive design and psychological triggers to increase conversions. In Fathom’s case, that single business goal was to get users to request a free marketing opportunity assessment.

PRIORITY #2: REDESIGN THE FATHOM WEBSITE WITH RESPONSIVE CCD IN MIND

Now that we had established a conversion-centered design, the next steps were to mock up a website that not only maximized our new desired conversions, but also appealed visually to our target audience, and behaved in a responsive manner.

We redesigned the entire site to be responsive within our existing CSS template, but for the sake of time and this article, we will focus on the design of the homepage. The plan was simple: Focus on key elements that spoke to our customers with clarity about three very important topics:

  • Who Fathom was and why we exist
  • Our approach to digital marketing
  • Industry specialization

The initial mockups resulted in two varying designs of the homepage consisting of essentially the same content. Version A focused heavily on our digital funnel management approach to marketing, and included many features:

  • Industry areas of expertise
  • Ticker for tracking revenue delivered to clients
  • “About us” video
  • News and blog feed
  • Featurette of one of our teams
  • Resource library slider
  • List of the company’s top accomplishments and awards

Version B primarily concentrated on who Fathom was as a company, our goals, and our service areas of expertise. Version B was designed to be much simpler and more visually appealing than Version A, and included a large image slider with large calls-to-action; a breakdown of our digital funnel approach; a list of industry areas of expertise; our “about us” video; a news and blog feed; and a resource library slider.

Both variations included two main call-to-action buttons: “Free Assessment,” and “Chat with Our Experts.”

 

Versions A and B of the newly redesigned Fathom homepage

 

PRIORITY #3: ESTABLISH AN A/B TEST OF THE HOMEPAGE VARIATIONS

After some quick and masterful development within WordPress by our resident front-end Web developer/genius, Matt Thompson, it was time to put Versions A and B of the revamped homepage to work. With the help of Visual Website Optimizer, a multivariate conversion testing application, we put the two variations of the homepage face-to-face in a battle for conversion glorification. We focused our tests on three important variables:

  1. Our Approach (clicks to the ‘approach’ page through any stages of the funnel breakdown buttons)
  2. Engagement (overall time on the website)
  3. Free Assessment Conversions (clicks on the green button to our assessment request page containing a lead form)

The results of the test, which ran a total of three months, although very close in some cases, gave us some very important insights (see below).

a_b_test_results

While Version A led by a hair in conversions to the “Free Assessment” page, winning by 0.30%, Version B won the test for website engagement and clicks to learn more about our approach. With these analytics, we were able to conclude without a doubt that Version B led to higher engagement, keeping visitors on the site longer, resulting in higher education about Fathom’s approach and services.  With this knowledge, we have set Version B as the static and full-time variation of Fathom’s homepage.

PRIORITY #4: KEEP TESTING!

And the testing is far from over! Now that we know Version B holds the highest engagement, we will utilize this data to formulate and create three new variations of Version B to A/B/C test. Because we now know that our homepage visitors did not overwhelmingly request the “Free Assessment”, we can focus one of our variations around it with a slider banner image. Other elements we are planning to test include:

  • Variations of CTA button designs within the slider to increase clicks
  • Moving the “about us” video above the fold to increase engagement/time on site
  • Focusing the top entirely on our industries of expertise
  • Designing the top fold to be “approach”-centric, educating our audience on the services and people who make Fathom unique

The bottom line is: We will never stop testing, and neither should you! Web design and content architecting is the perfect storm in which creative, conversion and analytics fuse together to become the ultimate proving ground for your business. Do you have what it takes to appeal to your audience while maximizing conversions for your business? Balancing these interests can be a challenge, but the only way to truly refine and perfect this art is through the fusion of creative, conversion and data. The measuring stick to this balancing act will always be testing – and you should never be satisfied.

 

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