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Jolina Pettice

Are Bad Directions Leaving Web Visitors Stranded? Optimize For Outcomes to Improve Experience & Conversions

By Jolina Pettice     Conversion Optimization, Online Marketing, Search Engines

At some point, most of us have been lost. We know our ultimate destination, but either through a wrong turn or poor directions we find ourselves in the wrong place and likely very frustrated.

Without landing page optimization, your visitors may have this same lost feeling when they arrive on your website. Whether the content was written 10 days or 10 months ago, it’s easy to make assumptions about your website visitors and assume the directions (read: content and calls to action) you are providing make sense.

If anyone has ever given you directions based on landmarks (turn right at the gas station) you can understand this feeling. And ultimately you are unsure and have questions such as: what gas station, what if there is more than 1 and good grief why didn’t you just give me the street name?

As the Membership Director of MnSearch, I had the chance to attend a “Search Snippets” event on the importance of creating better directions for web visitors in search of solutions.

During that presentation we heard from 3 different speakers, each covering a different perspective on optimizing for the customer journey starting with an overview of Conversion Rate Optimization from Aaron Weiche (@AaronWeiche).

4 Steps To Get Started

Step 1  – Know Where You Are
Just like when you are lost, it’s best to pull over and figure out where you are. This is the wrong time to make assumptions, as you may end up further off course.

Before you implement any edits or changes, measure your current results from the page in question. Maybe the situation isn’t as bad as you perceive it to be.

Step 2 – Optimize The Funnel
Existing funnels can be optimized at every step. Start first by identifying which areas of the funnel are least effective.

As you look at optimizing your funnel, follow a structured approach. The approach Aaron recommended to the audience was READY:

  • Relevant
  • Engaging
  • Authoritative
  • Directional
  • Yield Optimal Results

Step 3 – Know Your Recipe
Any good chef knows that you only change one ingredient at time, otherwise you don’t know what element made the dish more (or less) tasty.

It can be tempting to change multiple elements on a landing page, especially if you are misguided by assumptions about the page (see step 1).

To truly be effective, you have to remain disciplined and only test one page element at a time.

Step 4  – Matrix Your Factors    

Map out the types of factors you may want to adjust and what they accomplish. Start with the following, and make sure you have items in each category:

  • Benefits
  • Features
  • Emotion
  • Value

 Step 5 – Test & Maximize
Starting with a clear hypotheses, then you can A/B test for a champion.

To wrap up, Aaron overviewed the need to use Cohort Charts so you can start to see how data is related and what optimizations are having impact and pursue those items that are making a positive impact.

The Past, Present & Future of SEO Landing Pages

Next in the series of presenters was James Svoboda (@Realicity). He took the audience through the past, present and future of SEO landing pages.  What lessons were learned in the past?

Past Lesson #1 – Learn that every page is a landing page, it’s not just about the home page.

Since every page is an entry point to the site, it’s also important to understand that every page will have an entry point (such as search or social) and an exit point (to another page or leaving the site).

Past Lesson #2 – Analyze data to be informed and make recommendations.

Recommendations have been largely based on how visitors are behaving on the site. There was also a rise in the use of tools as more became available to track a variety of data. Think heatmaps, for example.

Past Lesson#3 – Continually seek information.

You’re reading this blog, so you’ve got this one covered. :)

Present Lessons Learned

Lessons we are learning in the present include identifying main conversion points on your site such as:

  • Header
  • Side bar (adjacent to content)
  • In-content conversions (within the content – suggestion to the reader)
  • Footer – (your last resort!)

As you outline the conversion points on the page, be sure to find the fold. Or the point where most visitors will have to scroll to see more information.  Once you understand the elements you have on the page, the next step is to build trust through content and visuals.

Some ways to build trust include associations, BBB logos, customer testimonials etc. The kind you use will depend on the type of business (B2B vs B2C), but don’t shy away from simple statements of credibility. Something like a 25th, 50th or 100th anniversary can instill confidence for the visitor.

The next consideration CROs are currently integrating are social elements. If search is going to be social, then landing pages need social elements both for the visitor and the search engine to recognize the authority of the page.  Finally, current landing page optimization efforts are focused on tracking, testing and analyzing to spot patterns.

Test and analyze SEO results by segmenting analytics data. If you need to get started, here are ways to do so  by analyzing organic traffic:

  • keywords
  • locations
  • devices
  • bounces
  • steps in visitor flow charts
  • conversion type (leads, sales)

Future Lessons

James wrapped up by challenging the user to think of what the future holds for landing pages. One prediction he shared was to think of one url as your ultimate landing page going forward. As social signals influence search, imagine if all of the collective search and social equity was captured among a handful of pages where you invest the most time (vs 100’s of pages with less equity and therefore little to no visibility).

Use Psychology to Boost CRO Results

The final presenter was Josh Braaten (@JLBraaten) of Rasmussen College. He gave the audience a primer on using Psychology to boost CRO results.

Josh started by reminding the audience that when it comes to make decisions emotion beats logic. And the best website visits are emotional experiences, not rational encounters.

As noted in the book Brainfluence by Roger Dooley, campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31 vs 16%) as those that were rationale.  Additionally, campaigns that were purely emotional still did better than those that mixed emotional and rationale (31% vs 26%)

In order to achieve higher conversion levels we need to create hypotheses using psychological factors, then develop testing plans.

When considering conversion rate psychology, there are two factors:

  1. Can do – factors that influences a visitors’ ability to complete a task
  2. Will do – factors that influence a visitor’s willingness to complete a task

To get started, ask yourself what is preventing the visitor from taking action and what will make them want to take action?

What I find most interesting about this topic is the reminder that regardless of the company, product or service; at the end of the day we are still people communicating to people – if even through mechanisms that oftentimes remove the face-to-face interaction.

If we were to think about customer needs first and aligned our copy and calls to action to their need to learn and accomplish a goal, would our landing pages be different? I think the answer is Yes.  :)

 


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