February 2011 archive
It was no surprise to see Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the cover of Time (http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/0,28757,2036683,00.html), which dubbed him the 2010 Person of the Year.
Facebook – which is now up to 500 million users (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics) – has revolutionized the way we communicate, connect and exchange information, and it is unarguably a powerful marketing tool that can promote your business.
One approach is to create a Facebook fan page for your business. Fan pages are visible to everyone, even those who aren’t registered on Facebook, and are indexed by search engines. Setup is relatively simple, and there are a number of ways to engage your audience.
When developing a strategy for your fan page, the most important question to ask is: “Am I giving my audience the right reasons to visit my page?” Remember, you must communicate why people should want to engage with your brand on Facebook.
Here are some tactics.
1) Jumpstart Your Fan Base
People are more likely to access your fan page if they discover it through a friend they know and trust. And as people begin “liking” your page, content you share is then published in their news feed. This helps spread the word about your business and generates warm leads organically.
So, developing a core fan base is a critical first step. Start by asking your existing Facebook friends to “like” your fan page. Then try expanding your Facebook social circle by using the Find More Friends feature to make more connections.
2) Share Relevant Content
No matter how many people are fans of your page, if you’re sharing irrelevant (or no) content, you’ll lose your audience. Content sharing should be an integral part of your Facebook strategy.
Just like Twitter, your Facebook friends can easily re-share information you post, thus generating interest from their friends, which can then be shared with another group of friends, and so forth.
Never underestimate the power of engaging content.
3) Host a Contest
Hosting a contest can quickly expand your fan base by giving people an incentive to visit your page. You can also generate contest participation by offering enticing giveaways.
For example, every time your business earns 300 new fans, you give away a new iPad to a fan. Or on a smaller scale, for every fan a customer recruits to your page, you offer 10% off their next order. The possibilities are limitless.
4) Give Away Free Resources
Your subject-matter expertise is also a tool that can drive people to your fan page. By providing fans with free resources, such as articles, videos or white papers, you’re not only building credibility and rapport with potential customers, you’re giving them a reason to remain a loyal fan.
5) Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising
Facebook offers a highly targeted advertising platform. While it does require a small budget, its effectiveness can far outweigh the costs. Facebook ads appear on a user’s sidebar and are customized based on keywords in a user’s profile and news feed.
So if you choose to create a Facebook ad, one of your first steps is to conduct a search of specific keywords relevant to your business. This will help you identify trending topics and tailor your message.
Facebook is a community of individuals, all with unique needs and preferences. So while these tactics can certainly assist you in promoting your business, there is no magic bullet.
Learn how you can best leverage Facebook by signing up for our Social Media course.
TIP: Remove those rotating banners you have on your front page (or in your header on every page) and replace them with static images and value ad copy.
Many times we see those rotating banners, whether pictures or videos, in the header of a web page. Also, weoften see that anything after the first banner, is usually not clicked. That’s because it is not an intuitive user process to click on the arrows.
Instead of using multiple banner ads on one page, try using just one ad (image to the left) and give the proper ad copy creating value and trust to the right with the call to action button below. After creating one, try split testing all 4 (by using google website optmizer) and test which one performs the best. You will find many times that testing these 4 elements for conversion will give you a great idea which ad copy is doing the best job, and then you can tailor the rest of the images and ad copy after you find your control.
TIP: Instead of grouping every field on one page, only ask for the necessary information for the conversion. Try adding any optional fields to the thank-you page.
Ever wonder how many fields really need to be in your conversion form? It really depends on what your conversion is. However, if you have fields that aren’t completely needed, but just nice to have, try implementing more fields on a secondary page. Case studies have shown that conversion rates increase 30 percent by just using the name and email fields (remove first name and last name, just use the field “name”).
Additionally, you may even have a thank-you page video, thanking the user and establishing a bit of additional rapport with the user for a product or service.
TIP: On your category pages of your e-commerce site, increase the size and the amount of images for a given product.
We are all attracted by aesthetically pleasing images. They get our attention, engage us, and put us at ease by reducing the tension involved with purchasing online. Many of us are so accustomed to purchasing online that we subconsciously battle this tension without knowing it. Internally we battle with ourselves to decide whether it is a justifiable purchase, but also whether the vendor is reputable, and whether our credit card info will be safe and secure. By using product images you quell some of this tension. You provide your potential customer with as much information as possible, show them any available options (color choices, sizes, etc.), and set them at ease.
For example…if you visit a site for the first time and are inundated with bright-colored sale graphics that announce ’10% Off’ and seizure-inducing, flashing ‘Click Here’ buttons, most likely you will not be able to click the back button fast enough. When shopping for a car, do you look at listings without pictures? What do you think when you see ‘Great Condition’ but no picture?
Product images help your potential customer understand exactly what they are getting. If they are wondering about a specific feature or aspect of your product and you can highlight it with a close-up shot, you are much more likely to ease their mind and win that conversion. For many consumer products, it has become the standard to offer 360-degree views of the product. Again, you are showing your potential customer exactly what they are purchasing…No Surprises. If you have an e-commerce site, make sure on your category page that you are showing images that clearly show the product, so people know exactly what they are clicking on and going to see next. If your widget comes in red and blue, show them that those options are available for that product and show them the both the blue widget and the red widget.
Images should be large enough to provide enough detail to set your potential customer’s mind at ease and answer any of their questions. Put yourself in their shoes and try to think of their points of objection. If you are squinting at the screen and not quite sure whether a specific feature has been done justice, then you haven’t. Just like everything in conversion optimization, it should be quick, concise, and clear. If there is any uncertainty you risk losing conversions.
In conclusion, images are your friend. Sorry to be cheesy, but they are ‘worth a thousand words.’ You can tell your potential so much more about your product, and what they are hopefully buying, in a group of images than you ever could with text. Images help you reduce tension for your potential customer, and help them along the path to conversion.
TIP: People don’t read landing pages, they scan them. Make sure that the first two sentences are short, straight to the point and without extra fluff. Also, use bullet points to highlight features and benefits of the product or service.
One study found that only 16% of people read word for word when they are online and another found that the average person only comprehends about 60% of what they read.
- Lists – Consider using lists for product features, whether they are radial check boxes, bullet points, arrows, etc. Be short, sweet and to the point with every line.
- Formatting – Try using bold, increasing fonts, capitalizing the first words of URL’s or brand names.
- Pictures – Use images wisely. They are the number 1 thing that draws the attention of the user, inversely they can also be the number 1 distraction.
- Space – don’t feel you have to fill up every inch of your screen – rather create spaces because they help to keep readers from feeling overwhelmed and again tend to draw readers eyes to what is inside such space.
Be sure your copy sells your offer when someone scans just the first three words of each bullet or paragraph. You may also consider using interactive elements like video or audio clips for users. This engages users who want more information about the product or service without making the page look overwhelming.
TIP: Even if you follow all of our tips to the letter, if you send the wrong traffic to a page it will have poor conversion rates.
Today’s post is inspired by a friend of mine that I had lunch with today. We were talking about marketing, branding, and email marketing. He started to tell me a story about a situation where he was trying to figure out why his email marketing campaigns had such low conversion rates. We talked about the landing pages and the goals, and there was nothing wrong with the model – it was for a free sign-up.
When running an email marketing campaign, if your conversions are low, make sure the integrity of the list you are using is good. That means, make sure the list that you use is clean and up-to-date. One way to do that is do a random sampling of the data itself. Your open rates should be around 5-10 percent. Any lower, you need to be analyzing the data, and the first thing you should start with is looking directly at the email addresses.
So, talking to my friend today, he said that’s exactly what he did. The reason he did this is because he was looking at the list and noticed an email that was one of his customers. He also happened to know that particular individual hadn’t worked there in 5 years. So, he took a couple more email addresses, looked them up in Linkedin, and also noticed that those people were no longer with the listed companies. He then decided to take a deeper look at 100 (of the couple thousand or so emails) on the list and found that 87 percent of them no longer existed. This was why his list was not converting. People were not clicking on his free sign-up because they were not getting the email or it was addressed to the wrong person.
In this case my friend had purchased this list of email addresses. Obviously he wasn’t very happy with that and called the higher-ups and got reimbursed, but was very shocked that the data wasn’t being scrubbed. We only recommend purchasing/renting email lists under certain circumstances and for particular types of offers. Purchased/rented email lists will typically have very low conversion rates, but in this case it was a free sign-up so it made sense. The low barrier of commitment yielded a higher likelihood of conversion.
Lesson learned: If your conversions aren’t happening, make sure the traffic going to your page is the right traffic. Our example above is one unique to email, but whether you are drawing traffic through email, pay-per-click, organic, direct mail…whatever, if the people coming to your page are not your target audience then odds are they will not convert no matter how good your page.
Now this is kind of funny: a blog post about blogging. At least it is for me. Three years ago, when we started our electronic marketing department, I lumped blogging in the category of return on time (ROT) killers. I specifically remember saying, “Don’t waste too much time on the blog. Focus your attention around specific activities that will show return.” Interesting how wrong we can be. The key is to know when to admit it.
I had my “wake up call” about a year and a half ago. I begrudgingly started writing blog posts for our software development life cycle training business and wrote a post on the lack of success of the CBAP designation (a certification for business analyst professionals). I didn’t think anything of it until a member of the board for the certification body that runs the CBAP responded to my post.
It was a solid comment to my post, but I was really intrigued with how he found my post. He couldn’t possibly be reviewing our blog daily, and he wasn’t. But he was searching on the topic of CBAP and using CBAP related key words. When I searched “CBAP v2” I found my blog on the first page in the fourth organic position slot. Let’s just say from there I was hooked.
First and foremost, from a ROT prospective Blogging is a powerful SEO tool. Are you trying to get in a hard to reach generic keyword? Well blog on that topic. You might not get on the radar of the generic keyword, but you certainly will get found in and around it. Remember, long tail keywords can be just as good as their short tailed generic brethren. Blogging is not just about SEO even though the foundation of our strategy should be to maximize SEO, in so much as your editorial calendar for blogs should be closely tied to your critical keywords. Big heads up here: if you use Google Blogger for your site, you are getting NO SEO benefit, it all goes to Google. I would highly recommend moving to WordPress for your blog if you have not done so already.
The other side benefit of blogging revolves around awareness and stickiness. These are two things that scared me about blogging pre-SEO enlightenment. I still hear people getting into blogging for these reasons or for the dreaded “everyone else is doing it” reason. Awareness and stickiness are two great side benefits, but do not warrant the amount of time and effort blogging takes.
The awareness benefit is really the ability to show your customers you are “smart.” A blog can be like an always-on sales engineer, or better yet, an always-on industry consultant. Customers want to buy from companies that are “smart” in that they know the industry, the market, their products and how everything fits together. A blog is a perfect way to show that, but also a perfect way to not show it when done wrong or poorly.
The stickiness benefit is the ability to offer your customers something more than an online catalog that will entice them to come back. The more a customer comes back, the more apt they are to buy. I like this benefit and can now see it in our weekly view numbers. Over time blogs gain momentum and views increase, BUT you can’t have a “build it and they will come” mentality. Our blog gets solid, consistent views, but it is because of the effort and attention put into it. Without effort and attention you will probably get views specifically because of SEO, but you will not get the stickiness you would want. As much as someone “likes” you as a company and a site, they still have to be reminded you are there or the relationship gets stale.
For me blogging has turned into one great I told you so. Not one that I got to dish out, but an I told you so that I was given. In my world those are the best.
TIP: Make sure you are not only using testimonials, but have them positioned properly on the page as well.
I often see two scenarios when consulting on landing pages:
1. Very scarce or non-existent testimonials on a page, especially when it’s absolutely necessary for a product or service to have one. Some industries off the top of my head are landing pages for realtors, restaurants, mechanics, beauticians – anything that you can think of that relies heavy on word of mouth of continued patrons.
2. Misuse of testimonials on landing pages. Make sure you don’t lump all your testimonials at the end of your landing page or in the side navigation. Place them appropriately on the page commensurate with a given feature or benefit. Also, remember to include your conversion goals (button or phone numbers) after each testimonial. With each testimonial (consumer touches) you increase emotions and build trust.
Testimonials on landing pages are very powerful tools because users are in the “buy-mode” and have found a solution to a need or want. Also try using video in some of your testimonials and watch conversions soar.
TIP: View Matched Search Quieres in Google Analytics to see actual search queries for Adwords terms. Use those to optimize campaigns for long tail keywords.
When buying Adwords, we buy 3 types of keywords: broad, phrase, and exact. The net of what this means is that the keyword phrase you purchased may not align exactly with what the searcher typed into the search box. The data you see in the dashboards for Google Analytics and Adwords Analytics is a representation of averages, not exacts, of the search queries matched against each bid keyword.
In order to see exact numbers and understand what is converting and what is not, we want to add a specific report. Go into Traffic Sources Report > Adwords > Keywords. After you see the report, add a second dimension by clicking the dropdown next to the AdWords Keyword Column. Pick “Matched Search Query.” The new data will give you great insights into how to better manage your keywords and what is working specifically on the landing pages they are coming from.