Search & Conversion helps website owners and search marketers guide the searcher from search engine results pages – both organic listings and search ads – to relevant landing pages and complete a desired conversion action, whether that means an e-commerce transaction, engage in a phone call, an email newsletter sign-up or filling out a lead gen form. Columnists provide tips for taking searcher intent through to the finish – with landing page testing and tuning tips, techniques for moving searchers through the conversion funnel and how to feed valuable conversion data back into search campaigns.

Landing Pages 3.0: How Content & Context Plays A More Meaningful Role

Example of Landing Pages 3.0 Landing pages have evolved a lot over the past five years. Back in 2007, landing pages were almost cliché — what I would call Landing Pages 1.0. Take this example from Google — yes, Google — with the prototypical structure: a headline, a short description or some bullets, a small image ("hero shot"), and a form. Most of the fields on the form were required. The "submit" button was still in vogue. And the payoff for filling out the form? A phone call from a sales rep. Okay, so this first generation of landing pages wasn't very good. But such pages were effective enough in le [...]

The Neuroscience Of Search & Conversion

The one thing all of your search traffic brings with it is a human brain. [caption id="attachment_109951" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Photo courtesy FastCompany"][/caption] It's easy to think that our search visitors aren't coming with any brain at all. How can they possibly decide against what we have to offer? If they weren’t going to take action, why click on the ad? It turns out that they do have brains, and the people at NeuroFocus know. They use neuroscience to see these brains at work with amazing brainwave measuring devices. They've watched brainy humans as th [...]

Working The Funnel: Finding Value In Non-Converting Events

As performance marketers, it’s our job to find the valuable clicks and filter out the crap. By tracking specific events through cookies and pixels, we attribute revenue to clicks and keywords. Newer tools like conversion funnels allow us to further identify which clicks lead to subsequent clicks which in turn lead to conversions. Generally speaking, we use conversion funnels to show the value of early consumer touch points such as display ads, Facebook ads, or generic paid search. So, for example, even if clicks from Facebook don’t lead to many conversions, we can determine that ther [...]

When A/B Testing Prices, Proceed With Caution

Testing Prices I had an interesting A/B testing experience over the holidays. This time, it wasn't an A/B test that I was running, but rather an A/B test in which I was an (initially) unsuspecting participant. It reminded me of the negative side effects that certain kinds of tests can have on customers — sometimes your best customers — and the steps that marketers should consider to mitigate those risks. This is a cautionary tale, but I don't want to lambast the the company running the test. They ultimately handled the situation fairly. So I will refer to them anonymously as a business software pro [...]

Four Things You Can Do With Inconclusive Split Tests

[caption id="attachment_106732" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Sometimes, our visitors don't care enough to choose what they want."][/caption] There is a certain sound a teenager makes when confronted with a choice they aren't interested in making. It is a sonic mix of indecision, ambivalence, condescension and that sound your finger makes when you pet a frog. It is less committal than a shrug, less positive than a "Yes," less negative than a "No" and is designed to prevent any decision whatsoever from being reached. It comes out something like, "Meh" Parent: "Would y [...]

Do Your 2012 Resolutions Include Increasing Conversion Rates?

That's a trick question. Of course the answer should always be yes. Hopefully your website conversions in 2011 have already resulted in a banner year. But if you feel like you have room to improve (and there always is), then it might be time to review what advice our conversion experts shared with readers throughout the year, and put these tactics on your agenda in 2012. Here's a recap of our most popular advice from 2011 on improving landing pages, testing and fine-tuning your website calls to action to improve conversion rates: The Big Picture: Conversion Considerations How Mark Zuck [...]

The Infinite Funnel Of Search To Sale

"And there is no such thing as a no sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can't. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close? You or him? Now be relentless, that's it, I'm done." – Ben Affleck as Jim Young, Boiler Room You don't have to be a penny stock promoter to appreciate a good rallying speech about sales (you don't have to sell real estate, either). But this one hits close to home. No matter what your site does, every page closes a sale: It convinces someone to keep clicking on [...]

Blogs, Volcanoes, & Your Conversion Rate Calculation

[caption id="attachment_103962" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Your blog is like a volcano, visible to search engines, interesting to readers."][/caption] The Conversion Rate is calculated as the number of conversions – leads, sales, subscriptions, trials, etc. – divided by the number of visitors to the site from organic search traffic, paid search, referrals, email, etc. Thus, your conversion rate can be improved in two ways: get more of your visitors to convert (the top), or reduce the number of unqualified visitors. With changes to the algorithms of the Google, a blog tur [...]

A Visit From Saint Click & Landing Pages In 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas The holidays are a wonderful time for conversion optimization, especially for e-commerce. I hear that even Santa is willing to accept third-party cookies, if they're offered with milk. So in the spirit of the season, I thought I'd begin this column by sharing with you an adapted poem I first started playing with a few years ago, 'Twas the Moment of Click-Through (also known as A Visit from Saint Click). My apologies to the original classic. [caption id="attachment_102285" align="aligncenter" width="382" caption="Image from Wikimedia Commons: Cover of "Twas the Night Before Christ [...]

5 Tips To Improve Conversions For B2B Sites

As many B2B marketers have learned the hard way, the traditional methods of marketing to consumers are simply not effective in the business arena. The following 5 tips are proven, easy to implement landing page tactics that will help you generate more leads and improve lead quality. 1. Implement Clean, Clear Landing Pages The design of your website, microsite or landing page is critical to B2B search marketing success. Through extensive testing, I’ve learned that Web design that is often considered boring, uninteresting, or stale from a consumer perspective may perform quite well when targ [...]

8 Ways Landing Pages Are Like A TV Sitcom

Dan Harmon is the creator of the quirky quirky TV show Community (NBC). Harmon uses a unique circular device he calls an "Embryo" that defines the story arc of every show he writes. It maps the "hero's journey" of the primary character through his or her 22 minute sitcom quest. It ensures that each episode of his show has all of the elements needed to be successful. The journey of his characters are like the journey searchers will take after they click on your search ad or organic listing. Use this simple tool to ensure that your  landing pages have all of the elements of success. [...]

Rethinking The Marketing Technology Gap To Improve Performance

Last week, I heard Seth Godin speak to a group of agency executives about the future of marketing technology. Of course, if you follow Seth's blog, you know that he almost never talks about technology per se. But he does talk a lot about customer behavior, organizational behavior and how technology is disrupting the old patterns of those behaviors and enabling new ones. "Destroying the perfect to enable the impossible" is how he characterized it. He bluntly told the audience that ad agencies are on the verge of destruction. The old model of buying mass media to sell mass market products is [...]

5 Quick Tips To Increase Your Online Sales During This Holiday Season

The holiday spirit has kickstarted already. Agreed that there are still two months to go until Christmas, but the winter chill and the endless discussions about oncoming holidays are starting to grow. The holiday season also means you need to perform a job loved (or hated, depending on which side of fence you reside) by many: researching and purchasing gifts. In earlier days, options for gifts were limited to 10 or 20 odd items available at your next-door mom-and-pop shop. But these days, thanks to the hyper-connected world, you can find most exotic gifts online: from instant underpants [...]

Why Search Marketing Silos Are Conversion Killers

[caption id="attachment_97297" align="alignright" width="205" caption="Courtesy bitzcelt via Flickr"][/caption] The conversion rate for your site is the number of conversions divided by visitors. Quality traffic is half of the equation (the bottom half). No matter how well optimized a site is, if the traffic isn’t qualified, conversion rates will falter. I recently commented to Chris Robino* of that companies rarely get our conversion optimization team and search marketing team together. I thought this odd. This hit a nerve with Chris. So I asked him to outline the [...]

The Art Of Seductive Landing Pages

Seductive Landing Page Example People don't just want to be educated about what you offer. They want to be seduced. Yes, seduced. Being seduced is an exhilarating experience. (If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it.) Yes, we want to be educated and make rational decisions that optimize our goals. But we also yearn to be romanced, enchanted, in love. We seek brains and beauty. Is that an unrealistic paradox? It doesn't have to be. First, recognize that seduction is not synonymous with deception. Being seduced is fun. Being deceived is not. It's unfortunate that shady advertisers have conflated the two [...]

Stupid Short URL Tricks: Content Swapping, QR Codes, Mobile Microsites & More

[caption id="attachment_92872" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Short URLs keep old links from "going bad.""][/caption] How many links are there still floating around the Internet pointing to old, outdated content? How many links are now returning 404 errors because the content has disappeared altogether? What can you do with your webinar registration links once the webinar is over? The obvious answer is to change where the links point. While this can sometimes be done with redirects, we often don't control the servers where our content lives. Short URLs provide an an [...]

3 Approaches To Scaling Conversion Optimization

Two powerful forces are crashing into each other in digital marketing — and conversion optimization is right in the middle. First: an ever-expanding explosion of digital touchpoints. Second: a wave of marketing technologies to address the challenges of scaling across those touchpoints. There's more than one approach to scaling conversion optimization in this environment, and they're not mutually exclusive. We'll examine three. The Explosion Of Digital Touchpoints The primary reason for this explosion of touchpoints is the continued migration of advertising dollars into online channels. [...]

4 Areas To A/B Test For E-Commerce Websites

Out of all websites found on the Internet, online retail stores have the most potential for improvement through A/B testing. Amazon, Ebay and Etsy are just few examples of e-commerce websites that do a ton of A/B testing. The potential for A/B testing is enormous because of the sheer number of variables that these stores can experiment with: search results, product categories, pricing, product images, ratings, etc. Another reason why A/B testing is so important for e-commerce websites is because their conversion goal is not some indirect metric such as leads or downloads but a direct sale. [...]

Identifying Images That Don’t Convert: The Caption Test

In my column on the Landing Page Battles of the Flat Fore Headed, I deride stock photography as the result of lazy designers. I was asked on LinkedIn by a reader if all stock photography was bad. Obviously, the answer is "No." So how do you determine what images are going to be effective and which are not? Which images are going to reduce the conversion rates of your landing pages and which will help instill confidence in the visitor to take action? Unfortunately, I am not a photographer or graphic artist, so I really can't critique images on their intrinsic value. However, I have a litt [...]

Conversion Optimization In The New Marketing Landscape

Marketing Technology Landscape Maybe I'm biased, but I see conversion optimization as the epitome of the new marketing: an agile blend of analytical experimentation, creative content, engaging user experiences, and performance metrics. Those principles are applicable in almost every corner of the marketing department these days. With that in mind, I'd like to share with you two "big picture" stories about the evolution of marketing that reveal just how valuable a conversion optimization worldview has become. The Marketing Technology Landscape First, there's the marketing technology infographic that I published on my b [...]

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