Monday, July 29, 2013

Using Conversion Optimization to increase prices

Conversion optimization is generally about reducing the anxiety a website visitor might have about making a purchase or contacting you.  The entire process is geared toward reducing friction.  Just like water, most people follow the easy path, the path of least resistance.

There's only one problem with this.  Anyone who has ever done in-person sales, will tell you, if a buyer immediately pulls out a checkbook and closes the deal, you've left money on the table.  

Google recently experienced this issue when they sold their $35 Chromecast dongle with a $24 Netflix coupon.  Google sold so many dongles the first day, they had to cancel this deal.  They could have continued, but they would be hurting both their and Netflix's business.

You want the decision to purchase to be easy, but you don't want to hurt your business by selling.  There is such a thing as good resistance:  Purchasing friction that increase the quality of your sales.  

If your prices are too low, conversion optimization can be used to test and succeed with higher price points.  You don't do this by just picking 3 random prices and seeing which one sells the most.  No.  You need to choose your price based on your business.  Come up with the right price that will help your business succeed and scale.  

Many companies are scared to increase prices because they know it will invariably mean less business.  When raising prices, you can use conversion optimization to maintain or increase your flow of business.  You can test different ways to reduce the added anxiety from higher prices.

Coupons, liberal return policies, testimonials, case studies, and social proof are just a few examples of ways to reduce anxiety and increase confidence.  Conversion optimization will help you discover the best way to give your visitors more confidence in their purchase.

If your pricing is too low, too much business can actually sink you.  Using conversion optimization to increase both sales and price will let your business continue to grow long into the future.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Weeding out bad conversions

Everyone gets bad conversions.  Customers who are hard to deal with, complain about your product, or demand a refund.  These customers end up costing you more money than they're worth.

Wouldn't it be great if you could weed out those visitors before they ever became customers?

Not only can you, but you should.  These customers could be drowning your business.

The key to being able to weed out bad conversions is the same as increasing your good conversions.  The same way you create a profiles of your ideal customers, you need to create a profile of the person you are trying to weed out.

Ultimately, the goal isn't to try to piss this person off and give them a hard stop (like putting a cookie on their computer that redirects them to Google every time they try to come to your website.)  You want to politely let them know they are in the wrong place and would be better served somewhere else.  

Progressive does an amazing job of this.  

Insurance companies make more money when they never have to pay out a policy.  So naturally, the best drivers are more profitable.  Progressive doesn't want to be competitive for bad drivers.  In fact, they would rather you choose one of their competitors.

By very clearly stating when they don't have the best price, they are politely saying, "You're in the wrong place.  Please leave."

This little comparison tool actually serves 2 purposes.  It weeds out bad conversions AND it's a marketing tool.  They can advertise that they care more about getting you the best deal than they do winning your business while only attracting their ideal customers.

Conversion optimization isn't just for increasing the number of conversions you get, it's also about increasing the quality of those conversions.

How can you weed out bad conversions?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Best way to double your business

It is a common goal for sales teams to want to double their sales.  They constantly look for ways to talk to twice as many people, or close twice as many calls.

For business owners and team leads, this is a worthy endeavor.  If successful, the company would double in size.  But, sadly for most companies, sales teams are rarely successful at doubling their sales.

Marketers always try to reach and attract twice as many people.  But advertising to twice as many people generally means spending twice as much.

The single best way I've seen to double the size of a business is conversion optimization.  

If you need more leads, you can tune your traffic sources to send better qualified visitors, and test changes to your site that get more of those visitors to become customers.

If your leads don't end up buying, you can test changing your site so that they know your sales process up front, before they contact you.  

If your leads are hard to sell, you can test segmenting your visitors to soften or weed out leads with a specific profile.

Most companies who have never worked on conversion optimization have a conversion rate of less than 2%.  Doubling that number so 3 or 4% of your visitors purchase or become leads is relatively easy.  

Even if you already have a great conversion rate of 10%.  That means only 1 in 10 visitors ever purchases from you.  Convincing 1 more person that they have found the right place is all about how you present your product.

Conversion optimization gives you a framework to generate new ways of presenting your product and test them to see what works best.

Could conversion optimization double your business?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Content Marketing Planning

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your content is to not have a plan.  If you produce content of any sort: blogs, white papers, ebooks, or even just the pages of your website, you need a plan.

Your plan doesn't have to be a super complicated Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint flow chart.  It just has to answer a few simple questions.

  1. What is the purpose of your content?
  2. What method(s) will you use to achieve your goals?
  3. How will you measure success?

The purpose of your content is the most important.  Are you trying to get more business? or are you just writing for fun?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what role did your content play along the way?  

Most companies say something like, "The purpose is to establish ourselves as the experts."  That's great, but why do you need to be an expert?  Is it to get more business? get a book deal? or something else?  9 times out of 10, it's to get more business. 

There is more than one way to skin a cat... that's sort of a gruesome way to think about your options.  But what if we think about catching a [stray] cat (instead of skinning one). 

  • You can set out food and water and feed it until you have gained enough trust that it will let you pick it up.
  • You can set out a humane trap that will trap it in a nice carrier for you.

The first one is how most content marketing campaigns are designed.  You essentially create a content channel that appeals to your target audience.  This gives you a personal stream of "potential" clients that you can advertise to.  Assuming you provide useful information and advertise appropriately, you will gain enough trust to pick up some new clients.  It is important to realize that this is not a quick process.

The second method is focused around increasing conversions.  Rather than blogging about everything related to your industry, you focus in on the key parts where you are the best.  This leads readers to not only see you as a trustworthy source of information, but also as the best solution.  This method draws a line in the sand to separate those who might be interested in buying and those who just came for the free cookies.  

I understand the urge to blog about everything, and everyone is different, but I tend to advise companies to create public content that focuses on conversions.  If you still feel the need to publish your vast industry knowledge, you can do so as a newsletter or private blog that is only available to your clients and inner circle. 

That last thing you need to know up front is, how will you know if you are succeeding or just wasting time?  Depending on your purpose and the method you use, your measure of success will be different.  Ultimately, most content is aimed at increasing sales.  If you can't attribute a growth in your bottom line to your content strategy, chances are you missed something important.

Does your content marketing produce results?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The problem with home pages

Most companies view their home page as a veritable table of contents.  A way to show off everything they do and give visitors access to all of it.  Unfortunately for visitors, this approach lacks focus.  

I'm not saying that you shouldn't make a menu page, a page that acts as a portal to all the various parts of your website (what most people use as their home page), but rather you should pick the 1 thing that matters most to your business and let your visitors start there.

I see lots of agency websites that have huge lists of all the services they can provide.  This isn't inherently bad, but it's akin to a one-man-band calling himself the accordion-symbols-drum-horn-trumpet-flute-harmonica-whistle guy: the concept of a one-man-band gets confused and lost.

If you do provide a large list of services, try using your homepage to convey the [singular] concept of being a solution provider.  There is no need to link to all of the various solutions you provide.  If you can sell your visitors on the idea that you are their solution provider, vetting your services is just procedural.  

On the other hand, if you don't do a bunch of things, don't feel like you need links to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or about pages to try to flush out your home page.  Having a clear focus is a good thing.  It draws a line through your audience to weed out the disinterested.  Everything else just adds confusion to your concept.