Tag Archive for: cro

Planning a website update on a white board.

A Complete Guide to Improve Ecommerce CRO

Planning a website update on a white board.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new links and examples for you to use! 

Despite the importance of eCommerce conversion rate optimization, in our experience, the tactic can get overlooked. Simply put, eCommerce CRO is a tactic that can make tremendous improvements to your bottom line, without acquiring additional traffic than what you’re bringing in today. An improvement in eCommerce CRO from 1.5% to 2% could lead to a 33% increase in sales – all without adding additional traffic.  

When you sell services, products, or platforms online one of the most important metrics is your eCommerce conversion rate. It tells you what percentage of your site visitors are converting to customers. 

As an eCommerce growth agency, when we onboard a new partner, eCommerce conversion rate is one of the first tactics we want to tackle head-on when working with a new partner. 

Whether you’re a subscription-based business converting Free Trial Users to Paid Subscribers, a brand selling your product online, or a SaaS platform looking to grow – we undoubtedly will look at your eCommerce conversion rate

The reason: you don’t need to increase your ad spend to convert more. You just need to know how to optimize your conversion rate. 

At Tuff, a tactic called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is at the heart of everything we do. From constantly testing paid ad campaigns across the internet to figuring out why more leads aren’t turning into customers, CRO is at the forefront of our learning and results.

What is eCommerce CRO? 

Ecommerce CRO is the process of making continual changes to your ecommerce website to improve the rate of users visited to the number of purchasers (ecommerce conversion rate). The easiest way to track ecommerce conversion rate is to divide the number of purchasers by the number of total site visitors. 

The simple formula of (purchasers) / (site visitors) = ecommerce conversion rate is the north star for all ecommerce CRO efforts. 

Whether it’s making stylistic changes to your product pages to cut down scroll rate, adding an exit intent pop-up to convince users to make a purchase, or improving the visibility of reviews on your site to influence potential customers into making a purchase, ecommerce CRO is an ongoing process with the intent of making continual improvements.

eCommerce Conversion Rate Optimization

For eCommerce businesses we typically look at the eCommerce Conversion Rate to tell us how traffic is interacting and converting through the eCommerce sales funnel.  

When our eCommerce clients at Tuff ask us how they can grow their online business without increasing their budget, we usually take a deep dive into what’s driving their eCommerce conversion rate

For starters, take a look at the table below showing how much you can increase revenue when the only metric that is increased is eCommerce Conversion Rate.

Full Month Target
Visitors 36,681 36,681
eCommerce CVR
0.19%
0.5%
Transactions 95 200
Average Order Value $1,143.96 $1,143.96
Revenue $108,676.05 $228,792

In the above example, our client can increase revenue by 110% by simply optimizing their conversion rate from 0.19% to 0.5% (a 163% increase). 

That’s a $120,115.95 revenue increase from pure optimization – no additional resources or ad spend needed!

How to Tackle Ecommerce Conversion Rate Optimization with 72 Hour Sprints 

A computer measuring ecommerce conversion rate.

To increase your conversion rate you will need to learn what factors contribute to your existing CVR.  

At Tuff, an analysis we might use to learn more about your current CVR is to find out what percentage of your website visitors are getting to your checkout conversion funnel, which traditionally has three stages:

  1. Added to Cart
  2. Initiated Checkout 
  3. Purchased

By analyzing your checkout funnel, we can use our analysis to make a series of hypotheses about what is preventing a higher conversion rate – we then use those hypotheses as frameworks for our tests. Maybe there are frictions in your checkout process that stops visitors from purchasing or maybe it can be increased with a different type of product or service page or completely different user journey. 

Let’s pretend this is your checkout funnel for a month’s worth of visitors.

Visitors % of Total Visitors
Added To Cart 544 2.25%
Initiated Checkout 492 2.03%
Purchased 409 1.69%

Based on this data, we know that a low percentage of total website traffic ends up adding a product to their cart, which will effectively produce a low number of conversions. 

In addition, the amount of visitors decreases by 10% between Added To Cart and Initiated Checkout stages in the funnel. Between Initiated Checkout and Purchase, the decrease is 20%. 

Therefore, hypothetically a solution for us to increase the conversion rate with the above metrics is to increase the initiated checkout percentage.  

Now that we have our hypothesis, we must find a way to test it. 

Developing a Test 

 

Our hypothesis is – if we increase the number of visitors adding to cart then we will increase the conversion rate. 

A simple way to find out if this is true is to run a test that gets more people adding to cart by providing users with a discount code in exchange for information that is valuable to you. 

For many eCommerce websites, a piece of information that is extremely valuable is an email address. 

To find out if our hypothesis is correct, a lean and easy to implement 72 hour CRO Sprint test would be to ask for an email address (or other desired action) in exchange for an offer code. 

This type of test’s results are easy to track because you can see how often the promo code is used through your eCommerce platform. Removing this test is also easy should you find that it’s not working or is causing more problems than it’s solving in your customer checkout funnel.

Implement The Test

A team of marketers sitting at a table with computers.

To implement, the test needs to contain a time-sensitive offer, which will increase the likelihood that the offer is used at a faster pace than one that is not time-sensitive. 

Here are two examples of time-sensitive offers:

  • 15% off your purchase when you order in the next 10 minutes. 
  • Limited Time Offer: Free 2 Day Shipping Today

Create the pop-up through your email service provider (ESP) so that it is triggered when a visitor has been on a specific product page for more than 50% of the average page session duration.

If your average product page session duration is 30 seconds then the offer should open at 15 seconds. 

Do not set it to trigger when someone lands on the homepage. You want the visitor to be more qualified than a unique visitor. 

The offer should contain an email signup field and clear copy that compels the potential customer to use the offer within a specific amount of time. 

Best Practices

Be advised that a best practice for this is to provide the promo code to the customer on the form after they provide their email address and click submit. You can provide it in a separate email as well, but you want to make it as easy as possible for the customer to get the code and continue on their customer journey. 

Once you have the test launched, then set it to run live for 72 hours, but don’t just forget about it. 

Monitoring

Data to measure your ecommerce conversion rate.

You’ll need to closely monitor it. You must make sure that the test is either perpetuating your average conversion rate or increasing it. If it decreases your conversion rate then you will want to abandon the test and return the variables back to their original flow. 

Once your split test is complete then you can take your learnings and create a new test to run. Remember, you only want to run one test at a time or else you risk changing too many variables at a time and not being able to point to what works. Realistically, you don’t want to run more than 2 tests per week. 

Ecommerce CRO Test Examples

Here is a list of 7 more ecommerce CRO tests you can do to increase the percentage of visitors converting to customers:

Landing or Product Page Offer

If you’re using Shopify, an easy way to test pricing as to how it affects ecommerce conversion rate is to add a “compare at” price field and show that the product is “on-sale”, even if it truly isn’t. Doing this periodically will help you guage your pricing and how your audience responds to deals. 

Navigation Header Menu Organization 

Test changes in your navigation by prioritizing your top selling products and categories. Or, alternatively, push seasonal products by prioritizing them in the navigation structure as well. 

Homepage copy change

Using Google Optimize, you can test updated homepage content to see which copy variations speaks best to your target audience. Test, analyze, rinse, repeat. 

Homepage creative change 

Like a homepage copy change, you can test updated creative assets (images, featured products, etc.) to see what imagery works best for your site visitors. Is it product photos? Is it use-case photos? Does your audience want to see reviews above the fold? Test it! 

Increase Site Speed 

Site speed is directly correlated to conversion rate. If you have beautiful product photos on your site, make sure they are sized properly. A good CRO strategy will make sure the technical elements to the site are in good-standing. 

Exit Intent Offer Popup 

One quick test to implement for your ecommerce CRO efforts is to put an exit intent popup on your site with an offer to persuade users who may be on the fence. Even a small discount such as 10% off has been shown to improve ecommerce CVR. 

Referral Widget  

Have an engaged customer base on your site? Encourage them to share the good word! Many programs such as a “Give 10%, get 10%” encourages existing customers to share referral links to friends and family so they get a reward as well.

Ecommerce CRO can lead to big wins

If you’re curious to learn more about our ecommerce CRO process, or want to chat about your CRO potential, let’s talk!

How UX and SEO Can Work Together to Increase Organic Traffic

You can have a website that is 100% optimized for search engine ranking, but what if that comes at the expense of your site’s user experience? Well, you could actually be holding yourself back from ranking for your target keywords.

Tuff’s SEO team works with our UX designers to publish SEO-friendly landing pages with great user experiences. This collaboration has boosted our SEO team’s results for Tuff’s clients. So what is the link between user-experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO)?

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves making it easier for people to find your business online. You can achieve this by making changes to your website to make it easier for search engines to understand your content. You’ll also need to upload new pages and content to your site to answer people’s questions. And finally, drive traffic back to your site through links and mentions from other sites.

What is UX?

User-experience (UX is how people interact with and experience a product, website or software tool. For websites, it encompasses how users navigate the site, how quickly they find what they’re looking for, and how intuitive the design is on the page.

Is SEO a part of UX?

SEO focuses on aligning your content with the questions people are searching for on Google. After someone clicks on your webpage in the search results, it’s important to make it easy for them to find the answers to their questions. Having a good UX design for your landing pages and blog posts will make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

There is no reason why you can’t optimize your site from a UX and SEO perspective at the same time. In fact, working to align your SEO and UX efforts can actually boost your results in both areas.

Your SEO efforts will drive traffic to your site, while UX will make sure the information on your site is easy to find.

SEO content that is written only for search engines will be hard to read and not very useful. A website that isn’t designed for PEOPLE will be difficult to navigate and understand.

Why is UX Important for SEO?

UX and SEO Are Both About Making Your Users Happy 😃

The goal of SEO is to bring users to your site to give them the information they are searching for. The goal of UX is to make it easy to navigate the page on your site to find that information. One important aspect of SEO is looking at user-intent and aligning your content with that desire or motivation. Improving the UX design on a page can help meet that user intent faster.

Making your website search engine-friendly is key for driving organic traffic. However, if you want to maximize the impact and reach of your content, user-experience is just as important.

UX Makes Your Website Sticky

A good user-experience will keep people on your website for longer. This can encourage them to visit more pages on your website and can even make the call-to-actions on your site more enticing. 

Optimizing your site’s user experience can make it easier for your visitors to navigate to other pages on your site that interest them. This helps increase the time that visitors spend engaging with your content.

Good User Experience is a Ranking Signal for Google

Google says that “when ranking results, Google Search evaluates whether webpages are easy to use and promotes more usable pages over less usable ones, all other things being equal.”

Google’s RankBrain algorithm looks at “behavior metrics such as the site’s bounce rate, organic CTR, pages per session, and dwell time.” In addition to looking at the quality and structure of your website, it’s also important to look at your site’s user-experience to give your content the best chance of ranking in Google Search.

UX Impacts How People Perceive Your Brand

Your website’s user experience (UX) is partly driven by search engine optimization (SEO). The two work together in the sense that both affect how users perceive your site.

The most prominent component of your website’s UX is, of course, your content. If you want to write SEO-friendly content, you need to make sure that your writing is structured well and easy to understand. If people view your site as a trustworthy source of information they will be more likely to return to your site, or do business with you.

On the other hand, if you write content that reads like it was written for search engines, your users will find it difficult to read and not very useful. This could turn them away from your site and lead to them doing business somewhere else.

UX Helps Improve Your Conversion Rate

While SEO focuses on bringing users to your site, UX focuses on how to best keep those users on your site and how to increase the conversions you get from that traffic. By placing CTAs throughout your pages and by making your site easier to navigate, UX designers can play a key role in conversion rate optimization.

6 Steps to Improve Your Site’s UX and SEO

  • Make your site responsive: This improves user experiences for visitors on mobile devices like phones and tablets. Google predominantly uses mobile versions of content for indexing and ranking, even if your visitors are exclusively on desktop.
  • Break up your content: Use headers, bulleted lists, and graphics to break your content into smaller, easier to read pieces. Avoid large chunks of text, which can cause users to look for the answers to their questions elsewhere. This will keep visitors on your site longer, which can be a strong signal for Google that your content is valuable.
  • Improve your site speed and page load times: When your site loads quickly, visitors won’t have to wait around for your content to load. This allows them to jump right into your content rather than potentially clicking the back button.
  • Make your site easy to navigate: Once users land on your site, it should be easy for them to navigate through your content to find what they are looking for. If you have other pages that they might also be interested in, you should make it easy for them to find those pages as well.
  • Minimize your bounce rate: A high bounce rate indicates that users can’t quickly find the information they are looking for, or they are running into another issue that is causing them to leave your site immediately after arriving. Improving your pages’ UX can help decrease your bounce rate.
  • Improve your site’s hierarchy: By organizing your pages on your site in an intuitive way, you make it easier for users to navigate through your site. The navigation on your site guides users from one page to another, so making this as intuitive as possible will improve user experiences.

Do UX Designers Need to Know SEO?

Not necessarily, but it’s certainly a valuable skill for anyone to have when making changes to your website. If the UX designer isn’t knowledgeable of SEO principles, they can still work alongside an SEO specialist to make sure that their changes are having the intended impact on your site, and that your site is search engine-friendly.

What are Best Practices for UX and SEO?

A strong user experience and search engine optimization are two of the most important aspects of managing a website.

Users and search engines alike benefit from the following practices: 

  • Make your content easier to digest by breaking it down into smaller sections
  • Use bullet points and numbered lists
  • Use more images and illustrations to communicate your message
  • Write content that aligns with your users’ intent
  • Test your pages on different devices (desktop and mobile) and different browsers
  • Minimize your CSS and JavaScript
  • Make your site load quickly
  • Publish content that is user-centered and easy to read

Integrate Your UX and SEO Practices

Rather than publishing SEO landing pages on your site and then trying to go back through them and optimize them from a UX perspective, you should try to implement UX best practices at all stages of the development process.

If your UX and SEO teams can collaborate and exchange constant feedback, you’ll end up with a much better end product.

Conduct a UX/SEO Audit to Find Opportunities to Improve Your User Metrics

  • Look at time-on-site metrics like average session duration or bounce rate. Pages on your site with a low average session duration or high bounce rate, could likely benefit from a UX redesign or content update.
  • Monitor your site for broken links or slow loading pages. Slow loading pages and broken links are frustrating for the people visiting your site. Redirect or replace your broken links and speed up your page load times to improve your user experience.
  • Check for pages with low conversion rates. If certain pages on your site are getting a lot of traffic but aren’t driving conversions, you may need to adjust the CTAs on the page to make them more relevant.

Here’s how our SEO and UX teams go about developing new content for our clients:

  • We identify a need for a certain page on the website. This typically comes from keyword research, if we notice that a relevant term for their business has a high search volume or is especially valuable for our client.
  • Our SEO team creates an outline for the page and works with our writers to source the copy. The outline is where we determine the direction and the structure of the page. We then make sure that the copy is clearly written and aligns with our target keyword and search intent.
  • The SEO team formats the brief and hands it off to our UX team. When providing our UX designers with the copy for a landing page, our SEO team formats it in a way that makes it easy to understand the structure of the page, and the important sections that need to be included.
  • The UX designers create mock-ups of the new landing page. Our UX team creates wireframes and mockups in tools like Figma or Adobe XD, for the client to approve. This step makes sure that the new pages are optimized from a UX and CRO perspective.
  • We present the designs and walk the client through the mockups. After putting together the mockups, we share them with our clients to walk them through the new content and give them a chance to provide any feedback.
  • Then, we hand off the mockups to the developer to implement and push live. Once we’ve received approval, we give the mockups to the developer to implement on the site.
  • The last step is to make sure the page was implemented properly and optimized. We make sure the focus keyword, meta description and other SEO data are set correctly and that the page doesn’t have any bugs or broken links.

How We’ve Combined UX and SEO for Tuff’s Clients

For new landing pages on our clients’ websites, our SEO team works closely with our UX team to produce landing pages that are optimized from both an SEO and UX perspective.

Landing Page for Visory’s Bookkeeping Service

Tuff worked with Visory, an online bookkeeping service, to create landing pages around bookkeeping for specific industries. Our SEO and UX teams collaborated to create pages that were optimized both for ranking on Google and for providing great user experiences.

Homepage example for Visory

This landing page, for example, is targeting keywords related to “bookkeeping for eCommerce”. We looked at the top ranking pages for our target keyword and identified what we needed to include on our page to match the search intent for our target keyword.

Our UX team also considered how we could make this page intuitive to navigate and easy to read. We also looked at how we could make the calls to action (CTAs) more enticing for users to click on, to optimize the page’s conversion rate.

Footer Navigation for Salams

Tuff worked with Salams, a Muslim dating app, to increase organic traffic to their website and to drive organic app installs. We were able to increase organic traffic by 117% in 90 days by publishing new content on their site and making technical SEO optimizations.

Beyond just publishing this new content, we also redesigned the footer on the Salams website to improve both SEO and UX.

Salams footer example

As we started publishing new landing pages, we noticed that many of these new pages were “orphan pages” and weren’t linked to from other pages on the site. Our solution was to add these new pages to the footer so that they would be linked to from every page on the site. This helps show Google that this content is important and is worthy of ranking.

This also helped improve the UX on the Salam’s site. By having these pages linked in the footer, users can easily navigate to other pages that they might be interested in on the site. This helps keep people browsing on the site rather than clicking the back button and looking for more information elsewhere.

writing copy for a landing page

How To Write Landing Pages That Turn Traffic Into Paying Customers

writing copy for a landing page

When working with a growth marketing agency like Tuff, you can expect that we’ll tackle all kinds of growth marketing strategies, from CRO and SEO to Social Media Ads and PPC.

But none of those strategies can happen without the help of the simple landing page!

Whether it’s using one to collect email addresses, encourage downloads, make an order, or set up a demo, landing pages are an essential building block to every marketing funnel.

And while there is no perfect formula to writing landing page copy that converts, I’m going to share some of the key elements required to write landing page copy that will make your Stripe account sing. 

Let’s dive in!

1. Know your audience.

It’s one of the basic tenets of marketing: know your audience. 

But instead of talking about whether or not your target demographic is a mom between the ages of 35-40, with a preference for lattes, bulldog videos on TikTok, and drives a minivan, I want to talk about understanding what’s going on in her mind—specifically, her stage of awareness.

Touted by the copywriting great, Eugene Schwartz, your prospect’s stage of awareness refers to how much they know about a problem they’re experiencing, what options they have to solve it, and why your product is the one they should pick. 

The 5 Stages of Awareness are:

  • Most Aware: At this stage, your prospect already knows everything about your product and is 100% ready to convert. They just need to be told where to punch in their credit card number so that they can buy.
  • Product-Aware: At this stage, your prospect has a clear idea of what you sell, but hasn’t decided to go for it. They’re on the fence and need a bit more information to help them over the line.
  • Solution-Aware: When your prospect is solution aware, they know what kind of result they want, but have NO CLUE that your product can help them achieve it. 
  • Problem-Aware: When your prospect is problem aware, they understand that they have a big problem, but they have no idea how to solve it or that a solution might exist.
  • Completely Unaware: At this point, your prospect has no idea who you are, what you sell, or that there’s even a problem that they should worry about.

So when it comes to writing landing page copy that converts, take time to consider what stage of awareness your prospect is in when they land on your page. 

What do they already know? 

What do they need to know in order to make an informed decision? 

What are their hesitations about buying and how can you speak to them directly?

The more you can understand the stage of awareness your prospect is in—by asking questions like the ones above—the higher your chances of hitting the conversion rates you’re looking for. 

2. Limit your requests

The internet (and life!) can be full of distractions. Going back to our bulldog-watching, latte-loving mom from earlier, let’s say that you sell a jitter-free coffee alternative and want to create a landing page that will drive her to opt-in and request a free sample. 

If you use your landing page as an opportunity to also barrage her with “download this free report on the negatives of coffee” or “sign up here for a 10% off coupon” or  “learn more about our company” or “check out our latest arrivals,” you run the risk of:

1. Overwhelming her into INaction 

…and…

2. Could drive her away from your landing page altogether—distracting her from doing the original action you hoped for.

If you were to thumb through a stack of high converting landing pages, you’d see that most stay very focused.  Because trying to do otherwise will leave you with an overwhelmed prospect and a conversion rate that falls flat.

Which leads me to…

3. Make your Calls to Action (CTAs) strong & clear

You’ve experienced it before. You see an ad while scrolling through Facebook and you click through to its landing page. Except, as you start to read down the page, you can’t figure out how to order because they’ve buried the “Buy Now” button and their messaging is more clever than clear. So what do you do? You leave.

The reality is, confused people don’t buy. 

In order to write landing page copy that converts, you’ve got to make it crystal-clear what you want your prospect to do. You can’t expect them to just know, so feel free to spell it out for them in detail. 

Consider your own CTAs. How can you make them more specific? How can you make the path from point A to point B, even more clear?  

Pulling it all together

The secret to writing landing page copy that converts is that it helps lessen friction and uncertainty in your prospects. By joining the conversation already taking place in their mind, you can create a solid bond and increase that know, like, and trust factor that’s an essential part of conversion.

Then, drop in a clear and strong CTA and get ready—it won’t take long before your pipeline is flushed with paying customers.

mapping user flows for landing pages and paid ads

How (and why) You Should Optimize Landing Page Copy For Each Target Audience

mapping user flows for landing pages and paid ads

When we think about developing 1:1 messaging for our targeting audiences, our brains immediately think: ad creative. Making sure that the image, caption and headline speak directly to the audience you’re targeting is critical to our success as a growth marketing agency, for sure. But it’s equally as important to think about the landing page experience, too. 

CRO is a big, broad (and kinda vague) marketing term we like to throw around a lot. We could write about CRO strategies, best practices, and what’s been successful for our partners for days. For the purpose of this blog, we’re focusing on developing landing pages for paid campaigns that use value props and messaging specific to different target audiences to improve the user experience.

Optimize existing landing pages with small copy tweaks

The targeting options are almost endless on paid social, and there’s so many different combinations of interests and behaviors that could indicate a user fits in your audience persona. Oftentimes, we’ll find ourselves running several prospecting audiences at once, all applicable to our target audience persona, but potentially different in the actual ad channel.

Take this example from one of our partners, Sharetown. Their target audience is anyone living in a suburban area, with an entrepreneurial spirit, that’s looking for a side hustle. They’re probably married, have a family, and between the ages of 25-40. There are SO MANY different ways of targeting that group of people on Facebook – and we’ll test several ad sets to see which targeting combo is most efficient. 

building facebook audiences in ads manager

 

The Dave Ramsey interest audience has always been a top performing audience for us – a personal finance guru of sorts who teaches his followers how to get out of debt and build their personal wealth. When the conversion rate to our original landing page started to dip, we built out a new version of our main paid social landing page that uses terminology the Dave Ramsey audience is familiar with.

landing page example for social ads

 

This simple copy tweak in the hero zone of our landing page increased our conversions 38% the first month we implemented it. 

From a strategic perspective, we didn’t start out with custom landing pages for each and every interest audience on Facebook. We instead focused on testing new landing pages for all of our audiences to find pockets of success. After we ran campaigns to our top performing paid landing page for a bit, scaled budget, THEN saw our CVRs dipping, we refreshed the landing page we drove our top performing prospecting audience to with copy that was most  relevant to them.

Build custom landing pages based on each audience persona’s pain points

If the targeting options are there, and you’re able to clearly segment your campaign structure with two to three audience personas, there’s nothing wrong with building out ad experiences that are custom to each of their pain points. 

The key to being successful with this approach: ensuring that your audience in the ad channel is specific enough to resonate with more individualized messaging, but not compromising your audience size with targeting that’s too narrow. 

Take our partners over at Multiverse for example. Our Tuff team helped build awareness around their software engineering apprenticeship program in the U.S. Multiverse has two different B2B audiences for this program, and we were able to target narrowly enough to prevent overlap between the two main personas, while making sure our audiences were a decent size.

After researching the audience targeting capabilities on LinkedIn, we decided to create custom ad journeys and landing page experiences for each persona. Why? Because they experience very different pain points, and our value props were stronger when we could use 1:1 messaging for each audience. 

mapping landing page to paid ads  ppc landing page

paid search landing page optimization  paid search landing page design

The copy is close, and maps back to a similar value prop, but articulates the problem in a way that’s customized to each audience. We’re only able to speak directly to each audience persona in this way because the targeting options work in our favor on LinkedIn. 

Paid search and how your landing page experience is critical to success

Quality score, costs on Google, and the landing page you’re driving traffic to all go hand-in-hand. One of the simplest ways to optimize your Google ads campaigns is to make sure that the keyword you’re targeting and your ad copy make it onto your landing page. 

Wizardry does exist where you could dynamically insert keywords into your landing page. You’re able to see strong results with this approach, for sure. Like any dynamic keyword insertion tactic, you do run the risk of things getting a little weird. 

Here at Tuff, our PPC team organizes similar keywords into the same ad group on Google. This structure allows our team to create landing pages that are specific to certain keyword phrases. 

MyWellbeing is an excellent example of this. MyWellbeing is an online therapy platform that matches therapy seekers with therapists that are right for them. One of the things that makes MyWellbeing unique is their matching process – where individuals can select things that are important to them in a therapist. MyWellbeing is particularly successful among the LGBTQIA+ community in New York, because it’s hard to find LGBTQIA+ therapists that can truly relate with what the therapy seeker is going through. 

We saw that keyword phrases like “lgbtq therapist in nyc” is a top performing keyword for us in terms of clicks and volume, but didn’t stand out in terms of conversion rate. To optimize the landing page experience and improve our overall quality score on Google ads, we incorporated those search terms into the hero zone of that landing page.

landing page for specific keyword

This landing page tweak led to a 25% conversion rate for our paid search campaigns.

Landing pages for paid campaigns can always be tested and improved upon. It’s so easy to focus on your ad creative and targeting, but the reality is that your landing page experience has a stronger impact on your paid performance than almost any other campaign element. 

There are so many ways to approach a landing page test. The next time you start brainstorming ways to improve your campaign, try a 1:1 messaging approach, and let us know how it goes! 

A laptop, cordless mouse, yellow glass, pen, and camera on a wooden table.

Boosting Conversion Rate for AKKO: Social Ad Strategy + Creative + Web Design

A laptop, cordless mouse, yellow glass, pen, and camera on a wooden table.

The ability to combine strong social ad strategy with high quality ad creative and landing page optimization has been one of my biggest strategic wins of 2021 as a Growth Marketer at Tuff.

Turns out, it’s also one of the best ways to drive the strongest traffic to a page to convert an action. 

The reason the results are so strong has to do with control. When we can control what the traffic views in our ads, how they enter and the experience they have when they get to the landing page, we’re able to control all aspects of the customer journey and build a seamless funnel to conversion. 

Take for example our partner, AKKO (pronounced kinda like ‘Taco’ but ‘Aco’) a consumer fintech startup that came to us with great PPC traction for their phone and gadget insurance protection plans. 

Knowing that they needed to convert more people than those just searching for products related to their brand with queries like 

  • phone insurance
  • laptop insurance

In essence, they needed to diversify their ad strategy to scale. 

Developing data-driven ad creative and a strong social foundation

To start, we put our resources into getting the right combination of performance creative for AKKO. 

Before we launched ads, we spent 4 weeks putting together a collection of animated and UGC videos between 15 and 30 seconds long that we could test across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. 

In hindsight, it would have been a massive misstep for us to use generic cracked phones and waterlogged computer stock images to begin our testing. 

AKKO’s original social ad testing had gone this route and results had been mixed. 

While we developed creative, our social ads and youtube channel experts put together an audience testing plan that detailed who and how we would test our new creatives across a potential audience of 290 Million smartphone users in the United States. 

Launch Ads First Then Optimize 

Now that our foundations were set, we launched ads first and directed them to an existing high-performing PPC landing page.  This allowed us too figure out what ads of our had the most promise. 

We could have launched with generic stock images and spent time working on a social ads landing page but that would have cost us time in the long run though. 

While this approach to setting up a foundation, then launching,  then optimizing was a longer process, it made it far easier for us to adapt with optimizations faster. 

Early Results

The biggest difference between a targeted PPC strategy and a social ads strategy comes down to intent. 

With PPC Campaigns, we’re able to get in front of people who already have a problem and are looking for a solution. 

Generally, with social ads, we’re able to get in front of people who might have a problem and usually don’t know they have a problem. Essentially, we have to create intent in the social ad – give them a reason to realize they have a problem and need a solution. 

The major differences in intent here dictate the landing page experience. 

After a couple of weeks of limited conversions sending ad traffic from social ads to the PPC landing page, we found that the traffic did this on the website: 

ToS (Time on Site) Pgs / Session Purchases CVR
PPC LP 0:00:30 2.31 5 0.30%

In addition, we also used a website session recording tool to watch what the traffic was doing when they got to the website. 

Their scrolling actions and clicks showed a lack of intent. Our ads may have pushed them to the website, but once they landed on the destination URL there wasn’t much to draw their attention. 

For users coming off of PPC campaigns – in the act of searching for a solution to their problem – this type of landing page experience provided information to push them along. 

Social Ads Landing Page 

To counteract low onsite metrics that users exhibited once they got to the landing page, we went back to the drawing board to develop a landing page specifically for our social campaigns that would use strong creative and copy to draw the user in and make the transition from the ad to the website much easier. 

This would be the test to see if it was our ads or overall strategy to develop intent for users within social channels. 

We leaned on FinTech inspiration from neobanks to guide our design concepts. The reason for this was simple – banking is boring. No one is thinking about finding their next bank when they’re scrolling feeds or binge-watching cat videos on Youtube. 

Here’s a peek at the page we developed:

landing page test example

Second Round Of Results

While not immediate, we saw a quick change in behavior by users once they got to our social ads specific landing page. After a couple of weeks of testing, here are our social ads landing page compared to our PPC landing page. 

Before vs. After Last Click Purchases ToS (Time on Site) Pages/Session CVR
PPC Landing Page 5 0:00:30 2.31 0.30%
Social Ads Landing Page 20 0:01:47 4.19 3.86%

We saw a 256% increase in our time on site average when users entered this landing page, but the biggest difference was in CVR and purchases. 

Not only were users more engaged when the website through the destination URL from our ads, their likelihood to convert increased 1,186%. 

Next Steps

While not anywhere close to done, these results provided us with the traction to scale spend on our prospecting and retargeting campaigns. It also enabled us to test new channels. 

From a testing standpoint our next steps involved: 

  • New iterations of our social ads landing page
  • New Ad Creative 
  • New Ad Copy 

For more information on how Tuff tests, optimizes, and scales brands with Growth Marketing across industries click here to download a sample growth marketing proposal. 

marketing team working on a split test

How to Create a Split Test (and Why) with Google Optimize

marketing team working on a split test

No matter what you’re promoting online, whether it’s products, services or platforms, conversion rate is one of the most important metrics you need to be watching. You can have the most engaging ad experiences in the world, but if your website experience is lacking, don’t expect to gain any new customers.

At Tuff, website conversion rate is always top of mind. It is an incredibly important part of the equation that determines if our efforts are profitable or not. It is a metric we’re always looking to improve through a tactic called Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO.  There are a couple of different ways to do CRO, with our favorite being landing page split testing. 

There are a number of different tools out there that can help you get split tests set up and begin your CRO work, but our favorite is Google Optimize. It integrates well with Google Analytics, is easy to set up, and it’s free. 

Why should you be split testing?

Before we jump into how you get set up with Google Optimize, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why we should be split testing. Why is conversion rate so important? Let’s look at this hypothetical example:

Say you own an eCommerce business that sells running shoes. You’re using paid channels (Facebook ads, Google ads, etc.) to drive traffic to your site. These are the average metrics you see on a monthly basis:

Visitors 100,000
Average Order Value $95
Conversion rate 1%
Purchases 1,000
Revenue $95,000

Congrats! You made $95,000 in revenue! On the flip side you’re making less than $1 per visitor on your site, which is not a great position to be in considering the average cost to get someone to click on an ad through paid channels. Now, for the sake of the example, let’s say that through CRO you’re able to increase your conversion rate to 1.8%. These are what your site numbers are going to look like.

Visitors 100,000
Average Order Value $95
Conversion rate 1.8%
Purchases 1,800
Revenue $171,000

You just increased your revenue by $76,000 without increasing your site traffic at all. That’s the magic of CRO. So much focus gets put on cost per click, but we also need to be paying attention to what those clicks are doing once they get to your site. 

While this article won’t detail out how to identify which tests to run, we do have some great CRO test examples you can start with in our article on Increasing Ecommerce Conversion Rate. 

What you need to set up split testing with Google Optimize

The first thing you’ll need to start split testing on with Google Optimize is an account. Once that is done, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. Link your Analytics account
  2. Download the Optimize Chrome extension
  3. Install the Optimize code snippet on your site
  4. Set up your test in Google optimize

Install the Optimize Code snippet on your site and download the Chrome extension

There are a few different ways to do this, but the easiest way is to use Google Tag Manager since there is a baked-in integration between Tag Manager and Optimize.

Click on settings inside your tag manager account and copy your Optimize container ID.

setting up a split test with google optimize

You’ll also see links here to link your Analytics account and download the Chrome extension. These will each only take a second, so knock them out before getting the code snippet installed on your site.

Copy your container ID, jump into your Tag Manager account and create a new Tag. From the options on the right, select Google Optimize as your tag type. Paste in your container ID and set the tag to trigger on all pages. 

setting up a split test with google optimize

OK! We have the infrastructure in place to set up our test within Google Optimize. Now it’s time to decide what will be the “B” part of our A/B test. This will be which aspect of our page we are going to change. That can be anything from changing a headline, swapping out a graphic or reordering content on your site.

Whatever you decide on, try not to make too many changes at once. The best way to split test is incrementally so we really get a good idea of which changes are impacting the difference in performance we expect to see. 

Setting up your split test 

Ore we start setting up our test in Google Optimize,  let’s review what we’ve done so far:

  • Built our Google Optimize account
  • Linked to our Optimize account to our analytics account
  • Downloaded the Optimize Chrome extension and installed our Optimize code snippet on our website
  • Identified our variable for testing

Once we have done all of these things, we are ready to configure our test within Google Optimize. Luckily for us, Google Optimize makes setting these tests up very straightforward.

From inside your Google optimize container, you’ll click “Let’s go” to create your first experience.

setting up a split test with google optimize

There are a few different types of tests you can run here, but for the sake of this example, we’re going to select an A/B test. Give your test a name that easily calls out what is being tested. For our test, we’ll be changing the headline on our form submit page.

setting up a split test with google optimize

From here, click add a variant to begin setting up your first test. Select a name that lets you easily identify which changes are going to be made. We’re going to name our experience “Lead Magnet Page – Headline Test”. Any guesses what is going to be changed on our test page?

Now that we have our experience built, it’s time to add a variant. When naming this, give it a name that tells you what the change actually is. We’re going to name our variant “Headline – Quick wins and long term growth” so we don’t have to dig around to see what the change we made actually was. 

You will now see your original page and the variant you just created listed on top of each other. Since we installed the Chrome extension, we can easily edit our new variant and make changes to the page without using any code.

setting up a split test with google optimize

Once you Click edit, your original page will open with an editing tool where you can drag, drop, and edit different elements on your site. You’ll make your changes and then click save in the upper right-hand corner. 

setting up a split test with google optimize

By default, your traffic will be split 50/50 between the original page and your new variant. You can shift more traffic to your new variant if you’d like quicker results, but we recommend keeping that split even. You can now select an objective which is a list of goals that gets automatically pulled in from Google Analytics. We’re going to select our form completed goal that we have already in Analytics. You’ll want to select whichever goal you’re looking for the user to complete on your site, whether that be a form fill, a purchase, or a different action. 

And that’s that! We’re ready to begin our test. The last thing left to do is click the start button in the upper right hand corner!

Analyzing results

Google Optimize makes it incredibly easy to measure the results from your test. Once it’s launched, you’ll start to see data come in on session, conversion and conversion rate for your original page and your variant. Once significant data comes in, Google Optimize will give a prediction on which variant it thinks will win this test. We recommend waiting until that number is 95% before making any changes permanent and ending the experiment. 

A/B testing is a crucial part of improving the performance of your acquisition channels. It can help make your organic traffic much more profitable and enhance the performance of your paid advertising without any additional ad spend. There are a number of different tools out there to help you get set up, but in our eyes Google Optimize is tough to beat. It lets you get tests set up quickly, integrates well with Analytics and Tag Manager and it has a very attractive price tag at $0.

Interested in learning more about how CRO can impact your bottom line? Get in touch!

testing different desktop landing pages

A/B Testing Your Landing Page to Reduce CAC: Tiny Changes & Big Result

testing different desktop landing pages

There are so many pieces to a growth marketing campaign that it can be hard to tell which levers you should pull to make the biggest impact. Or which levers need a bit of work. That’s where A/B testing comes into play. It’s important to facilitate thoughtful A/B tests for your landing pages, ad creative, audience targeting, CTAs, color choices… and well, almost every single element in your marketing campaigns.

Proper A/B testing takes patience, especially CRO and landing page tests. Here at Tuff, we map out our A/B tests like a science experiment, focused on testing one variable at a time so we know exactly what drove the most impactful results. This approach is methodical and can take a bit of time to execute, but in the end, we’re able to optimize our conversion rates, and scale our budgets while maintaining a profitable CAC.

Note: Throughout this article, I’m going to be referencing one of our partners, Sharetown. Our goal is to increase the number of reps on their team by 15% each month, with a CAC of $900. A rep is someone on their team who picks up and resells like-new furniture as a side hustle. 

We have campaigns running on Facebook/Instagram, Google Search, and YouTube. We also just started growth content to help with organic growth. 

Our landing page test methodology

For Sharetown, we didn’t propose a complete redesign. Instead, we focus on implementing impactful, but sometimes small, design changes to the existing page’s layout, copy, and images to help increase conversion rate. 

landig page example

It’s also important to isolate as many variables as possible throughout testing so that you can definitively say what improved (or negatively impacted) results. Not all CRO landing page tests go as planned, but with our testing methodology, we can always go back to the previous version of the landing page and start again with a new variable to test. 

That’s why we structure our tests bracket-style. (Any other March Madness fans out there? We see you.) We’ll have two almost identical campaigns running in our paid channels, but with the ads pointing to two different landing pages. We’ll take the winner, and pit it against the next iteration of the landing page. 

Statistically Significant Testing

Before we make any calls on what worked and what didn’t, we have to make sure that each landing page gets enough traffic to make our insights meaningful. That’s why we aim for 500-1,000 clicks per landing page before choosing the winning landing page. This threshold can be different for every brand, but we normally base the amount of traffic we need on historical conversion rates and CAC. 

Establish a Baseline

Even if your marketer’s gut instinct says that the landing page you currently have is going to be a total dud, we still recommend running campaigns with it to establish a benchmark. This will give you the data you need to compare future iterations.

But what the heck do we even test first?

Big Landing Page Elements to Test

Once you’ve established a baseline with the existing landing page that needs a little love, we start by updating the following thing (elements that we’ve identified as having the biggest impact based on previous experience)

  • Changing the images throughout the page
    • Incorporate images that don’t look like stock photography
    • Incorporate designed infographics/explainers that are more intelligible and helpful
  • Rewriting the copy to make the page more action-forward and incorporating value props more clearly
  • Rearranging the layout of the page to display value props in a more prioritized order
  • Changing CTAs and button colors
  • Adding simple “how it works’ sections 
  • Incorporating social proof and testimonials

Sample Landing Page Test Plan

The sample landing page test plan below is from a test we conducted with Sharetown. This test is still a work in progress, and we’ll update with more data as we get the results.

landing page testing plan

If you’re interested in doing something similar, here’s a sample gantt chart template we use to plan for landing page tests

Phase 1: Existing Page – Establish Baseline

  • Over the course of three weeks, drive traffic to the current page to establish a baseline with paid acquisition channels running (vs. just organic/referral/direct sources)
  • This will also give our channel experts an opportunity to collect initial acquisition data to refine targeting and ad creative

Phase 2: Two New Landing Pages – New Layout, Testing Different Copy

  • Phase 2 is where we start our landing page test, now that we’ve established a baseline as part of Phase 1. 
  • We’ll create a new layout to use for both landing pages, but each landing page will have different copy, specifically on the hero image and button. The design will stay true to the integrity of the existing Join The Team page, with updates to the layout and the order in which certain sections and elements appear. 
  • Variables to Test:
  • Header image copy
  • Button copy
  • Number of Landing Pages to Develop: 2

Phase 3: Brand/Partner Recognition

  • We’ll take the winner of Phase 2, and pit it against Phase 3’s landing page
  • Variable to Test
    • Placement of brand recognition
  • Number of Landing Pages to Develop: 1

Phase 4: Video

  • We’ll take the winner of Phase 3, and pit it against Phase 4’s landing page
  • Variable to Test
    • Putting a video in the hero zone
  • Number of Landing Pages to Develop: 1

Phase 5: Opt-In

  • We’ll take the winner of Phase 4, and pit it against Phase 5’s landing page
  • Variable to Test
    • Testing an opt-in pop-up
  • Number of Landing Pages to Develop: 1

Phase 6: Graphics v. Images

  • We’ll take the winner of Phase 5, and pit it against Phase 6’s landing page
  • Variable to Test
    • Using graphics instead of images throughout the page
  • Number of Landing Pages to Develop: 1

Phase 7: Earnings potential calculator

  • We’ll take the winner of Phase 6, and pit it against Phase 7’s landing page
  • Variable to Test
    • Creating an earnings potential calculator (similar to Zenernet’s!)
  • Number of Landing Pages to Develop: 1

Measuring your landing page test

Now for the fun part. Digging in the data to determine if your landing page test was successful. It’s important to take a full funnel approach when you’re evaluating the outcome of your A/B test. 

We create scorecards that allow us to measure conversion rates throughout the funnel, especially when the user journey includes multiple steps. In the Sharetown example, we have four conversion rates that we monitor: 

  • CVR from traffic to lead
  • CVR from lead to application
  • CVR from application to vetted opportunities
  • CVR from vetted opportunities to reps

Our first landing page versions had a killer CVR from traffic:lead, more than doubling that conversion rate from our benchmarking phase. But, by working with Sharetown’s sales team, we realized that the lead quality was quite low, and no one seemed to be converting to become a rep. 

We asked their sales team to give us any qualitative feedback that they had on why these applicants weren’t finishing the process. After gathering a few call transcripts, we realized that many of those leads were only interested in the first half of the rep role — moving bulky furniture. They weren’t interested in the gig when they found out Sharetown reps are required to resell the like-new furniture on a marketplace, like Facebook or Craigslist. 

After realizing that, we made tweaks throughout hero zone to emphasize reselling by changing the copy and switching out the image to show a Facebook marketplace listing.

landing page results

The data in the table above (peep Phase 4), speaks for itself. Our conversion rate from traffic to leads decreased significantly from ~8% down to just 2%, resulting in fewer total leads. But they were the right leads. Our bottom of the funnel conversion rates increased tenfold.

This is a prime example of why it’s important to look beyond initial conversion rates to make sure that your landing page test is actually moving the needle. Without collaborating with Sharetown’s sales team, we would have never known why the leads weren’t converting.

Questions? Comments? Ideas! We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a note. 

Why (and How) We Spend $35,000 on Website CRO Each Year

 

We spend $35,000 a year on our website. That’s more than every other marketing tactic combined. 

For a big company that might not sound like much but for Tuff it’s a big deal. 

And as the owner of a growth marketing agency, it’s a tough call to make. Especially when I could reinvest that back into my team and the people responsible for our growth. Or use it to supercharge our reporting. Or build out a new service. 

So, with full intentionality, website conversion rate optimization (CRO) is something we prioritize because it’s the one tactic that has consistently grown our business. 

Disclaimer: we’re by no means claiming that we have the best or most highest-performing website on the block (or even that our process is perfect). But what we are saying is that we dedicate significant time and resources to continually improving our site because it works. Applying this process to incremental site improvements has shown us real, measurable results. And we hope this process can help you do the same!

How We’ve Grown Tuff (and our clients) By Focusing on Website CRO

When it comes to growth marketing, there are two types of tactics we’re focused on: acquisition (getting the right traffic) and conversion (getting that traffic to do something). 

Acquisition channels help you get traffic, which is great. Then what? 

Increasing traffic—especially when that traffic is composed of relevant audiences—is a huge part of your early growth goals and the strategies you put in place to achieve them. Once you’ve figured out the traffic equation, half the battle is over. But that does mean half the battle remains, and that comes down to conversion rate optimization, or CRO.

So when it comes to CRO, we focus in on two main things: 

  • Our website (currently at a 1.09% CVR) 
  • Our sales process 

More to the point:

  • Once someone gets to our website, what happens next?
  • How do you get site visitors to do something?

And also:

  • How do we do our best to answer prospects’ questions in the sales process?
  • How can we give them all the information they need to make an informed decision?

Our 5-Step Website CRO Process

While our website CRO process is now a well-oiled machine, it took us a few years of in-the-weeds hard work to hone and refine it. And, while it still requires a concerted effort to make notable impacts on our CRO month after month, it’s so incredibly important. 

Even if your website is significantly different from ours, or you exist in a totally different industry, this battle-tested process can help anyone improve their site whether you’ve got $35k a year to spend or not. 

  1. Figure out the most important metrics.
  2. Identify areas to optimize.
    • Revisit your competitors and value props 
    • Use conversations with your audience to get better 
    • Study Google Analytics – common paths and top pages 
  3. Make a list of monthly priorities. 
  4. Execute 
  5. Measure, rinse & repeat.

But before we dive deeper, a quick note about our approach. 

With website CRO, there are essentially two approaches to take: 

  1. Make bold changes that will drive more profit and you get fast, measurable results.
  2. Make small, continuous tweaks each month to keep your site strong and lead to incremental increases in conversions over time. 

Both have merit, but the second one is the one we at Tuff are passionate about. Small, ongoing adjustments, implemented fast, give you better CRO results. It’s the one we’re going to focus on for this post. 

Let’s dive in! 

1. Figure out the most important metrics

Before you start outlining updates for your website, make sure you’ve set clear goals you’d like to achieve – even if you don’t have much data to base them on.

For Tuff, we focus on the below metrics and study them monthly: 

  • Conversion rate (CVR): this can exist at numerous stages of the customer journey, but in this instance we’re talking traffic to conversion. Examples include: traffic to purchase (eComm), traffic to sign up (B2B, tech, SaaS), traffic to install (mobile app), etc.
  • Time on site: duration of site visits.
  • Bounce rate: how fast site visitors leave.
  • Entrance page/user journey: which pages get the most entrances? This helps you understand which pages are providing traffic (service pages, blog posts, etc.). You can find common paths and determine which pages to improve as a “first impression.”

CVR is such a key metric because it allows you to reduce costs by getting more out of the traffic that’s already coming to your website. By improving your conversion rate you can increase revenue per visitor and lower your overall customer acquisition costs. Ultimately, there’s a CVR threshold you’ve got to get to in order to be profitable. Part of the challenge is honing in on what exactly that is. 

website conversion rate from google analytics

But let’s start with the basics. Here’s how to measure the impact of increasing your CVR:

  • If a website has a conversion rate of 5% and receives 5000 visitors a month, then the website will generate 250 conversions per month. 
  • If you can improve the conversion rate to 7% by making regular improvements, you jump up to 350 conversions from the exact same amount of traffic. 

It can be hard to know what a “good” conversion rate is and honestly it depends on your stage, service, and revenue but to help, we put together a spreadsheet with the conversion rate for some of the businesses we work with to give you a starting point. 

Once you get familiar with this kind of data, it will help you interpret your own.

2. Identify areas to optimize

The next step is to get your team together and build your user acquisition channels list – write it down, type it out, drop it into Google Sheets, whatever you want to do. Don’t worry if it’s unorganized or sporadic, you can swing back in and restructure it later.

We generate ideas by going to a handful of different places for inspiration: 

  1. Revisit our competitors and value props 
  2. Use conversations with our audience to get better 
  3. Study Google Analytics — common paths and top pages 
    • Entrances!  

Revisit our competitors and value props

We start by pulling up our competitor websites and studying how they articulate their services with copy and design. These findings help us inform/bring detail to:

  • How we position our offering (copy) 
  • How we weave in our value props visually (design) 

Then, we revisit our value props (here’s our value proposition spreadsheet if you want to use it as an example). While our value props don’t change on a monthly basis (we update yearly), we do this because it reminds us of the unique ways we solve a partner’s “problem” and how to stay true to that. 

Use conversations with our audience to get better

This comes pretty easy to us because I manage our website and run our sales team. We get between 50-60 leads per month and have conversations with anywhere from 8-10 of those leads. During these calls, we ask a ton of questions and get asked a ton of questions. 

After each sales call, I write down the major questions and look for patterns. If the same group of questions continues to surface, we start to think about why and then look for ways to incorporate those learnings into the site so that our language reflects what our target audience is actually saying (vs what we think they are saying). 

If the team or person managing your website isn’t close to your sales team or in a position to talk regularly to your target audience, change that! 

Study Google Analytics — common paths and top pages

As a growth marketer, I’m in Google Analytics at least 10 times a day. Every time we get a notification that someone has submitted a form on our website, I jump into GA and take a look at two things: 

  • Where they came from (source) 
  • What they did

This helps me understand how traffic from different sources behaves as well as the most common paths to conversion. We have over 300 pages on our website and we can’t afford to optimize all of them so I use this information to decide what the priority pages should be. 

website entrances from google analytics

We also always look at the entrances (vs pages with the most sessions). This is really important for us because it helps us understand what pages people see for the first time. Is it a blog post? Is it a landing page? Is it our homepage? Again, with this information we can prioritize what people see first and how to guide them through different funnels and paths on the website.  

Using the above information—competitor research, value props, conversations with prospects and existing clients, and Google Analytics—we build a big list of optimization ideas and put those down on paper each month.  

3. Make a list of monthly priorities

So you have a big list, now what?

Even lean testing means an entirely new suite of copy, design, dev resources, and outputs, so it’s important to be intentional about how you and your team spend your time on your website.  

One way to manage your monthly optimization tests and increase the chances of success is to spend time upfront evaluating each proposed update—the idea is to test and get early access to good opportunities, but you can’t do everything.

So we take our list of ideas and ask: 

  • How likely is it to increase our conversion rate?
  • How easy is it to implement the test?
  • Will it have an impact on our site traffic? 

Once we’ve prioritized the 6-7 tasks (one big one and a handful of smaller optimizations) for the month, we add the tasks to our Website Trello Board. 

website optimization trello board

Then, we divide and conquer the work. Right now, we have someone responsible for each of the below roles: 

  • Strategy & Project Management: Responsible for identifying the areas to optimize, prioritizing to-dos, and keeping us on schedule 
  • Copy: Responsible for helping us write copy for the site that captures our value props and tone 
  • Design: Responsible for taking the copy and visualizing it (we use InVision to build wireframes and mocks) 
  • Development: Responsible for building out the mocks in staging and then pushing live

4. Execute

When it comes to website CRO, or any growth marketing tactic for that matter, even the best strategies can fall flat if you don’t see it through with solid execution. We take a very disciplined approach to website CRO and keep our entire team accountable to a schedule that helps us produce higher quality optimizations on a monthly basis. 

Here’s an example of a typical timeline looked like for last month’s website optimization: 

  • Identified June priorities by May 21 
  • Met with web team to review on May 24
  • Finalized copy by June 1 and added to Trello
  • Built wireframes for each optimization 
  • Held first staging period from June 7 – 11 
  • Mid-month check in
  • Held second staging period from June 21 – 25 
  • Identified July priorities by June 22 
  • Final review of June edits 

5. Rinse and repeat

We follow this process every month because we believe action produces momentum and you can speed things up by actively making updates (small and large) each month. It’s a lot of work (it’s more of a time commitment than a financial one) but right now, for us, it’s worth it. 

website wireframes

I also feel like we’re only really scratching the surface and as we grow we will look to iterate and expand on our website CRO process. Here are some of the new things I’m excited about implementing this year that we aren’t currently doing: 

  • Talking to people who came to the site but didn’t fill out a form 
  • Asking people (not people that work at Tuff) to review our competitor sites and give us feedback 
  • Building out wireframes and getting feedback from existing clients before pushing live 

I’d also love to hear what website CRO process your team has been using. What has worked well for you? 

Thanks for reading! I hope you picked up one or two new tips and tricks for your website CRO process. If you want to bounce some ideas or learn more about the process outlined above, let’s talk. 

Sketching website landing pages.

How To Write, Build, and Test Landing Pages

Sketching website landing pages.

Like a strategic blog post series or email marketing drip campaign, landing pages should be a part of any startup, eCommerce, or enterprise business’ online marketing toolkit.

From creation to testing, tweaking, and more testing, this conversion rate optimization process can help to increase conversion rates when done correctly.

Too many founders and marketers create landing web pages and forget about them. Even more frequently, marketers do one or two tests only to move onto another marketing initiative because they feel that they’ve learned all they can from their website visitors.

Think of your landing pages as a dynamic process. You should be able to learn from them on a recurring basis and leverage your winning results. Even after you’ve found scalable results, the landing page process will allow you to test those positive results and optimize further.

You can use your landing pages to qualify leads, test lead generation concepts with potential customers, and, of course, increase conversions. To do all of this and more, you’ll need a process.

Here’s the complete Tuff guide to help you write, build, and test landing pages.

Step 1: Landing Page Design Structure  

Landing page strategy sketch.

Before you start writing copy or considering your image assets, it’s incredibly important that you design a landing page structure that is the right fit for your industry and audience.

Depending on if you sell a product or a service, your landing page structure will be different. For eCommerce product companies your landing page might feature an offer discount for your product and for startup tech or Enterprise SaaS your landing page might be collecting email addresses through an email signup form field.

Figuring out the basic building blocks of your landing page is the first part in landing page design. When you have that plan, then you are ready to begin your design layout.

A great way to layout your design is through a process known as wireframing.

Wireframes are a blueprint to define the information architecture and layout of your landing page.

For each landing page, you create, you should have multiple versions, but you’ll want the structure of the landing page to be the same across all the landing page versions. Being disciplined with this part of the process will allow you to learn faster during the test phase.

Step 2: Write The Landing Page Copy

Writing copy for a landing page.

Now that you have the structure of your landing page design you can begin the process of writing your landing page copy. For each section of your wireframe, you will want to create a landing page with 5 different versions of the copy for you to use during the revision and testing stages.

For example, all landing pages have a headline, description, and call to action. For each copy component of the landing page, you will want to write 5 different versions – 5x headlines, 5x descriptions, and 5 calls to action.

Remember that your copy should be human, original, and succinct.

With a landing page, you’re focusing your user’s attention down to one goal – to take the call to action (email signup, demo booking, purchase with an offer).

The call to action should be clear and concise, the user should have no problem understanding what you want them to do and what they get in return using the copy you have provided.

Step 3: Build 5 Landing Pages and Add Images

By step 3, you should have your landing page section structured with 5 sets of copy assigned to each section. The next step is to build 5 landing pages with the sets of the copy.

We recommend using a tool to help facilitate your build. This process should be pretty straightforward since you have already done the planning.

If you have a habit of making changes in the middle of a process, don’t. If you can’t help yourself, then have someone else on your team put the landing pages together using the building blocks you already designed and defined.

Now is not the time for you to try to guess what will resonate with your audience – we’ll get to that in the next step.

Once you have your five versions of your landing pages built, then you’re going to pick two of them to use in your first round of tests. We recommend getting feedback from your internal team on what they think will be the most effective two versions to test against each other.

Remember the structure and goals of the two landing pages should be the same, the only variables that should be different are the copy and creative.

Step 4: Landing Page Testing

Woman biting pencil.

To effectively drive traffic quickly and learn efficiently which landing page converts best, you will create a test campaign with two ad sets that contain the same budget.

Each of the ad sets will contain identical ads to the other ad set, the only difference will be the destination that you send the audience to in each ad.

For example ad A will direct to landing page v.1 and ad B will go to landing page v.2.

Run each ad for the same duration.

After the ads have completed their tests, then measure which one is the winner. You can do this by measuring your lead generation results or overall conversions.

You now have a baseline to build new tests off of to optimize your landing page, but you’re far from done. The only real result that you have is that you know that the winning landing page performs better than the loser.

Next, you will need to put your land page winner up against an even better competitor to learn and optimize.

Step 5: Optimizing Landing Pages 

You will need to set up a new test where all the variables are the same except for one. Maybe you’ll choose to test a new headline or call to action in your second test.

To do a new headline, you would take your winning landing page and duplicate it, then change the headline to the new copy. You would then test the winning landing page from your first test against the new iteration.

For each new variable you test, you’ll need to do a new test. Once you have tested all the variables from your baseline winner then you should test against a new structure.

Finding a new structure will require you to repeat steps 1 – 4 to create a new landing page with a new structure and test it against your winning landing page from round 1.

To be successful at the landing page process you need to be disciplined at following the steps. Skipping them or combining too many tests at once within the process will result in a lack of understanding of what is driving positive results.

webinar-conversion-rate-optimization-recap

Website Conversion Rate Optimization: a webinar recap

Hit play above to watch a recording of the webinar. Or, you can read the transcript below. 

What you’ll learn in this webinar

What follows is a slightly edited transcript of a webinar held Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018. It’s a conversation between Ellen Jantsch, founder and digital marketer, Emily Belyea, founder and designer, and Matthew Morek, founder and product designer. 

Here are a few topics we go more in depth on below: 

  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) feels like a fancy acronym. One way to think about it is to ask yourself everyday “how do we make it as easy as possible for the user to say ‘yes’ to what I’m offering them?”.
  • How to use design and analytics in unison to improve your site. 
  • What questions to ask when you’re looking to work with a designer on your site. 
  • What you can do with limited resources to make a big impact on conversions. 
  • Executional design tips you can implement to help achieve different goals (i.e. establishing legitimacy, getting more sign ups). 
  • Why conversion rate, bounce rate, and time on site are valuable metrics. 

To stay in the loop on future webinars or to receive thoughtfully written content on similar topics, check out the Tuff newsletter.  

The Transcript

Introductions

Ellen: Hey, everyone! Thanks for joining today’s webinar. We’re really excited today to talk about website conversion rate optimization for you or, potentially, for you clients. We’re lucky, we invited two really, really smart individuals both experts when it comes to web design, user experience, and conversion rates. So, I’m going to ask both of them to hop off mute really quickly and give an update on who they are and where they are today.

Emily: Awesome. Hey, everyone! My name is Emily and I run a design studio called Emily Belyea Creative. I help entrepreneurs basically take their idea from concept to creation through all-inclusive digital services like web design, brand identity, development and launch support. 

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matt. I run a small, one man design shop called Mad Bit. I hail from Manchester, UK. What I do is help my client’s solve the right problems. So, basically, identify what really their audience needs are and prioritize the design strategy and execution to a point where we solve only those things that need solving and leave everything else aside. 

Ellen: Great, and I’m Ellen. I work at the team here at Tuff. For you that don’t know, we’re a growth marketing agency that works with fast growing small businesses, start ups, and marketplaces to help them find traction and scale through a variety of different tactics. Tactics that include a few things like Facebook ads, Google ads, YouTube, Bing, SEO, Content Strategy, Email campaigns and more recently web design and development. And, that’s why we’re here today because a question we ask all the time, not just on the Tuff website, but with our clients is ‘how can we make our websites stickier?’. How can we make sure user’s our coming to our site and taking the action we want them to take? Whether that be filling out a form, calling our business, if you’re ecomm making a sale directly on site. Or, if your conversions are more like engagement metrics, so you want somebody to spend more time on your site — you want them to spend 2 minutes instead of 30 seconds. Or, if you want them to go to more pages on your site, you want them to go to 5 pages not just 1. And so, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Our conversation is broken up into three different sections: the problem, personal stories from Emily and Matthew, and actionable advice you can apply to your site. We’ll have time for questions at the end as well. 

So, let’s dive right in! 

Part 1: The Problem

Ellen: The first thing we want to tackle is breaking down this problem. So, what do we mean by optimizing your website for conversions? Emily, let’s start off with you, do you have a good example of how you’ve done this with a client recently? How you’ve tackled a project where you’re optimizing their site from the start, for conversions?

Emily: Yeah, absolutely! So, I mean, the way I think about optimizing a site for conversions is as simple as “how do we make it as easy as possible for the user to say ‘yes’ to what I’m offering them?”. I think as a marketer and designer that’s always the question we’re trying to answer. It’s always in testing and trying new things. Recently, an example I can go over, is specifically around the use of a CTA (Call to Action). So, I think that one of the simplest things you can do from the start and writing copy and designing your site is to make sure your call’s to action are specific. A recent client and their website, thebuyguys.com, prompts the user to ‘get an offer’. This sounds super straightforward but the primary reason their user’s are on their site is so they can get an offer on their house. And, they want to know how much they can sell it for. So, by giving them a form where they fill out their address and making our primary CTA right there in front of them ‘get an offer’, we’re basically asking them to do exactly what they came for and it’s also crystal clear so the likelihood of them clicking on it is really high. 

Ellen: I like that. Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO, is such a fancy little acronym and I think the way you approach design with “how do I get a user to say ‘yes’?” feels like a very simplified version that’s easier to ask yourself every single day. Matthew, how about you?

Matthew: To me, like you said, CRO is a weird acronym. But, what it means to me, is really based around reducing the friction in the customer acquisition process. That’s what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to get a lead to do something meaningful. Like you said before, there’s a couple of actions you can take. And, a recent story I’ve got from the trenches really is a simple site I’ve designed and built for a client. It was a small, indie software developer who created an app for Mac and Windows and he wanted to improve conversions and lead generation primarily. What we did was asses what was wrong with the current website, why people were dropping off and we build a completely new website using story telling principles. And that way we basically removed most of the call to actions at the top and moved them to the bottom. We created enough engaging content to help people keep scrolling, keep reading the content, keep engaging with it. We put an ask right at the end of it which worked out great and we achieved 122% improvement in conversion rate. 

Ellen: That story is good for our next question, you talk about removing friction. You two look at websites every single day. When a client comes to you whether they’re saying ‘I need to improve my conversions, not enough people are picking up the phone and calling me or not enough people are filling out my form’, where do you start? Is it purely visual or do you hop into Google Analytics and start looking at the numbers so you know where to tackle first? What is your process so you know if a website needs to be improved to increase conversions? 

Emily: I’m a designer so, for me, visual is what leads things for me. So before I even get into data, I take a step back and look for one thing ‘What is the ask?’.  And sometimes it’s easier because people are coming to me and asking about their site and I haven’t been staring at their site for a long time. I have a unique perspective coming at it with fresh eyes and if I can’t figure out what the ask is, then chances are that’s our starting point. The first thing is we need to put our ask on the site and we need to make it crystal clear. If you do have a clear ask and you’re still not converting, then I take a look at ‘what is standing in the way of the ask?’, ‘What is our roadblock?’. That’s where I get into design and really looking at the user experience. First of all, ‘Is our ask right for our consumer?’. And, ‘Is our website responsive?’, maybe there’s literally a technical issue preventing the user from understanding what we’re trying to tell them. We could go into this very deeply but does your website have a color palette and a type scheme that makes it easy for the user to just show up and be able to get the information they need without having to make their way through all the clutter. That’s where design plays a role, as well as your messaging and copy. I’d say after looking at all of those surface things, that’s where I’d get into the data. 

Ellen: Building on that Emily, would you say that often when you work with clients on web design is it common for people to have one ask? I can imagine situations where there are multiple priorities for a site. What’s the best process for drilling into what the primary ask should be without losing some of the secondary CTAs on the site?

Emily: Absolutely. It’s not common for people to come to me and understand exactly what their ask is, that almost never happens. Frequently when I ask people what their ask is they say ‘For them to contact me?’. They kind of ask the question back to me.  I think determining what your primary ask is involves taking a huge step back and looking at what the journey and evolution of what your business goals are. If you’re just launching a consulting business for the first time, you have no idea what experience to share with people, you have no blog posts, or really a lot of content that leverages you as an expert in your field. Maybe, instead of your ask being to get clients to sign up for a session with you it should be to sign up for your newsletter. Then, you get into their inbox and can start talking to them and build that relationship from there. It depends on the business owner but I think it involves taking a really good look at your strategy and where you see yourself in the next 12 months. 

Ellen: Matthew, Emily has expressed that she’s quite visual. Do you feel the same way? When you’re looking at a website to think through ‘how can I improve conversions?’, is it data or visuals first? Or, a combination? 

Matthew: I usually start with conversations with clients. We get on the phone, video call, or meet in person and basically we discuss the issue and ‘what are we trying to achieve?’. With that context, I’ll do a brief visual assessment. Some things are very easy to spot like Emily said. You may have to dig a little deeper but most things are evident from conversation alone. Then, if you need more information, you can ask for access to analytics if they have them. If they don’t, then you’re going off of visuals and I usually recommend they install Google Analytics to make sure we have some quantifiable data that we can assess. Normally, conversation first, analytics second, and visual is really a confirmation that we’re correct. When data is pretty solid, all you need is to go to a website and spot the visual and content problems. Start with the goals, move on to identify problems using all tools at your disposal. 

Ellen: It’s interesting because sites are so visual and both of you have been talking about the process and design has been almost the last element of that equation. Can you guys talk to me a little bit more about when you approach a website or project and you’re trying to design it from day 1 to boost conversions and be a really efficient website, what are some of the preliminary steps you take before you even have a conversation with a designer? 

Emily: One of the first questions I ask when I bring a new client onboard is ‘what is the single most important action you want the user to take?’. That response is what drives the strategy for the first step in the process – the wireframe. The wireframe is not the mockup, it’s the bare bones grayscale layout. It’s job is to figure out exactly what the user paths look like. Are we meeting the goals of the user? Our goals? Do we have all of our CTAs and opt-ins? Taking the time to A: understand the number one action we want the user to take and, B: understand who this user is, and putting it in the wireframe is something I would not be able to do my job without. The mockup design, the part where we make it look pretty and add type and colors, and the brand development are also extremely necessary but they come later in the process. Strategy discussions and wireframe are so important. For anyone out there looking to work with a designer, I would say you should ask them questions about their process right up front, and you really should be looking to hear those words ‘strategy’ and ‘wireframe’. Without that they might not be taking the time to understand your goals the way you need them to. 

Ellen: What about you, Matthew? Is that the same for you?

Matthew: It’s similar, definitely. My approach is based on strategy and analysis. I usually run a discovery stage with my clients. Some don’t need it, depending on the stage they’re in. Most of the people I interview in the initial assessment are in need of some discovery. By discovery I mean defining the attributes of who they are as an organization, their voice that comes through in copywriting, anything that speaks visually later on. That’s one part. Another part is identifying the goals. The company working with me, needs to have some sort of objective generally primary and secondary. In the case of a project I was currently working on, the primary goal was to download the free app. The second was to make a purchase. This was unusual because most of the time you want the purchase to happen as the primary action but it wasn’t the case because most people were coming from the free version of the app and going through an upgrade path. Things need: goals and attributes, user journeys, knowing how people want to use your site and what they are after. Identify the outcomes your user wants and align them with your business goals. So, if your business goal is to sell more products you need to identify why people are looking for the products you sell. You create a product and tailor it to an audience that already exists, you can’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist. You need to try and find out what your audience is looking for and align your goals with it. Then, I’m sure you’re going to be close to uncovering that way to makes sure your website converts better. 

Ellen: I think you both touched on something that feels relevant to a story Tuff has. You’re talking about strategy, you’re talking about goals but you’re also talking about user experience and how you expect someone to interact with your site. That, to us, feels critical to designing a site that’s going to convert. Oftentimes we have to remind ourselves that how we interact with a specific site as marketers might be very different than how a traditional user or target audience does. User research is a big part of that puzzle. I like to hear that, maybe, 80% of the work you two do is non-design. It’s understanding users, mapping out process, coming up with strategy and business objectives to make sure the output is a beautiful design. Speaking of which, I’d love for us to transition into the stories section of the webinar. 

Part 2: Personal stories from Emily and Matthew

Ellen: As a team, we’d love to get your feedback on our landing page for this webinar. A non-designer put together the landing page: 

Screen-Shot-2018-08-23-at-12.49.42-PM.png#asset:230

See the site live, here: https://webinar.tuffgrowth.com/

Looking at this page, is there anything tangible, concrete, that you would update right away that you think would increase conversion rates for this webinar? 

Emily: There are two things that immediately come to mind are. First, it’s very text heavy right off the bat. Matthew, you were just saying features are useless to people so are ‘about’s’ and paragraphs. I want to know what I’m going to get out of it, what am I going to walk away with. So, bullets might be helpful with a quick ‘what am I going to get out of this’ would be great. Also, let’s get that register button above the fold! You’re making people work for it and I think we could use the space up top a little better to have users see that form and button right away. As a designer who does landing pages a lot sometimes people will come to me with tons and tons of content, plus a form, and button, and all of the fields and ask for it to be above the fold. One trick you can use if you can’t get your button above the fold is just ask a register button above the fold and have it link down to your form or to a pop up. 

Ellen: So it sounds like less text, or prioritize your text, and make sure your CTAs are always above the fold. I think you’re right, we’re looking at this on desktop but if we think about mobile that’s a pretty long scroll to get someone down to register for the webinar. Matthew, would you echo what Emily said? Or, any other insights on this page to make it better and more conversion rate friendly?

Matthew: Some of it, yeah. Text usually isn’t the problem when it’s the right text. Like Emily said, features can be meaningless. You could convert the big paragraph into a few points to better explain what people can get out of this, some actionable points to convey the idea better. The headline is spot on, it gives you the value proposition which is the most important part. I’m not used to landing pages for webinars but I’m used to landing pages for events, which a webinar is a form of event. The type of people that might be looking at this page will wonder ‘when does it happen?’. You need to make the time critical events clear, the time, the date, the timezone in this digital age. You need to make sure people understand exactly when and where it happens. I agree about the call to action. In the case of this very sweet and very short page, it should be above the fold. I’m not a big believer in the mythical fold because you can structure the landing page to tell a story, it doesn’t have to be a properly written epic but at least the principles. You can make people scroll, read, engage and put the ask at the end where they’re convinced — or not, not everyone is going to be up for your value proposition. These are just a few quick ones, generally I agree with Emily. 

Ellen: You guys were generous with your feedback, I designed this page. A word we talked about a lot in this was ‘landing page’. Talk to me about this, we work with a lot of clients who are running high scale, very expensive Google Ad campaigns. We have this discussion a lot, when does it make sense to send a user to a landing page vs. sending someone to a full blown website? Or, is this something you should be conversion testing with an A/B perspective all the time? When someone comes to you how do you guide them through that decision of a landing page with no navigation or a full blown website? 

Emily: Typically, the way I use this decision making process is: are we trying to get them to do something very very specific, say in preparation for the launch of the website?, ‘are we trying to get them to sign up for an event, like a webinar?. Something where you don’t need to redo the whole page. Again, very specific asks that are secondary to what your ask is as a company. If we don’t want to clutter our websites with a third request, a landing page is a great way to do that because you can market it in the same you would send out a link to your website but you don’t have to add it to your site. 

Matthew: Yeah, I agree. Generally a dedicated landing page is great if, for example you launch a new product line and you want people to know about it. You get a subdomain for your main domain and send people to a specific site. Another thing might be, like Emily said, events. These are perfect for landing pages. I think it’s really down to the context of what you’re trying to sell. If it’s something already available on your website and you’re looking to promote it, it wouldn’t be too difficult to manage the traffic for a service already on your website. 

Ellen: At Tuff I feel really lucky because we work with both of you and you get to field questions for us all the time. For people on the call who are looking at their website or working with a client and don’t have design in-house or someone they can go and brainstorm with, if resources are limited, where would they start making small improvements that feel feasible? 

Emily: What I always tell people is if you don’t have in-house design, there are a lot of tools on the internet you can use to put something together. 

Ellen: What are some of your favorites? 

Emily: Well, I use the design tools. A lot of my clients will use Canva to make their own graphics. Or, a really easy Adobe program (don’t be intimidated!) is Adobe Experience. It’s a drag and drop design tool. I’d encourage anyone to check it out. Those are two right off the bat. You can use those to create little things. In terms of where to start, if you can get into your Google Analytics and look at your data, great! If that feels like too much then, again, look at your site, think about the user experience and ask yourself ‘what can I add to [fill in the blank], legitimize me, invite users to engage with our content and hear our story?’. What are the pieces that are missing? A general checklist of things I usually go through with my clients to fill these gaps is: adding a press bar with ‘as seen in’ to legitimize, adding client logos for social proof to let people know you’re in business and serving similar business, look at your call to action button colors and copy, add blog posts to your homepage to give people a preview, a chat widget if you want people to instantaneously engage with you, an FAQ page if you’re having trouble with people understanding. Ask, what is my immediate issue I’m trying to solve and go through the checklist to see if any of these executional items could help. 

Ellen: It sounds like you’re encouraging people, even if they’re not a designer, to explore and experiment. As long as you’re not going to break your website, hop in and try things out. There’s so much to learn from whether it’s short term improvements or long term. A tool I want to add to your list that I’d say is a bit easier than Google Analytics is HotJar. HotJar is a recording software so you can record sessions on your site to see where people navigate, how far down they scroll, where people might be getting stuck, how do they interact with a form. For me, I’m a more visual learner so seeing how people interact in real time can help brainstorm ideas to make improvements. Matthew, what would you say to people who don’t have a lot of resources or in-house design to make improvements to a site?

Matthew: I would start with more of a broad overview. Instead of applying some bandaids, I’d take a broad overview on the pages you’re looking to improve. Figure out whether your value proposition is right, whether your market fit is right, whether you’re reaching the right people. You might be paying for traffic irrelevant to your site. You know more about driving traffic. Before you start driving traffic from paid advertising and social media, you need to make sure your value proposition is on point. You need to make sure your call’s to action are good. If they’re not working or there’s some piece of javascript getting blocked you’ll end up with a page that’s disabled. Another thing to check is the content, is it relevant and engaging? How is it structured on the page? I’d recommend that before jumping into visuals and testing, start with a broad overview to figure out if your page is achieving it’s goal. If you don’t have a budget, you should still talk to your customers. Find 1, 2, 5, 10 customers and ask if they have 10 minutes to tell you about their recent experience. If you have past customers that used the site you’re looking to improve, talk to them. Talk about their frustrations or if they even remember the process. This might give you a better idea than trying to shift around boxes. Let’s be honest, unless you’re using tools like HotJar, you’ll be blindfolded on making the page work better.

Ellen: I love the idea. Even if you can only talk to a few people, get on the phone and talk to them or email. That’s something we could apply more at Tuff because learning from your actual users is going to be so much more relevant than an idea you have in your own head. You can get validation from people who you’ve built your site for. Before going into actionable advice, do either of you have a very specific story of a small update whether it was color, type, removing a page, adding more whitespace, that you felt had a really drastic impact on conversions or site experience?

Emily: I would say one of the smallest things that can be done, at least that has had such a big impact for my clients, is organizing or refreshing their brand identity in way that contributes to their website. A lot of entrepreneurs bootstrap their branding from the start. They might pick a few colors, have their cousin design a logo, and get a site up. I admire that, it’s a great way to start and then maybe later on invest. A lot of times what happens is, because you don’t have these type schemes, color layouts, and organizational systems for your identity, everything is a little disorganized and all over the place. What this is doing is confusing the user’s brain and it’s a little harder for them to wrap their brain around what you’re asking them to do. A lot of time, we’ll do a brand refresh where I’ll strip everything down and organize it like a professional organizer might do with a closet. Throw out some things that are random and not contributing to the brand and goals and bring some things in that are. I’ll give them a style guide that organizes everything and lays out ‘here’s what your primary call to action button looks like’, etc. A little structure with branding goes a long way. 

Ellen: Sounds similar to what we talked about earlier, wireframes are critical as is user research. Design isn’t important yet. Matthew, what about you? Any examples of making a small edit you saw a significant impact from. 

Matthew: Yes! I have a good one from last year. I was working with an ecommerce client and we were trying to optimize their checkout process. It was good but we saw an opportunity to make it better and more efficient. Instead of diving right into visual design we decided we needed to dig a little deeper. We spent about a day going through the check out steps and we identified that the delivery and shipping options available were far too many. There were about 6-7 delivery options. What I did was ask one of the staff members to talk to a few customers and confirm that they did get confused by all the options and that next day delivery would be spot on. We researched what delivery options were most important to people and we narrowed it to standard delivery, next day delivery, and in-person collection at the store. This improved conversion rates by about 60%. We tested the change over 2 weeks and didn’t touch anything else. Narrowing down the options made a big impact. 

Ellen: That’s a huge upgrade! It’s cool to hear you guys put on your investigator hats and got curious. Again, that’s not necessarily a design exclusive trait. As marketers and consultants, being curious and digging around in data and looking at the numbers can really have a massive impact. You stripped options away instead of adding more and that made a big impact. 

Part 3: Actionable advice you can apply to your site

Ellen: That brings us to the last section. As a business owner, if you fire up your Google Analytics (and, it depends on the business objective), what would you say is the most important metric? If you’re thinking about your website, wanting people to spend time on your website, or say yes to something, what metric do you guys go back to on a daily basis. What is your desert island metric that everyone on this webinar should be tracking today. 

Emily: I’d say every time all the time, the conversion rate. Look at the visit to sign up percentage. It allows us to look at the funnels performance as a whole and then we can narrow down on a certain area. The landing page where that sign up needs to happen, is the page designed to make that easy? Is the CTA to the form written in a way that promotes action? When we start to figure out what is working and what is not. Another piece to zero in on is CTAs, where are they appearing? Is my tone and voice consistent through out the whole funnel. A lot of marketers struggle with sounding a bit to sales-y rather than authentic and real. 

Ellen: It sounds like you can look at conversion rates along the entire ecommerce journey. Looking at the entire user journey, if a conversion rate is low at a specific step, you can work on that one rather than a blanket conversion rate. Matthew, what about you in terms of your desert island metric?

Matthew: I wouldn’t stick to conversion rate because it’s very subjective. The same client I talked about before with the delivery options, had a completely different website in 2012. He had it for very few years and the conversion rate was around 2%. That was good for them. When we introduced the new website, the conversion rate jumped to 8%. It’s a little too subjective. The metric I turn to is bounce rate and drop off rate. This is when someone has come in from a referral website and leaves within a few seconds without interacting with the content. Drop off rate is when they don’t go anywhere else but they close the browser. These are similar and they give a good indication on if your content is engaging and relevant. It gives an indication in product market fit in terms of what you’re offering. For example, if you’re driving traffic from PPC and your message doesn’t ring a bell you’ll have a large drop off. Usually it’s not the PPC traffic, it’s the fact that the landing page or your home page is not really well crafted in terms of value proposition. PPC offers you such a narrow window and you need to follow through with that on your website. You need to instill confidence, trust, and relevance. That’s where drop off and bounce rate is helpful. To give you some context, if it’s around 70% – 75% that can be really normal. If it’s anything above 80%, you’ve got a big problem. 

Ellen: What’s nice about bounce rate is if you are running paid campaigns you can integrate your accounts to see what campaigns have a high drop off rate and which ones don’t and allocate your budget accordingly. It sounds like conversion rate and bounce rate. One I’d add to the mix is time on site. We look at that a lot at Tuff because we want people finding the content valuable and relevant. 

I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface but I want to open up time for questions. 

Questions

Tune into the webinar at :50 minutes to hear what questions the audience asked and how Ellen, Emily, and Matthew addressed them. 

We’d also love to hear any questions you have. Shoot us an email at hello@tuffgrowth.com! 

How to say hello and continue the conversation

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