On July 27, SeeWhy conducted an online poll among 221 eMarketers. The results reveal some potential shifts in focus over the next 12 months: shopping cart recovery, reducing landing page clutter, link building, and transactional email all emerge as top priorities.
The poll also looked in detail at four key areas of conversion to determine their priorities. The four areas examined were as follows:
• Landing page optimization
• Email marketing
• Web conversion/shopping cart recovery techniques
Each respondent was allowed to pick only one response in each category, forcing them to choose their top priority.
Marketers plan to focus on link building as their top priority in the next 12 months, with 42 percent stating that it is their top SEO focus. Changes to website pages to ensure they are more SEO friendly were the highest priority for 22 percent, while 21 percent plan to focus on social media integration. Site-based optimization (such as sitemaps and navigation) was the main focus for only 15 percent. There are two notable conclusions that you draw about these findings:
1) Marketers have taken on board the changes made over recent months by Google to prioritize quality and diversity of links in search results over the content itself.
2) Social media integration is unexpectedly high. While social media is hot for marketers, in SEO terms this is really cutting edge stuff, and it signals that marketers have recognized the importance of social media in driving traffic. In particular, Facebook’s social plugins, including the easy to implement ‘Like’ button, are beginning to be viewed as a simple ‘social SEO toolkit.’
Website and Landing Page Optimization
Marketers are taking the ‘less is more’ philosophy to heart when it comes to landing page optimization. Just over half (51 percent) stated that reducing clutter was their top priority, recognizing that landing pages have been added to gradually over time at the expense of simplicity and simple, strong calls to action. (…)
When it comes to website conversion and landing page optimization, Tim Ash advocates that less is more. The president and CEO of SiteTuners.com, Tim has worked with American Express, Sony Music, Verizon Wireless, 1-800-Flowers, and others; so he knows how to improve website conversion rates by doing less. At the recent Conversion Leaders Summit, Tim provided three key pieces of advice to follow when looking at your website:
• Less clutter
• Less text
• Less information
Less clutter. Visual clutter kills conversion. In many cases, graphic designers, the people actually constructing your pages, can be your worst enemies because they try to do too much with the page. As a result, website visitors have no idea what to look at, or what to interact with, on the page.
If the call to action on your landing page is not obvious, you should radically strip down the page to increase online conversion rates. If there are a lot of bright but unnecessary visual elements competing for the visitor’s attention, you are advised to refocus on the page’s objective and declutter. What do you want the user to do? What’s the next step in the conversion process? Make it obvious to the user, because if it’s not obvious, you are losing money.
Less text. Too much text limits conversion. Landing pages frequently include a lot of text, especially if they are also being used for SEO purposes. Do you really expect people to read all of that information? Of course not. Putting an overbearing amount of information on a landing page basically guarantees that people will not read it. They won’t even begin.
The alternative—less text—can look pretty stark in comparison. Less text, however, makes the call to action much clearer. If you need text for SEO, you can still put it on the landing page; just put it at the bottom where it won’t interfere with a good user experience. (…)
We’re used to getting transaction confirmation emails like those sent by Amazon. Recently, Loren McDonald advised attendees of a Conversion Academy webinar to extend beyond the purchase to include pre-purchase, post-purchase and relationship touch points. The result? More opportunities to engage prospects and customers, something Loren’s seen firsthand as the vice president of Industry Relations at Silverpop, a leading email service provider. Here are some of the key pointers he gave in his presentation and a checklist of what to do in order to extend the transactional email activity you currently carry out.
Transactional emails are automated and trigger-based, driven directly by user behavior, profile or demographics. Depending on how aggressively you adopt it, the extended scope might include transactional emails related to:
For example, a post-purchase email could notify customers of stock shortages, reminding a customer who bought an item in the past that you’re about to sell out of it. This kind of transactional email not only generates revenue but actually enhances the relationship with, and adds value for, that customer.
Another post-purchase email might 1) thank the customer for posting a product review and/or 2) include product recommendations based on previous purchases. While this level of sophistication might seem difficult to achieve, most ecommerce sites are already using the web analytics, reviews and recommendation engines needed to do these transactional emails. The sites simply need to leverage their existing technologies, using established APIs and dynamic content, to generate the new emails.
Purchase review emails can actually lead to significant incremental revenue. (…)
At the recent Conversion Leaders Summit on improving website performance, Danny Dover cut though the SEO hype to provide some fresh insight into search engine optimization. Danny is an SEO specialist with SEOmoz.org, one of the thought leaders in the space, so I’m sharing the highlights of his presentation and his six-point SEO checklist here.
Why do SEO? Because SEO drives traffic to your website—for free. The traffic-driving alternative is to buy pay-per-click ads. It turns out that organic SEO links—the actual search results generated by Google, Yahoo!, et al.—get about 90 percent of the clicks while the PPC ads on those pages get 10 percent. So, SEO is important because you can get a lot of free traffic if you do it right.
Everyone knows the higher your rank in a search engine’s results, the more traffic you’ll get, but how much more? The number one position gets 42 percent of the clicks. Number two falls to 11 percent; number three gets 8 percent; and finally, number 10 drops to 3 percent. Clearly, you want to be in the top five because people don’t look much beyond that fifth result.
How to do SEO? Two primary consideration factors in SEO—popularity and relevancy.
Popularity in SEO means links. SEO experts suspect that links account for 75 percent of the overall Google algorithm, making them extremely important. Google emphasizes link profiles—where they come from, what the anchor text says, etc.—and you can optimize your link profiles by studying them, as well as those your competitors are using. Tools such as Yahoo! Site Explorer or SEOmoz Open Site Explorer will help you with this.
Relevancy translates to on-page optimization, which includes such things as keyword choice and where it’s located on the page. On-page optimization makes up 25 percent of the Google algorithm. (…)
Compared to other email campaigns, transactional emails are some of the most effective at driving revenues. For example, Carolyn Nye of S&S Worldwide presented at the Silverpop conference earlier this year and shared some data on their transactional emails. Transactional emails account for only 4.1 percent of overall email volume, but these campaigns generate over 40 percent of all revenues produced by transactional and regular email campaigns combined.
When you drill down on the S&S numbers in a bit more detail, you quickly find shopping cart recovery right at the top of the list: 80 percent of the revenue generated from transactional emails comes from their shopping cart recovery program.
So, it’s no surprise that the email service providers’ transactional application programming interfaces (APIs) are now being used for real-time shopping cart recovery emails.
This has the effect of turbocharging your email performance: Transactional emails sell. SeeWhy has found that typical open rates range from 50 to 70 percent for real-time email, and click-through rates can hit 50 percent. Compare this with a traditional batch campaign to your customer list where you might hope for a 30 percent open rate and a 25 percent click-through rate. The difference is attributable to the increased relevance that comes from getting the timing right. Your message with a real-time triggered email is directly relevant to what the website visitor was just doing on the website, whether a purchase or an abandonment.
Today, most large e-tailers don’t follow up on abandoned shopping carts. The e-tailing group’s e-tail 500 shopping cart abandonment study found that only 16 percent of the largest retailers follow up on abandoned shopping carts and that the average follow-up time is 6.1 days after the abandonment.
Research from MIT shows that timing in abandoned shopping cart recovery programs is critical; 90 percent of ecommerce leads go cold within one hour, so an average follow-up time of 6.1 days is totally sub-optimal. (…)