Proving Your Gut Wrong

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Every week, Which Test Won, posts an A/B test and you can vote on which treatment page you think won, before seeing the actual results. It’s a great exercise to “test” your optimization intuition. If you get enough wrong, you’ll … Continue reading

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The Price vs. The Cost of Conversion Rate Optimization

The cost of being wrong is very low.

You run an A/B test and find out what you thought would be the winning version actually wasn’t.

It’s just your ego here that gets hurt.

But the price your business pays for not knowing is very high.

Can your web page convert more more visitors into buyers if you changed a few things?

How much money are you leaving on the table by not testing?

What price are you paying compared to the cost of being wrong?

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Conversion Celebrities

This week I’m off to Austin TX, (the conversion capital of the world) to the Conversion XL Live conference, hosted by Peep Laja. Three days of intense conversations about conversion rate optimization and split testing, yup I plan to enjoy it. I’m … Continue reading

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10 Easy Tests To Get Started With Conversion Optimization This Year

Online testing is the quickest way to get more revenue and growth from your existing website visitors and leverage your efforts in other areas such as PPC, email marketing and other traffic and revenue driving activities in your business.

So why do so few companies actually do it or do it well?

Well, first of all it’s an industry that’s  still in it’s infancy and only really smart marketers know about it. Essentially it’s where SEO was 10-15 years ago. But I think it will be where SEO is now in the next 5 years.

Secondly the name itself keeps changing. Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO, Marketing Optimization, Growth Hacking. It’s all the same thing but with so many different names out there it’s adding confusion to the ecosystem and marketers can’t keep up, much less follow along with the trends and current sophistication of online marketing.

Third, the terminology itself is confusing. When people hear the word Optimization, they think Search Engine Optimization, SEO, not CRO. Yet it’s completely different. The total opposite in fact. SEO drives traffic, CRO exponentially drives more sales.

And finally, dispite how easy it seems, it’s really hard to do CRO well.

It requires marketing to be truly customer centric. And the desire to continually learn and improve. More importantly it requires you to be Ok with taking risks for the sake of learning that can be applied to leverage bigger gains to build a stronger more robust company for the future.

Despite all of the hurdles. It’s very easy to start a test and in the end it’s the most powerful lever a business can push to gain massive improvement to the bottom line.

One of my CRO heroes has this to say:

“Most websites don’t have a massive traffic problem, however every website in the world has a conversion problem.”
(Source: Bryan Eisenberg)

So how do you get started?

There are a ton of testing tools out there that make it very easy for anyone to get started testing.

Here are just a few:

The accessibility and ease of these tools is a double edged sword. It’s easy to jump in but it’s also easy to get lost.

The problem most marketers struggle with is not the tools but knowing what to test, how to properly test and how to get the  biggest impact.

Ask yourself these 4 key questions to keep your tests on track to more profits.

  1. Who are you trying to effect? (Really define your target audience and what makes them tick. The best way to do this is to listen.)
  2. What action do you want them to take?
  3. How do you define a conversion and how will it be tracked?
  4. What action do THEY want to take? This is not always the same as #2

Now that you’re starting to think holistically let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Here are just a few ideas for you to test to get started with AB Testing.

Test #1 –  A/B Test Your Opt-In

The days of just asking for an email with nothing in exchange but updates or a newsletter are gone.

You really can’t build a list like that any more.

There are too many people competing for attention and people don’t care about you.

Nowadays, you need a “lead magnet” or some offer  to get any traction at all  with list building.

A lead magnet is A small “chunk” of value that solves a SPECIFIC problem for a SPECIFIC market that is offered in exchange for an opt-in.

Here are some tests you can do to build your list to get you started:

  • Test having your opt in offer as part of your page vs. delivered in a light box overlay. (I’ve found in tests I’ve done that light boxes perform better.)
  • Test showing an image of your lead magnet, like the cover to a report vs. no image. Or test different images. (I’ve found that images that appear to be more tangible like a #D image of a digital asset vs. a flat image perform better.)
  • For the more advanced optimizers, test the actual lead magnet itself. First by testing the title then by changing the magenta to a completely different offer.

Test #2 – A/B Test Your Testimonials

The natural instinct is to place testimonials in a prominent position as close as possible to the product as possible.

If your designer is not savvy about conversion optimization they usually place testimonials in what ever blank open spots exists after they design all the other elements.

In long sales letter pages, I’ve seen testimonials placed haphazardly, just to break up the copy.

In a recent test I completed for a client, the position of the testimonials was tested, which increased conversions by 162.37% with a 99.9% confidence level.

The insight from this test was that the position of the testimonials mattered a lot since the exact same testimonials were tested previously and lost in a different position.

If you think of the page as a conversation with the visitor your testimonials should go right at the point where they have doubt.

Another place you can test them is as close to the decision point as possible.

Not the actual buy or add to cart button but the point on the page where your visitor has enough information to make a decision to buy and needs that little extra push to be reassured.

For the more advanced optimizers, test different testimonials that address the specific concerns your visitors might have.

If there are concerns about trust then test testimonials that specifically address how reliable the company is.

Some other simple testimonial tests you can try include

  • Test adding a picture vs. no picture next to the testimonial
  • Test adding the location (city and state or country) of the person who submitted the testimonial vs. not having it at all. (sometimes this add more believability as does the picture)
  • Test adding a headline quote to the testimonial that sums up the testimonial in one line and makes it easier to read by simply skimming the headlines vs. reading each and every testimonial. You can pull a line from the testimonial it self as the headline and simply put it in quotes above the full text. (You can also test different testimonial headlines, which brings us to test number 3.)

Test #3 – A/B Test Different Headlines

This is the easiest test you can do, at least from an implementation stand point.

Coming up with a good headlines is the hard part.

All of the copy writing masters including Dan Kenedy, Eugene Schwarts, David Ogilvy and more will tell you the job of the headline is to get you to read the first sentence.

This stands to reason that your visitor CAN’T convert into a sale unless he reads your beautifully written copy touting how great your product is.

The headline is the first thing anyone will read and they will make a judgement call on weather to continue reading or not based on the headline alone.

So the headline needs to hook them into reading your copy.

Here are some headline concepts you can test. You’ll have to provide the actual headlines yourself.

  • Test a headline that amplifies the problem your target segment is struggling with. (If your product solves multiple problems, then each one of them is an opportunity to test.)
  • Test a long headline vs. a short one.
  • Test the size of your headline, Big vs. REALLY REALLY BIG (Bigger than your actually comfortable with, when you think it’s big enough make it bigger.)

Test#4 –  A/B Test Adding Credibility To Increase Trust

With the ease and ability to simply click away and buy somewhere else online and the proliferation of so many options to buy from or compete with our attention, trust and credibility carry a ton of weight on a decision to buy.

There are many ways to build trust on any web page to help your prospects / visitors buy from you.

Here are just a few a few that you can test:

  • Test adding trust seal images, (like a secure lock image, Better Business Bureau, VeriSign, Trust Guard, Geo Trust.)
  • Test different trust seals vs others and test the amount of trust seals. Sometimes more is not better.
  • Test the position of  your trust seals on your page.
  • Test having your page secure https:// vs. not http://

Test #5 –  A/B Test Adding Urgency To Nudge More Visitors Who Are On The Fence

Urgency is a powerful motivator to get some one to take action.

But you also want to make sure, you’re on the good side of the ethical line for this type of test.

Selling more at the expense of trust is not worth it.

However if you can use urgency legitimately it can be a powerful motivator and provide a big impact to your conversion rate.

Here are some ethical ways to test urgency:

  • Test a limited-time price discount where visitors must buy before a certain date in order to qualify for the discount.
  • Test adding free bonuses if visitors buy within a certain time period.
  • Test limiting the availability of your products or services. (McDonalds did this with the McRib, and Disney does this with every DVD movie release, after a certain time they put it back in the vault and you can’t buy it anymore, or at least until the next special release.)

Test #6 – A/B Test Your Page Layout To Appeal To Attention

The layout of a page is more than just graphic design.

It’s a conversation, telling the visitor what they need to know step by step, and addressing their objections as they arrive.

If you think of layout like that then the job of the layout is to guide the visitor through the conversation.

Here are some layout tests you can easily implement.

  • Test a single column layout vs. a two-column layout with the supportive information in the second column.
  • Test moving your buying option lower, below the fold. Sometimes having the sales pitch too early in the process can kill conversions. (This is really very dependent on the type of product, the offer and the audience)

Test #7 –  A/B Test Your Follow-up Sequence To Maximize Sales Of Repeat Buyers

This is for the advanced marketer:
To maximize your sales you should be segmenting your email list and sending different follow up sequences to each segment.

Here are some quick follow-up email sequence tests you can do:

  • Test the frequency of your follow up emails.
  • Test the copy in each follow up email.
  • Test the number of calls to action in each email. (Not different calls to action but more of the same call to action, just more of the same link, throughout the email.)

Test #8 –  A/B Test Your Social Proof

Social proof as described in Robert Cialdini’s six keys to persuasion explained in his 2009 book titled “Influence” is a short cut we use to make decisions.

Here’s a more classical definition: Observing the behavior of those around us provides a convenient mental short cut which simplifies the decision process for us.  “We determine what is correct by what other people think is correct” (Lun et al, 2007).

Social proof on a web page might be having a statistic like “Last year alone, Basecamp helped over 285,000 companies…”

So since we use social proof as a short cut to make decisions, the key to it’s success is in how similar we perceive other people to be to ourselves.

Here are some quick social proof tests you can implement today:

  • Test not having social proof vs. having it.
  • Test the type of social proof. (For example, test having testimonials that look like Facebook style posts.)

Test #9 –  A/B Test Removing Elements

There is beauty in simplicity, minimalism and conversion rates…

Sometimes there are too many elements on a page, this is often the case with a landing page but can also be equally true for any page.

Removing elements is one of only three things you can do to any page when it comes to testing.

  1. Remove
  2. Add
  3. Start Over
  • Test removing on element at a time

Test #10 –  A/B Test Your Copy

If you study any of the grate copywriters like Gary Halbert, you’ll see that direct response copywriting is a powerful tool in and of itself.

But it takes years of dedicated hard work to get as good at copy as the greats or a bankroll to hire some of todays great copywriters. I highly recommend you study them and put in the effort…

But… If you don’t have the time or the money just yet…

Here are some copy tests you can easily implement without a copywriter:

  • Test using bold, italics and highlighting (sparingly) to emphasize you most important benefits.
  • Test the length of your paragraphs so they look more inviting and easy to read.
  • Test adding sub-headlines to emphasize your key messages and compel your visitors to read more. This can also break up your copy. (Your sub-headlines should tell the story on their own. Once added try reading them without the supportive text underneath.)
  • Test centering short chunks of text. In a long page copy format this adds importance to those sections because they are different that the other copy on the page and gets visitors to pause.

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The Top 10 Traits A GREAT Conversion Rate Optimizer
 Must Have

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is truly both an art and a science.

To do CRO right you need to use your whole brain.

Both the right side and the left.

Normally people are more dominant on one side or the other.

You’re either totally creative or totally analytical.

Conversion optimization is one of those rare fields that walks the line in the middle.

If you don’t have certain characteristics you likely aren’t cut out to do great CRO.

You may get some gains, by getting lucky or copying other case studies.


To make a meaningful impact today’s conversion rate optimizer must have these 10 traits to be truly GREAT:

1. Be Empathetic

This is probably the most important trait.

Too often we think everyone uses the web the say way we do, or is motivated by the same things we are, thinking this way is detrimental to optimization.

Empathy is the ability to truly experience and understand the emotions, fears and dreams of your site visitors.

This allows a great CRO optimizer to see things others cannot so that they can align emotion, motivation and intent with conversion goals.

2. Have Insatiable Curiosity

Conversion rate optimization is a continuous process which is fueled by a passion to know what works and why.

Without an insatiable curiosity that demands more, you won’t get to the root.

It’s usually the root of the problem that allows you to see things in different ways and gets you to the “Ah” moment.

The moment that connects all the dots across the entire customer experience.

The great conversion rate optimizer should never stop asking “why“.

3. Have An Understanding Of Buying Psychology 

Technology will constantly change but human nature will always stay the same.

The reasons why we buy are universally coded into our DNA.

Tapping into those reasons are key to optimizing for people not webpages.

A basic understanding of buying psychology is essential to great optimization.

If you don’t understand people, you can’t help them buy.

4. Understand Usability

It’s not only important to understand how to properly set up a usability test so so you don’t bias the results.

But also to step outside of yourself and use a website as if you were someone from another planet.

This lets you eliminate friction and unnecessary steps, and gives you a place to start asking questions.

5. Have A Different Sense of Design

I see design from two different perspectives.

Look and feel.

The optimization key here is how design relates to eye flow.


Designing the experience.

That is how all the elements fit together across several steps.

Both are critical to conversion optimization.

6. Have An Understanding of Good Classic Copy Writing

This is where empathy, psychology and an understanding of your visitors all come together in a compelling way that allows your web page to have a conversation with your prospect.

Any good conversion rate optimizer should be studying the classic writers like Eugene Schwartz, Gary Halbert and others.

These were the guys doing optimization before the web.

To be a great conversion rate optimizer you don’t necessarily need to be a great copywriter yourself buy you do need to be able to understand and identify good converting copy.

7. Be A Critical Thinker

Deep thinking gets us closer to understanding the “Why” of both what worked and what didn’t…

So that even failed tests become opportunities for learning.

It’s vitally important to think about the outcome and analyze your split-tests across many dimensions and think through all aspects of your hypothesis and test results.

8. Be Humble

The quality of being modest and honestly admitting, if even to yourself, that you don’t really know what will work is why we test.

Every test won’t be a winner.

And thats Okay…

But what’s more important is the ability to be Okay with that.

So often our ego gets in the way of a test idea that kills it on the vine.

A good sense of humility allows us to be wrong, that’s the only way we’ll really learn and grow.

And that’s what optimization is really all about.

9. You Gotta Love of Data

This is where the left side of your Brian comes in big time.

Not only in finding trends, but…

The ability to look at the data, both qualitative and quantitative, and hear what they are saying, is an important trait that the Great conversion optimizer has.

Cross referenceing  what people do with what they say.

This will lead you on paths you never knew existed to test hypothesizes that the average optimizer would over look.

10. Have An Open Mind

Being open to test ideas from everywhere even wild card ideas, that are totally out of left field, with the rigor of structure around a solid hypothesis for learning will allow you to capture tests others fail to see.

Some times even the best conversion optimizer is too close to the problem.

Having an open mind, democratizes ideas and allows them to come from anywhere or anyone.

In the end it all comes down to testing it.

Conversion rate optimization is a skill that the truly great among us are constantly perfecting and improving.

If you inherently possess these 10 traits, you probalby have naturally gravitated to conversion rate optimization as your profession.

If you don’t possess them, you can work to develop them.

But some may be harder for you to embody than others.

In either case consciously developing these traits will make you a better conversion rate optimizer.

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Growing Your Email List With The Foot-In-The-Door Technique

Smart marketers focus on growing their e-mail lists because they know the bigger and better the list, meaning the more qualified, the more they can grow the bottom line.

But getting more opt ins on the web is no longer as easy as it was in 1998 or even 2010. Visitors are now inundated with email offers and as a result opt ins have been harder to get.

Now a days, you’ve got to give to get…

The key to growing your email list in 2014 is to offer the right lead magnet to your visitors, which is an art in to itself and worthy of a seperate dedicated blog post all it’s own.

The short  answer is that you need to offer something of value to your potential subscribers in exchage for their email.

But that’s only half the battle.

You have to get in front of them with your irresistible offer at just the right moment.

There are many ways to do this from pop ups to fly-outs that appear once a visitor scrolls down to a certain point with a sign up box.

All of those are great and despite how people feel about these types of gimmicks, they do work to grow your email list. This blog itself has a pop up to first time visitors.

Even though it might be annoying to some people, the trade off is worth it.

The downside of these tools is that they once they capture a lead their usefulness is pretty much done.

The power is in the data…

Anyone who’s read this blog before or listened to any of my conversion podcasts knows, I’m a big fan of data and using it to make decisions as well as base tests hypothesis and analysis on.

Which is one of the reasons why I like the ManyContacts Opt in Bar to grow your list.

One of the most powerful features of ManyContacts is the data collection beyond simply the prospects email address.

ManyContacts collects a rich set of information based on each contact’s social profiles, location, and IP address, among other things.

Below is an example of the data set you can get along with your opt in.

This robust info helps to flesh out the nitty gritty details of your list.

You can really drill down, if you do the work to understand each new opt in, and get a complete 360 view of who they are and what makes them tick based on the compilation of social profiles alone.

Not to mention opportunities for future dialog you can have based on that data.

Of course you have to use this power wisely.

You don’t want to scare away anyone by appearing too creepy.

ManyContacts focuses on collecting leads with a sticky bar that sits on top of your site in a fixed position, which is great for grabbing attention. But also makes it easy to create a lead generating opportunity on the same page, without creating a dedicated landing page.

It’s also easy to include an irresistible offer like a coupon code, an e-book in exchange for an email, without extra set up.

But what’s even better is that it looks simple with just an email field, minimizing any anxiety that a visitor would have normally on an opt in form with multiple fields.

Yet here’s the best part…

Well almost as good as the data part already mentioned.

Once your lead Opts in with their email, the bar expands down, turning the unassuming single filed opt in into a customizable form, where you can capture additional form fields.

This creates forward momentum from a small “yes” in your fresh new opt in lead.

They have already entered their email address in the previous step so completing an additional step has a much higher chance of success than if you had asked for all fields to be compleated in one go.

This is a classic “foot in the door” sales strategy where a salesmen gets a prospect to agree to one request, usually a small request, then  asking for more.

This works because it plays on the basic human nature called successive approximations.

Essentially, the more someone goes along with a small requests or a commitment (also know as the commitment/consistence principle), the more likely that person is to continue in the same direction and feel obligated to go along with another request, usually a larger request.

The small “yes” of the single email address opt creates a connection between the website requester and the opt in lead.

Even though it’s only an email address, when the future request of additional form fields, the new lead feels obligated or more likely to complete them because this behavior is consistent with their earlier one on giving their email address.

Of course the key to make all of this successful is to have the right offer that resonates with your audience.

You’ve got to give to get.

The key to offering something that resonates with your target audience is to first know who they are and what they want.

To do that you need to be able to invasion them clearly in your head by creating a document that makes them real.

My friend and fellow conversion rate optimization specialist Alex Harris calls this your “avatar.

But don’t let the lack of a lead magnet stop you from building your list.

Jump right in and try out ManyContacts to grow your email list, let me know your results.

Then work on adding to it and test different things to see what works best for your audience.

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Conversion Rate Optimization Review – Part 3

Know your webpage has problems, but don’t know where to start? The following review is part 3 of a conversion optimization site review. For sites that were submitted to a webinar I hosted with

The first part of this review can be seen on the Conversion Academy section of the website, which offers an online tool for testing.

The second part can be found here:

And includes the following websites in part 2:

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Conversion Rate Marketing Academy Podcast is Now On Stitcher

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Conversion Rate Optimization Links Worth Checking Out #10

Did you happen across a great blog post, a good tweet or an interesting resource this week that you think is worth sharing?

Here’s my humble list of conversion rate optimization related links that caught my attention this week, share yours in the comments below or email me directly (bobby at creativethrist . com )and maybe I’ll include yours next week.

The theme of this weeks conversion optimization links worth checking out is Persuasion.

1. Continuous Metrics Optimization: I Before E, Except After C

This article was written by John Quarto-vonTivadar who wrote a book or two with the legendary conversion expert Bryan Eisenberg. I believe John was once part of Future Now Inc. and  one of the inventors of Persuasion Architecture.

The article is well worth checking out and also has a  great reminder to reward smart failure from John himself .

“Your learnings always come from your failings.”

2. Persuasion Design: A Conversion Rate Optimization Framework

This article is more than just a primer on persuasion but a foundational lesson in the ROI of conversion rate optimization. Along with a great case study and fundamental principles, What more could you want on a Friday?

  1. Motivation to perform the desired behavior (Persuasion)
  2. Ability to perform the desired behavior (UX)
  3. Trigger to perform the desired behavior (Call to Action, like “add to cart”, “Contact”)

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Behavior Motivation And Online Sales

B.J. Fogg was the first scientist to articulate the the overlap between persuasion and computers. Fogg has founded the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab where he teaches and created a model of human behavioral change.

What interests me about Professor Fogg is his application of his Behavior Motivation Model on conversion optimization and online sales.

Conversion from point A to B be it a sale, an opt in, whatever really comes down to altering behavior in an ethical and responsible way. Dr. Fogg’s behavior model mirrors just that, not only for online sales but also for changing behaviors in ourselves to improve  and grow or just to be more healthy as in the case of eating popcorn as Professor Fogg explains in the video below.

The Behavior Motivation Model is broken down into 3 steps:

  1. Trigger – There needs to be an external trigger to prompt your behavior. This can be an advertisement on TV or some such memory prompt, which creates the desire and starts the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) that most marketers are familiar with.
  2. Ability – Your prospect or even you has to have the ability to complete the action in the case of a purchase, this might be the ability to buy it meaning the actual functionality of completing the checkout cart online or be able to afford it.
  3. Motivation – This is really where the desired behavior ties into conversion rate optimization since motivation is at the heart of all conversions. The closer we can get to understanding and matching that motivation of the prospect through congruency (across every element) and continuity (across every step) of our sales funnel, the more we’ll increase conversions and online sales.

Click Here to see the video below and let B.J. Fogg himself explain this further:

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