It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Chris Goward – Enjoy!
As a growing business, you need more than just a basic website to be successful on the Internet. You need a website that serves prospective clients and clearly communicates why they should buy from you. Your website needs to work hard.
In short: you need more than just traffic; you need conversions!
Unfortunately, it can feel daunting to compete against larger businesses that have large budgets to perform SEO, hire copywriters, and support dedicated design and development departments.
What can you, as a SMB, to use this your advantage? You can leverage your ability to test and evolve more quickly than the big guys.
We’ve found the best way to improve how websites communicate to their prospects is by testing to uncover business insights. The A/B/n split tests that we run on our clients’ sites make huge improvements in their business.
We will use the example of Iron Mountain, where our tests started with a 45% lift in the first test, then a 404% boost (!), then another 44%, then an additional 38%, followed by a 49% conversion rate increase.
The best result for me was when a sales manager walked down the hall to ask our marketing client what he’d done to increase the lead flow into the sales team. That’s a great feeling!
Iron Mountain isn’t a small company, of course, but every business that uses online can use the same methods they do.
You can get results like this too.
One of the tools we use is called the “LIFT model™” conversion optimization framework to construct task-based hypotheses. I’ll walk you through how to evaluate your webpage with the LIFT Model and create your test hypotheses for improving your website.
The LIFT Model has six parts
1. Establish Your Value Proposition – This is a classic problem. Even though every business owner can tell you why they are the best, we often find that they forget to say it explicitly on their website. Do you have the best customer service, lowest prices, highest quality? Do you know what’s really most important to your prospects? You can test to find out what makes you the best in their minds.
2. Create Urgency – Ask for the business. Tell them why now is the right time to take action. This doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but urgency is a powerful fuel for driving your customers to take action. You should test the best way to create urgency. In a test of a site-wide call-to-action, we found that adding an urgency message lifted conversions. Can you test something similar?
3. Improve Clarity – Even very effective pages probably aren’t perfect. Is the copywriting effectively communicating your value proposition? Do the images support the message? How obvious is the next step call-to-action?
4. Improve Relevance – Your headline is your first impression. It should tell the visitor they are in the correct place AND what to do. Images are also valuable assets for establishing relevance; make sure your photos match the purpose of your page.
5. Decrease Anxiety – Testimonials, certifications, warranties are all important to establish trust. If your visitor has to stop to consider their safety they may never start back up. But, too much emphasis on security can also hurt sales. We tested an example where placing a security symbol too close to a shopping cart actually reduced e-commerce sales by 2%. You should test that!
6. Decrease Distractions – If an element isn’t important to your business, tone it down. How many things are you asking your customer to do on a single page? What is the most important element on the page? Stay focused on the page’s purpose.
Here’s an example of some of the LIFT points we identified for one of Iron Mountain’s landing pages, for example.
We can then take those problem areas and test to find the best ways to eliminate them.
Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths
The LIFT points are used to turn an online experience’s weaknesses in hypotheses to improve your conversion rate. Another word for the “strength” in this case is a hypothesis.
A valid hypothesis has three qualities:
1. It is Testable – You should keep your tests simple. Change of copy, use of bullets, and change of images work well because they can be implemented without complicated efforts.
2. It is Falsifiable – Testing requires the risk of being wrong. You derive insights by proving your hypothesis either true or false so you can take that knowledge to save you time or work in the future.
3. It is Fruitful – There are many hypotheses that can be tested and assessed, but don’t make a difference. Make sure the goal of the test is something that improves your business (like form submission or add to cart) not something like time on page.
A good hypothesis also needs to follow a certain structure that says “Changing x into y will do z.” So, potential hypotheses in this example would look like this:
Each of these hypotheses has a clear means for testing, a recognizable goal, and is possibly false.
When you look at the experience you are trying to improve, list out the six LIFT factors and find at least one change to improve each factor.
Look at your LIFT points and create a hypothesis like: If I change x into y my prospects will do z.
Now that you have a clear testable hypothesis you are ready to begin your test. You can use whatever tool you are comfortable with (e.g. Optimizely, Unbounce, Google Analytics Content Experiments, etc.) to run the test, and because you have created a valid hypothesis you will have an insight for your marketing, not just a completed test.
Want to learn more?
Want more details about Iron Mountain’s conversion optimization strategy?
I’m going to host a free webinar to show how Iron Mountain has dramatically lifted their conversion rates over the past three years. I’ll show strategies and tactics you can use on your websites too.
Chris Goward founded WiderFunnel with the belief that digital agencies should prove the value they bring. They’ve developed conversion optimization programs for clients like Google, Electronic Arts, SAP, and Shutterfly. His new book, “You Should Test That,” published by Wiley in 2013 redefines conversion optimization and shows how to create dramatic business improvements and gain marketing insights. You can find out about his company, WiderFunnel, and follow him on Twitter at @chrisgoward.
Bio: John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing[www.ducttapemarketing.com] and The Referral Engine[www.referralenginebook.com] and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.[www.ducttapemarketingconsultant.com]