SMX Melbourne : How to Make Conversion Optimization Work for Your Business

webtrafficThis is a summary of the presentation given by Alan Long, from Experian Hitwise at SMX Melbourne last month, about how to make conversion optimization work for your business.


Survey of Australian Marketers

Conversion optimization is basically like product placement in a store, says Alan. In retail stores, you switch your products around, change signage etc. to see where/how they are best placed to produce the most sales. This is what Conversion Optimization is all about, but using your web site content.

Experian researched 300 Australian marketing professionals from multiple industries about conversion optimization via an independently commissioned study. The idea was to explore how Australian organizations are using online marketing channels and assess their understanding of conversion optimization.

The study showed that 2.043 billion was spent in Australia on online marketing to the end of June 2010. That’s a 13 percent increase over last year. Aussie marketers are pumping more budget into online marketing to drive higher volumes of traffic.

Are marketers missing a trick when it comes to boosting web ROI? Yes, Alan says. Lots of money being spent, but very little of that is put into converting visitors into customers or measuring success.

At the moment, site visitors are the main measure of web site success for many marketers. However, conversion is a more a valid measure of success, with conversion rates typically running at 1-5 percent. The trend in Australia is towards boosting traffic rather than reviewing site performance to drive conversion.

But, Alan says, why attract large volumes of traffic to your website if no-one is buying or doing what you wanted them to? This failure likely stems from a lack of awareness around conversion optimization and how to measure success.


Six Signs Your Business Should be Doing Conversion Optimization:

1) You have a high spend on attraction activities or advertising that drives consumers to your website.
2) You have a high spend on website content look and feel.
3) You have a large amount of online traffic.
4) There is pressure to increase profitability but you’re unsure how to measure it.
5) You’re frequently making website changes based on guesswork.
6) You’re operating in a highly competitive industry.


Warning, Scary Statistics Ahead!

Almost half of Australian online marketers surveyed spend over 40 percent of budget driving traffic to their sites. Their biggest increase in spend will be on website updates (55 percent).

Of annual budgets allocated to online marketing:

  • 17% = creative and design
  • 13.5% = content development and updates
  • 13.2% = hosting, software and licenses
  • 11.3% = usability
  • 10.4% = programming and development
  • 8.2% = SEO
  • 7.1% = analysis and measurement
  • 7.1% = conversion optimization

Despite ongoing investment in web site design and traffic generation, 90% of marketers surveyed spent less than 10 percent of their budget on persuading existing visitors to take action! (conversion optimization). You need to compliment traffic generation with a website that provides the right experience, leading visitors to the desired action, says Alan, otherwise your web site is as effective as a billboard in the desert.


Big Brands Make the Same Mistakes

It wasn’t just the small companies making the mistakes either. The study showed that large brands throw big bucks at getting traffic with conversion rates of less than 5 percent. They have large volumes of traffic, however, they continue to compete for more online traffic by investing in expensive advertising and marketing, despite low conversion rates of sales or customers – many less than 5 per cent.

By focusing on attracting more customers to your website you are competing against your peers who often use similar tactics (e.g. display, pay-per click and search engine optimization). Instead of competing with others for traffic and squandering the traffic you get, you should be competing against yourself by optimizing your site for more conversions. This is a competition you’re guaranteed to win. How much better could you be doing? Why does one change work but another doesn’t? How much impact could it have on traffic and conversions if you tweak your landing pages or checkout process?


Lack of Understanding About Conversion Optimization

There is a significant lack of understanding of conversion optimization in Australia - 89 percent do not do ANY. Most of these companies don’t have the tools or knowledge to accurately measure it, let alone act on it. Meanwhile, 62 percent of those surveyed have never even heard of conversion optimization or don’t understand what it is.

Research found that 30 percent of Australian marketers either do not evaluate the success of their website or only evaluate it on an annual basis, while 26 percent don’t know what factor/s contribute most to the success of their websites. Almost 45 percent of marketers surveyed that DO evaluate the success of their websites believe total visits/unique visitors or page views per visit are the key indicators of success. Wow.

Of those marketers that know about and conduct conversion optimization, over half have a website conversion rate of over 11 percent - double the figure claimed by respondents who have never heard of it. Marketers who are using conversion optimization are gaining competitive advantage by maximizing the engagement and sales opportunities of their sites. They understand what impacts the performance of their web site and what needs to change in order to increase sales and/or participation.


Getting started with Conversion Optimization

Conversion optimization doesn’t require significant budget or a fresh online marketing strategy to be effective. The critical factors are using web expertise to research and identify what online clients want and taking the necessary steps to build engagement, says Alan. Here are 8 ways to get started:

1. Know what your customers want.
2. Present an appropriate call to action.
3. Design your layouts & forms with users in mind.
4. Test your processes.
5. Use reviews, ratings and endorsements.
6. Use promotions and find synergies.
7. Improve navigation search and filtering functionality.
8. Increase credibility.

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SMX Melbourne : Designing a Bullet Proof Link Building Campaign

This is a summary of the presentation given by Ian McAnerin, CEO of McAnerin International Inc. at SMX Melbourne last month, about how to design a bullet proof link building campaign.

Link History

Twelve years ago, pre-Gooogle, search engines just analyzed content in order to rank sites, says Ian. Linking wasn’t part of the ranking algorithm. Google put paid to that by making links part of the equation. Suddenly, SEO became a lot more difficult.

Ian explained Term Vector Analysis (TVA) and Citation Analysis and how they influenced the concept of links. TVA is how keywords appear on a page (relevance). Citation Analysis is the influence of keywords on a page (authority). Google was built by students who were using citation analysis on a daily basis. Keyword density isn’t used by search engines. However, it is kinda similar to term vector analysis, which IS used by search engines.

Every web page stored in Google has a term profile containing number of times a keyword is used, density, proximity, position etc. Google then looks for clusters of terms that appear in proximity to the search phrase and finds the Representative Average to display in the SERPs. The process of TVA is excellent at figuring out informational pages such as Wikipedia pages.

The problem is that TVA can’t give search engines the entire picture - it’s difficult for them to tell the difference between spam and awesomeness. This is how search engines worked up until Google. Then Google came along and threw links into the equation. The more links you had to the page, the higher rank you would have in the SERPs.

Typically, the better writing, the worse the SEO, because good writers use flowery, descriptive language.

Types of Links

Now, to rank, you need three kinds of links:

1) Authority (aged)

2) Relevance (current)

3) Buzz (social)

So you need a combination of old and new links. Therefore you need to be constantly building links!

Stinking Linking - reference to articles by Mike Grehan about the prob with aged domains and links.

Link Quality

Link page quality is measured by:

  • PageRank of the page
  • cached
  • nofollow
  • number of other links on page
  • topic

Remember that it’s the PR of the PAGE that’s important, not the PR of the domain or main site. So if someone is offering you a link and bragging about having a PR4 on their home page, but your link is going to go on a inner page that has PR0, there’s no value there.

Page sculpting is not as influential now. No point no-following all your links on a page as they all leak PR anyway.

Sources of Links:

  • Seeds - Yahoo, DMOZ
  • Directories and connections
  • competitors (meet then beat)
  • articles and blog posts
  • widgets
  • reviews
  • case studies
  • contests and publicity
  • profiles
  • social media
  • internal linking campaign
  • link reclamation
  • pick up the phone!

Ian suggests starting any link campaign with your own site. Make sure you are cross linking internal pages. Then go and do link reclamation - check your 404s in Webmaster Tools to see if anyone is linking in to pages that no longer exist and ask them to update.

As an idea to attract links, Ian suggests holding a contest e.g. school laptop giveaway - put the rules of the contest on your web site and then the school / parents etc link to your web page for the rules.

Anchor text is virtual content. Rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t spam your web site with the same keyword phrase, don’t do the same with your link building. Mix and match the anchor text linking to your pages and ask people linking to you to do the same.

Deep links are the best links. Don’t ask everyone to link to your home page! You’ll get better crawls and better rankings and your audience gets a higher quality experience if you inner pages are well-linked. Plus the crawler starts at inner pages that it might have missed before.

Tools for Link Building:

Link Don’ts:

  • Use Free For All (FFA) links
  • Off topic links
  • Non-editorial
  • Obviously purchased links
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SMX Melbourne 2010 : All About Mobile Search

mobileapps2This is an excerpt from my live blogging of a SMX Melbourne presentation by Gillian Muessig, President of SEOmoz.

Mobile is here to stay. If you haven’t already investigated how to use mobile marketing, you are already way behind.

Why do you want a community platform? Social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce. Gillian mentioned LivingSocial.com - already in Sydney, very big in the US. It’s a way to get deals / coupons for things in your community. Also Groupon.com is a similar thing. These ideas are similar to @square, which is a way to pay for things using your cell phone, popular in the US and hopefully coming to Australia and New Zealand soon.

You can make your own QR code at www.qrcode.kaywa.com - download the QR code to your mobile for coupon / discount / offer / invitations / news. Mobile coupons are about levels of offers therefore all about social status.

You can also play games with QR codes. Send hints / clues / instructions etc. Data has come full circle and now gone offline. You can get your codes offline now, from billboards, physical stores etc.

Should you or shouldn’t you jump on the .mobi bandwagon? Gillian says no. It was always a stop gap measure. But DO create mobile-friendly pages. Search engines will use transcoding to auto show your page on mobile devices. Make sure your pages provide value and are designed for mobile and put them in folders on your site.

Cindy Krum is a mobile marketing evangelist and the world’s foremost authority on the subject. Gillian suggests looking at Cindy’s mobile directory list.

If you can blog, you can build an app. You don’t need a huge audience, you can make a mobile app just for your biz or your few customers.

For application building, try AppBreeder. Also, Hunch.com launches tonight - it’s a mobile community builder that allows you to build your own mobile local app on the fly. It’s a brand new service that Gillian thinks will take off after launch.

Mobile is easy, it’s out there and now is your chance to grab the opportunities in mobile marketing before your competitors do.

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Join me for SMX Melbourne

smx-melbThe Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Sydney has been growing steadily for three years now and so popular has it become, that the show has expanded to Melbourne this year for the very first time.

The inaugural SMX Melbourne Conference will be held at Hilton on the Park, Melbourne on November 16th and 17th so mark your calendars!

After this year’s successful combination in Sydney, the Expo will again consist of three main events:

- eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit (Day 1)

- Search Marketing Expo (Day 2)

- Search Engine Bootcamp (Both days)

The first day will consist of eMetrics sessions, with topics such as conversion optimization, ROI and how to understand your web site metrics. Day two will dive into more technical content such as SEO, Google rankings and duplicate content issues.

Running concurrently with these sessions on both days will be the Bootcamp presentations, which are less technical and designed for attendees who are just starting to dip their toes into the murky waters of online marketing and social media. Bootcamp topics include link building, content creation, keyword research, usability, analytics, plus how to use Facebook and Twitter for business.

I’ve been invited to present the Twitter session, so if you missed catching me speak about Twitter in Sydney in April, come and see me in Melbourne! I’ve also been invited to be the official conference blogger, so you’ll probably see me tapping away at my laptop or tweeting throughout.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know how highly I rate SMX and how much fun the Conference can be. Why not grab your ticket to SMX Melbourne and I’ll catch you at the networking drinks.

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Where the Bloody Hell Are Ya, Google Checkout?

So I have been waiting for Google Checkout to become available to merchants Down Under for a long time now.

Every time I spot a Google representative at a Search Conference in Australia or New Zealand, I take the opportunity to ask them publicly “Where the bloody hell is my Google Checkout merchant account?” So far, the answer has ALWAYS been the same: “We can’t give you any information about that”.

This year’s SMX Sydney conference was no different. Frederick Vallaeys, Product Evangelist for Google Adwords came to Australia to hold a session about the new Google AdWords ad formats. After listening patiently to Frederick, I raised my hand to ask a question and was handed the mic.

“When are you going to make Google Checkout available to merchants in Australia and New Zealand?”

An expectant hush came over the room. Frederick thought carefully for a moment and then said “I’ll have to get back to you on that. Please come and see me at the end of the session”.

Finally! I thought. Somebody who can give me a straight answer or put me in touch with someone who can give me a straight answer.

After the session, I packed up my laptop and headed up to the table of speakers. And…. Frederick was gone. Thankfully, Greg Grothaus from Google’s web spam team was still there and somewhat reluctantly took my card to give to Frederick. On the back I wrote my burning question. Again.

So fast forward two weeks after the conference. I received an email from Frederick with the subject line: Google Checkout in Australia. “Promising!” I told myself. But alas, his email read:

“Greg passed on your card to me. I believe you asked about Google Checkout coming to Australia?

Consumers in Australia can already use Checkout to pay for things. As for allowing Australian merchants to accept payments by Checkout, we don’t have any timelines we can share about that.

Sorry I can’t provide you with a more specific answer…

Frederick”

We don’t have any timelines we can share about that. WTF does that mean? Does that mean you DON’T know? Does it mean you DO know but aren’t willing to tell me? Does it mean an announcement is imminent? Does it mean you don’t really give a toss about Australia and New Zealand as they aren’t big enough markets to justify merchant accounts?

Look, I don’t complain about Google very often. Marvellous company. Brilliant people. Handy little search tool. I’m delighted that Frederick took the time to answer me personally. BUT, surely somebody, somewhere in the Googleplex can give me and other AU/NZ merchants in waiting a straight answer about this matter? It’s been 3 years since I began asking.

Where the bloody hell are ya, Google Checkout?

[Editor Update 1 : If you’re an Aussie or Kiwi merchant and would like to know where the bloody hell YOUR  Google Checkout account is, please comment on this post, or better still, make your feelings known to Google Down Under on Twitter and copy me in via @kalena]

[Editor Update 2 : Thanks to those of you who contacted Google Down Under to ask about Google Checkout for merchants Down Under. I’ve had a response from them: “…we want paid apps for devs too but it takes a while to roll this out, we don’t have a timeline for this yet“. Aaaaarrrggghhh! ]

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