15 Must-Read Conversion Posts for 2013

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2014 is just around the corner. This time last year, you could still view keywords from Google to analyze intent, and most of us didn’t have a good way to split test Facebook’s impact on conversions. 2013 left us with a healthy set of major changes, for sure, but it also left incremental improvements to conversion as a craft. Thanks for sticking around with us and reviewing changes and tactics, big and small - here are the 15 that you viewed the most, and may provide a lot of value to others:

15. Analytics: Web Site Averages Lie

Averages may look nice on slide decks presented to management, but to an analyst, averages are death. To move the needle on conversion, you need to segment until you can turn the data into an action plan, and an action plan to a test. This post shows you how.

14. PPC: So you have an ad budget. Now what?

Clearly, paid campaigns are important to the blog’s demographic. For those of you who want to learn about increasing the efficiency of your search engine marketing efforts, this post goes through the process of creating tightly integrated ads, landing pages, and copy,  for PPC campaigns that work.

13. Social: Q & A with Dennis Yu - 651% ROI for Facebook Ads

Every year, we speak to a host of thought leaders in the online marketing space. Dennis Yu stood out by being game-changing, captivating player in a fast-moving space. If you’re using Facebook to nurture your audience and not split testing your audience outside Facebook for conversion lifts, you’re probably looking at the wrong numbers. This is a must read for people who use Facebook for online marketing.

BONUS:  Cleaning Up Your Email Data For Free With Facebook (And Other Conversion Tips for Social)

12. Conversion Design: Kicking your stock photography habit

It’s tough to think of images as tools for user experience experts rather than designers, but that’s exactly what you need to do. Yes, images need to be professional, but they also need to be purpose-oriented: they need to draw attention to parts of the page that emphasize your calls-to-action, convey the exact message you need conveyed, and never be there just because the page “looks to bare.” This post goes through how you can use your images for better conversion impact.

11. Conversion Design: 4 ways to fail at conversion rate optimization

Pitfall posts are tricky, because it’s easy for the piece to bore advanced readers, or confuse people who are just getting started on the topic. We certainly don’t have a silver bullet to solve that issue, but it looks like this post about common conversion pitfalls struck the right balance, and resonated with our audience. Read on for practical tips to avoid common CRO missteps.

10. Conversion Design: Lightbox - a love hate relationship

Like most tools, light boxes can be good or bad for the user experience. Implemented for the right tasks, like playing a video, they are a boon to the visitors. Used to get visitors to subscribe to your content before the visitors have a chance to interact with your site, lightboxes create nightmares for the UX. If you’ve ever needed a checklist for when you can or should use the lightbox, this post is for you.

9. Lead Generation: 5 tips for lead generation landing pages

Lead generation is a complex beast. As the craft evolves, it becomes more important than ever to only ask for crucial information and give the visitor reasons to trust you. This piece goes through what your landing pages can do to make sure that happens.

8. Navigation: Amy Africa’s practical tips to navigation design

Most people don’t test web site ideas. For those who test ideas, they often don’t do it at scale. For the reasonably few ones who test web site ideas at scale, Amy Africa is a rock star. She has seen more web ideas being tested than should be legal, and distilled the findings to their core. So there was never really any question that her tips would be one of the biggest attention-draws for the year, and not just the blog. 

BONUS: Amy Africa’s 5 Ingredients to the E-commerce Magic Formula

7. Analytics: How do you measure usability and success before the sale?

There are a lot of words spilled on the 2% of visits that lead to sales. But the other 98% is also critical - you need to help visitors find what they need even if they’re not looking to make a purchase there and then. That way, when the time comes to make a purchase, you at least have a shot at being there. But what should you measure before the sale? HINT: Visits, views, and even the mighty search engine referrals are not your starting point. Read on to refine how you track and improve the experience before the sale.

6. Usability: When designing your page, think inside the box

Conventions. Predictability. Consistency.  These are not exactly the cornerstones of excitement, but that’s kind of the point - you need to be effective, not flashy. This post talks about how the brain works, why consistency trumps excitement on the web, and what you can do to adapt.

5. Usability: Follow the F pattern and make your visitors pay attention

Drawing attention to the right thing is important for any conversion expert, but we’re still surprised this post drew as many readers as it did. (For one thing, it talks about fixations and saccades, which, while in the province of usability, still makes for tougher reading)

If you influence or are in charge of how a page is arranged to draw attention to the call-to-action, or are looking for the toolbox options to draw the visitor’s eye to the right place, this post about reading patterns, colors, and shapes is for you.

4. Conversion Design: 4 ways to stop losing buyers, even before they get to the cart

Online marketers make hundreds of tactical tweaks, and we like having these short guides out every now and again because they have the potential to change the way you work at the micro-level without a strategy overhaul. It looks like our readership likes them too, because some of the year’s most consumed entries are about practical tips to improve conversion rates.

3. Conversion Design: 4 tricks to scare your visitors away, and how to avoid them

Who doesn’t like Halloween? This post about usability and conversion design indicates that you, our conversion-savvy readers, like the season just fine.

2. Usability: How persuasive are your product pages?

Here we go, top two. The second-most viewed entry this year talks about product pages. Specifically, the post tackles persuasive product pages - how hopes, fears, and other emotions impact the way people see web site offers, and practical ways to use this research to your advantage.

1. Conversion Design: 3 ways to simplify your landing pages

It gives us great joy that the most widely viewed entry on the blog this year is not only about conversion design, but about conversion design for landing pages. We think that speaks volumes not just about our niche, but about our core audience. This post tackles navigation, visual prioritization, reading patterns and how they impact landing pages, and for those of you who read it, we hope you found it useful.

Happy holidays, everyone.