Podcast: Reaching New Audience Through Partners; Limitations of Responsive Design

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In this episode of Landing Page Optimization SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash and Josh Krafchin of Clever Zebo discuss conversion rate optimization tips. Their conversation covers a host of topics from expanding your audience through partnerships, optimizing the on-site experience, using Responsive Design (RD)  appropriately, to going up 11,000 feet and hiking on a glacier in a pair of sandals.

Getting the Right Audience

 According to Josh, one of the most critical factors in CRO is bringing in the right traffic and presenting the audience with the right message that will make them convert. Mismatch in AdWords traffic is something that has to be addressed right off the bat. There’s also the need for marketers to tap other traffic acquisition opportunities, as it’s increasingly becoming difficult for AdWords traffic to find conversions.

 He says that a strategy people overlook is finding other companies or outlets that are already speaking with the same audience that you’re trying to reach. These partnerships work because it’s low (if not zero) cost, and it makes information about who your clientele is available through discussions with the partner. This, in turn, makes for very targeted messaging.

Finding the Right Partner

Tim asked Josh to expound on getting the partner’s attention and convincing them to give you access to their audience. For Josh, business development partnerships should be approached like dating:  put yourself out there, and start with the mindset that there’s a right partner for everyone. Also, you have to do your research, present the potential partner with a compelling message and a well-thought through offer, and show your passion of wanting to work together. If this transaction-focused approach fails, then Josh offers resources or educational materials that would be valuable to the partner’s audience. 

Josh shares that when he launched Clever Zebo, he offered online marketing companies free consultation for their customers. He warns, however, that a pure incentive deal will not always take flight. He says that if it’s going to come down to negotiations, then some cash in addition to the incentive will make the deal more appealing. 

Optimizing the On-Site Experience

There are different ways to approach optimization. Some say you should do usability studies; some say do landing page testing, and some tell you to build what you’re going to build and look at your analytics. Josh, who admits that this viewpoint tends to be skewed toward people who are getting started and have a smaller sample size of historical data, says that there’s a time and place for all these approaches. 

He says that if you don’t have an effective conversion funnel in place, you need to start with what expresses your value proposition best. Gather your team and think deeply about the message you want to convey and how you’re going to tell it. Josh emphasizes the importance of not rushing into A/B testing. When you get to a point where you have enough data, that’s when you make decisions about doing usability studies and about whether you’re doing a complete overhaul of your process or your landing page,or if you’re going to look at individual elements. 

Tim agrees that people tend to jump into testing without realizing that the environment is unsettled – the business model, the market segments, and the staging of the offering. He says it’s a different case when you’re dealing with the tactical stuff - choosing the headline, the offer, the button color and size – because usual psychological motivations can give you ideas for these. With other things, though, Tim suggests hanging them out there and seeing how they do for a while. 

Approaching Things from a Different Angle

Josh indicates that his experience with startups made him realize the value of the spirit of reinvention and approaching things from a totally different angle. He says you have you consider what you can do to radically re-imagine how people come in to the flow and give them something exciting and new. 

Larger companies tend to get comfortable with incremental changes and fail to realize that reinvention and approaching things differently can be valuable too.  Tim adds that being on the inside of a company can be a real danger too – you tend to get into a rut and test the same kinds of things just to justify your salary and not go for the fences. So, sometimes it’s good to shake things up - reconsider the business model or the flow of interactions with the potential client. It’s okay to think big, even if it means failing big, because you’ll hopefully find something in the process.

Understanding Traffic Origins

Reinvention does not only apply to the entire funnel, but to individual segments as well. As Josh notes, people who are coming in from an exact keyword match behave differently compared to people who are coming in from a demographic group through Facebook or LinkedIn. These segments have different thought processes and needs, so a radical reinvention might be needed for a particular segment.  

Tim says that different kinds of intent are formed around people from different sources. From search, you can tell people’s intent and their stage in the buying process.  With social media, though, he warns that it’s a whole new game. 

Josh and Tim also talk about understanding the context in which your partner traffic has interacted with your partner already.  Josh gives an example of how a long lead gen form, when used with traffic from an affiliate marketer,  performed really well for a health company, but performed terribly when ran through AdWords and Facebook. 

The two also tackle people’s reluctance to touch on-page stuff for fear of blowing up SEO. Josh says that this fear is not completely unwarranted, though. He’s seen situations where issues arise even when you do the right things. This is why he believes that if something’s performing amazingly well, you don’t necessarily have to play with it. 

Josh indicates that marketers now work in a world where keyword frequency and relevance are not as important as they used to be. What matters now is usability, user experience, and a clear business model that conveys your value proposition. He summarizes what marketers need to think about and avoid:

  1. When making conversion tweaks, think conservatively about the conversion lift.
  2. Do not think the conversion funnel is independent of the traffic source. 
  3. Don’t just think of the desktop world; review your analytics to see if you need Responsive Design or a mobile version.

Using Responsive Design

Josh tackles the Responsive Design topic the same way most companies do - he thinks through how big an effort it is, and how difficult it is to pull off correctly. Start with analytics and see how many people are coming in through mobile, then figure out the strategy from there. If you need things to be in a particular place on a particular screen size, you might want to go with a mobile version.

First Air Date: August 5, 2013

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