t/hawk digital https://thawkdigital.com Drive More Revenue from Your Website Thu, 26 Jan 2023 13:46:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://thawkdigital.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/favicon.png t/hawk digital https://thawkdigital.com 32 32 6 Reasons to Employ Marketing Funnel Optimization https://thawkdigital.com/6-reasons-to-employ-marketing-funnel-optimization/ https://thawkdigital.com/6-reasons-to-employ-marketing-funnel-optimization/#respond Tue, 10 Jan 2023 14:29:43 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=4025

1. Your marketing efforts will be more efficient

Acquisition costs are arguably the biggest marketing costs a business will incur over its lifetime. Considering that it’s generally more cost-effective to convert a higher percentage of current visitors than to pay for more, it’s imperative to optimize your marketing funnel and site experience. A well-structured system for optimization allows you to be nimble in setting up, testing and implementing your optimization efforts. Testing, when done right, is safe and controlled, without concern of damage or any long-lasting impact to your site or business, affording you the ability to take risks and to discover improvements you may never have anticipated (or otherwise felt comfortable trying). Additionally, optimization serves to plug leaky funnels and customer bases— invariably yours has holes, everyone’s does—so your overall marketing spend is efficient and importantly, retention continues to improve. Effective retention efforts enable you to build a lasting relationship with customers and increase the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer base. You can think about marketing funnel optimization as a compound interest rate—a little bit each month adds up, driven by three vital activities:

  1. Endeavoring to consistently reduce your customer acquisition costs (CAC).
  2. Improving retention and thus LTV.
  3. Supporting word of mouth (WOM) referrals, the best and cheapest form of acquisition.

2. Your marketing operations will be more efficient

Before measured funnel optimization became standard practice, generally speaking, when you wanted to test something you had to take a leap of faith, implement it at great time and expense, and if it didn’t work out well, you then had to change it back at great time and expense. These days mainstream testing tools allow you to quickly and easily set up split tests and gather clear results without permanently implementing anything, which means you’ll feel emboldened to try new things.

3. You will make smarter decisions driven by data not your gut

With structured funnel optimization, you run experiments designed to collect data and validate decisions before taking a leap. Following this approach methodically and comprehensively, ultimately gets you better results from your optimization choices over time.

4. You’ll know a lot more about your TARGET AUDIENCE than ever before

Truth be told, no two customer groups are the same which is why it’s vital to test and experiment to figure out what your group prefers. Gaining these insights affords you the ability to better guide any future efforts around development, design, campaigns and programs, as you’ll already know what your customers want and, critically, which choices will likely boost conversion.

5. Your SEO will improve

Marketing funnel optimization can improve your SEO by helping you identify what you need to fix in order to reduce the deleterious effect high bounce rates (aka “pogo-sticking”) have on your ability to rank in organic search. “Pogo-sticking” is defined as a user bouncing back and forth between the search engine results page (SERP) and the sites listed there. In essence, a user conducts a search and clicks a site option listed on the SERP but quickly, upon arrival determines that the site they chose isn’t what they’re looking for so they quickly click the back button to go back to the SERP list. They then choose another site option from the list and on and on. This pattern is called pogo-sticking and it’s something that can hurt your rank in organic search. Why? Remember Google wants searchers to discover the right content quickly and easily, and pogo-sticking implies the opposite. By using structured optimization to test and improve your landing pages with respect to bounce rates, you can avoid the adverse effects of pogo-sticking.

6. You’ll make more money

Marketing funnel optimization won’t result in thousands of dollars in additional revenue right away but it will steadily add incremental revenue that you’ll notice over a period of time. Of course, any given test might identify that golden opportunity garnering immediate and significant impact, but generally speaking, the benefits of optimization more often reveal themselves over the long haul. The sum total of lots of small improvements that together result in much higher conversions and revenue. Let’s look at an example. You change the location of a form on a page which earns you two extra leads per month. This may not seem like a lot but consider the following:

  • Over the course of a year that’s 24 more leads.
  • If you close those leads at a rate of 10%, that’s 2+ more new customers.
  • If your average customer is worth $200K then that little change might amount to more than $400K in additional revenue. Year over year, this accretive effect adds up.
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Social Proof vs. Brand https://thawkdigital.com/social-proof-and-brand-marketing-what-the-future-holds/ https://thawkdigital.com/social-proof-and-brand-marketing-what-the-future-holds/#respond Tue, 29 Nov 2022 23:58:55 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=3994

In the nearly three decades since its birth in 1994 as an online bookseller, Amazon has expanded into a multitude of product categories, grown its market cap to over $1 trillion and earned the nickname “The Everything Store”—apt when you consider that Amazon has over 353 million products listed on its marketplace, 12 million of which are sold by Amazon itself. 

Among the array of Amazon’s many notable accomplishments, a few stand out, like launching the first of its kind online marketplace or introducing discounted shipping thresholds to the world of e-commerce. The launch of Amazon Marketplace in 2000, allowing third-parties to sell goods through Amazon’s platform, effectively established a new standard for what is now known as modern e-commerce. Amazon’s introduction in 2002 of free and discounted shipping ultimately led to, as we have today, consumers expecting, even demanding, low cost and free shipping on most everything. Yet, Amazon’s most profound innovation is likely neither of these. Rather, upon historical re-examination, the company’s most consequential accomplishment may prove to be its effect on the fundamental way products and services are marketed in the first place.

THE RISE OF SOCIAL PROOF

In 1995, Amazon began letting customers post reviews of products. While initially seen as an offbeat idea, reviews have long since become key to success on Amazon. Today, there are approximately 250 million reviews on Amazon and they are in large part the criteria by which many consumers decide whether or not to shell out their money. Of course, this is not just true of Amazon. It’s well known that consulting product reviews before making a buying decision has become standard in online shopper behavior, which is why most online stores work so hard to get people to review products. According to a survey by Brand Rated, 95% of consumers read reviews and 58% say they’d pay more for a product with good reviews. Bottomline, reviews engender a level of consumer trust that drives sales.
 

SEEKING VALIDATION

Seeking validation for a purchase decision is inherent to consumer behavior. It’s the whole reason brands exist. In the past, validation came from the choice of brand. But in those days, brands had total control over the brand message. No longer. Nowadays, much of that control is in the hands of the consumer and more and more, validation comes from the opinion of another consumer. In fact, per Nielsen, 92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than ads, which takes us to the definition of Social Proof.

“Social Proof” is a term coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini that in essence means relying on other people’s opinions or actions to inform our own. In online shopping, social proof relates to the influence someone else’s assessment of a product has on my choice to buy, hence the power of Amazon reviews. But the impact of social proof can apply to more than just lower funnel decisions (to buy or not), it can influence our feelings and choices throughout the marketing funnel from brand awareness to consideration to purchase decision and post-purchase satisfaction and loyalty.
 

THE ROLES OF COMMODITIZATION + TRUST

Why does this matter? All marketing strategies seek to accomplish two fundamental things, avoid commoditization and build trust.

Simply put, commoditization is a competitive dynamic in which products in the same category become so similar—with respect to perceived features and benefits in the minds of consumers—that they are left to compete on price alone. A brand’s response to commoditization depends on a couple variables, including the complexity of the product in question, the economics of that market and how willing and able the market leader is to invest in protecting its advantage. But traditionally, companies have looked to avoid commoditization by investing in innovation and/or investing in brand. With the former, a company might try to keep improving upon its product with the hope that consumers will continue to see value in, and be willing to pay a premium for, each new generation of the product. However, the proliferation of low-cost manufacturing, giving rise to less expensive copycat products, makes costly R&D to support perpetual improvement cycles harder to justify. The other approach, brand building, involves driving brand loyalty via a heavy investment in advertising and marketing; an investment which made today, without other marketing support, is far less likely to generate a great ROI because consumers place as much trust (if not more) in social proof as in brands.

And how big is trust in marketing? In short, people buy from brands they trust. In times past, consumers trusted advertising far more than they do today. Nowadays, older Americans still tend to rely on brand reputation whereas younger generations are more skeptical. Younger folks generally put their trust in other people before brands.

According to one Nielsen study, trust in traditional advertising in more developed markets appears to be waning. “Globally, trust in advertising is lowest in North America and Europe—up to 20% lower than in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.” Conversely, the credence of social proof is on the rise. In fact, per a different survey, while 61% of those surveyed said they’d trust a recommendation on social media from someone else, only 38% said they would if it came directly from a brand. Another survey by Clear Channel and JCDecaux found that while 80% of those surveyed think that trust is essential when making a purchase decision, only 34% said they actually trust the brands they commonly use. Generations of brand marketers are rolling over in their graves. Plain and simple, the influence of social proof in business today can’t be overstated. When it comes to brand trust, the route to building it with younger consumers is by way of social proof.
 

WHERE ARE WE HEADED?

Of course, no one knows for sure but what we are seeing is the growing significance of social proof. Typical examples are Amazon reviews, Trustpilot and Yelp. Amazon’s launch of the “Amazon Choice” label is another. However, there are many more ways in which businesses leverage social proof to drive results—including, case studies, testimonials, showcasing awards and accolades, compensating Influencers to shill a brand, among many others.

If the last few years are any indication of where marketing is going, reviews and social proof may just speak louder to consumers at the cash register than Madison Avenue’s best efforts. Who knows, in the future, social proof might completely transform what we consider marketing and advertising today. I’d argue that companies shouldn’t jettison the tried and true just yet, rather they need to approach the problem in a more nuanced way. When a business case can be made for it, invest in innovation and in tandem, invest in brand building. Brand loyalty will be the only sure way to see a return on investment from your product improvement efforts. And in every case, invest in building social proof. This is the world we live in; today, the best way to develop a sustainable level of consumer trust in your product and brand is by way of social proof.

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What You Need to Know When Choosing a WordPress Hosting Service In 2022 (And What the Older WordPress Hosting Companies Don’t Want You to Know). https://thawkdigital.com/what-you-need-to-know-when-choosing-a-wordpress-hosting-service-in-2022-and-what-the-older-wordpress-hosting-companies-dont-want-you-to-know/ https://thawkdigital.com/what-you-need-to-know-when-choosing-a-wordpress-hosting-service-in-2022-and-what-the-older-wordpress-hosting-companies-dont-want-you-to-know/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2022 09:17:13 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=3985

To say that web hosting is big business would be an understatement. In 2020, the global web hosting market was valued at $75 billion, with projections of $267.1 billion in growth by 2028. Of course, not all web hosting companies are created equal. In fact, if you’ve owned a business website over the last few years, chances are it’s being hosted by a legacy hosting company.

Yet hosting technology has advanced at a breakneck pace and few of these legacy players were able to keep pace with their offerings—neglecting to integrate today’s best tools and capabilities. Most of the features they offer are woefully out-of-date—something they’d probably prefer you didn’t know. A few dishonorable mentions include GoDaddy, Hostgator, BlueHost and InMotion Hosting. So what should you expect from your hosting company?

Must-Haves from Your Hosting Company

Whether an SMB or large enterprise, you should expect nothing less than these key features. Without them, you’re simply not hosted optimally.

    1. Security

First and foremost, your website must be secure. Auto updates, backups and Web Application Firewall (WAF) protection are paramount to a secure website. Equally important, your WordPress site must be safe from malicious attacks. Today, that means protection on an application level—such as hiding WordPress version from your site’s HTML code by default if your site is hacked. The bottom line is prevention from common malware, bruteforce and other security issues.

    1. Redundancy/Automated Backups

According to the USGS, “Making backups of collected data is critically important in data management. Backups protect against human errors, hardware failure, virus attacks, power failure, and natural disasters. Backups can help save time and money if these failures occur.” With a backup tool, you can create backups and also restore older versions of your site—whether the whole site or just parts such as files , databases or emails. Cloud users have an additional layer of off-site protection, as they can restore from up to seven days back.

    1. SSL Management

It’s also critical that an SSL certificate be installed on your site. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and is a global standard for securing communication between the web browser and web server through encryption. SSL decreases the risk of sensitive information being stolen or tampered with. As of July 2018, Google started flagging and penalizing (in search rankings) websites that lacked SSL, so note that not having SSL is not only risky it can also harm your SEO. To obtain an SSL certificate you can either have one installed on your site. Or if you’re using one of the better hosting providers, they’ll usually offer a free certificate for every new site created on their platform.

    1. Usage Stats

What is your CPU usage at any given time? Is it too high and causing poor performance? Are you running too many applications simultaneously? Central Processing Unit (CPU) statistics should be readily available so you can check it per hour, day, week or month, and make adjustments as needed for better site performance

    1. Staging Workflows

If you’re testing new coding techniques or launching a new or updated website, a staging workflow tool lets you build and test on a mirror image of a live website—while mitigating  risk of disrupting your current WordPress site. The staging environment is typically hosted on a private subdomain of your WordPress site

    1. Caching

Caching is defined as the process of storing specific data (usually the larger file size elements like images, graphics, video, etc.) at multiple places along the data supply chain thus not requiring requests for that data go all the way back to the point of origin (usually the website database) to retrieve it. Its benefits include faster response times and the ability to serve data quickly and consistently (i.e. webpages load in the browser more quickly), as well as an overall reduction in server resource usage.

    1. SSH Access

Secure Shell—SSH for short—is a network communication protocol, and is the generally accepted standard for securely accessing a server. While legacy hosting providers are often limited to SFTP, better, modern hosting providers offer the creation and management of SSH connections, as well as a log of those connections. The benefits of SSH all boil down to data security. In short, SSH is vastly more secure, as all data being transferred is encrypted, and requires user authentication to prevent unauthorized users (read hackers) from accessing the server.

Top Hosting Companies

Good news! Today, it’s easier than ever to migrate your website, especially with advanced tools offered by the best of the new generation hosting companies. 

SiteGround—#1 Best All-Around Hosting Company in 2022 

SiteGround offers hosting services in several data center locations around the world—including web hosting, WordPress hosting, WooCommerce hosting, cloud hosting, and reseller hosting. Its platform is recommended by WordPress.org and trusted by owners of over 2,800,000 domains. Their mix of features, combined with the best support and value in the industry, put them at the top of our list.  

Kinsta®—Honorable Mention

Kinsta works with 24,800+ companies, offering premium managed hosting with top performance and expert support. The company offers built-in application performance monitoring, industry-leading speeds by the fastest CPUs, and a global content delivery network for “blazing-fast” pages and cached assets. We appreciate their solutions and service, however, they come at a higher price.

WPEngine®—Honorable Mention

WPEngine’s website boasts “a smarter way to WordPress—helping you achieve more with their fully managed WordPress platform and developer solutions trusted by 1M+ brands and agencies.” We think it’s the perfect fit for a company that wants to keep it simple—with very basic features and capabilities. Plus, they’re well priced for what they deliver.

Digital Ocean—Beyond WordPress

If you aren’t running WordPress but a bespoke platform or lesser known CMS, Digital Ocean is a good option for cloud computing services, with predictable pricing, robust documentation, and scalability to support your company’s growth at any stage.

Bottom Line

Your website is your business lifeline. It must be secure and redundant with all the must-haves to ensure continual, disruption-free operation, 24/7. Fortunately, easy migration to a top provider can be fast, seamless and affordable—and that’s especially good for business.

 

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Social Awareness Campaigns – How to reach millions of people on a budget https://thawkdigital.com/social-awareness-campaigns-how-to-reach-millions-of-people-on-a-budget/ https://thawkdigital.com/social-awareness-campaigns-how-to-reach-millions-of-people-on-a-budget/#respond Wed, 14 Sep 2022 14:24:25 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=3693

As social media use has become increasingly prevalent over the past decade, businesses have been looking for ways to leverage this new channel to reach more customers. In comparison to the old “spray and pray” approach of traditional advertising, businesses can use social media data and user personas to reach a larger audience by understanding the needs and wants of their target market and giving the perfect message to people that will be most receptive to it. By understanding what motivates their target market, businesses can create content that appeals to them and speaks to their interests. 

Facebook and Instagram’s awareness campaigns can help any businesses reach millions of potential customers with a budget that most businesses have available. By tapping into Facebook and Instagram’s vast user base, companies can reach many potential customers at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.

It’s so easy to set up one of these campaigns that often businesses jump in without doing the amount of preparation that would make their campaigns reach their highest potential. You should always begin by creating buyer personas that reflect the needs and wants of your target market. These buyer personas are a great way to understand what motivates buyers in your market. Then, by using the Meta Audience Insights tool, you can customize your campaign to capture their attention. 

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are valuable for understanding your target audience and how to reach them best. By understanding your target user, you can more effectively create content that resonates with them. Additionally, using social media data to understand user behavior better can help you identify patterns and trends to broaden your reach.

Buyer personas are fictional characters developed to be representative of your potential buyers or customers. These characters should represent a wide range of demographic characteristics to ensure that you completely understand all the types of people you are trying to engage. 

But how do you know the characteristics of your ideal target audience? Don’t just guess. Meta’s Audience Insights tool is here to help. 

Audience Insights Tool

Meta’s Audience Insights tool helps businesses effectively understand what groups and demographics will respond best to their message.. The tool provides businesses with valuable insights into their target audiences, including information on demographics, interests, and buying habits. This information informs the development of ad targeting strategies more likely to resonate with potential customers and convert them into paying customers.

If you are a business that relies on Facebook or Instagram ads or social media posts to promote your product or service, Meta’s Audience Insights tool lets you see beyond user profile photos so you can make informed decisions on how to reach them. You can better understand user behavior, preferences, and activity with their user data to build brand awareness and increase engagement. In addition, you can use these insights to develop user groups for future targeting. 

Using Meta’s Audience Insights Tool

When you click Audience Insights (located in the “Analyze and Report” section), you’ll see a pop-up asking you to choose an audience. You will need to select to target either everyone on the platform or just people connected to your page. 

If your goal is to broaden your audience by investigating user trends across Facebook, you should start with everyone on Facebook and filter down from there. Or, to learn more about people who have already expressed interest in your business, you can begin with people who have already liked your business page or previously interacted with your content. 

Applying Meta’s Audience Insights Filters

The Audience Insights tool gives you access to an incredible amount of data, so how do you get to what’s most valuable? By using their filters, you can work to target the right audience. 

When you select “Create Audience,” you will see a series of filters divided into five main categories. The first four categories will be the ones you use the most. 

  • Location
  • Age and gender
  • Interests
  • Connections

The Audience Insights tool also offers some advanced filter options, such as: 

  • Occupation
  • Educational Level
  • Life Events
  • Relationship Status

The advanced filters sound great, but you should use them sparingly. Because these filters can be so granular and specific, applying too many or the wrong kinds can limit your target audience so much that you stymie your chance of success. 

Analyzing Meta Audience Insights

Once you’ve generated some data, you need to analyze it. The collected data is collected into four categories, organized as tabs across the top of your screen: Demographics, Page Likes, Location, and Activity. 

Demographics

The Demographics tab is where you go to get insight into metrics like relationship status, geographic location, age, and gender. Remember that you should continuously refine and update your buyer personas as you better understand your market. Demographics data is useful for refining your buyer personas to ensure that your targeting schema stays on point. 

Page Likes

Under the Page Likes tab, you can see how your audience interacts with other pages. Why is this important? Because it shows you what your audience actually cares about and the types of content they are most likely to interact with. 

Location

The Location tab helps you identify the geographic areas worth investing in, with user data sorted by city, country, and even predominant language. For example, if you are marketing a bicycle, you may be surprised to discover that some cities will yield better results than others. This could be because some cities are more accessible to bikes or the population enjoys outdoor activities.  

Activity

The Activity tab will help you build on the insights you uncovered in the Page Likes tab by showing exactly how your audience chooses to engage with other Facebook pages or campaigns. With this knowledge, you can determine if you need to focus more on original video content or advertising time-limited promotions. You will also see whether your audience is more likely to access social media via smartphones or computers.

Launching your Brand Awareness Campaign

Once you have developed your buyer personas and used Meta’s Audience Insights to define your target market, you are ready to create a “Brand Awareness” campaign. With the correct parameters, you can often reach half a million people or more for each $1,000 of ad spend. If your campaign fails to reach your goals, you can use the data again to refine you campaign until it is as efficient as possible and. 

Audience Insights are not just for one-time use. To ensure that your campaigns are most effective, you must include Audience Insights as part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

 

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Using a Competitor Linking Strategy to Build Robust, Relevant Backlinks https://thawkdigital.com/using-a-competitor-linking-strategy-to-build-robust-relevant-backlinks/ https://thawkdigital.com/using-a-competitor-linking-strategy-to-build-robust-relevant-backlinks/#respond Mon, 01 Aug 2022 12:58:56 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=3494

In the simplest terms, a backlink is just a link that results from one website linking to another. But backlinks, sometimes called “inbound links,” are vitally important to SEO. 

SEO strategists, tasked with improving a website’s rank in search engines, look for ways to encourage backlinks from other websites to their own. The more respected and authoritative a website is that links to yours, the more valuable the backlink. This type of backlink is considered “high-quality.”

In the digital marketing world, this “looking for ways to encourage backlinks” is referred to as “backlinking” or “link building”. SEO strategists are always on the hunt for creative new ways to solicit high-quality backlinks by developing “backlinking strategies”.

Why would anyone spend their time backlinking? 

You may not have heard of backlinking before, but it is one of the most vital aspects of SEO. If done correctly, backlinking can help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) which goes a long way toward increasing its organic traffic. How? When a search engine returns a list of results (i.e. SERP) to match an initial search request, the searcher usually chooses one of the highest-ranked options. In fact, roughly 80% of traffic on Google goes to the first three positions for any given search. The more high-quality backlinks a site possesses, the higher the site will rank on SERPs and the better its chances of being selected over another site by the searcher. In other words, and more succinctly, backlinks improve a site’s search ranking, which in turn drives more new visitors from search engines. 

Sounds great, right? The truth is, getting the backlink strategy right can be difficult. Doing the wrong things can actually hurt your brand. 

In this guide, we will talk about how to use a competitor linking strategy to get backlinking right and grow your brand. 

Backlinking via a Competitor Linking Strategy

There are several factors to consider when backlinking, from the link-building technique used to the target keywords or phrases being linked to. It’s not enough to get just any backlinks. While the number of external websites pointing to a given site factors into the SEO benefit garnered, the quality and relevancy of the sites you get backlinks from are more important. The best backlinks come from sites that are heavily visited with well-written and current content (i.e. authoritative), and topically related (i.e. relevant) to your site. Google sees these kinds of sites as trustworthy and authoritative, which, by association in the eyes of Google, carries over to your site. But getting the right backlinks to your website can be difficult. You can use several methods to drive organic traffic to your website using high-quality backlinks. 

Competitor Linking Strategy

For people without an experienced team, the best way to build backlinks is using a competitor linking strategy. A competitor linking strategy aims to analyze high-ranking competitors’ websites and use their linking strategy as a starting point. 

With this strategy, you can learn from the methods used by your competitors to increase organic search rankings for your own website. High-quality links relevant to your industry will help your website achieve higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).  

Here is one sure-fire way to build backlinks without risking damage to your brand:

  • First, you compile a list of the keywords you want to rank for. Several excellent tools are available to help you with this, such as Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush.  Or, you can rely on your own subject matter knowledge to develop your list. 
  • Next, you will compile a list of the sites that rank the highest for those keywords. Again, Ahrefs has a great backlink tool to help with this. With this list in hand, you will dig a little deeper and create a list of all the sites that those sites are ranking for and sort that list by domain rank. 
  • Finally, you will use the Moz spam score to eliminate links with a Spam score of 20% or higher. 

Now that you have your list, you can begin backlink building. The process requires time and dedication since you have to treat each link as a unique case, research relevant articles and websites, and evaluate the best strategy individually. 

Assessing the success of your backlinking strategy

So now that you’ve taken our advice and implemented this proven process, you are now left to wonder – is this new strategy having any real impact? The best way to measure the success of your backlinking strategy is by evaluating keyword movement and domain rank. If you are seeing an increase in traffic for a particular keyword, then you are doing something right. Here are the tools we would recommend for measuring backlinking success:

SerpFox is a tried and true tool for measuring SEO success. Their tool lets you set up custom searches in their intuitive dashboard so you can quickly and easily see how your efforts at backlinking are paying off. You can set up custom reports that run on a schedule and even configure the tool to send notifications when certain ranking objectives are reached. 

Ahrefs offers analytics that measures relative Domain Ranking for your content. Based on a logarithmic scale, this tool lets you see at a glance how your content is tracking against your competitors, measuring domain authority as a function of the number of backlinks, referring domains, and the amount of organic traffic generated. 

Backlinking is a long-term strategy, not a quick fix

Backlinking is an important part of SEO, but results generally take months to appear. Although there is no one formula for backlinking that works for everyone, some general principles can help increase your chances of success. 

Consistency is key. To succeed, you must put in the consistent effort—if you’re not consistently finding new sources of backlinks and linking to high-quality content, your efforts will be fruitless.

Patience is needed. You likely won’t see results right away. It generally takes 2-3 months for backlinking to begin showing meaningful results. However, you can do a few things to speed up the process, including creating quality content and using link-building tools. 

Iterate as needed. Keep track of your progress and make adjustments as needed to ensure that your backlinking strategy works as it should. Don’t get caught up in the sunk cost fallacy. If your current strategy isn’t getting the desired results, don’t hesitate to change it. 

Measure what matters. What are you trying to achieve? Make sure to measure the success of your efforts using appropriate metrics. For example, you may want to increase conversions or drive more traffic to your site to build brand recognition. 

In conclusion, backlinking is an effective way to build brand recognition and drive traffic to your website when done properly. A competitor linking strategy is a great option for business owners who don’t have a marketing team or many resources to draw from. 

Don’t have the time to manage a competitor linking strategy on your own? We totally get it. Backlinking can be very time consuming and requires research, analysis, and close attention to detail. There are a lot of benefits to working with an expert who knows all the latest strategies and methods to generate high-quality backlinks. At t/Hawk Digital, we specialize in high-impact marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you develop a competitor-linking strategy that delivers results.

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SendinBlue + Zapier for Cost-Effective Marketing Automation  https://thawkdigital.com/sendinblue-zapier-for-cost-effective-marketing-automation/ https://thawkdigital.com/sendinblue-zapier-for-cost-effective-marketing-automation/#respond Mon, 18 Jul 2022 14:48:26 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=3483

Marketing automation software helps your business automate its marketing functions, like lead generation, lead management, and sales campaigns.  With complex automated workflows, you can bring together different aspects of marketing and create a seamless process. Their transactional workflows, based on traditional  “if this, then that” logic, automate repetitive marketing tasks like sending emails or following up with phone calls so you can keep your focus on growing the business. 

Marketing automation can be used to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing programs by identifying leads and customers Unfortunately, these platforms are often very pricey – and come with more features than the average business can really leverage. As you build your contact list, the price tag for the most popular tools may become too high to justify. 

SendinBlue presents itself as a comprehensive marketing automation tool suitable for every size of business. It includes customizable landing pages, SMS and email campaign functions, Facebook ads, and a robust CRM, giving you everything you need to support your organization’s marketing efforts. 

SendinBlue’s Pricing Structure

If you are a small business or startup wanting to get started with marketing automation, SendinBlue offers a pricing structure that gives you room to grow. Platforms like HubSpot and Sharp Spring upcharge you as your list grows, and before you know it, you are paying thousands of dollars per month. SendinBlue is unique because they only charge you for the messages you send – and even the cost of sent messages is very low. This flexibility allows you to grow your list without feeling penalized.

SendinBlue’s Integrations

When combined with Zapier, SendinBlue offers a fully functioning marketing automation tool at a much lower cost than its competitors. 

SendinBlue offers a number of plug-and-play integrations with third-party tools, such as CRM and email marketing platforms. These allow you to save time and improve efficiency by automating processes. Their WordPress email plugin is very popular as well, allowing marketers to collect and organize contacts before adding them to active campaigns. 

Best of all, setting up one of SendinBlue’s 5,000+ app integrations is simple – no coding required. Here are just some of their integrations:

E-Commerce

  • Shopify
  • Woo Commerce
  • Stripe
  • Paypal

Lead Generation

  • Typeform
  • Mail Chimp
  • Eventbrite
  • Facebook Lead Ads

Email creation

  • Google Analytics
  • Powerling

CRM

  • Zoho
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Salesforce
  • Gmail

CMS

  • Elementor
  • WordPress

Beyond their marketing integrations, SendinBlue offers integrations with accounting and payment systems that make it easier to manage your business finances. Don’t see your favorite tool listed? Not a problem. Integrating Zapier with your SendinBlue platform will bridge the gap. 

SendinBlue’s Workflows 

With SendinBlue’s marketing automation software, you can easily build a workflow that pushes out marketing content based on specific triggers or conditions. For example,  when someone visits your website for the first time in 30 days, you can set up a workflow to send them an email thanking them for stopping by and asking if they’re interested in learning more about your services/products. Furthermore, suppose you have several different products/services to promote, and each one needs its own automated campaign optimized for different audiences (the same way Google Ads campaigns are optimized). In that case, marketing automation becomes even more valuable because it will help keep all of this separate while optimizing each campaign based on those particular users’ unique behaviors.

Here are some of the most popular workflows SendinBlue offers to automate and improve your marketing processes:

  • Create new SendinBlue subscribers from new rows added to a Google Sheets spreadsheet

SendinBlue makes it simple to organize and segment new contacts as they are added to your spreadsheet for those who save their contact list in a Google Sheets Spreadsheet.

  • Create new SendinBlue subscribers from Facebook Lead Ads leads

Facebook Lead Ads are a great way to target your chosen market segment. As users interact with your ads, Facebook generates data that can be downloaded into SendinBlue to be organized and stored. 

  • Add new Shopify customers to SendinBlue contacts

If you use Shopify to handle your e-commerce, SendinBlue has a workflow that lets you automate the process of adding online customers to your contact lists and then helps you manage and nurture those leads into sales. 

  • Create SendinBlue contacts from Typeform submissions

As you create contact forms for your website and digital marketing campaigns, SendinBlue lets you upload the data you collect and organize it as part of your CRM. 

Successful marketing campaigns don’t happen by accident. There are a lot of moving parts. SendinBlue makes marketing easier and more effective through seamless integrations with your favorite tools. To learn more about SendinBlue’s integrations, visit their website

Achieve your marketing goals with SendinBlue with Zapier

If you’re just getting started with marketing automation and don’t have a huge budget, SendinBlue is a good place to start, with enough capabilities to continue to support your marketing efforts as you grow. 

SendinBlue’s built-in tools help you set up automated sequences and drip campaigns to quickly get your emails delivered at the right time for maximum engagement and sales conversions. This platform also tracks things like opens, clicks, and unsubscribes on each email campaign so that you can keep improving it over time. In addition to messages sent via their system (which includes personalized tagging), SendinBlue users also have access to third-party integrations so they can tie their email marketing efforts into other channels or platforms such as Salesforce CRM or Shopify stores.

The goal of marketing automation is to easily nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into repeat buyers. Fortunately, you don’t need to invest in expensive tools for that. Almost any marketing automation sequence can be achieved using a combination of SendinBlue with Zapier. 

 

Achieving your marketing goals takes a lot of hard work and dedication. T/hawk digital are experts in marketing automation with an exceptional reputation for getting results. To learn more about our services and the work we do, check out some of our client success stories

 

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What to know about creating events in GA4 for your eCommerce store https://thawkdigital.com/what-to-know-about-creating-events-in-ga4-for-your-ecommerce-store/ https://thawkdigital.com/what-to-know-about-creating-events-in-ga4-for-your-ecommerce-store/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2022 19:17:09 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=3445
As Universal Analytics is being phased out in July of 2023 and replaced by Google Analytics 4, it’s time to get up to speed with Google’s new tool for website data. 

With Universal Analytics, a lot of default, generic reporting features were included with every install, including many helpful reports for analysis of user activity. With GA4, tracking can be done at a more granular level, but events require a custom setup in each account. Let’s look at what you need to know to create a GA4 event for your eCommerce store. 

What’s New 

The user interface for Google Analytics 4 is vastly improved over previous iterations. For one thing, you are now able to create your events directly in the user interface, which makes it easier to configure your event to create targeted conversion events. In addition, with this improved user experience, you can now make changes to your events without getting into the site code. 

Before you begin, you should check to ensure you are operating in GA4 in the Editor role since you must be in the Editor role to complete these functions. 

GA4 Event Limitations

While GA4 offers increased functionality over UA, there are still some limitations you should be aware of. 

  • Modifications to events can take an hour or more to take effect
  • Any events you create or modify will not apply to historical data
  • Created events cannot be reordered
  • You can only create up to 50 events or modify up to 50 events at a time
  • Created events will take longer to take effect than modified existing events
  • Modified events will be activated in the order that they are listed

How to Name your Event

When it comes to the naming conventions you use for your events, you should know a few things. 

First, remember that event names are case-sensitive. For example, GA4 will read “my_first_event” and “My_First_Event” as two separate events. However you choose to name your events is up to you, but you want to be sure to include keywords related to the page or the parameters, so you understand what you are reading when you check your reports.  

Secondly, all of your event names can only include letters and numbers, and if you need a space, use an underscore instead. GA4 is not configured to recognize spaces and will not accept them in your event names. Your event name will also need to begin with a letter to be valid. 

Finally, you want to choose a naming convention and stick with it. Want to use all lower case? That’s perfectly fine. Do that for all of your events and conversions. All caps? Sentence case? Those are also perfectly good options. What is important is that you use the same method for naming your events and conversions so that your reports are easy to read and understand. 

Create an Event in Google Analytics 4

Setting up new events in Google Analytics 4 is easier with the new user interface. You won’t even need to go into the website or app code. Here is how to create a new event: 

  1. From the “All Events” page in GA4, click on the “Create Event” button, which is located at the top right of the table of events. 
  2. From the Custom events screen, click “Create.” 
  3. Now, you need to name your event. Remember that using the same naming conventions for all events will make it easier to avoid duplicates and make keeping track of your events simpler. 
  4. Select the conditions for your event. As a simple example, you could choose a page_view event and add a condition that targets a specific page_location. This event would track the number of page views that you have on the page of your choice. 
  5. You can also choose additional parameters for your page_view event or stick with the default page_view configuration. 
  6. Finally, click “Save.” 

Modifying an Event

Sometimes the events you create don’t seem to collect the data you need. When this happens, you can fix the problem with some minor adjustments to a current event. You can modify your events to: 

  • Fix naming conventions to make it easier to read reports
  • Adjust the triggers you have set to target the desired user behavior better 
  • Correct issues with measurement caused by a misconfiguration of conditions or parameters
  • Adjust the scope of an event 

You can modify events in two ways:

If you are comfortable using Google Tag Manager, you can also modify events using these tools. But, for now, we will talk about how to modify events in Google Analytics. 

Remember that when you modify events, it overwrites the existing event, which could have unanticipated consequences. For example, if you change Google’s default page_view event to exclude some pages, you could end up not collecting any data from those excluded pages. So instead, we would recommend creating an additional event to focus on the pages that interest you and leave the default event unchanged. 

Designating a New Event as a Conversion

Google Analytics 4 has also simplified the process of designating your events as conversions. Their user interface lets you make this change in two different ways. First, after creating your new event, you can let it run for one day. Once the event has run for a day, you will see it listed in your Events report. Next to the listing in the report, you will see a button to toggle for conversion. Just click this button, and voila! Your event has been designated as a conversion. 

Don’t have time to wait a day? You can also designate your event as a conversion by clicking on the Conversions report. On this page, click “New Conversion Event.” When prompted, you can label the conversion with the very same name you gave to the event and click “Save.” It’s as simple as that. 

Testing your Event

Now that you have set up your events and conversions, it’s time to test them. Open your website and navigate to each page that is set up for an event or conversion. Next, work through each of the triggers. When you are done, return to your GA4 dashboard and pull up the Realtime report to ensure that your events are executed correctly. 

 

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Conversion Optimization: Tracking + Testing https://thawkdigital.com/conversion-optimization-tracking-testing/ Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:02:24 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=2931

Before you can get going with your conversion optimization practice, you need an effective method for gathering insights in three main areas:

  1. WHO (as in, who to optimize for)
  2. WHAT (as in, what to optimize)
  3. And, WHERE (as in, where to focus)

The more you know about these, the more successful your conversion optimization strategy, and there are two main ways to gather those insights:

  • The Analytics Method
  • The People Method

Each of these methods tells you something a little different about the behavior of your users and both are important if you want a well-rounded strategy for conversion optimization.

 

The Analytics Method

When we talk about the so-called Analytics Method, all we really mean is “web analytics” — nothing you probably haven’t heard of before. A common tool like Google Analytics will more than suffice in this respect. However, keep in mind that not all web analytics set ups are equal so be sure to set up your tracking thoughtfully. A little more effort upfront will pay dividends, whereas, a limited or error prone set up can throw you way off course. At a minimum, it needs to be able to tell you:

  • Who your best customers are — i.e. their demographics, psychographics, technographics, and so on.
  • Which referring channels are your best channels  — i.e. which channels are driving the most people to your site.
  • Which features and/or content pieces are most popular  — i.e. what are people using the most on your website.
  • Which features and/or content pieces are driving the most conversions — keep in the mind #3 and #4 are different questions
  • Which devices and browsers are most people using  — i.e. which ones do the majority of people use to access your site? Mobile or desktop? Which OS? Which browser? etc. 
  • Where on your site are most people starting from i.e. which page(s) are they landing on first.
  • Where on your site are most people abandoning your conversion funnel from — i.e. which pages are they on and/or features are they using, when they bounce from the site.

When used effectively in conversion optimization, web analytics can afford you a powerful way to accomplish a lot with limited resources. How so? By focusing your optimization efforts on your site’s most popular areas — the pages, features and content that your analytics are telling you are used most heavily — you’ll be able to make the biggest impact. In other words, start by first reviewing your analytics and from there, target the areas of the site people use most to start your optimization efforts. This way you’ll get the biggest bang for your optimization buck.

 

The People Method

If your goal is to better understand how people behave on your website, then presumably you’d also find value in knowing WHY they do the things they do while there. And that’s where the People Method comes in. 

If the Analytics Method is a data-driven, quantitative approach, telling you the WHAT, by contrast, the People Method is qualitative, telling you the WHY. This method is particularly important because there are things that data by itself won’t tell you about your users, like why they come in the first place or what they like or how you might make their experience better. The People Method answers things like:

  • Why someone came to your site in the first place.
  • How they found your site.
  • Whether they like or dislike it.
  • Which page they came to first and why they chose that page.
  • Why someone abandoned checkout, a form completion, or another conversion goal.
  • What usability or messaging challenges people are experiencing.
  • In a more general sense, how they feel about you and/or your products.
  • How they would describe your product or service to a friend. 
  • How they feel you stack up to your competitors.
  • Anything they believe about what you offer that makes you better.
  • If they even see you as different from your competitors, and if not, why not.
  • The words they would use to describe your products or services.
  • Any specific pain points you address for them, and any you glaringly do not. 

Generally speaking, you get these types of insights in a few widely used and effective methods:

  • Customer Interviews — structured, one-on-one interviews with your customers and/or prospects.
  • Site-based Surveys — surveys triggered on your website that solicit feedback.
  • Moderated User Tests — structured, one-on-one moderating testing sessions with your customers and/or prospects.

There are many more ways than those I’ve cited above. Do some online research and find the ones best suited for what you’re hoping to learn.

 

Quantitative + Qualitative = Big Upside

When you combine quantitative, the Analytics Method, and qualitative, the People Method, things start to get really interesting. By combining the two you can grasp a fuller picture on how best to optimize your website, answering questions like: which parts of my site, if optimized, present the biggest upside potential?

So how do you get started? Simple, quantitative before qualitative…

It’s not realistic, of course, to optimize for all users so you should only be focusing on your most valuable ones. So start this process by first reviewing your quantitative data to draw insights on the question: who are my most valuable users? Doing this won’t tell you the answer definitively but it will give you a good idea and a head start on who you’ll want to be talking to. After you have an idea of who these people are, you now look for ways to engage and understand them better. Seeking to understand things like:

  • What they care about most with respect to your product, services and website.
  • What they’re motivated by when it comes to those things.
  • What challenges they have when it comes to those things.
  • Where they’re dropping off or getting confused in important workflows on your website (e.g. checkout, form completion, etc.).

Of course, these are only a small sample of the questions you’ll want to be asking. The list is highly dependent on your situation — your business, issues, challenges, and what you’re hoping to learn.

 

User Testing

One of the most powerful People Method techniques is called User Testing, which entails, in essence, drawing insights by watching people use your website. This might sound overly simplistic but make no mistake, a lot can be learned by just watching someone use your website. In fact it can be revelatory, clarifying precisely what needs to be tweaked to reduce extant friction. Things like, any areas where people most commonly get frustrated or confused, or where they struggle to understand a step in a process, etc. 

A quick and easy way to accomplish this is by just asking friends and family to do a moderated session with you, which might work as follows:

  1. Sitting with that person (or remotely via screen share).
  2. Asking them to perform some basic tasks on the website and, while doing that, to “think aloud”. In other words, verbalizing their thought processes as they attempt to perform tasks you’ve requested.
  3. And be sure to not tell or show them anything. All you want to do is ask them and then sit back, watch and take notes. You’ll be amazed at what you see.

What to Test

Here are some areas you might want to test:

  • Homepage
  • Forms
  • Landing Pages
  • Pricing Pages
  • Checkout Flow
  • Other Elements
    • Marketing Creative (e.g. emails, banners, posts, CTAs, ad copy)
    • Colors
    • Layouts (spacing, site grid, etc)
    • Fonts (size, color, treatments like bolding and bullets, etc.)
    • The order of tasks in a process flow
    • Copy (length, tone, understanding, etc.)

Basic Tracking Tools

Here are a few of the basic tracking tools you’ll want to know about:

  • Google Analytics (GA): Google Analytics is the standard for tracking and analytics. Having GA is essential and the bare minimum.
  • Heat Mapping: Heat mapping tools, like HotJar, provide precise detail on where users click, scroll and move their mouses. They’re an excellent way to identify flaws in the site’s UX. 
  • Surveys: Pop up surveys are a good way to collect your qualitative information. Survey Monkey is a good basic platform for that.
  • Testing Platforms: There are a handful of so-called, UX optimization platforms that provide great tools for conducting A/B split tests. Some notable ones are:

A Note on Iterative vs. Innovation Tests

One of the first questions to ask when the time comes time to implement a conversion optimization strategy is: do I have enough traffic and conversions to be able to just make small changes and still get statistically significant results? The answer is fundamental to the decision to either do Iterative Testing or Innovative Testing. I’ll explain the differences.

Iterative Testing

Iterative tests, as the name suggests, only test small iterative changes, things like button colors, moving a CTA, swapping headlines or images. This kind of change is generally easy to implement and straightforward to act on afterwards. Sounds great, right? There’s a catch and it comes down to math. To garner meaningful results, iterative tests need A LOT of site traffic for the simple reason that, without traffic volume, it takes too long to generate statistically significant results. Think about it. If it takes six months to meet a conversion threshold vital to statistical significance, in that six months time other factors may change, ultimately changing the implications of your results. To do iterative tests, experts suggest that a site gets ~1,000 conversions per month at a minimum.

Innovative Testing

Innovative testing on the other hand is about doing more radical changes and is appropriate in the absence of high enough traffic numbers to qualify for iterative testing (or alternatively, there are no more iterations to be done, CTAs, copy and so on have all been tested, and the needle still isn’t moving).

Innovative tests are usually more complex than iterative changes. For instance, instead of just testing a simple change to a single element with innovative tests, you tackle major modifications like an overhaul to the entire interface design. The premise of innovative testing is that, at lower traffic volumes only substantial differences (between the control and the variation) can generate conclusive results. Landing page optimizations for instance, are perfect for this approach and can garner dramatic performance improvements. This might look something like: 

  • Running a split test. That is, for a period of time, splitting the delivery between the old interface and the new one (50/50).
  • Tracking key metrics for both, things like conversions and measuring which one performs better.
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Conversion Optimization Applied https://thawkdigital.com/conversion-optimization-applied/ Tue, 13 Oct 2020 21:58:32 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=2912

AARRR 

I want to begin by introducing a framework called “AARRR”. In 2007, Dave McClure introduced a 5-step framework for growth called “AARRR” (or alternatively “Pirate Metrics”, think about it…”aarrr”? The sound a pirate makes…yeah). AARRR is a widely used framework for taking data driven action to improve marketing efforts throughout the customer journey. The name stands for the five stages of the journey: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue. In this section, I’ll take you through AARRR at a high level. However, for a deeper dive, there are a lot of good online resources.  On that note, let’s jump in.

Phase 1 — Acquisition

The first “A” in the framework is for Acquisition, the process of people first learning about you (aka “awareness”) all the way through to them taking their first “meaningful” action (the definition of which varies by business model). For instance for a SaaS platform, that might be a user signing up for a free trial, for an ad supported website, it might mean the first visit, and for an ecommerce site, it might be perusing product offerings for the first time. The point is, the definition depends on the context which can also be said for the framework in general. Its application is very circumstantial.  Let’s look at some examples… Acquisition In Action – Example 1: Enterprise SaaS Platform For example, for an enterprise SaaS platform business an Acquisition flow might look something like this: 
  • Step 1: Site visit
  • Step 2: Email signup
  • Step 3: Webinar attendance
  • Step 4: Call with a sales rep
  • Step 5: Sign up (for a trial and/or as a paying customer).
Each of these steps counts as a conversion (micro and/or macro) and needs to be measured to be able to understand the customer journey so you can optimize it. Applying a conversion optimization process that might look something like this: 
  • 1: Analyzing user behavior patterns 
  • 2: Drawing insights 
  • 3: Asking questions and developing hypotheses
  • 4: Designing experiments to test those hypotheses
  • 5: Prioritizing work coming out any learnings and implementing improvements
  • 6: Going back to #1 and starting the process again
For enterprise SaaS (or any other business for that matter that relies on a sales team to close the sale), one of the major differentiators between traction and non-traction is the difference between a plain old lead and a “qualified” lead. The former might be any site visitor who just provides their contact info, maybe in exchange for a downloadable whitepaper (what marketers call a “value exchange”, i.e. give me your email address and I’ll give you this thing of value). As you can imagine a lead like that is hardly qualified. The contact was coerced into giving their info, and may not even be close to making a purchase. However, if they go on to complete a few of the subsequent steps in the Acquisition flow — e.g. Step 3 (attending a webinar) and Step 4 (a call with a sales rep) — it reveals a higher level of engagement making them a more qualified lead. Acquisition In Action – Example 2: Ad Supported Website Another example is an advertising-supported business model (i.e. a business selling eyeballs). For any business of this sort, there are three core sets of questions that relate to marketing and conversion optimization: Question Set #1 – Traffic Volume: 
  • Which marketing channels are driving the most traffic?
  • Why are certain channels excelling at driving traffic while others are not?
Question Set #2 – Traffic Value: 
  • Which marketing channels are driving the most valuable traffic? 
  • Why are certain channels driving more qualified visitors while others are not? 
Question Set #3 – Marketing Efficiency: 
  • Which marketing channels are most efficient? 
  • Why are certain channels more efficient than others*? 
(*In other words, which channel comes with the lowest customer acquisition cost? Note, question set #3 will be partially answered by the answers to question set #2. Imagine, for instance, if the cost per click (CPC) to get someone to your landing page is the same for two of your marketing channels but it takes twice as many clicks to get a visitor to convert on the second one, then the cost per acquisition (CPA) for that second channel is going to be double that of the first. Another way of saying that is that the second channel is half as efficient.) So what are we getting at here? It’s likely, especially early on, that one channel is optimal and to find it, you need to track micro-conversions using conversion optimization. Then, once you’ve identified that channel, you’d methodically test and optimize every part of your communication, also using a standard conversion optimization approach, until you arrive at your sweet spot. And finally at that point, you would put all your weight behind that one channel to drive growth. And here’s how conversion optimization might look in this scenario:
  1. Conducting analysis and drawing insights: looking at all data relating to those question sets and identifying suggestive patterns
  2. Developing hypotheses: developing hypotheses from the patterns you’re seeing
  3. Designing experiments and measuring results: designing and conducting experiments to test your hypotheses
  4. Applying insights strategically: prioritizing the work identified by the results of the experiments and implementing changes
Keep in mind that if every single channel fails, it’s likely that there’s something wrong with your product/market fit. But short of that, this approach is a great way to drive results in the Acquisition phase of the framework.

Phase 2 — Activation

The next “A” in the framework is for Activation. Activation relates to the first time a customer recognizes the value they’re getting from a product or service and that realization serves to make them more loyal customers. It’s what marketers call an “aha moment”. Facebook defines its “aha moment” as when a new user obtains seven new friends in a period of ten days, an inflection point where a user becomes more engaged with the Facebook platform. And based on that insight, Facebook added ways for users to sync the platform with their email provider which made it so Facebook could dynamically suggest people to invite to Facebook from a user’s contacts. For Twitter, this inflection point is when a new user has followed at least thirty people, which is why Twitter always suggests accounts for you to follow.  So let’s look at some Activation examples… Activation In Action – Example 1: SaaS Platform Going back to the SaaS platform example, for SaaS companies one of the critical steps in the marketing funnel is to give away free trials with the intention of ultimately converting these trial customers into paying ones. So converting people into paying customers after the free trial period is vital to the sustainability of the business. And in this case, free trials are an expense, they don’t generate any revenue and cost a lot to support, so the business lives or dies based on how well it convinces trial customers to become paying ones.  In the context of our framework, signing up for the free trial constitutes Acquisition but without the Activation step the business model doesn’t work. So how might Activation be done effectively? In short, by helping trial customers get more value out of the platform and thus helping them justify the cost of subscription. Some ways that might be done include:
  • Approach 1: Offering video tutorials to trial customers in an effort to turn them into more effective users of the platform. Ones that can take advantage of the productivity gains it affords.
  • Approach 2: Make it easy for trial customers to integrate the platform with other software tools they’re already using so together the two platforms provide a better overall solution for the business than either one does on its own.
Each of these approaches can be broken into micro-conversions, tracked and optimized, and the cumulative effect can be measured for how well it ultimately drives the goal of converting customers from trial to paying (the macro-conversion). For instance, with respect to the video tutorials idea, maybe one of the micro-conversions is “video completions” — in other words, watching a video in its entirety. The logic being: the more training videos people watch all the way through, the better they’ll be at mastering the concepts and skills explained in them. And the better they’ll be at applying those skills when using the platform. And thus the better the results they get from it. And ultimately, the more value they’ll see from the platform.  So in this case, the marketer’s job would be to: 
  • 1. Measure the conversion rate (video completions)
  • 2. Assess what the data is saying
  • 3. Formulate hypotheses to explain it 
  • 4. Based on the hypotheses, design and execute experiments for ways to make the training videos more engaging and effective. 
Activation In Action – Example 2: Ecommerce Business Now let’s look at an ecommerce business. AARRR is most often applied to SaaS but can easily be adapted to ecommerce to drive consistent and repeatable growth. Remember Activation is the first time a customer recognizes the unique value they’re getting from a business. In the case of an ecommerce business, Acquisition is them coming to the site for the first time whereas Activation is them taking a deliberate action, like: 
  • Starting checkout
  • Carting a product.
  • Registering.
  • Subscribing to a newsletter
These types of actions serve as clear indicators of purchase intention, and can be measured using our conversion optimization process. I’ll explain — let’s say on your website you give people the opportunity to subscribe to newsletters that offer access to exclusive deals. In this case, there are three core conversions in the customer journey:
  1. Getting visitors to sign up for promotional emails by making an attractive pitch with your marketing messaging (Activation)
  2. Getting email recipients to buy by offering attractive deals in your emails (Revenue)
  3. Getting these new customers to buy again by providing excellent customer support (Retention)
 Notice in the above flow that Revenue comes before Retention. That is one of the “adaptations” I referenced needing to make when using the AARRR model for ecommerce. Remember our initial order of stages: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue. For ecommerce, we’d change the order so that Revenue (i.e. the first purchase) happens before Retention (repeat purchases), so our flow becomes: Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, Referral.

Phase 3 — Retention

Retention means different things for different businesses. For a SaaS business, high retention generally means that people are subscribing, actively using, and importantly, staying subscribed. For an e-commerce business, it’s measured by repeat purchases. In any case, Retention, as a marketing discipline, is about building high enough engagement with existing customers that they continue buying your products or services and Retention is arguably the most important marketing activity for any business. Consider the following from the perspective of conversion optimization:
  • Increasing retention by a mere 5% can lead to a 25-95% increase in profits  (Harvard Business Review)
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is ~60-70% whereas selling to a new customer it is only ~5-20% (ClickZ)
Effective Retention efforts enable a business to build lasting relationships with customers which get them to stick around, which increases their lifetime value (LTV) and improves the chances they’ll refer the business to others.  Churn The opposite of Retention is Churn so it’s imperative to continually measure your customer churn rate, especially if the business model is subscription based. Doing so helps keep tabs on the rate at which the business is losing customers (i.e. the “leaky bucket”) and serves to prioritize the marketing spend. Additionally, Churn can tell you whether you’ve achieved a good product/market fit. If a lot of people drop off after using the product then something is amiss with the product and/or messaging. So how can you increase Retention In the famous words of Bill Gates: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. In other words, employ conversion optimization:
  1. Analyze and Interview: Look at user behaviors for patterns that indicate adverse effects that explain your Churn. And solicit feedback from customers to better understand their behavior — why they unsubscribed, why they didn’t purchase again, etc. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a great method for understanding the level of satisfaction of a customer base and garnering actionable insights for improving it (more on NPS below). 
  2. Develop Hypotheses: Think about ways you might address these customers’ issues.
  3. Design Experiments: Design experiments to test your hypotheses.
  4. Analyze Results: Analyze the results of your experiments
  5. Prioritize and Implement: Prioritize the work implied by those results and develop an implementation plan.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)  NPS is a management tool developed by Bain & Company, used to gauge the loyalty of customer relationships. It works by surveying customers with a simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend our [company/product/service] to a friend or colleague? Answers are recorded on a scale of 0-10. Those who respond with a score of 9-10 are deemed “Promoters”, and considered likely to exhibit so-called “value-creating behaviors”, like repeat buying, customer longevity, and referring the business to others. Those who respond with a score of 0-6 are labeled “Detractors”, and considered to be less likely to exhibit “value-creating behaviors”. Scores between 7 and 8 are considered “Passives”, and in the case of the business, are considered the best opportunities to become Promoters.

Phase 4 — Referral

The most efficient way to grow is by way of customer referrals. To successfully drive referrals, businesses need a systematic approach to consistently incentivizing that behavior. This is an area where NPS can be used to great effect. NPS can tell you a lot about the state of an existing referral program or the potential to implement one, and where you need to start when it comes to applying your conversion optimization process.

Phase 5 — Revenue (and Profitability)

What’s the best way to grow Revenue and profitability? By increasing the customer lifetime value (LTV) and decreasing customer acquisition costs (CAC) — your average cost of acquiring a customer. The rule of thumb ratio is an LTV to CAC of 3:1. And the most effective way to optimize LTV and CAC is through conversion optimization paired with the AARRR framework, plain and simple.
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Conversion Optimization: What is It Exactly? https://thawkdigital.com/what-is-conversion-optimization/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 20:27:22 +0000 https://thawkdigital.com/?p=2836

An Overview of Conversion Optimization

Conversion optimization applies to all companies, from startups to large corporations. Even if your digital experience — website, app, whatever — is converting fairly well, there’s almost always room for improvement, which just means if you’re not doing some type of conversion optimization you might be leaving money on the table. Or maybe you don’t know exactly what conversion optimization is, well have no fear, I’ve put together the following primer so dive in!  

What is conversion optimization?

Let’s start by answering that million dollar question: what is conversion optimization? Conversion optimization, also commonly referred to as “conversion rate optimization” or CRO, refers to a systematic approach, employed by digital marketers, for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website or mobile app that take a desired action or set of actions. Generally speaking, those desired actions are of benefit to the business because they advance a person in a predefined marketing funnel. That definition might sound a bit abstract, so let’s break it down a little. In other words, conversion optimization is a methodology that digital marketers use to get more users of their websites or apps to do more of the things they want from them. Those “things” are actions that benefit the business — they’re business goals — like purchasing, subscribing or submitting a sales lead form. So in essence, the conversion optimization process involves understanding how users move through your site or app, the actions they take and what could be keeping them from completing the business goals. Conversion optimization is often compared to direct response marketing in that the primary objective is to generate more success at the bottom of the marketing funnel (i.e. more sales, more leads, etc.) without investing more money at the top of the funnel (e.g. paying to drive more site traffic, etc.) and so by way of doing that, increasing the return on investment (ROI) of related marketing expenditures and the overall profitability of the business.   

What is a conversion?

To “convert” is a digital marketing term for when a visitor or user takes those desired actions — buying a product or service, giving the business something of non-monetary value like an email address in exchange for a whitepaper, or maybe completing a form to refer the business to a friend, the list can go on. In short, those desired actions, those business goals, are defined by the business model. The main goal of an ecommerce website is to sell products. For a SaaS platform, it’s to sell subscriptions. You get it. Basically a conversion is an action that advances the goals of the business. In this sense, a user converts from a state of being less valuable to the business to a state of being of more value to it. And those actions might occur pre-purchase in the acquisition or activation phases or post purchase in the loyalty and retention phases.  

What is a conversion rate?

In essence, marketers will identify conversion actions throughout the customer journey they deem meaningful to the health, sustainability and growth of the businesses then measure how often users are taking them, and finally, based on what they’re seeing, formulate strategies to increase the frequency. This frequency, in digital marketing, is a percentage referred to as a “conversion rate”.   

Conversion Types

Along the way, marketers look for more and more of these conversion actions to track and influence. As explained, some of the first ones are quite obvious. Purchases for instance are something you’d watch from day one. They are what a digital marketer would refer to as a “macro-conversion”, those main goals we talked about. Whereas, others need to first be identified, observed and tested to prove whether they correlate with a macro-conversion like sales before becoming something the digital marketing team deems meaningful enough to look for a way to influence. These are what marketers would refer to as “micro-conversions”.   

Macro-conversions

Macro-conversions are, as stated, those actions that lead directly to behaviors fundamental to the business model. For example, a sale creates revenue. Pretty straightforward.   

Micro-conversions

Micro-conversions alternatively are preliminary steps that you believe may lead to a macro-conversion. They are “stepping stones” or if you will “baby steps” that lead to users taking bigger ones. For example, a user signs up for your monthly promotional email. This act of signing up is a micro-conversion that might lead to that user buying something after receiving one of the emails.  

Tactical vs. Correlative Micro-conversions

However, spotting micro-conversions isn’t always that straightforward. Sometimes the relationship of a given action and its ultimate influence on a macro-conversion isn’t clear at first and only becomes clear after empirical observation. That is, you only realize that that action is in fact a micro-conversion after you observe a pattern. To explain, let me take a step back and further define different types of micro-conversions. There are two: “tactical’ and “correlative”.
  • Tactical: Tactical micro-conversions are ones that are explicitly designed by a marketer. In other words, they’re marketing tactics, things like, offering a form to sign up for promotional email. These types are tactics that are pretty well known. They’re best practices that digital marketers routinely use as a method for moving people along during the consideration phase before ultimately leading to a sale.
  • Correlative: Correlative micro-conversions are ones that empirical observation tells us are leading indicators highly correlated with a user ultimately going onto a macro-conversion. For example, Dropbox claims that when a new user uploads at least one file (micro-conversion), there’s a strong chance that he or she will go on to sign up for the paid service (macro-conversion). Hence, one of the marketing team’s jobs at Dropbox is to try to incentivize users to upload their first file.
Generally speaking, there are usually multiple of these conversion types within any one digital experience. And in conversion optimization, the baby steps are the “art” behind the science. Good digital marketers identify them, especially the “correlative” variety, through a strict process of observing, tracking, experimenting and analyzing user behaviors. At scale, digital marketers employ an entire system of these types of measurements to track myriad behaviors across the entire customer journey.  

How does conversion optimization work?

The fundamental idea behind conversion optimization is: 
  1. First gain an understanding of certain user behaviors (relating to your site or app) by observing and measuring them.
  2. When you feel you have enough of an understanding of those behaviors, hypothesizing what sort of changes or improvements you might employ to influence future behaviors in your favor.
  3. Testing the implementation of those changes or improvements to try to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
  4. Assessing the results of your tests, drawing conclusions and taking action based on your learnings.
In other words, conversion optimization is an empirical process, consisting of: 
  • Observing and measuring user actions at scale and throughout a site or app experience.
  • Then analyzing and drawing insights from the data collected.
  • And finally, designing and implementing improvements tied to those insights.
In summary, we are talking about an empirically-based, systematic approach to gathering insights and then using them to effect positive change to the benefit of your business. Again, the system might look something akin to:
  1. Data Analysis: The marketing team analyzes the data collected by employed tracking efforts (e.g. SEO tools, Google Analytics, heat mapping, NPS, etc.), from pre-acquisition all the way through retention, and draws insights on what it could be telling them about all the different ways people are interacting during the customer journey.
  2. Experimentation: From there the marketing team develops hypotheses for why something might be happening (or not happening) and based on these hypotheses, designs experiments to test them. An experiment might be something like A/B split-testing a call to action, headlines or button colors on a landing page.
  3. Results Analysis: Upon completion of an experiment, the marketing team analyzes and draws strategic insights from the results gathered, and formulates strategies and action plans for implementing any learnings.
  4. Iteration: The marketing team applies steps 1-3 iteratively and continuously. It goes without saying data-driven, continuous improvement is imperative to the success of any digital marketing initiative. For the system to have considerable impact, it must be applied iteratively, ad infinitum. The effect of which over time is that the system gets better and better at eliciting desired actions from users.
The system is often visually represented in the following way.

What’s an example of something conversion optimization might tell us?

Conversion optimization might identify and answer questions like: 
  • Why are users dropping off at certain points in the customer journey?
  • Which actions might I take to stem that drop off?
Imagine you’re wondering why you’re seeing a big drop off in your ability to convert free trial customers into paying customers. In other words, a lot of people are coming to your website and a high percentage of them are getting intrigued enough by what you’re offering to sign up for a free trial, but not as many as you need are taking the next step after trial to become paying customers. In this case, your “visit to trial” conversion rate is probably looking pretty good — a lot of people are converting into trial customers. But the story goes south as you get further into the customer lifecycle. Only a small percentage of those trial customers go on to become paying customers, in which case your “trial to paid” conversion rate isn’t looking so good and you want to investigate.
  • How do you explain the behavior? 
  • What went wrong?
  • What part of the experience did they not like?
  • Was it the product or something else?
  • Was it the price?
  • Was it the process?
  • What actions could you take to improve the conversion rate?
These last questions are all important ones, answering them is the very essence of conversion optimization which you might employ in the following way: 
  1. Conduct Analysis: Look at all user behaviors related to the issue.
  2. Draw Insights: Analyze the behavior to divine patterns that suggest adverse effects, like process friction keeping users from converting in higher percentages.
  3. Develop Hypotheses: Once you’ve identified these patterns, develop hypotheses for ways you might affect them, that is, in this case removing process friction.
  4. Design Experiments: With your hypotheses in hand, design experiments for testing them in order to prove the existence of a casual relationship. For example, regarding the friction you’ve identified, you will want to prove a cause and effect relationship between certain attributes of your digital experience and the resulting friction. In other words, are those attributes causing the friction you’re seeing? Additionally, in designing an experiment it’s critical to: – Design a measurement plan (i.e. ensure goals can be measured properly) and… – Know what success looks like from the outset.
  5. Analyze Results + Prioritize Next Steps: After collecting data from your experiment, you review the results with a multidisciplinary team (e.g. designers, business analysts, strategists, engineers, customer service, etc.) and then prioritize recommended changes from the perspective of the broader list of optimizations you’re hoping to tackle. Doing this prioritization objectively is critical. One way to do that is to go down the list of proposed changes and have each person in the group score each item, then add up the numbers and prioritize by score. This method is simple and transparent, and importantly, ensures everyone’s opinions carry the same weight (which helps avoid situations where the highest paid person in the room is the de facto sole decision maker). 
  6. Implement Changes + QA Test: And finally, you.. – Implement changes to your digital experience based on your prioritization – Thoroughly QA test those changes — Note: Do not skimp on the QA testing part, lest you break your website. Keep in mind, breaking a site is an excellent way to create unnecessary cross-company friction. – Push them live. 
So in summary, conversion optimization relates to:
  1. Defining the right questions
  2. Formulating a good hypothesis from your questions
  3. Designing experiments to prove your hypotheses true or false
  4. Figuring out how to measure the results of your experiments in a way that prove your hypotheses according to that binary criteria (true/false)
  5. Running experiments and divining insights from their results
  6. Prioritizing work and implementing changes
  7. Iterating. That is, implementing a system to keep doing steps 1-6 continuously.
 

Why is a good system important?

Conversion optimization can spawn a lot of follow on questions — where the more questions you answer, the more questions you have — which is why it’s imperative you employ a system and adhere to it methodically, lest you go down proverbial rabbit hole after rabbit hole with little to show for your efforts. Say, for example, you want to answer the following question: do more people click [a given] button on [a given page] when it’s orange rather than grey? So you run an experiment and it shows that a causal relationship does exist (i.e. more people DO click [that given] button on [that given page] if it’s orange rather than grey). Where might that lead? Well, of course, you’ll probably change the button color permanently to orange but it might also lead to new questions like: will this work across my website? In other words, do orange buttons versus grey ones, as a general rule, get clicked more often? The bottomline is, proving causality requires doing a lot of controlled experiments, testing variable by variable, in order to definitively say yes or no on the question of whether a causal relationship exists. And these follow on questions are why you keep testing, peeling back layer after layer, systematically and methodically, continuously.   

Why do conversion optimization in the first place?

I’ll give you six good reasons…
  1. Operations will be more efficient: Before conversion optimization became standard practice, generally speaking, when you wanted to test something on your website you had to take a leap of faith — implement it at great time and expense, and if it didn’t work out well, you then had to change it back at great time and expense. These days mainstream testing tools allow you to quickly and easily set up split tests and gather clear results without permanently implementing anything, which means you’ll feel emboldened to try new things.
  2. Marketing will be more efficient: Acquisition costs are arguably the biggest marketing costs a business will incur over its lifetime and considering that it’s generally more cost-effective to convert a higher percentage of current visitors than to pay for more, it’s imperative to be optimizing your marketing funnel and site experience. A conversion optimization system allows you to be nimble in setting up, testing and implementing optimization efforts. And conversion optimization testing when done right is safe and controlled, without the concern of damage or any long-lasting impact to your site or business, affording you the ability to take risks and to discover improvements you may never have anticipated (or felt comfortable trying). Additionally, conversion optimization serves to plug leaky funnels and customer bases — invariably yours has holes, everyone’s does — so your overall marketing spend is efficient and importantly, retention continues to improve. Retention, in marketing terms, is the process of building high enough engagement with existing customers that they continue buying your products or services. Effective retention efforts enable you to build a lasting relationship with customers and when they stick around longer, the better their lifetime value (LTV) and the more likely they spread the word about you within their circles of influence. So it’s important to think about conversion optimization in that way: – Endeavoring to reduce your customer acquisition costs (CAC) consistently, albeit in increments, over the long haul. – Improving retention and thus LTV. – And ultimately, supporting word of mouth (WOM) referrals, the best and cheapest form of acquisition. Think of conversion optimization as a compound interest rate — a little bit each month will add up nicely.
  3. You will make smarter decisions driven by data not your gut: Conversion optimization eliminates “I think” and replaces it with “I know.” Of course, you will use your gut instincts to develop hypotheses but then you test them with experiments designed to collect data and validate a direction before taking a leap. If you follow this approach methodically and comprehensively, ultimately you’ll see better results from your decisions over time.
  4. You’ll know a lot more about your visitors than ever before: Truth be told, no two customer groups are the same which is why it’s vital to test and experiment to figure out what your group prefers. And learning these insights affords you the ability to better guide any future efforts around development, design and marketing as you’ll already know what your customers want and, critically, which directions boost conversions.
  5. Your SEO will improve: Yes, you read it correctly. Conversion optimization can improve your SEO by helping you identify what you need to fix in order to reduce the deleterious effect high bounce rates (aka “pogo-sticking”) might have on your ability to rank in organic search. “Pogo-sticking” is defined as a user bouncing back and forth between the search engine results page (SERP) and the sites listed there. In essence, a user conducts a search and clicks a site option listed on the SERP but quickly, upon arrival determines that the site they chose isn’t what they’re looking for so they quickly click the back button to go back to the SERP list. They then choose another site option from the list and on and on. This pattern is called “pogo-sticking” and it’s something that can hurt your rank in organic search. Why? Remember Google wants users to discover the right content quickly and easily, and pogo-sticking implies the opposite. By using conversion optimization to test and improve your landing pages with respect to bounce rates, you can avoid the adverse effects of pogo-sticking. This might look something like: – Testing Copy: To avoid pogo sticking, landing pages shouldn’t be static, rather they should be regularly updated to reflect changes in the marketplace, recent statistics, etc. This is something you can and should test. – Testing UX: Say the content a lot of users are seeking is stuck below the fold on your landing page, they may arrive, not see it and summarily pogo stick back. Testing can reveal these sorts of hard-to-identify UX issues.
  6. You’ll make more money: Conversion optimization won’t result in thousands of dollars in additional revenue right away but it will steadily add incremental revenue that you’ll notice over a period of time. Of course, any given test might identify that “golden” opportunity garnering immediate and significant impact, but generally speaking, the benefits of conversion optimization more often reveal themselves over the long haul. The sum total of lots of small improvements that together result in much higher conversions and revenue. Let’s look at an example. You change the location of a form on a page which earns you two extra leads per month. This may not seem like a lot but consider the following: Over the course of a year that’s 24 more leads. – If you close those leads at a rate of 10%, that’s 2+ more new customers. – If your average customer is worth $20K then that little change might amount to more than $40K in additional revenue. Year over year, this accretive effect can really add up…
   

A Good Conversion Optimization Rule of Thumb

A general rule to consider when thinking about a conversion optimization program: if your digital experience — site, app, etc. — gets more than 200 conversions per month, you absolutely need to employ a conversion optimization program. And, if it gets more than 1,000 per month and you haven’t yet, you’re leaving something on the table. Alternatively, if it gets fewer than 200 conversions per month, stick with focusing on increasing visitors first. Why? With those traffic numbers, it’ll be hard to run an effective split testing program. Not that you won’t be able to split test — in fact, I recommend you do, to optimize around micro-conversion steps — but understand that it won’t be at sufficient scale to iterate rapidly. In a series of posts, including this one, I’ll attempt to give you a basic framework for implementing a conversion optimization program, including:
  1. How to Apply Conversion Optimization
  2. Methods for Tracking and Testing
  3. Things that Hurt Conversion
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