Here is a complete blueprint of how to get more customers for your service or product:
- Get more traffic:
- Organic Traffic: SEO (for the terms that are relevant to us and are maximally searched)
- Onsite optimiztion
- New content
- Off site optimization (backlinks)
- Paid Traffic: PPC Adwords campaign
- Research of keywords so that CTR is high but CPC is low
- Tracking all metrics (cost to acquire customer, lifetime value, etc.) and tweaking campaigns
- Scaling campaign once campaign has been tweaked
- Paid Traffic: Sponsorship / Direct Ads
- Researching which sites (where prospective customers hang out) can directly accept ads / sponsorship
- Facebook, LinkedIn or other alternative means of advertising
- Social Media
- Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other channels to generate traffic
- Generate Buzz
- Public Relations (get published in newspapers!):
- Writing and releasing press releases
- Contacting journalists and pitching it
- Bloggers (getting reviews written in blogs)
- Contacting and pitching bloggers
- Retaining customers
- Usage Analysis
- Coming up with a plan to convert users signed up for trial into customers
- Targeting active / inactive users by doing usage analysis
- Email marketing
- Targeting visitors who show interest
- Converting visitors into customers
- Analysis from Google Analytics
- A/B testing and conversion rate optimization using Visual Website Optimizer
- Analysis from Clicktale and heatmaps
- Incorporate qualitative feedback at different visitor touchpoints
- Competitor Analysis
- What is working for them?
- Where are they getting traffic from?
- How are they generating buzz?
Have I missed any aspect? Please leave a comment below and I will add it.
On this blog and on Visual Website Optimizer‘s blog, we get a lot of long tail search visitors. The term long tail is borrowed from power-law like distributions, wherein a small number of elements make up for the most volume while a large number of different elements make up for lesser volume. The latter one is called “long tail” and here is how it looks:
You see I love Split Testing blog is all about (duh) split testing. And I expect search engines to send to the blog people looking for things related to split testing. Of course, a bonus for us, search engines can also send visitors looking for related topics such as SEO, online marketing, web analytics, etc. However, some of the visitors we get from Google were searching for completely different things. Sample some of the following keywords where our blog is apparently ranked highly on Google:
- conversion statistics rodents of unusual size
(whoa! Why would Google rank our blog for this term? Why would someone search it in the first place?)
- world optimizer
(So, now VWO can optimize the world too?)
- Enjoy a bit of downtime
(Google, you should read and understand this)
- why do you split 8s
(I have no idea what this means)
- excuses for not performing well
(We do A/B testing, not self help book publishing)
- VISUAL SITE HACKER
(a potential startup idea!)
- can you have the same website at two different URLs
(a honest question for sure, but “A/B testing” would have actually scared this visitor)
- bouncing sidebar
(Google probably mixed up bounce rate, and sidebar case studies)
- how can I give feedback to their ideas
(may be first try A/B testing your feedback on other people?)
The point of this post isn’t to belittle Google’s job. It is a fantastic search engine and does amazingly job in long term searches. The humorous queries above constitute <2% of total search volume we get.
But, still, it is always good to see such queries in web logs. Makes up for a good laugh. Plus, gives a room for improvement in (now) slow-moving search industry.
Like everyone else, you want to rank high on Google and you want to extract maximum ROI out of your Adwords PPC campaigns. Your website deals with a particular topic area, say Conversion Optimization (which is the case for this blog). But then the topic is so vast that optimizing (or positioning) website and content on a single broad topic becomes very challenging. A whole gamut of websites deal with Conversion Optimization, so how does this blog have even a minute chance of getting seen on search engines?
The answer is to write website content including keywords and phrases that people search for at prominent places. This is such a no brainer advice that it borders on being completely useless. The real challenge is to know what people search for. You can (and should) bring process to researching what exactly people search and how to rank on it:
Step 1: Go to Google’s Keyword Tool
This tool displays a lot of juicy information on the keywords we enter and other automatically generated related keywords list. Mainly, what we are looking for is:
- A list of keywords in conversion optimization domain (or your area) where we can rank
- Particularly, we are interested in keywords that get most searches on Google (and similarly on other search engines)
- If you want to do paid advertisements on Google (Adwords), we are looking for keywords with minimum competition, maximum search traffic and minimum cost
Enter your main keyword in tool. For example, I enter “conversion rate optimization” as the keyword and get a long list of related keywords. To derive maximum information on these keywords select ‘Show All Columns’ from the drop down (‘Choose columns to display’) towards top right.
After you click on show all columns, you will see an image like the one above. You can note we have multiple data points here:
- Local monthly search volume. Number of monthly searches from the region you have chosen (US, India or any other region)
- Global monthly search volume. Number of monthly searches from the whole world for that particular keyword.
- Advertiser Competition. An indication of how popular is this keyword from sales perspective (since advertiser competition will be greatest on the keywords which generate most sales). But then you want to avoid heavy competition as it will decrease your visibility.
- Estimated Cost Per Click. If you bid for this keyword on Google, what should you expect to pay. In this case the bid is in Indian National Rupee (INR), so don’t get alarmed
Let’s download all this information in MS Excel format to crunch some numbers. Click on Download all keywords (.csv for excel) towards the center right.
Step 2: Delete irrelevant keywords
Open the freshly downloaded list of keywords and pour through it. You will notice that it may have many irrelevant keywords. In my case, I found a lot of keywords related to currency conversion. Delete all such keywords. Aim to have a short list of keywords which closely relate to your area of operation.
Step 3: See competition on Google for remaining keywords
In the list we have a field called advertiser competition. But that related to PPC campaigns on AdWords. For organic, natural search results (from SEO perspective) we want to know the competition on Google search. Ideally, it will be easy to rank on the keywords which have low competition.
A good proxy of competition on Google is the number of search results. So fire up Google.com and take each keyword, enter it into the search engine (you can try including the keyword inside double quotes to get finer results but searchers seldom use double quotes so best to enter keyword as it is) and note the number of search results. For example, the keyword “optimizing conversion” (without quotes) gets us 1,650,000 results while “improving conversion rates” gets us 3,930,000 results. This tells us that there is more competition for the latter keyword than the former. Make a new column in excel and for each keyword add number of search results into it. It may be bit tiring to repeat it for 30-40 odd keywords but trust me, it will be worth it.
Step 4: Do the magic!
This is the step where we define our new metrics for each keyword (using the existing columns in the excel):
Organic Attractiveness = Global Monthly Search Volume / Search Results on Google
Idea is that those keywords are most attractive for SEO which get most searches on Google but have least competition.
PPC Attractiveness (Volume) = Global Monthly Search Volume / Adwords Advertiser Competition
This ranks keywords on bringing most traffic through AdWords CPC campaigns.
PPC Attractiveness (Budget) = Global Monthly Search Volume / Estimated Avg. CPC
This ranks keywords in your area which will be most pocket friendly.
PPC Attractiveness (Overall) = Global Monthly Search Volume / (Estimated Avg. CPC * Adwords Advertiser Competition)
This ranks keywords in your area which will be most pocket friendly and which bring in most traffic.
So, you simply add these four new columns and do simple calculations in Excel to get values for these four new metrics. (Tip: only do the calculation for the first keyword, drag the results down to all the rows to get values for all keywords automatically).
Step 5: Sort the columns to get most important keywords
Now all you have to do is sort the columns for Organic Attractiveness and PPC Attractiveness to know which keywords are best for SEO and PPC Campaigns respectively. In my case, for SEO (Organic Attractiveness) I get following keywords at the top:
Click here to download the excel file.
I marked some keywords in green to indicate the keywords which I think will turn out to be most useful. Red keyword (“conversion rate”) is too broad to be useful. And I left topmost keyword (“conversion tracking”) uncolored because Wingify doesn’t only concentrate in this to justify maximum effort into optimizing the website for it.
In the end I get keywords “landing page optimization”, “conversion rate optimization” and “conversion optimization” which will yield maximum benefit from SEO perspective. If I choose to advertise on Google through Adwords, all I have to do is to sort the column PPC Attractiveness (Volume or Budget or Overall) to get list of keywords on which I will be bidding first.
Let me know if you find this strategy useful by leaving a comment below.
The most important metric that you should be tracking on your website is its bounce rate. It is a number which tells what percent of visitors leave your site after browsing just one page or within first 10 seconds (exact definition depends on the web analytics tool you use). Higher the bounce rate, higher the number of potential customers you loose because bounced visitors thought your website has nothing for them to offer and leave without any further interaction. With ever-reducing attention spans and ever-expanding options online, your visitors have very little motivation in actively exploring your website for what you offer and how it benefits their day to day lives. So, it becomes responsibility of the first page a visitor lands on to convince him that spending time here is worth it.
Optimizing (reducing) bounce rate is thus tremendously important to your business. There are multiple reasons why visitors leave immediately after arriving; the most prominent amongst them being:
- Expectation mismatch: by to the source they arrived from. Your visitors are expecting to see something on your website while your page talks about something else. This happens a lot of times, especially when you have paid advertising for a specific offer and you link that advertisement to a generic page such as your homepage. Matching the expectation of your visitor is very important. Your site might be talking about multiple different things, but a visitor arrives on it just to learn more about what the source said you offer.
- Organic search irrelevance: increasingly search engines are getting better at finding relevant content for a user search query, but they are still not perfect. I’m sure while reviewing your web analytics reports, you must be regularly surprised by: ‘how come this search query found this page on my website’. Your visitors too feel the same. Try comparing your bounce rate for organic visitors (those who came via search engines) v/s non-organic visitors (those who came via other sources); you would definitely see that the former metric is higher than the latter.
- Your website sucks: your visitors expect a good looking, easy on eyes website upon arrival. They are already sick of advertisement-loaded, poorly made websites all over the Internet and if yours is no better, they won’t be very happy about it. Give your visitors a pleasant surprise by having a website with the right contrast, right typography, right layout and right color scheme. Hire a top-notch designer and pay him whatever you can but please make sure your website looks good.
- Lack of call to action: this could perhaps be the single biggest reason for why visitors bounce from your website. Once visitors have gone through the page they landed on, don’t let them struggle on what they should be doing next. Guide them to the actions you think are optimal for that page. If it is a blog, you want them to subscribe to blog updates. If it is a corporate site, you may want them to go through relevant case studies and whitepapers. In nutshell, don’t let them think too hard to what is their expected next action on this website. Guide them gently using calls to actions placed prominently at the right places on the website. Mostly, these right palaces are the ones where visitor has just completed his original purpose (for which he landed on the site) and is wondering what to do next.
- Too many options: this is the opposite end of the previous point of having no call to action on the landing page. Having too many options for a visitor can also lead to higher bounce rate. This is partly the reason you will observe that bounce rate on your homepage is probably higher than your other inner website pages. Having too many links/calls to actions competing for visitor attention can increase anxiety and lead to visitor leaving the website for a better alternative. This is where experienced conversion optimization firms (such as Wingify ) and good web designers help you in creating proper layout with different calls to actions appealing to different kinds of visitors, hence reducing bounce rate.
How to fix the high bounce rate?
As different websites serve different goals and cater to different audiences, there is no sure shot way of fixing the bounce rate. Though there are several general methodologies you can try for reducing the bounce rate:
- Segment bounce rate by landing/entry page: your website overall bounce rate conveys absolutely no actionable information; it is vague and it is imprecise. Best way to get a true picture of your website bounce rate is to see bounce rate for individual landing/entry pages. Using your web analytics tool, see which are the top 20 landing pages on your website and what their individual bounce rates are. You will be surprised to know that there is a dramatic difference in bounce rate across different landing pages. Your top priority should be to fix or optimize pages/categories which are most trafficked and have highest bounce rates.
- Surveys: there are many tools on the web which allow you to survey visitors who are about to bounce, just before they leave the website. Though I particularly don’t like such methodologies because they frustrate an already unsatisfied visitor, you may find them useful for your website and audience type.
- Visitor movies and heatmaps: you can use tools such as Clicktale to record mouse movements, clicks, scroll activity and keypresses of your visitors to find out what exactly they do once they arrive on your landing pages. It can be a tremendous way to find out that, for example, most of your visitors don’t really notice your ‘SIGNUP NOW’ button in the sidebar. (And you thought people aren’t interested in the offering) Similarly, you can use tools such as Crazyegg to see heatmaps to find out where on the page exactly visitors are clicking/engaging and if it is optimial.
- Testing: usually the only way to find out what works is to test it. You should setup a split test to try multiple different website designs, layouts, styling, calls to action, etc. Hire a testing agency, if you wish, but make sure you are doing testing on your website continuously to always reducing the bounce rate.
As Avinash Kaushik says, the only good bounce rate is the one which keeps reducing month-by-month. So make sure you focus your website optimization efforts first one bounce rate and then onto other metrics.
What are your strategies for reducing bounce rates? Do you think you are doing a good job on your website (as far as optimizing bounce rate is concerned)? Are you satisfied with your existing bounce rate?