Occasionally, I stumble upon some really great marketing resources. The ConversionXL Blog is one of these, because its authors, like Matt Handal’s Help Everybody Everyday, advocates scientific approaches to marketing. The scientific method combines research, hypothesis (idea) testing and validation — and often results in significant improvements over the norms, even though the solutions may appear counter-intuitive.
The writer, Estonian Peep Laja, works in a business building a lucrative web design and consulting business. Peep, like Matt, appear to be doing everything right. (I wish I could be so smart.) Don’t expect any “bargains” if you use Markitekt‘s paid services — this organization practices the “value pricing” model, and is very careful to promote itself to businesses who can actually afford to pay for the desired results — start-ups are generally not welcome and I expect very small businesses would balk at the price tag (though if you have a small business that is enjoying some success, you may find these resources really help you grow much faster.)
Anyways, here are your five suggestions, garnered in part from the blog.
1. Forget those “automatic image carousels and banners” if you want to improve your click-through rate.
Ugh, looks like we’re guilty of this sort of stuff on our own websites — see North Carolina Construction News (http://www.ncconstructionnews.com).
This study concluded, that on two sites where the users had a specific task in their mind, the main banners were completely ignored – also the animated version. These kinds of solutions are being used on a lot of the websites, but it’s mostly a fad. Automatic image carousels and banners are generally not a good idea for you homepage. They will be ignored by your visitors because they generate banner blindness and therefore waste a lot of necessary space on your site.
2. Advertising banners create blindness
Another “ouch” around here. “I’m guilty, I’m guilty,” I say.
Banner blindness happens when your visitor subconsciously or consciously ignores a part of your webpage because it looks like advertising. This phenomenon has been around for a long time – We are bombarded daily by thousands of ads, so we have subconsciously learned to ignore advertising on websites. This also means that any block of text or images that may look like advertising will be ignored. Visitors almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement.
3. Summaries rather than complete postings are more effective when you want people to read and respond to your blog’s home page
Using summaries instead of full articles on your blog homepage is superior, because summaries let you show visitors a wide selection of topics. Offering a wider choice of articles increases the likelihood, that your visitor fill find something of interest and will click to read more, instead of leaving your site.
I need to test this one somewhat further. In the new blog design, I’ve set things to produce a full (current) blog posting, coupled with several summaries. Should we instead just use summaries for the whole thing.)
4. Sometimes the obvious is right, sometimes it is dumb, and sometimes you need to find out for yourself.
Duhh, as Laja writes (see the scientific study that validates his assertion at the next link), “Content most important to your visitor’s goals should be in the top of the page.” Seems obvious — but you still need to test it. Now, Matt Handal, in writing Proposal Development Secrets: Win More, Work Smarter, and Get Home on Time, initially decided to use Amazon Kindle as his exclusive distributor. He then tested producing a truly inexpensive 99 cent version of his book, and a full printed paperback model. Which sold the best (and made him the most money)? The paperback version — he reported $1,000 in sales in December; not bad for a first-time writer.
5. Be scientific. Test, test and test some more
Scientific marketers advocate continuous A/B testing. You build your ideal model, and test variables. In the Internet age, you can test variables much more quickly (with statistically valid results) than you could ever have managed before — and the professional marketers will do this, consistently. (I agree this sort of thing is easier to do with mass market consumer product sales than specialized websites promoting AEC businesses seeking multi-million (or billion) dollar contracts, but you can still test, test and test some more.
Finally, a few words about value pricing. If you are selling, you want to apply value pricing principles in everything you do. The goal isn’t to simply “charge out” your hourly rate — it is to set a price based on the actual value of your service to the client. Your margins will of course really improve, and if you are careful in marketing to clients who can actually pay for your services, your satisfaction rate will rise as much (or more) than your profits.
There is an inverse argument, of course, when you are on the purchasing side. Then, the challenge is to determine if you want to “go cheap but go effective” — online bidding services such as elance.com and odesk.com may help you find contractors and service providers who are ready to work for truly low sums of money. And, yes, price doesn’t always correlate with value: We are reviewing and preparing to change several service providers who have failed to deliver on their commitments despite initial promise.