In real estate, the axiom is location, location, location. It’s first and foremost. The number one consideration.
For your digital efforts – email, web pages, eCommerce platforms – an argument could be made for a few different ones: search engine optimization (SEO), the user experience (UX), conversion rate optimization (CRO), or perhaps something else entirely.
Ask five experts and you’ll probably end up with five different answers. But what’s really the end goal? Why are you doing whatever it is you’re doing?
Conversion, conversion, conversion.
Whether that means signing up, downloading, opting in, subscribing, or purchasing, you want your target to do something. Ultimately, everything else should be assisting that one objective.
With apologies to Meghan Trainor, I’m going to suggest it’s all about that CRO. SEO is obviously necessary, but traffic alone is meaningless. And the UX? A happy and satisfied user is imperative, but try paying your rent with one.
So, at the risk of drawing the wrath of the SEO and UX camps, they both fall under the CRO umbrella (they’re all very, very important, though). But – and this is a big but – it’s a massive mistake to believe that SEO and/or UX alone will do much for your CVR.
Start with the end in mind. You need to focus on specific ways to improve your conversion rate.
CRO: An Uphill Battle
Consider this: a couple of years ago, 80% left a site without doing anything. No conversion. That figure is up to 96% in 2017. The global average CVR of online shoppers early this year was 2.48%. Those stats are a bit scary.
The good news? With numbers like that, things can only get better. It just takes time, effort, and a systematic, active approach.
But don’t fall victim to these traps, pitfalls, and mistakes.
Your Mistake: Focusing On the Wrong Things
Quick question: would you rather have something beautiful, or something functional? Would you rather be clever, or understood?
I’ll be blunt…beautiful things are nice, but functional things are essential. And that goes double for your email marketing, website, eCommerce portal, or app.
And clever? Don’t get me started. Clever headlines and subject lines don’t mean a thing if no one clicks or opens them. Consumers want to know what it’s about immediately. They don’t want to have to guess or click or open before finding out (and most won’t anyway).
Be functional. Be clear. Full stop.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good looking website. Nor should your headline be boring and the first dull thing that pops into your head. Quite the contrary. But if you’re putting beauty over function and cleverness over clarity, you’re doing it wrong.
A breathtaking site that’s confusing and awkward to navigate but bursting with clever puns, wordplay, and double entendres may win you fans, but few or no conversions. Which do you want?
Do this instead…
Put your customers first. Consider their wants and needs. Use every available data source – analytics (Kissmetrics goes much deeper than Google…just sayin’), industry studies, surveys, polls, etc. – to identify and create detailed buyer personas. Then, create a site for them.
But don’t stop there. Once you have it where you think it should be, have others take it out for a spin. Try an impartial and third-party service like UserTesting to get invaluable video of real people using your site. Where did it fail them? Take that insight and tweak.
Next, turn to the old standby: A/B testing. You’d be surprised by the big results you can get from tiny changes. Use a testing tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer to confirm your theories about colors, placement, copy, design, images, and more.
One site saw a conversion lift of 304% simply by moving the CTA button from above-the-fold to below it.
Don’t make it look pretty. Make it practical.
Having said that, a cheap, outdated design with grainy stock photos isn’t going to cut it, either. People won’t trust it – or you – and if they don’t believe you’re trustworthy, they won’t convert. Keep your design clean and modern, and use high quality images of your products and people.
Finally, always opt for clear – Get Your Free Trial – over clever – Click or I Kill This Puppy.
Your Mistake: You’re Targeting Just One Platform
Desktop. Tablet. Mobile. Which one is most important?
It’s a trick question. You’ve no doubt heard a lot about the increasing role of mobile devices when it comes to the online world. Chances are virtually everyone around you is staring at their smartphone screen.
Google announced a change to its algorithm in mid-2015 that made mobile-readiness a ranking factor. Since then, more people access the internet on a mobile device than a desktop computer.
Like any good webmaster, you’ve dutifully checked the mobile-friendly tool and made sure your pages passed the mobile test. Kudos.
But the desktop is not dead. Far from it.
More people shop weekly online using their desktop than a mobile phone, and the same number shop daily using both.
Traditional desktop computers still boast a higher conversion rate than both tablets and mobile phones. In fact, desktops had a CVR that was more than 3x higher than smartphones for American shoppers in 2016 (3.55% vs 1.15% respectively).
Mobile at the expense of desktop? Bad idea.
So how about desktop over mobile?
We’ve already mentioned that more people head online using a mobile device than desktop computers, so you’d be waving goodbye to a huge chunk of potential.
And when it comes to your local market, you’re missing out if your platform isn’t mobile-ready. More local searches result in a purchase when made on a smartphone than those made on a desktop (78% vs 61% respectively).
Finally, 59% of smartphone users expect a website to be mobile-friendly and feel frustrated when it’s not. They’ll leave and likely never return.
No mobile? No way.
Do this instead…
The solution should be obvious. Desktop or mobile? You need both. And tablets, too. Create a website or portal that looks and functions equally well on all three, and you’re ahead of the curve.
In big markets like the United States, Canada, China, and the United Kingdom, the vast majority are multi-platform people.
Try a tool like Screenfly or WhatIsMyScreenResolution to see for yourself. Is everything legible? Are the buttons and links spread out and big enough to be easily tapped on a touchscreen? Do you use more scrolling than clicking?
Google recommends you use a responsive site design rather than dynamic content or a separate mobile URL. And it’s best to follow their advice. Of course, there’s a lot more to mobile optimization, but this is enough to get you started.
The key takeaway: Don’t sacrifice one for the other. Design and optimize for desktop, tablet, and mobile, and watch that CVR head north.
Your Mistake: You Don’t Care About Speed
This can’t get any simpler: speed matters. For your customers and the search engines. So be fast.
As you beef your site up with tools, HD images, videos, and more, your speed suffers. If you believe that a practical, responsive site and good products are enough, you’re wrong. Why?
Because if your page takes too long to load, they’ll leave before even experiencing any of that.
Nearly half of web users expect a page to load in under 2 seconds, and 79% won’t return to a site with performance issues like slow load times.
As much as 83% of users expect a page to load in under 3 seconds, and a 1 second improvement in your load time can produce a 7% increase in conversions. That’s right.
The godfather of eCommerce – Amazon – experiences a 1% loss in revenue for every 100ms delay…that’s just one-tenth of a second.
Do this instead…
Care about speed and load time. A lot. Actively work to make your pages faster and more streamlined.
Google suggests that your site take no more than 2-3 seconds to load. At most. How do you measure up?
There are other mistakes that negatively affect your CVR: you give up too easily (solution: retargeting, cart abandonment emails, etc.), no social proof (solution: add social proof), weak call-to-action (solution: make it active, make it clear, test, and optimize), and more.
Check out some of the great tutorials by Neil Patel, Glide, Kissmetrics, and HubSpot if you want to dig deeper and go further. In the meantime, find and fix these three mistakes to shift your CRO into overdrive.
Because online, it’s conversion, conversion, conversion.
About the Author: Daniel Kohn is the CEO and co-founder of SmartMail, a company that helps E-commerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Download SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jumpstart your E-commerce email marketing program.
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There’s a problem in business.
Okay, fine, there are plenty of problems in the wide world of business.
Obviously, there are tons of good things in business brought about by new innovations, advances in technology, and improvements in customer engagement.
But for all the new changes, old habits sure do die hard. Specifically, there are a lot of old ideas that still have a grip on the business world.
These ideas are preventing businesses from successfully engaging present day users.
This is why so many brands are dying out; they’re failing to actually serve today’s customers. Think about your business’s focus, where you’re putting your energy.
Is your business people-first or money-first?
Because the hard truth is that a business that puts revenue first won’t be able to stay afloat in the tumultuous waters of today’s economy. It sounds counterintuitive. Doesn’t a business exist to make money?
Yes. Obviously, you need to think about profit. But when you make that your number one goal above your customers, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
This is more than just a chicken-and-egg riddle.
This is about how and why you do business.
If you haven’t given the issue some thought, I will share a few thoughts that I think are crucial to a business’s longevity and ultimate success.
The point I’m making is simple. Businesses should work to create value not just extract profits.
Let me show you the how and why.
A Primer on Value Creation and Revenue Extraction
In terms of customer interaction, there are typically two general types of businesses: value creation and revenue extraction.
You’ve probably seen both in action before, but you might not be able to tell which one you are.
So let’s start by going over the characteristics of both types of businesses and looking at some examples.
If a business is focused on value, it will naturally put its customers above everything else. (Yes, even above revenue.)
As the definition above notes, value creation increases your business’s worth.
Listen to that again: Value creation increases the worth of your business.
How does this happen? It happens because customers are attracted to businesses that can give them something.
The more value you provide, the more attracted your customers will be to your business.
It’s a simple (and scalable) formula, but far too few businesses actually adopt it.
Many companies still believe that a revenue extraction model is the best for doing long-term business.
What’s revenue extraction?
Revenue extraction is the idea of operating a business with the sole goal of getting money from customers. It’s the exact opposite of value creation.
This little image sums it up well:
Where value creation is focused on serving, revenue extraction is obsessed with being served.
The type of business makes a colossal difference in how customers respond and interact.
And that’s not just theory. It’s a fact.
Quick caveat here.
Obviously, every business has to focus on profit to some degree.
If a business doesn’t make a profit, it doesn’t exist. End of story.
Value creation vs. revenue extraction has more to do with motivation and priority rather than simple accounting.
As I’ll explain below, placing a higher priority on value creation will produce higher revenues.
Let’s look at an example.
UrbanBound is a company that prioritizes value extraction. They weren’t engaging their customers well enough, so they listened to customer feedback and rolled out a new marketing plan that included lots of high-value content.
That’s what value creation can do.
Okay, that was a positive example.
Now let’s look at a negative example.
From 2000 to 2014, Steve Ballmer was the CEO of Microsoft. As CEO, Ballmer was known for focusing on sales to the exclusion of nearly everything else.
I’m smelling revenue extraction.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Ballmer made it obvious that he was focused on revenue extraction, saying, “It’s easy to glorify the products produced and the reputations won, not the money made.”
Even his exit from the company didn’t stop him from having this mindset. In early 2017, he said of Microsoft, “I want to see more profit growth.”
Sure enough, Ballmer’s attitude contributed to Microsoft’s poor performance during his tenure. The company produced several products that flopped, share price was largely stagnant, and Forbes called him the worst CEO.
When Ballmer announced his retirement as CEO, the stock price jumped 10%, which ironically enough, added even more to Steve Ballmer’s enormous wealth. He quits, and makes $1 billion. If only we could all be so lucky.
Interestingly, while Ballmer increased Microsoft’s revenue, his reign also saw a dip in customer satisfaction.
Some point to Ballmer as the big bad reason why Apple overtook Microsoft.
Apple, who seems to focus more on the customer, steadily grew its revenue while staying at the top of the American Customer Satisfaction Index for eleven years straight.
Today, the fact that Microsoft lost customers (and that Apple gained customers) in the long term is evident by just looking at each company’s revenue over a ten-year period.
So what’s the point of all of this?
If you rely on a revenue extraction business model, you’ll turn your customers into enemies.
Your sales might look good for a bit, but that won’t last long.
If you think about human nature, this makes a lot of sense. No one wants to feel like a company just wants to empty their wallets.
Rather, customers see themselves as part of an exchange system. They contribute money to a business. In return they get some sort of value.
When customers receive value, they have a huge incentive to come back to your business.
And in a crowded economy, if you want to stand out, you have to win your customers over with a ton of value.
The world’s most successful businesses all think this way, and it’s proven to improve your relationship with your customers.
You might be scared right now, wondering if you’re focused on value creation or revenue extraction.
Here’s how you can tell.
Where’s your focus?
Businesses who focus on value creation and those who focus on revenue extraction look very different when you look at their priorities.
And, really, that’s all this is — a priority issue.
Pivoting from revenue extraction to value creation doesn’t require firing your employees, shuffling top management, or changing your logo.
It simply means an adjustment of priority. That can start with a simple mental shift.
I’ve identified five positive priorities of a value creation business.
1. You put the most effort into creating and refining your products or services with your customers in mind, and you continually take customer feedback into account.
2. You often ask your customers for feedback and maintain a strong online presence, answering questions and addressing complaints.
3. You publish lots of free, value-packed content. You might publish so much free content that people tell you to charge for it. Hubspot is one company that does this often:
4. Your company ethos revolves around helping your customers achieve their goals.
5. Your marketing hinges on the benefits your customers will receive from your products or services.
Now, let’s go over to the dark side.
Here are five signs that you’re a revenue extraction business:
1. You put the most effort into your pricing schemes and/or create your products or services with profit in mind.
2. You rarely ask your customers for feedback and don’t prioritize your online presence or interaction with customers.
3. You don’t publish free content often, and when you do, it doesn’t provide a lot of value.
4. Your company ethos revolves around maximizing your bottom line.
5. Your marketing hinges on sensational tactics (like clickbait) to get people’s attention using hype.
Of course, it’s not always black and white. In fact, your company may have characteristics from both of those lists. Most businesses tend towards one side or the other.
What about your business?
If you’ve identified your business as the revenue extraction type, don’t panic.
This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail, and it doesn’t mean you have an evil company.
There are several tactical ways to shift from the revenue extraction model to the value creation model.
Value begins with great content
To provide the kind of value that your customers will love, you need to make some serious changes.
In particular, you need to know what your customers want and need and then give them what they’re looking for.
Learning who your customers are is important for every business, but if you’ve found out you only think about revenue extraction, you need to kick your customer engagement strategy into overdrive.
This is where it gets good.
The best way to do this is with a killer content strategy.
If you don’t have one, you need to make one.
But whether you’re revamping your current strategy or creating one from scratch, the steps are more or less the same.
Here’s a good framework for what a content strategy should look like:
Let’s break that down.
Step 1: Plan your content
What kind of high-value content are you going to produce? This is a step you should spend some time on.
You don’t want to put out a ton of content if it’s just going to be watered down. Instead, focus on quality over quantity.
There’s a lack of high quality content on the web. If you’re one of the businesses in your niche that’s creating helpful content, you’ll easily stand out.
Your content should revolve around information that will benefit your readers in some way. Sometimes that means actionable tips, and sometimes that means in-depth explanations.
Remember, providing value needs to be your core mission.
As long as you prioritize that, you’ll be on the right track.
Step 2: Audit your existing content
Even if you don’t have much content right now, you might still be able to salvage some or all of the content you do have.
If you search “content audit,” you’ll be greeted by several articles that focus on SEO.
You don’t have to worry about that too much right now, but you should determine if any content on your site is driving large amounts of traffic.
If you find something, you’ll definitely want to update it.
For all your other content, think critically about how well the content would perform. You can use sites like Buzzsumo to see what’s trending in your niche.
If you choose to keep any content, you should update it. Your existing content is probably low-value, so increasing the amount of value will be your first priority.
Step 3: Fine-tune your content process
During this step, think about how you can make a repeatable, scalable process for content creation. This needs to be a system that you can use time and time again.
First, you need to think about how you’re going to deliver the content. Will you use longform articles? Videos? Infographics?
Second, you need to create an editorial calendar that will map out what you publish and how often you publish it.
Basically, you should have a smooth process in place that covers all the bases.
This will take some time to fully develop, so expect to make frequent changes.
Step 4: Set up a performance tracking system
To maintain a powerful content strategy, you need to know what’s working and what’s not.
In terms of content, your success or failure will be measured by how well your content performs.
Performance is generally measured using a few key metrics: views, time on page, and conversion actions (like email signups or even sales). These are also called Key Performance Indicators or KPIs.
You can see all of these metrics in Google Analytics. Once you get familiar with the platform, you’ll be able to track each metric individually to put your strategy under the microscope.
Step 5: Share your content
This is the “marketing” part of “content marketing.” If you’re serious about your content, you want to get it in front of as many people as possible.
Social media plays a big role in this. You’ll want to have a strong presence on the big social networks and share your content on them, optimizing the content for each site.
If you optimize well enough, your content will get lots of views and shares, and your traffic will grow.
One more thing: Having a social sharing schedule will let you make the most of your content.
But none of these steps matter in the least if you’re not delivering value.
That’s where it all starts.
To put it simply, the revenue extraction business model is outdated.
Customers have more choices than at any point in history.
If you don’t like one coffee shop or grocery store, you can easily switch to one of the countless others.
In most situations, every customer has the ability to decide where they want to spend their money.
You have to convince them that your company is worth spending money on.
That’s why so many businesses are utilizing high-value content strategies. People respond to value, and they want to give back to businesses who give them value first.
How are you going to provide that kind of serious value to your customers?
About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.
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It’s hard to imagine going anywhere without your mobile device these days. From kids tethered to their phones, to grandmas Facetiming with their grandkids, our smartphones have become as much a part of our lives as our opposing thumbs.
But just how do companies get those opposing thumbs tapping when you’re not in store, checking your email, or browsing on social media? They do it through push notifications.
Breathing New Life Into “Old” Technology
Mobile phones have been around since 1973, but shockingly, they were only used to make or take calls (and they were bulky and expensive too). It wasn’t until 2001 that Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind Blackberry, changed how we communicated on our mobile phones, paving the way for what we now know as push notifications.
Back then, if you got a new email, you’d never know it until you went to physically check your messages. This involved sending a request to the server, waiting for it to download your recent messages, and then waiting even longer for it to notify you. Because of all this traffic going to and from the server, there were limits on how many times you could do this.
With Push, RIM and Blackberry made it so that emails and updates could be received instantaneously. Blackberry devices flew off the shelves. Even the iPhone, which we typically associate with being the real game-changer on the mobile device landscape, wouldn’t be released until six years later.
But Apple was watching – and in 2009, with its iOS 3.0 update, it introduced the Apple Push Notification Service, APNS, to the world. This system was further built upon and refined in subsequent years – making it a mainstay for the way we communicate with the mobile world around us.
What Push Notifications Are and Are Not
Like a gentle tap on the shoulder from an old friend, push notifications are friendly, helpful and inviting. They are not an excuse to spam or bombard your users with irrelevant news and details. Because Push Notifications are designed to be timely, many of them revolve around actions that the consumer initiated first, such as watching a series on Netflix or booking a flight.
Netflix sends targeted push notifications to users to entice them to watch a series, or even a trailer:
Some, like Waze, simply work as timely reminders, even if you haven’t opted in to receive notifications, but still use the app.
But how can marketers use push notifications to engage with their users in a way that’s not intrusive, but welcomed and encouraged? Below, we’ll take a look at several examples that showcase best practices for messaging — but first, you may be wondering:
Why Bother with Push Notifications At All?
New research suggests that up to 68% of users have enabled push notification for their apps, and marketers enjoy 50% higher open rates on push notifications compared to emails. If you have a mobile app, analysis from Urban Airship has shown that mobile app retention rates are up to 10 times greater the more frequently those users receive messages.
Like email, push notifications are a signal of user interest and some degree of trust, so keep the following strategies in mind when creating a push notification campaign your users will welcome.
Let Users Determine When, Where and How You’ll Contact Them
Giving the user a greater degree of control over where, when, and how they receive notifications demonstrates that you’re not only respective of their time, but are keenly interested in their business as well. This push notification doubles as a welcome message and a surprise coupon for users who sign up for Starbucks’ rewards program.
The customizability of notifications is so versatile, for example, that users can block out certain days when they don’t want to receive push notifications (such as weekends) as well as the days when they wouldn’t mind an extra caffeinated jolt (like Mondays).
Create a Rich Push Notification for Greater Engagement
A rich push notification is one that contains relevant calls-to-action, such as “shop now” or “browse”. Take a look at this example from Urban Airship which shows a push notification without and with rich media added in the form of shop and share buttons:
Learn how to create these types of notifications for Apple and Android devices. (Image Source)
Even if you’d rather not go quite that far with your notifications, simply piquing your users’ curiosity with emojis can help your message stand out, like this example from online shopping store Wanelo:
Go Beyond Merely “Checking In”
Most push notifications are designed to encourage you to check back in with the app and start using it again. But what if you could do more? Here’s an example from Swarm, a mobile app that lets users share their location with people on their social network. The user in this example screenshot has just checked into a sandwich shop:
Not only has the app bolded the friend and the location, but uses relevant icons to share where and what it is. From here, you have the opportunity to “like” their check in or comment (perhaps on a particular flavor they should try), which in turn encourages even greater engagement.
Follow-Up Based on Previous Purchase History
You’re likely using email marketing for a great deal of order follow-ups, but what about push notifications? This example, from H&M, sends notifications out to users based on what they’ve bought previously:
You can also do this with abandoned cart notifications as well to encourage users to come back to your site and complete their order, or add accessories or other products based on their prior purchases – the possibilities are just about as unlimited as those offered with email — and because push notifications are always on, you’ll have a direct line to your customer’s attention, anytime and anywhere.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have you used similar strategies in your own push notifications? Or are you just getting started and looking for a little inspiration? Share your success stories and triumphs with us in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!