The latest BC Association of Integrated Marketers luncheon, held today at the Four Seasons in downtown Vancouver, was the setting for Googler Tom Leung‘s talk on “escaping the dark ages of online marketing.” Leung explained not only the concepts and practices that lead to superior conversions (the art of keeping people looking at a site for an extended period of time) but also pointed to Google’s Website Optimizer software as a way to drive visitor retention.
According to Leung, driving traffic is only the beginning. The sad reality is that most people will hit the “back” button on their browser when they arrive at a site. There’s a loss in that first bounced visit, he said, but it’s necessary to think more holistically about the entire process.
Clicking through to a home page, which many sites still do, gives readers a generic experience and doesn’t drive audience retention. A landing page is the most important place to retain viewers, he said, because if a viewer leaves a landing page they will likely not return.
Raising traffic and raising conversion rates are the key to increasing sales, and using both methods creates a multiplicative effect, Leung said.
Driving the right traffic, monitoring performance and then tweaking the site for improvements is the key to increasing sales. Optimizing content without experimentation is futile, Leung said.
Letting customers decide what works best for a site by experimenting and analyzing the data is the best way to decide what works to drive traffic. Managers may think they know what customers want, Leung said, but when customers are already telling a company what they want, it doesn’t make sense to ignore the data.
Best practices include testing a small number of variations combined with testing big changes, as well as paying attention to early indicators like requests for info, viewing features pages and staying on those pages for an extended period of time.
Leung also explained that all the online tools that provide analytic data are helping to build a fact-based marketing culture. One of the tools he discussed was (not surprisingly) Google Website Optimizer, which is accessible through Google’s Adwords site. The optimizer is free and doesn’t require an Adwords account, and performs , multivariate testing and follow up testing.
Leung introduced Vancouver’s WiderFunnel Marketing as a preferred Authorized Consultant for Website Optimizer. WiderFunnel presented two case studies of work they’ve done with Safe Software and Tourism BC. One of them showed how WiderFunnel developed an A/B Split Test and improved the lead generation conversion rate by 270% over the original pages.
WiderFunnel provides end-to-end services for planning, designing, copy writing and implementing landing page optimization experiments, so they can help you if you don’t have the time or resources to develop or hire expertise in conversion optimization.