How To Be Good At Marketing

This article is all about how to be very good at marketing, but it could equally be called, “Why Some Businesses Fail When Others Fly”.

Before we dig in I want to look at how marketing is defined in the dictionary:

  • n. the action or business of promoting products or services

This is exactly what most people think marketing is – trying to shout as loudly as possible about a product or service and trying to get it sold. Here at Factory Five we prefer to define marketing as:

  • getting paid to solve problems

If you define marketing like this then you can see there are really two parts to marketing:

  • Solving problems i.e. creating your product or service
  • Getting paid i.e. marketing and sales

Marketing is the most valuable part of any business. To someone who is new to business they often think the product creation is the most important part of a business, but its not. To an expert marketer, marketing starts with the market, not the product or service, and the most valuable asset is a paying customer.

Let’s look at an example to really make this hit home.

Level 1 Marketing: Newbie

Product Experience: 1/5, Marketing Experience: 0/5 (none)

For this example let’s imagine a tennis coach of 20 years experience decides he wants to create an online tennis coaching video series and offer it for sale, to help others improve their tennis and make some extra income.

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He hires a video production team to work with him for two days to create the videos. He also hires a freelancer to create his website and set it up so it’s able to accept payments. The product is called, “How To Improve Your Tennis”, and he thinks anyone who plays tennis even socially could benefit from it.

Now that both the product and the website are ready, he pays for some Google ads and starts to drive traffic to his sales page. After just one week it becomes apparent that the cost of buying ads is more than he’s making back from selling his product, and he promptly stops all marketing, and gives up on selling his product.

Level 2 Marketer: Novice

Product Experience: 2/5, Marketing Experience: 1/5

The novice marketer is close to getting it but still focuses on the product more than on the market.

If our tennis coach were operating at this level he might realise that he needs to niche down and focus perhaps on children who are looking to improve their tennis. He also realises that there is more to marketing than simply pushing traffic to a sales page, so he also tries to post to his blog twice a week and attemptd capture a person’s email address when they visit the blog post. He’ll then email them a weekly newsletter giving them some useful tips and reminding them about his course.

A tennis coach at this level is actually playing a dangerous game. He’s still pushing loss making traffic to his website, in the hope that the combination of direct sales and sales from his newsletter will be enough to make him a profit.

Marketeers at this level are still too focussed on the product and believe they are the bottleneck that is stopping them from breaking through. If only they had more time they’d be able to blog more and optimize their newsletter more to generate more sales.

In a B2B context business owners at this level will also feel they are the bottleneck, wishing they could attend more networking events, appear at more industry events etc. to grow their sales.

Level 3: Seasoned

Product Experience: 3/5, Marketing Experience: 4/5

People at this level are different for two reasons. Firstly, the market’s opinion comes before their own. Secondly, they are not the bottleneck in solving the problem.

Let’s assume by now that our tennis coach has given up on trying to promote his video course online, and introduce a seasoned marketer who knows nothing about tennis. She has heard about the tennis coach who can’t figure things out, so what does she do?

She doesn’t rely on her own opinion. Instead, she approaches the market and listens. She starts by asking existing students and the parents of students the question, “What do you most want to improve in your tennis lessons?”. After a while, some familiar answers appear:

“To hit a great backhand”, “To be able to serve aces”, “To be able to hit harder”, “To be able hit topspin forehands”

Based on this information, she’s able to work with the coach to convert his original product into one on how to hit a great backhand. And she has three more products to create too. How to Ace More Serves. How to hit harder. How to hit a topspin forehand.

Because our seasoned marketeer isn’t the bottleneck, she has another idea. She asks the tennis coach what his problems are. What is the missing piece of the jigsaw in his coaching business that he wishes he could figure out? He tells her that despite his 20 years experience he’s never managed to turn his club into a top ranked tennis club.

She starts calling the best tennis coaches in the country, and manages to get interviews with eight of them, telling her their story about how they developed top-ranked tennis teams. She records these interviews. Now she has a product for coaches too.

It’s counter intuitive, but being too clever can be a hinderance when it comes to marketing. You assume that to compete you have to differentiate in some complex way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Seasoned marketers don’t make this mistake, they always ask the market what they want, and then laser target their product or service to meet this exact need.

Level 4 Marketer: Expert

Product Experience: 5/5, Marketing Experience: 5/5

Expert marketers know that the true value of a business is its customer list. They don’t even focus on product creation. I’ve put them at 5/5 for product creation, because if they chose to, they would create great products.

But usually they don’t create products. They understand that the true value is a paying customer. So they just do the lead generation for other companies because most companies focus on product creation but aren’t very good at getting paid.

A great example of a business operating at this level is Experian. They have a multi-million dollar business just generating leads for other businesses. Here are some of the properties they own to generate leads: FreeCreditReport.com, FreeCreditScore.com, FamilySecure.com, Affiliate Fuel, ClassesUSA.com, PriceGrabber.com and LowerMyBills.com.

Improving Your Marketing Skills

So, how do you go about improving your marketing?

The first step is to recognise where you are. The next step is to read everything you can by expert marketers, such as Jay Abraham, Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, and Ryan Deiss. After a year reading everything you can by these people, and another year experimenting and learning by trial and error you’ll be in the expert marketer category.

Using Facebook For B2B Sales

Have you ever thought of using Facebook for B2B sales? Most business owners don’t because they think that Facebook is only good for targeting consumers.

They’re wrong. Facebook has one of the most comprehensive datasets about people available to advertisers. Don’t believe me? Have a look at the following example:

Let’s say you’re a PR agency specialising in clients in the food industry. Did you know that you can target exactly the following on Facebook: Men and women aged 26 – 50 who like topics related to the Food Industry, Food Marketing, Food Distribution, Packaging and Labelling, and have the job title ‘CEO’ or ‘Marketing Manager’

Amazing right? Right now there are 12,000 people in Facebook residing in the US who exactly match this demographic. That’s a 12,000 strong highly targeted audience that this PR agency should definitely be appealing to. Have a look at the following image:

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Need another example? This time let’s imagine you’re an SEO agency selling your services to lawyers. In Facebook we can easily target men and women aged 26 – 55 who like topics related to the American Bar Association and the ABA Journal, and have the job title of Partner or Senior Partner.

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There are 3,800 people right now on Facebook who match that criteria. Now 3,800 isn’t a lot of people to advertise to, ideally I like to see a minimum of 100,000, but then again I’m no expert in this field and it may be possible to broaden it by adding different law associations etc.

There you have it. Two very powerful examples of how to use Facebook targeting for B2B advertising.

If you’d like to know if Facebook marketing can work for you then get in touch.

Do You Understand The Power Of Unbundling?

Unbundling is something that can take your business from being an average run-of-the-mill business to a figurehead business – one that everyone in your industry is talking about but they can’t understand how you’re so successful.

So what is unbundling? Well, unbundling is a fancy term which simply means taking chunks out of your existing offering an offering them as individual products, usually at cost price.

Sounds too simple to make a big difference to your business, right? Wong. Let’s take a look at an example…

Suppose you sell websites to small and medium sized businesses that usually cost $5k – $15k. That’s a huge amount of money to most small business owners so you’re going to need to do a huge amount of work before they buy from you, showing them the results they could achieve and getting them to trust you before they’re going to hand over that kind of cash.

Let’s unbundle a few tasks this agency might perform as part of its core offering:

  • create a logo
  • create a website design
  • create a new homepage
  • create a landing page

Assume this agency advertises at trade shows, although this approach works for almost all advertising approaches. Imagine how well their current marketing is going if they’re standing at a trade show saying, “Free Consultation. Websites from just $5k”. How many websites do you think they’re going to sell at a trade show with perhaps 3,000 people. One, maybe two, if they’re lucky.

Now let’s run the numbers again with an unbundled offering. This time they offer a “Homepage Redesign for $25”. That’s the kind of money a small business owner might have in their wallet, it’s an extremely low barrier to entry, and it offers real benefit, so maybe 200 people sign up for this.

When you design the homepage you need to deliver really great value to the customer. You also need to demonstrate to them how great it would be to work with you. If you combine this really positive experience, with the fact that once someone buys from you they’re far more likely to buy from you in future, there’s a good chance you can convert a decent percentage of these customers into paying customers.

Back to the homepage design offer. The nice thing about this offer is it leaves them wanting more. Once they’ve seen the new homepage design, showing how great their new website could be, and now know how great you are to work with, its going to be much easier to upsell them to the core offer.

But even if you could only convert 2% over the next 3 months, that still gives you the following numbers:

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From this example it should be really easy to see how unbundling can make a huge difference to your business.

But wait! It doesn’t stop there. What about the other 196 customers who didn’t buy a website. Well, they are now on your email list.

Now, most businesses would just email this group their monthly or weekly newsletter saying how great their websites are and that they start from just $5k, but if your prospects are being bombarded with the same message each week, they’re very quickly going to disengage.

You don’t need to do that, however, because you have lots of unbundled products you can offer. Each one a small subset of your core offer. This keeps your prospects engaged and ultimately makes it more likely they’ll buy from you further down the line.

That’s the power of unbundling. You don’t just win the short game, immediately following the trade show, you win the long game too!

If you’d like to know more then get in touch and I’ll send you the details.

Are You Making This Mistake?

Does this sound familiar? You spend hours if not days working out how you can help a prospect, and putting together a proposal for them. But then you send the proposal to the prospect and they immediately go cold.

Sound familiar?

With the clients I work with, the most common reason for this is that they immediately try to sell their prospect on their core service. However, from the prospect’s point of view, they don’t even know or trust them yet, so why should they commit to a huge monthly contract? Would you if you were in their shoes? Effectively they are trying to do this:

Big Mistake

The way to solve this problem is to have a product you sell that precedes your core service. So, if you’ve got a web design business, for example, and your core service is building websites priced at multiple thousands, how about having an offer to design a company’s logo for say $50 or £50? Now obviously you’re not going to make a profit here, but if someone is buying a new logo, what do you think they might need next? If you answered that by saying maybe a new website then you’re thinking along the right lines.

Effectively we’ve introduced a stepping stone to them becoming a customer:

Untitled drawing (23)This isn’t free, but from your prospect’s perspective it’s a lot less risk than going straight to your core service. It also makes it more likely that they’ll eventually buy from you once they’ve undertaken a transaction with you and experienced how great you are to work with. The really important thing is to deliver lots of value with your lower priced offer, so the client (yes – once they’ve bought the stepping stone offer they’re now a client) thinks, “if this is what their cheap stuff is like then their core product must be amazing”.

From you’re perspective the best thing about this approach is that you’ll actually make more money structuring your offering this way.

And best of all, if you only offer your core service to customers who have already purchased your stepping stone offer, then you’ll have a much higher proposal close rate for your core offer, so you’ll be wasting a lot less time writing proposals that go nowhere.

I’ve helped lots of my clients put these offers in place, including lawyers, dentists, and even software companies. If you’d like to know more then get in touch and I’ll send you the details.

A Trip To Google

Yesterday I was in London visiting an event for Google Partners called “Ready to Rock, Amplify”. There were several talks on the day but the one I’m going to cover here was about what are the upcoming performance priorities for Google.

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In no particular order, three of the more interesting topics covered included:

1. The Move To Apps

More and more companies have apps in addition to their browser based shop front. The reasons for having an app are obvious: companies have much more control over the user experience and can give customers a much richer experience. Ultimately, this can lead to increased revenue for the company.

If apps do indeed provide this much richer experience then try to imagine a world in which websites were replaced by apps completely. If this sounds a little far fetched, consider that Myntra, one of India’s most popular shopping destinations has done just that. That’s right, they’ve closed their browser store and you can now only buy with them via their app.

A big question for both Google and marketing agencies to think about is how would they change and thrive if this possibility became a reality?

2. Omnichannel ROI

A big emerging trend concerns the question of how do you measure return on investment (ROI) across multiple channels.

A good example to illustrate this is to think about how people buy new cars these days. These days, by the time they walk into a showroom and approach a salesman they already know not only which car they want, but also the model.

The buying cycling for a new car is long and complex. It might begin with the customer online searching for “best family car” or “best executive car”. They may then arrive at a website via an ad to begin their research. It could be as much as a year or more later by the time they walk into the showroom to actually buy a car. Clearly it would be very useful to a business if they were able to attribute that sale to the original ad encountered by the customer.

On step happening now towards the goal of understanding omnichannel ROI is the use of Local Inventory Ads and Estimated Total Conversions. In a nutshell, Local Inventory Ads allow you to see if a product is in stock and also how far away the store is from inside the ad itself. Estimated Total Conversions aims to give you an holistic view off ALL conversions driven by your Google advertising across all your channels.

3. Gmail Advertising

Apparently advertising inside of Gmail is becoming more popular. In my experience advertising with Gmail is a little used but very cost effective tool. One of the best features of advertising in Gmail is that it allows you to target by domain name.

In practice, this means that if for example you sell trips to New Zealand and your competitor is called newzealandtrips.com, then you can select for your ad to appear in Gmail for people who have received email from newzealandtrips.com.

This means that you can target people reading your competitors email. Pretty cool!

Wrap Up

Some really interesting food for thought above. One thing that was very clear from the trip was that there never is a one-size-fits-all Adwords solution. You must always be experimenting, learning, and looking to improve on your current performance.

There is No Secret to Digital Marketing

That’s right! There really is no secret to digital marketing. Yes, there are literally tens of thousands of ways to implement digital marketing and its tactics, and it’s very easy to get distracted by the latest ‘hot tip’, but at the very core of digital marketing is a single formula, and it is shown below:

CUSTOMERS = TRAFFIC x CONVERSION

To put this in some context, this means that if 1,000 people visit your website and your website converts at 2% (2% of visitors convert to customers by buying), then 20 people on average will have bought something.

In essence this is all there is to digital marketing. You need to drive people to your website and then convert them into customers.

So if the basics of digital marketing are so simple, how come so many businesses get it wrong. To start with, most businesses don’t measure anything, and if they do, they measure the wrong things. Additional, many businesses believe that their situation is unique and it’s not possible to apply this formula in their situation.

Every business should know their website conversion rate along with their return on investment (ROI) each month. If you don’t know these and you are already doing digital marketing then you are probably throwing money away. By the way, your return on investment should always be at least £2 for every £1 spent.

You need to learn to think of your digital marketing as a funnel.

sales-funnel

At the top of the funnel you have TRAFFIC – people who visit your site via Google or paid ads. At the bottom of the funnel you have newly acquired CUSTOMERS, people who have bought your product or service online or over the phone.

Now, this is a very basic example of a funnel, and in the real world for most businesses the funnel will have more levels and intricacies, dependent on the size and complexity of the product or service being sold.

The point of this blog post is simply to plant in your mind that the essence of digital marketing is very simple. Despite the tens of thousands of tactics you might come across online, always be thinking how can this help me:

  1. Get more traffic
  2. Convert more of that traffic into customers

That really is all there is to it!

No Marriage On The First Date

If you look for any product or service on the Internet today, then you’ll hear companies shouting phrases like “BUY NOW”, “CALL US NOW”, “ENQUIRE NOW”. Companies are shouting at the top of their voice to get you to buy from them.

Most of these companies you will not have encountered before. You probably haven’t even heard their name. So let me ask you a question with an obvious answer. If you were on a first date with someone you’d never met before and halfway through they dropped down on one knee and asked you to marry them, what would you say?

You’d say no! (I hope!).

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You’d say no because you don’t know anything about them. You don’t know if you’d be a good fit together. You haven’t been given enough time to figure out if you actually like them. Not enough time has passed for you to know if you trust them.

Businesses do exactly the same thing. They ask you to buy now as soon as you meet them.

So what is the alternative? Well, you should do exactly the same as you’d do in a relationship – start with an easy to accept offer that allows them to get to know you a little, then as the relationship progresses, move to bigger and bigger offers gradually.

You can think of a “Buy Now” like a “Marry Me” on the first date. However, asking someone to enter their email to get some useful information on a topic is a bit more like asking, “Would you like to go on a date somewhere you’re interested in?”.

Obviously, just like in dating some people will reject the offer, but a lot more people will take it than your “Buy Now” offer.

So how do you go about creating some useful information for your prospects? Well, think about one of your products and the problem it solves for your customers. Then offer it on your website in exchange for their name and email address. Let’s say you sell drills. People don’t buy a drill because they want a drill, they buy one because they want to make a hole. So if you were selling drills you could offer people information about how to make different types of holes.

If someone comes to your website and urgently needs to buy what you have to offer then their going to buy from you there and then. That’s perhaps 3% of the people who visit your website. What about the other 97%? That’s why you create this low resistance offer to give them. You then continue to nurture the relationship via newsletters etc. so that when they are finally ready to buy what it is you sell, they will choose to buy from you.

Conclusion

The marriage analogy described above is a simplistic way of saying you need to understand the buying cycle of your customers, and make sure the right information (useful information) is available to them at the right time, throughout the cycle until they are ready to buy from you. Otherwise, they might be looking at you as though you’ve just dropped down on one knee within 30 seconds of meeting them.

Increase The Conversion Rate of Any Page

A lot of clients contact us when they have already tried everything they can think of to increase the conversion rate of their landing pages and the key buying and contact pages on their website, but still feel they could do better. Unfortunately having already tried everything to think of, they don’t know where to start.

Here is how we approach this problem at Factory Five…

We use the framework shown below to analyse the conversion critical factors of landing and conversion pages from which we build hypotheses to test. We then carry out a test on our most promising hypothesis and if it delivers improvements then we implement it permanently. If the test doesn’t yield improvements in conversion then we simply discard it and move on to test our next hypothesis.

Over time using this framework, we frequently find that conversion rates can often be hugely improved.

The framework is based on layout of the Business Model Canvas, and is shown below:

Copy of Conversion Model Canvas

 

The layout of the Conversion Canvas is very similar to the Business Model Canvas. At the centre of the Conversion Canvas you have the Value Proposition – the very reason customers should buy from you company and not another, combined with urgency if you provide the customer with a powerful reason to act now.

The left side of the canvas represents negative elements from the customers perspective. These hinder prospects from taking the next step. The right side shows those factors which aid conversion. However, every element on a conversion page should be considered in terms of these six factors when considering how to improve conversions.

One additional point to note is that the factors above the horizontal line are at the forefront pf a prospects mind, whereas they may only be aware of issues below the line subconsciously.

Here’s what each of the terms in the canvas means:

1. Value Proposition

The value proposition states what’s special about your product/service versus your competition. Typical elements we see highlighted include newness, performance, speed of service, ease of customisation, design, and customer service.

2. Urgency

Urgency refers to giving users a genuine reason to take action now, in addition to the value proposition. To provide urgency you can use scarcity, deadlines, special offers, and even the copywriting you use.

As an example of added urgency, do you think it’s an accident that Amazon uses the words “Buy Now” on its product page, and combines it with “Order within the next 3 hours and receive it tomorrow…”? No, its no accident – the words are carefully chosen to add urgency.

3. Distraction

Could distractions be causing less of your users to convert. Generally, the more links and options you give a user, the more distractions you’re giving them, and the less likely they are to convert.

4. Friction

A simple way to think about friction is by thinking what worries might be preventing your visitor from proceeding with the conversion? Other questions to think about is have you built enough trust and credibility on your landing page?

Two ways you can achieve this are by using social proof and try before you buy.

Social proof is about projecting credibility and trying to invoke a “me too” response from your visitor. You might be able to achieve this through testimonials, or by should other social data, such as the number of happy customers you already have, the number of social shares, or the number of people who’ve already signed up for the webinar.

Try before you buy means exactly what it says. By allowing people to try your product before committing to purchase you increase trust and remove friction. Another good example from Amazon is their “Look Inside” feature, allowing you to check for yourself before you buy that a book isn’t going to be a waste of your money.

5. Clarity

Clarity is concerned with how easy it is to discern what the purpose of the page is, that is, how quickly do people catch on to what the value proposition and urgency are.

Clarity involves both the images and text on the page. Here are some things to consider testing:

Can you make your call to action stand out more from its surroundings to increase conversions?
Would using a different colour for your call to action have any impact on conversions?
Could you use directional cues to draw people to your call to action? For example, using converging lines such as a road disappearing into the horizon to draw the eye.

6. Relevance

How relevant to is the landing page to what the visitor is expecting to see?

If the visitor came from a page or search keyword that isn’t that relevant then it’s wonder that you’re not getting a high conversion rate.

A Worked Example

So that is the basics, but how you use all of this in practice? Let’s look at an example using a landing page one of our US based clients asked us to improve. This client is in the business of teaching people (mostly students) how to program with Java. Below, you can see the sales page used at the end of their sales funnel to sign people up to their course.

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This page might look like a fairly standard sales page, but if we apply the Landing Page Canvas, can we think of any ways to improve it? Let’s examine the page using the canvas to guide us to find out.

Here you can see the initial ideas we sketched out using the canvas for this client.

1. Value Proposition

  • There is no real value proposition displayed that appeals to us both intellectually and emotionally.
  • Consider: are there other ways you differentiate yourself? Support? Friendliness of membership area? No question too silly etc?
  • Can the value proposition contain some level of aspiration? Do your customers what freedom, love, to be a Java oracle in the office, to land that job?
  • Here is my try – “if you’re like most people you only have a few hours per week to devote to learning, why not join 1,000s of others becoming rockstar Java programmers with the best online Java course available today”

2. Relevance

  • Are you relevant within your competitive environment? What I mean by this is what are your competitors charging e.g. Lynda.com charges $25 per month for basic access.

3. Clarity

  • On my computer the benefits and the call to action button are below the fold.
  • Does the list of features aid or inhibit purchase? Is it very clear to everyone looking at this page exactly what “access to instructor’s exercise files” means?
  • The “How to Program Java” heading in the same box doesn’t make much sense. How about trying “You get all this”
  • Once I’ve read the heading on the page it isn’t necessarily clear what I’m supposed to do next

4. Urgency

  • No comments here – I think the time limited offer is a good one, but one thing that might work for you is “final hour urgency”. Send an email in the the final hour of the offer as an added push to purchase.
  • There are other ways to create urgency: scarcity (limited places available).

5. Friction

  • Seems expensive, what if I buy it and I don’t like it? Perhaps we could add a guarantee: 30-day no questions asked money back guarantee, or change the purchase button to “Order Risk Free Now”.
  • I’m interested in this but how can I be sure I can trust you? Add testimonials.
  • The price disparity between the full price and the special offer price seems a lot – is it some kind of gimmick or do they actually sell copies at £1,500.

6. Distraction

  • After I’ve watched the video it asks me to signup or to watch some free videos. If I click this I’ve left your funnel. How about making the videos launch in a popup if possible so they don’t leave the landing page.
  • Looking at the books and coders campus images I might wonder what they are or even think they are clickable.

Conclusion

As you can see, by analysing this page using the Landing Page Canvas we were able to identify lots of options to improve their conversion rate. The next step was to test our most likely candidates to improve conversions.

After running some tests we were able to increase this clients conversion rate by over 100%.

Hopefully this article has given you some interesting insights into how to improve your own conversion rates using the Conversion Rate Canvas.

The 5 Most Important Conversion Metrics to Track on Your Website

The term conversion rate can be simply defined as the number of visitors to your site who convert to paying customers.

If you sell products online then a completed purchase is a conversion. If you are a service business such as an accountancy then the phone ringing with an enquiry is a conversion (actually its a lead, because as you know, not every enquiry results in a sale, but for the purposes of this article we’ll call a phone call a conversion).

What ever it is that you sell, then without optimising your site to maximise its conversion rate then your business (via your website) is essentially leaking money. That’s right, you are basically throwing money away. This is even more true for non organic traffic where you are paying for incoming visitors through advertising.

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Without data it is impossible to intelligently and scientifically tune a website to increase conversion rates and therefore sales. The problem is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different metrics available to track. So which ones should you track?

The list below gives 5 of the most important:

1. Sources of Traffic

There are three top-level sources of traffic to any website, each of which you need to track:

  1. direct visitors: these are visitors who type your web address directly into their browser. This could be for a number of reasons – maybe they are a repeat customer or perhaps they were referred by a friend.
  2. search visitors: these are visitors who find their way to your site from a search engine such as Google or Baidu. At the top level these visits could be organic or paid for.
  3. referral visitors: these visitors find their way to your site from a link on another site such as a blog, a review site, or a forum.

As you might imagine, each traffic source will have a different conversion rate, because of the relevance of the search term or what was said in a conversation with a friend or acquaintance. Because of this, you should track each separately and think about improving the conversion of each individually.

2. Conversion Rate

Your top-level conversion rate is actually a blended average across all your visitors. If you think about your own purchasing behaviour then you’ll probably buy products you’re familiar with and have purchased before in a different way to a product which is completely new to this.

This is definitely the case with my own behaviour. There are certain clothes brands I’m very happy buying online, because I already know the sizes fit me really well and I know already they have a really good returns policy should I not be happy for some reason.

Because of this it is a good idea to track both types of conversion (new visitor conversion and return visitor conversion) separately and optimise for them both separately too.

3. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is defined as the number of visitors who navigate away from a website after viewing just a single page. The most important pages to optimise so as to reduce bounce rate are your homepage and your landing pages.

The bounce rate on each page should be tracked separately as each page can be influenced by multiple factors including, is traffic coming from a “research” keyword rather than a “buying” keyword, page load times, pay layout, copy, and a multitude of other factors.

4. Exit Pages

Your bounce rates only show what percentage of people leave your website after viewing just one page. All other users who don’t convert leave your site on other pages, known as exit pages.

You should track exit pages as often improving an frequent exit page can have a dramatic impact on your conversion, for example, imagine a scenario where you find that a large proportion of visitors are leaving your site on step 3 of a 4 step checkout process. In this case, improving that page (step 3) and removing any friction to make it as easy as possible to get to step 4, would have a significant impact on your conversions.

5. Interactions per Visit

Not all visitors convert into sales, so this metric allows us to track what these visitors are actually doing. Within the term “interactions per visit” there are actually, dependant on your site, multiple metrics that you might want to track, for example, how many pages does a typically visitor view, what percentage of users download our product guide etc.

Conclusion

You need to track these different metrics week on week to begin to understand how users of your site are behaving. To do this, then you might populate a template such as this one:

Untitled drawing

Once you have this data over a number of weeks you’re ready to start forming hypotheses about what might improve your conversion rate and design and conduct some tests to see if you’re right.

Why You Shouldn’t Copy Your Competitor’s Website

One of the things I’ve noticed time and time again is that businesses within an industry tend to exist within their own small sphere. By this I mean that they each look at what the other is doing and copy it. But this “keeping up with the Joneses” approach to business can logically only lead to mediocrity, and not success. Yet businesses say to me all the time, “The market leader’s website does X, so we need X too!”.

So if your leading competitor is doing X should you also be doing X? In short, no!

Your Competitors Probably Have No Idea What They’re Doing

The reason you shouldn’t copy your competitors is that your competitors probably don’t know what they’re doing either. To understand this think about the way in which a website might be put together.

A project is initiated to build or re-launch a website from within the business, and inputs are taken from lots of different people with strong opinions as to what the website should contain and how it should look. Depending on the size of the company this process goes through a number of reviews and iterations until much of the website is decided upon.

It’s then the job of a web design agency or internal team to create the website. How does the design agency then go about creating the website? By looking around for design inspiration and by looking at competitors until they come up with some designs that both seem to make sense and satisfy the brief.

What’s Wrong With This?

Well, everything! The website was created based on a bunch of internal opinions and then a bunch of external opinions from the design agency. This is quite typical of how many websites I see are put together. First, the brief is put together based on internal opinions and then the website is created by copying competitors.

The problem here is that just because they copy everything their successful competitor is doing – copywriting, page layout, returns policy, guarantees, sign-up flow etc., it does not mean that what worked for them will work for you.

Why Copying Competitors is so Tempting, but Flawed

Copying a competitor is so tempting because its out instinct to think that because someone else is doing something different to us and being successful then a quick and easy shortcut for us to obtain greater success is simply to copy what they’re doing.

I’ve seen this done many times are more often than not it doesn’t bring the desired success. Why might this be? Its because success is based on a number of factors.

Let’s suppose you happen to have a conversion rate of 5% and find yourself skimming through a trade magazine where by you read an article in which your competitor is boasting of their 15%.

Stop for a moment and imagine that just happened to you. Can you feel it? Can you feel the temptation to go and copy your competitor rushing to the surface?

The reason why this is a bad idea is that success is complex and based on a number of factors. Maybe their ads are more targeted than yours. Maybe their ads cost more. Maybe their margins are worse. The truth is you just don’t know. So…

What’s the Alternative

The alternative is to stop thinking about your competitor, stop thinking about yourself, and instead start to think about your customers. Think of an idea that you believe might made customers convert better.

What’s that? You can’t think of an original idea. Oh, ok. I that case I give you permission to steal ahem “borrow with pride” just one single idea from one of your competitors.

What you have here is a hypothesis. Something you don’t know will work, just something you think might.

What you now need to do is test your hypothesis by running an experiment. If you’re not already doing so then the first step is to start collecting data from your current site before making and changes. Start by collecting the basic metrics:

  • traffic source
  • new user conversion
  • returning user conversion
  • interactions per visit
  • value per visit
  • cost per conversion
  • bounce rate
  • exit pages

Now that your understand these values in your existing site, you can A/B test your hypothesis. Now you can see scientifically whether your hypothesis did indeed improve things or not.

Conclusion

Don’t just blindly copy your competitors!!!!!

It's ok to stand out :-)