Thursday, May 31, 2018

E-commerce highlights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report

With online sales crossing the $4 billion mark, e-commerce saw 16% year-over-year growth. The post E-commerce highlights from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report appeared first on Marketing Land.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

from Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

A Quick, Punchy Week on Copyblogger

This was a short week on Copyblogger, as we took Monday off in observance of Memorial Day. On Tuesday, Stefanie Flaxman wrote about one of my favorite topics — the Necessary Mess, and why writers need it. She gives some helpful tips on how to get comfortable with the funky stuff that comes before the

The post A Quick, Punchy Week on Copyblogger appeared first on Copyblogger.

from Copyblogger

Bing Ads rolls out In-Market Audiences to all US advertisers

Now out of pilot with over 170 audiences determined to be in buy mode. The post Bing Ads rolls out In-Market Audiences to all US advertisers appeared first on Marketing Land.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

from Marketing Land - Internet Marketing News, Strategies & Tips

How to Monetize Your Expertise and Thrive

How to Monetize Your Expertise and Thrive written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Dorie Clark
Podcast Transcript

Dorie Clark

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Dorie Clark. She is a marketing and strategy consultant as well as a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, and Forbes. She and I discuss her new book, Entrepreneurial You: Monetize Your Expertise, Create Multiple Income Streams, and Thrive.

Clark is an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the author of many books, including Reinventing You and Stand Out, which was named the #1 Leadership Book of 2015 by Inc. magazine. A former presidential campaign spokeswoman, the New York Times described her as an “expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” Clark consults and speaks for clients including Google, Microsoft, and the World Bank.

Questions I ask Dorie Clark:

  • What new idea are you presenting in your new book?
  • Where do people get hung up when asking somebody to pay for their expertise?
  • What are your thoughts on portfolio careers?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why people need to shift their mindset on entrepreneurship
  • How to know what types of additional income streams might be right for you and your business
  • Why consistency is key to becoming a successful entrepreneur

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Dorie Clark:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

from Duct Tape Marketing

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why Good Site Architecture Is The Only CRO You Need

When you hear the words “site architecture,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably SEO.

It doesn’t take much digging into SEO best practice to learn that Google loves a site with clearly defined architecture that’s easy to crawl and index.

But if you stopped your site architecture planning with just your SEO, then you’ve missed out on the greater picture.

Site architecture isn’t just an effort to game search engines into ranking your site higher.

It does help with SEO, but it’s so much more than that.

Ultimately, your site architecture should be a strategic effort that allows your organic or paid visitors to navigate easily and use your site for its intended purpose.

That means that site architecture is the older brother of conversion rate optimization.

So in this post, I want to show you exactly how site architecture simultaneously supersedes and enables traditional conversion rate optimization efforts.

And to start things off, I want to dig a little deeper into why so many conversion rate optimization efforts fail.

Why conversion rate optimization doesn’t always work

When dialing in your conversion rate optimization, it’s easy to want to focus on the more traditional efforts.

Typical conversion rate optimization efforts require brands to set up competing versions of the same page in order to see how they can improve them.

how a/b testing works

It’s like a battle royale for website pages.

After a week or two of waiting and measuring, the best performing page wins.

One of them stays up, while the others are discarded for all eternity.

From there, more experimentation occurs based on the winning page’s performance to see if anything else can be improved.

Sometimes, brands will even get brave and conduct some multivariate tests to see if changing multiple elements can yield improvement.

how multivariate testing works

Much like a traditional A/B test, the results hinge on a last-man-standing approach.

Brands can be the loser, and the winner stays up as the subject of more experimentation.

All of this is an ongoing effort to see how you can improve conversions over time.

Many frequently blog about this practice, which even has its own career field in the marketing industry.

But these types of tests aren’t always the most dependable for small brands that need to optimize as efficiently as possible.

And even some large businesses fall prey to common A/B testing mistakes.

For example, elements like sample size can drastically skew the results of conversion rate testing.

testing thresholds

Simply put, if you’re not getting enough traffic, then you’ll be making changes and concluding off of insufficient amounts of data.

That means you could be making the wrong moves and ultimately hurting your brand’s performance.

Or you could also be testing something silly, like colors on your website.

To put it in ConversionXL’s Ott Niggulis’ words:

“There is no universal best color. What works on one site, doesn’t necessarily work on another.”

And that’s part of the point as well.

Many conversion rate optimization trends rise on the backs of a brand or two saying they saw good results from a particular experiment.

Then everyone does it, and confusion results when improvement doesn’t follow.

And then to make matters worse, many brands often don’t allow a proper amount of time to see if their results end up sticking.

conversion rate over time

If your variable regresses back to your control’s average, then there’s a good chance that dropping your control could be a bad idea.

Many brands will prematurely make a decision on the first few days, which ultimately hurts them in the long run.

People call this the small win mentality. It ultimately leads to poor optimization and potentially undermines your results.

what changed results in 5% increase in conversion rates

So with all of the potential pitfalls of traditional conversion rate optimization, can site architecture create a more foolproof way to ensure that your website sees plenty of conversions?

To answer that, I want to break down some of the basics of site architecture and show you how it correlates to your conversion rate optimization.

How site architecture creates conversions

Your site’s architecture focuses on building a platform that is easier for your users to navigate.

When you look into what site architecture actually is, you’ll typically see a graph that offers a genealogy-like depiction of how pages on your site interact.

how pages interact

While there’s a good chance no two sites will be exactly alike, this hierarchy style is a pretty standard example.

You start from a homepage and then navigate through a series of categories and subcategories until you’ve found what you’re looking for.

If this process is fluid, as in the graph above, then your users will have no issues.

But if the architecture is muddled, and it’s hard to find a page that should fall under a natural category, then it’s increasingly more likely that your users will leave.

In other words, the idea is to create a fluid user experience that ultimately leads to trackable and accurate conversion testing.

what equals conversion optimization

If you implement this correctly, you’ll have a site that’s easier to improve on in the long run.

But does site architecture have a genuinely positive effect on your conversions?

A brand called Voicer reported a 75% increase in conversions by correcting some “small” user experience flaws in their site.

If they can see that kind of improvement from small changes, imagine what would happen on a site that has significant user experience problems.

And yet another brand reported a 112% increase in revenue by improving the usability of their site.

So, good site architecture that leads to good user experience can clearly act as a solid basis for conversion rate optimization.

But breaking down the user experience of your website isn’t a simple process.

It requires a great deal of data gathering and analyzing to get to a point where you can indeed create a site architecture that works well for conversions.

Thankfully, there’s a method called the honeycomb model that shows you how exactly user experience can be broken down to help optimize your conversion rates.

honeycomb model

This methodology provides a simple framework that helps brands create websites with the following characteristics:

  • Useful: Serve the purpose for they created it.
  • Usability: Simple and easy to use.
  • Accessible: Anyone can use it.
  • Desirable: Provides positive emotion and is pleasant to use.
  • Findable: Navigation is intuitive, and solutions are easy to find.
  • Credible: Conveys in a believable or trustworthy manner.
  • Valuable: Delivers on a promised value.

If you can fulfill all of the requirements in the honeycomb model, then you optimize your sales funnel paths naturally for conversions.

So for the rest of the article, I want to show you some ways that you draw a direct line between user experience, site architecture, and conversion rate optimization.

You’ll see without a doubt that site architecture is a viable path to increase your lead generation.

Reason #1: It gives your site utility

The first steps of the honeycomb model rely on creating a website that is useful and usable.

This addresses the utility and the function of your site in a few ideas that are easy to understand.

But just because they’re easy to understand doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement.

When building out your site’s architecture, you need to create an experience that helps your user find what they came for.

This natural flow is the first place to start when addressing the usability and usefulness of your website.

natural flow

This ultimately determines how people interact with your website.

And how they interact with your website will, in turn, determine how many conversions you get in the long run.

Think of it in terms of an example involving a site that sells power tools.

On a well-designed website, this would be a logical flow of thought:

logical flow of though in site architecture

Users can navigate based on the type of tool that they want to find. The site then presents individual products according to whether they are cordless, electric, or gas powered.

Now imagine if you were to switch some of the products around.

switching products in site structure

In this case, if you were trying to find a gas powered saw, you would naturally look under the gas powered tools.

If you misplace this in your site’s architecture, a user might navigate to the logical page but still be unable to find a product you actually have.

That means no matter how much you optimize the page, your organic traffic will struggle to navigate your site and may ultimately leave.

So when linking site architecture to conversion rates, the first place most brands start is with a mockup of what they want their users to achieve.

The purpose is to base the entire website design process on actual data and user behavior.

In the words of Paypal UX designer Larry Sawyer:

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a mock-up is worth even more than that.”

So this design process typically follows a flow of testing, analysis, definition, ideating, prototyping, and then validating.

design process flow

If you follow this particular model, you’ll be able to create a website that is usable by anyone in your audience and thus inherently useful to all parties.

So your initial goal is to optimize your site according to what visitors are doing.

You then take that information and analyze their behavior to see what stands out.

How they use your site defines what is essential, which further provides you the ideas you need to test if you want to improve your conversions.

From this information, you create a prototype of your website, and then validate your findings with additional testing.

If the prototype is invalid, you rinse and repeat until your site is in complete working order.

Keep in mind that this style of UX design does typically involve more design than just site architecture.

But for our purposes, we want to focus on the bigger picture.

So when finally creating your site’s architecture mockup, many brands start with a comprehensive markup of how the elements of every page contribute to the user experience.

how pages contribute to user experience

As this professional breakdown demonstrates, you can draw out and improve every aspect of your site.

From this exercise, you can create a basic outline of what your users should achieve on every page of your site.

overall view of site architecture

The purpose here is to take a vast amount of data from your original design and then strip it away until only a series of user actions remain.

This, in turn, dictates your site’s architecture as it is a direct representation of how you want your user to use your site.

From this simplified design, one then typically creates a more comprehensive wireframe mockup.

comprehensive wireframe mockup

Once you’ve completed the wireframe, you only need to finalize your imagery, copy, and calls to action.

You can then test your new prototype site to see if your user experience is positively affected.

If this simplifies the actions your users take, then you truly aligned your site’s architecture with the intent of your audience, thus fulfilling the usefulness and usability criteria.

This process can be tedious, but it’s a great illustration of how data-backed and conversion oriented your site architecture really is.

If you can successfully do this with your site, you’ll be one step closer to creating a better overall conversion funnel that will help your brand for years to come.

Reason #2: It creates positive momentum

As we move deeper into the user experience and site architecture connection, the next layer according to the honeycomb model hinges on creating positive momentum.

That means according to the honeycomb model it needs to be desirable, accessible, and findable.

So once you’ve established a flow and created a site that’s usable on any device, the next step is to move beyond and create a pleasant experience.

It may surprise you to learn that one in three users will leave a site because they can’t find a product.

That means your site architecture can hurt conversions in a very direct way.

So your goal at this point should be to create a site that’s both easy to navigate and that builds natural forward momentum.

If you strive to emphasize the architecture of your site with compelling storytelling, the natural result will be that more users complete actions on your site.

That means finding a way to create a site whose architecture naturally lends itself to being informative, interactive, and even at times entertaining.

Consider the example of the site My Grandmother’s Lingo.

my grandmothers lingo

This award-winning website helps users learn new words from one of the oldest language in the world.

The creators designed the website for use and utility but even took that effort a step further by making it compelling and engaging.

The tantalizing idea of learning something both old and new hooks the user, and then sends them on a 10-minute journey where they learn something.

In the end, the primary goal is to help spread awareness of these ancient languages and provide a platform for future preservation.

How do they achieve this? Through vivid storytelling and a clear site architecture that’s geared toward positive momentum.

But momentum isn’t just about storytelling.

It also relies on where you position yourself, like on mobile.

More than ever, users are browsing with a mobile device.

That means that the architecture of your site needs to be conducive to both a desktop user and a mobile user.

If you only focus on one or the other, you are missing a significant portion of your potential audience, and thus you are losing conversions.

And if someone comes to your mobile site only to find it isn’t optimized, then all positive momentum is gone.

But momentum has to start even further back with your SEO.

And site architecture plays a critical role in bringing organic traffic to your site and providing forward momentum.

In one study, a brand was able to increase their site’s organic traffic from 800 visits per month to over 3,600 per month by focusing on the user experience their website gave.

That’s a growth of 350%.

350 percent growth

They achieved this by focusing entirely on the information architecture of their site and its contents.

So it’s clear that site architecture can lead to more traffic.

If your traffic can access across any device, then your momentum continues.

Moreover, if your storytelling is engaging, you further the momentum again.

And all of this links back to your site’s architecture and how well both Google and your audience utilize it.

Reason #3: It ultimately clarifies value

The final reason that links your site’s architecture to your efforts concerning conversion rate optimization hinges on your site being credible and valuable.

Another way you could say that is, “How does your site’s architecture help you deliver on your promise?”

If you fail to deliver a promise by creating a muddled and confusing site, then you’re never going to be able to see any real improvement from an A/B test.

And according to the LIFT model of CRO, the clarity and relevance of your value proposition will ultimately take your brand to new heights.

value proposition plane

The key to remember here is that users don’t always come to your website via your homepage.

There’s a good chance they could enter at any given point, so long as they have the right URL.

For example, how do you potentially sell – via your site’s architecture – to a visitor who first visited your blog?

If you don’t have a way for them to get their bearings and navigate your site immediately, you could potentially lose a lead before the process even begins.

Your goal then, with your site’s architecture, is to provide value at every stage.

provide value in site architecture

That means that when someone comes to your site, they should immediately know where they are.

Elements such as your permalink structure even play a role in helping your visitor understand where they are and what value your site offers.

If you parse your site out into easily understandable silos, like the example above, users will see your site as much more credible and ultimately more useful.

Take for example the Merge and Purge case study that sought to boost organic traffic and improve user experience.

plateau of pain boost organic traffic

In this case, the focus was on taking disparate pieces of content created over many years and compiling them into understandable content silos.

When the site was simplified, they saw a 32% increase in organic traffic.

And as we’ve already seen, organic traffic is the part of the site architecture conversion machine.

So in this case, by clarifying the value of their site by creating a cleaner content architecture, the brand was able to achieve a big win.

Brands should always seek to clarify their value proposition, and in this case, the answer is simple:

Your site architecture is the best place to start.


Conversion rate optimization is a nuanced and technical field.

It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the ins and outs of what works and what doesn’t, and that often trips up brands that seek to experiment and grow their online presence.

A/B tests fail very often, and the resulting frustration often turns businesses away from conversion rate optimization as a whole.

But if you were to focus on creating a robust site architecture, the results can be very different in the best possible way.

Site architecture is the backbone of conversions, and following the honeycomb model to help improve your user experience is the best course of action.

If you do, your site will have much more utility, and your site’s users will be able to navigate with ease.

From there, you can use your architecture to build positive momentum and keep people engaged with your brand.

And finally, you’ll have a clearer and more appealing value proposition that users can find from any entry point.

You’ll be much better suited to grow and convert new leads by merely creating a solid site architecture.

How has your site’s architecture helped or hurt your brand?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

How to Increase Clicks by Mastering Your Headlines

What draws people to your content?

In the past, I’ve explained how to write introductions that make the rest of your post irresistible. But before readers can even have a chance to read your intros, they’ll need to click on your headline.

Headlines go way beyond just blog posts. This is something you need to focus on for every piece of content you produce.

Whether it’s a new video on your website or a breaking news story you’re sharing via social media, it all starts with a captivating headline.

Obviously, you want people to consume the content you’re producing. But the reality is they probably won’t. According to research from HubSpot, 43% of readers just skim through posts.

But if your goal is to get clicks and drive traffic to a landing page, all you need to do is focus on the title.

That’s because 80% of people will read a headline. So there’s a good chance your headlines will be seen by most of your audience. Now, it’s just up to you to make sure it’s appealing enough to get clicks.

Include a number

Numbers are a great way to draw attention to your post and increase clicks. That’s because readers know what to expect when they see a number in the title.

I use them when I’m writing my blog posts all the time. Here’s a recent headline I used for an article about how to monitor your competition.

image4 5

When someone stumbles upon this headline, they know exactly what the post will entail. Basically, it’s going to be a list of 10 different tools.

As I mentioned, readers like to skim through content. Lists are appealing because they make it easy to bounce from one point to another.

The reader doesn’t have to read every single word to scan through this list. As a result, they are more likely to click on it.

But what numbers should you use? According to research-based 2017 Facebook engagement data, these are the top ten performing numbers:

  • 10
  • 5
  • 15
  • 7
  • 20
  • 6
  • 8
  • 12
  • 9
  • 3

Numbers that are increments of five make up four of the top five results on this list.

But that doesn’t mean you should include numbers like 50 or 100. As you can see, none of the top ten results include numbers higher than 20.

That’s because people don’t want to spend all day reading your content. They know it will take only a few minutes or so to skim through a list of 10. But anything upward of 20 is much less appealing and won’t produce as many clicks.

Don’t overlook the length

Don’t ramble. Your headline shouldn’t be as long as an introduction. But it shouldn’t be only a few words either.

One sentence or fragment of a sentence should put you in a good spot to get clicks. That’s because it provides your audience with enough information to grab their attention.

Research shows that headlines between 16 and 18 words produce the most engagement:

image1 5

Analyze your current headlines.

If they are fewer than ten words, it could be the main reason why you’re getting an unsatisfactory number of clicks. On the flip side, if your headlines have a word count that’s pushing 30, it’s still not optimized for the highest engagement.

Don’t get carried away here. Your headline needs to make sense and read well.

Adding or removing a couple of words just to fit within the 16 to 18 range isn’t going to help you if the title doesn’t make any sense.

In addition to your word count, you should also consider the number of characters in your headline.

Take a look at the data analysis in this article from Contently:

image2 5

As you can see from the graph, headlines with the highest click-through rates have between 90 and 99 characters.

Interestingly enough, the title of this post is,

According to a study, There’s a Good Chance You’ll Click This Headline Because It’s 97 Characters.

The character count falls within the recommendations of the research.

Have you noticed anything else about this title? I’m sure you’re not in the habit of counting words. Truthfully, I’m not either. But for the sake of this post, I’ve been paying more attention to this.

The article from Contently has 16 words in the title. This aligns with the research on word count and its relationship to engagement I talked about earlier.

It hits the mark for both categories.

Basically, if you can write headlines that are between 16 to 18 words and have 90 to 99 characters, you’ll be putting yourself in the best position to get the most possible clicks.

Shock your audience

Come up with a headline that is too intriguing for readers to pass up on.

Make your audience ask themselves “huh?” or “is this even possible?”

Shocking headlines are sometimes referred to as click-bait. It’s okay to do it as long as you are not letting your readers down with your content.

Here’s what I mean by this. If you are going to use a shocking headline, the content had better deliver as promised.

Take a look at this old blog post I wrote about how I made $1 million with a Ferrari:

image3 5

What a throwback picture! I almost don’t recognize myself with all that hair.

But this is the type of article that generates clicks because the headline is so shocking. It draws the attention of readers for several reasons.

First of all, a Ferrari is a well-known sports car recognized internationally. They are expensive and turn heads whenever they are seen on the road.

Second, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be interested in how to make a million bucks. And there’s a way to make money with a sports car? The title is too intriguing to ignore.

It makes the user question if that’s actually possible.

You can come up with headlines like this as well. Think of something exciting you’ve accomplished. Put it into your headline.

Set a benchmark

Another way to get people to click on your headlines is to use a benchmark.

Show them how they can achieve something by clicking on your post and reading more information. For example, let’s say your company sells dietary supplements.

A benchmark headline could say,

How you can lose 30 pounds in the next 30 days.

This strategy combines the benchmark method with the previous tactic of using a shock factor. Losing 30 pounds is extreme on its own. But doing it in 30 days? That’s something that even people who aren’t trying to lose weight would be interested in reading.

Just make sure your headlines are realistic. You want to set a benchmark that’s attainable.

Check out this example from my blog where I discuss how to get more Twitter followers:

image7 5

The benchmark here is 10,000.

It’s a high number, but it’s still realistic. If the title said, “How to get 10 million Twitter followers,” it would be much less believable.

For most people, reaching 10 million followers on social media is unrealistic. I know my blog audience. I’m speaking to entrepreneurs and business owners, not celebrities.

I set this benchmark at a number I think they can reach.

Discuss relevant topics

Your headlines need to be relevant to a few different things.

First of all, they need to be appropriate for your brand and voice. If your business is in the music industry, you shouldn’t be writing headlines about how to survive an earthquake.

Yes, that example may be a bit drastic, but I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.

Second, your headlines must be relevant in terms of their timing. If you’re reporting a news story that happened two weeks ago, you’re too late. That headline is meaningless now.

Here’s a great example of a relevant headline from Harper’s BAZAAR:

image5 5

As a magazine that specializes in fashion trends, pop culture, and beauty advice, it uses a headline on topic for the brand. It hits the mark for our first component of relevance.

This article discusses fashion trends for the spring and summer of 2018.

But notice when it was published. The article was released on February 22, 2018. So the timing is perfect as well.

If it came out in the spring or summer, it would be too late. Readers aren’t going to click on something that’s old news. The time to buy their spring and summer clothing is before the season starts.

Teach your readers “how to” do something

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of creating informative guides teaching you how to do certain things.

If you are an expert in a particular field or industry, use your extensive knowledge to your advantage. Create step-by-step guides for your readers.

In addition to being informative, such posts are also a great way to get lots of clicks.

Here’s something else you need to take into consideration. Sure, you’ll be sharing your content on all your distribution channels. But that’s not the only way your content will be seen.

You’ll also need to write headlines based on organic traffic. Your organic traffic comes from unpaid search engine results.

If someone needs help accomplishing something, what do you think they’ll type into Google? There’s a good chance they’ll type the words “how to,” so it’s in your best interest to include these words in your headlines for SEO purposes.

Take a look at this article from BuildFire:

image6 5

First of all, the content of this article is relevant to the brand—a topic I discussed above.

But based on this headline, it’s clear the post will show people how to do something.

BuildFire specializes in everything related to mobile applications. More specifically, they handle custom app development.

So they recognized the search terms someone would put into Google. Here’s a look at what I’m referring to:

image8 4

Aside from a paid advertisement, this post from BuildFire is the top search result based on its headline.

If you can master your SEO skills, you’ll get plenty of clicks just by occupying the top position on Google. In fact, in 2017 the top position received 20.5% of all Google clicks.

Those click-through rates drop down to 13% for the second and third positions, which is still good but a significant drop from the top spot’s rate.

As you’ve seen from a few of my examples in this guide, I practice what I preach. Look again at the title of the post you’re reading right now. I’m teaching you “how to” do something, and my headline reflects that.


If you want people to read your content, you need to entice them to click on your headline before you can do anything else.

If you are just trying to drive more traffic to specific pages, writing an engaging headline is the best way to do this.

Writing a headline shouldn’t be taken lightly. There is science behind it.

Add a number. Readers love to scan content, so a numbered list with fewer than 20 topics is one of my favorite ways to generate clicks.

As you can see from the research I discussed, the length of your headlines is important as well. You need to consider both the word and character count to make your title as efficient as possible.

Use a shocking headline to wow your audience and generate clicks. Set an attainable benchmark. Just make sure all your content is relevant and released at appropriate times based on titles.

“How to” articles also produce lots of clicks. Your SEO skills should be applied to every headline you write to increase your organic traffic.

If you follow this guide, you’ll see a significant surge in your click-through rates based on your new and improved headlines.

What types of headlines do you write that encourage readers to click on your content?

from Quick Sprout