Just imagine if the performance of your website is being held back simply because your visitors are not seeing your best content. Forget about them choosing not to read it – they just don’t get to see it. And this is not just any content. It’s all that “must read” information like testimonials, reviews, videos.

How would that make you feel? Just a tad bothered?

What would cause this? Most often, it’s your visitors not bothering to scroll down the page to read what’s below the first screen.

Does your website rely on visitors scrolling? Perhaps it was set up with the assumption that because you scroll, so must everyone else.

Well, let’s check that assumption against this graph from an actual Google Analytics account.

 

2016-03-17_11-45-18

 

The graph shows scrolling behaviour for a website’s home page. The tall bar on the left represents everyone who arrived on the page. The next bar shows how many visitors scrolled down to see the top 25% of the page. Subsequent bars show how many visitors got 50%, 75% and 100% of the way down the page.

Let’s state the obvious here – the bars are different heights. Just because people can scroll doesn’t mean they do.

Now note the dramatic gap between the first two bars. Fewer than half of all visitors even start scrolling. One reason in this case was the layout of the page. It looked complete when you arrived. The design didn’t suggest there was more content below.

So most visitors, instead of scrolling, clicked the navigation bar to learn more. And they missed the great testimonials hidden just below the bottom of their screen.
Finally, note the relatively small gaps between bars two to five. This tells us that once people started scrolling, they continued down the page. That’s not always what happens. Sometimes there’s a dramatic drop off at about the halfway point, with few making it to the bottom.

Knowing what proportion of your visitors start to scroll, and how far they actually get, should guide you in where to place your content.

For instance, all the critical content – the “must read” stuff – should be as high as possible. It can be followed by the “good to read” stuff. Then, hovering around the bottom, put the “nice to read” content.

So far so good. Now to add a bit of spice – the scrolling behaviour of mobile visitors can be different from that of their desktop cousins.

The good news is that it’s quite easy to track the scrolling behaviour of all your visitors – desktop and mobile. Just allow us to edit your Google Analytics configuration and you’ll be set.

Once results are in you can re-order your content from top to bottom into the “ Must Read” and“ Nice to Read” groups, and possibly adjusting it for mobile visitors. In our experience, being aware of visitor scrolling behaviour, and re-ordering your content accordingly, can produce a nice upward bump in engagement.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more about this.

(As published in Marketing Online. Issue 4, March 2016)

We have all experienced our own Google Advertising “Content Shock. The scenario usually unfolds like this.

You are on the hunt for a person to help design a new brand for your business. You search Google using the phrase “brand design Auckland”. Immediately you start scanning down the results – starting at the organic results. The top two results catch you eye and open a new tab in your browser on each.

Unfortunately neither are right. Either they are too big or too small, so you start clicking away in the paid advertising space. First click done and you are taken to a page on graphic design – Content Shock – this has nothing to do with the problem you need to solve – so you bounce back to the search results page and click on another ad.

This time the ads lands you on page that shows you what you expected to see. It looks OK – not amazing – just OK – think Mild Content Shock. So you add it to the list of possible contenders. But keen for more choice you bounce back again to the search results and click on your last ad.

Now we are talking – the page you see is clearly the winner. They just “get it”. Through good use of images and text they answer nearly all the questions swirling around in your head. These are the one. So they get the phone call and the rest remain a short fleeting memory for you and say $6 each in wasted click costs for them.

Wouldn’t it be good if all your clicks translated into calls like the last example? You are not alone. Ensuring every costly click delivered its own phone call is the goal for all Google advertisers. So how do you avoid the “Content Shock“ mistakes of the first two?

Here are three strategies that I believe can help.

1. Research the real intent behind the search keyword you are bidding on.

For example, we work in the home services market. Think, cleaning, renovating, plumbing and electricians. A while back we had a company come to us wanting to launch a new service in Auckland as a trial before taking it to Australia.

They had built a website based on what they thought the market wanted to see. We were told to send all advertising to the home page. You guessed it – it failed miserably.

This was a new space for us so we were unsure of the intent of the prospect but the Content Shock our statistics revealed showed what was there was way off the mark. So we kicked off some market research to uncover the motivations and mindsets we were advertising too. A month later we had the data. it revealed the high amount of stress these buyers were facing and the core reasons they began their search journey in the first place.

Based on this information we redesigned the imagery of the landing page and rewrote the top 20% of the content. The ad copy was then tuned to match this new content and the campaign released using the exact same search keyword selection that had failed before.

All this work was well rewarded with conversion rates that were above industry standards as opposed to those well below they had experienced before. The success was so good we rolled the changes outside of Auckland and the core messages were used successfully during their Australian expansion. Research tells you what to say – next up we need to find the best way to say it.

2. Tune your content to be fast to consume and conversational in style.

Once your research is complete and you have created your first draft content you can put it through two very simple “human” tests before going live. The first involves paper and a willing helper.

Go ahead and print out the landing page (print multiple pages if itś a long one) and then take it and a colleague into a meeting room. Place the printing facedown on the table and ask the colleague to sit opposite you – approx a metre away.

Then brief them on who they are supposed to be and the problem they are searching to solve. Then pick up the first page and show it to at eye level for just 5 seconds. Place it facedown on the table and then have them tell you exactly what they saw and if on reading it they were interested in learning more.

Content that confuses or fails to capture attention in print form will struggle online. If your page passes the first test then you can test the persuasive nature of the copy. Simply read it out loud to your colleague and note the reaction you get. Slowly drooping eyelids and contained yawns are not a good sign.

Copy has been described by many as “selling in print”. So if you are struggling to come up the right words, just think back to what you said in the last conversation you had with prospect to guide you. Once all the changes have been made then you can place it into live and head to the final stage.

3. Harness the super analytical benefits of the web to tune your landing pages to success.

Hop into your Google Analytics account and you will be met with a mass of metrics and dimensions to keep even the most geeky of analytics geeks busy for weeks. Here are three to focus on that reveal the effectiveness of your work.

– Bounce rate – how many people viewed your landing page and didn’t go any further. You want this number to be as low as possible but zero is an unrealistic expectation. For your paid advertising I always shoot number that is no more than 15% above your site average bounce rate. So for a 30% site average your top level would be 45% which even so is hovering very close to one in two not looking any further.

– Page Value – bit of an advanced metric and it does require you to set up values behind your goals. BUT it lets you know place an exact value of worth for the page – think numbers like $5.89. So you change the top copy and the page value goes to $8.45 from $2.67 and you know that it really is time to celebrate.

– Content Interaction – not exactly a metric you will find in GA more an approach to track everything you can. So if your page includes a video – you need to know if it is played and if so for how long. And if the good meaty part of the sales message is a third of the way down the page then knowing that everyone scrolled this far would be of help.

So there you have it. Three strategies to apply to ensure your Google advertising doesn’t instill content shock on those who visit your site this way. Want to learn more about other areas of online marketing? Just visit our Free Stuff section at the Ark Advance website.

In an age of tweets, status updates and social shares – what space is there for the humble email message?  

Thankfully quite a lot if those cluttering up my Inbox can be taken as a guide.   Looking back on last week’s messages I see notes from Facebook, Linked In and even Google +.  Each with millions of dollars to spend in online marketing but still they choose to send me a humble email message.

So why is this?  And what can you learn from these online marketing Gorillas to apply to your modest aspirations online?

 

Grow EmailFirst off let’s look at how to grow your business via email – and what we can learn from these powerhouses here. Now we all know that sending unsolicited messages is against the law.  So thankfully this is not the angle Linked In chooses as they provide a great example of how to apply it correctly.

In their case, moving from a free product to spending upwards of $90 per month is a sizable jump in value prospects need to take.  Bridging this gap will need some serious selling.  And in their case they use great content and email messaging to achieve this goal.  Just look at what’s on offer here.  Beautifully crafted, well presented content.  All sitting behind a relatively detailed request form and delivered by great email marketing.

Sound like something you could apply to you as well?  Perhaps you sell a service that competes on how your team customises its application to each customer.  Think Graphic Designers, Accountants, Lawyers and the like.

In these cases offering content that clearly shows the gap between your expertise compared to the rest is a great plan.   Email marketing tools will deliver the messages, “listen” for those who are opening and clicking and notify you when a prospect drops into the “highly engaged” bucket ready for a phone call.

 

Grow BusinessBut what about customers?  How can email marketing help you retain and expand the revenue here?

Thankfully the problem that is solved via email is one that grows each year as your customers become even more busier.  It’s their ability to forget who you are and what you do.  Yep after all that great work you did on the last project.  If you don’t keep in touch on a regular basis – there’s a possibility that you may be passed over for the next engagement.

Email does a great job of solving this in the land of e-commerce.   These days, tools will monitor those who forgot to check out their shopping cart and fire them a short missive to bring them back to finish what they started.  Likewise if they purchased 6 month’s ago and should have been back by now but haven’t – then a voucher is sent their way to get them shopping again.

That’s why Facebook is emailing me – I haven’t been online for a week or so now so they are getting a bit jittery.

Let’s not forget the humble email newsletter.  Done properly it can build repeat revenue for nearly all business types.  Yes you need to pack it with good content (probably more important than a few years back – it’s that busy thing again) , write with some personality and keep it on a regular schedule.  Nevertheless do just these three points and you could well be ahead of your competition.

 

I predict that there’s many ways email marketing can claim some of the space in your online marketing plans.  And by their actions, the powerhouses of online marketing seem to think so to.  Why not take the time this month to squeeze some space for email in your business?

Previously published in the Marketing Online  Magazine – October 2015, subscribe for free here.

Let’s forget what Google Analytics tells us about yesterday – this report reveals the here and now. Yep, you can peek at real live humans looking through your pages, clicking from one to another. That allows you to:

– Confirm your tracking is actually working by visiting your own website on mobile and desktop devices and playing “spot yourself” on both.

– Receive live updates on how your email marketing campaign is working. See who’s clicking across to your site and (hopefully) watch them becoming leads or new customers.

– Check the configuration of your Google Analytics Events and Google Analytics Goals. As the names suggest, Events and Goals are where you tell Google Analytics things you’d like to see happen regarding website traffic and visitor – and GA then tells you when you’ve achieved those things. With Live Reporting you can set each up and confirm all is good without having to wait for the data to be shown in the the main reports.

 

Not another Google product, I hear you say. Something else to add to the “complex tools from Google that I must learn to understand in my spare time” list. Well, possibly, but this article will show you how Google Tag Manager can help you move from Starter to Savvy Business Owner status.

First off let’s explain what I mean by a Savvy Business Owner or SBO (not to be confused with an S… well, you know).

An SBO knows more about how prospects interact with their website than their competitors do. And if there is one place where the adage “knowledge is power” applies, online is it.

One benefit of online marketing is its ability to be measured. And what you can measure – as we all know – you can manage. So it follows that the more you measure, the more you know, which means the more you can manage.

But here’s the rub. In the online world, the devil is in the detail. SBOs know which detail matters and which doesn’t.

For instance, Starter Business Owners measure website visitor numbers using tools like Google Analytics. That’s all. They don’t track how many chose to play the video on the homepage – the one that cost $5000 and a week of blood, sweat and tears to produce.

SBOs, on the other hand, track both: visitor numbers and video engagement. They know that of the two minutes of video content, only the first 50 seconds is viewed by most visitors. They then know they have work to do, since all the “good stuff” happens during the first minute of video viewing. Then they do this work – editing the video down and ensure it opens with the best content.

And what about the Starter Business Owner whose home page requires the user scroll down to get all the content? Again, they will track just those who arrived. The SBO goes deeper, seeing how far down they scrolled. Then he discovers that just 25% actually make it past the halfway mark into the ¨services” content that tells them what the company can do for them. Then, in a stroke of genius, he re-orders the web content, building a services specific page and enticing people to click through to it.

As you can see, moving from Starter to Savvy Business Owner requires you to track every prospect interaction with your website. Once this data is in your Google Analytics account you can mine it to your heart’s content to guide your next actions.

Google Tag Manager makes it easier to get the data in there.

 

GTM Code

 

I like to think of Google Tag Manager as a magic “box of code” that sits on every page of your website. For all pages the box contains your normal Google Analytics tracking code. On some pages, however, the box also contains special code that relates to how the user interacts with that page; eg, plays a video or scrolls up and down.

Without this “box” your web developers would need to hand code custom programming to send Google Analytics the interaction data. Think expensive and time consuming. With Google Tag Manager it’s a breeze.

We have been using Google Tag Manager at Ark Advance for a few years. In that time we have developed a range of techniques for tracking specific behaviours and are adding to them all the time. Tracking YouTube-hosted video plays and page scrolling are just two.

Keen to upgrade yourself from Starter to Savvy Business owner? Give us a call today and we will get you started with Google Tag Manager and its magic box of code.

Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns

Let’s talk about measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns – specifically those driven by email marketing. Done well, email marketing should entice prospects to buy and your customers to buy more. Where does this good stuff happen? For most clients, on your website.

So one thing you want to do is distinguish the “buyer” traffic coming to your site from all the other traffic. If you can do that, then you see if all your efforts in email are worthwhile.

That, friends, is why we have Campaign report in Google Analytics.

Campaign Report

By default this is one place where your Google AdWords data can be found. And if your Email Marketing tool has been properly configured, you should also find your email campaigns here. (Configuration requires the addition of Google tracking codes to each web link within your email messages.) Without proper configuration your email traffic will remain hidden in either your Direct or Referral traffic areas.

The Campaign report shows you who visits your website by clicking links within your chosen campaign. Users “live” in each campaign for a full six months (the default setting of the GA code) or if they click on a link from another campaign. Let’s say, for example, that they click on a link in your June email newsletter and join that campaign. Then they come back to your site in July by typing your details into Google and clicking on an organic result link. This visit is still attributed to the June campaign. However, if they click a link in your July newsletter then they hop from the June to the July campaign. Got it?

Why not check out your Campaign Report this month and go hunting for your email marketing campaigns to see how well they are performing compared to your other types of traffic.

Have you ever dealt with a customer who has very specific needs but who has breezed into your store in such a hurry that they don’t have the time to hear your sales spiel or hang around while you find the best option for them? These customers can be hard to please because they just don’t have the time or attention span you need to help them to your best ability.

Websites have these same challenging visitors. Quite a few of them, actually. In fact, the number of “challenging” website visitors are growing.

Who are they?  

Let me introduce you to your mobile audience. Yep, those who look at your website through a screen the size of their hand and in situations where their attention is fleeting and easily distracted – you’re often their entertainment tool while they wait for a bus, their coffee, a friend to arrive.  

Your first task – and the easiest – is to find out how many of your visitors fit into this group using Google Analytics. Just head over to your “Audience” section and you will see “Mobile” as an option. Within there you will see two sections: “Overview” and “Devices”.  GA - Mobile Reporting

 

Overview gives you just that – a top level look at how this type of traffic compares to those arriving from a Tablet or a Desktop computer. This is where you can check the volume of mobile visitors and see if there are any trends. Have a look at the past six months to see if your number of mobile-using visitors is heading up or relatively flat. In April, Google updated its search algorithm to favour those websites designed to be mobile friendly in order to drive a better user experience for those viewing from a mobile device. Scan back to April to see if your mobile traffic has taken a dive since that change.
Mobile Trend

 

Next up, let’s check how all three sizes of screen (tablet, desktop and mobile phone) are coping with your website’s content. You can see this through looking at the “Bounce Rate” – remember, that’s the percentage of people who come to the website, look at one page and then leave. The lower this stat the better; ideally you want to hover between 20 to 40 per cent. The “Overview” section gives you the bounce rate percentages for all three screen groups. In an ideal world you want the three numbers to be the same – and low. But if your website is non-mobile friendly, it’s likely your results will show higher bounce rates as your visitors quickly give up trying to navigate a desktop website from a dinky screen.

Mobile Bounce Rate

 

The “Devices” part of this report lists exactly that: the phone models your visitors are using. This is where you see the power of Apple’s marketing: iPhone is usually the majority of your phone traffic and iPad the majority for your tablet visitors.

Mobile Device Category

 

Tablet Device Category

 

 

Spending more time looking at your mobile visitors can help you solve problems such as:

 

 

 

 

Chris Price owns Ark Advance, a web optimisation business that specialises in online marketing. Ark Advance also offer a free monthly email newsletter focused on helping business owners grow their services online – sign up for free at www.arkadvance.com.

Back in February Google released a note explaining that come April 21 they would take the mobile friendliness of websites as a “ranking factor”. Then in March the Sunday Star Times  interviewed me on the subject. As you can imagine, I had definite opinions that I was happy to share!

Chris Price Sunday Star Times

 

So what does it all mean?

 

Based on emails from Google warning customers with non-mobile websites of the upcoming change, it definitely means something. But exactly what, nobody’s yet sure. We’ll be watching the keyword rank reports of our clients with keen interest to see what turns out.

For e-commerce clients in particular, buying a new mobile friendly website is a big ask. So our early advice is to take a wait-and-see approach by monitoring the amount of mobile traffic you receive and its growth curve.

If the initial percentage is low – lets say below 15% – and the growth curve is relatively flat, then your upgrade path could be a way off if – and this is the big IF – your search term rankings don’t tank in the meantime.

However, if your percentage is 35% plus, and the growth curve is steep, and your conversion rates begin to suffer for traffic hitting your non mobile website, then you might want to bite the bullet and make the upgrade.

More on this as it develops.

We’ve all read those articles on what to do to achieve unbounded success online. Well this time I thought I would go with the opposite view. What to do when it’s not going well. Maybe the order book is looking a bit light. Or you start the week with a calendar full of white space without a prospect appointment in sight.

This is the time for quick results and a solid return on any marketing investment. When prospects call us at this stage we know we have to apply proven tactics that work quickly to turn things around. All while delivering the greatest return on their money. No pressure, eh?

Here I outline five of the many tactics we apply, and why each has made the list. Note that the order in which you apply these tactics is important. If you skip one or apply a few out of sequence, our experience is that the overall result is doubtful.

So let’s get started.

Strategy #1 – Clean up your traffic8207554

In its current form and given its current content, your website will need a certain type of traffic to make it work – that is, convert visitors into leads.

Let me explain the “current form” part a bit more. We all know that in deciding which pages to rank over others one of Google’s key criteria is page content. (If you’re not convinced, reading their guide to “Search Engine Optimisation” will remove all doubt.)

This principle also applies to your website’s ability to convert visitors into leads. Content matters. A lot. Your content will hopefully convert a certain type of visitor – perhaps not all of them, but certainly those who like what you have written.

So the task remains to find this group, show it your content, and hope they convert. And because it’s always easier to fix one thing at a time we surmise that the
content will do its job, IF we can find the right audience.

Therefore we need to “clean up” your traffic to locate this group. I define “dirty traffic” as website visitors about whom you have no idea why they came visiting. The non-paid part of the Google search engine – commonly called organic traffic – could contain these people. Google’s no help here because it doesn’t reveal the keyword search terms these visitors used to arrive at your site – so you have no idea what they were looking for. What’s more, some struggling websites struggle to rank for the terms their prospects use.

So the only reliable way forward is to buy traffic using Google AdWords for the keywords you think your prospects will use.

That’s the easy bit. Making your money deliver a really clean group of visitors is a lot harder. Fortunately, you don’t need to test hundreds of keywords at the outset – you can just start with a few.

Then, once you have tapped into some “clean” traffic, you need to decide where to send them. Which brings me to Strategy 2.

Strategy #2 – Master your first impressionfirst-impression

So the prospect sees your ad, clicks, and is best sent where?

Anywhere but your Contact Us page. Last month we completed a website re
view for a new client and discovered that their web optimisation company had been sending all their paid advertising traffic to that page.

The client supplied a $10,000 minimum home furnishings service for the renovation market. Their website contained pages and pages of great pictures showcasing their work. But those pictures remained hidden from their paid traffic – and 85% promptly left without looking any further.

Strategy #3 – Cover all the content bases

Once you’re sending your search traffic to the right page, you need to ensure it includes the right content. Take our home furnishings client above. Their visitors clearly expect to see lovely pictures of homes that have benefitted from their service.

Don’t skimp here. Provide lots of content. Make the pictures great – poor photography hurts your brand.

Once you have included the “must have” content, add content that shows your point of difference. For instance, you may be a design agency that crafts solutions specifically for the professional services market. Or an architect who only works on build projects on Waiheke for over $5 million. Or a lawyer who works on divorce cases for professional males between 40 and 55 years old.

Our home furnishings client had a great reputation backed up by lots of testimonials. Also, their sales process was low pressure and delivered by experts. Finally, they were experts in producing custom solutions that their competitors found too hard.

Presenting this “differentiation” content can take your prospects of success to a new high. In fact, the only thing that could hold you back is not applying Strategy 4.

Strategy #4 – Ask for the “Goldilocks Commitment”goldilocks

The classic sales mistake is to either ask your visitor to to commit to too much too early, or fail to ask for an
y commit at all.

Let’s go back to home furnishings. Pointing visitors at the Contact Us page was definitely asking for too much commitment too early.

But when you looked through their gallery of photos, the opposite mistake was being made. There was no reference to their smart showroom or how to book an appointment with their sales team.

Presenting the right commitment choices to your audience at the right time is an art. It’s one we’ve been practising for over 10 years now, so we know what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes, it takes two or three visits to achieve a commitment from a web visitor. Therefore, you need to…

Strategy #5 – Play the long game

Thankfully, there are are an array of smart online marketing tools to help you recycle your clean traffic enough times to ensure it converts. Remarketing and email marketing are among them.

Remarketing is an easily set up Google product that lets you “follow” your non-converted website visitors as they browse the web, presenting targeted banner ads to them. You’ll need a range of banner sizes to display and someone to help you build your target audience. You can also choose the frequency at which your banner ads are seen, allowing you to hit the sweet spot between visibility and annoyance.

Email marketing is the stalwart of online marketing. It’s been going so long that many forget the reason for its longevity – it works. The main challenge is providing content that the customer deems worthy of giving you their email address. Every year the bar is raised higher.

So there you go – my five strategies to fix a failing service marketing solution. We have seen clients use these steps to transform a system that hasn’t delivered a lead in 10 months to one that delivers every month.
Call us for more information, or if you’d like help applying these steps to your business.

You will find this report here: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.
First impressions count, and this report answers the question “What was the first page people came to when entering my website”?

 

Scrren shot for news lerrte r

Screen Shot for Landing Page Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ideal would be for the first page to either solve the visitor’s problem or show them which page does. Pages that struggle here have a high bounce rate, something you don’t want (with the exception of your “contact us” page),  especially for  your first-impression landing pages.

Most people incorrectly assume the homepage would be the only page in this report. However, if Google has understood and indexed your content well, or you have a paid advertising account that sends visitors to exactly the right page for the keywords they use, then you should see a long list of pages in this report..

When looking down this list for the first time, I’m on the hunt for poor performers, especially when I segment the traffic by paid advertising efforts. A high bounce rate on visits you have paid for is a sign that trouble is brewing. Your keywords may be wrong, or your ads may be sending visitors to the wrong place, or the content may be struggling to meet the intentions of the visitor – or all three.

Time spent tuning the performance of your landing pages is always time well spent. Creating the best possible impression brings those next steps of the sales a bit closer.