With a PhD in Computer Science, Tim Ash jumped into the internet marketing world during the mid-Nineties after deciding he didn’t want to teach at university.
Like many start-ups, he has experienced numerous pivots such as working with large companies until he found that the corporate life wasn’t for him. But since starting SiteTuners in 2002, he’s continued his goal of helping people to do internet marketing more effectively with huge corporations and medium-sized companies.
He’s also the founder of Conversion Conference, which has been going since 2010 and is soon rebranding as Digital Growth Unleashed. On top of that, he has also written the book on Landing Page Optimization and has been a keynote speaker across the world.
It’s safe to say then, that Tim really knows his stuff. And, thankfully, he’s going to give us a few of his best tips to help you build a website with a conversion rate to make the competition jealous.
Fine Tuning Websites
When Tim first started SiteTuners, they were doing Pay-Per-Click marketing, as well as building websites. Through that, it also became an affiliate driving the traffic to the websites.
That’s when they realized they were actually sending solid traffic to the sites, but those pages and website were just horrible. They then saw the larger opportunity in front of them to fix online experiences through conversation rate optimization.
We put up our websites and broadcast to the world what the image is we want visitors to have of our company. And this often means that the prospects and potential customers are forgotten, despite being the most important element.
The only thing which actually matters is whether users have a successful experience on your website. And the idea of the user-centred experience is something Tim has been aware of since his computer science work.
Just like a parent can’t recognize whether their baby is ugly or not, we are not the best judges of our own websites. You’re the one who created it, brought it to life, and helped it grow.
When you make a website, it has to be for the naive and confused customer, rather than you as the expert. And if you hire someone to make the website for you, then as the person paying them, they are making it for you. Very few will actually go out of their way to get an understanding of the user’s perspective.
What is Conversion Rate Optimization?
When it comes to CRO, it isn’t just testing which color buy button manages to get more sales with a split test of two colors. What that is actually doing is helping you to make a decision and ensuring you don’t make things worse.
Ideas for improving the customer’s web experience come not from testing, but from user research, interviewing customer service reps, and a lot more besides. CRO is anything from redesigning your websites, training call center staff, to using different marketing technologies.
It isn’t a job function, but getting the perspective of your visitors as the central rallying point for all your online marketing.
Copywriting, physiology, user experience, and usability are just some of the aspects of good CRO. But for Tim, he finds the most fruitful stuff comes from neuro-marketing, understanding the subconscious biases, and how we all make emotional decisions. Knowing that means you can take advantage of it as a marketer.
Colors, smell, and music pitch are all things which sway our decisions without us even knowing.
The status quo also works as people don’t like having to learn a new way of doing something they’re used to. And that’s evidenced in the layout of supermarkets and grocery stores, and why we choose to always go back to the same one every week.
Starting from Scratch
When you’re making a website from scratch, you first need to understand the needs of your visitors by interviewing potential prospects. Ask about features and benefits, and know their language.
The focus should be not on pushing products but helping people out earlier in the customer experience when they’re educating themselves to make the right purchasing decision. Build the relationship by being useful means your competitors are not even in the game anymore when they’re ready to buy.
Content marketing is a big part of CRO. After all, marketing is often referred to as a funnel because it is wider at the top – the point when people are getting their education – and is therefore when you want to be talking to those people.
That then makes the funnel wider at every stage as more people will have started at the top.
It takes effort to create content and to actually be useful, but as the payoff, you can see huge increases in the conversation, and more efficiency downstream.
Every component on the website should be measured, and translate to a key performance metrics which matters to you. For example, with one of Tim’s clients, they know that users who interact with their chat agent are actually worth 2.5x more than those who don’t.
Effective Home Pages
When it comes to your website, the homepage is the most important landing page as it has the most traffic. It has the brand familiarity and is where most other sites direct too.
Tim has two ways to best reconfigure a homepage:
- Add trust to it by using symbols and testimonials to prove you’re reliable, and to prevent them from bouncing;
- Organize it a way which is user-centred by giving users a simple choice to establish who they are so you can then offer them the best-tailored experience possible.
The latter essentially means segmenting the traffic to understand what they want to accomplish, so they see what is most important to them, and also gives you invaluable data. It could be by choosing which industry they’re in or identifying whether they’re B2C or B2B.
The homepage isn’t there to sell anything but to get them off that page and closer to their goal.
These segments can then even include the same information and content if it is relevant to both types of visitor. No-one is likely to notice, so long as when they click their choice, they only see what is relevant.
Mobile Leads the Way
Standards are evolving around mobile as it is becoming the dominant force in internet usage, and everything is going to be affected. 70% of emails are first opened on a mobile phone, and 50% are only ever opened in mobile. So if you don’t have links which lead to mobile-friendly web pages, then you’re bound to lose out.
And making a mobile website may not just be simplifying the design to show things in fewer columns. It may be that you also look at the depth of content and products you show mobile users.
Even consider the calls to action, and give them the option to call you for a chat. The minimum is to display the number, but it’s far more effective to have a link which opens the user’s dialler app with your number preloaded. All they have to do then is tap the green button.
To learn more about Landing Page Optimization, then Tim Ash’s book is the best place to find the definitive guide to testing and tuning for conversions and making them profitable. Plus his SiteTuners website is full of useful resources to help you out.