Conversion begins in the mind; site optimization begins with authority

Yesterday I attended an internal training session that Dr. Flint McGlaughlin presented to the MarketingExperiments sciences, partner services, and journal teams.

Our session focused on the current conversion path (from a home page, to landing page, to offer page) for a long-time MarketingExperiments partner.

Flint set up the challenge: Get another significant sales lift from pages that we’ve optimized many times.

But wringing significant lifts from pages that we’ve been optimizing for months, even years, isn’t the only challenge: Making a change, especially a radical one, isn’t something large companies do very well (yet).

To help with the first challenge, Flint had the group take a fresh look at the pages by going back to our own basics. We applied the MarketingExperiments Conversion Index to the pages, and came up with at least a dozen ideas to change and test.

I won’t go into all the details, but here are some points to ponder until you see those test results appear in a future case study:

Conversion takes place in the mind. Pages that create friction and anxiety lead to “unsupervised thinking” and “site flow disruption” in the mind of the visitor. These hurt conversion, and it doesn’t matter if your goal is more sales, subscriptions, donations, readers, or clicks.

Clarity counts. Ensure that your Value Proposition is clearly, continuously, and congruently expressed in each step of the conversion process―from channel to landing page to offer page.

Specificity converts. Have a specific landing page for each channel, whether it’s PPC, email, or a link from a home page.

Find the ideal incentive. Just don’t create competition between your offer and your incentive.

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The second challenge is far more complex: getting executives with P&L responsibility, creatives with egos invested, and an overloaded IT department to all sign off on minor Web site changes (much less radical ones).

Flint reminded the group that you have to start from a position of authority. I’d add that without authority and trust, you have no chance of making it happen.

I would enjoy hearing from marketers who have tried and failed and from marketers who have tried and succeeded to get corporations to act on their recommendations. How did you establish your authority? Once established, how did you build your credibility and maintain trust? Or did the whole relationship disintegrate before it ever got started?

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