8 marketing and UX conversion optimization secrets from an industry insider
The eight little known and often forgotten secrets of successful marketing and UX conversion optimization from an industry insider.
As a long time online marketing and user experience optimizer I’ve been lucky enough to work for both Agencies and client-side firms. I’ve acquired a lot of experience over the years that companies gladly pay money for when they need expertise in how to improve their marketing or UX conversion. But in the spirit of giving back to the community I wanted to share these secrets with you.
You may find many of these don’t feel like secrets at all, yet the vast majority of firms I have worked with seldom execute these, or if they do execute them, do not execute them well. Just remember, these tips are general and work for most firms, meaning test first to ensure these secrets will work for you.
1. Define your marketing or UX goals first!
Amazingly I find the majority of firms out there typically start marketing or UX projects based on loose or almost non-existent sets of goals. Have you ever heard, “We need a marketing campaign to attract more awareness (or leads, or engagements, or what have you)?” Have you heard those words uttered without exact numbers to define what success is? I have, plenty of times.
So prior to engaging in any new marketing or UX project, make sure you have clear goals that you can measure success against. Your goals should have a solid before and after number, and a solid time span. You may have heard these referred to as SMART goals:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Attainable
- R = Relevant
- T = Time Bound
If your marketing or UX project cannot address each one of the above SMART goals criteria then stop! Do not move forward until you have them! Knowing your clearly defined goals from the outset makes all the rest of the project that much easier to define. Having these goals in place makes defining your strategy and tactics much more powerful and exact, which greatly aids in conversion optimization. Just this one secret alone can dramatically improve conversion performance of any marketing or UX project.
2. Research prospects or users by spending time with Telequal or customer service teams
Assuming you have SMART goals for your marketing or UX project, the next secret is to understand whom you are targeting, and what their needs are. Many companies use Personas (fictional representations of the most common prospects or users), and marketing types are fond of their Economic Buyer, Technical Buyer and or User/Operational Buyers, but beware! I’ve found that typically these types of Personas are either a bit stale, meaning they were compiled months or years ago and may not reflect current reality, or are full of holes or assumptions made by internal stakeholders without being vetted by third party resources. Sadly, many companies I’ve come across don’t even use Personas.
In all cases, do some research by spending time monitoring conversations with your telequal team, sales team or customer support team. It may not be easy, it may not be simple, but spending the time listening in to real conversations with real prospects or users will significantly help you better target your messaging or applications. You’ll find listening in to conversations for a half day or so to be absolutely enlightening. You’ll also start seeing conversations of patterns that will allow you to better define whom you are targeting, what their needs are, and how to communicate back to them.
3. Create marketing or UX personas
As mentioned above, many firms sadly lack real or meaningful Personas. If the Personas do not exist, do your utmost to create them. This is not always easy to do, especially for firms that typically deal with marketing or UX via the Ready! Fire! Aim! approach. But make them you must, otherwise your marketing and UX projects will be created based on guesswork as to what prospects or users need and how to communicate most effectively with them. Guessing is never as accurate in conversion optimization as knowing.
4. Cleanse and append your Marketing or UX Personas
Assuming your firm already has Personas, the odds are they were created through some sort of committee process, or were created long ago enough that they do not reflect today’s reality.
Committee processes are subject to the people that made up the committee. I’ve typically found there is usually one boisterous member of the committee that pushes his or her viewpoints on the rest, often times with a few false or imperfect assumptions thrown in. Cleansing and appending Personas can typically help to reduce or nullify any potential blemishes in a Persona in which some false or imperfect assumptions were accepted based on a members input.
As to the age of a Persona, how long ago is too long? In most cases, if your Personas are older than a year, then it is likely they may need to be cleansed and appended.
Persona cleansing and appending means reviewing your Personas against the world today. Are your Personas still using the same tools, are they still having the same problems, are they still accessing your information or applications in the same environment? Questions like these should be addressed to ensure that when you are targeting your marketing and UX projects to a set of Personas you are targeting the most accurate and up to date version of same.
I’ve conducted dozens of Persona cleansing and augmentation projects and it is amazing how significantly the updated Personas can influence marketing and UX targeting and performance.
5. Build or dust off your content marketing matrix
For marketers, knowing the needs and pain points of a Persona is only half the equation. The other half of the equation is to ensure your content accurately addresses each need and pain point, in a manner and language your prospects or users expect and are comfortable with.
I typically create a content marketing matrix that matches the Persona, their need, pain point and related information to existing content (online, downloadable, print, etc.). In completing this matrix, you simply check off and link to content that directly matches each need. If content is missing, or needs to be edited, this becomes readily apparent almost immediately.
The content matrix is a critical tool for defining where you need to augment or edit existing content. Adding the correct content typically helps with conversion very quickly.
6. A/B test your content
A/B testing and optimizing content is a very simple but extremely effective way to improve conversion, but oddly enough is typically overlooked by many marketers or UX teams.
A/B testing typically is thought of in online situations, with landing pages or forms. But A/B testing your content (be it email, web, mobile, whatever) is a great way to optimize your conversion directly at the point most important to your prospect or user, and thus to you! In determining what content to test, you can refer back to your content matrix or Personas to establish what communications may work better to touch on prospect or user needs, and how your solution can help.
7. A/B test your forms (always)
A/B testing of forms is a natural, and many online marketers and UX practitioners swear by it. Interestingly however, I’ve found that firms seem to stop testing forms after a couple of tries at it. Perhaps this is because of a perception that “this is as good as it gets” or “we don’t have anything else to test.”
Continuously testing forms by evaluating data at all stages (abandonment rates by page, by field, etc.) and A/B testing iterations can be another easy way to heavily increase conversion. The only issue with forms is ensuring what you are testing will work with your back-end databases. I’ve seen examples where great tests were run, only to find out sales or eCommerce teams suddenly were lacking critical information! Be careful what you add or remove when conducting A/B testing of forms.
8. Simplify your reporting
At the end of the day, your executives need to know what you and your team have done to achieve their goals. Remember, their goals are not to “improve open rates” or “increase interaction rates” or any of those other metrics you may be tracking. Instead, their goals are about increasing revenue or decreasing expenses. Your reporting needs to explain how you are helping to accomplish their goals. Consider using dashboards of key revenue or expense saving data for the executives. Save the more detailed metrics and reporting for the teams that need that detail, typically your marketing or UX teams.
Telling your story of success using the words and care-abouts of your executives will help them understand how your efforts are helping them achieve their goals, which if done effectively can help you obtain additional resources and thus improve conversion.
Another benefit of simplifying your reporting is enabling you to focus on the metrics that matter, especially trend data. By identifying where and when changes were made, and examining specifically just the metrics that identify if optimization occurred, you will be in a better position to quickly evaluate if your change helped your conversion, and if so by how much. Reports and metrics can be overwhelming, focus on what’s critical and you should be in a better position to monitor your conversion optimization.
8 Marketing and UX Conversion Secrets conclusion
So these eight marketing and UX conversion secrets I hope you’ll agree are simple, powerful and fairly easy to execute. These often forgotten optimization tips if done correctly will help you optimize your conversion. Now you know the secrets, so go out and apply them to achieve your success!