Even Your Shopping Cart isn’t Sacred

shopping cartsBirth of the Shopping Cart

The first rolling shopping cart was created by a Piggly Wiggly owner in Oklahoma City. Once a regular basket got too heavy, customers headed straight for the check-out line.  This robbed stores of incremental sales.

So in 1936, that store owner introduced a rolling cart to make shopping easier. In CRO terms, he reduced the friction of shopping to increase average order size. The design went mainstream in the 50s. It has remained a retail “best practice” up to today, even making the jump to ecommerce.

But is it still the best way to reduce shopping friction? Is it really the best way to make shopping easier and more enjoyable?

Or are we mindlessly applying “best practices” instead of doing the hard work of designing customer-centric shopping experiences?

Another Industry Rethinks the Customer Experience

Alamo Drafthouse Interior architecture photography by austin photographer david hill

Until about a decade ago, the design of an average movie theater was essentially the same as it was at the birth of cinema.  The design, that itself was borrowed from live theatre.

Except in live theater, the majority of the money is made from the sale of tickets. And they usually have an intermission to increase the sales of refreshments. In cinema, the dynamic is the exact opposite. Up to 40% of the theatre’s profits come from concessions and there is no intermission in the middle of a movie. And with no intermission, who wants to get up in the middle of the movie and buy more popcorn? That creates a lot of “friction” when it comes to patrons buying more concessions!

But, of course, nobody thought to rethink the basic design of theater until they were faced by increasing competition from the first wave of disruption from the digital revolution. Netflix, RedBox and Video on Demand had already put most video rental stores out of business. It looked like movie theaters would follow the same path of self-destruction.

Then movie houses like the Alamo Drafthouse, looked to re-think the movie watching experience from the perspective of the customer.

  • First, why limit concessions to popcorn, chocolate raisins, and soft drinks?  Why not sell beer, burgers, and cocktails?
  • Second, why not let patrons order more food and drink from their seats?
  • Third, why not design the theatre with cabaret-style tables stretching in front of each row of seats and auxiliary aisles between rows facilitating waitstaff service?
  • And while we’re at it, why not let patrons reserve their seats (and pay more for premium seating), instead of doing open seating?
  • Finally, why show only first run movies? Why not bring back fan and cult-favorites, so people can relive their favorite movies by seeing them on the big screen?

To quote the founder of Alamo Drafthouse, Tim League:

cinemas-revenue-per-movie-screen“You need to think about the customer experience all the way through, from buying a ticket to arriving in the parking lot to watching the movie to leaving… So much of what we do is trying to make the Alamo experience special.”

As a result of this customer-centric redesign, Alamo Draft House makes roughly double the amount of money per movie screen as any competitor — $917K per screen for Alamo Drafthouse, compared to $517K, $403K, and $442 for AMC, Regal, and Cinemark theaters, respectively.

How Retailers Can Implement a Similar Strategy

Retailers need to understand the benefits of the in-store experience to a consumer, just as the Alamo Drafthouse started by recognizing the benefits of the in-theater experience to the movie goer.

So what is the core value of an in-store shopping trip? In three words it’s Discovery, Trial, and Instant Gratification.

And once we start with the idea of how to improve and amplify those attributes, the obvious question becomes: how does the traditional shopping cart and cash register fit into that equation?

They don’t. If anything, they are often the least favorable part of the experience and they were a logistical answer to a technological limitation that most stores no longer suffer from. If you have all your inventory on shelves and the customers have to go to the inventory (instead of vice versa) and if those same customers then have to bring their stuff to a set location for you to process their payments, then you need carts and checkout counters.

But what about shopping itself demands that kind of set-up?  Isn’t it possible to design a better retail experience that doesn’t run off of that model?

Well, just ask Apple.

apple store product discoveryIn May 19, of 2001, the first retail Apple store opened at Tysons Corner. There were no checkout lanes, nor were there shopping carts.

Instead, the store represented Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson’s vision for what retail should look like.  And to this day, no other physical retailer has matched their success. According to Fortune:

“Saks, whose flagship store is down the street, generates sales of $362 per square foot a year. Best Buy stores turn $930 – tops for electronics retailers – while Tiffany & Co. takes in $2,666. Audrey Hepburn liked Tiffany’s for breakfast, but at $4,032 per square foot, Apple is eating everyone’s lunch.”

The Keys to the Apple Stores’ Success

The first key has been a store design aimed at improving and facilitating Discovery and Trial. All the products are set up for demonstration and use by shoppers. They can play with all the toys and discover what they want.

If you go to an Apple Store to buy a laptop, you won’t walk by rows and rows of boxed laptops that take up expensive retail real estate space. And you won’t put the box into your cart and bring it to the front of the store to checkout.

Instead, you’ll find a few laptops of each model out and running, all ready for you to take for a test drive. You’ll also find a passionate, store employee eager to help you discover the laptops features and to figure out which model might be best for you. They can also suggest or recommend accessories and features you might want, so you can get the instant gratification of getting a complete set-up all in one trip.

And if you find the laptop you want, the second key comes into play: reducing friction. That same employee can take your payment right there, and have the boxed model, along with any software and accessory purchases, brought directly to you.

Or, if you perhaps bought a heavier desktop model, Apple can arrange for delivery of your computer directly to your home. Not only do you not have to cart the computer around the store and to a checkout, you don’t even have to cart it out of the store and into your car.

A Simple Challenge!

Your challenge is to imagine what in store retail would look like if we concentrated more on increasing Discovery, Trial, and Instant Gratification, and decreasing friction, while deciding to ditch the previous century’s “best practices” of carts and checkout lines.

Some ideas from some of friends:

Dave Jenkins would want to see a hardware store with a workbench and a concierge that talks about my project with me, while a robot caddy brings tools/materials and we sort of do a ‘dry-run’ walk-thru of the project right there. Or for an electronics retailer, a cafe where he can poke/play/manhandle the demo equipment, then say ‘yes’ and walk out with the new stuff.

My brother Jeffrey thought about the grocery store. He wants to walk the aisles at the supermarket and point my phone at stuff I want and then head home to await delivery. While there are stations with participatory cooking demos (not just ordinary demonstrations but more like classes) and the ingredients all right there on hand. Like Blue Apron live and in person.

Jonathan Miller describes his ideal retail experience.

I walk into a store. It’s clean & bright.

My concierge shopping assistant greets me and I sit down for a cup of coffee.

He/she asks about my needs, what i’m after or what the event is i’m shopping for.

We set parameters and a budget and while she inputs the info into a Microsoft surface type interface which has AI that can accept my query and also recommend based on my previous purchases, i sip the organic coffee she ordered me.

We find a dozen matches, which i then can discard or save, eliminating and adding as we go.

Within 10 mins i have it down to 3 shortlisted items.

I select two, one a gift I came in for, another an impulse purchase for myself.

The concierge orders it, with gift wrapping and a card, while I order another coffee.

In return for my card, which she swipes, the concierge gives me a printed transaction reference and a pickup time, 7 minutes away.

I finish my coffee and walk to the exit, picking up my shopping as i exit.

Think I’m being far fetched? Check out B&H Photo in NYC. It’s not as slick as my imagines shopping space, but their automation rocks.

David Melamed imagines a different retail future:

I drive up to valet. Go into the store, all my usual items are automatically loaded into my car and paid for, I walk the aisle doing some browsing.. As I find things I like, a proximity sensor pushes a notice to my phone with expanded info on the product with reviews and Amazon’s price…if its cheaper elsewhere, I can one click order it…if not, I add it to my cart on my app and once I confirm I want it it gets loaded into my car… I walk to the store opening and my car fully loaded is waiting for me.

Linda Bustos points out:

“I think it would really depend on the context – both shopper and product. Millennial-oriented shopping I think this could pick up fast. Would be slower adoption or resistance among other demographic groups. We’ve seen this for years with online/mobile shopping and catalog. I’ll also throwback to your “buying modality” framework and suggest that removing the human interactive element will be more of a negative for certain folks. In my opinion, we’ll have a period of time, perhaps a decade, where this runs in tandem. Seamless digital for the digerati, and conventional retail for the rest.”

Bobby Hewitt pointed out Disney World works that way.

“In a recent trip I purchased items and they shipped them back to the room for me, other items they shipped to my house.”

Much of the technology has been evolving since Apple opened their first store nearly 15 years ago and a lot of the pieces are already in place in several retailers. What would retail look like to you if the shopping carts and baskets went away? How could retailers change the experience for you?

Please share if you think others would benefit.

11 Social Media Tools & How to Use Them to Boost Conversions

sold-street-artSocial Media has become a key component to the success of many businesses.  Contextual Advertising, real-time word-of-mouth sharing and positive reviews help generate lots of traffic.  If you can’t turn that traffic into sales or leads, then the traffic is wasted. Knowing how to collect and use the data generated can be difficult if you don’t have the best tools. After all, you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to get a nail into a wall.

According to 5 Trends That Will Change How Companies Use Social Media, nine out of ten businesses are active on social media and 80% have a dedicated social media team. Yet, for many conversions remain lower than other channels.

Here are a few favorites tools to help turn social media visitors into customers:

Raventools – Raventools is powerful because it makes it easy to track all your key social media campaign metrics. Without great metrics, you can’t know what is or is not working.

Conversion Tip: Success in social media comes from being able to react to the analytics in near real-time. Raventools’ Social Media Dashboards (plus other dashboards) make it easy for you to get campaign and profile data. Even right at your fingertips.

AddShoppers – A Social Sharing Platform which uses Reward sharing. It identifies Influencers and tracks social activity including, ROI. Their AddSocial solution includes:

Sharing Buttons – Sharing buttons used to drive more revenue and grab more leads. It also integrates Influencer marketing campaigns.

Trending Wall – Using a Pinterest-style layout, the Trending Wall highlights popular content. This helps to keep customers engaged on your site longer and increase order value.

Social Login – A great solution for filling out forms, even on mobile. This will improve data accuracy and enrich customer records with more data.

Purchase Sharing – Prompting your customers to talk about their purchase, when they are happy. This will increase your “word-of-mouth” traffic. About 30% of a sites sharing activity happens immediately after a sale.

Conversion Tip: Social Rewards, Referral Incentives and Targeted Ads help increase conversions. Imagine a customer NOT having to leave your site to look for coupons. They just have to share their purchase and receive a discount. Or, if they refer a friend, they can both receive discounts. Happy customers lead to higher sales, and that is the goal.

Fan Machine – A Suite to manage your social marketing. The platform integrates Ads and Insights capabilities.

Publisher – Helps increase your reach and simplify publishing tasks. It includes post creation, promotion and comment moderation.

Builder – Increase engagement with entertaining and viral campaigns. Its as simple as creating a Facebook event and is functionable on mobile.

Amplifier – A Facebook Ads optimizer which creates different types of ads. It also assigns more budget to the ones that perform better.

Insights – Detects your impact using metrics of your pages, campaigns and tags. Get a better understanding of what works better and what impacts your customer and fan base.

Social CRM – Find out what your target needs and analyse their likes and preferences. Then you will be able to offer the best opportunities to increase sales.

Conversion Tip: The Fan Machine helps increase Social Conversion by collecting the right data. This helps you get to know your customers better and allows you to continue keeping them happy.  We love the speed (you will too) at which these things are built. This is powerful for social media conversion optimization.

Ilos Videos – A screen recording platform that makes screencasting a breeze. From recording to uploading to conversion, Ilos can get it all done.

Record – Built for ease of use, the recorder will launch right from your browser or desktop app. The files are kept small, no matter the length of the video. This makes them able to be viewed anywhere and there is an undo feature so mistakes are not a problem.

Share – With integrated Cloud Storage, sharing becomes easy by grabbing the link. You can even manage who can access the video.

Store – Ilos offers unlimited Cloud Storage so you don’t have to fill up your computer.  You will still have access whenever you need it. Playlists help make managing easy and you can even upload old videos.

Edit –  As soon as you complete recording, the video gets uploaded to an edit page.  Here you can re-record, trim unwanted parts and even add background music. You can also blur out private information that might be in the screening.

Conversion Tip: According to a study (published by Cisco in the Washington Post), in five years, 80% of the world’s Internet consumption will be through video. Being able to easily capture the right  video and how and where to use it will make all the difference in the world. Having an agile tool to create videos will allow you to create lots of different videos and see which ones impact sales the fastest.

Sightly – Programmatic targeting of customers with personalized videos.

Ad Personalization – The process of creating different versions of an ad for different audiences. This helps boost response rates by 200%. You can test which commercials, spokespersons, products, features, etc. appeal to the most viewers.

Micro-Targeted Delivery – Reach the right viewers most cost-effectively. Micro-Targeting produces abundant data about audience micro-segments and delivery channels. This helps you make the best marketing decisions.

Campaign Automation – Makes the processes required to launch and run video advertising campaigns easier. You can deliver powerful, personalized video messages across all screens.

Intelligent Optimization – This engine uses algorithms and data analytics to help optimize ads, offers, audiences and spends.

Conversion Tip:

Relevant ads drive traffic and help boost conversions. Sightly makes sure you are providing relevant ads. Using their analyses and data collection, they localize and personalize your video ads.  You can be sure you are hitting the customers you want.

What Would Seth Godin Do Plug-In – This WordPress Plug-in allows you to add a custom message to your post. This helps differentiate between first time visitors and repeat visitors. It will help you learn what message gets the first time visitor to convert. Oftentimes, it is different than what makes a repeat visitor become a customer and/or subscriber.

Conversion Tip: Test different offers, get a free White Paper, ask them to subscribe or share, try different messages for new and repeat visitors and see whether the message is in the header or footer of the post to see which is most effective.

PIPL’s FileApp – Upload a file with whatever pieces of information you have about your prospects or customers, and PIPL will complete your data inside the spreadsheet. If you have an email address, it will find a social media profile and vice versa including name, address, email, phone, etc.

Conversion Tip: The old direct marketing mantra of “the money is in the list” can now be updated with “the money is in the data from the list”. The more you know about your customers, where they are, where they interact, etc, the more you can appeal to their wants and needs.

Facebook – Among all the great new lead generation and other ad units that Facebook has been offering, the ability to use FB to test which headlines and images will be the most valuable in your social media campaigns will be powerful.

Conversion Tip: The way to do this is to set up two similar posts but slightly change the headline or change the image. Send each of the posts to separate audiences to see which has the best response. Then use the better ad to share in all your other organic and paid campaigns. Check out this great guide from Buffer on how to write better and test headlines on Social Media.

UserTesting.com – Providing a poor experience on a website or app can cost companies millions of dollars. By being able to see what customers do and how they interact on your site, you are better able to understand what might be causing them not to be able to complete the desired action, buying or registering. From simply choosing the wrong wording to using the wrong type of picture, potential customers might be missing the link they need, and you want them, to click.

Conversion Tip: Pick three previous campaigns you have run, and watch how actual people interact with your social media campaigns and through your website as they talk out loud about their experience. You will get plenty of ideas on what you can do to improve future campaigns.

Buffer – In Social Media, you need to be able to catch people in the moment, the right moment. With Buffer, you can stack, and schedule, your posts to whichever platform you choose. The posts can be the same for all platforms or customized as you wish. Buffer will also repeat posts at planned times.

Conversion Tip: Social Media is not just post once and forget it. If you have an effective campaign, don’t neglect to share it multiple occasions over multiple channels over time. Unless, of course, your campaign is time sensitive, like a Holiday Sale.

Buzzsumo – Helps create high converting content. You can search Buzzsumo to analyse the best performing content and influencers for any topic. You will learn what content is hot at the moment, but also what platforms to use and see where and how it is best shared and by whom.

Conversion Tip: Great social media campaigns don’t happen by accident, even if you have the right ingredients. if you can find the right influencers to share your content, it is like adding gasoline to the fire.

A similar product I am evaluating now is ninjaoutreach.com.

In the social media and conversion world, everyone can influence someone. So, won’t you please share this article? Also, if you have any tools you would like to share with us, please drop us a note.

Please share if you think others would benefit.

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The closer you look, the less you see... Caught up in the day-to-day rhythm of business we rarely take the time to zoom out and see the big picture. Google search seems like magic and it only gets more magical. Let’s take a look at magic. Your … [Continue reading]

The Shake Weight Challenge of Social Media

The social and mobile revolution is about data. It is the enormous volume, real-time velocity and variety of data from disparate sources that is causing indigestion issues for most business’ corporate metabolisms. It’s not a publishing … [Continue reading]

The Smarter Data Manifesto

"An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." - Jack Welch Fifteen years of working with many organizations (it is an impressive list) has taught us most organizations … [Continue reading]

The Next Generation of Data Analysis

In the near future you will use voice commands to ask for actionable stories to be related to you from raw data. It sounds like Star Trek but it's months away, not years. Today is the start of IBM's SmarterCommerce Global Summit 2013. As part of … [Continue reading]

Choose Not to Confuse

Every company has to make choices when it comes to how it markets and sells, and, in some cases, who it is and what it sells. In an email exchange, Tom Grimes, the owner of a Culligan dealership in Amarillo, TX and a brilliant friend, shared with … [Continue reading]

A 7-Point Spring Cleaning Checklist

People do spend some time tidying up their websites and marketing efforts. Yet, there always seems to be a few things they forget to clean up. Since it's spring, here is a checklist for you to start getting your site in order: 1. Clean up your … [Continue reading]

Jeff Bezos’ Secret to High Conversion Rates

If you do business, online or traditional business, I hope you took the time to read Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos' 2013 shareholder letter. In it he shares this tidbit: "Our heavy investments in Prime, AWS, Kindle, digital media, and customer … [Continue reading]

Adopting a Culture of Experimentation

“Almost any question can be answered cheaply, quickly and finally, by a test campaign.  And that’s the way to answer them – not by arguments around a table.  Go to the court of last resort – buyers of your products.” “Scientific Advertising” was … [Continue reading]

Leadership in the Age of Agility & Experimentation

Here’s the punchline; The role of today’s leadership is to “remove the speed bumps in the experimenters’ way!” ~ Scott Cook, co-founder and Chairman of Intuit Nobody worth arguing with argues whether search, social, and mobile technologies have … [Continue reading]

Technology should support your goals, NOT slow you down!

While the one constant in business is change, the one variable that has greatly accelerated—due to mobile and social—is the velocity of change. This is why we now hear so much about the importance of real-time marketing, agile marketing, or the need … [Continue reading]

How Can You Evaluate This Kind of Performance?

I just finished reading this article about an EBay study that questions the value of Google's main Adwords service. I've been really impressed with eBay's performance as of late, especially their mobile efforts. But, I am concerned how this news will … [Continue reading]

Comparing the Anatomy of B2B Landing Pages

Last week, my partner and brother, Jeffrey and I were doing an in-house training for a large B2B marketing team. At the end of our training, we had them review a bunch of landing pages across the web to see how they could apply what they learned over … [Continue reading]

Facebook Offers Desperation

With news that Facebook gift sales and revenue are off to a rough start, they are starting to show how desperate they are for people to start buying gifts. Have you noticed their latest offer of desperation (Get $3 off your gift of $5 or … [Continue reading]

Use the Data

When I studied the data and made an intuitive prediction that 80 percent of PPC professionals would be replaced by an algorithm in the next three years, my brother Jeffrey and I expected some resistance. We were extremely surprised at the … [Continue reading]

How to Optimize Your Mobile Landing Page for Conversions: Hulu.com Example

A couple of weeks ago, I asked readers how they would optimize the following Hulu.com mobile landing page that I saw when I searched for Hulu on my iPhone's browser. Obviously, there was an issue with the image loading, but that might not be … [Continue reading]

Marketing Analyst, You Better Up Your Game

Last week, I explained how 80% of PPC professionals will be replaced by an algorithm. However, deeper in to my article I also mentioned that "many of the “web analysts” who only function as data reporters without adding much business value" will also … [Continue reading]

PPC Pro – You’re Being Replaced

You’re fired, laid-off, downsized, terminated, made redundant, rightsized, pursuing other opportunities, discharged, dismissed, pink-slipped. Search Engine Marketing professionals are becoming redundant, replaced by technology, so they should prepare … [Continue reading]

Can You Optimize This? A Mobile Landing Page

My cable contract just ended, so I have been thinking about how little actual cable TV my family watches. I was wondering if we could do with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. I had some time waiting to pickup my kids from school, so while I was … [Continue reading]

Why You Won’t Crush It This Year!

I began writing this column on marketing optimization in 2001; yet this morning, 12 years later, I find myself in LA to train a well-known company that wants to start "crushing it" by developing an optimization culture, rarer than running a few tests … [Continue reading]

Fanning the Flames of Big Data

Last week, an article in TechCrunch offered an opinion on "Why We Need to Kill Big Data." Perhaps it was inspired by this tweet that was embedded in the article: "I hate the term 'big data'. Its all just data. Someday we'll all just call it data - … [Continue reading]

Google Plus Needs to Become Content Marketing Friendly

Google+ may be growing, but anyone who spends time on it wishes it had more engagement with their connections and more content being shared. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Why is this happening? It is not just lack of people, it is the lack of … [Continue reading]

The CMO’s Marketing Analytics Optimization Framework

In my last column, I shared recent research about how CEOs have lost trust in CMOs' ability to be focused on business performance. Hopefully, when asked how your company currently measures its digital initiatives you don't get an answer like this … [Continue reading]

When Conversions Come Easily

When you consistently deliver a great customer experience, build a great product and develop a brand people trust you don't have to try as hard to convert your visitors. Check out an old version of the DropBox home page: Check out what … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Planning Social Media Landing Pages

In the last Conversion Optimization challenge I asked readers to review a series of promoted Tweets and the corresponding landing and thank you pages. The most important thing to consider for your ads or landing pages is the nature and context of … [Continue reading]

Facebook’s Desperate Attempt to Prove Its Value (Test it Yourself)

Last week Adobe and IBM both came out with studies about how little impact Facebook had on referrals to sales on Black Friday's online shoppers. Facebook then countered with their own evidence showing how they impacted traffic for retailers. Yes, … [Continue reading]

Your CEO Doesn’t Trust That You’re Doing Your Job!

Did you see the startling statistic shared last week that 70 percent of CEOs have lost trust in marketers? If you're a marketer, like I am, that should alarm you. According to the recent Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Social Media Landing Pages

This week's conversion optimization challenge is to offer recommendations on a socially promoted whitepaper campaign. Bloomreach recently launched a Twitter campaign including some promoted Tweets to gain traction for their latest whitepaper, … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Copywriting Perspectives in Email Marketing

Last week's conversion optimization challenge was to take a look at the webinar invite sent out by WriterAccess.com with the subject line: Webinar Invite: Lessons Learned From 90,000 Content Orders.  The email contained two major obstacles and a … [Continue reading]

70% of CEOs have lost Trust in Marketers

According to the recent Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which has interviewed more than 1,200 CEOs across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, CEO's have lost faith in their marketing departments with their inability to … [Continue reading]

The Wizards of Social Media

The more remarkable the customer experience (or piece of content), the stronger the desire to share it through word of mouth and social media. Just barely exceeding expectations isn't enough. Remember, it’s important to be remarkable! The 3 … [Continue reading]

The About Us Page in a Social World

Since my column about the Power of the About Us page (remember 2006 when MySpace was really popular) was written, not a week goes by that I don’t receive a comment about it.  Every website needs an "About Us" page, it’s one of the most important but … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Email Marketing – Webinar Invites

This week's Conversion Optimization challenge is to take a look at the following email I received from WritersAccess.com with an offer to attend a webinar: The subject line was: Webinar Invite: Lessons Learned From 90,000 Content Orders What would … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Perfectly Persuasive PPC Landing Pages

Last week, in our Conversion Optimization challenge we looked at the following PPC ad: and the corresponding landing page (image capture below): How would you optimize the ad and the landing page? My general guidelines for marketing with … [Continue reading]

It’s Not My Job: Why Marketing is Broken

I was in Moscow last week with Jeffrey, waiting in the lobby for a taxi. I passed the time taking screenshots of "promotional" emails and ads with their corresponding landing pages. After clicking through some ads and emails I needed to vent.  I … [Continue reading]

Companies spend $92 on Driving Traffic Compared to $1 on Customer Experience

by Column Five Media.  What are you doing to optimize that spend ratio in 2013? Are you planning on investing in a/b testing, usability tests, heuristic/expert evaluations, optimization software. customer journey analysis, personas, or marketing … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: PPC Landing Pages

This week's Conversion Optimization challenge is to look at a PPC ad I found on Google for the search term "SEO Management Software." Here is the ad I clicked on: and here is the landing page (image capture below): How would you … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Selling with Video

Last week in our Conversion Optimization challenge I asked, how would you improve this Quick Tour demo video found on the homepage of UserTesting.com. I won't tell you any more about them. If you don't know them it's because the video should do a … [Continue reading]

The Grok’s Not to Miss Links for the Week of November 6th, 2012

Retailers, Black Friday is right around the corner. Super Storm Sandy has already impacted businesses this past week in many ways. Time is running out to make sure you are all ready for the holidays. As Andrew Goodman points out Your Holiday PPC … [Continue reading]

Social Media is not Media

What are you doing to increase the value of the relationship with your customers today? … [Continue reading]

Content Marketing: Superheroes Teach the Art of Storytelling

Last week, I visited ComicCon Austin with my 7 year old son. The people in costumes, the famous actors and characters were not what caught my attention. What fascinated me is the engagement that people had with these characters many of whom have been … [Continue reading]

Conversion Rate 101: Demo or Explainer Videos – Presenting Effectively

Since we just finished looking at how to optimize ecommerce product or hero images, I thought we should look at how to get the best demo or explainer video to help sell your service or product. There is no question video marketing is hot, but doing … [Continue reading]

Halloween Special: Frightening Landing Pages

Trick not treat! Most visitors clicking your promotions hope that you'll offer them with some tasty treat. If instead you do things that shake their enthusiasm and frighten them from taking advantage of your offer, they'll just bail on you no … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Optimize Your Product Image to Sell

Last week's Conversion Optimization 101 challenge, asked you to look at the eBags TLS Workstation Laptop Backpack and the product image(s) they use. I asked you to let me know what  things would you test as the primary image display? They have … [Continue reading]

Kids on Retail: Thoughts from the Next Generation of Shoppers

What are you doing today to be ready for them when they are your customers in the next 5 to 10 years? Just think about how different the landscape was just 5 years ago. … [Continue reading]

Confessions of an Online Marketing Tool Junkie

It's fun to play with the latest shiny new object and marketing tools, but remember marketing success rarely happens because of the tool. Success happens because of what the people and process you have in place do with the tool. Invest in your … [Continue reading]

Grab Your Free Kindle Copy of a Great Business Book This Weekend Only

My friend Tim Miles has his birthday this weekend. So he decided that this weekend he will be giving away his book, Good Company – Making It, Keeping It & Being, for free on Amazon. I want you to help me give Tim a present back for giving of … [Continue reading]

Google Adwords Conversion Rates by Industry

My friend, Larry Kim just published some research his company Wordstream just released. Wordstream used the data collected by the AdWords Performance Grader, a free AdWords account audit tool which has evaluated over $1 billion dollars in annualized … [Continue reading]

TheGrok’s Not to Miss Links for the Week of October 25th, 2012

I know not everyone can keep up with everything Jeffrey and I read or share during the week. Here are some of those links you don’t want to miss this week: If you are doing any kind of Content Marketing, you'll want to grab a copy of the 2013 B2B … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Make Your Product Image Sell

Social media and ecommerce are becoming even more visual.  With apps like Pinterest, Instagram, etc., the use of the correct photograph and even well shot video is critical in selling your products effectively. So let's take a look at a product … [Continue reading]

Average Conversion Rate by Industry 2012

For MarketingSherpa's 2012 Website Optimization Benchmark Report they surveyed participants and asked them to write in what their average conversion rate was. Here is a chart of the results: While this is survey data and not the most accurate, at … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Optimizing Complex Web Forms (w/ 10 Point Checklist)

Last week, I asked you to review and comment on how you would optimize this beautifully designed, but non-optimized form: The three most common form design problems: Forms that fail to reduce fear Forms that fail to build trust and … [Continue reading]

Your Customer Is In Control. Are You Ready?

  What have you seen as the biggest change in the last 6 years since the book was published? … [Continue reading]

Just One Thing

Do you remember the movie where an ad executive played by Billy Crystal takes time off to go on a cattle drive and he befriends an old cowboy, Curly, played by Jack Palance? While they are out, Billy's character, who is in search of the secret of … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Form Folly

There were some excellent responses last week's CRO challenge post on a NetFlix ad and landing page mismatch. Thank you all! Today's challenge is to explain how you would improve and optimize the form below . While the page looks polished and … [Continue reading]

The Number 1 Rule for Content Marketing

...or the dog will just ignore you! … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: When Ads and Landing Page Don’t Stink!

Last week I asked how you would improve scent from this NetFlix ad and landing page combination, I found while looking at FaceBook on my iPad. From a scent perspective the issues include: a mismatch of languages mixed messaging in the … [Continue reading]

Last Minute Secrets to Boost Holiday 2012 Sales

We asked a bunch of our industry expert friends: if a small to mid-sized retailer asked you for a couple of low resource, high impact & simple to execute, tips they could use before the holidays, what would you tell them to do? The tips had to be … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Ad Continuity/Scent

It was Dr Ed Chi, a Xerox Palo Alto Researcher, as early as 2001, who indicated that humans track information in a similar fashion to the way animals follow a scent. According to an article on the study: People... engage in what [Dr. Ed Chi] calls … [Continue reading]

Conversion Rate 101: Effective Pricing Tables

Last week, I asked you to look at the pricing tables from the Dell.com website and to offer suggestions on how to improve them. There were some fabulous suggestions, let's take a look: Graham Charlton shared: A comparison table, as used by UK … [Continue reading]

Mastering Conversion Rate Optimization?

We (Jeffrey Eisenberg and I) were naïve and full of ourselves; in 2005, when "Call To Action: Secret Formulas To Improve Online Results" hit the major bestselling book lists. In 2006, "Waiting For Your Cat To Bark: Persuading Customers When They … [Continue reading]

TheGrok’s Not to Miss Links for the Week of October 4th, 2012

It's been almost 3 years since I published one of these. However, I know not everyone can keep up with everything Jeffrey and I read or share during the week. Here are some of those links you don't want to miss this week: First things first, if … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Pricing Tables – Ecommerce

On Twitter, I shared a link to this article from Smashing Magazine, Pricing Tables: Examples And Best Practices. When I shared it, I said that while many of these were beautiful there was still plenty of room for some conversion optimization. This … [Continue reading]

What Keeps Retailers Awake at Night in 2012 [Videos]

I just came back from Shop.org's Annual Summit in Denver, where over 4,000 retailers and industry supporters came to learn more about what the industry was up to. While I was there I thought I would spend some time interviewing some of my retailer … [Continue reading]

Just Released: The Website Testing & Optimization – Buyer’s Guide for the Enterprise: Second Edition

There are several things that prompted me to update the Buyer's Guide to Testing & Optmization: 1. Since Google replaced Website Optimizer with Content Experiments, I had to comment on it. 2. I've decided to add a new tool to the … [Continue reading]

Conversion Optimization 101: Culture Trumps Strategy and Tactics

Last week, I published my first  Conversion Optimization 101 post and asked you if you could look at a particular screenshot and also to tell me: What’s wrong with this picture? How would you fix it? Here is the image: There were some … [Continue reading]

Content Marketing Personas

It seems like only yesterday that I typed the following words into my computer: Conversion rate is a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take the action you want them to take. It's a reflection of your effectiveness and customer … [Continue reading]