What was the winning combination of media and message for Barack Obama’s ’08 campaign e-mail sign up page? For this exercise, first pick your choices of media and messages from the examples laid out in my last column, “Obama’s ’08 Campaign: Using Data to Win” and then come back here to find out the results. It’s ok. I’ll wait. Dan Siroker, former deputy new media director, Obama Presidential Transition and founder of CarrotSticks and Spreadly, did a fabulous job in his SES Chicago keynote. If you are like 90 percent of the audience in Chicago you probably didn’t guess the winning combination. It isn’t because you aren’t a smart marketer, but because this is the value of testing — being able to go to the court of last resorts and the only one that matters, your customer.

The winning button was the “learn more” button, showing an 18.6 percent improvement over the original “sign up” button. The winning media choice was the “family image,” showing at 13.1 percent improvement over the original “get involved” image. All the videos in the media test actually dropped conversion rates. The combination of using the “learn more” button with the “family image” increased conversion 40.6 percent over the baseline.

How well did you do with your guesses? Dan also showed the advantages the Obama campaign leveraged by using social media, analytics, and testing to drive engagement and evangelism. How will you change this coming year?

Google: Real-Time Search Results, New AdWord Ad Units

If Dan’s keynote didn’t cover enough change for you, Google made a bunch of changes as well. Google is now displaying Twitter in its search results. The way it’s doing it certainly is a bit of an issue and opens up the results to manipulation. Google also rolled out several new AdWord units just in time for the holidays. FellowMarketMotive faculty member David Szetela and I did a live recording to go over some of these changes. You can watch the video here. Or you can read about three of those new ad units on David’s blog. One thing is for sure, if you want to succeed, you must make sure you are paying attention to what people are saying about you in social media, now more than ever, and you must pay attention to your Quality Score in Google AdWords. That means tighter ad groups, faster loading pages, and better Web site experiences for your visitors. If your ad groups have loads of keywords in there, WordStream just released a holiday present for you. Take a list of up to 10,000 keywords and they’ll group them for you using their free keyword grouper tool.

Tips for Improving Web Site Conversions

To focus on better experiences, at SES Chicago I inaugurated my “21 Secrets to Top Converting Websites” presentation. This is the same presentation (with a few twists) I’ll be doing for the keynote at SES London. Here’s a sneak peak. Also, at my “How to Turn Your Web Analytics into a Money Making Machine” session, Senior Product Manager for Google Analytics, Phil Mui shared some great AdWords tips for your creatives.

  • There needs to be a strong call to action.
  • Special offers pique attention.
  • Delivery details generally help click-through rates.
  • When possible, insert actual prices.
  • Dynamic keyword insertion is generally a best practice.
  • The percentage of capitalization in creatives helps it feel more personal.
  • In the URL word length — keep it four to six.
  • Don’t use exclamation points in your ad words.

More importantly, he shared several new features that the Google Analytics team launched as a holiday bonus, including annotations, a new version of the API, and a new tracking code setup wizard.

Looking Back on 2009, Looking Ahead to 2010

As many of my readers know, I have also had quite a bit of change this year. During my presentation at SES NY in March, I got the text message from my wife that she was in labor and several hours later we welcomed our third child, Matthew, to the world. Also, in September my brother and I left the company we started over 11 years ago to venture out on our own. I’ve also been spending a lot of time working with my friends at MarketMotive to launch a certification program for conversion and landing page optimization that will start on January 11, 2010.

This column is my last column for 2009 and with my next column I’ll be celebrating my ninth year as a columnist for ClickZ. But, I wanted to leave you with a bit of a holiday gift and give you something incredibly valuable to your business. One of the very well received presentations I did for MarketMotive this year was my 10 step process to optimizing copy. Here, for your enjoyment until January 1, 2010, is a video of that presentation, on how to optimize your copy.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a 2010 full of positive change for you.