1 Page, Many Modes of User Interaction

We launched our SEO training program close to a year and a half ago and are still flush with optimization opportunities from a conversion standpoint. Working with Conversion Rate Experts got me much more motivated about fixing a lot of the holes. Over the past 6 months we have probably made an average of about 1 conversion improvement per day.

A lot of stuff does not need to be hard to do...it just takes a bit of time and a bit of creativity, and a willingness to respond to customer feedback and conversion data.

Conversion Oriented Graphics

In the past all of our conversion oriented links were simply text links. Recently I picked up a nice set of buttons and am enjoying using them where it makes sense to. :)

Maybe I should put one here

Maybe that is not the perfect graphic, but it is a conceptual upgrade, and a position we can build from.

Optimizing User Experience

Erm... lets see. Where was I. Oh yes, the homepage of our training section in the past was almost the same if you were logged in or not. That confused some people as to their account status and probably cost us some members who did not like it. And since it was the page we ranked #1 in the organic search results for seo training it did not do us any favors with prospects who discover us via a search on that keyword. We were simply wasting traffic for one of our most valuable keywords. :(

But due to the magic of PHP's wonderful elseif there is a different user experience for each of the following:

  • logged in subscriber - welcome page and link to modules
  • logged in free account - upsell to paid account
  • not logged in - login box in case they are already a subscriber, followed by an upsell to paid account

Each of the above groups of people has a different set of goals. One wants to access what they bought, while the other 2 are more interested in learning more about becoming a customer. This is something we should have done long ago, but I have always been so focused on answering forum threads, keeping up with news, and trying to create new tools that it took till now to get around to it.

Packaging Value

When you look at the user interaction on a site there are lots of ways to package and re-package ideas that don't have to be spammy or cheesy, but add legitimate value to the strategy. If you have made hundreds or thousands of blog posts there is probably some value that can be reformatted, recycled, and repackaged.

In the past people could download SEO for Firefox, the SEO Toolbar, and our Rank Checker for free and we got nothing in return (except for thousands of customer support emails on free products). That's not entirely true. We got links & rankings, but we likely got more support emails than links and we were wasting an opportunity to establish a lasting relationship and drive people toward conversion.

People still can download those tools for free, but now we require them to set up a free account and log in to get the download links. This type of strategy helps us by...

  • giving some people the option to get a free auto-responder with the tools
  • allows us to remind people of the value of the free tools (which also increases perceived value)
  • allows us to cross-market the free extensions at the same time to increase the actual value of the user experience (more tools = more value)
  • puts a barrier to entry between us and the worst freeloaders (no more thousands of support emails from non-customers!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • gives us another chance to sell our premium services (on the download page)

There are lots of ways we could further enhance perceived value. Giving people the option of buying the tools for $100 each would really help a lot more people see the value in installing them for free. So many opportunities and ideas, yet so little time. ;)

Toward Relationship Marketing

As data continues to get commoditized and competition increases many savvy marketers are moving towards relationship marketing. Rather than selling right away people try to pull you into a sales funnel. The guys who only wrote pitchfest hawkish emails now have blogs. A blog is one effective way to help establish a relationship, but why not have 5 or 10 different conversion paths that lead to the desired goal?

The cool thing is that our current user experience (while still being far from perfect) looks and feels much better than it did when using the brute force pop up we tested for a few months. The experience is much more soft-sell and value driven while creating more conversions. Win win.

Published: July 7, 2009 by Aaron Wall in marketing


July 7, 2009 - 3:43pm

"we likely got more support emails than links"

Yep, thats exactly why I stopped producing freebie tools - the barrage of support emails. Im also a person who doesnt like to ignore someone, so was ending up replying to dozens of these emails daily. Going down the 'free membership' route would have been a great idea. If only it had occurred to me a few years ago ;)

July 7, 2009 - 11:35pm

Yeah...that is the strange thing...those who care about delivering value often deliver more value for free than those who sell stuff deliver to their paying customers. And if you don't put up some sort of wall between you and the most worthless users of the web eventually they sorta tear down your view of humanity.

As soon as you put up some barrier (any barrier at all really) it lowers the sense of entitlement and makes it that much easier to delete the message when there is an email from an entitled individual that is rude and demanding and has a market value less than $0.

There is a lot of psychology in pricing BTW too. The price of free drives people to irrationally consume it. On the KFC free baked chicken coupons there were rumours of riots and people waiting in line in NYC for a half hour. Who can afford a half hour of standing around in Manhattan waiting for free chicken with a bunch of rude people? How can they value their time so lowly and yet be able to afford being in Manhattan?

Even a discount evokes that line of thinking. The Burger King a couple miles from my house had to take the double off of their signs for 2 double cheeseburgers for $2.

July 8, 2009 - 8:27pm

Hey Aaron... love the changes you've made. Conversion optimization is full of those "duh..." moments.

Quick suggestion... when you are a full member you should be able to download multiple instances of the toolbars without having to set up another profile (which I did last night to load the SEO Toolbar onto my Mac). Now you have two profiles, but one of them is worthless because it's also me and I'm already a member. If I'm wrong, then I apologize... but if not, seems like a logical quick fix.

July 9, 2009 - 3:48am

You can download and install the toolbar on multiple machines from 1 account. :)

July 9, 2009 - 2:18pm

"On the KFC free baked chicken coupons there were rumours of riots"

I'm sure we can all do without poultry-based hooligans as potential customers :)

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