WriterAccess Webinar Archive

The Ultimate Formula to Improve Conversions

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 – 1:00 PM ET

It's a small formula. But it will have a big impact on your conversion rates, if you follow each of the elements of the equation in a systematic, methodical way.

Conversion = (Content + Usability + Motivation + Incentive) - (Friction + Anxiety)

Byron White, CEO of ideaLaunch, and Tim Ash, CEO and Founder of Site Tuners will walk you through this simple, but powerful conversion-rate improvement formula that they put to work every day–on the web and for multiple channels.

In this webinar, you'll learn:

  • Conversion: How to use the Four Pillars of Trust to increase conversion rates.
  • Content: How to create different content for different readers for betterment.
  • Usability: How to avoid confusing your buyers and smooth the path to your conversion goal.
  • Motivation: How to motivate customers to take action and feel great!
  • Incentive: How to push customers over the edge in simple ways.
  • Friction: How to find it and reduce it to maximize conversions.
  • Anxiety: How to reduce both customers' and your own anxiety.

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.






Video Transcription

Byron White: Welcome everyone; this is Byron White, founder of ideaLaunch. I’m here with Tim Ash, who’s going to be joining me today. I want to make sure everyone is tuned in, and I have some instructions on the webinar today, which we’ll happily give out at this juncture. I assume everybody can see the screen. One of the first things I'll say to you is if you’re having trouble viewing this, please send a question that you may have, and let us know if you cannot see the screen. I think we should be fine; so far, all of our tests have concluded that things are working just fine, but if that's not the case, we would need to know it now. Let's just look at questions here, and see if anybody has any questions; otherwise, I’m going to drop you through some logistics.

For starters, this webinar is being recorded, and we will send out a deck to all of you in case you have interest in either of the two decks that Tim and I will be presenting. Next, we’re going to have a recording put up on our website, and Tim can make it available at his site as well, for those of you who want to tune in. Number three, you should see some hash tags here for Twitter; we would love it, Tim and I would welcome any feedback from you or any tweets on this presentation, as we worked hard to organize this and love to get the word out, and what we’re talking about it, and how we can make your life a little bit smarter, better, faster and wiser when it comes to conversions and enhancing those conversions. Also, please Tweet if you wouldn’t mind.

The format of the presentation looks something like this: I will be talking for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then Tim will dive in with a presentation. He's going to talk with everybody about the four pillars of building trust online, instantly I might add, and he will walk through his fantastic presentation and dive in. Let’s just go ahead and start the presentation, and carry on.

For starters, I want to walk you, in my presentation, through the content marketing revolution. I’m going to walk you through a few slides and let you know what’s going on there and next, we’re going to dive into what I call the ultimate formula to improve conversion rates. Let’s dive in, and give you some logistic and a quick update here. For starters, content marketing is really defined as the art of listening to the wants and needs of your customers, and that is probably the single hardest thing for any of us to do. I believe that someone on the line today or someone in the near future will begin to dive into what that challenge is all about, and come up with some innovative solutions with how we can listen to what our customers’ needs are.

We can certainly look at the social media sphere and try to identify what people are talking about. We can look at search boxes on our own website; we can look at web analytics and try to find out what’s going on. We can look at keyword popularity outside of our site, maybe customer service surveys, but this is a real challenge, and I think this is where we need some innovation in the industry. We’re going to talk about that a little bit. Next, let's look at content marketing in terms of the science of distributing content to customers in a compelling way. We all know that we have lots of ways we need to do that now. I would guess that not everyone on the phone and listening to these conferences is applying all of these vehicles. It’s very difficult to do all these things all the time, but I think if you look at the real definition of what’s happening in this space right now and that is as follows: forward-thinking companies are starting to think like online publishers; gathering ideas, developing stories and creating a steady stream of content that they're distributing in a wide variety of ways.

You also need to catch readers who are orbiting at high speeds and you need to do that with educational classes in desktop and getting your information out on iTunes. It's really difficult to do that these days and you need to catch people with information they want and need; comparisons, do's and don'ts, how-to’s, educational information. It's hard to put this information together, and I’m going to be talking with you today about the need to be doing this constantly and perpetually if you want to improve your conversion rates. Naturally, it’s testing to learn what works and what doesn't work, and you can do that, of course, in a variety of ways, and that scope is widening. It seems like every day now we have different options to track what people are doing, measure the success of the impact and put those tests to work for betterment.

It’s about finding the most efficient path to sales, and you need to do that with beta testing, and content scoring, and conversion analysis; all kinds of things that you can see are critical to the buy process. But the big thing I want to educate you on today with content marketing is the fact that it is a complete six-step process that you really need to follow here to make content marketing work, I would argue, to improve your conversion rates. It starts with curating content on your site in the industry and what's happening out there. It then is followed by developing content plans and SEO plans that tie into editorial calendars that are deeply rooted in keyword research and customer research and competitive analysis.

These plans are big and thick and heavy duty; they need to really become the driving force for everything you do on the web. Next, you need to look at content creation; we’re going to talk about that a lot today, so we’ll skip over that. Naturally, all of your content needs to be optimized and your landing pages need to be optimized; that's part of the puzzle and only one part of it, I might add. Finally, you need to distribute content, as I mentioned earlier, and you need to test performance. We’re going to talk today about content performance and content marketing performance; how you measure that and how you can tie all of those strings together to tie it right into landing page optimization. That’s something we’ll talk deeply about today.

But all of this fits, in my opinion, and now let’s get down to what I call the ultimate formula to improve conversion rates and there has been a lot of simple formulas and complex formulas for improving conversion rates. Let's talk about this formula that you saw on the e-mail blast that we sent out to promote this event. And here I just wanted to go over it really quickly and really simply. We’re going to dive into each of these components, and I'm going to offer to use some thoughts and some advice on really how you can pull all of these things together.

Certainly, I believe in content and, of course, I’m biased for starters. I work at ideaLaunch, which is a content marketing agency, so we believe content is the center of our world, but I do think that earning trust starts with the content, both on your site and off your site, and not just on your page, and what's happening on that page. If that content is answering the important questions, namely, are you providing customers with information they want and need? That becomes the most relevant factor and that is something you can scale and engage, not only on your website but other sites.

Usability; we’re going to walk through some different angles on usability. It's not just a site map; it's not just a nav bar; it's not just what the offer is on that page and how much content you either have or don't have. Usability needs to involve information architecture, right from driving people to do what they want and what they need. Motivation and incentive are both two hard things to analyze without looking at your budgets, number one. If your desire to go beyond what the expectations are, motivation and incentive are the core elements of really what’s happening. Tim is going to talk a lot about that today, so I didn’t put together too much data on that, but enough to be scary and to leave you something you can take action on today. Next, we’ll talk a little bit about friction and anxiety, and how you can minimize that because that, of course, is what's really hurting you the most. So let’s walk through these and take a close look.

So, the big three questions that you have to ask yourself when it comes to content and content marketing in general, is how good does your content need to be? Does it address the wants and needs of customers? Are you digging deeply into the quality of content in comparison with your customers? We’re going to talk a little bit today about quality content, and what that means, and how companies like Groupon are really using content as their absolute funneling gateway to success; we’re going to talk about that today. Next, we’re going to talk about how much content? Do you need a high volume of SEO content to drive more organic traffic, or do you need super quality content to improve conversion rates and landing pages? What is the formula that you're looking for when it comes to content? That very much determines how much content you need.

What is also a pinnacle element to how much content you need is looking at your competitors. How much content do they have, how much content are they publishing regularly, how wide is their stream of content distribution? All of these factors figure into content, so let's take a peek at our fellow speaker on the circuit, Guy Kawasaki, whom I’ve seen speak a few times, and I think he actually saw me speak as well. The net of it is, the mantra perhaps, is the centerpiece for where you need to begin thinking about your content and your content strategy. What is the mantra for your company? I’m not taking about a tagline here, a brand statement, a mission statement; I’m talking about a mantra, and I think if you look at the art at the start, it’ll help you understand why a mantra is a key element to your content actual creation and development.

You next need to get in tune with customer 2.0 wants and needs. Let’s face it, customers these days are in a hurry; they want access to specific things, they want personalization, all of the things you should be testing with. What you really need to do is to look back at the core elements of what customers in general need, because you need to address those with everything you're creating and, if you will, amplify and modify the content on your pages to make it work.

You need a content plan that’s packed with lots of research; this content plan does become the driver in my opinion, not just for a customer engagement and increasing traffic and improving listing positions, but I would argue your content plan becomes the driver to improve conversion rates. You need great content written by great writers who have great characteristics. If you look over a couple of these, I've highlighted just a few of them. Fresh insight; can they look at your product, and look your services, and bring fresh insight into what you're trying to do into what the needs of those customers are, and how to not just inform them about what your products are, but perhaps entertain them, or make them laugh, or make them get a new twist on something you're offering and how you’re offering it?

I think it's interesting; I've interviewed hundreds of writers in my day; we have about 5,000 writers now over at WriterAccess that we bring in, and that massive marketplace is growing like crazy. One thing I find interesting is a writer's ability to ask questions; okay, a tenacious ability and desire to learn about all of the good things. Literally creating a story, as we’ll quickly learn, is all about learning the facts, gathering the data, learning the information. The storytellers of the world are who you want on your team. Those are the people who can really take your products and services and turn them into a story. They need to do that by using Socratic techniques to actually get that information.

Learning how and why to tell a story is important; please, please read Kevin Roberts book that’s called Sisomo. I had an opportunity to see Kevin Roberts speak about four or five years ago at Ad Tech, and 20 percent of the audience, myself included, left the audience weeping and crying with this powerful speech that he gave about content and storytellers and how it’s a critical element for any campaign you’re putting together.

Great stories, as you can see from these bullet points; I won’t read them, but they are a critical element to your content. I bet there are people on the line that can’t imagine that you could somehow introduce great characters with regard to your products, but think about that. Maybe you, the business owner, are the character; maybe your management team member, maybe your staff is part of the characters. But you need characters if you’re going to create a story about your company. Maybe it's an event that you funded or your dedication to nonprofit organizations, but you need a story if you're going to be successful, because it’s those stories that get passed along and then become the elements of success even with conversions.

So why do some stories get passed on while others don't? Well, let's look at the facts. Information fills you up as a stack of information that may or may not have impact on the way your brain thinks, but a story moves you on, and forces you to have emotional connection, and forces you to take action. Hopefully, it has opportunity to touch the heart and inspire. That's the difference; that's the distinction. Ask yourself, “Are you doing this anywhere on your site when you glance and look into the offers and everything you're trying to do; is there a story there?” And I would challenge you to say, “Why not try creating once and watch it improve your conversion rates?”

Let's talk about usability. Information is clearly the driver for usability; that’s what you’re going to hear from someone like me. The question is, how hard is it to find out what you want, what’s the information architecture look like? You need to segment readers and customers and move them into areas where they, on that limited small screen that they're looking at, they need to see exactly what they're looking for very quickly, and you need to really focus on that pathway.

So the challenge we have here, much like walking down the aisle of a grocery store, is there is a paradox of choice, as well documented by Barry Schwartz in a fabulous book. There are too many choices, especially in this new age of micro-expansion; you look at the number of beers you can find now in the aisle way, or the number of different types of soups you can buy; there are way too many choices and too little time. So the challenge here is there are a whole new set of rules for this complex decision-making process that we have, and we need to get in tune with that decision-making process, and develop your own rules; that's really where I think you separate yourself from the pack. If you can develop the new rules to organize your products and services in a different unique way and be bold, I think that's a unique opportunity to stand out.

There’s also a new methodology in your information, which is why you’re on the line. Let’s look at some of this other stuff. Here’s an information plan; you can’t really see it, but this is anything but a site map. What we’re doing instead is looking at a customer who needs to create maybe a thousand assets, and when they're creating these assets they need to find a place on their website. Where will these assets go? Where will they be placed on their website? How do these content assets with deep information fit with the products and services that are selling? Do you connect the dots, how do they work together, how does it all fit? That's the challenge that you face, that's what you need to do.

Segmentation is another way to help the overall information architecture experience with graphics and graphic user interface design. Can you move your customers into different buckets? Here is a customer of ours who was having a challenge with part of their business; it helps people who are already in a business make it better. Another part of their business is for businesses that want to start a business. Those are two very, very different audiences; by trying to do everything to everyone on their homepage, it was really a mess. They needed to clean it up and strip it down.

Let's talk about some motivations and incentives. The key isn't really what offer can you come up with or what thing can you do. Really, you need to look much deeper at this problem; what are the wants and needs of customers? I think I’ve said it probably a hundred times in this presentation, but I just can't say enough. What do they want, what do they need, what motivates them, why not ask them? That's the challenge; now, you're doing that when you’re testing, but I would argue that when you're testing, you’re guessing. Perhaps you're rooting that information in some deeper data, but why not stop guessing and go right to the root with some different options and tests? How you do this?

We talk a little bit about this; what kind of questions are people asking? That can be a super relevant piece of information. What is the language that the customers are speaking? That becomes another relevant factor. How do they want information presented? Is it problem/solution driven? The data is out there but it's in the eyes of your customers. Here's a great feedback tool; it showed up at an Apple Store when I had my iPhone replaced, and sure enough, I got back a questionnaire back; it was a long questionnaire, actually. It asked me a lot of questions, it got a lot of information for me and was gathering data and gathering information; it was helping the overall experience.

Developing customer personas is something you can do as you begin taking all this data you assemble, and looking at customer wants and customer needs. Why is this critical to develop these personas? I would argue that most personas are developed maybe for a manager, or maybe somebody doing some testing and managing that whole creative process. These personas should be going to the writers or the content creators; they're not just creating copy for a particular landing page, but they're creating content throughout your website where you have sophisticated Sally versus ADD Andy. Sophisticated Sally wants deep information, and white papers, and/or longer articles that explain how your product and services could be put to work, or how they compare. You need to develop those personas to get those in the hands your writers.

So, lots of personas that you can create. Style guides are also critical; style guide not just for a particular landing page, but the whole tone and the content and the style of your entire website. That’s where you can have the biggest long-term effect on improving conversion rates; learning to tell that story, developing that quality content throughout the entire website and doing that in a systematic approach.

You also need to diversify your content asset portfolio if you’re going to earn trust with a person; that’s the biggest problem. A lot of customers are focused on only landing page optimization on a single page, and trying to hit the inevitable glass ceiling with what you can do with that page, I would ask yourself, particularly as you compare yourself to your competition, what does your content asset portfolio look like, and are you hitting people in a wide variety of places? Of course, are you distributing that content in multiple channels, which is also what you need to be doing? Blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn; that’s not enough. You need to get Podcast out on iTunes, you need to be tweeting and promoting webinars like this one, you need to get yourself out there.

Another way to perhaps change and motivate is to try to different feel words in your content. Feel words are words that are familial with people and words that really resonate, and connect with them, and engage with them. If you’re an employment company, you’re going to want to look at a whole group of keywords that isn’t necessarily popular in the search engines, but is provided to writers because of some other reason. They’re there to test; they're there to literally try different types of words. These are some examples of some feel words that I’ve put together for you. There are also, of course, sell words that you need to experiment with; special offers, special offers, click here right now.

All of these are worth experimenting with, and there is not a right word for all of the web. So many of us come to these conferences hoping, “What is the formula, is it the same for every website, is it the same for every industry?” That’s not it at all; it’s different for every industry, and I would argue that it might even be different for different times of the day or during the week. You need to experiment with different words at different times during the day and different types of words in your content to really reap the benefits.

There are, of course, positive and negative sell words. Believe it or not, negative sell words could better connect with people, and do a better job of motivating them and connecting with them and earning their trust. Likewise, positive words might have a better spin and resonate with prospect customers; all of these words are just examples.

I would leave you with a couple of tips; one is what I call a fabulous article that I've given you a link to that is about Groupon and their secret to success. Please go look at this article that was published in the New York Times; hopefully, it will make you understand why content is now the centerpiece of all marketing on the web. I would argue that it’s really pretty powerful, and the secret is very simply the whole structure of Groupon and how they have 300 to 400 writers who are well screened and are literally the source for engagement of their content. They're doing something very similar in the industry that has been done for many years; they're selling coupons and discounts, but they're doing it in the most unusual way where words and content are the centerpiece of their success. Please read this article.

The second tip I have for you is maybe the incentive to buy more. On the back of that Apple Store feedback, they actually have a picture; it wasn’t the picture of the people that I met with, but it was people that I could connect with. Maybe your people are the motivation and incentive you need; maybe you should place your people at the forefront of the success of your business and not just testing methodology. So, friction and anxiety; very difficult to analyze friction and anxiety on any part of what you're doing. To go through it quickly, certainly look at your content market asset strengths and weaknesses.

Use free tools in cyberspace to try to identify how you're performing versus the competition, particularly with regard to content marketing strategy. Look at all all of the data points related to your website versus the competition, and there are so many of them out there that you need to dive into all of them to get the data points you need to make decisions. You need to look at look at these two extremes: is the friction and anxiety driven by not enough information on a website? We might have a challenge and seeing if that's the case or not, or is the friction and anxiety guided by too much information on a particular website? Too many choices, too many things to click on; those are the things you need to think.

Measuring success; again, I’m going to go through these very quickly. Measuring success is really interesting and challenging, and it's not just about conversions on the page. It could be about downloading assets or customers that converted from the assets they downloaded. You can look at revenue generated from those customers that downloaded assets. You can look at improvements of time on site; that’s a great opportunity to see success and connecting with customers. Decreasing user acquisition cost, another fine example; improving your listing positions. The point of all of these is to say there are a lot of ways to measure success and not just with a particular formula of conversion rate. You need to look beyond conversion rates alone as a means by which to measure success. So without further ado, I’m just going a little bit over because there are so many slides here, but I leave you with only this: the only marketing left is content marketing as Seth Godin likes to say. Feel free to get a free copy of my book, which we’ll actually send out to everybody anyway; you’ll also be getting a copy of the deck, remember. I’m going to turn things over to Tim now without further ado. Tim, take it away.

Tim Ash: Thanks so much, Byron. I’m going to do a quick switcheroo here, so I’ll bring up my deck and hopefully everybody can see my screen now. Good; well, we’re going to get going. I want to expand on something that Byron was talking about; actually, there's a lot of overlap with what we were talking about, which is people. The common equation here is content for people; ways to get people to trust you. At the heart of all of this is not technology and I'll say this until I’m blue in the face. For some reason, everybody in online marketing doesn't believe me; they think it's about 140-character this and plus one that; it's not. It's about psychology, not technology, so please tune into this because this is really, really core stuff; it hasn't changed in a long, long time.

I’m going to skip this slide; my VP of business development told me I had to put it up, but I’m not actually going talk to how many clients we have. What you’re really here to hear about are the four pillars of building instant trust online. There’s some interesting research around this which is that when you're building trust online, you have a couple of special challenges. When you meet people in person, we know who they are, we can see something about them, we can see if they’re smiling and frowning at us, or how they’re dressed but online; you have to do it instantly.

There’s research from a Canadian university that says we will form an impression of a landing page in less than 50 milliseconds; that’s right, 1/20 of a second. You can’t fool that; it’s subliminal, its automatic, and it’s something that basically carries over to the likelihood of them interacting with you or converting later on. It's something that bypasses all of the traditional stuff. Another difficult thing about doing marketing online is we don't know who our visitors are; they’re these anonymous people flitting by our site every day, so we have to do it anonymously without that face-to-face interaction. Often, we say, “Well, we know what brought our visitors, we really do; we know their browser resolution and we know their browser version, and we know what operating system they’re on, and we can target them with their IP address.”

All of this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans; what we don’t know about them is the important stuff. Remember, you don't know whether they had a fight with their spouse that morning, or what they had for breakfast, or what value system is; none of that is going to show up in your web analytics. I’m sorry, that’s just the facts of it. So, if you have to do it quickly and you have to do it in an absolute vacuum, knowing who these people are, what are you left? What’s there to do? Well, there’s only one thing you can do, and that is let them know about you. So, I’m going to give you four pillars for building trust online that depend on this. How do you explain who you are? What’s important? How do you get that across? Well, maybe not in a 20th of a second, but certainly in the first 2 to 5 seconds. Then, I’m going to show you some examples of how to do and not to do this.

The first pillar that I want to talk about is appearance. Quick questions; I don’t think we should use the polling function for this, but how many of you would let this man date your daughter? Probably not too many hands going up. What’s wrong? He seems like a perfectly nice gentleman. His collar’s neatly ironed, but we judge a book by its cover; it’s automatic, it’s built-in, it has survival value, we can’t avoid it. So, you have to come off with a good first impression. If you don't, then you're basically starting with two strikes against you.

Let me show you an example; would you buy a grand piano from a company if they had a website that looked like this? I’m not kidding you; this is one of the biggest spenders on Google AdWords of pay-per-click keyword traffic for the word “grand pianos.” Look them up; Rick Jones Pianos. Just type in “grand pianos” on Google and I’m sure you’ll find their ad. This is where they're sending the traffic: “grand piano,” anyone? $25,000? I think not. This site looks like it was stuck in a time warp circa 1995 and hasn't been able get out, and we know it. We know crap when we see it. We know cheesy websites. We know professional ones; we automatically know where this lies on the spectrum.

Here’s another example; this is in San Diego where I live. Six or seven figure yacht, anyone? This is Cabrillo Yacht Sales; they sell high-end yachts. Look, they have an animated American flag in the middle of the page, and stock photography of San Diego harbor taken from a helicopter. Good stuff, Maynard; what it doesn't do is sell yachts, because we can see right through it. This isn’t only for grand pianos and high-end luxury items. If I asked you a simple question: you're in the market for gym equipment so you come to a site and the question I have for you is, would you buy barbells from the site? The answer you probably have for me is no; you’re probably going to hit the back button and run screaming for the exits, because this page is the visual equivalent of having somebody shoot an Uzi submachine gun into your face at point-blank range.

First impressions matter; they will affect the likelihood of conversion. To sum up this first pillar of building trust online, what you have to do is not get disqualified based on how you look. To get through that first impression, there are three things that I suggest you do. Number one, redesign your site; it’s probably dated and old. You know what? Ours is right in the middle of a long-overdue redesign right now; check back in about a month, it should be looking pretty pimpy at that point. The point is, that standard goes up and up every day. What was okay in 1995 is not okay; now, what was okay in 2009 is not okay now. When was the last time you took a hard, critical look at the production quality and professionalism of your own site?

Another thing that's important is sparseness and neatness; this is more of a design philosophy, if you will. Byron brought up Seth Godin; I’m a big fan of Seth, and one of the things that he talked about is basically screaming at people to get their attention. You still have to do that; you have to interrupt them. We have to somehow, in all the clutter, get you to listen to this webinar, but once we have you here, hopefully, we aren’t going to treat you the same way and continue to scream at you. What you should do is when people come to your landing page or your website, there should be a cleanliness to it; a subtlety, room for it to breathe, lots of white space on the page, ideally. Don’t pack it in with all kinds of clutter. What you really need to do is have a bullshit-free zone on your website and if you create that, then I will stick around; if it’s going to look cluttered, I’m going to punch out.

The final thing is an analog to this notion of a sparse, clean Zen-like design and that is organization and clarity. You really, really need it make the hard choices for me. If there are lots of options on the page, if it’s your overloaded homepage, for example, what you want to do is narrow down that choice; help me focus, tell me what's important, prioritize it for me visually. If you're not doing that job and you're just throwing everything up against the wall to see what sticks, you’re doing yourself and me a disservice. To sum up; basically, be professional, be sparse and have a small, clear number of choices.

Okay, that was the first pillar of trust. I want to talk about the second; transactional assurances. This is really, really important in both a business-to-business and business-to-consumer context. I’m going to talk about it more from a business-to-consumer slant, but I think that, hopefully, you can make the translation. All of us have anxieties when we’re on the web. You keep hearing about Sony’s website being broken into and all these major companies that can’t protect their data. We’re afraid of getting on spam lists, we’re afraid of getting our identity stolen, we’re afraid of getting the blue tricycle when we ordered the pink roller skates. All of these things are realistic fears; what happens when we return a product online? What happens if we want to cancel that expensive newsletter subscription? All of these things are just lurking in the background, and surveys have shown that they are debilitating. So, anything that you can do to give me a sense of trust early on in the transaction is going to pay huge dividends.

Okay, so let's talk about an example of how not to do this. Here's an example of an e-commerce catalog, smartbargains.com. I’ve drawn the scroll line where most people are going to see it on a pretty big monitor down below at the very bottom. They have a fantastic collection of trust symbols; those include VeriSign and “shipped by UPS” and “accept Visa” and “bill me later,” and they’re a member of the BBB, Better Business Bureau online reliability program; that’s great stuff, except for one problem. Only 15 percent of people are going to see those trust marks, because they’re buried at the bottom of the page where you have to scroll. So, if they’re that important, in fact you’re paying for many of them, then why are you burying them at the bottom of the page? If you want to guarantee that 85 percent of the people won't see them, that's the place to put them.

Here's an extreme counterexample: PetSmart. For a while, they were running this as their home page. Now, as you can see in the upper left-hand side, they have the Hacker Safe symbol where the logo usually appears in that upper left corner. By the way, that’s now McAfee Secure, but the point is, they’ve put the trust work ahead of their brand and broken a very strong usability convention while doing so. So, PetSmart’s logo is now jumbo size and in the middle they compensated for that. But still, regardless of anything else on the page, I think you’ll agree that you get this two-part message and that two-part message is, “We’re safe to shop with, we’re PetSmart.”

So as you do this, think about where your trust marks are; they can be in lots of different forms. They don't have to be in the form of just trends of safe shopping seals; you can reassure me in various ways visually about your forms of payment, delivery, guarantees, security policies. Anything like that will smooth the transaction and, of course, important trust marks like Buy Safe or MacAfee Secure Trustee should be there, that goes without saying. Hundreds of landing page tests show that consistent validation will lift conversion, and are well worth the small price that you’re typically paying for them.

Okay, I want to talk next about the third pillar of building trust online, and that is authority. Now, this is with all due love and respect to Dr. Chialdini, a big shot out in Arizona; he is the master of persuasion and influence. In fact, if you don't have a copy of his book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, you really need to go and get that, and earmark it, and read it over and over. Anyway, one of the ways that Dr. Chialdini talks about building trust is appeals to authority. Now, let me ask you a quick question; here is a doctor, right? You’re waiting in the hospital, you just had acute appendicitis, you need to have your appendix removed right now, not a choice. Okay, this guy walks into the room; do you feel comfortable with him performing the operation? Most of you would say, “Given the circumstances, yes.” Oh oh, I have some bad news for you. That’s a model, and that's a stock photography photo, and that guy just has a stethoscope and a white lab coat. Otherwise, he's not qualified to cut on any part of your body.

What do you think about it now? But he’s wearing the trappings of authority, the uniform of authority. Here’s another example: let's say I showed you a picture of a bunch of old people sitting around and standing around in chairs, otherwise known as the US Supreme Court Justices. Do you see how just wearing those black robes, even though they’re just ceremonial, puts them in a completely different light because we trust authority and even outward signs of authority can be very, very powerful in influencing us. This extends to all spheres of our life, if you were to look, for example, at this nice policeman, I’m sure you would comply with his wishes and his authority would have some influence on you; not just because he carries a gun and a Taser, or because Boston cops are known to be mean, just kidding, but because of that uniform.

So, how do we translate this to the web? Well, you can basically borrow these authority and trust marks, and put them on your website. We did a test a long time ago with Real Age, which lets you take this online quiz and tells you how well you’ve maintained your body. In other words, what's your real age as opposed to your biological age? One of the things we did in the test is that we added the trust marks of all the media mentions where they’ve appeared, and when we did that, conversion shot up by 40 percent; that’s right, 40 percent over the version that didn't have that.

That's very, very powerful, and this works in business-to-business settings. Here's an online lead form for SF video, one of our clients who does large-scale DVD and Blu-ray duplication. Their lead form actually takes up only a quarter of the page here and most of it is taken up by their trust marks in the form of client logos. Now, I bet you if you needed Blu-ray duplication and you've turned to them, the talk track in your head would go something like this: “Wow, they work with Wal-Mart and Nike and ABC and AT&T. I hope they'll take a small company like mine and handle my little itty bitty duplication job.” It’s not a question whether they can do the job; look at that a client list. Indeed, when we cut back the number of marquee client logos just to six, we saw conversion fall off. So, this 58 percent LIV was only there when we slathered on the trust and put lots of client logos on the page.

You know what? It gets better; you can use a variety of client logos or your badges or seals; it doesn't even matter what they are. Take a look at this; this is a debt negotiation company. Actually, they sell off your debt negotiation leads to companies that will handle and negotiate your debts for you, and negotiate them down. One of the things that they had were some trust marks lower down on the page and when we did a landing page test, I’m going to show you the winning version here in a second, we promoted those trust marks to higher up on the page,

Here it is: now, of course, a lot of things have changed; the form is shorter, it has a different happy couple picture. Do you see those trust marks in the right column? I’ll bet most of you don't know what any of them mean. Well, maybe D&B you do, but what's the USOBA? I don't know; or TASK at the very bottom there? I have no idea, but I call this the butterfly collection. If you get enough trust seals, what you're doing is you're saying we’re proud to be a good corporate citizen and we’re part of all these trade associations and we adhere to all of these standards and business practices and that is something that carries weight on its own; visual seals as opposed to words. Now Bryon talked a lot about the power of words and that’s certainly true, but the fact is, a picture is worth 400 to 500 words. That’s how much faster people process visual information than they do written text. If I can just glance over and go, “Oh, lots of fancy trust seals over there,” then that gets the point across very, very quickly.

All right, let's see this in action. One of our clients is Credo Mobile; they’re a socially conscious cell phone company out of the bay area, which I guess is a bit redundant. In any case, they came to us with this landing page for an email campaign: get this phone, we’ll buy you out of your current contract and everything's hunky-dory. Well, one of the things that weren’t on this page was trust. Who are these people? Unless you had already heard of Credo Mobile, you had no idea of what they actually stood for.

So what we did is, we helped them redesign a new landing page and fix some of the other obvious issues with it. One of the things I want to point out on the right side in the special column are the charities that they donated over $60 million to Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood, Doctors without Borders. We very, very carefully fine-tuned the presentation of those logos to see that they pack some visual emphasis on the page. What we did is, we ran a heat map through our Attention Wizard Software, which you’re welcome to try out at attentionwizard.com, and make sure that initial visual emphasis is on the right parts of the page. Now, Attention Wizard predicts where your attention and focus is going to go during the first few seconds on the landing page and it works with mockups, which is what we use it for, as well as screenshots of like pages.

So, there's obviously attention on the zero shots on the phone on the call out on the left; they’re called action buttons down at HubSpot. We very carefully tune the contrast on that first logo at the top of the list, the Greenpeace logo, to make sure that some of the attention went over to those trust symbols; and when we did that, the results were pretty spectacular. Now again, arguably, we changed some other things on the page that had a positive effect. Well, after we tested the two side by side in a head-to-head test we saw an 84 percent increase in conversion.

So, let me just wrap up on this third pillar of trust by saying, “Borrow trust from better-known brands.” Do that however you need to; whatever that means in your world and your context. Borrow trust from better known brands in the form of reviews and awards. Marquee client logos if you’re a business selling to other businesses; media mentions, trade associations, anything like that. Slather it on. Now, having said that, don't let it dominate the visual conversation. In most cases, that's not appropriate; in the case of SF video, it definitely was, but you can be subtle about it and still get the point across.

Okay, if you’ve been keeping track, we've gone through three pillars of trust. I’m on to the very last one, which is consensus of your peers. Do you think these people care what you think? Well, unless you happen to be in their prison gang in Columbia, I don't think so. Just like teenagers don’t listen to their parents, we’re only influenced by our own peer group, by our own cultural tribe; usually they’re self-selected tribes, but in most cases we’re also influenced by people who are similar to us.

Let me ask you a question; let's assume that there was another outbreak of avian flu, and you happen to be on the subway in Tokyo, and everybody around you dressed like you was wearing masks. And there is a guy standing at the entrance to the subway handing out these masks for free to people. Would you put one on? Now be honest, think about it; avian flu, not good stuff. Would you put one on? Many of you would probably say, “Yes” and here's a newsflash for you. There is absolutely no proof that face masks prevent the spread of avian flu, how about that? True fact; however, peer pressure is a very, very powerful motivator and many of us would do it anyway, that's how powerful it is.

So, how can we get this to play to our advantage on the web? How do we use this consensus of our peers to play an important role in conversion? I like a lot of the things that REI does on their website, and I’m just going to highlight just one fact on the product detail page of their catalog; basically, ways of using social proof correctly. I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but what they’re done is aggregate all of the important information from other people. This is not their stuff, it’s not the manufacturer’s description of the backpack; it’s Facebook “likes,” it’s 84 product reviews, it’s email this is to a friend, it's all of the social and sharing features that we commonly see. If you don't have these on your site in some form in the appropriate context, you're definitely not making use of the consensus of your peers.

Let me show you another example; recently, I was listening to Pandora, the Internet radio station, and I have a Google account. If you have a Google account, you can pop up the Google site wiki on your browser; you can see it on the left, there’s a screen there. It's a bunch of comments that people left on this page; anybody with a Google account can add a comment that everybody will see forever and ever and ever when they come to a particular page. Now think about the value of that; to me, these are my peers because they're also listening or interested in Pandora’s website, and you can read their stuff right there in context and it’s very powerful.

Now as you can see, it's a little hard to see here, but at the top of the page, there was this purple banner from Facebook saying, “Well, we’re trying to personalize your radio experience on Facebook.” Let me enlarge this, so you can see it a little bit better. Basically, it says, “Can we use your Facebook information to help give you a better experience on Pandora?” I said, “Sure,” I’m an all-about-sharing kind of guy. So I said, “Sure, go ahead and use personal information, share away.” So, there I am, listening to Lenny Kravitz on Pandora, and what does Pandora want me to do on their website? They actually want me to do one of two things; either use a thumbs up or down to improve their recommendation engine, or they actually want me to buy that track in the upper right corner of the screen of the little soundtrack there for $1.99.

One of the ways that they’re influencing me to do that is to actually show me, in context, somebody that I’m connected to on Facebook who also likes this artist. See that in the orange circle there; see how powerful that is, right there? I get a warm and fuzzy feeling, “Hey, somebody else that I know likes this artist and I’m more likely to convert.” Even simple actions like a “like” on Facebook have been shown in some studies to increase the likelihood of eventual conversion by about a factor of three across all industries. So, taking a little micro step of sharing and putting the social context of the decision makes it very powerful.

Okay, let me show you another example; this is what I call the double whammy of social proof, I really like this. I went about a year ago or so to download the latest version of the Firefox browser, and this is their statistics page, and I was just immediately stunned by this huge number that I saw near the lower right. It said 543 million people downloaded this browser already. Well, if I was thinking twice about downloading it, my anxieties have been put to rest, but they actually improved even on that. They showed a world map that had little blinking dots on it; every time somebody downloaded the browser, I could see there are people in the same part of the world that I was in, downloading right at that time.

What they did was, they took advantage of both aspects of social proof, which are basically objective large numbers. If huge numbers of people are doing it, great; but also important in that is people like me, so it’s the notion of likeness and you combine those two. Again, I’m liberally borrowing from Dr. Cialdini on this; social proof is basically a shortcut to my decision-making. If lots of people like me have done the same thing and had a good outcome, that serves as a shortcut to my own decision-making. I don't have to think, I can do things on autopilot and you, the website owner or landing page owner, still get the benefit of that. You get the benefit of my non-thinking; automatic compliance is where it’s at.

So hopefully, you’ve enjoyed these four pillars of trust. We’re going to do some live Q&A here if you’re willing to stay after. We'll probably go a few minutes past the hour, but feel free to bounce off after. I know there are lots of questions; if you haven't entered your question, please do that in the live chat box. If you're interested in a quick review of your landing page or website, follow this link: expressreview.com. I will do the first three myself if you put “ultimate CRO” into the comment box when you order. Now, if you want to contact me or Byron again, we’ll have access to these full decks; we’re very accessible, and as you’ve probably figured out by now, we love to share information, so we look forward to you connecting with us directly. Byron, I’m going to throw it back to you; I’d love to take some questions from the audience.

Byron White: Terrific. Thanks very much, Tim. Another fabulous presentation by Tim Ash; hope everybody enjoyed it. We had a question that just popped in from Tricia; she wanted to know if you spoke at the 2008 Internet Marketing Center in Anaheim, California in 2008; if that's the same Tim Ash. Now that she's seeing your picture up there, I'm convinced that she will immediately know that you are probably the same Tim Ash.

Tim Ash: I don’t remember speaking in Anaheim, so that’s actually a “No” for me.

Byron White: Wow. We’ve got great questions pouring in; thanks, everyone for that. Let’s look at a couple of them here. One is, “If you’re trimming content, what about SEO?” Someone asked that, I believe, during my presentation, so I’ll just take a stab at that. So, hopefully, you went through the whole presentation, which I believe everyone did. There was some controversy on whether some people saw the presentation early on, but I think we rectified all of the problems. Also, know everybody that we will be getting the decks out to everybody and a link out to a live recorded version of this presentation, so all will be well in a few minutes on the presentation. Thanks again for tuning in; we had a really big audience today.

So, the trimming the content question. Again, my presentation was not about trimming the content; it was more about using your entire website as the place to begin getting the right content in front of the right people at the right time to help influence and motivate conversion rates. So, if there's anything to trim it down to, it’s trim down great content and get only your great content.

Tim Ash: Byron, I will also just chime in there that you can serve both masters. Yes, you have to serve Google's algorithm, but you can also ensure a good user experience by placing a visual emphasis on the stuff you want them to do near the top of the page with clear navigation, and then put all the SEO text further down the page. It's really not going to hurt you because most people read won’t read it, but Google loves it.

Byron White: It's funny when we say the word SEO now, since the release of Panda. I think everyone got a big wake up call, but SEO is being challenged now as the gateway to success online. We put hundreds of millions of dollars into SEO on our pages, billions really, and people are now beginning to realize that, “What was the purpose of that again? What is this Houdini magic link-building garbage, huh? What's going on here?” Search engine optimization is a big, broad topic; it does involve things like inbound marketing and content marketing.

Tim Ash: The main point, I think, is don’t be afraid to touch your page content just because of SEO; that’s increasingly the signal of the on page. Content is increasingly deemphasized; it’s more about social cues and sharing of content, and so on. Don't be paralyzed by fear of SEO.

Byron White: Don't hang on to the clenches of bad SEO practices, that’s not the winner. Okay, here’s a question for you, Tim. Did the control of the mobile phone have the phone on the top right too? You showed a wonderful example.

Tim Ash: Oh, I think it was for Credo Mobile.

Byron White: Yes.

Tim Ash: I’m going to pop that slide up right now. Both versions had a picture of the phone in roughly the same size. Here was the original version that you’re going to see right now; there’s the flip phone, and then we used a slightly different version of it on the winning page, but approximately the same size as you’ll see here in a second. Somebody else had a question on Dr. Cialdini’s book. Robert Cialdini, it’s spelled C, I, A, L, D, I, N, I; the book is called “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” So, just look up “influence” on Amazon, and you should pull it right up.

Byron White: Tim, do you want to spin somebody through the “Where do you get the review ratings icons for sites?”

Tim Ash: Well, there are a lot of shared review ratings like epinions, for example. They provide aggregate reviews, and you can basically put them on your side if you’re selling, for example, common things like consumer electronics, but it's time for you to start getting your own reviews. Just about every good e-commerce cart software will let you collect reviews; you just need to turn on that feature.

Byron White: To toss out to you, “Love your book,” somebody says. I don’t know if you can see that Tim, but I just wanted to mention it publically. “Fabulous book.” Of course, they might have been talking about my book, you never know.

Tim Ash: Which one, you’ve written so many?

Byron White: I’m not sure, but anyway. What are good examples of good, small company e-commerce sites?

Tim Ash: Well actually, I find it easier to find problems with sites, but there are plenty of small-company ones. The one thing I would tell you is that the thing they seem to have in common, just smaller catalogs, is that they have high production values and clear information architecture. They don’t overload you with information at the top level of the page, and they don’t try to shove product-level stuff in your face, so other than the general comments, I can’t point to one, specifically. We work with a lot of companies in the $1 million to $25 million a year range, and there’s plenty you can do as a smaller company.

Bryon White: Great question here. Any tips on “Pandaizing” content?

Tim Ash: You know, Byron, why don’t we just table the SEO conversation? We’re probably not experts in SEO.

Byron White: I think that they were referring to the comment you had on the Panda.

Tim Ash: That was your comment, you take it.

Byron White: Yeah, we could go deep into that, but I think it’s more probably more appropriate to dive into these questions on improving conversion rates. So, here’s another one, “There are some many critical elements, how do you know where to focus?”

Tim Ash: When you say critical elements, there are things that are appropriate in different stages of the decision-making cycle. So, one thing you can do to help me focus is to say, “Are you early stage, mid stage, or are you ready to buy or interact with me right now? We call that the engagement continuance; if you just put three side-by-side blocks, action blocks or areas, on the page and say, “Here, free resources” or, “Hey, download an e-book, give us your email” or “Call for a consultation today.” That captures the notion of “we have something for everyone at each stage of the cycle.” I can easily self-select into the right stage; that's often a good way to group your info.

Byron White: I’d add to that, maybe you have to be realistic about things and dive right into budgets and time. What kind of time do you have to put into making your site better and what financial resources do you have to put into that? You have to really think that through logically, because you can waste a lot of time and energy trying to do things that you just can't afford to do, or can't afford to execute due to time constraints.

Tim Ash: Yeah, but also I’d add that behind that question, maybe if I understand it from a different slant, is the question of, “What should I emphasize?” If that’s the intent of it, I would say that you should be thinking about what to take away from your page, what to trim. Again, that notion of editing and telling me what's important is your most important job. I don’t know if I can solve it for you, but you better strip it down to essentials. Many pages should be navigational in nature, and only when you get deeper down should you get detailed content-driven stuff.

Byron White: Do you think the research element, particularly that I spoke a lot about in digging deep into the wants and needs of customers, is the gateway to start things out? Do you like going right at landing page variations?

Tim Ash: Absolutely. Understanding the roles of the people showing up and the tasks they are trying to solve; matching their intent in other words. I think we both agree that this is the most important goal, but I disagree with you that personas are the best way to develop that. In my book, I talk about roles, and tasks, and steps in the decision-making process and all that. Formulating the matrix is a pretty disciplined way to make sure that you’re not missing anything. The psychological personas I have more of a problem with. Anyway, we can take that online; experts can disagree as well.

Byron White: Yeah; that makes it fun, actually. Do you have any recommendations for e-commerce platforms for a small business at this point?

Tim Ash: There are hundreds of carts out there, and some of the ones that we hear about regularly that are getting traction are Magenta, Zen Cart. Go Ecart. Again, I don't have direct experience with any of them, so I’m full of crap.

Byron White: All good names there you dropped. Look at CMSs; there are lots of them out there, even Yahoo! Stores.

Tim Ash: Make sure that they’re object oriented and more modern, and allow you the flexibility to do what you need to do, including testing, ultimately. When you say Yahoo! Stores, one of the problems I have with that one in particular is that is a real bear to test with. Don't get locked into something where you're forced to use their quick-drying cement.

Byron White: Here’s a question from Steven: “What are the latest pros and cons of e-books?” That might fit in my camp in that you really have to look over your entire portfolio of content assets and determine where e-books fit in that portfolio. You also have to think about how you are going to use e-books as part of your marketing strategy. Some people are using e-books for content engagement with customers and lead generation; that should certainly come into play, particularly if you’re golden objectives are lead generation. Other customers and e-commerce are using e-books as incentives, and giveaways, and motivators, “take action now to get my 101 content marketing tips book.” There are so many ways to use great content.

Tim Ash: I agree; I think e-books are very powerful, but to pick a bone with you, you made it sound like there’s this great edifice that needs to be built all at once with all this content creation and syndication planning. I would say, start out with your blog or an e-mail series and then you can easily turn 10, 20 blog entries or e-mails that you send out in your newsletter into an e-book with a little bit of massaging. E-books can be very powerful because they can be trackable, you can embed custom URLs in them so when they’re ready to act, they come right back to the point of action on yout cycle-in page, and you know quite a bit of information about them already.

Byron White: I think your disagreement was actually an agreement with what I was saying, so I’m agreeing with your disagreement, just to totally confuse people. What recommendations do you have for a site that has many YouTube videos? How would you use those videos to promote this site without cluttering it up or making it look tacky?

Tim Ash: Okay, well two quick tips. One is, do not use embedded players; they’re too low resolution anyway, and nobody likes to watch them. So, pop it up in a light box popover. It shows it to you in its full-color, high-resolution glory, and it also doesn't put design constraints on you. In other words, what should be on the page is a little postage stamp-sized thumbnail a la Facebook videos that people know to click on to view the video viewer in the light box popover. Also, use a very clear, striking image for the cover shot for that little thumbnail in the first place. It doesn't have to be the first ugly frame of your video on YouTube. Design a custom picture with a little play-button circle and triangle on it, and make sure that it has high impact.

Byron White: Great answer. Someone wanted to ask about long and short landing pages.

Tim Ash: Yes. I’m sure you'll agree, Byron, the answer is yes. Long form works for some lower-price-point consumer stuff; definitely, for info products that try to pull you into more expensive purchases. I don't understand the psychology of it myself, but I know we’ve done some multivariate testing on long form letters. We were able to increase conversion rates by double digits just by playing around with what’s in the long form letter, not changing the overall format. We’ve also had times where we chopped up a long form letter into micro sites to be more logical, and tanked conversions by 30 percent. So the answer is: test it.

Byron White: What would Tim’s advice be for portal-type websites, where a wide variety of people would visit with different needs?

Tim Ash: The main principle that we use when designing for content on deep sites like that is to use the rule of 80/20. In other words, show only the most popular categories, and put the rest of the categories into a see-all link that slides down, and stands on the page, then show the most popular few subcategories for the advanced users to navigate. Again, have a see-all link if you have more. In other words, a progressive disclosure; if I can't find what most people are looking for, then I’ll click on the see-all link.

Byron White: My website is only one year old, and I’m not getting any product reviews. Do you have any suggestions on how to get more people to give reviews?

Tim Ash: Yeah, bribe them. A free T-shirt, publicizing their testimonial; it doesn't really take a lot. If you’re an informational service, give them an extra month’s access; it doesn’t cost you anything anyway, you know it’s all pure profit.

Byron White: I can’t leave Brenda hanging here. Do you have any good resources about SEO? Well, I think my book 101 Content Marketing Tips, which you can free on ideaLaunch, is yours for the taking. Read my book, and as Brian Eisenberg said, you'll know everything you need to know about SEO in the eyes of somebody that’s focused on content.

Tim Ash: And in a shout-out for SEO Moz, those guys have been SEO experts forever. You join their pro plan, or whatever it is; $79 a month, and you’ll have world-class resources

Byron White: I agree, there are so many tools. I have a slide that talks about some of the tools I’m just getting to know; SpyFu, shout-out to Mike Roberts, my pal. There are just so many great tools out there. I did a webinar with the WebStream CEO a couple months ago. There's just great stuff out there; dig into the tools, dig into the data. That’s the answer.

Tim Ash: If you're interested, if you’re not fed up with us yet, Byron is actually going to be speaking in New York City during our conversion conference in October; hope to see some of you there. Again, feel free to reach out to us; we’ll get these decks to you in a couple of days.

Byron White: Indeed. One more question for you: “What is your opinion on the Buy Safe logo placement?”

Tim Ash: Buy Safe is a great trust seal; we work with those guys. In addition to just saying your site is secure, they have identify theft protection as well as a low-price guarantee, so it’s much more powerful than just a MacAfee logo. There's this little corner thing that always hangs around; that’s good in that corner spot, but also at the point of transactions. So, right on the product detail pages in your catalog, next to the “Add to Cart” button is where you want that. So, belt and suspenders on things like that; put them in all the relevant locations throughout the transaction process.

Byron White: Tim, social media is clearly is making its way into conversion enhancement in that whole world, but what about bashing binges, and what’s happening there, and how to control that, and competitors maybe slandering you in a social media sphere with live feeds. Can you talk about that?

Tim Ash: Not with any authority; I’m afraid I’m not an expert on that.

Byron White: It’s got to be coming, don't you think? Aren’t we looking for testimonials on a social media sphere to bring that to life?

Tim Ash: I think that transparent attempts to bash you will be seen for what they are. In social media and reputation monitoring, we’ve generally taken the high road. You respond to people who have legitimate complaints and make it right, and ignore the kooks; there's always going to be a few out there, and the delivery people usually have pretty heavy-handed tactics, so it’s pretty obvious that they're not real.

Byron White: As someone who has seen you speak quite a few times, we need to present a lot of convincing information and stats from authorities, but we need to lead folks into a sale. How can we better understand how to strike a balance?

Tim Ash: Storytelling, that’s what you were talking about, Byron. Hopefully, you saw in our presentations that we’re painting a story; we’re using a screenshot to tell you a story, it's all about storytelling. Don't forget that the logical part of the brain is not really that useful; you can short-circuit and bypass it by telling stories, and they’re internalized immediately as direct experience.

Byron White: Matt over here is desperate; we’ve got to help him. “Please, what about video?” he says. What’s your take on video, Tim? Is it going to find its way into the mainstream of conversion enhancement?

Tim Ash: Absolutely. There are some people in the Frank Kern school of thinking who say, “Just put a video player with a giant play button, or better yet, auto-play it when they get to your page, and that's your landing page;” it works for a lot of things. We've also seen it tank conversions if it's annoying or if it shows up for repeat visitors. There are a lot of parameters around the player and the experience itself that are important to you, starting with audio on or off. All of those things, the actor, the script, really matter. Length is a very important consideration; I’ve never had an intro video longer than a minute or two. Sometimes, having one of those walk-on spokespeople to introduce a video can be a powerful one-two punch, so definitely play with it; the production costs and that stuff are going down all the time. If you're interested, check out Innovate Media out of Orange County. They do great work with both video spokespeople and the short-form videos.

Byron White: This year’s conversion conference; will it have a new agenda?

Tim Ash: Absolutely. We always put out an open call for speakers, and we’re always looking for great content. By the way, the keynotes are announced; in addition to me, we have Amy Africa and Steve Krug, I’m very happy to say. Steve, whom you may be familiar with, wrote this seminal book Don’t Make Me Think and his new one Rocket Surgery Made Easy. He’s just absolutely my persuasion conversion hero, so hope to see you in New York or next spring in San Francisco.

Byron White: We need to get this answered, Tim, have you noticed a consistent benefit from using trust icons and client logos that have dimmed down, or use black-and-white versions versus full-color at 100 percent transparency?

Tim Ash: Yes. Trust is great, and trust should be on the page to give you that initial first impression hit, especially in the form of seals and logos, but that doesn’t mean it needs to dominate the visual conversation. On our homepage, if you go to sitetuners.com, you’ll see some of our client logos on the right-hand side. They're de-saturated, they’re gray scale, they're also lower contrast and are not clickable; they’re there just for a little peripheral flyby so you become aware of them, but they shouldn't detract from the content on your page so very careful how you balance those trust element on the page.

Byron White: Matt had a great comment: “I put video on the homepage and it gets time on site jacked up.” For those of you wanting to dig deep with SEO, that is the secret right there. We’ll move along now, but time on site is important, particularly with organic traffic, since Google monitors people going to your website to determine when they’re coming back and how long they stayed on that site.

Tim Ash: Be careful though, about looking at a metric and putting your own spin on it. Byron, yours was a good spin, a positive spin, but I would say a lot of longer time-on-site is due to poor design organization and confusion; having to wade through a lot of stuff. So, if the purpose of the home page is primarily navigation and getting them closer to content deeper in your site, then don’t design for time-on-site on the home page.

Byron White: Yep, yep. It will help SEO, no matter what. So, tips on A/B testing; that’s a little bit too broad. We’ve run quite a bit over already, and I think we should make this recording something palatable for people; fantastic job today, thank you so much, and great questions from everyone today, thanks.

Tim Ash: Absolutely, Byron; always a pleasure. Folks, we’ll get these presentations out to you very soon; thanks for listening in, hope to see you at another webinar.

Byron White: Upcoming conversion conference. I know Tim and I are really pumped, I know I am; I always roll it out for Tim. Thanks everyone for listening in and until next month, if you're interested. Thanks again for tuning in. See you.