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Conversion Conference – Live blog Monday June 25

Tim Ash, Sitetuners Conversion Conference

Tim Ash, Conversion Conference Keynote

I know Tim Ash from my tenure as a Director of Ecommerce. I never actually met Tim, but we spoke on the phone and we came very close to a deal to hand our site over to Tim. Forget why we didn’t do that deal, but it was probably money (lol). Tim’s revised Landing Page Optimization book is out and highly recommend. Few know more about how to create the best landing pages than Tim.

Landing Pages – The Heart of It All
Saw an interesting stat the other day and don’t remember where. Sites with 100 or more landing pages did 10x better than those with 10 or less. That stat seems TRUE to my experience as an Internet marketer. Landing pages, particularly ones created for PPC are highly optimized environments.

Every web page should be a “highly optimized environment”, but they aren’t. Nothing like paying $5 a click (or more) to instill best practices (smiling as I wrote that). Here are my landing page “rules”, the ones I try to live by:

  • Keep it SIMPLE (noise distracts from conversion).
  • Your home page is NOT a landing page!!
  • There is a reason most landing pages look similar, that hero left, short paragraph with bullets and form right format works.
  • Test, Test and Test some more.
  • Steal, Steal and Steal some more (if you don’t have time or money to test).
  • Establish KPIs (know what success looks like).
  • B2B = establish immediate and near term objectives.
  • B2C = live in the NOW baby (lol).

I’ve come around to think Web 3.0 may be a series of landing pages tagged and tied. The structure of home page as hub with navigation out to spokes seems over. Web 3.0 is going to open our sites up like a can opener and that means INTERNAL SEARCH is going to be IMPORTANT. It also means your best friend needs to be your information architect, the person setting your navigational taxonomy and your 2nd best friend needs to be your graphic designer because if this new thing doesn’t look cool AND at the same time be easy to follow forget about it. I will shut up now in anticipation of Tim Ash’s Keynote. Let’s see what the master of Landing Pages has to add.

Conversion Conference Keynote: SiteTuners CEO Tim Ash

First Midwest Conversion Conference (SF is done and Fort Lauderdale next). Young show, but deep history. About a third of the audience has “conversion” in their job title. Tim estimates that in a year 75% will have conversion in their title because the future is about conversion. Tim is asking people from countries around the world to raise their hand. People are here from more than 12 countries.Had more Germans at first Hamburg conference than at the San Francisco conference. “Germans are crazy for conversion,” Tim said.

Tim is using two interesting forms of gamification. They have a passport that, once all badges are earned by stopping by the sponsors, your passport goes into a drawing. Good idea that should be stolen for your next conference as it makes sponsorship more palatable. The other idea is to send a survey and attach access to today’s slides to filling out that survey. Intelligent gamification (don’t forget to read my Gamification White Paper For Fun and Profit.

Online Persuasion: Leveraging the Brain’s Need for Novelty & Shortcuts

Part I: Tale of 3 Brains
Neo-cortex, Limbic System, Brain Stem (the three brains).

  • Neo-cortex = reason (Spock-like), really good stuff. Most of our brain is dedicated to reason.
  • Limbic = emotional and memory center. We love or hate here and memories are most strongly formed when there are multiple senses. Strong emotions inform how you react. Important to have strong emotional reactions. The mid-brain is all about feelings.
  • Brain Stem = reaction and survival. All the other feeling and thinking doesn’t matter if you are dead. Primitive brain stem response happens in all animals. We don’t think about automatic things like breathing and walking.

95% of decisions are made pre-conscious. What does the conscious mind do? So the real sales funnel is Brain Stem, Limbic System and finally Neo-cortex. Anything that will reach the “brain” has to work through the emotional state of the stem, the limbic system and then finally the analytical.

Understand the reptile brain is in charge and the Brain Stem is a TOUGH bouncer.

Part II: Feeding The Lizard (the Reptile Brain)
Lazy, brain stem doesn’t want to spend a lot of effort on anything. Makes me think of Don’t Make Me Think by Krug .


Impatient, because in 1/20th of a second we’ve formed our first impressions of a website. We must make snap decisions to survive. 5 seconds to load your web page = NOT OK. The brain stem does things automatically. Same stimulus = same response because the brain stem is not reasoning. The S – R is repetition because it helps our survival. These are not “teachable” or “Trainable” they are more triggers, more auto-response patterns than reasoned response.

Definition of insanity – doing same things and expecting different results.

Change = Scariest Sign to brain stem.

Our first question is it dangerous. Is it novel or new? Yes to both of those questions then exploration may begin, passing from trigger to higher portions of the brain. Need to keep the brain stem in mind when creating landing pages and Call To Actions (CTAs).

Fight, Flight, Feed or Fornicate
What do we value in America? Competition and fighting is something we value. On the flipside of FIGHT is FLIGHT, run away. If we can’t fight or don’t need to run away can we feed, can we supersize it? Finally we have a drive to reproduce. Brain stem cares about being here or, if I’m not here, my offspring are here via reproduction.

Part III The Eyes Have It
Majority of brain devoted to processing visual stimuli. Eyes are a miracle. Two types of vision – rods and cones. Blue cones, green cones and red cones and rods. Rods don’t see color. Rods see grey fuzzy. The process of seeing is really a patchwork of Seurat like dots or pieces that finally become a whole. How can we know what the eye is seeing and when:

  • Eye Tracking to create heatmaps usually wearing some kind of laser headgear
  • Mouse movement (some people’s mouse follows their eyes, so enough people mouse movement = tracking paths).
  • Predictive Analytics via software algorithms (Attention Wizard is SiteTuners version)

Tim is showing a “fixation plot” a chart showing where eyes rest and for how long. Combine this with the “Talk out loud” protocol to know what a person is looking at and for how long.

Example from SiteTuners showing large button:

sitetuners simple landing example

Really important NOT to mess with motion. Just say MOTION because it triggers the lizard brain to determine if there is a danger. Motion hurts conversion because it takes people out of their thinking brain and returns them to their lizard brain.
BABIES RULE = so can be a form of distraction away from CTAs.

Faces care a lot of information. We need special hardware to process them. Faces can be good or evil. Use them carefully.

Best practice for video is a simple > button where users get to play for themselves, no image just the video player button.

First Impressions Matter
Make a good first impression = dress nice. Dress nice and people will follow you. Cabrillo Yacht Sale = bad first impression.

Cultural Tribes – The LIKE ME thing
Match your presentation to the tribe you WANT to buy your products. Everything must support the idea that these people, the ones I’m about to buy from, are “like me”. We want to be where other people are. Great emotional shortcut because following means we don’t need to think. Things like FireFox’s real time counter showing 500K downloads = WOW there are a lot of people out there who like this, so it must be good.

Social Share / Social Shopping = power of social context. Bring the tribe in and you are more likely to make a decision. If others you know and trust like it it must be good. It is “like me”.

Tim is showing a graphic making there is nothing new under the sun point. The last frontier is what is inside our minds. Neuromarketing, 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People  Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.

Beat The Back Button: Optimize For Engagement

Dan Siroker Optimizely
Dan Siroker, Optimizely


Dan used to be head of Obama Campaign as Director of Analytics. We are watching a clip of Obama before he was president saying he likes facts and reason and this is why Dan left his job. Dan created the New Media Analytics team. Mission was to use data they had in campaign to make better decision. Goal is engage and conversion from the Obama website.

Lessons Learned

Lesson #1: Define quantifiable success metrics.

What are you optimizing for? Four Tools:


Google Analytics

Omniture Site Catlalyst


Google Analytics Tricks & Teting
Visitors flow is highly useful. Get a sense of where you bottlenecks are so you can prioritize what you should be optimizing for. Dan saw a dropoff between visitors and conversion (donors to Obama, key was getting their email address because then they would contribute). Wanted to improve conversions using Multivariate test.

Dan is showing several versions of a pages and asking us to select our “winners”

Learn More button and family image video were the winners in the campaign. The room DID NOT choose the winners. Dan said the HIPPO syndrome (highest paid person opinion wins) was able to be thrown out with DATA. Conversion was improved 40%. Increased emails by 2.5M. Raise an extra $57M from people who were captured by this winning page.

Lesson 2: Explore Before You Refine
Don’t just limit to refinement of what is there EXPLORE a huge potential of ideas and concepts and let the DATA tell you what is the optimal solution.

ABC Family

Discovered that most people were typing names of shows. After seeing that trend tested a new idea. Disney’s change increased engagement 600%.

Lesson 3: Less Is More REDUCE CHOICES


OneKingsLane (Optimizely customer) increased conversion by reducing options in the signup form.

Buttons when never signed up was Donate and Get A Gift, already signed up then Please Donate did the best. Previous donate Contribute worked. So words matter and should be shaped to the visitor.

If you want someone to do something, tell them to do it. Words should be mapped to what customers want. ABC Family example “full episodes” beat “watch episodes” because that is what people were looking for.

Submit lost to Support Haiti and incremental million bucks because of it.

Lesson 5: Fail Fast
Testing shows things that will hurt performance as much as winners, so STOP stuff that is hurting quickly.

Lesson 6: Start Today

Omniture Test and Target

(wanted to test without IT involvement)

Dan is going through a live demonstration of a test using Optimizely. UI is good and easy to use. Dan is showing reports from “experiments”.

With A/B testing you never know WHY, and why is somewhat moot. Things you want to test are infinite, so success is start with average ideas and make them better. 100 years from now we will look back and think how stupid we were then (now). The future is personalization. Start building a culture of testing. Obama campaigned optimized using cookies planting a cookie for returning, donors, etc…

This idea that WHY is moot is a key testing concept and very hard to get used to. We humans want to KNOW the why of things. As Internet marketers we want to create optimal experiences. If we think back to Tim Ash’s keynote and agree that we need to grab our customers in some emotionally relevant way since that is the only way to capture the attention of the lizard brain then we can either 1. do what the data tells us or 2. spend a lot of time and resources chasing WHY. I’m in the first camp after training myself out of the knee-jerk WHY response (and that was NOT easy). Thinking like an Internet marketer means un-learning some very human tendencies (lol).

I’m not saying don’t have empathy, but don’t chase the dragon. The dragon is thinking in someway other than what the data suggests. This can sound like I’m saying SELL OUT your values. The opposite is true. Your values are what got you in the game in the first place, they are the bedrock of your marketing.

The presentation layer of how those values are shared with others DOESN’T change your principles (even a little bit). Most companies have a, “do the right thing,” cause, so listening to what works best for your customers is consistent with that value. This is another way of saying, LISTEN and learn to understand what “Do the right thing” means online. This is yet another example of where Internet marketing is different than LIFE.

In Internet marketing NOW is constant. Life has a past and may have a future. The only truth that will ever make you money in Internet marketing is how your A beats your B NOW. Anything else is FUTURE or HISTORY and neither can help you make more money NOW. I write, “suspend judgment” knowing how hard it was to actually DO.

Do I backslide? Sure, but, after extensive Zen-like training, I’m about half way home, half way to NOT walking down useless WHY paths. Queue up another test instead to create another NOW, another more profitable NOW.

Small Screens, Big Conversions: Insights on Mobile Behavior

ian everdell, mediativeIan Everdell, Mediative

On Twitter @Mediativelan


19% = adults in US who own tablets, almost doubled year-over-year (holiday season).

13% of all searches are now on a mobile devices (billions and more than 100% increase year over year)

Mobile is growing “really quickly and you need to be thinking about it now.”

Ref: Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski

Smart Phones

  • 83% at Home
  • 87% in a store
  • 86% Watching TV
  • 59% in line or waiting
  • 48% while eating
  • 39% use smart phone in bathroom
  • 43% use smart phone when traveling

Great comScore data showing when people use WHAT and WHEN; Tablets start and finish the day. Desktop computers are during the day. Phones at lunch and pretty flat lined.

Mobile Searches are different than desktop searches. Mobile = LONGER. People search differently on mobile. 70% of mobile searches will complete that task within an hour (smart phone) or a week (tablet). People are looking things up and going to the store to buy.

Smart phone and tablet = more clicks and you pay less for them? Makes sense to have a mobile campaign to supplement other campaigns because more for less money.

Golden Triangle
Tablet attention is left justified. Put a lot of work into meta (title and description, live within Google’s guidelines). Mobile only PPC perform 11% better. INCLUDE words like iPhone and Android into mobile ads. Misspellings more prevalent on mobile so be sure to spread misspellings into campaigns.

Paid ads on mobile devices take up much more screen real estate so you can do things that can more competitors off the screen.


Desktops = open on Monday and then no desktop on weekends. Mobile is inversely related. Mobile opens later in the week (Tuesday) and stays strong through the weekend.  Mobile heat maps of emails there is a strong bias to the left side of the list. May want several lines of description to be more engaging.

Have to combine WHAT we present and TIME we present it. We can also use tricks to think about how to make our messages look best on mobile devices. Including images be sure to use alt text especially when CTA is a button. No alt-text with buttons is dangerous.

People expect mobile to be faster than website. Actually mobile loads slower. Mobile can butcher landing pages, must be optimized for mobile. Key idea is people’s mobile behavior is more concentrate left, so must take advantage.

Tips on Mobile Landing Pages

  • Prioritize Content
  • Compress Images
  • Avoid Flash
  • Contrast: Dark on light
  • Text Size: Minimal 15

Fitts Law

Think about design based on how device will be used. Smart Phones CTAs should be low because they can be hard to tap. Create plenty of space around the CTA. Tablets the top corners are easy spots to swipe. Put things that change display at bottom of tablet because hand covers it when it is being used if at top.

Shopping Cart Abandonment is 97% on Smart Phones and tablets. iPad is a conversion MACHINE. Mobile converts better in general. iPads 30% higher conversion than desktop. High end (Moon Audio) need to be optimized for mobile and iPads in particular.

FORMS = Labels ABOVE Fields  because you can see what you are doing better. You can still see the label as you type. Showed an example of how slow it is when form fields are NOT above the field.

Use HTML5 Input Types to Help with different kinds of keypads on mobile devices also degrade gracefully so if you don’t have a smart phone then it still looks good.

Kayak Mobile = good form example.

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