21 May 2008 ~ 8 Comments

3 Great (and Quick) Optimization Reads from Omniture

omniture logoYesterday’s visit to the Omniture Industry Insights blog gave me a one-stop-shop for fodder on marketing optimization tactics and strategy worth sharing (and a personal opportunity to apologize to boot!).

First up, John Broady writes about 5 fundamentals for improving the ROI from landing pages. This has long been a popular topic, yet, sadly, it’s still front-and-center in a lot of practitioner’s minds. The fact that so much has been written on the topic only makes John’s piece that much more impressive. His word choice to present “fundamentals” people should learn from and “apply,” as opposed to “best practices” people should blindly follow is spot on. He offers concrete examples of each fundamental in action, too. Best of all, he didn’t pontificate for days; he simply gives you what you’re looking for (you know, if you’re the type to be interested in increasing return on your landing page investments).

Don’t just take my word for, invest the five minutes to give it a read. But if I may be so presumptuous as to add two bonus fundamentals, well, here they are:

  • Fundamental 6: They can trust you, right? John pointed out the cardinal sin in landing page design: not presenting a clear call to action. Once you’ve got that covered, you want people to actually click through your call to action, right? Tell them it’s OK to. click. If you’re asking for their email or phone number, or any personally identifiable information, tell them you’re not going to sell their information and will protect their data as if it were your own. Give them the assurances they need or else they just may talk themselves out of the action they actually want to take!
  • Fundamental 7: It’s the intent behind the click that matters most. You’ve reinforced the specific search term as instructed. Check. You’ve kept their options clear and simple. Check. Essentially, you’ve built it, but you still don’t see them coming (or rather, acting). What was the intent behind their search? What was the real question that was on their mind when they went Googling? “Trade online stocks” (active voice) implies a different intent, albeit a subtle one, than “online stock trading” (passive voice). The latter could be an exploratory search, an early stage query from a 75 year-old retiree in Boca Raton, following up on how his grandson could possibly have left his six-figure job at Goldman Sachs to be an online stock trader. (“You can do that?” he wonders.) “Trade online stocks” is more likely to be a late-stage — late in the buying process, that is — search, where the intent is actually to trade. This is a landing page I’d use to present my best offer to people who know what they’re looking for, not to try and pitch “casual consumers” into becoming more educated. It’s not that those potential customers aren’t real; rather, they’re asking a different question and therefore need a different answer and a different offer.

Next on the tour of Omniture’s blog, I found the latest post by our good friend Brent Hieggelke on “Creating a Culture of Optimization“. (Bryan posted something similar last week, when he returned from the eMetrics Summit, on how to get organizational buy-in for Optimization.)

I will tell you flat-out, when a marketing superstar like Brent tells us (emphasis mine) that…

“…there seems to be no top-down mandate pushing the entire team to make optimization a part of their culture.

That must change — and marketers, who know the benefits of optimization better than anyone, need to be the driving force.”

…we should all stop and take a moment to listen. This is a man who’s forgotten more about marketing in his career than I’ve ever known. He’s challenging marketers everywhere to grow their sphere of influence within their respective organizations. He’s challenging marketers everywhere to ask bigger questions. And by the way, he’s even telling you a few different ways to get started.

If name recognition alone isn’t compelling you to click your way over to read Brent’s piece, perhaps these two benefits from fostering an Optimization Culture in your organization are:

1) End the debate: Opinions are like heartbeats; everyone alive has them! Toss aside intuition and your boss’s gut feel and replace them with hard facts and metrics (i.e. proof of what works). Just don’t forget to define success metrics in advance.

2) Guaranteed* performance boost: By testing the assumptions that underly the strategy and creative execution, your team is actively tuning your marketing system for optimal, or at least improved, performance. Guess who just created an ongoing system for increasing ROI!? (*The results suggest as much, anyway.)

Finally, the post that drew me to their blog in the first place, Matt Belkin’s post — the one that mentioned FutureNow — on “vindication”. In the two years since our public debate spilled out into the blogosphere, it’s the #1 post referenced to me when I meet GrokDotCom readers at conferences or training events. Each time, the reader seems to have enjoyed the experience, like I imagine most who attend Wrestlemania enjoy the WWE. (Aside: Did you know Wrestlemania still exists today? After 27 years, it’s like the Super Bowl. If I can dig up my ticket to Wrestlemania II, eBay, here I come! But I digress.) While I’m thrilled to entertain our audience, I’d much prefer to educate them first. Even better than education is when we hear from people who took our recommendations and put them into action, actually optimizing their marketing and reporting their results.

For that to happen, issues will arise and healthy debate should help distinguish the signal from the noise. But it also behooves us to keep the debate centered around the issue at hand for the audience. Matt’s right. John and I were particularly scathing, one might even say snarky, in our criticism of his take on unique visitors. It honestly wasn’t our intent, but I can certainly see how it came off that way, and for that I apologize.

Each and every time a reader mentions that post, I cringe a bit and see a little devil sitting proudly on my shoulder. Suffice it to say, the blogosphere is a better place, and the audience learns more (and achieves more of their goals), when writers avoid the temptation to flame, and look instead to the angel who’s rumored to live on their other shoulder. I’ve certainly tried to, and I must admit, sometimes it’s much harder to find positive examples to learn from than negative ones. Hopefully, some of the other FutureNow voices have excelled at pointing out the positives where I could not.

And for those of you who are wondering, John and I still disagree with Matt’s argument, especially his second reason, i.e., that every visit represents an opportunity to convert. There’s an excellent comment in Brent’s post that lists a scenario I think violates this premise, but that’s a post for another day, or a conversation over dinner next time I’m in Utah.

I do know one thing for sure, though: Matt and I are 100% on the same page when it comes to our desire to help marketers derive better results from their hard-earned marketing budgets. Those looking to increase the punch from their online efforts could do a whole lot worse than reading and acting on Matt’s advice.

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