Volume 111:5/15/05

Keyword Metrics and Accountability

What do you think of when someone drops “keyword” into the conversation? I immediately start seeing dogs going at each other demolition derby style – a real dog-eat-dog extravaganza! Keywords are critical, and they are big business.

But you only want to dig deep into your pockets for those keywords that are going to earn their keep. How do you identify the hard workers? John Marshall of ClickTracks contributed this information about the “average time on site” metric for our book, Call to Action.

John writes:

ROI is a blunt instrument

Is ROI is the only measurement (for keyword effectiveness) that really matters? While ROI is indeed important, it suffers from being too crude in many instances, especially for search engine marketing. This is a pretty contentious thing to say, so let's look at an example:

A store selling a range of gourmet foods is buying keywords for Olive Oil. When doing ROI analysis this keyword shows poor results; that is, lots of clicks but very few sales. A closer investigation however might reveal that the olive oil comes in ornate glass bottles - attractive, but heavy and expensive to ship. The lack of sales results from the high shipping costs, not the keyword itself.

Don't blame the messenger

Search keywords often correlate directly to a product. Lack of conversion may well be related to the product itself or an attribute of it, and not the keyword itself. Proof of this for the example above would exist by examining the abandonment rate from the shipping confirmation page of the cart. Unfortunately extracting this data for each keyword, for each product will most likely be very time consuming, even if the analytics app can support it.

A different metric - ATOS

What's needed is a metric that can quickly be applied to all keywords and that indicates propensity to buy instead of actual purchase being made. In our experience this best single value that indicates this is 'average time on site' or ATOS. As an absolute value it doesn't mean much, and even expressed as a trend it's not a lot better. It could be argued that a long time on site is a bad thing because it indicates the site has poor usability. However, when viewed across search engine keywords, or segments of visitors, or different campaigns, a longer time indicates greater interest in the product/website. Since we assume usability problems are the same across all keywords the metric is valid when used for comparisons like this. People do not waste time browsing for products they have no intention of buying. They may decide against purchasing because of cost, shipping, return policy or phase of the moon, but that's not the fault of the keyword. ATOS is the single most efficient way of proving this.

Making Sense of Complexity

What with search engine marketing, usability, information architecture, copywriting, web analytics, consumer psychology and all the other specialties that go into creating online efforts that maximize your conversion rate, it can be difficult to see the forest for the trees.

That’s where Call to Action comes to your rescue. It’s our way of helping you understand and synthesize exciting, relevant information so you can design persuasively. Are you ready to start making sense of the complexity?

Whatever that bird is, it has landed!

Call to Action Book

May 9th saw the official release of Call to Action.  Response has been phenomenal!  Our first edition retails for the absurdly low price of $13.95.  But there aren't many left, and the second edition will retail for $25.95.

"Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg are #1 in the online conversion game and there is no #2." - Patrick Byrne CEO, Overstock.com

"Steve Krug nailed Web marketing philosophy in his book, "Don't make me Think." Now it's time to get practical. Creating a website requires a customer-centric focus and Bryan Eisenberg & Jeffrey Eisenberg hand you the how-to, step-by-step guide to getting the job done. Separating the user from usability, monitoring persuasion paths, choosing colors, creating copy - you'll find the best advice distilled from a career of testing and measuring, not pontificating and PowerPointing." - Jim Sterne, Author, Producer of the Emetrics Summit and President of the Web Analytics Association

You can get your first edition copy, while supplies last, from your vendor of choice: Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Evict the Devils in Your Details

Creating a mean, green conversion system based on the principles of Persuasion Architecture requires looking at your project from every angle: the big picture that shapes how you approach your project to the nuts-and-bolts picture that influences your tactical choices.

In our just-released Call to Action, we organize the big picture into the key categories that make up persuasive design: planning, structure, momentum, communication and value. Within these categories, we expand on perspectives and tactics that will help you make a difference in your bottom line.

From the repository of tips that industry specialists gave us (you’ll find them woven throughout the book), I offer, for your reading delectation, these tactics from our own Dave Cadoff, a big-picture dude who wants to make sure you aren’t undermining your carefully crafted persuasive momentum.

Time to send the devils who reside in your details packing!

Tell your prospects what they’ll get

Folks aren’t coming to your site to do you a favor; they are there to meet their own needs and accomplish their own goal. Remember, your visitors are tuned in to their favorite radio station, WIIFM, and when they’re on your site, the volume is cranked. Dave writes,

Tell your prospects what they’ll get – not what you’ll get – if they click on a link. Rather than tell a prospect to “Register Here” (via a hyperlink), tell them what they’ll get if they register. Change the link to read “Download Kit” or “Read Whitepaper.”

Word your call-to-action hyperlinks – the links that provide momentum for your sales process – so they communicate the benefit of clicking. Not the benefit to you … the benefit to your visitor!

Stop Pre-checking checkboxes

I absolutely hate it when I get to a “submit” place on a Web site and discover the business has made my opt-in choices for me. I hate it so much that I routinely uncheck every box – I don’t even bother to read what I’m unchecking (and I rarely revisit the option to see if I want to change my mind). Dave cautions,

If you check the box for your visitors, then you are really forcing the prospect to opt-out. You’ve now put them in a “no” mindset. Just leave the checkbox unchecked and make the prospect do the “work.” Why? ‘Cause it’s a major buying signal – it signifies commitment. Get them in a “yes” mindset and they are much more likely to act or transact.

Maybe you’re hoping folks won’t notice you’ve opted them in to all your other online marketing vehicles? Don’t count on it. Inciting rebellion is not conducive to persuasion!

Reiterate your value proposition on your forms

Pages with forms are often massive bail points in the conversion process. Devastating to you, but understandable. In theory, submitting the form is how your visitor satisfies her goals, but in practice, forms are generally about you getting what you want. Consequently, form pages don’t tend to honor the visitor’s perspective or reinforce value. Dave suggests,

When prospects arrive at an order or lead generation form, few are100% committed to filling it out. Don’t make them click away to “remind” themselves why they got there. Instead:

  • At the top of the order form, reiterate your value proposition and what the prospect will receive.

  • Make sure your very first sentence starts with a checkbox with the word “Yes” next to it.

  • Put a check box next to every “I want to receive...” Put a border around this statement too.

Each time they reread a benefit or check a box, they’re further developing their commitment to the task of filling out the form ... and pressing submit.

It’s Always About Them

For you to achieve your goals, your visitors must first achieve their goals. You don’t accomplish this by making your goals apparent in the details of your conversion system. You can’t push your visitors, but you can gently pull them. That’s what persuasion is all about.

Are you ready to evict a few more devils? Then read more – much more – in Call-to-Action.

Train to Increase Your Conversion Rates

New Services

We've been busy bees over the holidays.  Check out our services page - new services have already been launched and more are coming!

New Publications

You'll also want to keep an eye on our publications page.  We've been working on creating resources that will help you put many of our principles into practice more easily and more efficiently.  We're just about to release several of our newest products, including Which Sells Best?: A Quick Start Guide to Testing for Retailers and The Conversion Experts Handbook.

Volume 111:5/15/05


Contact Us


Bi-Monthly Online Conversion Rate Marketing Newsletter:

We Value Your Privacy!

  • Cardscan
  • ProFlowers
  • GE
  • Leo Schachter Diamonds
  • Overstock.com
  • SAS
  • Disney
  • Gatelys.com
  • NBC Universal
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers
  • Volvo International
  • Southern Company
  • BuyTelco
  • Allegis Group's Thingamajob
  • WebEx
  • CafePress
  • Elance