Breaking Silos: Passive Consumption + Active Engagement FTW!

Today something complex, advanced, that is most applicable to those who are at the edges of spending money, and thus have an intricate web of internal and external teams to deliver customer engagement and business success. The Marketing Industrial Empire is made up of number of components. If you consider the largest pieces, there is […]

The post Breaking Silos: Passive Consumption + Active Engagement FTW! appeared first on Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik.

Today something complex, advanced, that is most applicable to those who are at the edges of spending money, and thus have an intricate web of internal and external teams to deliver customer engagement and business success.

The Marketing Industrial Empire is made up of number of components.

If you consider the largest pieces, there is the internal (you, the company) and the external (agencies, consultants).

If you consider entities, you’ve got your media agency, your creative agency, your various advertising agencies, your website and retail store teams, your analysts, marketers, advertising experts, the UX teams, campaign analysts, fulfillment folks, the data analysts who are scattered throughout the aforementioned entities, the CMO, CFO, and hopefully your CEO. And I'm only talking about the small portion of your existence that is your marketing and analytics.

Whether you consider the large, simplistic perspective (internal – external) or the more complex entity view, it’s really easy to see how things can become siloed very quickly.

It’s so easy for each little piece (you!) to solve for your little piece and optimize for a local maxima. You win (bonus/promotion/award). It is rare that your company wins in these siloed existence.

That’s simply because silos don’t promote consideration of all the variables at play for the business. They don’t result in taking the entire business strategy or the complete customer journey. Mining a cubic zirconia is celebrated as if it is a diamond.

Heartbreakingly, this is very common at large and extra-large sized companies. (This happens a lot less at small companies because of how easily death comes with a local maxima focus.)

So how can you avoid this? How do you encourage broader, more out-of-the-box thinking?

This might seem simplistic, but sometimes it helps to give things names. Naming things clarifies, frames, and when done well it exposes the gaps in our thinking.

Today, I want to name two of the most common silos in large and extra-large companies, in the hope that it’ll force you to see them and subsequently abandon siloed thinking and solve for a global maxima.

Name abstract ideas, draw pictures, deepen appreciation, take action.

Could not be simpler, right? :)

Let’s go!

The Advertising Ecosystem: Passive Consumption.

I'm randomly going to use Geico as an illustrative example because the frequency at which they are buying ads means that every human, animal, and potted plant in the United States has seen a Geico commercial at least once in the last 6 hours (contributing to Geico’s business success).

Typically the ads we see are the result of the external creative and media agencies, and their partners in the internal company team/s.

Geico purchases every kind of ad: TV spots, radio ads, billboards (OOH), digital displays (video, online,– social media), print (magazines, newspaper, your cousin's Christmas letter), and so much more.

The teams naturally gravitate towards optimization and measurement that spans their individual mini-universes.

Was that a great ad? Can we test different spending levels in that market? What is the best way to get people to remember the delightful gecko? Can we automate the placement of display ads based on desired psychographics?

Did we get the TRPs that we were shooting for? What was the change in awareness and consideration? What was the reach/frequency for the Washington Post? How many impressions did our Twitter ads get, and how many people were exposed to our billboards?

These are important questions facets of, and delivery optimization of, the advertising. Questions like these, and adjacent others, tend to drive the entire lives of creative and media agencies/teams. For entirely understandable reasons. Siloed incentives delivering siloed local maxima results.

I cannot stress enough that these results can be positive (for the ad business and, in this case, the sales of insurance products). And yet, as a global maxima person it does not take a whole lot of effort to see a whole lot of opportunity if both the siloed incentives can siloed execution implied by the above questions can be changed.

Here’s an incredible simple way that every human seeking global maxima can look beyond the silo: “So, what happens after?

As in, what happens after the finite confines that are the scope of my responsibility/view?

To see that, the first step is to paint a picture that illustrates the current purpose (your silo), and then give it a name.

Here’s that picture for the example we are using, and the name I gave it is “passive consumption.”

passive_consumption

Over 90% of advertising is passive consumption. This means that the ad is in front of the human and they may see it or not see it.

Even on the platforms where interactivity is at its very core (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), almost all of the advertising does not elicit any sort of interactivity. If you look at the percentages, almost no one clicks on banner ads, a small percentage on search ads, and you need only speak with a few people around you to see how many people actively engage with TV ads vs. run to the bathroom or pull out their mobile phone the moment forced-watch TV ads come on.

Keep in mind, this is not a ding against passive consumption or the hard work done by Geico's agency and internal teams. Blasting ads on TV does cause a teeny tiny micro percentage to buy insurance – a fact provable via Matched Market Tests, Media Mix Models. The teeny tiny micro infinitesimally small number of views of brand display ads will cause outcomes. (Hold this thought, we’ll come back to that in a moment.)

So, what is the passive consumption challenge?

First, how far the vision of the creative and media agencies/teams will see (thus limiting success – global maxima). Second, trapped in the silo the vision for what will be measured and deemed as success.

The first is heartbreaking. The second ensures the death of any long-term impact.

Let me explain.

With over 90% passive consumption…. Well, passive… Smart media and advertising agencies/teams will primarily use post-exposure surveys to measure awareness (what companies provide car insurance) and consideration (which brands you would consider).

The brilliant agencies will also measure elements such as purchase intent (how likely it is that you'll consider Geico as your next car insurance provider) and likelihood to recommend (how likely is it that you'll recommend Geico to your family and friends).

All of these metrics will cause surveys to be sent via various mediums to people who've seen the TV ads, the banners on Facebook, and the video ads on YouTube. And a subset of users who were not exposed to the ads. Usually, there is anywhere between a few hundred to a thousand survey responses that will end up providing a statistically significant sample.

The scores from these responses are presented in weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings. Segmented by marketing activity, they are the end-all be-all justification for media spending. Snapchat increased aided awareness by +23%, let us spend more there. Or, billboards in Georgetown and Austin shifted purchase intent by +2%, we should triple our spend in Chicago.

Every measurement and optimization initiative is based on this cocktail of metrics. Thus delivering a positive, but local, maxima.

Even the next best innovation in media will be based on results from the same metrics cocktail. Thus delivering a little more positive, but still local, maxima.

Why not global maxima?

Because success is determined by, innovation is driven by, measurement that is self-reported feelings.

That name captures the actual thing that is being measured (feelings) by the metrics above, and where the data comes from (self-reported) after being exposed to our advertising.

This will help your company, your agencies, understand limits. Limits in terms of what’s happening (mostly, passive consumption) and what data we are looking at (all post-exposure and self-reported).

Limits in measurement that incentivize solving for a local maxima.

Let me repeat one more time. Passive consumption measured by self-reported feelings does drive some success – else Geico would not be the financial success it is. In the short-term some campaigns are trying to drive long-term brand influence or causing a shift in public opinion or simply to remind people your brand still exists as a choice. All good. Self-reported feelings are wonderful. Appreciate that even in those cases where you are not trying to drive short-term sales, if all you have are feelings converted into metrics… You are limiting imagination.

An obsession with just passive consumption by your agencies and internal teams delivers 18 points of success. I’m saying if you think global maxima, remove limits, you can do 88 points!

The Business Ecosystem: Active Engagement.

Getting those additional 70 points success requires breaking the self-imposed creative/media/advertising silo and caring about the human behavior if people lean-in instead of passive consumption – when they take an action (a click, a phone call, a store visit).

Time to draw another picture, and give this behavior a name.

I call it… drum roll please… Active Engagement!

active_engagement

Some people, between 0.01% to 10% (so rare!), who see Geico’s online ads will visit a Geico retail store or Geico's website.

People are actually doing something. They are walking into your store, talking to an agent, picking up the literature, calling you on the phone, clicking on to your site, watching videos, comparison shopping, and more. This is all human behavior that your tools can report for you.

A small percentage will end up buying insurance – mazel tov! –, providing perhaps the most valuable data.

The lucky thing about active engagement is that, in addition to self-reported feelings, you also get tons of highly-useful quantitative data representing human behavior.

I call this type of data: Observed Human Behavior.

If you are a part of an creative, media, or an internal company team, you have two powerful issues you can solve for: passive consumption (happens most of the time) AND active engagement (happens some of the time).

Likewise, you can seek to understand performance using self-reported data where the people reflect on how they feel, along with behavior data that represents what they actually do.

The combination of these two factors deliver the much needed Global Maxima perspective.

That is how you shatter silos. The creative agency has to care about how ads perform in their labs, in the real world, and what kind of online and offline behavior the creative is driving (end-to-end baby!). The media agency has to care about the creative and where it needs to get delivered (recency, frequency FTW!), and the bounce rate (70% ouch, 30% hurray!) and profit from each campaign. The retail experience team, the call center delight team, and the site experience team will break their silo and reach back into understanding the self-reported feelings data from the media agencies and the ideas that lead to the creative that delivered a human to them.

Everyone cares about the before and after, solving for the overall business rather than their little silo. Passive consumption plus active engagement equals global maxima. Or, self-reported feelings plus observed human behavior equals global maxima.

: )

Here’s a massively underappreciated benefit: It also encourages every employee – internal and external – to take full credit for their impact on the short and long-term effects of their effort.

It is rare to see this happen in real life, even at top American and European companies.

What’s usual is to see the three silos between creative agencies, media agencies, and company internal team. There is usually further sub-segmentation into passive consumption teams (also lovingly referred as brand agencies/advertisers) and active engagement teams (performance agencies/advertisers). The further sub-sub-segmentation into products and services (depending on the company).

They then quickly fall into their respective measurement silos, solving for the local maxima.

Change starts with naming things and drawing pictures. Gather the key leaders at your company and agency partners. Show them passive consumption and self-reported feelings along with active engagement and observed human behavior. Talk through the implications of each picture. Ask this influential audience: What can you contribute to when it comes to breaking silos?

I have yet to meet a single company where simply drawing the picture did not result in a dramatic rethinking of focus areas, responsibilities, and ultimately priorities.

Accelerating Success: Five Quick Changes.

Once you have that discussion, what should you do to truly cause a significant change in behavior?

Five Es form the core of the strategies that I end up using (please share your's via comments below). They are:

1. Expand the scope of data your employees use.

For the people who buy your television ads, include both store and website traffic data. Break the shackles of GRPs and Frequency.

For people buying your display ads on Facebook, include page depth, bounce rate, as well as micro-conversion rates for those campaigns. Break the shackles Awareness and Views.

For people buying your videos ads on Hulu, complement Hulu's self-reported feelings metrics with user behavior and conversion rates.

And continue going in this fashion.

2. Expand the incentives structures for your employees.

Most marketing employees, both internal and external, undertaking passive consumption initiatives are rewarded for cost per TRP, effective reach, awareness and consideration increases, etc. Whatever this bucket as an employee incentive, it can stay.

Consider adding one or two KPIs from active engagement. For example: Store visits, phone calls (as a result of that increase in consideration). Website visits, loyalty, micro-outcomes, and 25 other easily-available observed human behavior metrics are available to you pretty much in real-time.

For people who own responsibility for your stores, call center and website, take a metric or two from passive consumption and make it a small part of their incentive structure.

People respond to what they are compensated with, or promoted for. Use it to solve for a global maxima in the company and its customers.

3. Expand the time horizon for success.

This is really hard.

You buy 100 TRPs, it’s expensive, and the executives tend to start badgering you for immediate results.

The problem is that self-reported feelings data takes time, and since at least 90% of passive consumption leads to no immediate active engagement, all this does is incentivize bad behavior by your agencies and employees. Long-term objectives are thrown onto the chopping block and long-term strategies are judged on short-term success – which immediately ruins the campaign’s measurement. Oh and the audience being bombarded by your ads that are trying to deliver short-term outcomes from long-term creative and campaigns… They despise you because you are sucking, they can see that, and they instantly realize your are wasting their time.

No matter how much your wish, a Chicken won’t birth a Lion’s cub.

If you want short-term success, define the clearly as a goal, pick the right short-term self-reported feelings metric and observed behavior metric, now unleash your creative agency and their ideas (on that short-term horizon), then plead with your media agency to buy optimal placements, and ensure the retail/phone/web experience is not some soft and fuzzy experience, rather it is tied to that clear goal and success metrics. Sit back. Win.

If you want long-term success… Same as above, replace short with long. How amazing is that?

4. Expand the datasets that teach your smart algorithms.

If you’ve only visited this blog once in the last 12 months, or read just one edition of my truly amazing newsletter :), Marketing <> Analytics Intersect, it is quite likely I have infected you with the passion to start investing in machine learning in order to bring smart automation to your marketing and user-experience initiatives.

If you are following my advice, make absolutely sure that you are not training your algorithms based solely on passive consumption, self-reported feelings data. It is necessary, but not sufficient.

Rich observed behavior data will provide your algorithm the same broad view of success as we are trying to provide the humans in #2 above. In fact, the algorithms can ingest way more data and complexity. Thus allowing them to solve for a super-global maxima compared to our humble abilities.

Every algorithm is only as smart as the data you use to educate it. Don't short-change the algorithm.

5. Expand leadership comfort level with ambiguity.

For your TV efforts, there are limits to what you can measure. You have self-reported feelings data, and usually that’s about it. If you have a sophisticated world-class measurement team, you may be running some controlled experiments to measure one or two elements of active engagement observed human behavior data.

For YouTube or Hulu on the other hand, you’ll have additional self-reported feelings data, and if you follow my advice today, plenty of directly-causal observed human behavior data at your disposal.

Get very comfortable with this reality, and execute accordingly.

When some executives are not comfortable with this reality, they typically end up gravitating towards the lowest common denominator. Even in regards to strategies where more is possible (digital), they just end up using self-reported feelings data for everything.

I do understand why this is; executives are pressed for time, so the executive dashboard needs only one metric they can compare across initiatives. This instantly dumbs-down the intelligence that could help contribute to smarter decisions.

Kindly explain this to your executives, share with them the value of being comfortable with a little ambiguity that comes from using the best metric for each initiative type.

We can achieve smarter global maxima decisions if we just use different metrics in some instances.

Closing Thoughts.

The larger the company, the harder it is to solve for a global maxima. Companies need command and control. Companies worry that people are going to run wild in 15 different directions. Companies need to reward an individual, that means creating a finite role that can be defined and measured at a small level. Companies add layers upon layers to manage. Companies create org clusters (divisions). And, more.

Every one of these actions forces a local maxima. Every human can see their few pixels and have no idea what the image looks like.

Even if then the company progresses little by little, they’ll run out of luck one day. Worse some nimble small company – that does not yet have to worry about all of the above – will come eat your breakfast first, then dinner and then lunch.

The lesson in this post applies across the entire business, even if in this instance it is applied to marketing and advertising.

Paint a picture of what the local maxima execution looks like in your division – or better still company. Give these pieces a name. Then, figure out, like I’ve done above, what the connective tissue is that’ll incentivize global maxima thinking and execution.

Carpe diem!

As always, it is your turn now.

In your specific role, are you solving for the global maxima or a local maxima? How about your creative and media agencies? Your internal marketing or product teams? Has your company done something special to ensure that teams are considering both self-reported feelings and observed human behavior? Is there a magic metric you feel that’ll encourage each piece of the business success puzzle to solve for a global maxima?

Please share your wisdom, tips and secrets to success via comments below.

Thank you.

The post Breaking Silos: Passive Consumption + Active Engagement FTW! appeared first on Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik.

How to Create a Personalization Plan

A wise person once said, “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  That could not be more true with your personalization initiatives. In fact, Monetate’s 2017 Personalization Development Study, which surveyed over 100 companies,…

A wise person once said, “failure to plan is planning to fail.”  That could not be more true with your personalization initiatives. In fact, Monetate’s 2017 Personalization Development Study, which surveyed over 100 companies, found that 79% of those...

SiriusDecisions Summit 2018: Bound Event Guide

One of the best events for B2B Leaders is right around the corner…are you ready for SiriusDecisions Summit 2018? It’s a big event, with 3,000+ attendees, 120+ vendors and all the frameworks and case studies you can dream of. I’ve waded my way through the “Sirius” puns, poured over session summaries, sifted through the Sirius […]

The post SiriusDecisions Summit 2018: Bound Event Guide appeared first on Bound.

One of the best events for B2B Leaders is right around the corner…are you ready for SiriusDecisions Summit 2018?

It’s a big event, with 3,000+ attendees, 120+ vendors and all the frameworks and case studies you can dream of. I’ve waded my way through the “Sirius” puns, poured over session summaries, sifted through the Sirius blog, and scouted every open-invite afterparty. Here is everything you need to know about SiriusDecisions Summit 2018.

Our team is excited to share this experience with you. Come say hello at booth 412!

Guest Keynotes

Last year I walked into Summit thinking how the heck does Jewel relate to B2B Marketing? As it turns out, Sirius event planners know what they are doing. I scribbled countless notes about lead nurture vs. nature and authenticity in marketing: “underneath, we’re all looking for the same thing: an authentic human experience.” You know that got my personalization juices flowing.

Jewel keynote on creating an authentic human experience

This year’s keynotes are Molly Bloom and Platon. If these speakers are good enough for an Aaron Sorkin feature film and the World Economic Forum in Davos, respectively, then we must be in for a treat. I expect we’ll witness masterful storytelling on the topics of authenticity, leadership, collaboration and ambition.

Analyst Keynotes

SiriusDecisions is known for dropping big ideas in the analyst keynotes. The 2017 big reveal was the Demand Unit Waterfall®, which shaped the conversation for the whole conference. While I don’t expect such a core announcement in 2018, we can expect the keynotes to guide the themes of the conference.

SiriusDecisions Summit Keynote Preview

Visit the Summit website for keynote overviews. The links below are to Sirius blog posts that give a little more insights into the keynote topics.

If you see these analysts out in the wild, go ahead and buy them a coffee or drink. They work really hard on these presentations. I also recommend following these keynote analysts who are active on Twitter throughout the conference: @julieogilvie, @KerrySirius, @gcanare, @Marisa_Kopec.

Sessions

The full 2018 Summit agenda features three praiseworthy changes.

  1. The 2018 Summit is condensed to three days, a half day less than previous years. This is a good move because that last half day was rough for travel arrangements (and fell after the Green Tie Gala) so attendance was low. Somehow, they still managed to squeeze in about the same amount of session time with the condensed schedule in 2018.
  2. There are 12 tracks to choose from in 2018, up from seven in 2017. The new track structure dedicates more focus within sales, product, brand, and customer engagement functions. SiriusDecisions has long advocated for alignment between the different facets of the revenue organization, so this update is feels like they are finally walkin’ the walk.
  3. Did somebody say role-based breakfast?! I’m so excited for the introduction of role-based breakfasts in 2018. Sessions, as educational as they are, are a one-way communication. Summit isn’t short on networking opportunities, but role-based networking time is valuable for getting inspiration and validation.

Personalization Strategy: A Custom Track

We recommend the following sessions to create your own personalization strategy track. Stop by our booth 412 to learn how Bound insights and personalization helps your demand, ABM, portfolio and content strategies.

Wednesday

  • ABM Infrastructure: A Capabilities-Driven View of the Stack That Drives Growth
  • Creating Demand Maps to Power Account-Centric Planning

Thursday

  • Activating Persona and Buyer Insights for Demand Creation or SiriusLab: Implementing Nurture Programs in a Demand Unit World
  • The State of B-to-B Content: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
  • B-to-B Demand Creation: By the Numbers

Parties

What would SiriusDecisions be without parties? It is held in Las Vegas after all.

Quick overview of the SiriusDecisions-hosted parties: Fall Out Boy is headlining the Green Tie Gala. The Titanium Celebration is now earlier and in the marketplace, packing in all the networking while freeing up the evening for unsponsored events and dinners. Dress code tends to range from the business casual to business chic (there is the occasional green suit for the gala…costumes optional).

…and moving on to more pressing matters: RSVPs for outside, not-Sirius-sponsored parties hosted by a range of vendors. I’ll just cut to the chase:

 Date  Time  Event Name  Location  Registration URL
 May 7  5:30 PM  ABMargs  Border Grill  bit.ly/2HqBbvW
 May 9  7:00 PM  ABM Royale  Skyfall Lounge  bit.ly/2uOsJk1
 May 9  7:00 PM  Marketing Mingle  Foundation Room  ora.cl/T5FX0

 

Want to hang with Bound?

Bags packed? Request a meeting or visit us at booth 412 (memorized it yet?). Need a ticket? Register with code SPONBOUND for $400 off. Can’t make it? Bummer. You can follow along on Twitter using @bound_360, @Stephanie_Bound, and #SDSummit. When the FOMO resides, go ahead and request a personalization strategy consultation.

Final Notes

Download the event app. Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a jacket (conference centers are cold). See you in Las Vegas!

The post SiriusDecisions Summit 2018: Bound Event Guide appeared first on Bound.

New date! Customer data strategies & identity resolution webinar

When it comes to customer data, fundamentals matter. If you don’t know who your customers are, you can’t create personalized brand experiences that increase revenue and lifetime value. Before you jump on the latest big digital marketing bandwagon, ask yourself these questions: How complete is our customer data? How much of our customer data sits […]

The post New date! Customer data strategies & identity resolution webinar appeared first on Marketing Land.

When it comes to customer data, fundamentals matter. If you don’t know who your customers are, you can’t create personalized brand experiences that increase revenue and lifetime value.

Before you jump on the latest big digital marketing bandwagon, ask yourself these questions: How complete is our customer data? How much of our customer data sits in silos? Can we scale what we know about our customers?

Join our experts as we discuss data best practices that will solidify your customer data foundation. We’ll explore how new techniques in identity resolution can connect the data fragments that exist across your organization and fuel more relevant customer relationship marketing strategies.

Register today for “Customer Data Strategies & Identity Resolution: Best Practices,” produced by Digital Marketing Depot and sponsored by FullContact.

The post New date! Customer data strategies & identity resolution webinar appeared first on Marketing Land.

VWO Partners With HubSpot To Create An 8-Week CRO Planner

It’s 2018, and CRO isn’t just a buzzword anymore! Over the past decade, savvy businesses have been growing by not only investing in traffic acquisition strategies, but also ensuring that visitors to their website are converting into customers. At VWO, we understand how daunting and time-consuming CRO can seem, so we joined hands with HubSpot […]

The post VWO Partners With HubSpot To Create An 8-Week CRO Planner appeared first on Blog.

It’s 2018, and CRO isn’t just a buzzword anymore! Over the past decade, savvy businesses have been growing by not only investing in traffic acquisition strategies, but also ensuring that visitors to their website are converting into customers.

At VWO, we understand how daunting and time-consuming CRO can seem, so we joined hands with HubSpot to bring you a DIY guide, which will help you learn and implement process-oriented CRO for your business.

DIY Guide to increase website conversions

In our experience of working with 5,000+ customers across the globe, we’ve seen that the journey from start to first few home runs in optimizing conversions usually takes 8 weeks.

Therefore, we’ve designed this guide to take you on a week-by-week journey on how you can lift your conversion rates in a methodical, sustainable manner. Here’s what the 8-week of conversion optimization journey will cover:

  • Understanding the goals and principles of CRO
  • Conducting a conversion rate audit for your website
  • Identifying areas of improvement in your conversion funnel
  • Conducting qualitative research into your visitor behavior
  • Constructing educated hypotheses and prioritizing these for testing
  • Choosing the right experiment and setting up your testing platform
  • Analyzing and learning from your A/B test results
  • Ensuring continuous growth through CRO

…and more!
Guide from VWO and HubSpot on increasing website conversions

After you’ve followed this guide, you’ll be equipped with the know-hows to increase conversion rates time and again, instead of doing it just once.

What’s more, even if your company is young or on a shoestring budget, you would be able to effectively practice conversion optimization in-house, all by yourself.

Grab your copy of The Complete DIY Guide To Improving Conversions in 60 Days here.

The post VWO Partners With HubSpot To Create An 8-Week CRO Planner appeared first on Blog.

Index Bloat: Why Deleting Website Pages Is Great for SEO in 2018

You might have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of low-quality pages on your site — in Google’s eyes — and might not even realize it. We call this index bloat.

Gone are the days when you could easily hack SEO by loading a page with keywords and creating artificial backlinks.

Today, Google is consistently rolling out changes to its algorithms to reward quality.

Unlike the past, if you have low-quality pages on your website, it can negatively impact your overall ranking.

What’s a low-quality page?

It’s one that isn’t used or visited, is full of duplicate content from other pages, has thin content or very low engagement in the eyes of Google.

Here’s the thing:

It’s entirely possible that you have dozens, hundreds, or thousands of low-quality pages on your site — in the eyes of Google — and you might not even realize it.

We call this problem index bloat.

It happens when Google has indexed a lot of URLs for your website that it views as low-quality.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  1. An example of index bloat
  2. Common causes
  3. The exact steps you can take to see if you have a problem

Note: We can help you spot and fix issues on your website that are harming your overall ranking.  Contact us here.

Index Bloat: A Real-life Example

We recently started working with an eCommerce client and discovered something fascinating (and troubling) as we did our standard checks to evaluate their site.

After talking to them, we expected the site to have somewhere around 10,000 pages.

When we looked in Google Webmaster Tools, we saw — to our surprise — that Google had indexed 38,000 pages for the website. Find this chart here: Web Tools > Search Console > Google Index > Index Status.

A real-life example of index bloat.

That was way too high for the size of the site.

We also saw that the number had risen dramatically.

In July of 2017, the site had only 16,000 pages indexed in Google Analytics.

What happened?

How a Hidden Technical Glitch Caused Massive Index Bloat

It took a while to figure out what had gone wrong with our client’s site.

Eventually, we found a problem in their software that was creating thousands of unnecessary product pages.

At a high-level, any time the website sold out of their inventory for a brand (which happened often), the site’s pagination system created hundreds of new pages.

Put another way, the site had a technical glitch that was creating index bloat.

The company had no idea their site had this problem, which is common with a site that has a technical glitch.

For eCommerce sites that automatically generate new pages for products, brands, or categories, things like this can easily happen.

It’s one common cause of index bloat, but not the only one.

Other common causes include:

  1. Pages with too little original content
  2. Old blog posts, news releases, or case studies that get little to no traffic
  3. Search pages that get accidentally indexed by Google

Don’t think you’re safe just because your list of indexed pages looks like this:

Even if the overall number of pages on your site isn’t going up, you might still be carrying unnecessary pages from months or years ago.

Even if the overall number of pages on your site isn’t going up, you might still be carrying unnecessary pages from months or years ago — pages that could be slowly chipping away at your relevancy scores as Google makes changes to its algorithm.

The good news is: it’s relatively easy to identify and remove pages that are causing index bloat on your site.

We also have a free tool you can use that will help.

How to Identify and Remove Poor Performing Pages

Here’s the step-by-step process we use with our clients to identify and remove poor performing pages:

(1) Estimate the number of pages you should have

Estimate to the number of products you carry, the number of categories, blog posts, and support pages, and add them together. Your total indexed pages should be something close to that number.

(2) Use the Cruft Finder Tool to find poor-performing pages

The Cruft Finder tool is a free tool we created to identify poor-performing pages. It’s designed to help eCommerce site managers find and remove pages that are harming your SEO ranking.

The tool sends a Google query about your domain and — using a recipe of site quality parameters — returns page content we suspect might be harming your index ranking.

Mark any page that:

  1. Is identified by the Cruft Finder tool
  2. Gets very little traffic (as seen in Google Analytics)

These are pages you should consider removing from your site.

(3) Decide what to keep and what to remove

For years, you’ve been told that adding fresh content on your site increases traffic and improves SEO. You should be blogging at least once a week, right?

Well, maybe.

If a blog post has been on your website for years, has no backlinks pointing to it, and no one ever visits it, that old content could be hurting your rankings.

Recently, we deleted 90% of one client’s blog posts. Why? Because they weren’t generating backlinks or traffic.

If no one is visiting a URL, and it doesn’t add value to your site, it doesn’t need to be there.

(4) Revise and revamp necessary pages with little traffic

If a URL has valuable content you want people to see — but it’s not getting any traffic — it’s time to restructure.

Could you consolidate pages? Could you promote the content better through internal linking? Could you change your navigation to push traffic to the page?

Also, make sure that all your static pages have robust, unique content. When Google sees thousands of pages on your site with sparse or similar content, it can lower your relevancy score.

(5) Make sure your search results pages aren’t being indexed

Not all pages on your site should be indexed. The main example of this is search results pages.

You almost never want search pages to be indexed because there are better pages to funnel traffic that have better quality content. These are not meant to be entry pages.

This is a common issue.

For example, here’s what we found using the Cruft Finder tool for one major retail site: over 5,000 search pages indexed by Google.

Examples of how the Cruft Finder tool can help you find index bloat.

If you find this issue on your own site, follow Google’s instructions to get rid of search result pages.

The Results and Impact on Traffic and Revenue

What kind of impact can index bloat have on your results?

And what kind of positive effect have we seen after correcting it?

Here’s a graph of indexed pages from a recent client that was letting their search result pages get indexed — the same way we explained above. We helped them implement a technical fix so those pages wouldn’t be indexed anymore.

Index bloat can impact both your traffic and revenue.

In the Google Analytics graph, the the blue dot is where the fix was implemented. The number of indexed pages continued to rise for a bit, then dropped significantly.

Year over year, here’s what happened to the site’s organic traffic and revenue:

3 Months Before the Technical Fix

  • 6% decrease in organic traffic
  • 5% increase in organic revenue

3 Months After the Technical Fix

  • 22% increase in organic traffic
  • 7% increase in organic revenue

Before vs. After

  • 28% total difference in organic traffic
  • 2% total increase in organic revenue

Remember that not all pages on your site should be indexed.

This process takes time.

For this client, it took three full months before the number of indexed pages returned to the mid 13,000s, where it should have been all along.

Note: Interested in a personalized strategy to reduce index bloat and raise your SEO ranking? We can help.  Contact us here.

 

The Best Place for Error Messages on Forms

Where are you placing the error messages on your form? If they’re not placed where users expect to see them, you could jeopardize their capability to complete your form.


Where are you placing the error messages on your form? If they’re not placed where users expect to see them, you could jeopardize their capability to complete your form.

When users make mistakes, they need to understand what those mistakes are so they can correct them and re-submit the form. They want to complete your form, but if doing so takes too much effort they’ll change their minds.

Top of Form Validation Vs. Inline Validation

The two most common placements for error messages are at the top of the form and inline with erroneous fields. Which placement is more intuitive for users?

A research study discovered that displaying all error messages at the top of the form puts a high cognitive load on user memory. This forces users to recall each error message for each erroneous field.

error_message-comparison

The approach that reduced the user’s cognitive load was displaying error messages inline with erroneous fields. Inline validation relies on recognition instead of recall so users can correct their mistakes faster and easier.

Another study found “the distance between the erroneous field and error message influences the efficiency of error correction”. Top of form and bottom of form validation resulted in the longest amount of time to initiate correction, while inline validation resulted in the shortest.

Top of form and bottom of form validation also resulted in the highest error rates, longest completion times, and the least user satisfaction. Bottom of form validation had the lowest error correction success rate compared to top of form and all inline validation locations.

User Preference of Error Message Locations

The study proved placing error messages inline with the erroneous fields lead to the best performance. It also showed which location next to the field was the most intuitive.

error_message-preference

Users rated which error message location they found most satisfying. There was a strong user preference and expectation for right of the field placement.

Error messages placed to the left of the field were rated the worst. Error messages placed above the field caused the highest cognitive load followed by error messages below the field.

Why Right of the Field Is Best

It’s important to understand why placing error messages to the right of field is preferred and expected. This way designers can better educate others about how users behave when making design decisions.

error_message-right

The western reading system goes from left to right. When users move their eyes from the input to the error message, it feels like a natural progression that requires little mental and visual effort. Moving their eyes from the error message back to input for correction also follows the natural flow for rereading text.

Why Left of the Field Is Worst

Placing error messages to the left of the field goes against the western reading system. Users move their eyes in the opposite direction of their natural reading flow when the error message appears. Instead of a natural progression, it feels unnatural and is suboptimal when users want to complete the form.

error_message-left

It also feels counter-intuitive because users expect higher priority elements to be on the left side. Placing the error message on the left makes it more important than the field. But the field is more important because users need to focus on it to correct their input.

Why Above the Field Increases Cognitive Load

Users experience a higher cognitive load with error messages above the field (i.e. forms with top aligned labels). This is caused by a combination of the error message and field label text that confuses users.

error_message-above

The close proximity of the two texts creates visual noise that distracts users when they’re trying to read the error message or the label. Seeing both texts in their field of vision makes it difficult to concentrate on just one of them and can confuse them.

Best Error Message Location for Mobile Forms

Mobile screens lack the horizontal space to display an error message and field side by side. This means error messages to the right of the field is not the best location on mobile forms.

error_message-below

Instead, place your error messages below the field. This was users second most preferred location in the study. Although it doesn’t correspond with the user’s natural left to right reading flow, it does correspond with their natural top to bottom reading flow.

When users read text, they move their eyes left to right going down a page. Error messages below the field feel less awkward than above the field because it follows their vertical reading progression.

Placing the error message too close to the field label below it can increase cognitive load when users read the text. You can prevent this by separating them with enough spacing.

Right of Field Vs. Below Field: Which Is Best?

Both to the right of the field and below the field are optimal locations for error messages. But which placement should you use? This depends on how much work you’re able to do.

If you want the placement that takes less time to implement for desktop and mobile devices, opt for error messages below the field. Implementing them for desktops will make them usable for mobile devices as well.

If you have time to implement error messages for both devices, opt for placing them to the right of the field on desktop and below the field for mobile devices. Not only will error messages to the right aid user scanning better, but it also results in a shorter form length.

Intuitive Error Message Placement

Follow these practices and place your error messages where users expect to see them. Error messages should correspond with user reading flow, so errors take less cognitive effort to correct.

When users work and think less, they’re able to complete your form faster. No one enjoys filling out forms. The faster you help users get through it, the sooner they can move on to what they really want to do.


How to Be Indistractable: Video by Nir Eyal

In this talk, I describe a new model for managing distraction — how to become “Indistractable.” I’ll write more on this topic in the coming months and I’m finishing a book by the same title. I’d love to hear your feedback …

In this talk, I describe a new model for managing distraction — how to become “Indistractable.” I’ll write more on this topic in the coming months and I’m finishing a book by the same title. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below. Also, please share this video with people who may benefit […]

The post How to Be Indistractable: Video by Nir Eyal appeared first on Nir and Far.

How to increase B2B form submissions through conversion testing

Contributor Abraham Nord looks at four tests that illustrate how improving the online experience can lead to dramatic increases in conversion rate and lead results.

The post How to increase B2B form submissions through conversion testing appeared first on Marketing Land.

Nearly all business-to-business (B2B) marketers are focused on increasing leads, improving lead quality and improving return on investment (ROI).

Conversion testing plays a key role in all three of these objectives. Let’s look at four tests that illustrate how improving the online experience can lead to dramatic increases in conversion rates and lead results.

We will also analyze why the tests worked so you have a better understanding of how to apply the same principles to your own unique circumstances.

Test #1: Form position and orientation

Test variations:

Hypothesis: By centering the registration form and moving it higher on the page, visitors’ eyes will more easily flow from the call-to-action (CTA) statement to the form. The benefit bullet points and asset imagery will now serve as secondary, supporting content.

Results: Variation 1 won with a 34.47 percent higher conversion rate at 92.04 percent confidence.

Conclusion: Many visitors were ready to get the downloadable asset without needing additional information. The registration process was more seamless and apparent with Variation 1, thus increasing form submissions.

Test #2: ‘Instant download’ badge

Test variations:


Hypothesis: Visitors do not like waiting for an asset to be emailed to them, especially since they often have to check their junk folder to find/receive the asset. By adding a badge indicating the asset is an “instant download,” we will eliminate this pain point, thus increasing form submissions.

Results: Variation 1 won with a 31.93 percent higher conversion rate at 91.61 percent confidence.

Conclusion: Visitors did, in fact, appreciate the straightforward and transparent approach of giving them the asset immediately. There was also no significant difference between variations in terms of the quality of emails provided.

Test #3: Tabbed content

Test variations (desktop):


Test Variations (Mobile):

Hypothesis: By including additional information about the company and organizing that content in tabs, visitors will more easily see how the downloadable asset is relevant and beneficial to them, and thus, more visitors will complete the form and convert.

Results: Mobile: Variation 1 won with a 160.28 percent higher conversion rate at 98.75 percent confidence. Desktop: Control won with a 31.13 percent higher conversion rate at 86.28 percent confidence.

Conclusion: For desktop visitors, the tabbed information was less meaningful than immediately seeing testimonials and partners (as social proof) at a glance. However, mobile visitors appreciated the additional content presented in an easy-to-digest tabbed format on the smaller screen.

Test #4: Overall look and feel

Test variations:

Hypothesis: By testing a different page layout/look, we can make the largest gains in conversion rates in the shortest amount of time. The increased visual prominence of the asset and form area will draw visitors’ eyes to the area where we want the most engagement.

Results: Variation 1 won with a 44.73 percent higher conversion rate at 88.41 percent confidence.

Conclusion: The more prominent form section and front-on view of the asset were the largest factors in Variation 1 winning. Visitors could more easily see the asset they would be receiving and more immediately understand how to get the guide. After finding a winning overall layout/look, we can test additional iterations of this page.

Improve your lead resulting via testing

These four landing page tests represent a small sampling of possible conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests available to B2B marketers. The examples showcase the importance of page layout, registration form placement and format and the information/images associated with downloadable assets.

And as Test #3 reinforced, make sure you are looking at different device types and experiences separately so you can customize and optimize the conversion rate for all of your visitors, regardless of how they come to your site.

The post How to increase B2B form submissions through conversion testing appeared first on Marketing Land.

Visitors Need Value Propositions

You website visitors need value propositions because, given too many options, shuts most people’s decision making down and they default to making no choice at all. Out on the internet, consumers have a million choices.  And most of the time, all of the…

You website visitors need value propositions because, given too many options, shuts most people’s decision making down and they default to making no choice at all. Out on the internet, consumers have a million choices.  And most of the time, all of the choices look the same to consumers. This drives people crazy.  How are...

The post Visitors Need Value Propositions appeared first on Conversion Sciences.