Mobile optimization, marketing automation, phone conversions, and content personalization are among the trends predicted for 2014.
Everyone looks forward to starting a new year. For the business owner this means new opportunity. For the Web developer this means new technology. And for the conversion optimizer this means new tools and new challenges. But whether you’re on the business side or the technology side, you’ll want to keep your eye on some key conversion rate optimization trends in 2014.
Responsive May Lose Ground to Dual Template Sites
Still think one Web page can be all things to all devices? If you pay attention in 2014, you may start to see things differently. Many conversion optimizers are realizing that unless a page is very simple, they don’t get the same result by morphing a page designed for a desktop website to fit on a mobile device screen.
For many websites, a unique, reduced page with a subset of options tends to work better on mobile. And a conversion path that is optimized for mobile and customized to address the strengths and weaknesses of smaller, touchscreen devices, as well as the mindsets of their users, usually wins out.
Responsive design can be great for very simple pages that only do one thing, like a search engine home page. But the typical conversion-focused page has too much information for the mobile visitor to digest. Simpler pages designed specifically with the mobile visitor in mind are working better.
For instance, here is Facebook’s mobile landing page with two form fields, two buttons, and five links:
And here is Facebook’s desktop landing page, which is much more complex:
As you can see, Facebook didn’t simply reformat the content of its home page for a mobile device; they reduced the experience.
Many large sites, especially those in the e-commerce space, have bypassed the responsive craze in order to provide site visitors with an intuitive and streamlined experience from their mobile device. In 2014, more organizations will adopt that thinking, realizing that responsive is not always going to be the optimal solution. Sometimes it is better to have two dedicated sets of templates for Web/tablet and smartphones.
Robots Will Perform Tedious Marketing Functions
Marketing automation leverages technology to streamline and automate customer engagement as well as schedule repetitive internal processes. Some popular examples of marketing automation include setting trigger-based emails (for example, a current customer returns to your site and visits specific product pages), sending cart recovery emails (when a checkout is abandoned before completion), and sending nurturing emails to individual prospects to help move them lower in the sales funnel.
Marketing automation is highly effective. In fact, according to Jupiter Research, relevant emails delivered through marketing automation drive 18 times more revenue than email blasts. And according to Marketo, marketing automation can triple the volume of qualified leads passed to sales.
Despite the proven effectiveness of marketing automation, many companies are still lagging behind. According to Pardot, only 25 percent of B2B Fortune 500 companies are using marketing automation. My prediction for 2014 is that more and more companies across both B2B and B2C verticals will jump on the automation bandwagon. Often the most powerful conversion aspects of your business are not the visually accessible ones like your website. Instead, they are the behind-the-scenes advantages of better processes and automation.
Tracking Phone Conversions
As recently as last year, many marketers avoided listing a phone number on their site because of the difficulties involved with measuring conversions and accurately attributing leads to their source. This is particularly unfortunate because telephone leads are more often near the bottom of the sales funnel. According to LogMyCalls, telephone leads are 10 times more likely to convert than Web leads.
In 2014 more marketers will give phone conversions the credit they deserve. Techniques such as dynamic number insertion have become increasingly simple to implement and will allow tracking of campaigns, ad groups, lead source, offers, and more.
In the past, accurately tracking and attributing phone leads was a black box. But there is a growing list of companies offering tools to accurately track and attribute phone leads coming from the Internet to the right source and to connect it with associated data. If you’re not promoting a phone number in your marketing, you could be surprised at the increased conversions you can log by working with one of these companies in 2014.
Marketing to Individuals, Not the Masses
In 2014 a greater degree of content personalization will take hold. We are already seeing personalization heavily integrated on some of the largest websites, but now third-party services make it easy and more affordable for smaller websites to integrate these tactics as well.
Using data from third-party sources combined with their own customer relationship management database, more marketers will dynamically display personalized content to their site visitors. Companies like DemandBase (for business-to-business) use a reverse IP lookup algorithm to identify the company a specific visitor works for. This information can be used by site owners to dynamically serve unique content based on the company’s size, industry, or a host of other data points.
Similarly, companies like Evergage use a set of behavioral rules to trigger targeted content. This type of personalization allows marketers to more effectively understand which offer is right for which types of consumer, thereby increasing conversion rates.
Mobile optimization, phone tracking, marketing automation, and real-time personalization are just a few of the exciting digital trends that will be taking hold in 2014. What big projects are you working on to increase conversions in 2014? Use the comment box to share your New Year’s marketing optimization goals.
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Tim Ash is CEO of SiteTuners.com, a landing page optimization firm that offers conversion consulting, full-service guaranteed-improvement tests, and software tools to improve conversion rates. SiteTuners' AttentionWizard.com visual attention prediction tool can be used on a landing page screenshot or mock-up to quickly identify major conversion issues. He has worked with Google, Facebook, American Express, CBS, Sony Music, Universal Studios, Verizon Wireless, Texas Instruments, and Coach.
Tim is a highly-regarded presenter at SES, eMetrics, PPC Summit, Affiliate Summit, PubCon, Affiliate Conference, and LeadsCon. He is the chairperson of ConversionConference.com, the first conference focused on improving online conversions. A columnist for several publications including ClickZ, he's host of the weekly Landing Page Optimization show and podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm. His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.
He received his B.S. and M.S. during his Ph.D. studies at UC San Diego. Tim is the author of the bestselling book, "Landing Page Optimization."
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