In my last several columns, I’ve reviewed some basics of conversion optimization. “The Sciences and Disciplines of Web Site Optimization” covered some of the science and professional disciplines needed when doing conversion analysis. That got us talking around the company water cooler, and someone suggested creating a list of the best books and resources that a conversion analyst can not do without.
So we debated, scoured our bookshelves, debated, and finally came up with a list of several team favorites and grouped them into a few categories. The resulting list, below, is in no particular order and is far from comprehensive. It includes books and a few other resources that we know to be unavoidable if you want to talk shop and play like a real conversion analysis.
Usability and Information Architecture
- “Web Usability: A Designer’s Guide” by Jared M. Spool (don’t miss his research at UIE.com, either)
- “Information Architecture for the World Wide Web” by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville (a.k.a., The Polar Bear Book)
- “Web Form Design” by Luke Wroblewski
- “The Persona Lifecycle” by John Pruitt and Tamara Adlin
- “Element of User Experience by Jesse James Garret
- “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug
- “Web Analytics: An Hour a Day” by Avinash Kaushik (of Occam’s Razor fame)
- “Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics” by Brian Clifton
- “Web Analytics Demystified” by Eric Peterson
- “Marketer’s Common Sense Guide to E-Metrics” by Bryan Eisenberg and Jim Novo
- “Information Anxiety 2” by Richard S. Wurman
- “Envisioning Information” by Edward R. Tufte
- “Persuasive Online Copywriting” by Bryan Eisenberg and Jeffrey Eisenberg (yes, we did write this. But it’s received an impressive amount of acclaim, and we’ve seen it on Amazon selling for over $1,000 (see screenshot). It really is an important book if you’re serious about writing online)
- “Breakthrough Advertising” by Eugene M. Schwartz
- “Advertising Secrets of the Written Word” by Joseph Sugarman
- “The Associated Press Guide to Good Writing” by Rene J. Cappon
- “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer” by Roy Peter Clark
- “Copyblogger Blog” by Brian Clark (while we’ve tried to keep this list to books, if you want to learn more about writing copy online, you must become a Brian Clark reader, possibly even a disciple)
Direct Marketing Techniques
- “Scientific Advertising” by Claude C. Hopkins
- “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples
- “Drilling Down: Turning Customer Data into Profits with a Spreadsheet” by Jim Novo
- “The Copywriters Handbook” by Robert W. Bly
Psychology, Human Behavior, and Persuasion
- “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (if you keep running into brick walls with your messages or you feel that you just don’t have a strong message, start with this book)
- “Waiting For Your Cat To Bark?” by Bryan Eisenberg and Jeffrey Eisenberg
- “Persuasive Technology” by B.J. Fogg
- “Influence the Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini
- “Your Key to Sports Success: How Understanding Your Brain Type Will Enhance Your Athletic Ability” by Jonathan Niednagel
- “Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types” by David Keirsey
- “The Art of Speed Reading People” by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger.
- “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill
There is a lot of science and rigor in the area of testing and statistics. And while marketing is becoming more accountable, we aren’t quite ready for the amount of rigor possible in this critical area. But we will be, and when we are there will be a few more books that make this subject palatable for the average marketer and conversion analyst. Until then these are two solid choices to devour and have more than enough info to get you started testing and testing well:
- “Landing Page Optimization” by Tim Ash
- “Always Be Testing: The Complete Guide to Google Website Optimizer” by Bryan Eisenberg and John Quarto-vonTivadar
Marketing, Branding, Selling
No doubt this is the hardest category because there are plenty of fine marketing, traditional advertising, and branding gurus. What we wanted to identify some books that will influence a lot of the great books still to come. Every one of these books is still relevant to marketing and the challenges we face online. You simply can’t go wrong reading anything on this list:
- “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy (this is a true classic that can’t be ignored)
- “Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads” by Roy H. Williams (this book will ground you in the principles of advertising and marketing success)
- “Call to Action” by Bryan Eisenberg and Jeffrey Eisenberg
- “The Psychology of Selling” by Brian Tracy
- “How to Master the Art of Selling” by Tom Hopkins
- “The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource” by Jeffrey Gitomer
- “Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing” by Harry Beckwith
- “5 Steps to Successful Selling” by Zig Ziglar
- “Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It” by Al Reis
- “How to Master the Art of Selling” by Tom Hopkins
- “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” by Dan Ariely
- A few tomes by our pal Seth Godin; our faves are “Purple Cow,” “Permission Marketing,” and “Meatball Sundae.”
- “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
SEO, SEM, Social Media
When it comes to search marketing and other dynamic markets, most of the treasured resources are blogs or sites like this. Search Engine Watch and ClickZ are a must (like Mike Grehan who writes about SEO (define); he’s a friend and a fave). Here are a couple recent books worth mentioning:
- “Winning Results with Google AdWords” by Andrew Goodman
- “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day” by fellow ClickZ columnist Dave Evans
- “Email Marketing: An Hour a Day” by fellow ClickZ columnist Jeanniey Mullen
As you can see, we likely left a few out. But every resource we listed will move you well on your way to understanding the ins and outs of how to be a great conversion analyst. Many of these books are required reading for our analysts, and they should be for yours.
Did we leave out one of your must-reads? List it in the comments section below.
Meet Bryan at Search Engine Strategies London February 17-20 at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Don’t miss the definitive event for U.K. and European marketers, corporate decision makers, webmasters and search marketing specialists!
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