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Conversion Optimization: Eight considerations to take into account when A/B testing in mobile

I’m writing this article on a laptop computer at my desk. And in your marketing department or agency, you likely do most of your work on a computer as well.

This can cause a serious disconnect with your customers as you design A/B tests.

Because more than half (52.4% according to Statista) of global internet traffic comes from a mobile device.

So, I interviewed Rebecca Strally, Director of Optimization and Design, and Todd Barrow, Director of Application Development, for tips on what considerations you should make for mobile devices when you’re planning and rolling out your tests. Rebecca and Todd are my colleagues here at MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingExperiments).

Consideration #1: Amount of mobile traffic and conversions

Just because half of global traffic is from mobile devices doesn’t mean half of your site’s traffic is from mobile devices. It could be considerably less. Or more.

Not to mention, traffic is far from the only consideration. “You might get only 30% of traffic from mobile but 60% of conversions, for example. Don’t just look at traffic. Understand the true impact of mobile on your KPIs,” Rebecca said.

Consideration #2: Mobile first when designing responsive

Even if mobile is a minority of your traffic and/or conversions, Rebecca recommends you think mobile first. For two reasons.

First, many companies measure KPIs (key performance indicators) in the aggregate, so underperformance on mobile could torpedo your whole test if you’re not careful. Not because the hypothesis didn’t work, but because you didn’t translate it well for mobile.

Second, it’s easier to go from simpler to more complex with your treatments. And mobile’s smaller form factor necessitates simplicity.

“Desktop is wide and shallow. Mobile is tall and thin. For some treatments, that can really affect how value is communicated.”  — Rebecca Strally

“Desktop is wide and shallow. Mobile is tall and thin. For some treatments, that can really affect how value is communicated,” she said.

Rebecca gave an example of a test that was planned on desktop first for a travel website. There were three boxes with value claims, and a wizard below it. On desktop, visitors could quickly see and use the wizard. The boxes offered supporting value.

But on mobile, the responsive design stacked the boxes shifting the wizard far down the page. “We had to go back to the drawing board. We didn’t have to change the hypothesis, but we had to change how it was executed on mobile,” Rebecca said.

Consideration #3: Unique impacts of mobile on what you’re testing

A smartphone isn’t just a smaller computer. It’s an entirely different device that offers different functionality. So, it’s important to consider how that functionality might affect conversions and to keep mobile-specific functionality in mind when designing tests that will be experienced by customers on both platforms — desktop and mobile.

Some examples include:

  • With the prevalence of digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay, forms and credit card info is more likely to prefill. This could reduce friction in a mobile experience, and make the checkout process quicker. So while some experiences might require more value on desktop to help keep the customer’s momentum moving through the checkout process, including that value on mobile could actually slow down an otherwise friction-lite experience.
  • To speed load time and save data, customers are more likely to use ad blockers that can block popups and hosted forms. If those popups and forms contain critical information, visitors may assume your site is having a problem and not realize they are blocking this information. This may require clearly providing text explaining about the form or providing an alternative way to get the information, a step that may not be necessary on desktop.
  • Customers are touching and swiping, not typing and clicking. So information and navigation requests need to be kept simpler and lighter than on desktop.
  • Visitors can click to call. You may want to test making a phone call a more prominent call to action in mobile, while on desktop that same CTA may induce too much friction and anxiety.
  • Location services are more commonly used, providing the opportunity to better tap into customer motivation by customizing offers and information in real time and more prominently featuring brick-and-mortar related calls to action, as opposed to desktop, which is in a static location, and the user may be interested in obtaining more information before acting (which may require leaving their current location).
  • Users are accustomed to app-based experiences, so the functionality of the landing page may be more important on mobile than it is on desktop.

Consideration #4: The device may not be the only thing that’s different

“Is mobile a segment or device?” Rebecca pondered in my office.

She expanded on that thought, “Do we treat mobile like it is the same audience with the same motivations, expected actions, etc., but just on a different physical device? Or should we be treating those on mobile like a completely different segment/audience of traffic because their motivations, expected actions, etc., are different?”

She gave an example of working with a company her team was performing research services for. On this company’s website, younger people were visiting on mobile while older people were visiting on desktop. “It’s wasn’t just about a phone, it was a different collection of human beings,” she said.

Consideration #5: QA to avoid validity threats

When you’re engaged in conversion optimization testing, don’t overlook the need for quality assurance (QA) testing. If a treatment doesn’t render correctly on a mobile device, it could be that the technical difficulty is causing the change in results, not the changes you made to the treatment. If you are unaware of this, it will mislead you about the effectiveness of your changes.

This is a validity threat known as instrumentation effect.

Here are some of the devices our developers use for QAing.

(side note: That isn’t a stock photo. It’s an actual picture by Senior Designer James White. When I said it looked too much like a stock image, Associate Director of Design Lauren Leonard suggested I let the readers know “we let the designers get involved, and they got super excited about it.”)

 

“If your audience are heavy users of Safari on iPhone, then check on the actual device. Don’t rely on an emulator.”   — Todd Barrow

“Know your audience. If your audience are heavy users of Safari on iPhone, then check on the actual device. Don’t rely on an emulator. It’s rare, but depending on what you’re doing, there are things that won’t show up as a problem in an emulator. Understand what your traffic uses and QA your mobile landing pages on the actual physical devices for the top 80%,” Todd advised.

Consideration #6: The customer’s mindset

Customers may go to the same exact landing page with a very different intent when they’re coming from mobile. For example, Rebecca recounted an experiment with an auto repair chain. For store location pages, desktop visitors tended to look for coupons or more info on services. But mobile visitors just wanted to make a quick call.

“Where is the customer in the thought sequence? Mobile can do better with instant gratification campaigns related to brick-and-mortar products and services,” she said.

Consideration #7: Screen sizes and devices are not the same things

Most analytics platforms give you an opportunity to monitor your metrics based on device types, like desktop, mobile and tablet. They likely also give you the opportunity to get metrics on screen resolutions (like 1366×768 or 1920×1080).

Just keep in mind, people aren’t always viewing your websites at the size of their screen. You only know the size of the monitor not the size of the browser.

“The user could be recorded as a full-size desktop resolution, but only be viewing in a shrunken window, which may be shrunk down enough to see the tablet experience or even phone experience,” Todd said. “Bottom line is you can’t assume the screen resolutions reported in the analytics platform is actually what they were viewing the page at.”

Consideration #8: Make sure your tracking is set up correctly

Mobile can present a few unique challenges for tracking your results through your analytics and testing platforms. So make sure your tracking is set up correctly before you launch the test.

For example, if you’re using a tag control manager and tagging things through it based on CSS properties, if the page shifts at different breakpoints that change the page structure, you could have an issue.

“If you’re tagging a button based on its page location at the bottom right, but then it gets relocated on mobile, make sure you’re accounting for that,” Todd advised.

Also, understand how the data is being communicated. “Because Google Tag Manager and Google Optimize are asynchronous, you can get mismatched data if you don’t follow the best practices,” Todd said.

“If you see in your data that the control has twice as many hits as the treatment, there is a high probability you’ve implemented something in a way that didn’t account for the way asynchronous tags work.”                  —Todd Barrow

Todd provided a hard-coded page view as an example. “Something to watch for when doing redirect testing … a tracking pixel could fire before the page loads and does the split. If you see in your data that the control has twice as many hits as the treatment, there is a high probability you’ve implemented something in a way that didn’t account for the way asynchronous tags work. This is really common,” Todd said.

“If you know that’s going to happen, you can segment the data to clean it,” he said.

Related Resources

Free Mobile Conversion Micro Class from MECLABS Institute

Mobile Marketing: What a 34% increase in conversion rate can teach you about optimizing for video

Mobile Marketing: Optimizing the evolving landscape of mobile email marketing

Mobile Conversion Optimization Research Services: Get better mobile results from deeper customer understanding

The post Conversion Optimization: Eight considerations to take into account when A/B testing in mobile appeared first on MarketingExperiments.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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