Ginned-up For Conversion Optimization

Sometimes I listen to myself as I try to explain to people who do other things for a living what I do and what my start-up sells.  When on the odd occasion I do that -- even as I'm warming up and feel the familiar excitement of explaining the potential of search engine marketing to drive corporate success -- I can't help but feel some pity for my audience.


 It takes a rare bird to thrill to the ideas behind optimizing Web sites, pay-per-click ad campaigns, and landing page content -- all to ensure top-notch conversions.  Still, despite my pity, I soldier on, hoping to find yet one more person interested in -- if not exactly thrilled by -- the realm of search marketing.

Lately I've turned my attention more forcefully and specifically to the idea of conversion optimization, as distinct from SEO and paid search optimization.  Rather than press my interests with the poor, unsuspecting folks who really don't know or care about search marketing, I've turned to what anyone might view as natural allies: other marketing professionals.



Alas, even among my fellow search marketers I find few who can get properly ginned-up for the subject. While it's completely understandable that they focus primarily on generating the click, whether in paid or organic search results, what happens post-click is under-prioritized far too often.  At my company we serve many mid-size businesses and agencies, and they're all hard-working and super-smart.  But what we find over and over again is that conversion optimization is relegated to a "that's important, but we'll get to it a little later" status.

At the enterprise level, good conversion optimization is often the norm; such companies have the personnel and resources to make it a priority.  But for the many thriving businesses that lie somewhere between mom-and-pops and the Fortune 1000, conversion optimization never quite makes it to the top of the priority list.

And I get why.  Simply ensuring a PPC campaign is well-optimized and grappling with things like a good long-tail strategy can be time consuming.  I also get the many jurisdictional and territorial flaps that come with optimizing Web sites, which often require diplomacy efforts rivaling those of the Middle East peace talks.

Still.  Too many companies leave money on the table because they fail to constantly test their landing pages.  They often neglect good segmenting and fine tailoring of content, as well.

Conversion optimization need not be overly complex or time-consuming, and there are many excellent tools to leverage -- including Google's free Website Optimizer.

By eliminating arguments of time, complexity or expense, the only remaining issue is one of priority -- and will. What if a business could increase sales or qualified lead generation by 20%, 12 %, or even just 2%?  In nearly every case I've seen, simple tests of landing page content always produce at least some conversion improvement. 

Search marketing should be thought of as a sort of virtuous circle that is a never-ending process of optimizing not only paid and organic search, but also conversions.  As Scott Brinker said in his recent Search Engine Land column, "Great search marketing is one percent about getting the click and 99 percent about what you do next."

How about it?  Can you get ginned-up for that?

3 comments about "Ginned-up For Conversion Optimization".
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  1. Scott Brinker from ion interactive, inc., February 1, 2010 at 1:11 p.m.

    Hi, Derek -- great article!

    Conversion optimization may have been the digital marketing equivalent of the speakeasy, but with growing consensus about its benefits -- and how it doesn't have to be complex to be effective -- it's only a matter of time until it becomes part of our popular culture like "Cheers" (at least among marketers).

    Hmm, maybe I was trying to hard to riff off of your "ginned-up" comment.

    Anyway, thanks for mentioning my post!

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 1, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.

    I am too over the hill to get ginned-up for conversation opps, but I can understand that high you can get when you find those little gems of sites where your client increases business, the site is happy to have your client and you have done you find your earnings are a just due compensation. All is well with the world....until,

  3. Michael Mostert, February 1, 2010 at 3:51 p.m.

    This is a great read!

    I just finished writing an internal case study about some recent search work I completed, and it basically amounted to touting the importance all of the things you mention in your article.

    For example, here's an excerpt:
    "Each successive click a searcher has to perform results in a greater chance of site abandonment. In an ideal situation, an advertiser would be able to provide a landing page tailored to each individual query, thereby reducing excessive navigational clicks. This becomes increasingly difficult as queries become more granular."

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