February 24th, 2010 by George Aspland
I’m sure I’m going to sound like I’m raving today and well maybe I am (I’m long over due!) I’m just continually frustrated working with marketing companies, web development companies, or IT departments that just “don’t get it” and hurt our customers’ business often delaying their success for years.
We’ve been in the Internet marketing business almost 12 years now. Looking back I can tell you that our clients who have been the most successful at search marketing are those who have been able quickly implement recommendations to improve search results and conversion rates, setup landing page tests, test various offers and messages etc, and who understand that it can take many months or years to become successful at search marketing and Internet marketing in general.
Unfortunately, we’ve had a few clients who could not get recommendations or tests implemented in a timely manner leading to failure or more often delaying their eventual success for years!
Our clients who continually implemented recommendations and tests eventually succeeded.
Your Web Site Is Almost Certainly Ineffective At Converting People Who Searched On Non-Brand Keyword Phrases!
It’s virtually guaranteed that a web site that has not been improved systematically will not do an effective job of converting site visitors with little or no prior knowledge about the company or its products and services. This includes most of the non brand keyword phrases being searched on to reach the web site (from both organic and PPC search results) as well as visitors from many other referral sites.
In a previous article I took an educated guess and said that I thought about half our new clients who had not worked at improving the conversion rates on their web sites had significant issues with this. Wrong! I’ve gone back through a few years of client data. It’s 100%!
Yes, your web site likely does a decent job of converting those who searched on your own brand phrases, indicating that they already knew about you, but for most web sites there’s just not enough people searching on their brand phrases to be successful. More importantly, don’t you want to be successful generating business from the non brand keyword phrases too? Of course you do or why would you even be focusing on search marketing at all? Certainly you’re not focusing on search marketing just to do well for you own brand phrases?
I’ve said it so many times I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but it’s not just about getting the traffic to your site. What happens after people reach your site is as important, maybe more important. You’ll need to improve conversion rates on the site, very often implement recommendations to improve conversions, implementing landing pages to test, testing offers, messaging, possibly pricing etc
You Simply Can Not Succeed At Search Marketing Without Improving Conversions on Your Web Site
So if 100% of web sites that have not been worked on to improve conversions do an ineffective job of converting site visitors who searched on non brand phrases then you are doomed to failure unless you improve conversions on the site. You must improve conversions on your web site.
Focusing only on increasing traffic to your web site for non brand phrases, via organic search (SEO) and/or PPC, will likely increase the traffic to the site, but very few of these searchers will be persuaded to become customers.
In other words your search traffic will increase, but your business will not grow very much. You’ll spend time and money to increase traffic for very little return.
How to estimate conversion rates for brand vs. non-brand keyword phrases using Google Analytics
You can get a quick look at the conversion rates for your top keywords using Google Analytics if goal tracking is step up to measure important goals such as leads or purchases or at least to measure strong indicators of imminent conversions.
From the main Google Analytics window click Traffic Sources / Keywords. Then click on a Goal Set tab (see the screen shot)
Scroll through the keywords and compare the conversion rate(s) for your brand phrases vs. important non brand phrases (phrases that are relevant and on target).
To see more than the default number of keywords (usually the top 10 phrases by visits) scroll to the bottom of the chart and select more rows in the Show Rows: drop down selector.
A More Precise Method
To be a more precise scroll to the bottom of the listing of keywords to the Filter Keyword field, choose “Containing” or “excluding” in the drop down, then type in some unique part of your brand or non brand phrases and click Go. You can enter multiple keywords by separating them with a “ | “ (it’s the upper case of the \ character located just above the Enter key).
So for example if you want to enter some Google brand phrases you might enter:
You can export the selections or keywords and calculate totals for conversion rates etc for your brand vs. non brand phrases (you can break them out by various groups of brand and non brand phrases etc)
You should expect a higher conversion rate for your brand phrases. People who search on your brand phrases knew something about you before they came to the site (possibly from referrals, print or other traditional media, or perhaps they were past clients, resellers etc) however in our experience the ratio for the conversion rates of your brand phrases vs. the non brand phrases should be not much higher than about 5 or 6 (i.e. the brand phrases should convert no more than about 5 to 6 times better than the non-brand phrases.). Much higher than this is a signal that your site may not be doing a very good job of converting people who searched on non brand phrases.
Do the Math – Slow Implementation Can Be a Huge Opportunity Loss, Even Leading To Failure
Unfortunately, we’ve had a few clients who could not get recommendations or tests implemented in a timely manner. Sometimes this was due to limitations with template sites that are often used within Content Management Systems and/or ecommerce sites. However, more often it was due to backlogs in IT or with a client’s independent web developer.
Some of these clients were forced to put their search marketing efforts essentially on hold for years until till they could get to a point where they can get web development tasks done quicker.
In one case, after years of frustration a client of ours has essentially fired their IT department, taking responsibility for the web site away from IT all together. They are having the web site rebuilt by an outside firm that will handle all site updates under the direction of the Marketing Department (which is where responsibility for a web site probably should lie if the site’s main goal is to increase business).
Assume that through quick implementation of conversion improvement recommendations and tests that a web site’s conversion rate doubled within a year (this is actually at the low end for most of our clients). Now assume that this improvement in the conversion rate leads to an additional $250,000 net income (income, not revenue) each of the following two years. That’s an additional $500,000 in net income over 3 years.
Do the math using your own metrics and estimate the potential net income opportunity you’ll miss if it takes you 2-3 years just to start making progress at improving conversion rates (as has been the case with some of our clients).
Continually Work To Improve Conversion Rates for Non Brand Phrases and You’ll Eventually Succeed
I truly believe, from experience, that implementation and perseverance are the most important factors to internet marketing success and more specifically search marketing success or failure (or more often delayed success).
Clients who continually implemented recommendations and tests eventually succeeded. Those who couldn’t failed or more often delayed their success till they could implement recommendations quickly.
If you’re having issues implementing conversion improvement recommendations and tests determine why and correct it quickly or you could delay your eventual success for many years.
For More Info
Get Rich Quick with PPC! Sorry, PPC Success Takes Time Too. A case study of a client where our Adwords campaign initially was not converting well enough to pay off. It took a year, but we now have a successful campaign, one where the client has taken ad budget from other ad venues to fund the PPC campaign because it generates leads.
Improve the conversion rate for non-brand keyword phrases for search marking success. A Case study where a client’s PPC campaign was losing money for years because the site is not converting people who search on non brand phrases very well.
4 Initial Keys to Internet Marketing Success. This article covers 4 important keys to success, two of which are the topics of this article, implementing recommendations and tests and perseverance.
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