Converting Clicks to Customers through CRO Summary
- Website Conversion Focus: Emphasizes the importance of focusing on website visitors’ perspectives to increase conversions.
- Trust in Marketing: Highlights the need for trust elements in website design, such as modern design, contact information, and trust badges.
- Utilizing Testimonials: Stresses the value of diverse testimonials catering to different visitor preferences.
- Analytics & Heat Maps: Advocates for correct analytics setup and regular reviews for better website performance understanding.
- CRO Throughout the Customer Journey: Marty emphasizes optimizing every touchpoint in the customer journey, not just the bottom of the funnel.
Converting Clicks to Customers through CRO Episode Transcript
Rich: My guest today is a digital marketing expert, author, and renowned speaker who has captivated audiences worldwide with his transformative strategies. With over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing, he brings an unrivaled level of expertise and a passion for driving revenue growth.
Currently serving as president at SiteTuners, he’s responsible for nurturing partner relationships, creating value for the customer base, and overseeing day to day operations for this award-winning digital marketing agency.
But his impact extends far beyond his professional achievements. He’s a man of compassion and social responsibility, serving as a board member for Vincent House, a respected charitable organization dedicated to supporting individuals with mental health challenges.
Today, we’re going to be looking at how you can generate more conversions through your marketing with Marty Greif. Marty, welcome to the podcast.
Marty: Rich, thank you for having me. I am thrilled to be here. I know you’re up in the Portland area, and I was just up there, and I love it up there. I wish we’d gotten to spend some time in person, so maybe next year.
Rich: And obviously we’re talking about Portland, Maine, for listeners who don’t know it, or they always think of the other Portland before they think of our Portland. Yes, next time you’re in town, we’d love to,…were you meeting with our mutual friend, Nancy Marshall?
Marty: Yes, Nancy is amazing.
Rich: She’s a lot of fun, very smart woman. So let’s talk about conversions. Let’s talk about websites. I know this is an area of expertise for you, and I’m really curious. One of the first questions that a lot of people may have is, do I even have a website conversion problem? So how do we know if our website suffers from a low conversion?
Marty: Interestingly enough, all websites suffer from low conversion because it’s the last thing that people look at. Most people, and Rich I know you know this, when you have people and they say to you, “I want to grow by…” and pick a number 50% this year, 25% this year. So what do they do? They look at their ads budget and they say, “We’re just going to increase our ads by 25% or 50%.”
But here’s the problem with that. If I increase my ads by 50%, I’m spending that same 50% this month, and next month, and the following month, and so on. But when you work on conversion rate optimization, and let’s just pick a number out of the air. Let’s say you have a 1% conversion rate that out of every hundred people that come to your website, one becomes a lead, a subscription, they buy something, whatever it is you want them to do. If you change that to 1.5%, you’ve got more people subscribing, buying, and being leads.
And here’s the beauty of it. Conversion rate optimization is the gift that keeps on giving because you’re not spending the money on ads that 50% month over month, over month. So the thing that people do last, which is always conversion rate optimization, is actually the things they should do first. That’s crazy.
Rich: All right. So we know what the problems may be. What are some of the things and it sounds great, right? We make this change, we’re going to get better results over time. What are some of the biggest issues that you see when you’re working with businesses on where their conversion points are not succeeding? And what are the quick wins that we can do?
Marty: Oh, this is simple. And this is going to sound really rude, and I apologize to all the listeners in advance. But your website visitors are selfish. All they care about is what they care about, so you got to answer their questions. But what most websites do is they use what I call the opera school of marketing. And it’s like me, me, me. It’s all about me. I don’t care about you.
And so they say, we got to tell our client, our visitors this, and we got to tell them that we got them the next thing. No. When a visitor lands on the website, they ask themselves three questions. Am I in the right place? How do I feel about the site? And what am I supposed to do here? And when you answer those questions for the visitor from their perspective, your conversions go up. It’s really simple.
So your visitors are selfish, and I hate to say it. Your website owners and marketers are selfish because they think about what they want. Think about the visitor, and the money comes. I promise.
Rich: All right, let’s break down those three questions one at a time. The first one was, am I in the right place? I’m sure some site owners are saying of course you’re in the right place. They were looking for an HVAC service or an HVAC website. They were looking for digital marketing services. What can we do to make it clear to our site visitors that they are actually in the right place?
Marty: So we have tested this I can’t tell you how many times. But the upstream messaging has to align with the page they land on, whether it’s a homepage or a landing page or whatever they land on. And what’s interesting is if , we’ll use your example of HVAC service. If the upstream messaging said, “get the best service plan available for your business.” Or for your whatever they’re using it for. And they land on the page, and it doesn’t say, “HVAC” on it. If the messaging doesn’t match, and almost word for word, you’re making people think. And whenever somebody thinks and has to think too hard, they can get frustrated.
So what’s obvious to the website owner may not be obvious to the website visitor. And I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen this. And by the way, that same question, “am I in the right place?” That question is asked not only when they first land on the website, but when they go from page to page.
For example, you’ve all been to a website where it says, let’s say, “get a free demo”. And you click on “get a free demo”, and then you go to a contact page that says ‘speak with one of our experts.’ That doesn’t match. The intent might have been similar, but it doesn’t match. So the person feels you either lied to me or I’m not in the right place. What’s the simplest way to solve that problem?
The simplest way to solve that problem is in the header, underneath your logo, or maybe right next to the logo, is to have three to six to ten words. They basically say what you do from the visitor’s perspective that they care about.
So for example, on our website underneath our logo it says, “conversion rate optimization”. Now, why do you do that? No matter what page you land on, that header is always there. And people read top left to bottom right. And so if the thing is in the top left and it says what you do in simple words, it answers the question a lot easier. Am I in the right place? And we’ve tested this. It kills.
Rich: All right. That is good advice. What do you say to people who are like, yeah, but I’ve got this very clever tagline and it’s on all of our marketing material, that’s what should go underneath our logo.
Marty: I’m sorry. This is one of my favorites.
Rich: I can tell that you’ve heard this question or had this happen to you at least once before.
Marty: Yeah. Cutesy marketing doesn’t work. Okay. At the end of the day, it’s all about solving the person’s problem. And I’ve seen cutesy marketing where it’s really cute and it’s really entertaining. But you know what? It doesn’t work unless you’re a major brand. Apple or Amazon or Sony or Toyota, these people can get away with cutesy marketing. Because they already know who they are and what they do. And so it can be some fun thing. I’ll give you an example without naming a name.
We had a client generating $20 billion a year in computer hardware. And the client said to us, “Apple does it this way”. And I said to him, and I laughed, “Yeah, but you’re not Apple.” They didn’t find that as funny as I did. And I will admit that they’re no longer a client. So I might have wanted to phrase that a little differently. But it’s true. Just because Apple or Amazon can get away with something doesn’t mean that other companies can. So cutesy marketing doesn’t work.
Rich: The number of times I’ve had a client who said, “I just want it to work like Amazon.” And I’m like, do you have their budget? Because if you do that, I’m sure we could make that work for you. But until you get there, baby steps. What was the second question that people ask themselves?
Marty: How do I feel about this site?
Rich: So that is such a difficult question A) to answer, but also for us to really understand maybe what’s going on. So what tips do you have for us so that maybe people feel better about where they are and the website that they’re at?
Marty: First off, it shouldn’t look like it was built in the 1990s, so it has to be a relevant and modern design. But this question is all about trust. Are you credible or not? And the number one trust symbol on the face of the planet, and we’ve tested this I can’t tell you how many thousands of times, and this works in every country we’ve tested on, is a phone number in the top right-hand corner on desktop, and the ‘click to call’ icon on mobile. Because real companies have their phone number front and center.
And so I know, and Rich I’m sure you can appreciate this, you’ve got listeners going, “But I don’t want these people to call me.” Here’s the thing. It does increase calls, but it also increases conversions at a higher rate than it increases calls. And so if you cannot answer or take the calls, make sure that you do one of few things. Underneath the icon or the phone number, you tell them Monday through Friday, nine to five central time, wherever you are, Eastern time or whatever. Or you send it to a voicemail that gives people lots of love. People want to feel that they’re talking to a company that cares about them. And for those of you that work at the cable company, I apologize, but don’t make it sound like you’re working at the cable company where they’re like, “And now for one press this”, don’t do that. Give them love. It will increase the conversion rate.
And the other thing, on the homepage, if possible. It would be nice in your unique selling proposition in your banner area if you also had a trust statement. For example, “serving the greater Portland area for over a decade”, “join over 10,000 happy clients since 2002”, or “over a million products shipped monthly”. I’m making it up, but some kind of trust statement where I go, “Oh, thank God I find them. These are the guys. I’m in the right place and I feel good about this.” So I need trust.
Rich: Fair enough. So absolutely. And so you referenced one or two things that I would throw under the umbrella of social proof. So you’re definitely talking about some social proof things. And maybe I’ve seen some authority badges of commerce, Better Business Bureau certificates and things like that. I assume all of those also go to building that trust with the site visitor.
Marty: Absolutely. Would you like an advanced tip on that?
Rich: I will always take it. We have advanced listeners for this podcast, so I’m sure they would love that.
Marty: Okay. So here’s the thing. The structure of any page, and I don’t care whether it’s a home page, a landing page, a product page, a subscription page, it doesn’t matter. The structure of a page is it describes in the top what that page is about and what’s in it for them. Underneath that is whatever you want them to do, the call to action. You can have a couple. It could be ‘buy’, it could be ‘learn more’. It could be whatever makes sense. So you have a primary and a secondary wherever you have a call to action, you put trust right next to or right underneath the call to action.
Now, here’s the advanced tip. As they go further down the page you have more detail, and under the more detail and whatever that section is, you then have your calls to action followed by trust. And you can even drill down further and have more detail and so on, and so that’s the structure of a high converting page. Now here’s the advanced tip part. You have to change the trust. You cannot have review after review. You want to have badges underneath one, a trust statement underneath the next. You might want to have the ratings reviews for stars underneath the next. So you want to change your trust, because we use the same trust over and over again on the same page. It’s almost like banner blindness. They’re going to ignore it by having different trust elements near the calls to action and varying in them. As we move down the page, it increases the conversion rate because they’re not seeing the same thing over and over again.
Rich: That makes a lot of sense. And I would also think that some people might really be moved by seeing a Better Business Bureau banner and other people wouldn’t at all, but they might be moved by testimonials. So another benefit would, even if the first trust factor didn’t really impact me, maybe the second or the third will have that kind of impact.
Marty: You are 100% correct. Let’s be realistic. You run an agency, you know this stuff.
Rich: I hope so.
Marty: Yeah, I know you know this stuff.
Rich: But you’re the expert, so these are why I’m asking these questions.
Marty: Okay, all right, fair enough. But you’re right. And the other side to that is people consume information differently. Some people might want to see a video testimonial, some people might want to see a written testimonial. So you could have different types of testimonials on your page, but some would be a video section, and then further down, maybe not the next one or above it would be the written testimonial. Because people process information differently. And other people would love the badges. They see the badges and they go, “These are the guys.” Some people read a trust and go, “These are the guys.” I have no idea. Your visitors are all different. They all process information different. So Rich, you are 100% right.
Rich: Brilliant. All right. Not me, but the answer. So remind me again of the 3rd question that our visitors are going to ask us when they get to our website.
Marty: What am I supposed to do here?
Rich: Okay. All right. So I have some thoughts on this, but I’d love to hear from you. How do we make it super clear what the next desired step is going to be?
Marty: All right. So this is where a little bit more research goes in. There’s two things. We talked about primary and secondary calls to action. Your primary call to action might be what you want them to do. Your secondary call to action might be what you’ve learned they want to do. Okay, so get a demo, learn more, speak with an expert, learn more. I’m just throwing out a couple examples here. Subscribe now, learn more.
And you might turn it around. For some sites, the ‘learn more’ might be the primary and the ‘subscribe’ or the ‘buy’ might be the secondary. And again, there’s testing that’s involved in this. So you always want to have, when you can, the bottom of the funnel by subscribe, whatever. But you also want to give people the option to dig deeper. Some people will want to take action immediately. Some people will want to research more.
To do that, you need to look at what’s happening in your analytics and maybe with heat maps to figure out what are these people doing. Is there 80% of these people going to learn more and only 20% are taking the action you want. Then you make your primary to ‘learn more’, make it easier. And what’ll happen is you’re earning the right to ask for the ‘buy’ because you’re giving them what they want. Again, I’m going to go back to your visitors are selfish, so give them what they want. And heat maps and analytics tell you what they want.
And I will go one step further in here. At the end of the day, if you solve your visitor’s problem, you align that user intent with their experience on your website. And of course your company goals, that’s where the money is. And so analytics tells you all that.
So I’ll go the other extreme. We’ve all been to sites where there’s no call to action. You go to a product page or a service page, and you have to go from page to page before you can actually sign up or call them or find something. Don’t make your visitors feel like they’re wandering around in the desert lost for 40 years. That’s not who they are. So make it easy for them to know what the next steps are. Don’t hide them. I can’t tell you how many times we see sites with missing calls to action.
And here’s another trick on a high converting site without being obnoxious. As you go down that page, you can ask for the call to action a second time and a third time, as long as you’re providing value to the visitor in each section. Whatever you’re giving them, you’ve earned the right to say, “Would you like to learn more? Would you like to get started?” Whatever the right thing is. Every site’s a little different, but you can ask more than once. You just don’t want to be obnoxious.
Rich: I appreciate all that. I appreciate the Moses reference. I don’t think we’ve ever had one on the show before, so that’s wonderful.
I’m curious about your use of heat maps. Do you have a favorite heat map tool? And what exactly are you looking at or looking for when you’re examining the heat map reports?
Marty: Okay, so on the favorite tools, a lot of these tools are very similar. Which, I’ve just insulted every tool vendor because they all think they’re theirs is better, but we use whatever our clients come with, typically. And if they don’t have something, I would say the majority of our clients for whatever reason happened to have Hotjar, but we’ve used Lucky Orange, Mouseflow. There’s tons of these out there, and so we’re agnostic.
Having said that, the heat maps show you what people are looking at, what’s drawing their attention, which could indicate either a design flaw or interest, interestingly enough. A design flaw means that you’re not drawing their eyes to the things that they need or wanted to do, versus interest where they’re clicking. And there are things called like ‘anger clicks’ because they’re not getting what they want.
And the other thing, recordings are wonderful. Because you can see if they’re scrolling down on the page and abandoning, scrolling down and clicking somewhere, scrolling down and then up and then down and up. And these things mean different things. If they land on your page and don’t scroll, whatever you said in the top isn’t interesting or relevant to them. If they scroll to the bottom and leave, again, you weren’t relevant. If they scroll up and down and up and down, you were relevant, but they didn’t know what to do. They couldn’t find that one piece of information they needed.
And so these heat maps news recordings tell you massive amounts of information. There is one other trick. Heat maps – and again, no disrespect meant to any of the heat map vendors – but they are pigs. They slow down the site. And speed is actually a conversion issue. You don’t want to slow down your site. So when you’re using heat maps, you turn them on, you use them, and when you’re done you turn them off so that they’re not slowing down your site.
Rich: All right. How long do you usually run, since we’re talking about the energy usage and slowing down the page, we want to be cognizant of this. How long do you recommend that we run these tests before we shut them down and try and discern what we can out of it?
Marty: We always try to run anything, whether it’s a heat map or a testing tool to run testing, for in increments of seven days. Because that will take care of time of day and day of week variations. And you can see, because you might find that people work very differently on Saturdays than they do during the week, or at night, or whatever it is. And so we really like to see that time of day and day of week to see if it makes any difference whatsoever. So seven days, 14 days, and so on.
Having said that, if you run a heat map and you notice, oh my God, this is a mess, it doesn’t matter time of day. Turn it off, fix the problem, and move on. But when it’s looking like you’re getting real data and it’s interesting data, then it runs in increments of seven days.
Rich: And another tool you reference is analytics. Often it’s GA4, but it could be other things as well. What are some of the lessons that you’re trying to pull from looking at a client’s analytics? What are some of the first things that you start looking at to find that low hanging fruit for improved conversion rate?
Marty: I’m going to actually go a step beyond that. And I apologize in advance. We have even massively large companies come to us, and it’s not just the small ones that come to us. Over 70% don’t have their analytics set up correctly. And so you cannot fix what you’re not measuring.
So before we get to the point of what should they be measuring, the first thing I’m going to say is setting up your analytics is not a one and done. Your website changes, your goals change. You need to be looking at your analytics and the setup of the analytics on a monthly basis to figure out what’s working and what’s not working. And I’m not exaggerating when I tell you 70% don’t have their analytics set up correctly. And so the first thing we have to do is fix that. Because seriously, and you know this, if you’re not measuring it, we’re just guessing at what we should test. Now once it’s set up correctly, to your question, and so I’m sorry about that aside.
Rich: No, it’s a great point and a great reminder.
Marty: Oh yeah, drives me nuts. And then they’re like, but we want to just get started. And we’re like, no, we got to fix this first. Which can take weeks, if not longer. It depends on… all right, we’re not going to go down that route.
Once it’s set up, then we want to look at how are the funnels performing? What do we think the funnels are? What is the engagement? Now in the old Google Analytics, Universal Analytics, we would look at bounce rates, time on site, and so on. And now in GA4, we’re looking at engagement rate, which is the reverse of bounce rates. So it’s a similar side of the coin.
And so we’re looking at, are people engaged on this site? Because if you have people engaged and they’re going from multiple pages, that will give you higher rankings and higher quality scores, whether it’s organic Google or paid Google. Google will give you Google love if your site is highly engaging. And there is a direct correlation between pages and engagement rate and time on site, to rankings in SEO. And there’s also a direct correlation between all of those things and your conversion rate. The higher your engagement rate goes up, and so on, the better off your conversion is.
Now, here’s where it gets counterintuitive. When you truly optimize the site, and if they’re landing for the sake of argument on a homepage. When you optimize the site, the time on site will go up, the amount of time on the homepage should go down. Because the purpose of the homepage is to get them deeper into your funnels and to get them off of the homepage. If, on the other hand, you do things and the time on the homepage goes up, that’s actually a bad sign.
So there’s different things you look at depending upon the type of page it is. And I’m not trying to make this overly complicated, but you look at the different pages based on the type of page and its purpose. So for example, if we talk about commercial pages versus non-commercial pages, a blog page, for example, is a non-commercial page. So your time on that page should go up. But you also want the engagement rate to go up because you want those people to go from that page to another page.
If they’re just doing a one and done on a blog page or some content page, you’re not doing what we call ‘content for conversion’, where you’re getting people to engage with your organization to take whatever the desired action. And there’s tricks to that.
On the other hand, if you look at your commercial pages, the engagement rate on your commercial pages, probably for the time on the page I should say, won’t be as long as the time on the page on a blog page. And there’s caveats to all this. And more science doesn’t fit all. And I’m giving a generic thing. You actually have to look at the pages. You have to look at the analytics, you have to look at the heat maps, and then you can make real determinations.
Rich: So that was really interesting. And one of the things that I guess I have a question on is, I, for a long time said your homepage is basically you’re jumping off point. So as soon as they get to the homepage, you want to get them to go somewhere else. But over the last few years, I’ve noticed that a lot of businesses seem to have much longer homepages with a lot more content, and almost more of a service page approach to them where it’s like this section, then this section with different service offers and all these sorts of things. Do you think that’s the wrong direction? Or is that maybe just like everybody’s going to have a different approach, and if that works for you, that’s great?
Marty: So this reminds me of my mother and what she used to say, “If little Johnny jumped off the bridge, would you jump off the bridge too?” So look, there’s a place, Rich, for lots of information on the homepage. But when you do the homepage correctly, what happens? And you’ll see this in your analytics and on your heatmaps, is they don’t scroll through it, they engage higher up.
There are some people who will read everything on a page, but the majority of people, if you’ve done a really good conversion job, won’t get from the top too far down before they start to take the action.
And this, by the way, is cultural a little bit. I’ll give you, I don’t know how international the audience on your podcast is, but I will tell you we’ve tested things in lots of countries with all sorts of languages, but let’s just use English. It turns out if you do a site in the United States versus England versus Australia, and we’ve done this test, here’s what we found. Americans, and I’m an American so I’m going to say this, Americans are lazy. We are the land of instant gratification. So Americans don’t read, they don’t scroll, they’re not interested, they just watch, bang, give me what I want.
The English, on the other hand, read freaking everything on a page. I’m exaggerating a little bit, but oh my god, if you don’t have enough content for them, they are just not satisfied. And the Australians, God love them, are in the middle. And we’ve tested this. And so there is a cultural element to this, depending upon the society or the organization that you’re looking at.
And the cultural element doesn’t have to be country-wise. It could be, I’m selling to engineers versus managers, right? Engineers were going to want to read more about the specs. Managers want to know more about the benefits. So it really depends on the audience and their demographics or their culture.
Rich: Wow. Very interesting.
Marty: Yeah, but that wasn’t an easy answer, like one size fits all, right? It just doesn’t.
Rich: And I think it comes down to really understanding who your best customers are and making sure you’re creating the right kind of content for them.
At the very beginning of the conversation, you talked about the benefits of working on CRO. And that’s really end of the funnel, like literally getting people to take that desired action, versus maybe some of the first steps that they might take on their customer journey. Is there a specific place, if somebody is just starting on their CRO journey, would you recommend that they start at the contact or application form that’s on their website and then start to work backwards? Or are there other things like other calls to action that you might recommend as the first thing they try and tackle as they start this journey?
Marty: So I’m going to offer an alternative here.
Marty: So I would propose that CRO actually stops at the top of the funnel, not at the bottom of the funnel. At the bottom of the funnel is where you can have immediate thing where you fix the cart, you fix the forms, and you can get an immediate bang for your buck. And so that’s always the low hanging fruit and the stuff you should do day one when you start.
But when you do true CRO, conversion rate optimization is about optimizing every single touch point. And that includes looking at your upstream messaging, whether it’s Google ads or your metadata for your SEO, or your social. Having that alignment and looking at that alignment between the user intent and their experience, and aligning with your company goals works.
So there are things called ‘micro conversions’ to get people at the top of the funnel. So what we always talk to people, and I know that people are listening here. But if you think about a funnel, and you’ve got this standard funnel shape where at the top it’s wide and at the bottom it’s small, when you do real CRO, that funnel doesn’t become wide at the top and small at the bottom. It becomes more like a tube, like a snake eating a possum, right? That’s a weird analogy. But you want as much to flow through as possible. And so by optimizing from the top all the way through to the bottom, over time you wind up with a lot more sales, subscriptions, leads, whatever it is you’re optimizing for.
To your point, absolutely. Bottom of the funnel stuff, forms, cart, subscribe, check out, whatever those things are, always opportunities to immediately improve somebody’s revenue. But true CRO looks at the top of the funnel as part of the process.
Rich: Awesome. Marty, this has been great. Very eye opening. I’m sure a lot of people want to learn more, and learn more about you, learn more about Site Tuners. Where can we send them online?
Marty: I would ask they take a look at sitetuners.com. And if they’d like, we have a form that they can fill out. And this is going to sound a little bizarre. We believe that you give before you get. And if they book an appointment – we don’t sell them – we spend 30 minutes looking at their website. We tell them what the low hanging fruit is. And if they want to have another conversation later on about working with us, great. But we believe you give before you get. And we’ve had people say to us, “Oh, my God, if this is what you do for free, imagine what happens if we pay you.” It works.
Rich: Awesome. And we’ll have those links in the show notes. And Marty, thank you so much for coming by today. Really appreciated your knowledge and our conversation.
Marty: Rich, it has been an honor and a privilege. I look forward to meeting you in person soon.
Marty Greif, a seasoned conversion rate optimization expert, is committed to helping everyone achieve success. With over 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Marty assists clients in attaining long-term growth and increased revenue. Discover how Site Tuners is revolutionizing businesses with their expertise in CRO.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.