In my September 9 CMO.com article, I talked about five strategic considerations for successful optimization. One of those topics—reach—seemed the most straightforward when I prepared the piece, yet it still seems to elude even the savviest of digital marketers.
A lot of newer companies start their optimization processes by looking at homepages and core landing pages, as those points drive greater search traffic conversion. As these sites grow and expand, they’ll typically dig a little deeper and layer in additional testing on high-potential and high-performing locations, trying to make them convert more, engage more, and eliminate anything that stands between the consumers and check out.
But what about the other channels? What about social apps and platforms, email, and other high-engagement points of contact?
In my earlier article, I reinforced my long-held position on expanding the reach of optimization efforts: successful organizations must expand their optimization practices to extend across all digital channels, platforms, and locations. So what should you be looking for in your expanded optimization tactics? Plenty.
Start Here: Looking Beyond the Homepage
Your homepage is the front door to your business, and half of your traffic likely flows through this point. But just like people don’t jump from store to store when they’re looking for a cashmere V-neck sweater, non-brand loyalists won’t likely start on your homepage and navigate to your stock of cashmere V-neck sweaters. Chances are they Google “cashmere V-neck sweater” and land on a page that features cashmere V-neck sweaters. That could be your homepage, but more likely, it’ll be a category-specific page, promotional page, or specific product page.
Because of the proliferation of search, product pages and other sub-tab sections have become site entrés unto themselves. Thinking about those pages in that light, ask yourself if you’re optimizing them the best you can. Are they packed with useful content that’s optimized for search? Do the calls to action push consumers to convert right then and there—and then push them through the sales funnel? These pages should get the same commitment and integration as your homepage.
That’s not to say you should take your eye off the homepage. But if you rely heavily on search or email marketing and you’re looking to escort consumers to your site based on their queries, expressed interests, and purchase history, you want to make sure you’re keeping it highly relevant at whatever point they enter your site.
Make Facebook Work Harder
Social referral traffic converts at significantly higher rates than virtually all other sources—four times higher than organic search, even. But few marketers give their fan pages the same optimization attention they do the mother ship.
Very simply, Facebook (whose “likes” account for 87 percent of all social engagement) utilizes the same SEO tactics as brand websites. The title of the page becomes the metatitle, and the short description translates into the metadescription. A few backlinks will lead to search engine ranks, and as you gain followers, you’ll attract more of those valuable backlinks, and the organic optimization continues.
What’s more, Facebook allows page owners to create a unique URL—aka “username”—for their page once it hits 25 likes. Because URLs are heavily weighted by Google and other search engines, this is a great opportunity to up your rankings. Choose a URL that reflects a unique, essential piece of your business so consumers can find it more readily. It’s just another layer of branding and optimization that can make a big difference in traffic, engagement, and conversion.
And don’t forget the power of the “social shopper.” Engage them and they’ll be your ultimate brand evangelists. Eighty-one percent of social shoppers “share,” and of those who click through to a retailers’ site from a share, more than half convert. So long purchase funnel, hello viral loop from recommendation to awareness, interest, decision, action, and back to postpurchase recommendation, and the cycle continues. Encourage sharing, fan the viral flames (a special offer to the advocate and his or her social network, perhaps?), tap into the power of social on every product page, and watch your optimization efforts soar.
Email Testing and Optimization
Email optimization has always proven a bit trickier for marketers, mostly because of the seemingly disproportionate time and resource commitment associated. Whereas optimization on websites and social pages requires some level of ongoing testing and refinement, for email marketing that’s more or less the entire name of the game.
Cursory email optimization involves the basics: subject line and content testing. Like any marketing strategy, email doesn’t always subscribe to conventional wisdom in terms of approach—consistency, formatting, and even offers and promotions may have worked in the past, but your audience landscape may have shifted and a format change may be in order. Try out different templates, different points of focus, and different text versus visual “weights” and see. Audiences can easily get fatigued by the seemingly same old, same old in their inboxes day after day, week after week.
In that vein, subject lines can make a big difference when it comes to optimization. Many brands have found staggering results from something as simple as adding the recipient’s name to the subject line call to action. ProFlowers takes it a step further and reminds those on its list to order flowers for a specific person, calling out the name of a past flower recipient. Ordered flowers for your Aunt Rose last June? You can expect a friendly reminder telling you how much Aunt Rose would love that bouquet again this year.
Want to take personalization a step further? Try integrating dynamic content or sections into your email outreach. Dynamic content lets marketers customize emails based on subscribers’ expressed preferences, purchase history, and other onsite behaviors. Think customized greetings, references to a product previously ordered, and even a coordination with current, relevant inventory. What’s more, dynamic content can be changed daily, weekly, monthly, or even seasonally based on current purchase patterns, making your email applicable and engaging not only the first time it’s opened but countless times after. HP targeted 2 percent of its email database for dynamic email content based on behavioral segmentation. The result? A 300 percent higher open rate and 600 percent higher click through.
Your business isn’t just a homepage and, likewise, your consumers aren’t just coming in through your homepage. Your brand is multidimensional and offers a host of touch points and locations, each of which should be optimized for maximum engagement and conversion. Ensure that when someone’s looking for you, they can find you. When they’re looking to buy, they can find exactly what they need, when they need it, fast. Target your efforts and take a look at tools like the Adobe Target Value Navigator to help you understand the full scope of your these elements on lift in revenue and conversion.