This Unusual Hack Will Raise Your Conversion Rates by 200-300%

Over the last six months or so, one of my colleagues and I have been able to cut the cost of conversion by 2-3 times, from over $325 per conversion to under $100. Here’s what that looked like:

This Unusual Hack Will Raise Your Conversion Rates by 200-300%

Pretty impressive, right? If you can cut your cost per conversion that much, you can drive way more conversions with the same advertising budget. So how did this happen?

What Happened?

It’s often extremely difficult to connect cause and effect in search marketing, because there are so many variables changing at the same time. However, this analysis was aided by the fact that I hadn’t made any changes to the campaign in question:

  • Did we change the landing page? No.
  • New bid strategy? Nope.
  • New ads? No. We ran the same ads over the entire time.

I had done nothing at all to the campaign over the period in question, as it was a smaller RLSA campaign that we didn’t bother focusing on because it wasn’t housing a ton of spend.

When I discovered CPAs had gone down so much, I needed to know what the heck was going. It’s not every day an untouched campaign goes bonkers like this!

The first thing I checked was to see if the CPCs were going down. That could play a huge role in lowering CPAs. But as you can see here, the CPC is steady from week to week, with the exception of August where I had to turn off the campaign for 3 weeks for budget reasons.

This Unusual Hack Will Raise Your Conversion Rates by 200-300%

It wasn’t that click prices were going down – it was that that the conversion rates were going way up. From the 2 percent range to the 7-8 percent range in recent months, as shown here:

This Unusual Hack Will Raise Your Conversion Rates by 200-300%

How Did Conversion Rates Triple So Quickly?

Here’s what was different: During the time period in question, the company ran Facebook ad campaigns targeting higher-funnel audiences corresponding to people who have the same interests and demographics as their buyer persona. The audience size was approximately 20 million people.

We bombarded this selected audience group with tons of different videos, ads, offers and content. On average people in the target audience saw the ads just over 10 times each between February and October of 2017, as shown here:

This Unusual Hack Will Raise Your Conversion Rates by 200-300%

The Facebook ads generated clicks and conversions as you would expect from any pay-per-click advertising campaign.

This Can Raise Your Conversion Rates

But I believe the campaigns had an additional halo effect of creating a strong brand bias among the people who clicked through to the site, which profoundly impacted the RLSA campaigns, since they only target people who have previously visited your site.

Over the spring and summer months, we bought a ton of Facebook ads, bombarding their newsfeeds with ads (essentially manufacturing brand affinity), and the conversion rates for the RLSA campaign went up every month.

What we’re seeing here is that people with stronger brand affinity have higher conversion rates than people without any, because people tend to buy from the companies they have already heard of and begun to trust.

What does it all mean?

I’m a CRO skeptic. I think there’s a lot of the CRO bs out there that is just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Most of the time when people talk about conversion rate optimization they focus first on the obvious things like tweaking ad copy and landing pages or changing your bids – yes, these are all important things we must attend to, but they rarely yield sustainable 200-300% decreases in cost per conversion.

This Unusual Hack Will Raise Your Conversion Rates by 200-300%

When it comes to increasing conversion rates and lowering CPA, the unicorn of all conversion rate optimization hacks is to create brand affinity among your target audience, for your business.

Quantifying the impact of brand affinity on direct response marketing is very difficult to measure, but this case study isolates a lot of the noise and illustrates the huge impact it can have on purchasing decisions.

Conversion Rate Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How to Make Online Ads More Effective by 200-300 Percent" was first published on Small Business Trends

Twitter Miscalculated Users Count for Years

Twitter released its third quarter results report Thursday and revealed that it miscalculated the amount of users it had by millions.

Twitter Miscalculated Users

Its second quarter monthly active user total, for example, was actually around 326 million, not 328 million as originally reported. It now claims to have 330 million active users — meaning an uptick of 4 million rather than 2 million. The social media company explained that the errors in counting occurred because “since the fourth quarter of 2014” it “included users of certain third-party applications” and they “should not have been considered.”

Specifically, Twitter included all users of its former product “Digits,” which users could employ to sign into third-party apps with just a phone number. But just because someone was accessing Digits, doesn’t mean they were using Twitter. And Twitter sold off Digits to Google well before the first or second quarter were completed.

The retroactive adjustment makes their user growth look better now due to the higher proportion of development, but could conceivably have misled investors who were deceived by the incorrect numbers.

Other telling statistics include a modest decline in revenue ($590 million) in comparison to the same point last year ($616 million), roughly a four percent drop. On the other hand, losses substantially decreased with a total loss of $21 million in the third quarter, as Q3 2016 experienced a $103 million deficit.

Naturally, as it’s leader and top spokesman, CEO Jack Dorsey said the results are promising.

“This quarter we made progress in three key areas of our business: we grew our audience and engagement, made progress on a return to revenue growth, and achieved record profitability,” Dorsey wrote in a press release. “We’re proud that the improvements we’re making to the product continue to bring people back to Twitter on a daily basis.”

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to elaborate on the details of the miscalculations beyond what it offered on the report.

Twitter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Business Users, Twitter May be Miscalculating Your Reach" was first published on Small Business Trends

The Importance of Employee Recognition at Your Small Business

Every human being wants to be recognized and appreciated for the work they do because they like to see the reward of their efforts. However, managers often wait until the annual performance review day to give their feedbacks and show their recognitions. Managers shouldn’t wait only one day of the year to recognize their employees. Instead, they should recognize them every day. This is only possible, if employee recognition becomes part of that company’s culture. It is recommended that every company makes employee recognition an essential part of their company cultures and below you can see its reasons.

The Importance of Employee Recognition

  • Lowers Employee Turnover and Retention: When employees feel recognized, they tend to stick around longer and therefore, employee turnover and retention decrease. Correspondingly, recruiting and training a new employee costs decrease. There are both foreseeable costs of replacing an employee as well as unforeseeable costs because it takes three to six months for a new employee to get used to their new roles and become as productive as the previous employee.
  • Increases Employee Happiness: When employees are recognized, they become happier and as a result, their productivity increase. When they are more productive, they do more great work and should be rewarded again. This is a constant loop. Productive employees mean more successful jobs and more successful jobs mean earning more money for the employer so it is a win-win situation for everybody. Also, employees do not usually quit jobs but they quit their managers. If their managers make them feel valued, they become happy and do not think about quitting their jobs.
  • Increases Employee Engagement: Companies often complain about poor employee engagement and look for ways to overcome this problem. In order to increase employee engagement, a well thought recognition and appreciation program might be a solution. A powerful program increases employee engagement as well as employee morale. Hence, employees feel valued and valued employees are more satisfied from their jobs.
  • Increases Trust to the Company: Recognized employees feel more human and worthwhile. Hence, this affects the trust of employees because if a company cares about their employees and puts them first, then trust to this company increases. When employees trust their workplaces, they become more committed and embrace their workplaces. Also, if a company has remote employees, building trust becomes more difficult due to the challenges of working remotely. Therefore, managers can build trust among their employees by showing them that they see their contributions and care about their needs.

Job Well Done Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "4 Reasons Employee Recognition is Important to Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

These Are the Best Times to Book a Flight

It’s a familiar — and frustrating — experience: Planning a trip and checking airfares every few days, waiting for the perfect price to appear. Finding the opportune moment to buy is no easy feat.

Plane ticket costs fluctuate constantly. In fact, during the typical 11-month period a flight is listed, the price changes every four and a half days on average, according to CheapAir.com’s annual airfare study.

Best Times to Book a Flight

So when is the optimal time to book? That depends on where and when you plan to travel. While there’s no sure bet, we’re offering some guidance to help you out.

Domestic flights (within the continental U.S.)

When: Between 21 and 105 days in advance; in particular, 54 days in advance.

Why: Airlines tend to price flights on the higher side at first, because there’s not yet a strong sense of the market demand, says Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, an airfare analysis app. After that, it’s simple economics: If demand is low, prices fall. If it’s high, prices get higher. Wait too long, seats fill up and the costs increase. “So there’s usually that sweet spot — two, three, four months in advance — depending on where you’re flying to,” Surry says.

What to expect: Spikes and dips in cost still occur, but your best chance to secure a ticket on the cheaper end lies within this window, according to the CheapAir study. You may have fewer seats and routes to choose from compared with when the flight was first announced, but competition, and therefore sales, will likely heat up.

International flights

When: Between 59 and 119 days in advance, depending on the region. Here’s a breakdown of the best times on average:

  • Canada: 59 days in advance
  • Mexico and Central America: 61 days in advance
  • Caribbean: 76 days in advance
  • South America: 81 days in advance
  • South Pacific: 89 days in advance
  • Asia: 90 days in advance
  • Europe: 99 days in advance
  • Africa and the Middle East: 119 days in advance

Why: The prime booking window for international trips is farther out than for domestic excursions, in part because these flights are generally costlier. The more expensive the purchase, the earlier the typical person plans, Surry says. If seats are grabbed early, that leaves a longer period for airlines to hike up prices for the remaining supply. Another explanation is that international fares are especially prone to seasonal variations. “So buying the lowest fare in high season as soon as dates are firm is generally a wise course of action,” said Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, an airline industry analysis and consulting firm, in an email.

What to expect: Frequent, sometimes drastic, shifts in ticket costs.

Best days of the week to book

When: Wednesday and Thursday

Why: Computers normally control airline ticket prices using complex algorithms, which makes it difficult to predict the exact day when fares are lowest. However, humans decide when to schedule flash sales — short-lived deals that usually last a day or two — and these often pop up during the week, Surry says. This could explain why more destinations — in both domestic and international markets — see their lowest fares on Wednesdays and Thursdays than any other days, according to a study conducted by Hopper.

What to expect: Tickets might be less expensive — but not by much. The average savings between the best and worst days of the week to shop are about $10 for domestic markets and about $30 for international markets, according to Hopper.

“You’ll save a lot more by booking farther in advance, typically, than you will by picking a specific day of the week,” Surry says.

Note that prices vary based on which days of the week the departure and return are.

Anticipate seasonal anomalies

The above guidance won’t apply in all circumstances. Allow yourself extra buffer room for peak times, such as weekends and holidays. For less desirable periods, like the cold winter months, you can procrastinate a bit longer.

When to buy (for domestic flights):

  • Winter: 54 days in advance
  • Spring: 75 days in advance
  • Summer: 76 days in advance
  • Fall: 47 days in advance

Why: Sensing a pattern? That’s right — it’s another case of supply and demand. Seats sell out faster during busy seasons. The same goes for international voyages.

What to expect: Buying tickets on the best day versus the worst day for each season yields more than $200 in savings, according to CheapAir. However, there are exceptions within each season. With some high-demand travel times, ticket costs are relatively static. For example, domestic plane tickets are expected to hold steady around $300 round trip for Thanksgiving, according to data from Skyscanner, a travel search site.

Maximum savings for Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be found in the three to seven weeks leading up to each holiday.

More ways to save

Counting down the days isn’t always the best way to get a cheap flight. The next time you’re hunting for a deal, try these tips:

  • Use a flight comparison tool. Apps and websites like Hopper, Skyscanner and Airfarewatchdog automatically track fares and can alert you to the best time to buy a ticket for your desired route.
  • Check social media. Follow travel companies and airlines on sites like Twitter and Facebook for up-to-date sale announcements.
  • Ask for a price adjustment. “If you find that the fare drops subsequent to your decision to buy, ask the carrier to match it. Some will, and Southwest and Alaska often do so without change fees,” Mann says. However, airlines will often issue refunds in the form of travel credit.
  • Be flexible. Keeping your options open can help you save money. Try moving dates around or flying out of different airports.

Airplane Window Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Best Times to Book a Business Flight: Secrets Revealed" was first published on Small Business Trends

4 Tips for More Effective Presentations

Presentation skills are essential in today’s business world. If you work for someone else, at some point you will probably need to make a presentation. When you own your own business, you definitely have to make presentations. Knowing how to present effectively is a soft skill that can help you excel in almost any field.

Tips for More Effective Presentations

Here’s how to take your presentation game to the next level:

Practice

A few weeks ago, I helped my son put together a presentation for school. I told him if he wanted to present effectively, he would need to be ready to practice. It takes practice to excel at anything, and presentation is no different. My son practiced in front of me several times — and he also practiced on his own. He even ran the presentation by two of his friends.

Get in the habit of practicing, and your presentations will be much more effective — especially since when you know the material, you are more likely to project confidence.

Choose a Message to Present to Your Audience

Next, you need to make sure you have a message you can present to your audience. What is the main takeaway? You don’t want to muddy the waters with a lot of different messages and information overload. Instead, think about three key points you want to make that emphasize your core message. Your presentation should focus on those items.

Start by Drawing the Audience In

If you want to present effectively, you need to start by drawing the audience in. There are different methods of doing this. Some ways to grab attention right from the start include:

  • Tell an engaging story that is related to the point you want to illustrate.
  • Share an interesting fact that supports your presentation.
  • Ask a question to get audience engagement.

Don’t start with who you are. That backstory isn’t something many people want to hear. Instead, they want to be engaged from the beginning. Find a way to begin strong so the audience is ready to listen to your message.

Use Your Voice and Body Dynamically

Do you like it when someone stands at a podium and drones at you in the same tone of voice all the way through a presentation? Probably not. It’s boring.

To present effectively, you need to keep the audience engaged. You can do this by changing the speed at which you talk, incorporating meaningful pauses, and even varying the pitch of your voice. You want to make sure you don’t overdo it, and it sounds natural. But using your voice can be a good way to hold an audience’s attention.

Your body can also add to your presentation. Make gestures that are open and inviting. If possible, move around on the stage. It’s even better if you are equipped to actually go among the audience. Make eye contact with audience members and smile.

Bring it All Back

Finally, at the end, bring it all back to the subject at hand. Make sure that you have gone through a natural progression and now your audience is ready to receive your message as you finish strong.

Image: Due

This article, "Take Advantage of Effective Presentations: Read These 4 Tips" was first published on Small Business Trends