Articles

Reinventing the Client-Agency Partnership

Behold, the typical client-agency relationship: We’ve all been there. Everyone is excited at the kickoff, eager to build the next leaning tower of awesome together. Sometimes it’s a hit (and there is much rejoicing!) But other times it’s a miss and it’s back to the drawing board, leaving both teams wondering what went wrong and feeling a little emptier inside.

Closed Loop’s New Office Space

Closed Loop is growing and so is our office! We just took over the space next door to give us even more flexibility and capacity for projects, especially user research. We’re very happy with…

Lance Loveday Talks CRO at HeroConf 2014

Our very own Lance Loveday will be presenting on April 29th in Austin, TX at HeroConf 2014, produced by Hannapin Marketing! Lance will be co-presenting with Chris Goward, founder and CEO of WiderFunnel. Their presentation,…

ROI on UX – The Evidence is Mounting

It should not be news by now that investing in a good customer experience throughout a company drives better business results. Yet somehow, companies are still reluctant to fully commit to revamping websites,…

The Pursuit of Tappiness: Six Easy Ways to Make Your Website Tablet-Friendly

Tablets are taking over, so make sure your site is happy to the touch. Learn a few simple changes you can make today that will improve the way tablet users experience your website…

Should You Blame Your Designer for Poor Conversion Rates?

Recently, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in the conversation rate optimization (CRO) community—blaming low conversion rates on web designers. Designers are being caricatured as either “clueless” or unable to restrain their conversion-killing creative…

The Niehaus Wireframe Technique – Methods to Conversion-Optimize New Projects

When developing website projects there is often a disconnect between the target audience’s needs and priorities, the hypotheses to be deduced from them, actual implementation, and the crucial question of whether it is…

3 Essential Traits of Conversion-Optimized Design

We regularly perform expert CRO reviews of web designs for our clients. What informs these reviews? Is it just our aesthetic opinion? Must a design look a certain way to be effective at…

3 Reasons NOT To Run Conversion Tests

Testing is a hot topic. But before you decide what to test and which kind of test to run, step back and ask an even more basic question—whether to bother testing at all….

Small, Site-Wide Conversion Changes To The Rescue

Ever feel like a marketing castaway? You know what I mean: you want to improve conversion rates, but your site is trapped on a desert-island CMS and surrounded by hostile IT and C-level…

Pop This! How To Manage Visual Hierarchy For Conversion

Establishing a clear visual hierarchy is key to creating a well-optimized web page. But how do you achieve the right balance? In this article,I’ll look at nine visual “toggles” you can use, with…

Conversion Zen: Transforming Errors into Opportunities

Who’s responsible for your site’s error messages? Who decides what they say, when they appear, and how they look? It’s a key question—because if you haven’t paid attention to how your site treats…

A/B Split Testing Versus Multivariate Testing – Interview with Lance Loveday

In this video interview, conversion expert Lance Loveday explains the pros and cons of simple A/B split-testing vs. the much more complex multivariate testing: We’ve found, says, Loveday, that A/B testing tends to…

What to Test on Non-Landing Pages – with Lance Loveday

In this video interview by Web Marketing Today, conversion and design expert Lance Loveday discusses why it’s important to test non-landing pages. Historically, he says, the first emphasis was on optimizing clicks to…

Conversion Optimization Touch Points: Turning Errors Into Opportunities, Part 1

On the web, errors are seemingly inevitable, and there are plenty of best practices for minimizing their negative effects. But what if we treated errors as an opportunity? What if we deliberately designed…

How to Plan Landing Page Tests: 6 Steps to Guide Your Process

We all want to find a change that will turn a lackluster landing page into a monster. Will it require a bigger button? Or perhaps a different image? Find out how to pick…

Conversion-Optimized Touch Points: The Thank You Page

In the field of conversion optimization, there’s an understandable focus on landing pages. But why stop there? Every single touch point is an opportunity to improve the user experience and the bottom line….

Evil Conversion: When Optimization Goes Too Far

As online marketers and conversion experts, we want our sites to be effective. No, it has to be said: we want more than that—we want to turn our sites into kick-butt conversion machines,…

“Not Done Yet” – A Tale Of 2 Years, 3 Landing Pages & 6X Conversion Improvement

Quick question: how much conversion improvement is enough? Would hitting your industry’s average conversion rate convince you to rest on your laurels? If you doubled your old performance, would you stop there? Hopefully…

Interview of Lance Loveday, by RKG’s George Michie

It was a real treat for me to meet Lance Loveday at Shop.org Annual last fall. He’s been a favorite columnist of mine for some time, and getting to know him since then…

Roundtable Podcast on Testing for Conversion Optimization

This podcast discussion includes conversion optimization experts Brian Eisenberg, Lance Loveday, Anne Holland, and Chris Goward. Some of the topics discussed: Where should someone new to testing begin? Does method matter? Is suboptimization…

3 Ways to Leverage Time for More Conversions

Time, they say, was invented to keep everything from happening all at once. Whether we’re performers, filmmakers or UX designers, time allows us to organize events and engineer an audience’s experience. Time is…

Choosing Effective Website Photos & Images – Part 3

Using faces in photos on your website presents some unique challenges. I’ll group these challenges into two major groups for this article: “Faces draw attention” and “Faces don’t mean the same thing to…

4 Steps to Setting Better Conversion Optimization Goals

Ever failed to stick to a New Year’s resolution, and then blame yourself for poor willpower? Well, it may not be your will that’s to blame—it may simply be the way you phrased…

Choosing Effective Website Photos & Images – Part 2

This article continues a series of guidelines to help you with website image selection. In Part 1, I covered some general principles to consider, including the image’s mood, uniqueness, content quality, and contextual…

Choosing Effective Website Photos & Images – Part 1

Not all images are created equal. The right image on a web page can capture attention, inform, and even persuade your site visitors. The right image can communicate who you and your company…

Button Balance: Using Design to Differentiate & Prioritize

It matters where you put things. I learned this basic design principle in 4th grade band class, where I noticed that each type of instrument had a specific place to sit within the…

E-Commerce Catalog Optimization

Could your e-commerce technology platform be costing you money? How can you make your e-commerce catalogs more effective? Tim Ash, author of the book Landing Page Optimization continues his webcast series of the…

Designing for the Subconscious Mind

In last month’s column, I brought up the idea that the first impression your web site makes can have a bigger impact than many of the more traditional design considerations we tend to…

Do Your Landing Pages “Feel” Right?

Question: What do web users and professional athletes have in common? Answer: They both make fast decisions about their next action based on limited information in the blink of an eye. This thought…

Search: Too Boring For Branding?

I’m not a big fan of TV. But my wife and I decided to cancel our satellite TV service effective next week, so I’ve found myself watching more TV than ever recently, trying…

Every Touch Point Matters – Optimize the Logout Thank You Page

This post is part of a series examining some oft-neglected online customer touch points and exploring ways to optimize them.  Today, I’ll look at a type of page very similar to thank you…

AdWords Management – When to Just Say No to Google

As an SEM practitioner, I am a self-proclaimed fan of Google AdWords.  I love the ease of their platform, I love the depth of their reporting, I love our dedicated Google agency team…

How to Lose Money & Alienate Your Customers

With all the emphasis lately on how to market in a down economy, I’ve decided to go against the grain and dole out some advice for those organizations wanting to make less money…

Every Touch Point Matters – Optimizing the Email Unsubscribe

Are you ignoring an engagement opportunity? The way an organization handles a simple email unsubscribe transaction can leave a lasting impression on the audience. It’s a customer engagement opportunity to increase goodwill –…

Social Media Gold: Ratings & Reviews

I’m an introvert by nature, so this whole social media thing has left me feeling like an outsider looking in. While everyone Facebooks and Twitters each other to death, I’m asking “What’s the…

Is Your SEM Agency Working for You – or Working You Over?

There you are, a solid 9 months into a relationship with your SEM agency. You’re paying them 15% of what you’re spending with the search engines. Yes, they’re paying for themselves through their…

A Plea To Stop Dissing Your Customers

Cross-posting my article from Search Engine Land here… Dear Search Marketers: I’m worried about us. The way we’ve started talking about our target audience has me concerned that our priorities may be out…

Landing Page Optimization and Value Propositions: Back to Marketing 101

Last month, I attempted to better myself by attending the Landing Page Optimization Workshop put on by MarketingSherpa and Marketing Experiments in Santa Monica. While Closed Loop Marketing has extensive experience optimizing search…

The 8 Things Every Web Team Should Know – #1: Kick Ass or Suck!

I had the good fortune of delivering a keynote address at the Web Design 2.0 conference in Las Vegas last month. The conference organizers courageously said I was welcome to talk about whatever…

SEM for ROI – Top 10 SEM Checklist

In the past couple of years, Closed Loop Marketing has had more and more companies contact us who were actually already running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns – some managing in-house, some outsourcing to other…

Match Type Strategies – [Lessons Learned], “Lessons Learned”, Lessons Learned

Let me share with you how one PPC advertiser achieved… An ROI increase from 77% to 323% A conversion rate increase from 6.15% to 8.39% A CTR increase from 6% to 8% …solely…

Every Touch Point Matters: Optimizing Error Messages

This post is a continuation of a topic I began a few weeks back, about the cumulative impact that small, often overlooked interactions can have on the relationship between a company and their…

Every Touch Point Matters: Optimizing the Thank You Page

Once the party’s over, are you leaving customers out in the cold? Thank you pages typically don’t receive much design or marketing attention. After all, by the time a site visitor sees a…

Lance’s Interview with Shopify/Jaded Pixel

While at SXSW in March, I ran into Shannon McKarney from Jaded Pixel, the company behind the popular Shopify hosted e-commerce platform. Shannon asked if she could interview me for the Jaded Pixel…

Interview of Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus at SXSW

While at the SXSW Interactive Festival last month, Lance and I were interviewed about our book, Web Design for ROI. The interview has been posted to YouTube, but in case you’d like to…

Incorporating Usability Tests Into Design

What if you could inject usability test results directly into your design process – and do it quickly and easily? Web and interface designers are in a unique and powerful position to serve…

Evil Usability: When Business Goals and User Goals Collide

We’ve all experienced it at some point; the sneaking suspicion that those we’ve chosen to trust may not be entirely worthy. Take web sites, for example. We visit a web site, look around…

Overcoming the Challenges of B2B Search Engine Marketing

When I first joined the Closed Loop Marketing team in February 2007, I came with 3 years of online marketing experience. I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to start fine-tuning our clients’…

Evil Usability: Lessons from the Dark Side – Part 2

It’s finally official: usability can be used for evil. I’ve always suspected this to be true. After all, even the most innocuous of items””children’s toys””recently were transformed into agents for evil, so how…

The Art of Conclusive A/B Testing

The ability to perform A/B tests on ad descriptions and landing pages in paid search is truly a beautiful (and powerful) thing. If you are not testing ad descriptions against one another for…

Make Your Metrics Meaningful: 3 Must-Have Rules for Any Report

If you’ve ever presented the results of your SEO or SEM efforts to a client of yours then this scenario will be familiar: You spend hours (or days) compiling the data. You conduct…

Evil Usability: Lessons from the Dark Side – Part 1

We tend to think of usability as a good thing, a helpful light in the murky wilderness. After all, usability is all about the user, right? Helping smooth the user’s path, and making…

Google Quality Score: What is the True Measure of ‘Quality’ Anyway?

With Google’s Quality Score taking on more and more importance and Yahoo and MSN now adopting similar ranking methods, some new challenges have arisen for the conversion-based marketer. But first, before I fire…

Introducing Usability 2.0

There’s a disturbing trend emerging in the world of usability. More and more, clients are conducting their own “usability” tests and claiming those tests justify what is clearly a suboptimal, or even unusable,…