New Years Resolutions for Online Marketers

January 3, 2012 – 5:44 am

It’s that time again, a new year to optimize your site, increase brand awareness, and increase your return on investment (ROI).  Below is a list to help all online marketers for the New Year.

  1. Multi-channel testing. Test new marketing channels every single month. No matter your budget, you can test. Set a realistic budget for each test and do it. Have you tried: paid search, retargeting, search engine optimization, email nurturing, 15 second video commercials, guest blog posts, writing “how to” articles, affiliate marketing, looking at your referring sites in analytics and trying to partner with the sites bringing traffic/conversions to your site, etc… How about these 2nd and 3rd tier engines and display companies: 7Search,, Linkedin,, Infolinks, Looksmart, or Bizo?
  2. Website testing.  I will not go too deep into this because I just wrote about website testing – Web Analytics Testing a Common Sense Approach. What actions do you want your customers to take once they find your site? Then add informative content and help your customers find what they are looking for on your site to increase your ROI.
  3. Know who your customers are and who your customers are not. Through analytic reports and testing you can find out a lot about your customers. Where are they from, what pages do they visit, which pages do they bounce right off of, what path do they use to get to the cart, the numbers of days before they buy, and more. Ask frequent users for a case study and/or a testimonial. Find out why they chose your product/service and what they are using it for. Use social sites like Facebook and Twitter to build relationships and use your email lists to take surveys. All of this may sound overwhelming, so be realistic. You can hire a team to do this or you can allocate one person to spend less than one hour a day on your social sites. Creating a survey through SurveyMonkey is relatively easy. Try creating a survey to just your employees to practice and go from there.
    Be open and always remember a complaint is not bad, it is a gift. Complaints are gifts your customers are giving you so you can improve your product or service. If complaints continue to come in, fix the problem The problem is not the social sites they are posting on, the problem is your product or service. Let them know you are aware of the problem and fix it!
  4. SEO is not dead and never will be. Optimizing your website for the search engines is an ever-changing skill that cannot be left idling. There are some proactive tasks you can take to help you increase or maintain your rankings.
    a) Social sites are your friend. Those weekly blog posts, 10 second tweets, Facebook discussions, Linkedin updates, etc… create chatter. Even if the sites do not give you weight for the backlink, Google, current customers, and potential customer still see those posts.  Let social and SEO work together.
  5. Start branding you, create your personal brand. I am finding out, marketing yourself as an expert not only helps you, but helps your company. I will admit that this is an area I am definitely lacking and need to focus on in 2012.
    People are going to look you up in various industry and general search engines to review the search results and see your profile on Linkedin and social sites.  Start speaking at local meetups and as you become more comfortable speaking, move up to larger venues.  If you appear to be an expert in your field, it adds credibility to you and your company.
  6. Create and implement your plan.  Brainstorm with your team. Get ideas of other things you can do to improve your brand awareness and ROI then create and implement a plan. Without this step, all of your time and effort were for nothing. Write down everything you want to do. Put the easier quick wins at the top, then prioritize from there.
    These next 2 steps are a MUST! a) For each task, assign it to someone. There may be others involved in the task, but one person must be assigned the overall responsibility to get it done and b) add a realistic “completion by” date. Meet weekly to discuss the expected and current progress of the tasks.

Web Analytics Testing – A Common Sense Approach

July 20, 2011 – 7:13 am

Paid search, referral sites, direct traffic… You know where your traffic is coming from, you know which channels are converting, you know visits, you even know which browsers your users have, but you want more.

A lot of people talk about testing, but that is all it is, talk. Seems like the biggest barrier to testing is that no one knows where to start. Testing is so broad and seems to be so complex, your site just sits there waiting, missing out on possibly significant increases in revenue. I am going to outline your plan of attack. Hopefully I will put it into terms that are easy to understand and get you motivated to start.  

First let me give you a brief history. It’s important and I haven’t seen others write about it, so don’t skip over this section. I have been testing websites, paid search ads, title tags, web copy, landing pages, email subject lines, etc… for years. I am Google Analytics certified and have been to conversion conferences, summits, get togethers, meet ups, etc…. With all of that, I can summarize much of my site testing experience in two words: Visual Distractors. That’s it? Can you believe that crap? You spent all of that time delaying your website testing and it all comes down to two words, visual distractors? Hellz yea! Check this out.

You find a website test someone completed online. They write about changing their button color from red to green and poof, conversion rates sky rocketed 25%. You try it and nothing. As a matter of fact, your conversion rates may have dropped. You feel like you wasted your time or you did something wrong. What gives? The visual distractors.

Each site is different. Just because a test worked on one site, does not mean it will work on yours. It probably worked on that site and not yours because of the color scheme of the site. Let’s say the site they added the green button to had a lot of red in it. Now they add a bright green “Buy” button that sticks out like a sore thumb on the site. The eyes get drawn to the button and it tells your potential customer what to do next. If your site has green tones and you add a green “Buy” button, it will blend, no visual distraction. Green themed site, try light orange. Where do you want your customers eyes to go? Make sense?

Many of you have heard adding a pretty lady to your site may increase conversions. Again, something to test. Depending on your demographics, she may be a visual distractor away from what you want your customer to do. Simply adding the lady to your site is not the end of the test. Add her to your site and wait for the results, then test adding the “Buy” button near the distractor. If the image is on the right side of the page, test moving the buy button to the right closer to the image. That reminds me of another piece of advice for you. Test only one thing at a time otherwise you will commingle your results. Add the image of the lady and then wait. Once you get enough data to say it worked or not, then move the buy button closer and wait for that data.

So should I ignore it when I read about other people completing online tests?

Sites like are awesome. The most important thing is not to look at the actual color changes, text changes, image changes, etc… The most important thing is to look at the test itself to see if it is something worth doing. So you wouldn’t look at the button colors, you would look at the test as a whole and decide if testing button colors is a worthwhile test. Once you figure that out, decide which colors are different from the other colors on your site and stand out. When you read about other tests, you are getting ideas on what to test. I know sites like FreshBooks and ShareFile test all of the time. They started small and now test pretty much daily. Once you understand how to get started and see one of the tests take off, it is almost addicting.

You goal is find a few website tests, prioritize which ones you feel will give you the biggest conversion increase (go with your gut), think about the visual distractor (where do you want your customers eyes to go and what do you want your customer to do), and then implement the test. If you have a development team, they can help or use Google Website Optimizer.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

Feel free to add your ideas or come back and share your results, good or bad. 

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How I dramatically increased conversions with a simple A/B test

November 22, 2010 – 8:42 am

I love testing. Everytime I complete a test, I am amazed at the results. This is another example of how completing a simple test can significantly increase conversions.

The testing strategy. How I decided what to test:

In your Web Analytics program identify some of your top pages and which keywords are bringing traffic to those pages. Here is a way to do it in Google Analytics:

Under Content
Click “Top Landing Pages”
– Pick one of the higher traffic pages.
– Pick a page that you want someone to take an action, has an “add to cart,” or fill out form button on it.

Click on the page url in Google Analytics to expand it even further.

There will be 3 pull downs under the graph. The first one defaults to “Content Detail.” Click on that first pull down and change the selection to “Entrance Keywords.”

This will help you identify the keywords that are bringing traffic to that page.

If you have Goals with values set up in analytics, you can also use the $Index suggestions Google gives. I havent found this to be the most reliable, but it is pretty easy. You can find it by going to Content then Top Content.
The last column will be the $Index Column. Sort the list of pages by the $Index column by clicking on it. The $ Index value tells you how much each page on your site is worth. $Index is (Ecommerce revenue + Total Goal Value) divided by Pageviews for the page(s).

You now know which page to test and have an idea what your customers are looking for when they get to that page. This is unbelievably powerful information.

The test: Change H1 header text to the targeted audience

Test A: The H1 header text stays the same.  It is general in nature and was something like More For Less.

Test B: Change the H1 header text to a term that brought customers to the page.
*I am being vague on purpose.  I do not want you to copy my text. Each site is different. I am writing this post to help you pick a highly effective A B test for your site.

Here is an example of B: If you are selling phones and people are coming to that page on the term “easy to use phones.” Then you would change test B to something with “Easy to Use Phones” in it. 

Now when potential customers come to that page, half should see the original H1 “More For Less” and the other half should see “Easy to Use Phones.” 

Track the conversions of that page. If you are using Google web optimizer, it will tell you when the test is statistically significant and can be shut off.  If you are not using Google, you can use this free calculator

Now that you have read the entire article, I will tell you how much our conversion rates increased for one of our services when I did this simple A/B test. I saved it for last, because you would have probably not have believed me if I mentioned at the top and you may not have read the article. I did this test and the conversion rate increased 111%.  That is not a typo. Not 1.11%, not 11.1%, but one hundred and eleven percent.  I will guess you will not have those results, but I will also guess your conversions will increase. Even if the rates increase by a small percent, this simple test would be well worth it.

I would love to hear from people that tried it and post your results, good or bad.

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Link Building Interview

September 24, 2010 – 9:17 am

Link Building expert Garrett French asked if I was interested in the “Link Building Interview Project.” I thought it would be fun, so here goes.

Day-to-Day Link Building Questions

  1. As an inhouse SEO, what are your top 5 most important link building tasks and responsibilities?

    There isn’t 5, there are 2. Two tasks. 1. Get good high quality link prospects and 2. Get them to link to us.

  1. What, if any, link building tasks would you be comfortable outsourcing?

I would outsource the service of getting the other sites to link to us as long as I know they are good sites.

  1. How much of your time is spent on link building related tasks on a day to day basis?

Between article writing, directories, and site communications, I average about 2 hours a day.

Link Building Tool Questions

  1. What are your top 5 most important link building tools?

Yahoo Site Explorer (reviewing competitors backlinks) and our Social Media Manager (building relationships with site owners and discovering new sites/technologies related to our industry). Luckily I have one of the best Social Media Managers, Chris Moody, to help with this.

  1. What are the most valuable tasks or functions of existing link building tools that you couldn’t live without?

Yahoo Site Explorer

  1. What are the biggest let-downs of link building tools you have used or currently use?

Accuracy and redundancy. Pain trying to weed out sites you are not interested in.

Inhouse Link Building Campaign Design Questions

  1. If a fellow inhouse SEO asked for help in developing a link building campaign, what questions would you ask them?

What terms are they looking to rank for, what is the vertical, are there any major brands or authority site partners, how much time will you be able to devote to linkbuilding, do we have a team of SEO copywriters.

  1. What link building tactics work better for inhouse SEOs than agency link builders? Why?

I think product knowledge is the advantage here. In some industries, I am currently in telecom, it is very difficult to explain VOIP, SIP Trunking, and other terms to an agency download. For us, inhouse may be best. For another company that does not have as complex products/services or ability to hire an in house staff for these specialized functions, an agency may be best.

  1. As an inhouse SEO, what link building techniques have you found that scale (if any…)?

Finding the right converting keywords and dissecting the competitors that are ranking for those individual terms. Deep linking, not just for the homepage.

Internal Credibility and Influence Questions

  1. Can you describe techniques or tactics you’ve used to grow your internal trust and credibility with colleagues?

I give them an option. I say to them:
”This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how to deep link and rank websites.”

  1. How do you get colleagues to perform tasks related to link building?

Education. You have to explain to the employees involved why link building is important and train them to identify quality backlinking opportunities. Once the campaign is executed, the results will speak for themselves.

  1. How have you grown your colleagues’ ability to identify and act on link opportunities?

Again, education. Understanding SEO and link building is the key. If they understand, they will come to you with opportunities you may have never thought of.

  1. What metrics do you use to convey link building success to upper management?

Showing the baseline, number of backlinks what starting and showing the rankings compared to top competitors. Then showing the rank increases and number of new backlinks.

What Crucial Questions Did We Miss?

  1. What questions did we leave out? What are your answers to these questions?


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Link Building Book Review

June 23, 2010 – 3:40 pm

“The Link Builder’s Guide To Better, Faster, Stronger, Link Building Campaigns” by Garrett French and Ben Wills. I just had the chance to read this linking building book and would like to share my review. 

Summary: I have not seen anything that really compares to this book. This is not a book about linking 101. This book would be used in graduate and doctorate level link building courses, yet is written in a way most people will understand.  I have to give it the highest rating for giving real link building information that is useful, practical, and you can actually use to generate real high quality backlinks viagra 100 mg

The book includes link building campaign design, linkable assets, linking opportunities, link prospecting, prospect qualifications, relationship building, analyzing, acquisition, resources, and more.

Again, this is not something you could easily find online. The book goes way beyond what is link building and why you need backlinks.  These are real, indepth, link building strategies.  The book covers finding linking opportunities, establishing relationships, and real creative ways on how to get those links to your site.

This book should be standard reading material for all Online/Internet Marketing Managers and Directors.

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Viva SEO – Why SEO Is Not Dead

January 12, 2010 – 8:15 am

I have been reading articles and listening to people discussing how SEO and SEO experts are no longer needed.  I have read and heard, “once you have the SEO basics, that is really all you need.”  My opinion? If you feel that way you either do not have a lot of experience in SEO or do not have a lot of experience working with multiple websites.

SEO is alive and well, experts are absolutely needed for many companies.  Notice I wrote experts are needed for “many,” not “all” companies?  This is a key point and why I stated only those with lack of experience would make such a bold statement as SEO is dead. 

There are many factors in determining which sites need an SEO expert and which ones do not.  Everything from helping find bot crawling issues, choosing the correct keywords for each page of the site, navigation, creating optimized tags, creating optimized content, generating quality backlinks, marketing objectives, and more.  There is another factor in determining if an expert is needed, after you determine what the top keywords are, what is the demand for those top keywords and who is currently ranking for those terms? 

Ok, so you think you have the basics, you know all of your site SEO technical issues, you know the correct keywords (based on your goals and objectives), you know and can get quality backlinks, you think you are all set.  You may be right.  Yes, you heard me, you may be right and you are all set.  However, as noted above you have to determine what the competition is like for those top keywords.

If you are a small local company selling some niche product locally, SEO basics may be all you need.  I would think if you sell and want to rank for “Bright Red Bananas” in Apex, North Carolina you can do so with just the basics.  Now, if you want to sell something more broad and highly competitive like “laptops,” “womens shoes,” “Callaway golf clubs” etc.. to the U.S. or the world, this is a lot more complicated and not only may require more SEO strategies, but you may need to switch strategies based on competition and determine which one of the basics you should be focusing on more to improve your rankings.  This doesn’t even include having an experienced SEO person continually conducting tests to maintain and improve results and keeping current. Let’s say you do the basics and you are #7 on page one of Google. Now what? Are you done?  Why are there 6 sites ranking higher than you?  They are not higher than you because of luck.  Every time you move up a position, it can mean thousands of more clicks and thousands of more dollars every week.

What about redesigns and new products?  When a site is redesigned, when is the proper time for SEO cheap kamagra?  What steps need to be taken with the old sites URL’s?  Again, this is where an experienced SEO person comes in.

Some may disagree, but I feel SEO is made up of:

60% to 80% SEO Knowledge of the Basics
15% to 35% An SEO Experts Experience and Direction
And about 5% “Gut Feeling”

1. Yes, some sites may be fine with just the SEO basics based on competition and needs.
2. 15% to 35%, where an SEO Expert is needed, may create a huge increase in leads and revenue. Ranking for the right terms and ranking in the top 3 of page one will generate a lot more clicks and conversions than ranking on the wrong terms and in the bottom 3 of page one.
3. What the hell does “Gut Feeling” mean?  “Gut Feeling” is this, there are times decisions need to be made that will affect site rankings.  Will the change hurt or help SEO, no one can answer that for all scenarios. I do not care who you are, not even Google engineers would know all results for every possible scenario.  So what are you left with?  You are left with experience.  You can present your thoughts based on similar changes you have previously made or sometimes it simply comes down to that “gut feeling” especially when it comes to those grey areas. Will the engines like/dislike this change? Will the engines feel this change is deceiving?  There are always scenarios that are new and once a conclusion is drawn and change is implemented, an experienced SEO person will also come in to fix any issues quickly if they arise.

Oh yea, one more thing.  The last problem with the statement, “SEO is dead” or “SEO experts are no longer needed” is that a lot, I mean A LOT, of people think they are SEO experts just because they know the basics and have optimized one or two sites before.  There is not a clear definition of what an SEO expert is. Many people think they are experts because they have been involved in optimizing a site or two.  Most non-experts will rattle off answers so fast without asking any additional questions, you know they have no idea what they are doing.  These “experts” simply may not have enough information to give someone a correct answer, but feel they do because they think all sites are optimized the same way and all sites need the same things. 

I think the person that thinks they know SEO but does not, is a very scary thing not just for the industry, but for their clients/companies.  Now, I am not saying I am the end all be all of SEO, because I am not.  There are a lot people that know SEO and are much smarter/better than me at it.  All I am saying is whether you write about SEO or declare yourself and “SEO Expert” that you take the time to know your limits and are not afraid to say to your boss or to clients “I understand SEO but I need more information for this particular situation,” or “I do not know, but will find out,” instead of stating something that is incorrect or may not apply.

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Meeting with Stefan Weitz, Director of Search at Bing

August 21, 2009 – 1:08 pm

Al Scillitani and Stefan WeitzThis was a very informal and informative meeting.  Stefan obviously could not tell us everything that Bing is doing, but everything seemed positive and steps in the right direction.

Here are some of the highlights of the discussion:

Bing is doing a lot of research.  They are trying to figure out why most searches hit the back button.  They feel improving search results by offering well organized search pages will help.

The biggest issue was lack of traffic.  Most in the room stated the traffic they are getting from Bing was great (high converting, high order size, etc..), but there just wasn’t enough of it.  Stefan believes Bing Cashback, better results, and other improvements rolling out soon will increase the number of users.

Cashback Shopping has increased over 300%

Bing is continually testing new features and even fonts and colors.  Stefan mentioned how amazing little tweaks make.  They tested 44 different colors of blue links and each variation had a noticeable different in behavior.

Did you know if you search in Bing and put your curser over the natural search listing you will see a small dot to the right. If you hover over the dot, you will get more information about the site and deep links to find what you are looking for faster.

Anyway, I think the meeting went well overall.  It really seems like Bing is interested in improving itself by improving their results.  It will take a lot of time and testing, but I think they will eventually do it.


Al Scillitani
Internet Marketing Manager
Global Value Commerce
Personal Blog

Jenny Halasz
Director, Operations
Acronym Media

Donna Bedford
Global SEO lead

Dan London
Director of Online Marketing
Personal Blog

Rick Ferguson
Search Marketing Director
Bold Interactive

Wayne Sutton
Entrepreneur, Strategist, Producer

Nathania Johnson
News Coorespondent
Search Engine Watch

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The One Company That Can Actually Bring Down Google Is… Google

August 20, 2009 – 8:32 am

google logo suicideThat’s right BING, don’t pay attention to Google, just focus on improving yourself, your tools, your products, and search results for your customers while Google commits suicide.   Within 3 years BING and Google will be much closer to market share and within 5 years BING may even take over if they do things right.  How can this happen in such a short time?  Because Google is going to kill itself by abusing and taking advantage of their customers privacy and Google users are going to slowly migrate to BING and others products/services because of it.

If you are a user of multiple Google products you may know what I am talking about, if not, you soon will.  Google is slowly forcing its users to combine all of their products under one account.  If this does not scare you, it should.  I use several Google products: Google Affiliate Network, Adwords, Adsense, Gmail, Financial Portfolio, and Calendar.  I get emails from Google reps stating that they went into my Adwords account and then they email me recommendations.  I understand the Adwords account is actually Google’s, but I still feel they should ask before going into my Adwords account.  I really do feel my privacy has been violated when they do this.  When all of my Google products and services are under one umbrella, this dramatically changes things.  You may say that I am blowing this out of proportion, but let’s put all of these products under a single Google Account.  Google employee’s most likely can now log in and see not only my Adwords account, but my financial portfolio (my assets, stocks, bonds, banks, etc…), see my calendar (where I am, what I do, etc viagra tablets in india..), see my “private” emails, and more. 

When I emailed Google explaining my concern with this, their reply was to create new separate Google Accounts for every one of the products I use.   Why?  Why can’t they simply keep things as they are and allow their customers to combine the accounts if they want to and not make it mandatory?  Here is the text from the Google Affiliate website

We’re requiring all Google Affiliate Network users to update to Google Accounts so you can access all your Google products with a single sign-on.
• Use the same sign-in for Google Affiliate Network and other Google products, including AdWords, AdSense, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Personalized Search, and much more.
• Switch among Google Affiliate Network and other Google applications without having to sign in again.
Keep in mind that once you’ve updated your Account, you’ll no longer be able to use your old Google Affiliate Network username and password.

I am definitely not stating that all Google employees are deceitful, however if they are aware of an affiliate or Adwords account that is generating large sums of money, like Jeremy Shoemaker’s was it would be very hard not to use that information for their own gain.  Again, I am sure this is a rare case, but it does happen.  Adding my calendar and email just adds to my concerns.

If BING continues to improve their search technologies and products they will continue to take market share . It may take 10 years or more, but I think it will eventually happen.  However, if Google continues to take their customer’s privacy concerns lightly, I am predicting BING will become a much larger threat to Google in half that time mainly due to Google’s own actions.

*Image created by Reinaldo (Tito) Rivera AnotherSession

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Google Image Ads Are Here

August 13, 2009 – 8:18 am

Doing some searches this morning I found something I personally have never seen, image ads and listings under “sponsored links” in Google.  Not only am I seeing this listings from some broad terms, but

1. They always seemed to appear at the top right of the page pushing all of the other paid links down.

2. It didnt seem to matter if the company already had paid ads or not, you can have these image ads AND still have paid ads under the “sponsored links.”

3. The results pages are showing shopping results from Google Product Feed as well.

This can potentially mean, one company can be listed for ppc, naturally, in Google shopping, and in these image ads. 

According to Chris Crums article (thanks to Dan London for finding this) Google AdWords Business Product Management Director Nicholas Fox states, “The company is looking at matching information about your product or service and automatically building ads based on crawling your website master collection cs6 mac.” Is this what he was talking about? That article was just posted yesterday?

google image ads

Well, I gotta go figure all of this out and breakdown the algo’s.

Update: August 13, 2009 3pm ————————————————-
Here is more about the program from Google:
“The name for what you’re seeing is the AdWords Product Plusbox beta. This is a new feature being tested that allows AdWords advertisers to display multiple product offerings to potential customers with just one ad on These products are being pulled from the advertiser’s Google Base feed. This beta is currently limited.”
Thank you “anonymous” for sending me this!


Others Online Testing May Be Worthless

July 27, 2009 – 9:57 am

The question: Will promoting individual products through an email or homepage convert better if you link directly to those products or to a category of products?
The pre-test answer: Based on everything I have read, the answer is a no brainer.  Conversions and sales to the individual products will far exceed having customers click around looking for products.
The post-test answer: The category landing page won, but why? It also brought up another question, the email and homepage results were very different. What the heck is going on?

The Test:
The company was promoting 6 different products. All 6 products were pictured and on the right hand side,  Each product showed the original price, normal sale price, and closeout price. Sale ended in seven days and were in limited quantities.

A- The six individual product images linked directly to each of the products.  About a quarter of the image, you could go to all products in this category
B- Same exact image, but the entire image linked to the category, total of 6 pages of products, rather than the individual products listed on the image.

This was sent to the email list of 100% opt-in customers and was on our home page.  Everything we set up so that half of our customers that clicked thru the email would randomly receive A and the other half B.  The home page test was similar, half to A (with individual links) half to B (category).

The results:

Almost exactly the same number of orders and conversion rates. B actually had two more orders, but the average order size was about 30% higher leading to a much larger increase in revenue.  Now this was suprising to me.  If someone took bets, I would have bet on A blowing B out of the water, it just makes sense to me. If someone see’s a product and they are interested in it, send them directly to the product.

These results are very different.  Much more of a clear winner.  B had 15% more orders and about 10% more revenue.  The only area that was lower was average order size. “A” had a 5% higher average order size.

These results brought up more questions. Besides, why did going to the category page perform better, my question is why are the results so different between the email and homepage if it was the same test?

My Answer and what I have learned: I will put this in bullet format to make it easier to read ici.

1. There are too many variables to read any website studies and think you can apply it to your own site.  Who are your customers, what is the sale all about, is the sale really a sale (did you check your competition), are these products really in demand?
2. The products we were offering were way below our competitors. I feel this is the reason B performed better.  Once the B people clicked and went to the category page, they not only saw the product they clicked on, but 100’s of other products priced way below the competition.  This combined with the “only a few days and limited quantities” messaging triggered more sales.
3. Why did the home page perform differently? My assumption is different customers performed different search behavior.  I know, I know you think I am crazy, but hear me out. The email list is of previous customers that opted in to the list. They have been to the site before, know there way around and trust us.  Fifty percent of the people that come directly to the home page through search, paid search, or other means are new to the site.  They may have come to our site from a much broader term through natural search and are in initial shopping mode.  They are unfamiliar with our site.  They are unfamiliar with us.  All of these lead to more clicking and looking around.  The new customers that clicked on A, went right to the product. Not be familiar with the site, they had no idea about all of the other bargain products and what our site has to offer.  The others that went to the category landing page, we gave the opportunity to see the entire category and products on sale.  This helped with letting them know what we have, showed them we were a large site offering multiple manufacturers (established trust), and our great pricing on the 100’s of products in that category.

To conclude:
Run your own A/B tests. It is the only way to really evaluate what works and what doesn’t work based on your product prices, product availability, the marketing message, and your customers.  There are very few absolutes when it comes to online marketing.

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