Of all the topics that bloggers ask me about, conversion optimization is among those at the top of the list.
All of us have conversion goals of some sort. It doesn’t matter whether you’re aiming to make money blogging, or you’re in it purely for pleasure, you’ll probably want to grow a subscriber list at the very least! Some of the blogger’s most common conversion goals include:
- grow signups to an email subscription list
- attract Facebook fans and Twitter followers
- boost downloads of free products, whitepapers, and samples
- increase sales of products and services.
These days, competition within the blogosphere is only getting stronger, and readers are only getting more savvy. Most of us have good data on our blog usage, but of course boosting conversions isn’t just a matter of statistics.
From your audience to your offer—and everything in between—there’s a lot to consider. So, for the rest of the week, we’re dedicating ProBlogger to the challenge of boosting conversions, with a series that’s been put together by some of your favorite experts.
This series assumes that you have some kind of conversion goal, and some tools in place to make that happen—even something as simple as a Sign Up form in your sidebar. We’ll take you through five steps to improving those conversions, as we look at:
- Reviewing your offer.
- Revisiting your conversion funnel.
- Revamping your communications.
- Running A/B tests, then tweaking and refining your marketing.
- Reaching all of your audience segments using this process.
Before that, I’d like to hear from you. How are your conversions looking right now? What tactics have you used to improve them? What’s worked—and what hasn’t? Share your experiences with us in the comments … and keep an eye out for the first part of our series a bit later today.
Many wholistic gardeners will—upon encountering a pest that’s obviously in the process of dining on a “crop” plant—promptly pick the critter off and drown, “gish,” or otherwise permanently dispose of it.
Most often, of course, such militant garden protection is the best policy. However, should you happen to espy a tomato horn worm that is covered with the white cocoons of the braconid wasp as opposed to a healthy and hungry specimen, your best course of action is to leave the worm alone. It will soon die and dehydrate as a result of its parasites. The wasp larvae will then mature and lay more eggs on more of the pests that threaten to rob you of your hard-earned harvest!
There’s no shortage of commentary around Facebook as the smoke literally builds around it’s engine while the social media rocket prepares for IPO liftoff. This piece won’t be full of rational analysis but rather gut intuition. Here are a few things to chew on as you think about the global future with or without Facebook.
Zuckerberg Isn’t Steve Jobs, But He’s Jobs-Like
Mark Zuckerberg gets social like Steve Jobs got design. Furthermore, both share a core foundational value which is irrationally committed to making products and experiences which please their own sensibilities first and the market second. Does this guarantee Facebook’s success? No, but it does guarantee that there will always be a vison and if you look up Facebook’s corporate governance structure, you’ll realize that it’s a company being set up to be purpose and vision led. Bottom line, you’re not betting on or against Facebook, but really Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook Is Today’s Telephone, E-mail & Internet For Many
Think about how you use Facebook, how your children use it (if you have them and they are old enough) and how your parents use it. It’s already moving past “social network” status and moving toward something which looks more like a lifeline to the outside world. In conventional wars of the past, communication lines such as telephone would be cut so the enemy could not communicate. If conventional war broke out today—generals would plan to take the Internet out because of platforms like Facebook. Think about that.
Ecosystems Trump Products
Facebook was never a product from day one—it started as a social network and it’s been steadily building up an ecosystem ever since. It’s on our mobile devices, it connects with our Websites, it offers it’s own line of credit, it has apps and developer communities built around it and it’s spawned hundreds of start ups that employ thousands of people who would not be in their line of work if it were not for Facebook. The company has already gotten to this point with a significant advantage in that it looks more like an octopus than it does a shark gobbling up everything in it’s path.
Big Business Is Built On Addictive Behaviors
Facebook is extremely addictive and one can find themselves spending a good chunk on their day there either working, playing or doing a combination of the two. Gambling became big business because of this. Drug trafficking, while illegal in most cases is big business and so are food industries built on menus with addictive items. As long as Facebook remains addictive to use, it will find a way to build business around it.
Global & Local Are The Future
While Facebook is still working on markets like Russia and China—there’s no dispute that it’s well into the process of being a global phenomenon and in addition, it can be especially relevant in local markets. Any local business which is self sustaining or part of a larger company can have a presence and run it with the local knowledge of their own markets. It is this combination which positions Facebook as something of a “virus” with the ability for it to “infect” markets through the people who use it.
Personally, I would not bet against Facebook. Even GM which announced this week that they were pulling out of Facebook advertising spending concedes that they are committed to other ways of integrating it (via content etc.). GM isn’t betting against Facebook as much as deciding display ads weren’t working for them. Of course, I could be wrong on all of the above—but intuitively my instincts are telling me, “don’t bet against Mark Zuckerberg”.
All three headline Case-Shiller composites fell to new post-crisis lows in the first quarter of 2012, wiping out all price gains realized since prices peaked in 2006, a decline of approximately 35 percent through March 2012.
The Case-Shiller national composite fell by 2.0 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and was down 1.9 percent versus the first quarter of 2011. The 10- and 20-City Composites posted respective annual returns of -2.8 percent and -2.6 percent in March 2012. Month-over-month, their changes were minimal; average home prices in the 10-City Composite fell by 0.1 percent compared to February and the 20-City remained basically unchanged in March over February.
In addition to the three composites, five cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and Portland – also saw average home prices hit new lows. This is an improvement over the nine cities reported last month.
In March 2012, 12 MSAs posted monthly gains, seven declined and one remained unchanged. Phoenix posted the largest annual rate of change, up 6.1 percent, while home prices in Atlanta fell the most over the year, down 17.7 percent.
Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas were the four cities where average home prices were below their January 2000 levels. With an index level of 102.77 Chicago is not far behind.
Prices in the Case-Shiller national composite index peaked at 189.93 in the second quarter of 2006 and fell to an initial low of 129.17 in the first quarter of 2009. It reached a new low in 125.79 in the first quarter of 2011. Prices recovered during the second and third quarters last year only to triple dip to 123.33 in Q1 2012.
The nation’s two most widely reported consumer confidence measures came up with May results that were polar opposites, throwing markets into disarray and raising questions about the housing recovery. But timing may explain the confusion.
Released Friday, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment rose to its highest level since October 2007 due to more favorable job and wage prospects, which are key drivers for the housing market. The index climbed to 79.3 in its final May reading last week, up from a midmonth tally of 77.8 and April’s score of 76. After four years of decline and uncertainty, suggesting that consumer confidence is ready to lead the housing economy out of its doldrums and into recovery mode.
This morning, however, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined slightly in April, fell nearly four points in May. The Index now stands at 64.9 (1985=100), down from 68.7 in April. However, the Conference Board’s cut-off date was May 16.
“Consumer Confidence fell in May, following a slight decline in April. Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate,” said Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board.
Consumers’ appraisal of present-day conditions deteriorated in May. Those claiming business conditions are “bad” increased to 34.3 percent from 33.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are “good” decreased to 13.6 percent from 15.5 percent. Consumers’ appraisal of the job market was also less favorable. Those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 41.0 percent from 38.1 percent, while those stating jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 7.9 percent from 8.4 percent.
Consumers have also grown less upbeat about the short-term outlook. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 16.6 percent from 18.5 percent. However, those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 13.1 percent from 14.2 percent.
Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also less positive. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead decreased to 15.8 percent from 16.9 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs increased to 21.0 percent from 18.4 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes improved to 15.2 percent from 13.9 percent, according to the Conference Board Report.
On the other hand, University of Michigan study found that the fewest number of consumers reported hearing more about job gains than job losses in the index’s survey than at any time in the past four years, which improved consumer plans for buying household durables.
A third study, a daily poll of consumer sentiment by Rasmussen Reports, may explain the discrepancies. The daily Rasmussen survey of consumer sentiment registered a rise in consumer optimism in May over April, which averaged 88.6. The survey hit the mid-90s on May 18-20 and on May 23 through yesterday, which posted a level of 92.1.
The early cutoff date for the preliminary results of the Conference Board report may have caused it to miss the late month surge in optimism picked up by both the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan report and Rasmussen.
More than half of all Americans are concerned that a huge wave of backlogged foreclosures to be released by major lenders in the wake of the Robo-signing scandal ? approximately twice the size of annual foreclosure sales?will lower home values in their markets.
A new survey by Realtor.com found that the 55.7 percent of consumers fear that the backlogged foreclosure inventory that built up during the two year period following the Robo-signing scandal when lenders slowed down processing, especially in the 26 judicial states where a court order is required to foreclose. Homeowners and non-homeowners are equally concerned.
April data released today by CoreLogic found that foreclosure inventories today are at about the same level they were at the first of the year, when the backlog was at its peak and before 49 state Attorneys General Agreement with major lenders was signed in March. Approximately 1.4 million homes, or 3.4 percent of all homes with a mortgage, were in the national foreclosure inventory as of April 2012 compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, in April 2011 and 1.4 million, or 3.4 percent, in March 2012, according to CoreLogic. The backlogged inventory at its current level represents about 39 percent of the approximately 3.6 million foreclosures completed across the country since the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, there have been.
Participants in the Realtor.com survey want lenders to take action to keep the ’shadow inventory’ of foreclosures from lowering home values. One in four (28.3 percent) Americans prefer the lease-purchase option instead of: Selling them slowly to preserve home values (12.8 percent); Selling them to investors to fix up and rent out (11 percent); Continuing business as usual (10.8 percent); Selling them quickly to eliminate the backlog even if home values suffer (10.6 percent); And renting them out until prices improve (8.7 percent).
“As lenders begin processing their distressed inventories and releasing them for sale at the local level, we look to them to move carefully and monitor conditions so recently gained home values aren’t diminished,” said Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer of Realtor.com operator Move, Inc.
“The inventory of homes in foreclosure in judicial foreclosure states is growing, but this increase is being more than offset by declining inventories in non-judicial states where the processing timelines to clear a foreclosure are shorter,” said Anand Nallathambi, chief executive officer of CoreLogic. “Nationally the inventory of homes in foreclosure decreased 0.1 percent from what it was a year ago at this time, and has leveled off over the first four months of 2012.”
Four of the five states with the highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes were judicial states: Florida (12.0 percent), New Jersey (6.7 percent), Illinois (5.3 percent), and New York (5.0 percent). The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in April 2012 were: California (142,000), Florida (92,000), Michigan (60,000), Texas (58,000) and Georgia (57,000). These five states account for 48.8 percent of all completed foreclosures nationally.
The Realtor.com survey found that Interest in buying foreclosures has almost tripled among potential home buyers in the past two and half years, and 92.1 percent of those buyers plan to live in them rather than use them as investments, according to a new national survey released today by Realtor.com. This suggests the stigma once associated with buying a foreclosure as a home has faded.
Homebuyer interest in foreclosures jumped 159 percent since October 2009 when foreclosures accounted for 29 percent of all home sales. In fact, more than two-thirds (64.9 percent) of today’s homebuyers said they’re likely to buy a foreclosure compared to 25.3 percent two and a half years ago. Only 6.9 percent of today’s potential home buyers are interested in buying a foreclosure as an investment, down from 13.2 percent in October 2009, the survey found.
Fear of losing a home to foreclosure has declined in recent years. Today, approximately one third of Americans (34.9 percent) fear they or someone they know will face foreclosure in the next year, down -33.5 percent from March 2009 levels when 52.5 percent expressed this concern. Fear of facing foreclosure today is greatest among those earning less than $30,000 a year and slightly higher among non-homeowners than homeowners.
Most Americans say they haven’t seen improvement in the foreclosure situation where they live. The Realtor.com survey found most Americans (49 percent) think the foreclosure situation is about the same as it was last year, while close to one in six (17.6 percent) say the foreclosure situation is worse. Only 21.3 percent think the foreclosure situation in their market is better. Foreclosures have in fact declined by 34 percent in the past 12 months.