How To Create An Awesome Explainer Video

 Why Should You Use Explainer Videos?

 So you think you want an explainer video on your website? Well, there are plenty of reasons why you should be seriously considering this option to improve your conversion rate on key pages.

Videos can be great for a number of purposes:

  • Business – Get your visitor’s attention by explaining your
    product or service is less than two minutes
  • Crowdfunders – Having a video as part of a funding campaign
    often helps raise double the money than if you don’t have a video to explain your proposition and business plan.
  • Authors – Can benefit from having an engaging and
    entertaining book trailer.
  • Marketers – Communicate your latest service or content using
    rich media.
  • Contests – Grab attention for promotions or contests using a
    short video.

You can then use your video on your website and drive more
traffic to your website by uploading it to YouTube and sharing it on social media. Crazy Egg has a video on their homepage and they estimate it generates an additional $21,000 a month in new income.

Types of Explainer Videos:

 

1. Live Action Video:

A non-animated video can be good if you are selling a tangible product or a people-oriented service, such as a design agency or consultancy. People love to see what a product looks like in context and having the people who your customers would interact with in a video may help establish an emotional connection.

However, live-action videos do restrict you to the real world and so special effects are limited and unless you have a large budget your location is also going to be local.

2. Animated Explainer Videos: 

This type of videos allows for much more creativity in your visual story and they are easier to edit or refresh if you need to adapt them at a future date.  Animated videos are particularly good for  explaining services and intangible products, such as digital tools or
software.

If you don’t have a physical product or object to show you can use an animated video to construct a compelling narrative about how your solution will be the answer to your customer’s problem.

3. Whiteboard Explainer Videos: 

This is where the animation is hand drawn and erased using a whiteboard. It is popular because of its simplicity and the low
cost of producing such a video. However, they can be very compelling and powerful at telling your story.

 

4. Kickstarter Videos: 

Almost every Kickstarter project has an explainer video because it’s a great way to sell an idea and persuade people to part with their money. They do tend to be longer than your average explainer video, but Kickstarter does give you easy access to lots of examples of explainer videos.

Ok, if you are convinced you want to use explainer videos it is important that you have a reliable process to create a video. Outlined below are six steps people normally follow to produce an awesome explainer video.

 

Step 1: Get Script Right First.

 

The main determinant of whether your video will improve
conversion or revenue is how good the script is.  The audio script needs to engage and persuade viewers that what you are communicating is relevant to them and worth staying
with until the end of the video. You are likely to be better at understanding your product or service than a video studio or freelancer. So a draft script should be generated from within your organisation to capitalise on this knowledge.

The aim of the video should be to answer any important questions that your potential customers may have within two minutes.  If you can’t do this within the time you should review the amount of detail that you are going into or the scope of the video.

 

Step 2: Understand Customer Goals and Concerns:

 

It is important that you take a step back at this point and assess how well you understand your potential customers or reader’s needs.  Your visitors come to your site to complete a task or achieve a goal. To allow you to structure your script you need to be able to answer some or all of the following questions about your visitors by conducting some research:

What tasks are they looking to complete by coming to the site?

  • If they didn’t complete their main tasks, what prevented them from doing so?
  • What information is missing from the page?
  • What is their biggest concern about the product or the site?
  • What, if anything, is unclear or confusing on the page?
  • What is their number 1 reason for wanting to buy the product?

You can use tools such as SurveyMonkey or Qualaroo to ask your
website visitors questions and see my post how to use Voice of Customer tools to boost conversion for other providers. This should help you identify the main barriers to customers purchasing and what questions you could seek to answer in the video.  By better understanding the topic from your customer’s perspective you are more likely to press the right buttons and deal with potential objections.

Step 3:The Script:

 

To keep your video to within two minutes it necessary to plan your script carefully so that you deal with the most important customer
objections and effectively communicate why your product/service will meet their needs.

  1. Introductory slide:
    This should communicate what your organisation does or the
    product/ service that you are promoting. Ensure it states a clear and important benefit.
  2. Introduce the problem:
    Outline the problem that potential customers have using the language expressed in your visitor research.
  3. Explain your solution:  Answer the problem with how your product or service provides a solution and again try to use some of the language customers used in your Voice Of the Customer research.
  4. Focus on important features:  Make sure you communicate how some of your product’s features solve specific and important problems.
  5. Call to action: Ensure you include a clear and compelling
    call to action at the end of the video so that people are clear what to do next.
  6. Build trust: Demonstrate why customers can have confidence in your organisation by displaying trust signals. This should be
    evidence such as well-known clients or partners, awards or other independently verified seals of approval. A free trial offer can also reduce the perceived risk from the customer’s perspective of making a wrong decision.

To retain viewer interest you should aim to have a video of 90
seconds or less.  As a script of between 110 to 140 words should translate into a minute of video, you may want to aim for around 165 to 210 words in total. Other things to consider are:

  • Communicate your most important message and value  proposition in the first 30 seconds
  • Use 2nd person language, using words such as “you”, “your” and “yours”
  • Avoid jargon and technical words to keep the language simple
    and easy to understand.
  • The tone of voice should be appropriate for the subject and
    your audience. This usually means that people choose a casual, conversational tone of voice.

Step 4: Choose A Narrator.

 

You can find your own voice-over, perhaps you have a brand ambassador or local celebrity, who has done adverts for you before. Alternatively you can ask your video studio or freelance to suggest someone for you. Either way they need to have clear diction and a tone of voice that aligns with the subject matter and your audience.

 Step 5: Create Your Video.

 

Here you have a number of options from leaving it all to a  professional studio to producing your own animated video using a do-it-yourself website. However, given that it is good practice to A/B test your video and you are unlikely to produce the optimal video on your first attempt, I suggest you keep the cost to the minimum. You are likely to have to tweak or even make new videos as part of the optimization process. Further, if your product changes fairly frequently you may be forced to make new videos on a regular basis.

The main options are:

1. Professional Studios:

A studio will be more expensive than a freelancer or DIY option, but they do have the advantage that they can often also help with such tasks as choosing a narrator and background music. You will find
over 100 explainer video studios in near the bottom of this post.

The list includes Explainify  who have produced videos for Nestle and Walmart, while PlanetNutshell have been used by Google and Microsoft .  Demo Duck   on the other hand have worked for Netflix and Crazy Egg.

2. Freelancer:

This option tends to be cheaper as freelancers have to be more competitive to get the business and don’t have the high overheads of a digital studio. You can either search the internet for a freelancer or use a crowd source website, such as Video Brewery, who will  arrange for a handful of quotes from their network of professional freelancers. This makes the whole proposal process a lot easier for you.

3. Do It Yourself:

If you have the time and inclination you can create your own
animated videos. Websites such as GoAnimateVideoscribe
and PowToon provide you with easy to use solutions and advice on how to go about this process.

Step 6. A/B Testing Video:

 

It is always wise to A/B test your video for a number of reasons. A great video can certainly engage visitors and improve conversion,
but a video that is on the wrong page, is too long, has a poor script or lacks a compelling call to action can in some cases reduce conversion.  So you may have to test more than one video to find one that improves conversion and then you should continue to adjust the video to test different versions or calls to action to optimise the video.

Check that you have analytics tracking for your video. If you use video players such as Sproutvideo and Vimeo they provide analytics to allow monitoring of how many unique impressions and plays your video receives. These video players can also tell you the location of viewers and the type of device that visitors are using.  This can help you with deciding how to amend your video to further improve your conversion rate.

 Finally:

For your video to be successful it is important to follow a clear
process and set an appropriate budget for creating your explainer video.  By following the steps outlined above you will increase the chance that your video will be both relevant and engaging for your website visitors. You will also have allowed for A/B testing to further optimize your video content and be flexible enough to respond to product changes.

Here are some great examples of different templates of business explainer videos that you may find useful.

 

Studios & Production Video Companies:

Here is a list of over 100 studios and video production companies for you to choose from. I have checked every link personally to ensure they are relevant to explainer videos.

  1. #1ExplainerVideo: A studio for creative animated explainer videos. Clients: Google, XBox360, Personality Plus, Ion Digital
  2. 1/29 Films: Inspiring brand loyalty and love. Clients: Intel, BrightCove, Adobe
  3. Advids: Online studio for explainer videos on-demand. Clients: Mercedes Benz, Valmont,  holidog.com
  4. AmodFilms: Animated video production studio using video to explain & promote. Clients: Hasbro, iimyjobs.com, iBluebottle
  5. Animated Video: Studio for explainer & promotional videos. Western Union, The World Bank,  AAPT
  6. AnimationB2B: Animated explainer video. Clients: Reebok, Zenith Optimedia,  Hashi-Tashi,  Socializer S.A.
  7. Animotus: Amsterdam-based animated explainer videos. Clients: Juniper Networks, Westcon, Amsterdam RAI
  8. AppVideos: Explainer videos for mobile apps and software. Clients: Flockthere, Vito Technology, Quickoffice
  9. Barq Video:  Animated explainer video production. Clients:
  10. BWD: Johannesburg based digital marketing agency. Clients: NEDBANK, T Systems, BOSUN
  11. Blink Tower: Animated explainer videos. Clients: National Academy of Engineering,  Mozilla, Vodacom
  12. Brandlovevideos: Animated explainer videos to help sell your site. Clients: moviebuddy, VirtualDoctor, inFeedo
  13. Brandepix: Make kick ass videos that focus on the bottom line. Clients: HP, Infosys, ORACLE, Makemytrip.com
  14. Breadnbeyond: Offers Free guide on animated explainer videos. Clients: AskForTask, Pinterest, BetterBoo, Wealth Dragons
  15. Broadcast2world: Hand crafted videos for your business. Clients: ebay, Nokia, Johnson & Johnson, RICOH
  16. Cartoon Media: Awesome explainer videos built to achieve your profit goals – Premium Whiteboard Videos & explainer videos. Clients: Mazuma Mobile, HILTI, Wrexham Council
  17. Coat of Arms Post Production: – Unique explainers & original post production services. Clients: Land Rover, Undercover Cupid, Marriott
  18. Common Craft: Hand crafted media for explainers.
  19. Corporate Video Sharks: Animated video production
  20. Creamy Animation: Explainer and whiteboard videos. Clients: Microtek Corporation, Unstoppable, Pure Mortgage
  21. Creative Theory: A Canadian based creative and business services agency that operates in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Offers video production services.
  22. Cullin Collective: Explainer and explanation videos. Clients: basho, Zopim, onit,  AES International
  23. Daily Planet: A full service design and production studio. Clients: Subway, Nationwide Insurance, CocaCola, AT&T, Capital One
  24. Demo Duck: Make little videos that get big results – Clients:  Netflix & Crazy Egg
  25. DemoFlick: Customer explainer videos
  26. DemoNinja: Explainer video, tour video and app demo video
  27. Easy Explain Video: explain, educate, entertain – explainer videos
  28. EdmanTV: Freelance producer and motion graphics designer specialising in website videos
  29. Epipheo Studios: A digital video studio that creates video content for large enterprises and small businesses alike.
  30. Explainers.in: Your story, explained in video
  31. Explania: Animated explanations, interactive tutorials and instructional videos. Free to embed existing videos on your own website
  32. Explainify:  It’s about awakening your best story. Showing people what your brand is all about. Clients: Walmart, Coca Cola & Expedia
    Engaging. Instigating. Converting.
  33. Explain It Videos: Animated explainer videos for your mobile apps.
  34. Explanimate: Corporate animation company based in Brisbane, Australia
  35. Flikli: Create top-notch animated videos faster and more affordably than ever before to make your brand truly shine
  36. Flock of Pixels: Vimeo animation, motion design and post production. Clients:  Amex
  37. Fueled: Award winning mobile design & development. Clients: Porsche, Ducati, P&G
  38. FunnerVids: Make fun, inexpensive, animated business explainer videos that will wow your customers.  Clients: Micro Strategies, Convince & Convert.
  39. Fire Starter Videos: America’s number 1 animated video company.  Free e-book about explainer videos. Whiteboard, cartoon, demo and explainer videos. Clients: MasterCard, Volvo, unicef, The World Bank
  40. Gisteo: Creates one-of-a-kind  marketing videos built to engage, entice & convert. Clients: ORACLE, Intel, KPMG, CITRIX
  41. GoAnimate & GoAnimate for schools: Make professional animated videos. Easy learning curve,low budget, simple do-it-yourself tools. Clients: CNN, WIRED, Mashable,  The Wall Street Journal
  42. Green Iguana: Video production company, cartoons & animation, customer live action & stock videos, motion graphics & 3D. Clients: pci Security Standards Council, Virtual, Spirit Telecom
  43. Grumo Media: Product demo videos. Clients: Microsoft, Walmart, Fidelity Investments, Halifax, Recket Benckiser
  44. Howcast: The best how-to videos on the web. Clients: Next, Adobe, Virgin Media
  45. How It Works Media: Animated explainer videos.
  46. Idea Rocket: Put your message into orbit with animated videos. Clients: Bank of America, Alcatel Lucent,  Verizon, Electronic Arts
  47. Illustrate It: Digital media agency who create compelling videos for companies.  Clients: Uber Media, P&G, Microsoft, Call Fire
  48. In 60 Seconds:   Develops creative concepts, infographics, video productions and animations. Clients: Philips, eon, Oxfam Novib.
  49. Instruxion: Digital agency who specialise in conceptual design, development and distribution of high-impact digital content to achieve your business objectives. Clients: Sony, Bayer, IKEA
  50. Kasra Design: Premium animated explainer video, corporate video and anything in between. Clients: Panasonic, HTC, Dell
  51. Kicker Inc: Emmy award winning video production. Clients: Nike Golf, ATB Financial, Share Vault
  52. Kukuzoo: Canadian based animated explainer video production company. Clients: South Dade Toyota, Western University Canada
  53. Less Films: Create videos that turn web traffic into customers – Free case study. Clients: Salesforce, Dashlane, Grasshopper
  54. Legwork Studio: Digital agency which delivery app design & development, ecommerce and explainer videos.
  55. LooseKeys: Chicago based video production company who don’t just make videos, but tell stories. Clients: Cars.com, nakedwine.com
  56. Lumeo: Affordable explainer videos. Clients: Accenture, Plexus, Professionals Australia
  57. Mable Animation:  Mable Animation is a passionate illustration and animation studio located in Adelaide, South Australia
  58. Media Whale: Explainer animation video production company. Clients: Appsee
  59. MKShft: Creative company based in San Francisco. Clients:  Saatchi & Saatchi, Twitter, HTC, Velocidi PR, Bloomberg
  60. MindBug Studios: Your ideas explained in short, fun, animated video. Clients: Rent Hackr, NOPSEC
  61. Mypromovideos: We make your message sell. Clients: Ogilvy, Flipkart.com
  62. Motion Crafter:  Explainer video production company. Clients: HP, Rackspace, Allstate
  63. Panda Motion: We make explainer videos. Clients:  Squarespace.com, Quipster
  64. Paper Krane:  Portland-based  studio that makes engaging & affordable animated marketing videos. Clients: Adidas, Clean Water Services, SkyLift
  65. Picturelab: A team of creative folk who are passionate about visual storytelling and everything web and tech. Clients: Google, eSignal
  66. Piehole: Create kick ass video to explain what you do. Clients: Zapper, Agent Converter,  Smartvault.com
  67. Planet Nutshell: We make videos called Nutshells that explain alien concepts to everyday people. Clients: Microsoft, Google, cpb
  68. RapidFire Consulting & Video: Explainer videos to help tell your story.
  69. Revolution Productions: Authentic Marketing Videos
    & Animated Video Production. Clients:  Lexis Nexis, John Deere, The World Bank
  70. RocketWheel: Ignite your sales with video on mobile & desktop.  Clients: Amazon, Symantec, Dell, Bloomberg BNA
  71. Sandwich Video: Make videos and TV commercials, mostly for neat tech  products. Clients: Groupon, OSMO, Slack
  72. Say it Visually: We explain complex ideas for clients. Clients:  Amazon, Chevron, Met Life
  73. Sean Duran Studios: A freelancer who creates live action and animated videos. Clients: Panasonic, Coachd, Metalab Flow
  74. Seed Well: Social video champions. Clients: YouTube, Microsoft, Google
  75. Simple Story Videos: We create video for brands that’d rather make history than repeat it. Clients:  CocaCola, Shopify,  Citrix  
  76. simpleshow: Hand-crafted explainer video production. Clients: Adobe, BMW. ebay, Audi, Swiss Re
  77. Simplifilm: Enterprise grade product demo videos. Clients: Seth Godin
  78. Splainers: Videos that get results.  Clients: Microsoft, Pepsico, MasterCard, NFL
  79. Sprinkle Lab: We make and distribute delicious videos. Clients: Levi’s, IBM, Microsoft
  80. Sundstedt Animation: We make hand-crafted explainer videos. Clients: Pushdigital, VMS, Onyx Health
  81. Startup Video: Animated explainer videos. Clients: Standpoint, ABP
  82. Studio Pigeon: Even the best ideas needs explanation. Clients: farmerfinder, StudioPress, Snip2Code
  83. StudioTale: Creative videos. Clients: Scootr, Marbles App, Gotogether
  84. SureelVideo: Animated explainer video production
  85. Switch Video: Corporate video production &  animated video production. Clients: IBM, Microsoft, HP, Bayer
  86. Tadapix: Animated video studio. Clients: Del Monte,  Zooztunes
  87. The Video Animation Company: Explain your business with video animation. Clients: Mashable, ebay, The New York Times
  88. The Explainers: Digital communications studio  focused on explainer videos, infographics, and content strategy. Clients: National Broadband Network, National Australia Bank
  89. Think Mojo: Smart videos that get results. Clients: ebay, LinkedIn, Western Union
  90. Think Video: Web video specialists with a knack for explanation.
  91. Topic Simple:  Great animated videos for your product, idea, business, or startup. Clients: MSN, Springboard
  92. Topline Comms: Digital agency that covers  technology PR, content marketing, search marketing, video production and B2B PR. Clients: Sony DADC, Barclays,  ABN AMRO
  93. Transvideo Studios: The largest  video production company and studio complex in Silicon Valley. Clients: Mint.com, esignal
  94. UserFarm: Content creators – Connecting you with the world’s largest community of film makers. A global crowd of 100,000 classified filmmakers, backed up by a team of awesome professionals. Clients: Fiat 500, Smeg Factory, Santal, Rio Mare
  95. Veedme: Any video task. Clients: Google, MOSCOT, WAZE
  96. Veracity Colab: A video agency  driven by strategy, story and design. Clients: Lenovo, Google, Adobe
  97. Video Brewery: Video crowd-sourcing website connects you with freelancers to provide competitive quotes for your explainer video. Clients: UPSIDE, BusBank, Vero
  98. Video Explainers: We tell great stories about your business. Clients: Bright Promotions, SDG, Tune Gigs
  99. Video Igniter: Turnkey animated video production for agencies, businesses and marketers. Clients: LinkedIn, RICOH, ALTIMETER
  100. Video Sales Lab: Videos that will increase your conversions, guaranteed. Clients: AffiliateDotCom
  101. Vismo Media: Ideas into motion. 2D/3D animations. Clients: Thompson Reuters, Allstate, WSO.com
  102. Vjsual: Explainer videos to improve the way you communicate. Clients: Commerzbank, Groupon
  103. Vungle: Provides the infrastructure for app monetization through video ads. More than 200 million people worldwide see a Vungle ad each month.
  104. WeblyGuys: Explainer video production studio.  “We create marketing systems that convert your visitors & prospects into buyers, followers and fans!“
  105. We Can Explain: Animated explainer video production. Clients: EasyAzon, Rightmove, Zoopla
  106. What Now? Exactly! Explainer video production. Clients: Fidelity National Financial, Global Heart Network Foundation
  107. Whiteboard Explainers: High Quality & Animated Whiteboard Explainer Videos at Affordable Prices. Clients: NSCAA,  NAPA, CASK
  108. Wienot Films: Explainer videos, whiteboard animation, editing and production.
  109. Wooshii: Find an animator or video-maker for your explainer or demo video. Free e-book.  Clients: Google, ebay, Unilever
  110. Wyzowl: Create animated explainer videos with and without characters, website or web app walk-through using screen recordings, mobile app walk-through and video graphics based around statistics. Clients:  UserReport, Heebo.com,  Postify
  111. Ydraw: What’s your story. Explainer video production company. Clients: BlueSafe, Magic Sock,
  112. Your-60-seconds: Custom video productions for your website and App.

 

Wow, congratulations on getting to the end of this post. Thank you for reading my post. If you found it of interest please share this post by clicking on the social media icons.

Here is a great infographic on explainer videos from Hubspot.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here. This includes a section on explainer videos which has links to over 100 animated video production companies and freelancers.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

Are Icons Without Labels Conversion Killers?

Are you annoying visitors by having icons without labels?

 

Labels are helpful right? Without labels we are unable to categorise products, services, websites, cars, even people and many other things. So WTF  – I keep coming across websites and apps that use icons with no labels. Are they completely mad or do they think it is cool to create uncertainty and confusion among their visitors?

Here are the latest navigation icons from Tumblr. I use Tumblr a few times a week but I still can’t remember what all the icons stand for. Inventing new icons and not giving them clear labels just creates ambiguity, confusion and ultimately frustration from a user perspective. Many of us have tested the infamous hamburger button and found it inferior to a simple “Menu” label.

image of Tumblr navigation icons

Ok, so labels can have negative associations if they are misleading or inappropriate for the situation. But if you are unsure what the best label is then A/B test them to confirm which is most effective. Labels can also work to your advantage as vivid descriptive labels can help to create images in our mind that grab out attention and encourage a positive response. Buffer has the “Awesome” plan for their more active customers. Why use a boring term when you can inspire people.

image of Buffer navigation icons

 

Labels are immensely powerful as they frame how we perceive a situation or event. For instance people are psychologically more driven to avoid a loss than a potential gain. We can use this to our advantage by framing an action from the perspective of a potential  loss. VWO use a label on their alternative CTA that reinforces what a visitor will miss out on if they don’t click on the primary CTA. This makes it psychologically uncomfortable for the visitor to click on the alternative CTA. This in turn makes the primary CTA appear even more appealing.

image of VWO call to action buttons using loss aversion to persuade

Source: vwo.com

Avoid confusing simplicity with a minimalistic approach:

One of the reasons why icons are used without labels appears to be that simplicity is confused with having a minimalistic approach. This often leads to over-simplicity which risks creating more friction and cognitive load because key navigation elements are either hidden or sit behind meaningless icons that new visitors cannot be expected to decode. Sure, try for a simple design, but think very carefully before you remove anything in case it assists the user journey.

Zeebox is a case in point where they thought their app would benefit from removing the top navigation buttons by introducing a side-menu activated by the now derided hamburger button. They thought this would de-clutter their app and give more prominence to their content.

However, after they implemented the new design they found that engagement time halved. They had to rush out an update to undo the damage and decided to A/B test it next time. When they did A/B test a new version of the side-menu it was again a disaster. Needless to say they did not implement a side-menu.

Navigation is crucial to an app or website’s success and so make sure you A/B test new architecture before implementing it. Just because Facebook is testing something new don’t assume it will work on your site. Even Facebook have added labels to their persistent bottom navigation. So, please stop annoying your visitors by using icons without labels.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share it using the social media icons below.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

 

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, check out the Conversion Uplift  Facebook page or connect on LinkedIn.

How To Optimize Your Website’s Performance Using A/B Testing

 6 Experiments For Higher Conversions:

 6 types of tests to optimise a website page

 

 

When people talk about A/B testing they often refer to call to action button changes and landing page tests.  They also sometimes talk about only changing one element on a page at a time to ensure you can tell exactly what generated the difference between the two experiences. This last point of view can be quite misleading and could hold back your optimization progress.

You need to base your testing programme on a best practice and systematic process of discovery, evidence and prioritisation. But once you have that in place you also need to consider how to build a test plan for each of your key pages or journeys.

This brings us to the question of what are the main types of tests that you should be including in your testing roadmap. I’ve outlined below six testing approaches to consider and you should be employing all of them to optimize your site and improve conversions.

1. Innovation Tests:

Unless you happen to work for Google or some other mega website you have to change more than one element at a time if you are to make quick progress in your optimization journey.  An innovation or re-direct test allows you to experiment with something completely different. This gives you the opportunity to ensure the new page is more aligned to your business goals. The idea is that you can leave all the baggage of the existing page behind and design a radical new experience that will allow you to leapfrog to a much higher conversion rate.

Find an important web page, one with lots of traffic and a conversion rate that you believe can be significantly improved upon. You can then use a heuristic evaluation of the page to identify areas for improvement and use the other stages of the optimization process to gather further insights to help you construct your new innovative design.

As the design is radically different from your existing page you may want to manage the risk that it actually reduces conversion by starting it on a relatively low proportion of traffic. However,
after a week or so, if you are not seeing a big drop in conversion you can increase the proportion of traffic that sees the new page to reduce the time it will take for the test to complete.

 

2. Optimise and Multivariate Tests:

Once you have found a new innovative design that performs better than you existing page you should look to dissect it to understand how you can further enhance its effectiveness. Provided you have sufficient traffic multivariate testing (MVT)  can be used. Unlike A/B testing MVT allows you to change content within multiple sections of the same page and compare all the possible combinations against each other. For example if you wanted to test changing two sections on a page and have two variables for each section that would generate 8 combinations.

2 x 2 x 2 = 8

However, adding just one more variable in a single section
increases the test combinations from 8 to 12.

2 x 2 x 3  = 12

MVT’s have the advantage that they allow you to isolate many small page elements to understand their individual impact on conversion.  You can also evaluate interaction effects between multiple independent elements to find compound effects.  This can save you time as you don’t have to create and test many different variations for a page element that might not even have much impact upon your conversion rate.

On the downside MVTs require more traffic to achieve statistical confidence than an A/B test. If you don’t have the traffic to support a complex MVT limit the number of combinations  or conduct a series of A/B tests instead. With MVTs you need to  ensure that all variations within each section make sense together. Once the MVT has identified which page elements contribute most to
conversion you should validate the winning combination using an A/B test to check that they deliver the promised uplift.

 

Image of two web pages with different button contrast

Source: NickKolenda

3. Real Estate Tests:

Although you may now have a high performing page, how do you
know that all the elements on the page are in the best location? Some of the elements on the page could be poorly performing from a conversion perspective because they are in a sub-optimal location. Perhaps your main call to action is too far down the page or testimonials are taking prime real estate above the fold and they would be equally as effective further down the page, just above
the fold.

Image of two webpage click heatmaps

Source: ClickTale.com

Never assume that elements are in the best locations.  Your analytical tools, such as click and mouse movement heatmaps  should provide evidence that certain elements are not getting the attention you might expect, but to confirm this you will need to work with your web designers to develop tests that challenge the existing location of key assets on the page.  Try moving elements to different locations on the page but ensure that the page flow still works as otherwise that could influence the test result.

4. Inclusion/Exclusion Test:

Is that auto-rotating carousel really improving conversion? This is the stage in your page optimization process where you start turning off elements on your page to identify the conversion influences. If you remove your carousel from your homepage and you see a positive impact on conversion this tells you that you either have a poorly designed carousel or that you could use that prime real-estate for other types of assets that might increase
conversion.

This type of test is ideal for pages like your homepage that have any different elements on them and could benefit from being de-cluttered. Having unnecessary assets on a page can be distracting and reduce engagement at an important stage in the user journey.  If an element is removed and there is no impact on conversion this could also be considered for removal or it could be moved to a less important page or location.

When removing an asset has a negative impact on conversion you know to retain it as showing it clearly improves conversion. However, you should then do follow-up A/B tests on this element to determine the best design for this type of asset.  Be cautious about removing assets that when removed show a positive impact on conversion if the element relates to specific use cases or conversion goals. Maybe the element has been poorly designed or is difficult to understand. If you have any evidence that this might be the case
A/B test different variants before deciding to remove from the page.

5. Segment and Target Your Tests:

 

image of tangerine segments
Source: Freeimages.com

If you treat all your visitors the same you can only expect to have an average conversion rate. By definition some of your test variations will better meet the needs of certain visitor segments and as a result they may convert significantly higher for that group, but less well for other types of visitors. To further improve your conversion rate you should evaluate how you can segment and target your tests to create experiences designed to better satisfy
the needs of individual customer groups.

This approach will also boost your conversion rate because it leads to a much more dynamic website that responds to the needs of different user segments.  Set up key visitor segments (e.g. new and returning customers) in your analytics that you want to analyse and target with different content. This allows you to analyse your test
results to identify customer segments that performed significantly better than your average conversion uplift. You can then serve your winning test experience to all those visitor types that are more responsive to your new content.

Content automation is increasingly encroaching into this space and although it is a great tool, it is not a silver bullet. You can only
automate the content you have and if this is not optimal and engaging automating it will be of limited value. You should use A/B testing first to help create relevant content and understand how individual visitor segments respond to different user experiences. This will improve your chances of producing content that benefits from automation and is responsive to customer needs.

6. Test Iteration:

To avoid random and ad-hoc testing you should always base your tests on insights gleaned from previous tests or test additional assets following-on from an initial test.  Testing is a continuous process that enables your website to evolve gradually to better satisfy your customer needs and provide new insights to enhance your content marketing. A test and learn process is a much more scientific approach to website improvement than completely
redesigning your website from scratch.

Image of Test and Learn Process of A/B testing

 

In Conclusion:

By using these strategies to create a systematic plan for optimising
key pages on your site you are more likely to deliver substantial and
sustainable uplifts in conversion.  Each type of test is designed to provide specific insights and allow you to further enhance your conversion rate.

Never assume you have come to the end of your journey as your competitors will look to respond to your optimization strategy and disruptive technologies may change customer behaviour.  You will need to continue the optimization
process if you want to respond to changing visitor needs.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it of interest please share this post by clicking on the social media icons below.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Foxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

12 Awesome Books To Help You Optimize Your Website

12 Must Read Books For Website Optimization – Updated 3rd July 2016.

 

Here are twelve  brilliant books that will give you a good grounding in the process of optimisation, design basics, usability and human psychology behind visitor behaviour. These are excellent for helping you defining your strategy and identify insights to develop hypothesis for website and landing page optimization.

The first three books are specifically on website optimization. You might think that I would suggest just one of these books to read, but I can honestly say that each brings a different perspective to the  subject and I would highly recommend that you read all three.

1. Website Optimization – An hour A Day – Rich Page.

When I received this book in the post I thought it looked a bit dry and basic for my needs. It sat on my shelf for a few months and when I got around to reading it I decided to dip into it for specific topics of
interest. However, the more I dipped into it and read whole chapters I realised that this is a gold mine for anyone wanting to really appreciate how to optimize a website.

It is crammed full of ideas on what you should be testing, but more importantly it is especially good for outlining a systematic process
for optimization
. This is essential for your success as without a consistent and data driven approach to optimization you will struggle to maintain focus and you will certainly not achieve an optimal return on investment (RIO) from your A/B and Multivariate Testing (MVT) tools.

Rich explains everything from investigating your analytics, and choosing tools, to putting together a testing plan for a page or journey. As well as being great for understanding the process of optimization there is a lot of detail on the specifics of what to test. You can tell that Rich has a massive amount of experience on the subject of testing and he holds nothing back to help you identify areas and approaches to testing. I found this book particularly good for developing check lists of how and what to test.

 

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2. You Should Test That! Conversion Optimization for more leads, sales & profit or the Art and Science of improving websites – Chris Goward.

Chris Goward founded the website optimization specialists Widerfunnel and he shares their approach to optimization in this highly readable and fascinating book.  Despite it being a fairly thick book I found I struggled to stop reading it. You can tell Chris is well read as he brings insights from a wide range of sources and has a more holistic approach to the process than many of his peers.

This is probably the most strategic book on website optimization that I have read. It has a brilliant chapter on persuasion and models of human behaviour that is a must read. The Lift Model that  Widerfunnel employ has been widely adopted as best practice in the industry and is fully explained in the book with great examples of how to use it in practice.

Chris’ book is also brilliant for dealing with objections to testing and how to engage people in the process of optimization. There are also
a huge number of examples of tests and many vivid images to  illustrate the nature of these experiments. I found Chris is particularly good at advising how to develop strong hypothesis before you go ahead with an experiment. A weak hypothesis is often the cause of many unsuccessful tests. Although we learn from our failures you do need a regular stream of successful tests to convince
your stakeholders to maintain their support.

 

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3. Landing Page Optimization – The Definitive Guide To Testing and Tuning for Conversions – Tim Ash, Rich Page and Maura Ginty.

For the digital marketers among us this is an essential read. Landing pages are the bread and butter of our trade and this book is a  comprehensive guide on how to optimize the beginning of your funnel. However, as Tim points out in his book, visitors can land on a multitude of pages and it is important to seek to optimize all pages, including your homepage, where user first arrive on your site.

Many people think that landing pages are simple to design and optimize. When you read the book though you will get a better appreciation of how complex this process is and the importance of understanding how such pages fit into the overall customer journey. Tim and his co-authors take you thorough and systematic process of optimization.

This book is much more than landing page optimization. Sure,
it covers the seven deadly sins of landing page design, but it also outlines Tim’s conversion Ninja toolbox to help you diagnose problems, identifying psychological mismatches with your visitors and fixing site problems. Other chapters include the strategy of what to test and the mechanics of testing. The book gives you a broad understanding of optimization and testing, but it also has many practical examples and ideas for your testing roadmap.

 

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4. Brainfluence – 100 Ways To Persuade and Convince Consumers With Neuromarketing – Roger Dooley.

It is estimated that 95% of our thoughts, emotions and learning occur in our subconscious mind.  Research suggests that our  subconscious mind has often made a decision well before we become consciously aware of our intentions and factors such as our emotional state, the environment, what we perceive other people are doing or thinking and social norms are much more powerful
drivers of our behaviour than we appreciate.

Roger uses a broad definition of neuromarketing to include behavioural science and behavioural-based strategies to help us understand how our brain works and how to translate this into improving our marketing and our products. Roger has carefully extracted and summarised the insights from hundreds of interesting pieces of research to provide a stream of practical  recommendations on how to influence people using key behavioural drivers.

Each of the fourteen chapters is broken up into lots of short sub-sections which makes the book very easy to digest and allows you to
find specific topics of interest very quickly. This is a great book for
marketers who want a short-cut to understanding what can influence our brain and how this can be translated into marketing strategies.

 

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5. How to Get People to Do Stuff – Susan Weinschenk.  Recommended by Roger Dooley.

Roger recommended this book to me over Twitter and I must
say this is one of my most referred to books on persuasion and motivation.  The book is structured around seven drivers of
behaviour:

  1. The need to belong

2. Habits

3. The power of stories

4. Carrots and sticks

5. Instincts

6. The desire for mastery

7. Tricks of the mind

It’s one of those books that you find difficult to put down as it’s packed full of interesting and useful insights. It’s also easy to dip
into to find a particular topic as each chapter is divided up into short sub-sections using informative headings. In addition, after each insight has been explained there is short summary of the related strategy. This assists you in digesting the important learning from each sub-section and makes it easy for you to pinpoint relevant content if you want to return at a later date. It total Susan outlines 114 helpful persuasive strategies.

 

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6. Don’t Make Me Think – A common Sense Approach to Web Usability – Steve Krug

The title in itself is a great way of framing website usability and how we should set out to design user journeys. This is a must read for anyone involved in optimizing or designing websites as it is one of
the most practical books you will come across. It is short book on purpose to make it easily digestible and more likely to be used by the people who build websites.  Steve’s mantra is about keeping it simple and focus on a few key things that everyone involved in designing or evaluating websites should know.

The book begins by setting out a few guiding principles of web usability, including “Don’t make me think” which is as simple as; “it
should be self-evident. Obvious. Self-explanatory”.  This might appear basic advice, but it is amazing how often such simple principles are forgotten in the heat of discussions about new web designs. Importantly much of the advice is based upon an excellent understanding of how people browse the web and how they interact
with content and navigation elements.

An important aim of the book to make the reader understand that usability testing does not need to be complicated and that you can do it yourself with a little bit of preparation. Steve is a great believer is doing-it-yourself and that one usability test is 100% better than none. He also makes a critical point that “Focus groups are not usability tests”.  Focus groups are a potentially misleading
method of research at the best of times, but they are totally inappropriate for evaluating the usability of a web page or user journey.

If you are time poor, and struggle to read books, this is one book that I would definitely invest in today.

 

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7. Designing with the Mind in Mind – Simple guide to Understanding User Interface Design Rules – Jeff Johnson

I’m no designer, and have no intention of becoming one
either, but this is an excellent book for you to grasp they key principles of how and why people interact with user interfaces the way they do.  The book has been well researched as it is packed
full of useful statistics and insights that support the design rules outlined.

The first chapter is appropriately entitled “We Perceive What We Expect” and begins with how perception is biased by experience, current context and goals.  Jeff explains how our brain filters our perceptions accordingly and the importance of considering
mental processing when designing a user interface.

Other topics covered in the book include how our vision is optimized to see structure, reading is unnatural, peripheral vision is poor,
limits on attention shape our thoughts and actions, learning from experience and performing learned actions are easy, but problem solving and calculations are hard. Insights such as people focus on goals and pay little attention to their tools, reminds us about what matters in designing new experiences for our visitors and to stop putting barriers in place that prevent customers achieving their goals.

 

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8. Drunk Tank Pink – The Subconscious Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel And Behave – Adam Alter.

If you are interested in understanding the psychology of how human decision making is subconsciously influenced by such factors as our
names, labels, symbols, culture, colours and our environment this is a brilliant book to read. You will be shocked by how our behaviour and perceptions are affected in obscure and surprising ways.

However, Adam provides some fascinating and useful insights
that can be used to challenge design thinking and develop hypothesis for A/B testing new customer experiences. All too often we assume that most people view the world in the same way that we do, but this book explodes that myth and shows how even subtle changes to the design of images and messages can drive different behaviours.

 

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9. Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini

The 6 principles of persuasion are now widely adopted by many  marketers and there are a constant flow of articles based upon these psychological weapons.  Reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity have
become synonymous with Cialdini and persuasion.

However, the book is still worth reading as Cialdini uses compelling narrative and detailed research to explain some ordinary and some
extraordinary cases of persuasion.  Each individual principle is a complex construct that Cialdini carefully unwraps and provides great insights into the different approaches used by people seeking to persuade.

You will be shocked by the nature of some of the behaviour Cialdini uncovers as being influenced by common psychological weaknesses.  Many famous and infamous events are dissected and explained using Cialdini’s deep understanding of human psychology. However,
the book is useful for both generating ideas on how to make content more persuasive, but also how to avoid falling foul of people who are trying to manipulate you for their own personal gain.

 

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10. – How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

I’ve noticed this book on almost every reading list I have come across on social media and decided they can’t all be wrong. Given this book was written over 70 years ago, although it has been revised, I was amazed how informative and useful a guide to human behaviour it is.

This book is a brilliant and practical guide to human behaviour and how to get the most out of people, whether you are trying to persuade or just motivate them. It  is highly applicable to website optimization as the principles are the same however you communicate or interact with people. Why should you treat people any different when they come to your site than you would if they turned up at the door to your office. I highly recommend this book to to improve all aspects of your life and I’m sure it will also help generate some powerful ideas for improving your website and how you communicate with your customers online.

 

11. Decoded – The Science Behind Why We Buy – Phil Barden

Phil Barden is a highly experienced and knowledgeable marketer who brings together the latest psychological and neuroscience research and combines it with his marketing expertise. This is a fascinating and highly practical review of what we now know about what drives people to buy products and brands.

Image of implicit goals
Source: Decode Marketing

From a marketing perspective his research into the 6 key implicit (psychological) goals that drive brand purchase is invaluable. Based upon experience and empirical research the psychological goals outlined in the book offer an essential framework for positioning a brand and evaluating the relevance of proposed marketing communications. It challenges a lot of the myths created by listening to what consumers say are important to them. This gives you a reality check so that you can be better informed and avoid some of the traps many marketers have fall into.

Thank you reading my post. If you found this of interest please share using the social media icons on the page.

12. Herd – How To Change Mass Behaviour By Harnessing Our True Nature – By Mark Earls

 

An excellent book for understanding our ‘herd’ instincts and how far reaching and ingrained the influence of others is in driving much of our behaviour. This book explodes many myths about economics, word of mouth marketing, market research and human nature in general. A must read for all marketers and anyone interested in human behaviour. Mark is an experienced advertising executive and so is able to put his research into context by offering practical advice on how to apply herd theory in a competitive business environment.

 

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

How do Names Influence Behaviour and Outcomes?

How Names Influence Our Behaviour

Names and the psychological associations they hold are so deeply rooted in our psyche that we are magnetically drawn towards the concepts they embody. These associations are so strong that they can result in behaviour that is automatic and totally irrational. As a result names can be used for good effect on websites to engage and motivate people to act in a way that can improve conversion.

Who are we?

Image of female face

Source: Freeimages.com

As people from separate socio-economic and educational
backgrounds have different social connections and cultural influences they form very distinctive preferences for names to give to their children. This inevitably means that as we grow up we notice these differences and develop strong and lasting associations between names and important demographic and social characteristics.

As a result names become linked to demographic characteristics such as age, gender and race. So much so that insurance companies
use the historical popularity of different names as a proxy for age in their direct marketing campaigns to improve their effectiveness. Names make it easy for us to categorise people almost automatically because of the associations we build up over time.

Letters that form our name:

Image of letters of alphabet

Source: Freeimage.com

People are so strongly emotionally attached to their names that they display a preference for letters that form their name.   Surprisingly this can significantly affect our responsiveness to requests for action. Researchers analysed the initials of people
donating money for a number of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes that hit the U.S.A between 1998 and 2005. They discovered that people had a significantly higher propensity to donate more frequently and were more generous if the name of the hurricane shared the same initial as their own name.

The last name effect:

 

image of stencil of letters q to z

 

Source: Freeimages.com

Our names also shape our view of the world which creates habits
that can drive specific behaviours.  For instance school teachers have a tendency to ask students questions based upon the first letter of their surname and usually follow the order of the
alphabet.  For teachers this seems sensible as it also correlates with the class register.

However, this means that children with surnames that begin with a letter that is not near the beginning of the alphabet are progressively less likely to be asked to call out an answer by their teacher.  As a consequence psychologists found that the further down the alphabet a person’s surname appears the quicker they were to respond to a limited offer of free basketball tickets.

Fluency of names halo effect:

Another affect that psychologists have discovered is that
people have an inbuilt preference for fluent names of people, companies and objects.  Names that are difficult to pronounce can create negative attention and outcomes compared to people with
fluent names.

An aid to your career?

Researchers at the University of Melbourne analysed the career paths of 500 lawyers. Lawyers with fluent names appeared to be significantly more likely to rise up the hierarchy.  The effect was most pronounced among mid-career lawyers (4 to 8 years) suggesting that it did not help lawyers with limited experience or those who had over 15 years in the profession.

Stock market investors:

 

Image of New York stock market

Source: Freeimages.com

For investors the fluency of a company’s name appears to create a sense of comfort and familiarity that partly counteracts the
perception that any company can go bankrupt. Psychologists Danny Oppenheimer and Adam Alter found that the share price of fledgling financial stocks was more likely to rise after floating if their names were easy to pronounce.

This was not related to the stock being foreign owned as they repeated the analysis for American only shares  and found the
same relationship with fluent named stocks, especially for the first week after floating.  The researchers found the relationship also held true for stock tickers which against suggests that it is not related to the name sounding foreign or having some other association that causes people to prefer fluent names.

Implications for website optimization:

  • Ensure you capture customer names when appropriate and test
    dynamically inserting their name into relevant content at key points in the customer journey. However, be careful not to overuse a customer’s name as people obviously take the use of their name very personally. Always test first to understand if it is beneficial to use a customer’s name.

Image of email from Skyscanner displaying my name

  • When using videos in email marketing include the customer’s  name in the video to improve conversions. Zumba Fitness personalised a video to encourage instructors to register for its annual conference. It embedded a personalised mockup of the recipients’ convention badge with their name displayed on it. Open and click through rates increased significantly as a result.

 

  • If you want to get feedback from customers or wish to engage with them via Live Chat, try adding the customer’s name to the chat window.
  • If you only hold the name of your visitor you can use it as an indicator of their age and social class. This should allow you to deliver a more personalised experience.
  • Try recommending new products or games that begin with the same letters as customer initials to see if they are more responsive to such suggestions.
  • See if customers sometimes prefer personalised content with their initials rather than their full name. Try testing adding the customer’s initials to product pages or images/videos of a product. This could be especially relevant for e-commerce sites that sell clothing items as people like the idea of having their initials on some fashion items.
  • Consider using and testing more fluent product and brand
    names to benefit from the tendency of people to prefer names that they can easily spell and pronounce.  I notice that some companies like to use exotic sounding names for new games or product offerings, but this should be avoided if it results in names that are difficult to pronounce.
  • Target customers with surnames towards the end of the alphabet with personalised time-sensitive or limited offers to see if they are more responsive due to the last name effect. Be careful to avoid using married women’s last names as unless their maiden name happened to also be towards the back of the alphabet they may not be as impatient as those born with such a name.

 

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share it using the social media icons below.

You can see my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

Recommended reading:

Drunk Tank Pink: The Subconscious Forces that Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.