How to avoid the spam filter in eight easy steps

Keeping one step ahead of the spam filter!

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are constantly fighting a war against spam email. In December 2016 an estimated 61% of global email traffic was accounted for by spam messages and so unless your email campaigns are carefully designed and implemented there is a high chance that they could end up in your customer’s junk folder.

Avoiding the Spam filter is a tricky subject. There isn’t a black and white answer for this as avoiding the Spam folder is not an exact science. Triggers change daily and the rules are different for every individual inbox. What went into your inbox yesterday may get flagged as Spam today. You might get marketing emails directly to your inbox but your recipient may have applied settings so that they never see any marketing content.

So what’s the point in spending time writing and creating beautiful emails to deliver your company’s message if you never know whether it’s going to see the light of day or not?  Fortunately there are several strategies you can use to avoid the Spam folder. Here are eight easy steps to avoid the dreaded spam filter.

1. Design your email carefully:

The format of an email campaign can affect its deliverability. Make sure you have 80% text and 20% image as an all text email will almost certainly land in Spam, as will an email that is made up of one large image. In addition, responsive template design is becoming increasingly important for businesses. As we move into an age where the adoption of smart phones and tablets is increasing, businesses need to send email which can be dynamically change its format to render appropriately on different devices.

 

Image of user looking at a computer

2. Include a plain text version:

Plain text versions of your email are very important and play a significant role in your email marketing strategy. We recommend that you always include a plain text version when sending HTML emails to not only to keep you out of Spam folders but some recipient’s email clients may not support or render HTML properly. Also some recipients may just prefer to receive text only messages. So a plain text backup of your email is always a good idea as it ensures that all recipients can access the content.

3. Don’t overuse exclamation marks or CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!

There’s no need to SHOUT! Where possible exclamation marks should be avoided all together. Too much focus on urgency can land you in Spam. Instead look at writing copy with better emphasis on your message or use a CTA button if you want something to stand out more. Much like with exclamation marks, writing in all caps to create emphasis will get your emails flagged as Spam. Well written content and subject lines get better open rates, and decrease your chances of landing in the depths of a Spam box.

4. Give your images relevant alt tags:

Every email browser and account is different, so there’s a good chance you’re sending an email to someone who won’t be able to see images when they first open it. How will they know what information your images are providing? Using alt text provides a text alternative in the instance your images aren’t there, which is especially useful if you’re providing a link too. Not hiding information in images boosts your chances of hitting an inbox and contributes to text/image ratio.

Image of spam folder

5. Regularly cleanse your lists:

Good list hygiene helps to look after your domain reputation. If you keep sending to subscribers who have bounced or haven’t opened an email in months, your domain will eventually be recognised as Spammy because people aren’t opening your messages. mmunic mail clients benefit from our auto-cleanse system that automatically unsubscribes hard bounces, recognises when a soft bounce becomes a hard bounce, and has easy-to-use segmentation tools.

To cleanse your data before you begin email marketing you should arrange for email addresses to be validated using a reputable data cleansing company. Check out this list of 14 email validation and data cleansing suppliers.

6. Avoid Spammy words and phrases:

Words such as “free” and “income” are obvious Spam words, but there are others that are not so obvious. For example, did you know putting “Dear” as an email greeting is considered Spammy too? If you’re having trouble getting an email out of Spam it’s worth revising your content for trigger words.

7. Test, test and test again!

When you send  your email to your entire database you are sending  an email to many different email clients and  many different operating systems. These  can all render emails differently and so checking that you are satisfied with how the email looks in your editor may not be enough. You can manually test your emails across several different clients by setting up different test accounts.

However, we recommend that you use an email testing tool which allows you to test every email across countless devices. mmunic mail integrates with Litmus and enables you to preview your email in 70+ environments with one click. It also enables you to scan for potential Spam issues, broken links, images, and more.

8. It’s never a good idea to buy email lists:

Expanding your business takes time and is very hard work so it’s understandable that people are tempted to make shortcuts. Purchasing an email list might seem like an ideal shortcut at the time but can land you in some serious hot water with your email marketing as they can be littered with out-dated email addresses honeypots and spam traps.

In short if you are sending out an email to any recipient they should have given you explicit permission to do so and its great to have a list of 50,000 names – but you need to put this into its right context. If those people aren’t interested in what you have to say, then how much are they really worth to you? Don’t ruin your sending reputation by being repeatedly marked as spam by recipients who don’t know who you are and may not be interested in your business. Remember the golden rule Always target the right users, with the right messaging, at the right time.

Closing thoughts:

Let’s face it, nobody likes to receive unsolicited emails (spam). Take a look at your spam folder right now; you’ve probably been bombarded with junk emails offering pharmaceutical products, pyramid schemes and various adult services. Unfortunately for you this means the safety precautions that ESP’s put in place to control Spam, may actually work against your perfectly legitimate and requested email to your subscribers. At best leaving your recipient to have to actively mark your email address as ‘not spam’ or a safe sender, at worst you are completely ignored.

Start by creating good habits within your email marketing by using the above-mentioned eight steps and keeping abreast of Spam trends. mmunic can help you not only stay on the ball all aspects of email marketing but also provide you with a named account manager to be there every step of the way in this constantly changing industry.

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

 

About the author: Lisa Winter is Studio Manager and email marketing specialist at email marketing agency mmunic.co.uk based in Chester, UK. Unlike most email marketing platforms mmunic provides a range of managed service solutions to design, set up and send email campaigns for you. So, if you don’t have the time or expertise to design your own campaigns mmunic can take the strain for you instead.

Image of mmunic.co.uk email marketing

Related posts:

Email validation – 14 email validation solutions to boost conversions

Tips for email marketing – 4 ways to improve your email marketing conversion rate

What Are The Implications of Gall’s Law For Digital Marketing?

What is Gall’s Law?

Gall’s Law is a rule of thumb which indicates that complex systems that work are normally found to have evolved from a simple system that worked.  This means trying to design a complex system from scratch is never successful and it cannot be made to work once it has been created. It is necessary to begin again with a simple system before trying to make it complex.

Gall’s Law originates from John Gall’s book Systemantics: How Systems Really Work and How They Fail. The law supports the idea of under-specification and has been used to explain the success of the World Wide Web and Facebook. Both of these systems began life as fairly uncomplicated systems but have since evolved over time to become highly complex ecosystems.

There are of course many examples of complex systems that have failed, especially in IT, but the evidence for Gall’s Law does appear more anecdotal than scientific. The other principles of Gall’s Law are:

  1. Complex systems rely on many variables and interdependencies that have to be organised precisely for them to function correctly. Designing complex systems from scratch doesn’t work because they haven’t been shaped by environmental selection forces that allow systems to naturally become more complex.
  2. Uncertainty means that designers can never predict all of the interdependencies and variables needed to build a complex system from scratch. This means such complex systems are prone to failure in all kinds of unexpected ways.
  3. Environmental constraints which change over time and are again unpredictable suggest designing a simple system that works in the current environment and then adjust the system over time to improve it.
  4. As prototyping and iteration are so effective as value-creation processes it is much easier to use these methodologies to verify that a system meets critical functional needs rather than try to build a complex system from scratch.
  5. Developing that prototype into a minimum viable offer enables project managers to validate critical assumptions and produce a simple system that can work with real users.
  6. The organisation can then use iteration and incremental augmentation to develop an extremely complex system over time that can be adapted to environmental changes.

Implications for conversion rate optimisation:

1. Focus on critical customer needs.

This means aim to begin by building simple apps and websites that are not overly complex and don’t have too many features and functions that most customers are unlikely to ever use. Snap Chat for instance started out as a very simple messaging app and has only gradually become mo re complex over time.Get the basic right first.

Unfortunately this is not ‘sexy’ or ‘cool’ and so often product teams add features based upon their personal preference rather than evidence. Avoid this if you can.

  1. Get the basic right first.

All too often people get obsessed with the latest feature or functionality that competitors offer without first getting the basics working on their own site or app. For example, most users won’t change default settings and so there is little to gain from giving customers more choice in the settings tab if no one ever uses them.

3. Allow for your app or website to evolve over time.

A key principle of Gall’s Law is that software starts simple and then evolves to become more complex over time. Optimisers and project managers should make allowance for this evolutionary change by building in feedback and reporting mechanisms to facilitate this process. Listening to customers and using A/B and multivariate testing should be part of the iterative process for allowing your app or site to evolve over time.

Conclusion:

Gall’s Law should be a reminder for designers, project managers and optimisers to stay focused on key customer needs and avoid the dangers of mission-creep and over-complicating a new user experience. Get the basics right first and allow for evolutionary change via customer feedback and optimisation experiments.

Gall’s Law could have been written for conversion rate optimisation as one of the key principles of CRO is to establish an evolutionary optimisation strategy rather than going for regular site re-designs. This makes for less disruption for users and it provides optimisers with more opportunities to understand the impact of small changes on success metrics.

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 marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • 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@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

Was The Pepsi Ad Trying To Do The Wrong Job?

Ads have a job to do!

How did Pepsi’s marketing team think the Kendall Jenner ad was going to work and why? Ads have a job to do, but what was the job for Pepsi?

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.” – according to a brand statement.

The problem was in the execution as Coke had a similar idea with the “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” ad in 1971. However, Coke didn’t  pretend they could have a role in specific problems like apartheid in South Africa. The Pepsi ad trivialised important issues and mimicked imagery from a recent protest for social justice.

Image from 1971 Coke ad - "I'd like to teach the world to sing."
Image Source:

Are in-house agencies prone to mistakes?

The ad was produced by Pepsi’s in-house agency, Creators League Studio. The studio is overseen by Brad Jakeman, president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group; and Kristin Patrick, senior VP-global brand development.

Well, in-house creative agencies don’t have to be a recipe for disaster if there is proper oversight and diversity in teams. But what if you want to turn your in-house agency into a Hollywood  studio?  That’s exactly what Jakeman recently said in Ad Age.

“Our goal is to really behave like a Hollywood studio…..The holy grail for me is to leverage the incredible power of our brands and their equities to essentially fund their own marketing,” – Brad Jakeman

This might explain why the ad was all over the place rather than focusing on the job to be done. Kristin Patrick also believes this BS:

“For many, many years, we have been the people who have been renting the content from the networks and the studios. There’s an opportunity for us to become more ingrained in that profit pool,” –  Kristin Patrick

Image of protest from Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad
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Nope, still don’t get it and where does it mention anything about understanding your target audience? Are they confusing product placement in movies with producing ads?

They also have this obsession with millennials even though most research shows that age is a poor indicator of attitudes and preferences.

Image of Tweet quoting Kristin Patrick

What are ads for?

As advertising man Dave Trott points out what is important about an ad is not whether you like it or not, but does the ad work and why. Jakeman and Patrick seem to  have confused this objective by trying to position their creative studio as an income generating Hollywood studio.

Dave Trott estimates that £18.3 billion a year is spent on all forms of marketing. But only 4% of that is remembered positively, 7% is remembered negatively and 89% is neither noticed or remembered.

Pepsi have lost sight of this and should be concerned about getting their ads noticed rather then comparing themselves with a Hollywood studio . Ads can be entertaining, but that doesn’t mean they need to have a plot like a movie. The Pepsi ad is a great example of advertisers taking themselves far too seriously.

Image from Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad with people dancing
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Group think?

The real danger with all this BS is that you start to believe your own PR and no one in the team is going to want to stand out and shout “the emperor has no clothes on”.  When you get a small team of like-minded people  and the culture is over-respectful of the people in charge you have a high chance of  groupthink.

When all think alike, then no one is thinking - Walter Lippman - The danger of groupthink

 

Diversity and independent thinking?

Pepsi have a strong reputation for promoting gender equality, but this is only one aspect of diversity. For instance James Surowiecki argues that  cognitive diversity is also critical to good decision making as it expands a group’s set of possible alternatives and it helps the group to mentally visualise problems in novel ways.

“Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.”  – James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds

Large corporations like Pepsi though love to rely on recruiting the brightest minds and people from top universities. This just ensures you get people from similar backgrounds which leads to homogenous groups.

“Suggesting that the organisation with the smartest people may not be the best organisation is heretical, particularly in a business world caught up in a ceaseless “war for talent” and governed by the assumption that a few superstars can make the difference between an excellent and a mediocre company. Heretical or not, it’s the truth, the value of expertise is, in many contexts, overrated.” – James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds

Do HR need to review recruitment practices?

So, maybe HR departments also need to think about what their practices are doing to large corporations. Maybe it’s not all about the most talented after all?

What about digital marketing?

 

Digital content also has a job to do. Keep it simple and have a single objective. Don’t fall into the trap of over-complicating content or setting more than one objective. If your content goes viral, great, but don’t rely on it.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share.

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 marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • 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@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

What Does Hick’s Law Tell Us About User Experience Design?

Choosing Takes Time:

In 1951 the British psychologist William Hick conducted experiments with a series of lights and Morse code keys to measure choice reaction times. Hick discovered that the relationship between the time it took to make a decision and the number of choices was logarithmic. Together with work by the US psychologist Ray Hyman their studies formed the basis of Hick’s Law which states that the more choices you offer people the more time they require to make a decision.

As a result when people are given lots to choose from have to spend a considerable amount of time to interpret and process information to make a suitable decision. This also corresponds with the Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz who argues more choice leads to more stress and reduced levels of customer satisfaction.

What does Hick’s Law tell us?

The research Hick and Hyman conducted resulted in a formula to define Hick’s Law:

RT = a + b log2 (n)

“RT” is the reaction time, “(n)” is the number of stimuli offered, and “a” and “b” are arbitrary measurable constants that depend on the task to be completed and the conditions under which it will be conducted. “A” could be getting an appropriate gift for your sister’s birthday and “B” could be a phone call with your mum to find out what other members of the family might be buying her as a present.

Image showing Hick's Law relationship between amount of choice and time to make a decision

 

The implication of Hick’s Law for optimisers appears simple  – minimise the number of options you display to speed up the decision-making process. There are exceptions to the rule though as if a visitor has already made up their mind before arriving on your site they will take less time to make a decision than someone who has not decided what they want.

From a conversion perspective this means less is more and give more prominence to the option that is most likely to meet customer goals. But what else does Hick’s Law tell us about digital marketing?

Implications of Hick’s Law:

Hick’s Law can be applied across many aspects of life and business, not just design and conversion rate optimisation. Here are 9 implications from Hick’s Law:

  1. The design principle known as K.I.S.S (Keep it Short and Simple) originated from the application of Hick’s Law and this has been applied across many fields.
  2. In terms of systems design, Gall’s Law appears to apply a similar principle to the field of complex systems. This is a rule of thumb that suggests that complex systems have usually evolved from a simple system that worked. This is consistent with agile working which encourages project managers to keep website and apps simple at first. Avoid adding too many features and complex functionality at the beginning of the design process.
  3. Massive menus and lots of categories need to be avoided.
  4. Minimise call to actions (CTAs) and links on a page to reduce cognitive load.
  5. The vast majority of users who land on your site have some kind of preconception or intent about what they are looking for. Tailoring landing pages according to the source of traffic and what they are looking for can help us to remove choices that lack relevance to that particular customer segment. By eliminating distractions and focusing on the most relevant choices we can make the user experience less cognitively demanding and more enjoyable.
  6. For large data sets such as blog posts, thumbnails or product recommendations,  provide structure using white space and other directional cues.  By applying consistency to design this facilitates the user’s decision-making without over-powering them with choice.
  7. For content heavy sites designers should use patterns and consistency to allow users to easily scan the page and quickly find what they are looking for. A good design uses a combination of visual cues, colour, spacing and consistency to visually emphasize important conversion elements on a page.
  8. People don’t read content, they scan it. Use suitable images, graphics, spacing, headings , short paragraphs and bullet points to assist users in this process.
  9. Following established web conventions such as using blue for text links to indicate that it is clickable speeds up the user’s decision-making process. Users don’t have to think about such choices as these are globally recognised patterns in web design.

In an A/B test on partypoker.com we increased clicks on the vertical navigation by 17% by moving the navigation from the right to the left to conform to the web convention. Using standard web conventions throughout a design helps users make decisions based upon previous experience.

Image of partypoker.com vertical navigation test

 

Conclusion:

Hick’s Law reminds us that optimisation is about focusing on core customer needs and behaviour to minimise cognitive load and make the user experience enjoyable. By delivering a consistent set of design patterns that reflect behaviour and web conventions we can minimise the number of conscious decisions users need to make and improve conversions.

Design is not about making a website look beautiful or to win awards, but rather we should aim to make the user experience effortless. By applying the principles of Hick’s Law throughout the user journey we should improve the chances of prospects and customers converting.

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 marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • 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@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

Don’t Let This Bias Destroy Your Optimisation Strategy!

Avoiding Logical Errors in Website Optimisation:

During World War II, researchers at the US Center for Naval Analyses were given a difficult problem to solve.  They were asked to recommend where to reinforce US bombers to reduce aircraft losses over enemy territory.  They decided to conduct a review of the damage inflicted on US bombers that returned from combat missions.

What we see is all there is:

Naturally they recommended that armour should be added to those areas that showed the most damage on the planes they assessed. But the statistician Abraham Wald pointed out that the study was suffering from survivorship bias. They had only considered aircraft that survived their missions as the bombers not included in the analysis had been shot down.

Wald argued that the holes in the returning aircraft represented areas where a plane could take damage and still return home safely. Using his insight he recommend they reinforce the areas where returning planes showed no damage. Theses places he thought were likely to be the areas that if damaged  would prevent a plane from returning safely home.

Example of survivorship bias from US airplane in 2nd World War
Image Source:

What is survivorship bias?

Survivorship bias is one of the most common logical errors that optimisers make as it plays on our desire to deconstruct success and cherry pick data that confirms our existing beliefs (see confirmation bias). People are prone to comparing survivors with the overall average despite evidence that survivors have unusual properties, namely that they have been successful.

By only examining successful outcomes we tend to become over-optimistic and may set unrealistic expectations about what optimisation can deliver in the short-term. We have a tendency to ignore the many more tests that have failed to deliver an uplift and only focus on our successes. As a result we tend to overestimate the importance of skill and underestimate the role of luck in the process.

To manage expectations appropriately consider:

  • Huge uplifts from tests don’t happen very often.
  • Testing the low-hanging fruit will not give you a competitive advantage.
  • A majority of tests don’t achieve an uplift. However, negative or neutral tests still provide valuable insights, so don’t ignore them.
  • Conversion rate optimisation is a long-term strategy and not a tactical sprint.
  • Tests that work for one site may not work on a different site. Each site is unique and has its own customer base.

Survivorship bias can also lead to misleading conclusions and false beliefs that successful members of a group (e.g. VIP customers) have common characteristics rather than are the result of a process they have completed. For example, very few, if any, customers are born as VIPs.  Optimisers need to be careful to avoid the following traps resulting from survivorship bias:

Understand visitor types:

Visitors are influenced by the process they complete online. Be careful about including  returning visitors or existing customers  in your A/B tests.

Returning visitors are problematic not only because they may have already been exposed to the default design, but also because most visitors don’t return to a site. Returning visitors are survivors because they didn’t abandon your site and decide never to come back due to negative aspects of the user experience. They weren’t put-off by your value proposition, the auto-slider, long form registration or other aspects of your site that may have caused some new visitors to bounce. They are also likely to have higher levels of intent than most new visitors.

Existing users are potentially even more biased as they have managed to jump through all the hoops and navigate around all the barriers that many other users may have fallen at. They have also worked out how to use your site and are getting sufficient value to want to continue with using it. This means they are likely to respond very differently to changes in content than might a new visitor.

This does not mean you cannot conduct A/B tests with returning visitors or existing customers. You can if the objective is appropriate and you don’t assume the test result will apply to other visitor types. Just be careful about what you read into the results.

Examine user personas:

Similarly each user persona may have different intent levels due to the source of traffic or other factors influencing behaviour. For instance be careful with including Direct traffic in you’re A/B tests as you have to question why they would type your URL directly into a search engine if they are really a new visitor. Perhaps some of these visitors have cleared their cookies and so are in fact returning visitors?

Why do uplifts sometimes decay?

Survivorship bias can also result in management questioning the sustainability of uplifts. When you first launch a tactical change to your website, such as a promotional pop-up, it is something new that none of your visitors will have seen before.

Example of how to ask a question to get commitment for improving blog sign-ups
Image Source:

This may result in a significant uplift in your overall conversion rate for both new and returning visitors. However, as a proportion of visitors seeing the prompt for the first time will have signed up, these users will no longer be part of your target audience as they have created an account.

As a consequence this will automatically reduce your overall conversion rate over time as those who are going to be influenced by the pop-up sign-up and those who are not don’t. Further, as more visitors come back to the site after experiencing the new pop-up the proportion of non-customers who have not seen this particular pop-up before will decline to just new visitors. As returning visitors become acclimatised to the promotional pop-up its effectiveness is likely to decline among this type of visitor.

This can make it appear the uplift was not sustainable. However, if you analyse new visitor conversion you are likely to see that the uplift has largely been maintained. But even here there may be a notable decay in the uplift over time as a proportion of returning visitors regularly clear their cookies and so are tracked as new visitors by your web analytics.

This needs to be explained to stakeholders to manage their expectations for the overall conversion rate. If this is not understood this is sometimes used to challenge the sustainability of uplifts from conversion rate optimisation.  To respond to this phenomena it is worth revisiting changes on a regular basis to review conversion rates and to test new variants if necessary.

Frequency of email and push notification campaigns:

A common question that digital marketers have is what is the optimum frequency of email and push notification campaigns. Often people assess this by analysing existing user engagement. However, relying on existing users is a heavily biased approach because these customers have self-selected themselves on the basis that they are happy with your current frequency of engagement. Those who are not happy with the level of contact will have already unsubscribed.

Instead you should test email and push notification contact frequency using an unbiased list of new users who have recently signed up and have not received any campaigns so far. Provided the sample size is large enough and they have never been included in CRM campaigns you should test contact frequency using this clean list of new users.

Pre-screening traffic:

Be cautious about rolling out changes that generate uplifts for pre-qualified visitors. Just because a landing page produces an uplift from a highly engaged email list you cannot assume it will help convert unqualified traffic.

Different types of CTAs:

Why is it that web designers are on the only kind of designers who think that all calls to action (CTA) should look identical? The reason aircraft cockpits have different types, sizes and colours of switches and buttons is to clearly differentiate between their different uses. A newsletter sign-up CTA is very different from an add to basket button or a buy CTA. The nature of the user’s decision needs to be reflected in the design of the CTA and so it is dangerous to prescribe in your brand guidelines that all CTAs look the same.
Types of CTAs

No, you should optimise a page for the specific CTA that is required for the stage in the user journey. As a user proceeds through the conversion journey their intent and needs change. This should be reflected in the design of the CTA. Just because a CTA works on a landing page does not mean it will be optimal for a product page or check-out.

Law of small numbers:

Be careful not to rely on small sample sizes when analysing web analytics or test results. The law of small numbers means that we have a tendency to underestimate the impact of small sample sizes on outcomes. Essentially we often only get certain results because of the unreliability of small numbers. So few survivors are left we get extreme results.

Take care with multivariate tests:

Avoid having too many recipes (i.e. variables being changed) in your MVTs as otherwise you will end up with small sample sizes. It may be better to concentrate on testing one area at a time with a well-designed A/B test. Often a slower optimisation process staying within your traffic capabilities is more reliable than trying to overdo multivariate testing.

Don’t’ take users literally:

Qualitative research and usability testing can provide useful insights for understanding user needs and for developing hypothesis. However, most users don’t reply to surveys on or off-line. Further, neuroscience research indicates that a majority of our decisions are made by our non-conscious brain. This means that we are not fully aware of why we make many of the small decisions when navigating a website. Always make decisions based upon user’s actions and not what they say.

Conclusion:

People are prone to survivorship bias because they lack a good understanding of statistics and so training in this area of optimisation will make your team stronger and less likely to fall into the trap of neglecting users who don’t survive a process.

Thank you for reading this post. If you found it useful please share 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.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • 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@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.