A megaphone speaker with a blue handle and red siren bullhorn.

A Step-by-Step Guide for Running a Chatbot Test in 2019

It’s pretty dang hard to get around the internet these days without hearing about chatbots and ‘the future of AI’. It’s a hot topic and something we’re pretty excited about.

I’m pretty strict about what I subscribe to and here is my inbox filtering for AI (so not including emails using chatbot specifically).

We’ve been learning more about what customers need and expect from their online experience, and helping clients run a chatbot test to see how the channel converts. It can serve as a great user acquisition channel, depending on your target audience.

In this post, we’ll briefly cover what opportunities a chatbot can help you take advantage. But, the true intention is to give you a framework and template for running a chatbot test on your own to see if it works well for your customers as well as employees.

Tell me more about chatbots…

Chatbots are Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs that can process and respond to simple queries from your audience like an interactive FAQ. You’ve seen them across the internet, often in the bottom right corner of a web page. It looks similar to live chat but with programmed data on the other end.

Screenshot of Drift.com's homepage with a chatbot in the bottom right corner.

When a company is utilizing a chatbot, they’ve taken the time to teach the chatbot the answers to questions they expect a customer to ask.

It works a bit like a flow chart:

Examples of companies running chatbots…

  • Duolingo uses chatbots inside their language teaching app and allows users to practice conversation by simulating text exchanges. [Learn more about the bot here]
  • Apartment Ocean is a chatbot built to help real estate agents qualify leads and learn more about potential customers. [Learn more about the bot here]
  • Pizza Hut allows people to order pizzas and reorder their favorites via a Facebook messenger chatbot. [Test out their bot here]
  • Casper, a mattress company, has a purely promotional bot that is active from 11pm to 5am to ‘keep you company when you just can’t fall asleep’. While it can chat on many topics from Stranger Things to Seinfeld, it also takes the opportunity to plug their mattresses from time to time. [Learn more about the bot here]

Why should I run a chatbot test?

Do you ask customers to fill out a form?

Chatbots have helped create a shift toward something being coined as ‘conversational marketing’. You can use chatbots to replace long forms with more intuitive and natural conversations. You can set up a bot to ask those same qualifying leads your forms are searching for. Depending on the potential customer’s answers, the chatbot will send them through the right flow.

Looking to help your sales agents save time and close more leads?

A chatbot can automatically qualify leads and get them to the right agents. As research from InsideSales.com and the Harvard Business Review shows, even if you wait just five minutes to respond after a lead first reaches out, there’s a 10x decrease in your odds of actually getting in touch with that lead. After 10 minutes, there’s a 400% decrease in your odds of qualifying that lead. By automating this crucial step, your chatbot can quickly disqualify leads and get the most promising ones quickly to your agents.

Want to improve your customer experience?

There’s never going to be a future where Artificial Intelligence totally takes over because humans and chatbots are good at different things. Leaning on our strengths and the strengths of chatbots can make for a power team. When a chatbot pilot program was initiated in a telco company, it could handle 82% of common queries in customer service. After 5 weeks of tweaking, analyzing, and optimizing by human agents, its success increased to 88%, according to Accenture.

Let’s check out the data

In the 2018 State of Chatbots study from Drift and friends, they surveyed over 1,000 internet users in the United States and made sure to match their audience to represent the U.S. adult online population. Here’s what the group had to say about their current online experiences:

In addition to helping people get quicker answers, you can use the chatbot data to make changes to your website and try to eliminate the root cause of the most frequently asked questions.

Do you have customers spanning multiple generations?: One preconceived notion I had about chatbots is that they were better suited for companies with younger target audiences. I was excited to find data saying quite the opposite. In that same 2018 State of Chatbots Study, Drift found that Baby Boomers (age 55+) were 24% more likely than Millennials (age 18-34) to expect benefits from chatbots in five of the nine following categories:

I’m in. How do I run a chatbot test?…

We feel really great about the future of chatbots and their ability to improve customer experience and to deliver higher quality leads. That being said, before jumping in with both feet we suggest running a chatbot test to validate or invalidate whether it works well for customers and team.

We’ve organized a super simple experiment to help sales teams run a chatbot test and see if it could work for them:

  • Step 1: Develop a single hypothesis about what the chatbot will deliver
  • Step 2: Explicitly Identify the metric that will help you validate or invalidate your hypothesis
  • Step 3: Get benchmark data for that metric. You may be able to pull this from your current process or will need to build time into your experiment to capture it.
  • Step 4: Test chatbot
  • Step 5: Compare the two data sets to see if your hypothesis is valid or invalid.

Here is an example chatbot test:

  • Step 1 – Hypothesis: Implementing a chatbot will decrease the amount of time it takes to make first contact with a lead.
  • Step 2 – Metric: Hours from form filled to first contact.
  • Step 3 – Benchmark data: Depending on the size of your sales team, pull the data from at least 10% of your sales agents. If you are already measuring this metric, awesome! Just pull it and proceed to Step 4. If not, spend 10 days (without the agents’ knowledge) measuring this.
  • Step 4 – Test: There are a number of chatbot solutions out there. We recommend Intercom’s 14-day free trial because it’s a lean and easy way to get started and they have great analytics. Have the same agents you used for benchmark data spend 10 days using Intercom’s chatbot to qualify and make initial contact with leads.
  • Step 5 – Compare: In a spreadsheet, take the data from your two sets of 10 days and compare your metric, ‘hours from form filled to first contact’. Which one has a lower average? Does one have a better conversion rate?

Continued reading about Chatbots:

Ready to run a chatbot test?

If you’re interested in testing out a chatbot for your sales, customer success, or customer support team, we hope this experiment helps. We’re also always available to talk through ideas and implement an experiment tailored to your team and goals. Check out a Free Growth Strategy Session with Tuff.

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Website Conversion Rate Optimization: a webinar recap

Hit play above to watch a recording of the webinar. Or, you can read the transcript below. 

What you’ll learn in this webinar

What follows is a slightly edited transcript of a webinar held Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018. It’s a conversation between Ellen Jantsch, founder and digital marketer, Emily Belyea, founder and designer, and Matthew Morek, founder and product designer. 

Here are a few topics we go more in depth on below: 

  • Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) feels like a fancy acronym. One way to think about it is to ask yourself everyday “how do we make it as easy as possible for the user to say ‘yes’ to what I’m offering them?”.
  • How to use design and analytics in unison to improve your site. 
  • What questions to ask when you’re looking to work with a designer on your site. 
  • What you can do with limited resources to make a big impact on conversions. 
  • Executional design tips you can implement to help achieve different goals (i.e. establishing legitimacy, getting more sign ups). 
  • Why conversion rate, bounce rate, and time on site are valuable metrics. 

To stay in the loop on future webinars or to receive thoughtfully written content on similar topics, check out the Tuff newsletter.  

The Transcript

Introductions

Ellen: Hey, everyone! Thanks for joining today’s webinar. We’re really excited today to talk about website conversion rate optimization for you or, potentially, for you clients. We’re lucky, we invited two really, really smart individuals both experts when it comes to web design, user experience, and conversion rates. So, I’m going to ask both of them to hop off mute really quickly and give an update on who they are and where they are today.

Emily: Awesome. Hey, everyone! My name is Emily and I run a design studio called Emily Belyea Creative. I help entrepreneurs basically take their idea from concept to creation through all-inclusive digital services like web design, brand identity, development and launch support. 

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matt. I run a small, one man design shop called Mad Bit. I hail from Manchester, UK. What I do is help my client’s solve the right problems. So, basically, identify what really their audience needs are and prioritize the design strategy and execution to a point where we solve only those things that need solving and leave everything else aside. 

Ellen: Great, and I’m Ellen. I work at the team here at Tuff. For you that don’t know, we’re a growth marketing agency that works with fast growing small businesses, start ups, and marketplaces to help them find traction and scale through a variety of different tactics. Tactics that include a few things like Facebook ads, Google ads, YouTube, Bing, SEO, Content Strategy, Email campaigns and more recently web design and development. And, that’s why we’re here today because a question we ask all the time, not just on the Tuff website, but with our clients is ‘how can we make our websites stickier?’. How can we make sure user’s our coming to our site and taking the action we want them to take? Whether that be filling out a form, calling our business, if you’re ecomm making a sale directly on site. Or, if your conversions are more like engagement metrics, so you want somebody to spend more time on your site — you want them to spend 2 minutes instead of 30 seconds. Or, if you want them to go to more pages on your site, you want them to go to 5 pages not just 1. And so, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Our conversation is broken up into three different sections: the problem, personal stories from Emily and Matthew, and actionable advice you can apply to your site. We’ll have time for questions at the end as well. 

So, let’s dive right in! 

Part 1: The Problem

Ellen: The first thing we want to tackle is breaking down this problem. So, what do we mean by optimizing your website for conversions? Emily, let’s start off with you, do you have a good example of how you’ve done this with a client recently? How you’ve tackled a project where you’re optimizing their site from the start, for conversions?

Emily: Yeah, absolutely! So, I mean, the way I think about optimizing a site for conversions is as simple as “how do we make it as easy as possible for the user to say ‘yes’ to what I’m offering them?”. I think as a marketer and designer that’s always the question we’re trying to answer. It’s always in testing and trying new things. Recently, an example I can go over, is specifically around the use of a CTA (Call to Action). So, I think that one of the simplest things you can do from the start and writing copy and designing your site is to make sure your call’s to action are specific. A recent client and their website, thebuyguys.com, prompts the user to ‘get an offer’. This sounds super straightforward but the primary reason their user’s are on their site is so they can get an offer on their house. And, they want to know how much they can sell it for. So, by giving them a form where they fill out their address and making our primary CTA right there in front of them ‘get an offer’, we’re basically asking them to do exactly what they came for and it’s also crystal clear so the likelihood of them clicking on it is really high. 

Ellen: I like that. Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO, is such a fancy little acronym and I think the way you approach design with “how do I get a user to say ‘yes’?” feels like a very simplified version that’s easier to ask yourself every single day. Matthew, how about you?

Matthew: To me, like you said, CRO is a weird acronym. But, what it means to me, is really based around reducing the friction in the customer acquisition process. That’s what you’re trying to do, you’re trying to get a lead to do something meaningful. Like you said before, there’s a couple of actions you can take. And, a recent story I’ve got from the trenches really is a simple site I’ve designed and built for a client. It was a small, indie software developer who created an app for Mac and Windows and he wanted to improve conversions and lead generation primarily. What we did was asses what was wrong with the current website, why people were dropping off and we build a completely new website using story telling principles. And that way we basically removed most of the call to actions at the top and moved them to the bottom. We created enough engaging content to help people keep scrolling, keep reading the content, keep engaging with it. We put an ask right at the end of it which worked out great and we achieved 122% improvement in conversion rate. 

Ellen: That story is good for our next question, you talk about removing friction. You two look at websites every single day. When a client comes to you whether they’re saying ‘I need to improve my conversions, not enough people are picking up the phone and calling me or not enough people are filling out my form’, where do you start? Is it purely visual or do you hop into Google Analytics and start looking at the numbers so you know where to tackle first? What is your process so you know if a website needs to be improved to increase conversions? 

Emily: I’m a designer so, for me, visual is what leads things for me. So before I even get into data, I take a step back and look for one thing ‘What is the ask?’.  And sometimes it’s easier because people are coming to me and asking about their site and I haven’t been staring at their site for a long time. I have a unique perspective coming at it with fresh eyes and if I can’t figure out what the ask is, then chances are that’s our starting point. The first thing is we need to put our ask on the site and we need to make it crystal clear. If you do have a clear ask and you’re still not converting, then I take a look at ‘what is standing in the way of the ask?’, ‘What is our roadblock?’. That’s where I get into design and really looking at the user experience. First of all, ‘Is our ask right for our consumer?’. And, ‘Is our website responsive?’, maybe there’s literally a technical issue preventing the user from understanding what we’re trying to tell them. We could go into this very deeply but does your website have a color palette and a type scheme that makes it easy for the user to just show up and be able to get the information they need without having to make their way through all the clutter. That’s where design plays a role, as well as your messaging and copy. I’d say after looking at all of those surface things, that’s where I’d get into the data. 

Ellen: Building on that Emily, would you say that often when you work with clients on web design is it common for people to have one ask? I can imagine situations where there are multiple priorities for a site. What’s the best process for drilling into what the primary ask should be without losing some of the secondary CTAs on the site?

Emily: Absolutely. It’s not common for people to come to me and understand exactly what their ask is, that almost never happens. Frequently when I ask people what their ask is they say ‘For them to contact me?’. They kind of ask the question back to me.  I think determining what your primary ask is involves taking a huge step back and looking at what the journey and evolution of what your business goals are. If you’re just launching a consulting business for the first time, you have no idea what experience to share with people, you have no blog posts, or really a lot of content that leverages you as an expert in your field. Maybe, instead of your ask being to get clients to sign up for a session with you it should be to sign up for your newsletter. Then, you get into their inbox and can start talking to them and build that relationship from there. It depends on the business owner but I think it involves taking a really good look at your strategy and where you see yourself in the next 12 months. 

Ellen: Matthew, Emily has expressed that she’s quite visual. Do you feel the same way? When you’re looking at a website to think through ‘how can I improve conversions?’, is it data or visuals first? Or, a combination? 

Matthew: I usually start with conversations with clients. We get on the phone, video call, or meet in person and basically we discuss the issue and ‘what are we trying to achieve?’. With that context, I’ll do a brief visual assessment. Some things are very easy to spot like Emily said. You may have to dig a little deeper but most things are evident from conversation alone. Then, if you need more information, you can ask for access to analytics if they have them. If they don’t, then you’re going off of visuals and I usually recommend they install Google Analytics to make sure we have some quantifiable data that we can assess. Normally, conversation first, analytics second, and visual is really a confirmation that we’re correct. When data is pretty solid, all you need is to go to a website and spot the visual and content problems. Start with the goals, move on to identify problems using all tools at your disposal. 

Ellen: It’s interesting because sites are so visual and both of you have been talking about the process and design has been almost the last element of that equation. Can you guys talk to me a little bit more about when you approach a website or project and you’re trying to design it from day 1 to boost conversions and be a really efficient website, what are some of the preliminary steps you take before you even have a conversation with a designer? 

Emily: One of the first questions I ask when I bring a new client onboard is ‘what is the single most important action you want the user to take?’. That response is what drives the strategy for the first step in the process – the wireframe. The wireframe is not the mockup, it’s the bare bones grayscale layout. It’s job is to figure out exactly what the user paths look like. Are we meeting the goals of the user? Our goals? Do we have all of our CTAs and opt-ins? Taking the time to A: understand the number one action we want the user to take and, B: understand who this user is, and putting it in the wireframe is something I would not be able to do my job without. The mockup design, the part where we make it look pretty and add type and colors, and the brand development are also extremely necessary but they come later in the process. Strategy discussions and wireframe are so important. For anyone out there looking to work with a designer, I would say you should ask them questions about their process right up front, and you really should be looking to hear those words ‘strategy’ and ‘wireframe’. Without that they might not be taking the time to understand your goals the way you need them to. 

Ellen: What about you, Matthew? Is that the same for you?

Matthew: It’s similar, definitely. My approach is based on strategy and analysis. I usually run a discovery stage with my clients. Some don’t need it, depending on the stage they’re in. Most of the people I interview in the initial assessment are in need of some discovery. By discovery I mean defining the attributes of who they are as an organization, their voice that comes through in copywriting, anything that speaks visually later on. That’s one part. Another part is identifying the goals. The company working with me, needs to have some sort of objective generally primary and secondary. In the case of a project I was currently working on, the primary goal was to download the free app. The second was to make a purchase. This was unusual because most of the time you want the purchase to happen as the primary action but it wasn’t the case because most people were coming from the free version of the app and going through an upgrade path. Things need: goals and attributes, user journeys, knowing how people want to use your site and what they are after. Identify the outcomes your user wants and align them with your business goals. So, if your business goal is to sell more products you need to identify why people are looking for the products you sell. You create a product and tailor it to an audience that already exists, you can’t solve a problem that doesn’t exist. You need to try and find out what your audience is looking for and align your goals with it. Then, I’m sure you’re going to be close to uncovering that way to makes sure your website converts better. 

Ellen: I think you both touched on something that feels relevant to a story Tuff has. You’re talking about strategy, you’re talking about goals but you’re also talking about user experience and how you expect someone to interact with your site. That, to us, feels critical to designing a site that’s going to convert. Oftentimes we have to remind ourselves that how we interact with a specific site as marketers might be very different than how a traditional user or target audience does. User research is a big part of that puzzle. I like to hear that, maybe, 80% of the work you two do is non-design. It’s understanding users, mapping out process, coming up with strategy and business objectives to make sure the output is a beautiful design. Speaking of which, I’d love for us to transition into the stories section of the webinar. 

Part 2: Personal stories from Emily and Matthew

Ellen: As a team, we’d love to get your feedback on our landing page for this webinar. A non-designer put together the landing page: 

Screen-Shot-2018-08-23-at-12.49.42-PM.png#asset:230

See the site live, here: http://webinar.tuff.is/

Looking at this page, is there anything tangible, concrete, that you would update right away that you think would increase conversion rates for this webinar? 

Emily: There are two things that immediately come to mind are. First, it’s very text heavy right off the bat. Matthew, you were just saying features are useless to people so are ‘about’s’ and paragraphs. I want to know what I’m going to get out of it, what am I going to walk away with. So, bullets might be helpful with a quick ‘what am I going to get out of this’ would be great. Also, let’s get that register button above the fold! You’re making people work for it and I think we could use the space up top a little better to have users see that form and button right away. As a designer who does landing pages a lot sometimes people will come to me with tons and tons of content, plus a form, and button, and all of the fields and ask for it to be above the fold. One trick you can use if you can’t get your button above the fold is just ask a register button above the fold and have it link down to your form or to a pop up. 

Ellen: So it sounds like less text, or prioritize your text, and make sure your CTAs are always above the fold. I think you’re right, we’re looking at this on desktop but if we think about mobile that’s a pretty long scroll to get someone down to register for the webinar. Matthew, would you echo what Emily said? Or, any other insights on this page to make it better and more conversion rate friendly?

Matthew: Some of it, yeah. Text usually isn’t the problem when it’s the right text. Like Emily said, features can be meaningless. You could convert the big paragraph into a few points to better explain what people can get out of this, some actionable points to convey the idea better. The headline is spot on, it gives you the value proposition which is the most important part. I’m not used to landing pages for webinars but I’m used to landing pages for events, which a webinar is a form of event. The type of people that might be looking at this page will wonder ‘when does it happen?’. You need to make the time critical events clear, the time, the date, the timezone in this digital age. You need to make sure people understand exactly when and where it happens. I agree about the call to action. In the case of this very sweet and very short page, it should be above the fold. I’m not a big believer in the mythical fold because you can structure the landing page to tell a story, it doesn’t have to be a properly written epic but at least the principles. You can make people scroll, read, engage and put the ask at the end where they’re convinced — or not, not everyone is going to be up for your value proposition. These are just a few quick ones, generally I agree with Emily. 

Ellen: You guys were generous with your feedback, I designed this page. A word we talked about a lot in this was ‘landing page’. Talk to me about this, we work with a lot of clients who are running high scale, very expensive Google Ad campaigns. We have this discussion a lot, when does it make sense to send a user to a landing page vs. sending someone to a full blown website? Or, is this something you should be conversion testing with an A/B perspective all the time? When someone comes to you how do you guide them through that decision of a landing page with no navigation or a full blown website? 

Emily: Typically, the way I use this decision making process is: are we trying to get them to do something very very specific, say in preparation for the launch of the website?, ‘are we trying to get them to sign up for an event, like a webinar?. Something where you don’t need to redo the whole page. Again, very specific asks that are secondary to what your ask is as a company. If we don’t want to clutter our websites with a third request, a landing page is a great way to do that because you can market it in the same you would send out a link to your website but you don’t have to add it to your site. 

Matthew: Yeah, I agree. Generally a dedicated landing page is great if, for example you launch a new product line and you want people to know about it. You get a subdomain for your main domain and send people to a specific site. Another thing might be, like Emily said, events. These are perfect for landing pages. I think it’s really down to the context of what you’re trying to sell. If it’s something already available on your website and you’re looking to promote it, it wouldn’t be too difficult to manage the traffic for a service already on your website. 

Ellen: At Tuff I feel really lucky because we work with both of you and you get to field questions for us all the time. For people on the call who are looking at their website or working with a client and don’t have design in-house or someone they can go and brainstorm with, if resources are limited, where would they start making small improvements that feel feasible? 

Emily: What I always tell people is if you don’t have in-house design, there are a lot of tools on the internet you can use to put something together. 

Ellen: What are some of your favorites? 

Emily: Well, I use the design tools. A lot of my clients will use Canva to make their own graphics. Or, a really easy Adobe program (don’t be intimidated!) is Adobe Experience. It’s a drag and drop design tool. I’d encourage anyone to check it out. Those are two right off the bat. You can use those to create little things. In terms of where to start, if you can get into your Google Analytics and look at your data, great! If that feels like too much then, again, look at your site, think about the user experience and ask yourself ‘what can I add to [fill in the blank], legitimize me, invite users to engage with our content and hear our story?’. What are the pieces that are missing? A general checklist of things I usually go through with my clients to fill these gaps is: adding a press bar with ‘as seen in’ to legitimize, adding client logos for social proof to let people know you’re in business and serving similar business, look at your call to action button colors and copy, add blog posts to your homepage to give people a preview, a chat widget if you want people to instantaneously engage with you, an FAQ page if you’re having trouble with people understanding. Ask, what is my immediate issue I’m trying to solve and go through the checklist to see if any of these executional items could help. 

Ellen: It sounds like you’re encouraging people, even if they’re not a designer, to explore and experiment. As long as you’re not going to break your website, hop in and try things out. There’s so much to learn from whether it’s short term improvements or long term. A tool I want to add to your list that I’d say is a bit easier than Google Analytics is HotJar. HotJar is a recording software so you can record sessions on your site to see where people navigate, how far down they scroll, where people might be getting stuck, how do they interact with a form. For me, I’m a more visual learner so seeing how people interact in real time can help brainstorm ideas to make improvements. Matthew, what would you say to people who don’t have a lot of resources or in-house design to make improvements to a site?

Matthew: I would start with more of a broad overview. Instead of applying some bandaids, I’d take a broad overview on the pages you’re looking to improve. Figure out whether your value proposition is right, whether your market fit is right, whether you’re reaching the right people. You might be paying for traffic irrelevant to your site. You know more about driving traffic. Before you start driving traffic from paid advertising and social media, you need to make sure your value proposition is on point. You need to make sure your call’s to action are good. If they’re not working or there’s some piece of javascript getting blocked you’ll end up with a page that’s disabled. Another thing to check is the content, is it relevant and engaging? How is it structured on the page? I’d recommend that before jumping into visuals and testing, start with a broad overview to figure out if your page is achieving it’s goal. If you don’t have a budget, you should still talk to your customers. Find 1, 2, 5, 10 customers and ask if they have 10 minutes to tell you about their recent experience. If you have past customers that used the site you’re looking to improve, talk to them. Talk about their frustrations or if they even remember the process. This might give you a better idea than trying to shift around boxes. Let’s be honest, unless you’re using tools like HotJar, you’ll be blindfolded on making the page work better.

Ellen: I love the idea. Even if you can only talk to a few people, get on the phone and talk to them or email. That’s something we could apply more at Tuff because learning from your actual users is going to be so much more relevant than an idea you have in your own head. You can get validation from people who you’ve built your site for. Before going into actionable advice, do either of you have a very specific story of a small update whether it was color, type, removing a page, adding more whitespace, that you felt had a really drastic impact on conversions or site experience?

Emily: I would say one of the smallest things that can be done, at least that has had such a big impact for my clients, is organizing or refreshing their brand identity in way that contributes to their website. A lot of entrepreneurs bootstrap their branding from the start. They might pick a few colors, have their cousin design a logo, and get a site up. I admire that, it’s a great way to start and then maybe later on invest. A lot of times what happens is, because you don’t have these type schemes, color layouts, and organizational systems for your identity, everything is a little disorganized and all over the place. What this is doing is confusing the user’s brain and it’s a little harder for them to wrap their brain around what you’re asking them to do. A lot of time, we’ll do a brand refresh where I’ll strip everything down and organize it like a professional organizer might do with a closet. Throw out some things that are random and not contributing to the brand and goals and bring some things in that are. I’ll give them a style guide that organizes everything and lays out ‘here’s what your primary call to action button looks like’, etc. A little structure with branding goes a long way. 

Ellen: Sounds similar to what we talked about earlier, wireframes are critical as is user research. Design isn’t important yet. Matthew, what about you? Any examples of making a small edit you saw a significant impact from. 

Matthew: Yes! I have a good one from last year. I was working with an ecommerce client and we were trying to optimize their checkout process. It was good but we saw an opportunity to make it better and more efficient. Instead of diving right into visual design we decided we needed to dig a little deeper. We spent about a day going through the check out steps and we identified that the delivery and shipping options available were far too many. There were about 6-7 delivery options. What I did was ask one of the staff members to talk to a few customers and confirm that they did get confused by all the options and that next day delivery would be spot on. We researched what delivery options were most important to people and we narrowed it to standard delivery, next day delivery, and in-person collection at the store. This improved conversion rates by about 60%. We tested the change over 2 weeks and didn’t touch anything else. Narrowing down the options made a big impact. 

Ellen: That’s a huge upgrade! It’s cool to hear you guys put on your investigator hats and got curious. Again, that’s not necessarily a design exclusive trait. As marketers and consultants, being curious and digging around in data and looking at the numbers can really have a massive impact. You stripped options away instead of adding more and that made a big impact. 

Part 3: Actionable advice you can apply to your site

Ellen: That brings us to the last section. As a business owner, if you fire up your Google Analytics (and, it depends on the business objective), what would you say is the most important metric? If you’re thinking about your website, wanting people to spend time on your website, or say yes to something, what metric do you guys go back to on a daily basis. What is your desert island metric that everyone on this webinar should be tracking today. 

Emily: I’d say every time all the time, the conversion rate. Look at the visit to sign up percentage. It allows us to look at the funnels performance as a whole and then we can narrow down on a certain area. The landing page where that sign up needs to happen, is the page designed to make that easy? Is the CTA to the form written in a way that promotes action? When we start to figure out what is working and what is not. Another piece to zero in on is CTAs, where are they appearing? Is my tone and voice consistent through out the whole funnel. A lot of marketers struggle with sounding a bit to sales-y rather than authentic and real. 

Ellen: It sounds like you can look at conversion rates along the entire ecommerce journey. Looking at the entire user journey, if a conversion rate is low at a specific step, you can work on that one rather than a blanket conversion rate. Matthew, what about you in terms of your desert island metric?

Matthew: I wouldn’t stick to conversion rate because it’s very subjective. The same client I talked about before with the delivery options, had a completely different website in 2012. He had it for very few years and the conversion rate was around 2%. That was good for them. When we introduced the new website, the conversion rate jumped to 8%. It’s a little too subjective. The metric I turn to is bounce rate and drop off rate. This is when someone has come in from a referral website and leaves within a few seconds without interacting with the content. Drop off rate is when they don’t go anywhere else but they close the browser. These are similar and they give a good indication on if your content is engaging and relevant. It gives an indication in product market fit in terms of what you’re offering. For example, if you’re driving traffic from PPC and your message doesn’t ring a bell you’ll have a large drop off. Usually it’s not the PPC traffic, it’s the fact that the landing page or your home page is not really well crafted in terms of value proposition. PPC offers you such a narrow window and you need to follow through with that on your website. You need to instill confidence, trust, and relevance. That’s where drop off and bounce rate is helpful. To give you some context, if it’s around 70% – 75% that can be really normal. If it’s anything above 80%, you’ve got a big problem. 

Ellen: What’s nice about bounce rate is if you are running paid campaigns you can integrate your accounts to see what campaigns have a high drop off rate and which ones don’t and allocate your budget accordingly. It sounds like conversion rate and bounce rate. One I’d add to the mix is time on site. We look at that a lot at Tuff because we want people finding the content valuable and relevant. 

I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface but I want to open up time for questions. 

Questions

Tune into the webinar at :50 minutes to hear what questions the audience asked and how Ellen, Emily, and Matthew addressed them. 

We’d also love to hear any questions you have. Shoot us an email at hello@tuff.is! 

How to say hello and continue the conversation

We’d all love to say hello and answer any lingering questions!

If you’d like to dive even deeper and talk about how to apply these learnings to your own site, schedule a 30-minute Free Growth Strategy Session with Tuff!

Man and woman sitting on top of a desktop computer

Your Complete Webinar Guide to Acquire and Convert Leads

Man and woman sitting on top of a desktop computer

 

This isn’t a blog post about why you should run a webinar. It’s your webinar guide that can serve as a checklist to get you from idea to new customers.

Hopefully, if you’ve landed here, you’re already convinced and need an actionable plan to organize a webinar and nurture the new leads you earn from a well-run webinar. It’s not enough to pick a date, pick a topic, hope people show up, and then hope they like what you have to say enough to become a client/customer/user, etc. That’s about as reliable as a gas station chili dog.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s to follow:

  • The tools you’ll need to follow this action plan
  • Your webinar promotion timeline
  • Your email breakdown
  • Your Trello board for project management
  • What I didn’t cover

The tools you’ll need to follow this action plan

Trello – This is where your checklists and project timeline will live. It’s important to have a resource to keep track of your progress. While it’s all pretty simple and straightforward to put into action, there are a number of moving pieces.

Zoom – This is our favorite tool for hosting webinars. With chat, Q&A and polling, attendee hand raising, and an attention indicator, Zoom makes it really easy to keep your guests engaged. Beyond that, it’s important to use a tool that captures the emails of the people who do attend your webinar.

Mailchimp – Email! Email is an important part of nurturing the leads who sign up for your webinar. There are two parts: promoting your webinar to increase the attendee percentage and then post-webinar you’ll want to continue engaging with this audience. It doesn’t have to be Mailchimp, it can be whatever mail service you currently use to send emails. You can also use Mailchimp to create your webinar landing page.

Yet Another Mail Merge – While Mailchimp isn’t your only option, we highly recommend using Yet Another Mail Merge for some of the emails we’ll cover below. Yet Another Mail Merge is a Google Sheets AddOn that lets you take a list of names and emails and send a templated email from your Gmail account. This means you can send what looks like personal emails from you, to many people at a time and track the open and click rate.

Your webinar promotion timeline

You want to start thinking about your webinar 5 weeks out. That may seem like quite a lot of time, especially if you’re a fast moving startup. But, planning this far out lets us be really intentional about our promotion. And, the first week of planning is fairly high level. This webinar guide and timeline can be condensed into 4 weeks as well. We have a public Trello board in an upcoming section to help you track this to do list. 

Webinar Guide checklist

Your email breakdown

In the checklist above, I mention 6 different emails. Email is a key part of your webinar guide because it is essential for converting these leads.

Let’s break the emails down.

Email 1: Webinar registration confirmation

Subject: See you on [webinar date]!

Tool: Mailchimp

When: Trigger immediately upon sign up

Goal: Save the webinar date to your calendar

You want this email to be short and sweet and focus on getting them to add the webinar to their calendar. They will have just signed up from your landing page so you don’t need to remind them too much about the topic and content. Here’s an example we sent out from a webinar we held this summer:

Email 2: Webinar Reminder Email

Subect: Your friendly webinar reminder: this time, on [day of the week of your webinar]

Tool: Mailchimp

When: 2 days before the webinar

Goal: Save the webinar date to your calendar

People are busy, they need lots of reminders. Especially if they didn’t add the webinar to their calendar the first go around. By now, you’ll have a better idea specifically what you’ll cover so use this as an opportunity to give people a sneak peek. Again, an example from Tuff:

Looking back, I think we could have made this email even more detailed on what people could expect in the webinar.

Email 3: Webinar starts in 30

Subject: Your webinar starts in 30: Webinar Name

Tool: Mailchimp

When: 30 minutes before the webinar

Goal: Attend the webinar

This is your last shot to get people to attend, catch their attention and make it easy for them to access the webinar. A Tuff example:

Email 4: Thanks for attending our webinar

Subject: Thanks for attending the [your company name] webinar, [first name]!

Tool: Yet Another Mail Merge

When: Immediately after the webinar

Who: Webinar attendees

We recommend switching from Mailchimp to YAMM here because you want this email to feel more personalized than a Mailchimp blast. Someone just shared a decent amount of their time with you and that’s a big deal. Acknowledge that with a ‘personal’ email (made easier with YAMM). Tuff example:

Email 5: Here’s the recording

Subject: [First name], your recording of the [your company name] webinar

Tool: Yet Another Mail Merge

When: Immediately after the webinar

Who: People who signed up but didn’t attend

The copy doesn’t have to be too different from Email 5 but you want to target this audience slightly differently. They’re a slightly ‘colder’ audience than the people that just attended the webinar. Use this an opportunity to open up a conversation. Tuff example:

Email 6: Webinar follow up

Tool: Yet Another Mail Merge

When: 1 week after the webinar

Who: Everyone who signed up (attended + didn’t attend)

This is an email we dropped the ball on from our webinar this summer so there’s no Tuff example to help illustrate the goal. I think this is one of the most important emails of the series. While holding a webinar and sharing insights and examples on a topic you know well and in-depth is incredibly valuable, you also want to make sure you nurture these leads and don’t just disappear.

Use Yet Another Mail Merge so this email, again, is from a human rather than a company. I’d keep it short and simple. Something along the lines of:

Hey there [[first name]],

I know there are hundreds of webinars a day (at least it feels like it!) you could choose to sign up for or attend. Thanks again for signing up for ours.

The topic, [[webinar topic]], must have struck a chord or related to something you’re interested in or working on.

Do you have any specific challenges or questions about this? Our team spends all day, every week working on this and we’d love to share any thoughts or insights that might help you out.

Just hit reply and let’s chat!

Cheers,

Mary

Your Trello board for project management

As promised! There’s a lot to wrap your brain around in this webinar guide. Again, it’s nothing too complicated just a bit of project management.

Here’s a public Trello board to get you started with all of the steps above. You can make a copy and then add your team members and assign them to any cards, set your own deadlines, comment on cards, etc.

What I didn’t cover

This is more of an operational rundown of all the pieces you need to run a webinar but there are a few things on the checklist I skimmed over. A big part of promoting your webinar should be advertising. We’ve had a lot of success with Facebook ads as well as LinkedIn InMail and Instagram stories.

Recently, we helped a client promote a webinar with these results:

  • Facebook spend: $385
  • Clicks: 236
  • Relevance Score: 8
  • Cost Per Click: $1.60
  • Sign Ups: 85
  • Conversion Rate (Click to Sign Up): 36%  
  • Cost per Sign Up: $4.50

We were super happy with these results. We tried a long-form ad for the first time. The copy in the message of the ad 314 words. If characters are your thing, it was 1,750 characters. We told a story that compelled people to trust the host and sign up.

I also didn’t cover landing page suggestions. You may have noticed in the email examples, we held a webinar this summer about optimizing landing pages for conversion. Check it out here for both ideas for your landing page as well as an example of a webinar recap.

Your webinar is going to be awesome

You have a webinar guide and a Trello board to project manage. If this is your first webinar, you’re doing great and will learn a lot about how to improve your next one. If you’re a webinar veteran, hopefully, this can help bring a fresh perspective.

If you have any questions, need any help with paid advertising to promote your webinar, or have any feedback or suggestions on how to improve this webinar guide, let us know! We’d love for you to join us for a Free Growth Strategy Session and we can help you brainstorm growth strategies for acquiring customers.