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Back in 2008, I read the 1st Edition of Tim Ash’s “Landing Page Optimization – The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversion.” Since then, I haven’t found a more comprehensive book on the topic. For years, I kept it on my desk for reference.

Recently, I picked up the “fully revised” 2nd edition. It’s 100 pages longer, so what’s new?  And is it worth reading the 2nd edition if you’ve already read the 1st?

What’s (Mostly) Unchanged?

Most sections are similar to those of the 1st edition, including the opening sections that provide high level (but useful) explanations on things like:

  • What a landing page is
  • The various types of landing pages
  • The importance of understanding your business model
  • Conversion actions

And in the latter sections – Mechanics of Testing and Organizing and Planning – the content is similar.

Tim Ash's Landing Page Optimization 2nd Edition book cover
Tim Ash’s Landing Page Optimization 2nd Edition book cover

What’s New?

The greatest enhancements have been in the “middle bits”:

  • Finding Opportunities for Site Improvement
  • Fixing Your Site Problems

Being a UX guy, I’m probably biased. But to me, these “middle bits” are the most interesting part of the process. So I was very happy to see these sections expanded.

There’s lots of new content. My two favorite new chapters are:

1.     “Common Problems – The Seven Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design”

As Tim writes, “This is as close to a ‘Silver Bullet’ as we will offer in this book.”  The Seven Deadly Sins are:

  • Unclear Call-to-Action
  • Too Many Choices
  • Visual Distractions
  • Not Keeping Your Promises
  • Too Much Text
  • Asking for Too Much Information
  • Lack of Trust and  Credibility

Tim gives detailed explanations of the nature of these problems and provides great examples – plus specific recommendations for how to ensure your pages don’t fall into these traps. It’s an extremely useful checklist of things to look for when faced with the task of figuring out how to make a page work better.

If you just read this one chapter, and apply the concepts to your landing pages, your conversion rates will improve. This new chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

2.      “Best Practices for Common Situations”

Another useful addition, this chapter – like the Seven Deadly Sins chapter – provides “a great kick-start in your optimization efforts.”  It takes a look at these common situations:

  • Homepages
  • Information Architecture and Navigation
  • E-Commerce Catalogs
  • Registration and Multiple-Step Flows
  • Mobile Websites

For each situation, there’s a concise yet useful summary of recommended best practices. For example, in the section on homepages, Tim offers a strong opinion on rotating banners, writing that (on e-Commerce sites at least) they “are absolutely evil and should be removed immediately.”  He then provides six compelling arguments to back up his assertion.

If you’re looking for testing ideas, it’s hard to imagine that reading this section wouldn’t give you at least a couple.

What’s missing?

Some sections from the 1st Edition have been removed or reduced, but nothing that anyone is likely to miss.

The 1st Edition had an entire chapter (technically an appendix) devoted to Google Website Optimizer.  The 2nd Edition covers GWO in 4 short paragraphs. However, seeing as GWO was discontinued last summer, nobody will complain about this! (There is no mention of GWO’s inferior replacement: Content Experiments.)

There’s also a bit less detail regarding data analysis of multivariate tests. Specifically, the explanation of the fractional factorial methods (Plackett-Burman, Latin Squares, and Taguchi method) has been removed.  However, few people will miss this: Those who have a strong background in data analysis didn’t need it; those who don’t probably skipped it!

Is It Worth Buying?

If there was a weakness with the 1st Edition, it was its limitations in providing specific guidance on what to test. The 2nd Edition is much better at helping users formulate test ideas – which is arguably the most challenging part of the entire conversion optimization process.

The 2nd Edition takes what was already an excellent guide to conversion optimization, and makes it even more useful. If you already own the 1st Edition, it’s well worth investing in the 2nd. And if you don’t have the 1st Edition, buying the 2nd is a no-brainer.

Six years ago we started WebShare with the singular goal of passing on the knowledge and skills we had acquired in Internet marketing to our clients and partnering with them to take their digital strategy to the next level.Over the years we’ve been fortunate to experience tremendous growth that has allowed us to continue to add expertise and experience to the team, including a stable of experts in online advertising, conversion optimization, SEM, social media, and web design.  But the area we’re probably best known for has been our analytics expertise.  Offering a full range of services, from strategy to implementation and training to deep-dive analysis, our team includes thought leaders such as WAA Innovation Award finalists, industry authors, sought after speakers, seasoned trainers, and former Google employees.

Today we take a huge step forward with that growth as we combine the expertise of three of the industry’s top firms to create a world class organization featuring some of digital marketing’s finest minds.  WebShare, VKI Studios, and PublicInsite will be joining forces to give our clients a true one-stop shop for all of their digital needs.  This will provide clients access to a team with exceptional depth and expertise across a broad range of disciplines that include search marketing, usability and conversion testing, web design & development, training, business / competitive intelligence, and more.

Above all, we realize that we could not be where we are today without you – our clients, our team of employees, our partners, and our community.  We would like to sincerely thank you all for being a part of WebShare, and we look forward to what the future brings.

If you’d like to learn more about the merger, we’ve set up a FAQ page, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.  We’ll be blogging, tweeting, posting and conversing from Cardinal Path from here on out, so don’t forget to follow, friend, subscribe and friend.

We couldn’t be more thrilled about our future with Cardinal Path and what it will mean to our clients, partners and team — both current and future!

Signing off from the WebShare blog,

Corey & Dave

In the wake of Charlie Sheen’s recent shenanigans, companies with smart marketing people are jumping on the chance to capitalize on the buzz. In case you missed it, Sheen’s been quite busy the last couple of weeks. He’s ranted his way through several interviews, been fired from his hit TV show Two and Half Men, and even set a new Guinness World Record for Twitter for the “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers”. Oh, and who can forget his totally winning Ustream channel.

Sheen’s created quite a buzz recently and companies are cashing in, check out how these four companies have capitalized on Sheen’s buzz.

Poster Revolution

Poster revolution quickly grabbed a promoted tweet on the hashtag #tigerblood and #planbetter which started trending quickly after the ABC interview which aired the evening of March 1st and has been going strong ever since.

Why #tigerblood? Well that was one of the references Charlie Sheen has used during his recent interviews. Poster Revolution seized this opportunity and purchased a promoted tweet on the hastag and has been running this tweet on the stream to sell their Winning poster of Sheen.

At the time of this screen shot, the proted tweet has already received 825 retweets. I betcha they’ve sold a couple posters with this move. Pretty smart move I’d say.

Ford Vs. Iffinity

Car makers Ford and Iffinity have also jumped at purchasing promoted tweets on Charlie Sheen related hashtags. They’ve chosen to run on #Winning and you can now catch promoted tweets like this one from Infinity at the top of the stream for #Winning.

Infinity has chosen to tie the hash tag to a current promotional giveaway for a trip the NCAA Final Four. I’m sure they’re promotion has caught a bit more attention using these promoted tweets and surfing the Sheen wave then they would otherwise. Great job Infinity!

Spirit Airlines

Another interesting campaign that caught my eye is from Spirit Airlines. These guys have tied the Charlie Sheen phenomenon to a sale on airfare. They’ve dubbed it the “Living The Dream Sale” and are using tag lines like “Winning Fares”, and “Tiger Blood Not Required.

All of these companies are seizing the opportunity to jump into a conversation sparked by something totally un-related to their business. They’ve jumped outside the box and found a way to capitalize on a high volume conversation that’s already been ignited.

Don’t be afraid to try something different in your marketing mix, you can even celebrate your success with a Charlie Sheen cookie or a Charlie Dog topped with #tigerblood.

Did anyone notice that you can specify a service area in your Google Places Listing? Google Maps began rolling out this feature in late March with little publicity. This is quite a feature for businesses that want to publicize the different locations they serve; a great feature for businesses that will come to a home or for businesses that are actually based out of a home.  Service areas listings give access to areas on the map where you may not have a physical address.  For example, your business address may be in Tempe, Arizona, but in reality you can service any location within the Phoenix metro area.

Anyone can change their business service area by logging into their Google Places account and editing your business listing.  Look for the section labeled “Service Areas and Location Settings”.   Below we are using an example from a WebShare client that sells custom doors and windows in the Orange County area.  As you can see, you can choose between specifying a radial distance from your location or simply listing the locations you want to show that you serve.  If you have multiple business locations, be sure to edit all of them.

Distance from one location view:

Google Places distance from one location

List of areas served view:

Google Places areas served

Below you can see an example of what a listing will look like in Google Maps.  This client has four showroom locations but obviously they install door and windows anywhere within Orange County. Now customers can clearly see what areas Renaissance services if they are shopping for a door and window contractor.

Google maps view of areas served Renaissance Doors and Windows

Did anyone notice that you can now specify a service area in your Google Local Business Listing? Google Maps began rolling out this feature in late March with not much publicity. This is quite a feature for businesses that want to publicize the different locations they serve; a great feature for businesses that will come to a home or for businesses that are actually based out of a home. Service areas listings give access to areas on the map where you may not have a physical address. For example, your business address may be in Tempe, Arizona, but in reality you can service any location within the Phoenix metro area.

Anyone can change their business service area by logging into their Google Local Business Center and editing your business listing. Look for the section labeled “Service Areas and Location Settings”. Below we are using an example from a WebShare client that sells custom doors and windows in the Orange County area. As you can see, you can choose between specifying a distance from your location or simply listing the locations you want to show that you serve. If you have multiple business location listings, be sure to edit all of them.

LBC-radius.jpgLBC-listareas.jpg

Below you can see an example of what a listing will look like in Google Maps. This client has four showroom locations but obviously they install door and windows anywhere within Orange County. Now customers can clearly see what areas Renaissance services if they are shopping for a door and window contractor.

It appears that the search market is alive and well. ComScore released the findings from their report showing the worldwide search activity in August of 2007. Google is still the worldwide leader with over 60% of the market share. It is interesting to note that Youtube searches (5 billion) account for a little over 13% of all Google searches. Yahoo comes in at a distant second while Chinese search engine, Baidu comes in third place. Microsoft continues to hold a minor presence in the search market in fourth place.

Top 10 Search Properties Worldwide

We should note that this data does not include searches conducted on public computers or mobile devices. This would indicate that there are actually even more people performing searches on the internet. As mobile device and wireless technologies continue to become more prevalent, the number of searches performed will continue to grow. A couple of interesting notes include the fact that the Asia-Pacific market has the highest search volume of all regions, while the Latin America region having the smallest internet population has the most searches per searcher. If these markets continue to grow at their current rates, they could open some great international search marketing opportunities.

Search Volume by Region

To put this all in perspective, let’s take a look at the average number of searches in a little shorter time period. Breaking down the number of worldwide searches conducted in August of 2007, you can see that the average number of searches performed worldwide on a daily basis is nearly 2 billion! That’s over 22,000 searches conducted per second, which presents a whole lot of marketing opportunity!

Search Volume by Time Period

With an audience that size the question isn’t, “Why would I start a search marketing campaign?” It’s “Why wouldn’t I start a search marketing campaign?” WebShare is a Google Website Optimizer and Analytics Authorized Consultancy as well as a Google Adwords Qualified Company. We offer a variety of services including search engine optimization and search and conversion marketing to help you make the most of your search marketing efforts, and get an edge on your competitors.

Website Promotion & LinkBuilding

“Landing Page Optimization” by Tim Ash: A Review of the 2nd Edition

Cardinal Path blog post

Back in 2008, I read the 1st Edition of Tim Ash’s “Landing Page Optimization – The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversion.” Since then, I haven’t found a more comprehensive book on the topic. For years, I kept it on my desk for reference. Recently, I picked up the “fully revised” 2nd edition. … Read Full Post

Goodbye WebShare, Hello Cardinal Path!

Cardinal Path blog post

Six years ago we started WebShare with the singular goal of passing on the knowledge and skills we had acquired in Internet marketing to our clients and partnering with them to take their digital strategy to the next level.Over the years we’ve been fortunate to experience tremendous growth that has allowed us to continue to … Read Full Post

4 Ways Companies are Capitalizing on the Buzz!

Cardinal Path blog post

In the wake of Charlie Sheen’s recent shenanigans, companies with smart marketing people are jumping on the chance to capitalize on the buzz. In case you missed it, Sheen’s been quite busy the last couple of weeks. He’s ranted his way through several interviews, been fired from his hit TV show Two and Half Men, … Read Full Post

Specify Your Business’s Service Area within your Google Places Listing

Cardinal Path blog post

Did anyone notice that you can specify a service area in your Google Places Listing? Google Maps began rolling out this feature in late March with little publicity. This is quite a feature for businesses that want to publicize the different locations they serve; a great feature for businesses that will come to a home … Read Full Post

Search Activity Posts Big Numbers

Cardinal Path blog post

It appears that the search market is alive and well. ComScore released the findings from their report showing the worldwide search activity in August of 2007. Google is still the worldwide leader with over 60% of the market share. It is interesting to note that Youtube searches (5 billion) account for a little over 13% … Read Full Post

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