Growth Driven Design Leads to a More Personalized Website Experience

Growth Driven Design Leads to a More Personalized Website Experience

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One of the sayings I live by is “If you’re not converting your traffic then what’s the point.” Yes, we want to build brand awareness. Yes, we want to grow as thoughtful leaders in our respective industries. But if we’re not converting our traffic, doesn’t that say something about the previous two statements? Why do people sign up for email lists or download our offers? Because they trust the source, they convert. But conversions take more than just good content. You have to have a website that delivers that content in a way that engages your audience. Growth Driven Design is all about making sure you deliver your message in a way your audience will understand and invites them to interact.

The communicator (your website), is responsible for delivering the message in a way the audience can understand and engage with. If they don’t get it (or convert), it’s the communicator’s fault, not the readers. Guessing what our audience is looking for is never a good strategy, yet this is exactly what we’ve been doing in web design for the past 20+ years. We chase trends, overcomplicate and focus more on what the client wants rather than what their audience needs. While many times this results in a good-looking site, the site itself ends ups being pretty useless. With online marketing becoming more and more personalized and Google focusing more and more on the end user, shouldn’t we as website designers be doing the same?

UX is Nothing New

UX is nothing new to the web design world. For years we’ve been preached at to develop sites for the end user. Google has led the way in the search world with the release of Panda in 2011, which focused on quality content. In 2013, they released Hummingbird which was focused on creating a better user experience for their users by delivering more relevant results based on user data and feedback.

Google didn’t come up with this idea on its own. It was based on years and years of user data and trends. There are now over 1,805,260,010 websites online. The web is getting more crowded each day and the average user is getting more particular about the sites they visit. The traditional approach to website design is built on guesses and designer style preferences. As I said before, this is just too risky. Not only are today’s average users more particular, they are also pretty unforgiving. Most of the time you get one shot. If you don’t deliver, you’re screwed. But don’t lose heart. There is a better way.

I was stuck in the old way of doing things and was frustrated as heck. I had a website that I liked and got complimented on. As I implemented an inbound marketing strategy for my own business, I began to increase traffic month after month. I was generating some leads, but not nearly what I was hoping for.

SMA Visits to Conversions Growth Driven Design

From March 2015 to the end of July 2015 our average visits to conversion rate was 1.4%. The industry average is about 2% but my goal has never been to be average. This number had to change. In August we launched our new growth-driven design site with a goal to not only increase traffic, but conversions and to produce better quality leads.

SMA Visits to Conversion - August to October

After launch, we continued to see growth. August through October were amazing months as far as traffic goes and goal #1 was being met. The issue was conversions and leads. I continued to look at the analytics, data, heat maps, and live screen recordings to see what was going on. I added a number of new items to my “wish list” and prioritized each action. But at the end of October, my visits to conversion had fallen to 0.9%. What gives? Was this not working? Am I just bad at this? All of these questions and more were running through my head.

Now, I need to preface something. In January 2015, I re-branded, got a new domain, and started fresh. There were a number of reasons for why I did, but won’t bore you with that. Being in the online marketing industry, the competition is pretty high, and getting organic rankings on a new domain with no trust isn’t easy. So while I was building my credibility, I supplemented traffic with some paid searches and pushed social hard.

When I looked back at the data I saw that once I got a visitor to a landing page, the rate of conversion was actually going up. So to me, there were two things going on. First, quality of traffic. Second, I needed to better way to guide my visitors to the right content that would increase the likelihood of conversion.

My paid traffic was super low quality. The stats showed it plain and simple. So instead of trying harder and spending more, I shifted my paid search to BrightInfo. This led to a 38% conversion rate of paid traffic. Yeah, I know, insane.

To fix my second issue, again I turned to BrightInfo and Hubspots smart content feature. One of the core pieces of effective marketing is personalization. It helps you to connect with your visitors in a more human way. Thanks to Hubspot I have the ability to add smart content throughout my site. November’s focus was on creating a more personalized experience for my users. I had the traffic, now I needed to nurture it. I stepped up my smart content and I added BrightInfo’s content personalization to my site alongside their ad platform.

Here’s what happened:

SMA Visits to contact growth driven design

I started Brightinfo mid-way through the month, by adding a more personalized experience I was able to drive up my visits to contacts from under 1% to 3.4%. That is over a 300% increase in one month. This led to over 40 new leads and most importantly new business.

So you may be thinking, “That’s cool, you signed up for a new tool and it did the hard work for you.” The truth is Hubspot, Brightinfo, Hotjar, Google Analytics and more are just tools. None of them work unless you work them. Growth Driven Design is all about using the right tools to help you create the best experience for your end user.  If you have a bad-looking site that’s hard to navigate and full of junk content you’re going to get bad results. But, if you have a great design, understand your personas, and know what types of questions they are asking, then you can create a solid site built around them. Just like people change, your site needs to have that ability as well. Having great tools won’t magically make your site better just like getting a better paintbrush won’t make you Picasso. It’s how you use the tools that matter. I know that my site isn’t perfectly honed in and there is still a lot of room to grow. What is exciting is that by using growth-driven design, all other parts of my inbound marketing strategy are getting better as well. I ask tougher questions about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it and if I’m not seeing results, I try to learn why. It’s made me a better artist, designer, marketer, and individual.

December is shaping up to be another month of growth thanks to an integrated inbound marketing approach and the use of some amazing tools. Traffic is trending up and so are conversions.

SMA Marketing Visits to Conversion Dec

Already up from 3.4% to 5.1% this month. Looking to close the year strong!

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