14 test questions for inbound success

14 Test Questions For Inbound Success On Your Website

Hubspot founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan are the authors of Inbound Marketing, an insightful, short and easy-to-read guide to enhancing your website and thinking about it as a key tool in attracting clients. They compare their now-popular “inbound” techniques to the giants and show neophyte business owners how to improve their web presence, increase their sales and conversions, and how to do so in a short time on a small budget.

The book is full of bright ideas and pithy examples but I recently took the time to extract what I thought was a must-have list of tools and concepts any business owner, at any stage of a marketing plan, can learn from Halligan and Shah.

Time for a website audit?

It is quite common – and often essential to success – for us to offer a quick appraisal of a website’s performance before delving deeply into any action items or scoping any big campaigns.

If you want inbound success, here are the 14 questions you will want to ask yourself. I’ve written the explanatory answer to each question too because this is what Creative Agency Secrets can do for your website.  We know how to make your website work harder to achieve your goals.

Do you, or your website, do these?

1. Are your title tags designed for humans?

The <title> tag is an HTML element that doesn’t actually show on your webpage. It does, however, show in the top of your browser and, more importantly, it’s that blue clickable text in Google. Marketers used to load these up with keywords before Google got wise, and clever. These days the best thing you can do to succeed with inbound marketing is to make sure you’ve got human-readable title tags, that say what your business does (not who you are) in 70 characters or less.

2. Does your website pass a basic mobile-friendly check?

It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to work. With something like ⅔ of website use now conducted on a mobile or tablet device, you’ve got to be ready. More than 90% of people say that access to information is important to them. Give your users the information they need in an easily accessible format, also known as mobile devices.You don’t want your readers squinting to see your value-add! In fact, more than 80% of users believe a seamless integration between devices is important. This is why Apply is so successful. Make sure you pass a basic check and talk to your webmaster if you don’t. Not only will your readers thank you but Google will prioritise traffic to your website if you’re optimised for mobile.

3. Do you update your site regularly?

Ideally you run a blog, not at blogspot.com or wordpress.com, but on your domain name. You publish content a couple of times a month and you provide real value, not sales jargon, to your readers. Don’t know what to write? Become an authority in your field, comment on recent happenings in the news. If you’re on top of this already, ask yourself, do you have: onsite search, related articles, and buttons for readers to share your stories on the most relevant social media?

4. Do you have a sense of the core industry keywords and pages to match?

Often you’re so deep in your industry niche, product or service that you have your own language for talking about what you do. Yes, in part it’s your job to educate your prospects about that, but you also have to be found for those keywords they’re using to search. Get some basic research done on what people search for in your industry and write pages that speak to those searches.

5. Does your site load in about 3 seconds?

Try a test for yourself at Pingdom. We don’t all have fibre yet, and large loading speeds will put people off. If you’re a photo blog, or some other website that has a heavy number of assets to load with good reason, look into Cloudflare, and yes, they have a free plan.

6. Do you have a security certificate?

An SSL certificate confirms for the client that you are who you say you are and that they are reading and communicating securely with the genuine owner of the website. It prevents “phishing”, people pretending to be you to steal credit card numbers or email addresses, and confirms for the user that their personal data can’t be intercepted by a third party. In years past online credit card providers took away the hassle of having to pay for and install an SSL certificate each year, but now many providers have on-page solutions (meaning that the user doesn’t even leave your site to pay). Even if your payment solution is still off-site, you add reassurance by making the process seem secure to your user end-to-end. Finally, Google itself opted for a security-first approach, serves all its own content securely, and prioritises websites that themselves prioritise security.

7. Is your website ‘paired’ with its social media properties?

You probably already have a Twitter account, or a Facebook business page, or a YouTube channel, but have you told the world this is your official account, representing your business on this platform? Take a look at some guides to link your accounts: Google+, YouTube, Facebook & more.

8. Do you have a contact form?

You probably have an email or phone number on the website, and you might have tried a contact form only to find it got a lot of bogus submissions. But persist with the contact form. It allows you to collect and database your prospects much easier than you could do via email and it allows you to protect your personal email address from ending up on unwanted spam lists. Finally you can ask important questions of your prospects. E.g., are they contacting you for sales or support; are they interested in Widget W or Gizmo G?

9. Does your website have a call to action?

You want visitors, but once you get them you want to know for yourself what path you want them to take, or what actions you want them to take. These are your ‘goals’. Make sure you have clear buttons that direct your user to your goal: e.g., “Start a Free Trial”, “Sign up”, “Become a member”, “Check out our product range”, “See what our customers think”. Make it bold and clear, and remember, “Contact us” is one of the least effective calls to action, it requires too much commitment on behalf of the casual browser.

10. Do you do A/B (split) testing for important calls to action?

A/B testing is showing two or more groups of visitors two or more variations of page at random. This allows you to gather stats on which layout, button, wording or offer is the most effective.

11. Do you convert 15% of your visitors?

Conversion is the difference between a contact in your database or not; a sale or no sale. Do you keep track of how effective your marketing is and do you get three out of 20 people on your site to make some kind of commitment? Commitment doesn’t necessarily mean a sale, it could just be downloading a PDF or joining a newsletter.

12. Do you spend more time actively seeking new traffic than tweaking and changing?

The plumber’s sink is never fixed and the web marketer’s website is never perfect. But don’t let that worry you. A/B testing is great, it’s insightful and it’s important but you have to have someone to test it on. Make sure you’re spending 80% of your time on strategies to get new traffic and 20% of your time on what they see when they get to your site.

13. Do you regularly communicate with your prospects?

Once you’ve got traffic and you’ve got conversions you’ll need a way to communicate with them. That’s usually an email newsletter. People are used to hearing from their favourite brands, sometimes as regularly as weekly, but if you’re not communicating with your prospects at all you’re not building trust. Equally important is not alienating yourself from your clients. Put a face on a corporation. Send your emails from an address that’s personal, not a noreply@corporatebusiness.com-type address. Include your personal contact details in your email signature. You want your communications as natural as possible.

14. Do you have a reminder when someone leaves a purchase incomplete?

Over half of the checkouts on most industry-standard carts do not get completed. That is, someone puts a product in a basket, enters their email and name but not their payment information. When that happens, most good shopping carts will let you automate an email to the client, checking in to see how they’re going and why the payment was never made.

If you’re nodding along and answering yes, then you’re on track for a successful inbound marketing strategy. If not, give us a call and we’ll do a review of your website.

abandoned cart email campaign

Reclaiming lost income with an abandoned cart email campaign

Ecommerce is, by its nature, prone to being a slave to usage stats. The most important of these being conversions, or how many people your website can convince to transition from spectator to a purchaser. A little-considered but significant subset of that data is the proportion of abandoned carts.

What is an Abandoned Cart?

Any visitor to your website who goes to the trouble, not only to look at your products, but to add them to their cart, proceed to checkout, but then, for one of several possible reasons, fails to purchase. These prospects have “abandoned” their carts. Most good shopping cart software should track these abandonments, and where possible record contact details for your reference.

These abandoned carts represent a significant portion of “lost” revenue. In an aggregation of survey data the Baymard Institute suggests that on average 68.63% of shoppers are likely to leave their purchases incomplete. That data pulls on a range of studies, some of which estimate the abandonment rate is as low as 59.80% or as high as 78.00% (although, the company reporting the highest rate of abandonment just happens to sell you a product to tract and prevent abandonment). However, whatever way you look at it, a good half the people that express interest in your products might never actually purchase.

An abandoned cart email, or campaign, may save you lost revenue by reclaiming or “remarking” to your prospects, but it also might help you find out how to boost sales and make your ecommerce store easier, friendlier and more profitable by minimising the number of people who abandon your checkout process.

And an abandoned cart strategy is something even some of the largest brands, from Apple to Macy’s, are failing to employ. That’s perhaps because their tone and purpose is hard to get right. Nonetheless, the numbers say they are effective: emails remarking to visitors who abandoned their carts have higher than average open and click rates.

Optimise the User Experience First

The first job is to think about how you can minimise the need for your abandoned cart email or campaign, and that means considering the reasons someone might not complete the checkout process. The common reasons may surprise you.

Answer these questions for yourself:

  • Are your postage, packaging, handling, and tax charges easy to find and displayed transparently?
  • Is your cart requiring users to register before they buy?
  • Is your checkout process cumbersome, i.e., does it have too many steps or prompt for too much personal data?
  • Do you have clear, reassuring refund and privacy policies?
  • Is it easy and obvious how to add and delete items or quantities from your cart?
  • Do you have a valid SSL certificate, are you using the https:// protocol by default, and is your cart showing a friendly ‘padlock’ icon to visitors?
  • Does your site work smoothly; are the buttons and steps clearly marked?

If the honest answer to any of these are “no,” rethinking some of these components might earn you sales, not just from abandoned carts but also from visitors who never get as far as entering their contact details.

In Hubspot’s research, some 41% of people abandoned because of “hidden charges.” Shopify surveyed a range of online stores and visitors to find that 39% of visitors reported leaving a store after experiencing a technical problem like a “crash” or network timeout. Therefore, it’s highly likely it’s not your prices, products or services themselves that are driving people away.

All this means that 80% of abandonment is recoverable, either by improving the technical speed and performance of your site or by being clear and transparent with the process and associated costs of purchase (shipping, tax, etc).

Don’t Beg, Don’t Bully, Welcome Them Back

Once you’re satisfied that the user experience is as good as you can imagine it, then it’s time to start thinking about what to send to your potential drop-offs.

As with any email marketing, being friendly and helpful rather than forceful is key. As suggested above, the open rate on these kinds of emails are often higher than a usual campaign, but that doesn’t mean the best place to start isn’t your subject line. Most successful lines are personalised and even a little cheeky. Some tried and tested subject lines are:

  • [Name], we missed you at [store]
  • [Name], thanks for visiting [store]
  • Did you forget something, [Name]?
  • Can we help you with anything, [Name]?
  • There’s still time for a deal at [store]

or simply:

  • You left items in your cart

The body of the email should: (a) invite and encourage the user to purchase again; (b) offer personal help with their purchase, or the opportunity to provide feedback if warranted. Striking a balance between the two goals of the abandoned cart email may be tricky, but keep them both in mind as you write.

Also keep in mind the disparate reasons that someone might have abandoned their cart:

  • The product is “big ticket” which requires commitment/consideration
  • The shopper may have been distracted, but genuinely wishes to purchase.
  • Some facet of the purchase worried the prospect: price, support, trustworthiness of the checkout process, returns policy, etc.

Use language like “we’ve kept your products safe” or “saved your selection”. If at all possible include the basic details – including a photo – of the product(s) left in the cart. Photos stimulate emotional engagement and remind the reader what they’re missing. For the same reason it is important to contact the prospect quickly after they left, experts suggest no more than 24 hours after your shopping cart detected an abandoned cart. Where possible, link to reviews of the items they’re considering purchasing to reinstate confidence with the product.

After reminding people what they’re missing out on, further emphasise the support they’ll receive now and into the future. Offer a chance to chat with you in person about their purchase by providing a genuine email address and your phone number. Take the opportunity to reiterate the benefits of shopping with you: perhaps you’ve got a great money-back guarantee or the best after-sales support?

Lastly, make sure you have a clearly designed email with a call-to-action – a button that is, after all, the primary purpose of your email – to get your prospect back on your site and completing the checkout.

Sign your email off personally, and include a variety of ways to get in touch in your signature.

Tracking, A Follow Up Campaign, and Incentivising Purchase

Once you’ve built the basics, you can perfect the process by installing tracking code into your button to record that this visit was the result of a remarketing opportunity. Ask your Google Analytics expert or webmaster to show you how.

Next, think about what happens if the email isn’t persuasive enough, and how much those lost sales are really worth? Some marketers recommend following up the first email with a second, throwing in an e-book or free resource, something that costs you little to produce but that will encourage a buyer to commit. Some other added incentive might be useful, giving your prospect a coupon to use to get free shipping or 5% off their order may be enough to turn a prospect into a purchaser. Simply experiment with different deals that suit your budget and make sense for your product.

Steps From Here

  1.    Find out what kinds of funnel reporting you have on your ecommerce processes.
  2.    Ask your webmaster/analytics provider to produce a report on abandoned carts.
  3.    Find out how many of those clients actually left an email address.
  4.    Think about how great it would be to receive just 3% of that lost revenue.
  5.    Optimise your cart to provide the least amount of resistance.
  6.    Write and install some savvy abandoned cart emails
  7.   Test, tweak, and consider what incentives if any are right for your business.

Have you got an e-commerce platform that needs optimising? Get in touch with Creative Agency Secrets and see how we can help.

marketing manufacturer zero to hero

Case Study: zero to local hero for manufacturer

Auckland manufacturing firm, Cabjaks makes kitchen cabinets.  They worked with Creative Agency Secrets for 3 months to improve their keyword natural search results, SEM and on-site keyword SEO.

Cabjaks Manufacturing kitchen cabinets

Cabjaks Manufacturing kitchen cabinets

Summary of outcomes: Adwords results

In January when we started they sold a small amount of goods based on clicks from Adwords.
By March the revenues from Adwords clicks were up by 413%.
April is performing even better.

Cabjaks is becoming a strong brand on Google properties too

  • There have been 6 Five Star reviews in March (the previous one was September 2015).
  • We are now on page 6 of local search (up from 20+) and importantly a competitor is falling off the second page.
  • The YouTube optimisation has gained a 13% increase in views.
  • And Analytics confirms a 12% increase in website visitors over the past 30 days.

A “zero to hero” response in just three months demonstrates the success of our work with this manufacturing brand.

Profile Raising

Step four: Profile raising for new business

Getting well-known for what you do is a very long-term process. But this should not deter you because it’s relatively easy nowadays to become known for a specific skill or product.  

Becoming famous for being good at what you do in a public forum takes a few simple steps, repeated.

Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

The goal of this step in the new business development process reinforces prospects’ decision-making when they come to select someone to do work for them or with them. If they can find out about you independently, and online they are far, far more likely to hire you then if they cannot find out about you.

Where is your brand findable in public?

So let’s have a look at the different places where a stranger could find out about you and your business and the things that you do.

  1. Do you write articles?
  2. Have you been mentioned in the news?
  3. What about public speaking?
  4. Have you ever been to a conference?
  5. Do you ever speak or present at business events like BNI, the Chamber of Commerce or Local Business / Professional Membership Associations?
  6. What about running workshops or webinars?
  7. Do you host events at your own premises?
  8. Could you invite clients and prospects to learn more about your skill and expertise in a face-to-face environment?

Here are some of the things that you could do to improve your “find-ability”.

Business awards Does your industry run annual awards and could you enter?  Many parts of New Zealand have local Westpac Business Awards happening every year.  This not only adds to your internal feelgood factor for the team by entering, but it also gives you handy PR and some external credibility if you get through to the final stages.

What about opinion formers? There are always people who are prepared to stand up and talk about your industry; could they quote you? These people may be journalists but often nowadays they might be bloggers or podcasters.

Networking is important for most businesses particularly if you want to win clients locally. Having actually met someone is a very strong and easy way of building trust. Find out where your local networking opportunities are. This may be the Chamber of Commerce, local meetup groups or BNI.

I do recommend you check out the website meetup.com because a lot of good events are run and publicised through there.  You can search by location to filter.   And also, look at Eventbrite for your country. You will see that Creative Agency Secrets does a lot of Eventbrite work and we find the people actually search this site and sign up to our events.

Members of your staff also talk about your company and it’s important that every time they mention your firm you want it to be positive and also consistent. It’s important that you, the business owner, are not the only ambassador for the business.  Can you enthuse them?

Conferences, trade shows and exhibitions are another good place where you can get better-known. You could run a trade stand or you could just attend and see who else is there and talk to the other people you meet. If you’re able to get onto the conference speaking platform as a speech-giver then of course it’s a very good way to put your message across in a subtle manner and showcase your expertise. Do your research locally – are there conferences running and can you get a copy of the full attendees list if you are a speaker?  This gives you an opportunity to get in touch with people after the event as well.Symbol for profile raising as part of new business development

Read the other posts from this series here!

How to name your new business

A client has asked us how she can go about finding a suitable name for her new business.  This is our DIY suggestion about the method to use.
  1. go and do a synonyms and antonyms search
  2. do a Google Keyword tool search for 1,2, and 3 word phrases
  3. put them into a spreadsheet
  4. create a scoring where 3 = brilliant, 2 = OK and 1 = maybe and blank is poor.
  5. rank by score and focus on making a shortlist of 20
  6. consult a branding and graphic design expert who can help you create a short list of 3-5 and develop a logo and branding to suit.
That should see you through the first bit of the job.
If you choose to work with Creative Agency Secrets – we can either teach you how to do the marketing or do the marketing for you.

Do you need help with your finance literacy?

uoamoneyquizCase Study: University of Auckland Finance Quiz

One of the more exciting projects we have had the pleasure of working on recently, was for the University of Auckland. The goal was to help educate first-year students and encourage them to seek out and engage in smarter finance decisions. Now, unless you are an aspiring investment banker, learning about finance is probably as appealing as putting your hand in a bee’s nest.

So how could we help the University put the fun back in Finance?

We decided the best way to achieve this would be in the form of a ‘finance quiz’. Unlike something one might find on a credit card application or a tax return, this quiz would be worded and styled in a way that resonated with the student population and would hopefully encourage them to find out more information in the areas they were weakest.

As is often the best way to communicate with students, humour and relatability were key requirements. Picturing what might appeal to the broader student population was a fun challenge, forcing me to think back a few years to my undergraduate studies (I don’t think my mental maturity has changed). Although I am surely a poor representation for the collective student population, I feel we were still able to convey situations that most students can relate to. In case I found myself on a ridiculous tangent, we also had representatives from the university and focus groups of students to guide the direction.

What did we do?

The quiz was composed of 10 questions and 5 ‘finance’ personality types, originally provided as a guide by our Accounting/Finance clients, Love to Grow. Each question was adapted to accurately relate to current student issues. The character types were developed to be funny, but identify potential shortfalls in each student’s knowledge, which would encourage them to seek out more information. Although the final text was ultimately unrecognisable compared to the original, our aim was that the message would remain useful as an indicator of each student’s financial situation.

Check out some examples below:

finance quiz question CAS

finance quiz question CAS

And the results…

finance quiz result CAS

“Boom! You’re a go-getting super badass, with the wind in your hair and explosions in your rear view mirror. Life is sweet right now, and you totally know it. But it’s worth thinking about a safety net – just in case your luck runs out on the next roll of the dice! Start playing the long game using our money tips.

finance quiz result CAS

“Okay, you’re not frivolously wasting your money away, but you’re not doing anything useful with it either. There’s no sense in making sacrifices if you’re not getting anything out of it. Gone are the days of stuffing money under your mattress for safe-keeping. You need to put it to work! Be smart with your money. Check out some financial pointers.


Due to the nature of the project, we had to strike a balance between what was cheeky and fun, and what might be perceived to cause offense. This resulted in a generalised and somewhat ambiguous character break down.

Thankfully, through some crafty wordsmithing, we were able to combine the light-hearted and cheeky self-assessment, in a way that would not upset any students and still provide a valuable resource for those who needed help.

It was a fantastic opportunity to work together with a team made up of such diverse skills. We hope that the students who take the quiz will find it valuable and fun to play!

Thanks University of Auckland for the opportunity and Antoris & Luc Design for your help on this project!

The finance quiz itself has been published publicly on the UoA student financial resources page. Try it for yourself and let us know what you think!

Step three: New business pipeline

How well are you doing at winning new customers and prospects? Is it very important because your percentage success rate at winning opportunities has a direct impact on the number of opportunities that you convert paying customers.

symbol for new business pipelineEven a small improvement in your success rate will help you to make more money.

Step 3 in our Methodology is all about the steps prospects go through before they decide to buy from you.

Recent new business success

Let’s start by doing an analysis of your recent business successes. Go to your accounts software and print out a list of all of the invoices you have raised over the last six months. Make a note of the total sums payable by each individual and rank than by size so that you have the largest paying customers at the top of the page.

Now let’s have a look at some of the history of each of these customers or clients.

  1. How did you first get to know them?
  2. What dates did they first get in touch with you?
  3. What was the first opportunity they discussed?
  4. What was the final proposal to put to them? Was there a difference from 3 above?
  5. Who led the discussions?

Now let’s do the exact same thing for your existing prospects. You should have a list somewhere of all of the prospective new clients with whom you’re in discussion at the moment. Print that list out and answer the same questions as you did with your previous clients. Below is a form that you can use to fill out which may help you to order your thoughts for these.

Classify new business, lead sources,

Where does business come from?

Within your list of prospects may be some which are not yet concluded. Write down what’s the next step is towards bringing them closer to having a discussion with you and making a decision to buy.

How many biz dev stages are there?

A new business pipeline may have many steps, frequently there are common steps which all prospects go through. Usually for a B2B business they start with initial discussions, and you refine your offer and what the customer wants to buy, and you had a price and discussed whether they are prepared to pay for it, then you negotiate and then you either win or lose the business. It is a pretty standard sales funnel.

For B2C businesses the products are standardised and the steps have fewer reviews and revisions.

See if you can Identify what stage each of your current opportunities are at. Note: I put into an opportunity any discussion which has the potential to become new work – but I set it at a very early stage to reflect this.

Look for patterns in the data

What causes you to win business and what makes the sales funnel longer or shorter? Try to identify the causes of positive and negative situations in your sales funnel. These are areas to focus on – the ones which deliver faster revenues are worth focusing on.

If you have lost some opportunities recently, one tip I recommend is to ask a neutral third party to ring these people up and find out why you didn’t win the business. People will often be more honest than speaking to someone who does not work for the business. This can give you great insight.

Next time we’ll be looking at your business and brand profile and how to raise your profile.

Read the other posts from this series here!