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How Welcoming Visitors Increased My Ad Clicks 7% and RSS Take Rate 12%
Has one of your stories hit the front page on Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc? What I find is that the traffic from these social sites is great (some sites live off this traffic) but the conversion is horrible. Many speak about the way these users spend less than one second on a site and do nothing on the site itself. No RSS pickup, no ad clicks, nothing, a pack of sheep moving from site to site. This is frustrating for me as a marketer — all of these visitors and no real way to capitalize on them. Even if they would just take my RSS feed for a day, I would consider that a win. A click on an advertisement would be gold – not because I might pick up a few cents but because my sponsors would see a higher rate of return and my visitors would learn about these services (which I handpick).
I decided to change the game for some of these social visitors. I spent a good bit of time analyzing exactly what these users do when they visit CN. And the results were sad. Visit the page, leave. Over and over I saw this pattern thousands of times. In my new test group, users clicked the ads an average of 7% more and picked up the CN feed 12% more than in the non-modified group. I consider that a huge gain. The key is a simple thing I learned early in my career as a salesman at The Wiz. Welcoming someone by name will increase the likelyhood of a purchase. A person’s name is the most beautiful sound they can hear. In this case, I used the referring social media site as their name.
The test was relatively simple. I used "seconds" to define whether the visitor would be part of the "modified" group. Odd, yes – even, no. Both groups saw the exact same article and same Web site. The only difference was the inclusion of a "name" box for the modified group which is shown below (it’s a mockup example). What this name box did was call out to the user "Hello!" and drew attention to it.
The box included the following elements:
- Welcome from x site
- Message about RSS with orange RSS icon
- Targeted ad
As for the specific ad types, gadget ads appear to work best for Digg visitors, while content ads worked better for Stumblers.
The great thing about what I setup is that only visitors from those sites saw the box. Many sites will run a "Welcome Digg’rs" type message when their story hits Digg but everyone will see that message. So not only are you not welcomed by name, you are welcomed by someone else’s name. I found that this tactic didn’t work as I had hoped over the past year.
My test has concluded and I am very pleased with the results. The next step is to refine the Welcome box and determine what it might look like going forward. Should every Digg user see it every time? Should a user be able to close it permanently? How far can I push it before I annoy the new visitor. It’s important to keep the brand and trust high.
As you can see a simple change returned dramatic results. And it has me wondering, who else can I welcome?