What to Measure and How to Drive Quality Traffic

Paul Boag

The Boagworld Show is back and on this season we ask how to improve your conversion rate without resorting to dark patterns and causing buyers remorse.

This week’s show is sponsored by Balsamiq and Vast Conference.


Paul Boag: The Boagworld Show is back, and in this season we're going to be asking how to improve your conversion rate without resulting to dark patterns and causing buyers remorse. This week's show is brought to you by Vast Conference and Balsamiq.

Hello and welcome to the Boagworld Show, the podcast about all aspects of digital design, development of strategy, my name is Paul Boag, joining me on this week's show is Marcus Lillingtonon, hello Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: Hello Paul. I'd like to say how did you enjoy your summer, but it's still very summery out there.

Paul Boag: I know, right? This is just great. It goes on forever.

Marcus Lillington: It just goes on.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: On and on and on and on and on. Very sweaty.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: But nice.

Paul Boag: Yeah, you can't really complain can you? I mean, you know. We don't get it very often so. Although typically I'm playing outside music this is, next Sunday and I looked at the weather forecast for next weekend and it's raining. And not that warm.

Marcus Lillington: Oh well yeah. That's inevitable isn't it.

Paul Boag: So it's good to be back after our little break.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah. Yeah exactly.

Paul Boag: Anything exciting happened in your world since we've been away? No? Nothing?

Marcus Lillington: I went for a pedal steel guitar lesson.

Paul Boag: Okay.

Marcus Lillington: That was quite exciting for me.

Paul Boag: Right.

Marcus Lillington: It's not very exciting generally, in the whole grand scheme of things.

Paul Boag: What, a-

Marcus Lillington: I've been talking about getting one for over ten years, so I actually went and had a go on one.

Paul Boag: So is it a special type of guitar then, is that the thing?

Marcus Lillington: If you imagine, picture the stand at country and western band, okay, there's the guy-

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Up the back, sat down, of playing a guitar like thing.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Which is, like it looks like a table.

Paul Boag: Oh.

Marcus Lillington: It's one of those.

Paul Boag: Oh, right. Oh interesting.

Marcus Lillington: Yup.

Paul Boag: Oh, okay.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: No that's quite, no I approve. That sounds fun.

Marcus Lillington: They're also, because they've got all these levers and pedals that change the kind of pitch of the strings, they're also a bit of a puzzle, an enigma to play, so yeah. I haven't got one yet but I went for a lesson, which was a big step.

Paul Boag: Oh that's sounds, that sounds fun. Well I've had-

Marcus Lillington: But that's about it really.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I've had more excitement than I could handle, so.

Marcus Lillington: I know Paul, it's sad stories, tell everyone your sad stories.

Paul Boag: Yeah, so I've been conned out of a lot of money.

Marcus Lillington: I know, it's awful.

Paul Boag: So yeah, it was a weird one. So again, loads of building work done as you know. And how'd you know about this? Oh from Slack, yes that's it. You follow things on Slack don't you? I forget.

Yeah and we were doing our building work and you get invoices from the time obviously from different amounts, and we got our latest invoice through for 16,000 pounds, which is always very terrifying but, you know, you go with it. And we go that on the Thursday and it had to be paid within five days.

So we got given a printed invoice and then the bill just sent us an update over the weekend saying, oh, we're having some audit being done, can you pop it in this account instead? You can see where this is going.

So because it came from our normal builder, it was signed by the right person, it referenced us by name, it had details about our invoice in it, there was no reason to think that it was a fraud, it wasn't like a phishing attack or somebody a smooth email or whatever, so we went ahead and transferred it, and then got a phone call from him on Monday going, our internet, our email address has been hacked, breached.

So somebody had got into the email and had read all of the emails, worked out there was an opportunity to get some money and yeah. So they walked away with 16 grand of our money. So, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Awful.

Paul Boag: I know, right? And you've got-

Marcus Lillington: You seem to have taken a slightly lighter view of it now.

Paul Boag: Yes. I mean you've got to.

Marcus Lillington: I guess it really-

Paul Boag: What else can you do? Yeah, I think the bit that was the most stressful was that initial, well the builder panicked and we panicked and you go into defensive mode, do you know what I mean?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Where, I'm not paying that and the builder's going well I'm not paying that, and so it all gets a bit tense for a while. And then we, both of us independently, because he's a lovely chap, absolutely great.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Had overnight, when we got to sleep on it, went hang on a minute, we're both victims in this, this suck, why should we be fighting amongst ourselves when it's some other idiot that has done this. So we've just split it between us.

But you ain't got hope of getting it back. It's just not a chance. And the banks are pretty, you know. I mean we literally, it was probably about two hours that elapsed between the transfer and the builder contacting us and us then contacting the bank.

But then they go, you know, you're put through to a call center in India, who said they're going to raise a fraud complaint, and then two days later you get a call from the fraud team.

Well of course by that time the accounts been emptied and everybody's moved on, so. And the police are just overwhelmed with the problem they can't deal with it. So you know, just that's it, really. Well there you go.

Marcus Lillington: Has anything good happened Paul?

Paul Boag: I went on a driver's awareness course this morning.

Marcus Lillington: Did you? Did you now?

Paul Boag: Because I got done hounding.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, side note, I got done for speeding about two months ago, and I was going too fast to be allowed to go on the course.

Paul Boag: Oh, dear me. So yes.

Marcus Lillington: I had, I've got to tell this one because I had the jolliest policewoman ever pull me over.

Paul Boag: Right.

Marcus Lillington: And I got out of the car. And she said, you're my fastest today. In exactly that kind of voice, and she also said, if you'd been going two miles an hour faster you would have had to have gone to court. I'm like-

Paul Boag: My word. You really went for it then.

Marcus Lillington: It's a road that used to be 40 and now it's 30.

Paul Boag: Ah, okay.

Marcus Lillington: And I was doing 47.

Paul Boag: Right.

Marcus Lillington: So, and it's also, I couldn't say this, but effectively I was just daydreaming.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I was like la, la, la, la, driving up, I was getting my haircut or something. And then all of a sudden, oops.

Paul Boag: Yes.

Marcus Lillington: Anyway.

Paul Boag: So.

Marcus Lillington: I quite like the driver awareness course, the one I did manage to get on a few years ago.

Paul Boag: I've got to say-

Marcus Lillington: I thought it was interesting.

Paul Boag: Yeah, I've got to say it was pretty good. It was a lot better than I thought it was and it taught me actually quite a lot about presenting to a hostile audience. She was brilliant, she was really, really good.

Because obviously nobody wanted, had no intention of enjoying it or listening, you just turn up because you're supposed to. But she turned us all around and gave a very good presentation.

I mean not all of it was particularly realistic in my humble opinion, but you know, she certainly got me to pay attention and to learn stuff, so, you know, good on her, really.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: So there we go. So yes, that's my life. So should we talk about this season, because we have spent seven minutes of me moaning about everything that's gone wrong in my life, so I feel like we should-

Marcus Lillington: That's a valid, valid moan, that one.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Proper, valid moan.

Paul Boag: I-

Marcus Lillington: You're not allowed any more though.

Paul Boag: I am, well, I am now, I tell you, it's beginning to get to squeaky bum time with this house, so, not good. Anyway. Yes. I'm thinking about one day starting just a podcast dedicated to grumpy old men windging about stuff. Because I think there's a market for that.

Marcus Lillington: There certainly is.

Paul Boag: Grumpy old men.

Marcus Lillington: I could join in. Yes.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah exactly. So yeah, this season-

Marcus Lillington: What's happening in this season?

Paul Boag: Yeah. So the idea of this season, well it's typical me isn't it? That I've spent months and months and months working on this video MasterClass that I've been doing.

Marcus Lillington: Yup.

Paul Boag: Okay. Huge amounts of effort putting it together. Hours of video lessons going in depth in how to encourage people to take action without alienating them, you know? And using dark patterns and all that kind of stuff. And I've put the whole thing together and I'm really pleased with it, I'm so chuff with it, and the idea is I'm supposed to be selling it, right?

But the trouble is, is you produce something like this and you go, will it be a waste if it only goes to a few people that I sell it to? So as a result, I thought, well let's do a season on it. Let's work through it, talk about some of the lessons and some of the stuff that I did and what I've come up with and stuff like that.

So I'm essentially now going to give away a lot of the content that I'm asking people to pay for. Which is okay because I figure in the videos I'm a lot more coherent because I've got script and it's all prepared and it's nicely filmed and all the rest of it. I also get to go into more detail, and there's quizzes, which is always a bonus. People like quizzes, right?

Marcus Lillington: Yes Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah?

Marcus Lillington: There's visuals as well, I'd say that was probably the main-

Paul Boag: And there's visuals. Well yeah and you get to look at me.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah there's always one downside.

Paul Boag: Okay. So anyway, I'm going to go through it now, if people want pick up the course as well, obviously I'd be delighted, you can do that by going to boag.world/cro, conversion rate optimization. Cro-masterclass. So that will take you to the whole, yeah, give you more detail of what we're going to go over on this season but also you can buy the videos if you want to.

We won't cover everything in the season, I'll be honest with you, there's too much material, but we'll at least kind of give it a go. But before we do that, Marcus, are you going to do a thought for the day this season? I probably should have asked you that in advance, really.

Marcus Lillington: Yes I am.

Paul Boag: So have you got one for us today?

Marcus Lillington: Yes I have. That was handy, correct answer both times.

Paul Boag: Good.

Marcus Lillington: Yes, this one. Some of these are going to be longer than others, some of them might be, because half, obviously half of them, more than half of them, I don't know what they're going to be yet.

But this one's a bit of a long one. But we'll see how we kind of deal with it, because it goes back into the midst of time.

Paul Boag: Oh okay.

Marcus Lillington: When we first met each other.

Paul Boag: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcus Lillington: And how all that happened. But it came about because it seems that at the moment lots of agencies like Headscape, or bigger than Headscape, but lots of agencies are being sold. So there's this ongoing question of whether you should be aiming for that, whether you should be growing your company or whether you should be just happy with your lot I suppose to a certain extent.

So to grow or not to grow, that is the question. And I thought, so the first place to start really is back in the midst of time, when you, Chris and I all worked together at a dot com, called Town Pages. Just to kind of give us a bit of background on what's happened to us really over the years.

We start, as I said, we started a dot com, where, which was the typical model for a dot come where you have a kind of vague idea for a business and then you go and sell that vague idea of a business for millions and millions of people, and higher people hand over fist and then it all comes crashing down horribly. I remember you telling the story once about when you had to go to America.

Paul Boag: Oh yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Just to sell this business to, I assumed it was the NASDAQ.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: I got the impression that you were sort of, if you got a bit too honest you were kicked under the table, or I'm probably mixing my stories up.

Paul Boag: You are mixing your stories up, it was a different occasion that I was kicked under the table repeatedly, in fact it was almost a bit weird in America. You know America is where I had proper financial people that know their stuff, would come up to me and go, how's it feel? You're going to be a millionaire by the end of this year.

And I was sitting there thinking, this doesn't add up.

Marcus Lillington: Exactly.

Paul Boag: There's no logic in it. The business case doesn't work. So yeah, it was a weird time, wasn't it?

Marcus Lillington: It was. And that business case didn't work even though it was sold. It didn't work to the point of view that the management at the time asked us if we could do something different with the business, which we said well maybe we can do a kind of agency model, which was remarkably successful. But I'll come on to that in minute.

But though, inevitably the dot com folded and at that point we had been working as a kind of agency for I think 18 months, I think it was about that.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: And we had a bunch of clients that were mid project and Paul, myself and Chris at the time said well it would be madness for us to no to try and set something up, sort of keep this thing going, because obviously we weren't starting from scratch, we were starting from a place way up higher than that, because we all had quite a lot, at the time, quite big name clients. Clients like the National Trust and Travelbag and things like that. So and also very key to that, we learned, we felt at the time how not to run a company.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: But I think the point I'm kind of going to get here is we hadn't learned how to run a company. We just learned how not to run one, if that makes sense.

Paul Boag: Correct, yes.

Marcus Lillington: But you know, we started in a position of strength we got stronger and stronger, we were winning more work we were hiring more people. And it was all great. So we thought.

But at the time, though we didn't realize it at the time, probably around 2010, so eight years in, our days, looking back at it now, seemed to be filled with worries about, sorry, but a very noisy cars going by, worries about kind of HR issues or keeping up with project work.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Stuff would go out you didn't know about. But all the-

Paul Boag: Boring stuff that you don't care about, well you don't want to care about.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, our number one worry was how are we going to reach this enormous target at the end of every month.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: And we managed to do that for quite a long time until it all went bang for us in 2014. And we were forced to downsize, which we just had a really bad year and these things happen. But since being a lot smaller, though those worries, you still kind of get HR worries, you still worry about targets at the end of every month, they're considerably more manageable and more pleasant to deal with especially for an old man like me.

And it's worked for us I think because we never had an exit plan, inverted commas. But I started wondering, when I was thinking about this, I started wondering well what if it, what would have happened if 2014 hadn't happened to us? Would we have carried on growing? Would you still be with us Paul?

It's sort of a weird thing that I think about. You know, would have the eventual crash been even bigger or would we have kind of like changed our plans and done something entirely different?

Because I've sort of banged on about this idea of being, it's lovely being small and all this kind of thing, which it is, talking about those kinds of ideas about less pressure, but I just sort of started to think, well, we never, we were never as I said previously, we were never given this, this is how to run a business.

Paul Boag: No.

Marcus Lillington: Kind of a talk by anyone. Who gives that kind of talk I would never know. I guess if you go to business school you learn things like that but we never did any of that. So we just got bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, because we thought that's what you were meant to do.

But we were kind of as I said, we were forced to downsize when we had a bad year. So this all kind of flips right back to the top of, so when should you look to grow, and when should you think, hang on, this is just right for us?

And I think as I mentioned earlier, if you're thinking kind of exit plan or we're going to sell the business one day, then something, things like having a big turnover, having lots of clients, giving off an air of, we're a big company, having kind of C-Suite titles like Chief Executive Officer and Chief of Operations and all that kind of stuff, swanky office, all that kind of stuff, is, you could argue, more likely to persuade a buyer that you're the real deal and worth spending a lot of money on.

I guess there's a kind of element of perception and even theater involved.

Paul Boag: Oh absolutely. And I think that's the one thing I learned from the dot com days. That it's about theater, it's about presentation, it's about styling yourself and selling the business actively.

Marcus Lillington: I don't think it's all, I don't think it's all, that's quite a negative way of looking at things, although I think it's, I believe in what I'm saying completely, but I think it's not all negative.

I think that it maybe that you might have a some kind of dream of creating a particular product or something that would demand you having a big company. I'm thinking of Tesla, for example.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Elon Musk wouldn't be able to make rockets without having a huge company behind it. Or it might be that you kind of want to give back in some way, I don't know, there could be a kind of charitable angle too, but usually it's just about, let's make this thing make as much money as we possibly can.

But how many people go into business thinking that? Most people go into business, I think, certainly small businesses with an idea of let's make a living.

So if you're not thinking, we need to sell or your dream doesn't warrant being supported by some massive company, then I, what I recommend is that you look at what is the perfect size company for you, and that's going to be different, it might be just you. Or it might be 50 people. In our case it's about sort of eight of us, eight to ten of us.

But I think that if I could go back and give any piece of advice to somebody who's got a kind of new business just starting to take off, is just think about what is the perfect size for you personally as the owner or founder of that business. That's my thought of the day.

Paul Boag: And I think as well, to answer that question, you've got to ask yourself, well what is it you want? Some people are entrepreneurs that love building things, so for them growing and growing and growing a business makes a lot of sense because it enthuses them, it excites them. You know, some people want more time, some people want more money, some people want reputation and none of those things are wrong. They're all-

Marcus Lillington: Exactly.

Paul Boag: They're all perfect, yeah. They're perfectly valid reasons. But so many people don't really, aren't really honest with themselves about why they want to run a business, or why they want to grow that business. In my mentorship I do, I come across a lot of people that say, we're looking to grow.

And when I ask them why, they're not really sure. But what it actually comes down to is, well I want to grow because I need to take home more money, right? And that's nothing to be ashamed of to say that, but growing might not be the way of doing that.

Marcus Lillington: Exactly.

Paul Boag: You know?

Marcus Lillington: And that's what we found. I mean if you'd ask me that question ten years ago, I would have said, we want to grow and you would have said why, and I would have gone, I don't know.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Because that's what you do, isn't it?

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, I probably would have, I probably would have said, well, because you know, we'll make more money. And as it turns out, you don't necessarily. I mean you can, there are more options, of course, if you can create this great business that becomes something that's sellable in the end, then of course you're going to make more money in the long, in the longest run.

But are you going to be happy? I think that's what my real bottom line is.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and a lot of people will say something like, I want to grow because I want to win bigger projects, right, because I want to work on more interesting stuff. And that's absolutely fine, but again, you don't necessarily need to grow to do that.

I work on some very big projects, yet it's just me on my tod. So there's a lot of misconceptions around growth I think. It's an interesting one, I'm not, if people want to grow a big business, go ahead.

Marcus Lillington: I think it's fantastic.

Paul Boag: Good on you. Yeah, but you know, you've got to be cl-

Marcus Lillington: I admire people.

Paul Boag: Yeah, you just got to be clear about why you're doing it.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: I think is the key. Anyway that was a good one, thank you Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: My pleasure.

Paul Boag: So we're going to talk about our first sponsor for the day, which is something a bit different for a change. We do have some of our regular sponsors back this season, and I'll get into that more in detail. But for this episode anyway, we've got a new sponsor which is Vast Conference.

Marcus Lillington: Oh, what's this Paul?

Paul Boag: Yeah so it's a bit different. They basically allow you to hold remote meetings and manage things remotely, so integrating-

Marcus Lillington: That sort of conferencing, sorry.

Paul Boag: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Like a conference. Not a-

Paul Boag: No, not a conference you go to, a conferencing facility. So it integrates like HD audio with web meetings, allows you to collaborate with clients with your laptop and mic and all of that. There's no special software, no special hardware, just very, very simple.

So this means that no matter where you are in the world or what you're doing, you can connect with your clients and prospects, really straightforward, without even the need to have a dial in number that charges you per minute or any of that kind of stuff.

If you need to jump on a quick call with a colleague you can do that using the instant conferencing call facility, you could, and it just gives you a heck of a lot of flexibility when you're building your business, that you don't need to be tied to a specific geographical location.

You can visit conferencecalling.com, to start hosting a conference call and online meeting straight away, very fast, very easy, they've got a 30 day free trial which you can redeem by going to conferencecalling.com/trial30. Or you could even just talk to one of, they have real human beings you can talk to, which is lovely, so you can pop along to that URL and ask to talk to a sales direct, and if you do, make sure you mention the fact that you found us via the Boagworld podcast.

But yeah, check them out, there are lots of these kinds of services, but this looks like a particularly interesting one. And they're very keen, which is always great from a sponsor, from any product you use, isn't it. So check them out.

Okay, so what we're going to do, is each week we're going to deal with a different topic from my MasterClass, as I said at the outset. We're actually going to do two topics per episode, all right? Or there abouts. It might vary a little bit. But the first one I'm-

Marcus Lillington: I'll be taking notes.

Paul Boag: Will you be taking? Well I'm hoping you're going to actually contribute.

Marcus Lillington: I'll try.

Paul Boag: And what I'm interested in is where maybe I could add future lessons or go into a little more depth than I have on these things, because I want to kind of grow this MasterClass as you go along, so I'm quite interested to hear what you got to say actually Marcus.

Marcus Lillington: All right.

Paul Boag: So the two that we're going to look at in this episode is we're going to look at deciding on your metrics, and then we're also going to look at driving quality traffic. All right? But we're going to start by deciding on your metrics. If you are going to do, it's so dumb, it feels so dumb to even say this, but it's kind of important.

If you want people to start improving your conversion rate, you first of all need to know what you're tracking. And I know that, it's like so, duh. Of course. But it's amazing, I don't know whether it's still the case with your clients Marcus but with mine, I'm amazed at how many clients really aren't tracking anything. They don't know whether their websites are being a success or not.

And I was a conference call only a couple days ago, and the CEO asked the person in charge of the website, what's our conversion rate on dot, dot, dot. And that person couldn't answer the question. You know, you need to be, that needs to be front and center of your mind.

So how do we go about doing that? Well, I always start with business goals. All right? And every organization has some kind of company strategy. For a time it was, you know back in 2015, everybody had a 20/20 vision didn't they?

Marcus Lillington: Oh yes they did.

Paul Boag: That sounds cool. We've moved a bit beyond 20/20 now, but yeah, so they'll be some company vision that you've got, that probably got handed to you in some very expensive, posh, kind of printed form, and you just shoved it in a drawer somewhere and forgot about it.

Well, I'd really encourage you to get that out because that gives you the basis of the vision of where management want the company to go. And it will be broad brush stroke stuff. So it will be, we want to increase revenue, or we want to reduce costs, or we want to gain a competitive advantage or grasp more market share or something like that.

Marcus Lillington: Or all of those things together.

Paul Boag: Or all of those things together. But what that-

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: What? Yeah, we want to do everything.

Marcus Lillington: Yes. The whole world is our audience.

Paul Boag: Exactly, yeah. But at least it's a starting point.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: Then what you can do is you can take those, and you can turn them into goals for the website. So for example, if the company strategy says we want to increase revenue, right, and your website isn't maybe a direct eCommerce site, where tracking revenue would be obvious, you can do okay, well, then we need to track the number of leads that the website generates because that will increase revenue, all right?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Then you take those goals and then you turn them into very specific measurable KPI's, right? So you might then go, okay, so we're going to track the number of people completing the Contact Us form. Or the number of people calling the telephone number, all right? Well hang on a minute, how do we know how many people have called the telephone number?

Well that's where maybe you want to get a dedicated phone number for the website that provides you with those kinds of stats, you know that if they call that number they've called via the website. There's all kinds of services to do that. So it does take a little bit of imagination to turn those website goals into measurable KPI's right?

So another thing might be okay, so we can't track how many people call us because we can't do that telephone number thing, but we can at least do how many people looked at Contact Us page, right, and use that as an indication. And okay, that metric is not going to be perfect by any stretch of the imagination, you're going to hae to use your imagination to come up with some stuff, there's going to be a lot of guesstimates, but you need to be measuring something.

Measuring something is better than measuring nothing, as long as you bear in mind that thing that you're measuring is not perfect. And don't become obsessed with it, because I see people do that. Oh yes, we haven't managed to increase eCommerce transactions by five percent in the last quarter therefore we failed and should fire the web design department.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, we've managed to grow things by 30% the previous year.

Paul Boag: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So the guidelines are not targets, but they are important to be tracking something. So, what kind of things should you be looking to track? In my mind, it normally falls into three areas, right?

And it's really important I think to have a balance of these three areas. Area number one is usability. It's got to be usable. Your websites got to be usable and so you should be tracking, my word that was loud, you should be tracking figures related to usability.

Because usability then's going to feed into all kinds of other metrics that you want to track in terms of conversion rate, reducing support calls, lots of other things. So I often track usability metrics. Obviously you're going to track conversion metrics, but the other one you should be tracking is engagement. How engaged people are, because that has long term implications on revenue.

So those are the three areas it normally falls into. So I'm going to look at each of those three areas very, very, very briefly and look at well, what kind of things can you be tracking in those different areas? So we'll start, I'm going to change the order for my next bit and start with the easy one. We'll start with conversion. All right.

Now, obviously you're going to be tracking the number of people that complete a Contact Us form. All right, or you're going to be tracking the number of people to place an order. But you need to be a little bit more sophisticated than that. So the first thing to say is track quality and not quantity. Okay? Just because you have a form on your website, that people are filling in and that become a lead for the sales team, that is of zero use if those leads are all rubbish.

And I told the story before about a marketing department that was measured on the number of leads and the sales department that was measured on the number of leads to be converted, so what the marketing department did is drive loads of shit leads to the sales team so they met their target, so let the sales tam kind of scrabbling around dealing with these rubbish inquires.

So it's really important that you have some metric that measures the quality of leads not just the quantity. So not really enough just to measure the number of forms being submitted, or number of contact forms being submitted but rather instead, how many of those go on to convert. So it's worth putting that extra effort in to do that.

Also the other thing I would encourage you to do is try and associate a financial value with those conversions as well. So for example, let's take something like a Contact Us form, let's say you've learned over time that one in every 20 contact forms that are completed turns into a lead, the average lead is worth this amount, you can therefore calculate how much it's worth, somebody completing at contact us form. Make sense?

Marcus Lillington: Yup. Totally.

Paul Boag: Okay, good. And then the final thing that you need to be tracking, this kind of goes back to the quality a little bit, when it comes to conversion, you don't just track a customer's spend there and then, all right? So let's say you've got an eCommerce site, you're not just interested in how many, how much somebody has spent on that particular transaction.

You're also watching to track lifetime value, because repeat traffic and repeat purchases are incredibly valuable to a business because it's a much lower cost obviously sale. So make sure you track that as well. So that's conversion. That's the easy one.

So the next one is usability. How do we track usability? Well, there's lots of different metrics that you can look at, right? So this is, I can't get into it more now, so I'm just going to kind of give you them and then you can go away and Google them to find out a little bit more.

The first is task success rate. So when you do usability testing, what percentage of users are capable of completing critical tasks on your site? And you should be looking to always increase that value. And actually, with that particular one, you probably don't even need in many cases to do usability testing, you can just look at your analytics, if you've got a flow, the number of people that start that flow compared to the number of people that complete that flow, is a useful metric to be tracking. Second one is time to complete task.

On average, how long does it take a user to complete an essential activity on the site? From the point of them arriving to going and completing that Contact Us form, or even, if it's a long Contact Us form, the time from when the page loads with the contact form in, to the time they hit submit. Those kinds of values are really useful because obviously the lower the time it takes to complete tasks, the more, or less dropouts you're going to have, the more people that are going to complete it.

Another thing that you can test in usability testing is the error rate, how often do users make a mistake when trying to complete the task? So that's something else that you're going to want to bring down. So those three are kind of a really good common ones that you can be using every time you're doing usability testing and also with your metrics.

But there's more stuff that you can be looking at as well. So here's some really cool ones that you can go away and Google. There's one called the System Usability Scale, which is a long established survey for measuring users perceptions of the usability of a site, so you might want to check that out, that can be a really good one to track.

And the other one is a task performance indicator, so it's a metric that provides multiple criteria together to judge a site's overall ease of use. And I'll include in the show notes related to this show, links off to more information on those two. Okay? So that's usability. Right, what was the last one? Oh, engagement.

Marcus Lillington: Engagement.

Paul Boag: That's right. That's right. So engagement is-

Marcus Lillington: Harder to measure this, isn't it?

Paul Boag: Yeah, this is an interesting one, but it's quite important, increasingly these days where a website isn't just transactional in nature, so for example take my own website.

My own website, okay, my ultimate conversion rate, conversion characteristics are two fold. They are how many people sign up for the newsletter, how many people contact me? All right?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: But, when I write blog posts, I'm also looking to engage with people over the long term, that's what I blog regularly, that's why I do podcasts and that kind of stuff. So I'm also looking to draw people in because if they keep coming back to the site I know eventually they'll sign up to the newsletter, I know eventually they'll have some work that they might contact me over. All right? So engagement is really important to me personally and that, in a lot of situations if you're selling any service, engagement is a really big one.

So how do you measure this? Well, one thing you can do is look at attention minutes, how long users are paying attention to your content, especially stuff like video. So I need to pay attention to how much those people that stream this podcast episode, right, rather than download it, if they download it I can't track attention, but I can look at how long they're listening to it online.

Are you getting to the end or you hear Marcus's thought for the day and you zone out, perfectly understandable, you just turn it off, right? So and you could do the same with how long someones looking at a page, dwell time, now be a bit careful with dwell time because it can just mean that they're horribly lost. But that's another issue. So there's attention minutes.

The second one is first impressions, so you can do a first impression tests when you do usability testing and get people's initial reactions. Is the initial reaction a positive one, what keywords do they associate, you can do something called a Semantic Differential Survey, which is a real mouthful.

Marcus Lillington: Oh grimy.

Paul Boag: And I wrote-

Marcus Lillington: I'm doing some usability testing at the moment and that's the first thing I ask them. What's your first impression?

Paul Boag: Yeah. What's your initial impression?

Marcus Lillington: Get in to the detail of stuff secondly, because you've got that very quick opportunity to get some really honest feedback. Which is-

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah. I agree.

Paul Boag: And I actually wrote a post on this awhile back about testing aesthetics and I talk about how do you get those kinds of initial impression and how do you get them just to, not say something like, well I don't like the green, which isn't particularly useful.

So I will link to that testing aesthetics post. But basically what you're doing is you're saying okay, here's a whole load of different keywords, which of these represent the website? So you're not getting them to say, you're not saying to them what do you think because that's when they say, well I don't like the green.

But you're actually saying, pick out the words that most represent it and if they're good, positive upbeat words then you know you're doing great.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: Third one with engagement is interaction. How often do users like, or comment or share your content? That could be a really good one for knowing how engaged they are with that content. Even if they're saying negative things they are at least engaging with it, although you've got other problems to deal with there. So there's that.

Another one is interaction depth, so how many times does a user click when navigating through a site? So on a site like mine, that is a really important one, because if they're looking at one post that's great, but wouldn't it be great if they were looking at two posts or three posts and they were, you know how when you, I wonder, I want my site to be like Wikipedia, you know?

You click and go through to one article, and then before you know it an hour's gone and you've kind of gone through this branching tree of reading more and more obscure articles about all kinds of weird things. That's my dream for Boagworld, I'm a long way from it, but, you know.

Marcus Lillington: Need to be as interesting as Wikipedia, Paul.

Paul Boag: Yeah, and I don't think I quite am yet, but anyway. Then the final one, which is the kind of more obvious one when it comes to engagement is something called the net promoter score. So that's a metric for measuring how much users would recommend your site to other people.

So again, I'll put a link into net promoter score, to the show notes as well. So that's really all I want to say on designing metrics, obviously I get into more depth when I do the videos but that's all that we've got time for now.

What I do want to do is take a break and talk very quickly about our second sponsor, that is Balsamiq. These guys, right. I know that the Balsamiq guys listen to this, right? This, guys, this is getting silly now. Because yeah, you must not, whether they're getting any value back from it at this point is quite beyond me.

Although to be honest as I said at the end of last season, I have given them the sponsorship of this season for free. And the reason that I've done that is because they put together, they helped me put together this entire MasterClass. So they've been involved in its creation, they've given me advice, they've supported it financially, they've put so much effort into it, I felt bad to actually charge them for sponsorship for this season of the show. So as we were covering the topic of the MasterClass it felt only right to include them on, so.

I've worked with these guys so much recently, and screw what Balsamiq is, right, we've got all season to talk about that. The thing that strikes me most about Balsamiq, and this is totally off script now, is that the guys, these guys absolutely love what they do. They are absolutely committed to the web and the web community.

They contacted me out of the blue once and said, we want to support you in what you do, we think it's cool, what could we do? And I went back with all these like sponsored opportunities and all that kind of businessy stuff. And they were going, no, no, no, no, what do you want to do? Right? Now what can give Balsamiq the most exposure but what do you want to do? And I was just so impressed with them.

And from using their product, if you contact these guys they are there for you, they are supportive, they got great customer support, and they're a really great bunch of people. Oh yeah, and they do some, they've got a wire framing tool as well.

So check out their wire framing tool for yourself, I'm not going to talk about it anymore this week, it's a great tool that you should be considering especially if you've got people that you want to involve in creating wire frames that are not very techy.

It's a great tool for getting project managers, stakeholders, people like that involved. Find out more about it by going to boag.world/balsamiq.

Marcus Lillington: I'm going to add something in there as well.

Paul Boag: Go on.

Marcus Lillington: That was, you know I was talking earlier about, it's not only a negative thing to want to grow a company.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: There are fine reasons to want to do it and I gave the kind of the Tesla, Elon Musk example. What they're doing is another example. When I was, I think I mentioned it again, you want to give back, from a charitable point of view but maybe it's kind of like, you love the community you're in and the only way that you can really kind of become, make that a better place is by being a larger company.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: So that's a really good example.

Paul Boag: Absolutely. And I know a lot of agencies that are like that. That they get to a certain size where they've got the capacity and stuff and they start putting on local meetups, and local events and they open up their offices and actually Clear Left are a really great example of that. They do that all the time.

And I've got huge respect for companies that go that extra mile and can do that kind of stuff, so yeah, it's great. And then of course you can take on interns and yeah, all grown up stuff like that, which is encouraging the next generation. I'd love to do an internship program but it's really difficult, when you're on your tod. Anyway.

Let's talk about our second topic, which is driving quality traffic. And I mean the course that I've created doesn't, is not a marketing course at all. It is about site conversion. It's about site usability, user experience, that kind of stuff.

So, but I couldn't, when I sat down to write it, I couldn't not talk about what dropped the mechanisms that drive traffic to the site to begin with. Because some channels are going to be more effective than others, and you'll get different channels, and if you've got a bad channel with a poor conversion rate, it's going to drag down your overall site conversion.

So let's say you wanted to increase the conversion rate on your website. Let's say for some reason it was running at an amazing 20% conversion rate, not that sites ever do, but let's say it did. And let's say you had three channels. You were using pay per click advertising, you were using social media and you were using email marketing. And those were driving traffic to your site.

And let's say that the pay per click was converting at five percent, your social media was converting at 25% and then your email was converting at 30%. So collectively, all those three channels would be converting to 20%. The site itself would have a conversion rate of 20%.

But if you just did something like go, well pay per click isn't driving quality people, because it's only converting at five percent, we might as well drop it, and you drop that, and so you've only got now email marketing driving at 30% and social media driving at 25, suddenly your conversion rates gone up to 27%, simply by spending less money. Right?

So not all traffic is good traffic is what I'm getting at here. And it's about sending the right people to your site. We need to attract the right kind of people. I'll give you a real example of this, something that a lot of the people listening to this show will be able to really associate with. Let's say you're running a web design agency, okay? Let's use Headscape as an example.

Marcus Lillington: Yeah.

Paul Boag: On the Headscape, Headscape works within a certain price bracket. So typically, what's the average project value at Headscape, roughly?

Marcus Lillington: 30 grand.

Paul Boag: Yeah. So about a 30 grand value. Now, but equally, they will go all the way up, sometimes they will do a hundred grand project.

Marcus Lillington: We do, yes.

Paul Boag: So, the problem is that you could easily, if you were just using something like pay per click, or even organic search results, people have very, very different expectations right? A small business might only want to spend a few hundred quid on a website.

And so if traffic like that's surviving at your site, then they're not going to convert, they're gonna, and so your conversion rates going to be rubbish because they're no way you're going to outsell them to a 30 grand project if they're expecting to pay a few hundred quid.

This is kind of obvious stuff, but it's so often overlooked. I'll give you another example.

Marcus Lillington: Also, I mean, average website build projects would be more than that. I mean we do a lot of smaller projects-

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: Consulting project which is why it brings that price down, but it'd be more like 50 for a website.

Paul Boag: So you don't even want reasonable size businesses that aren't willing to commit properly to doing a proper job on their website. That just gets in your way, it's not the least or if any value to those. So those people arriving at your websites, absolute waste of time.

I could give you another, more relevant example which actually goes back to this MasterClass again, for maybe those of you that are not selling services but are welling something like a course, a widget. I've been going some Google AdWords work on that. I could drive traffic with Google AdWords very inexpensively to my site. Will that traffic convert? Probably not. And the reason being is when you have an ad promoting a video MasterClass, a lot of people are going to go in with the expectation of paying still share prices or Udemy prices of like 25 dollars or something.

So they arrive on my landing page and they're seeing a course that's 325 dollars. And they immediately leave, because that's not within their price bracket. So what do I do? I actually mention the price in the Google Ad's word, so that I only get people that are the right kind of people that have got the right kind of mindset for the product that I'm selling. Really, really, important.

The other thing, so it's not just a price sensitivity here, when we're talking about driving quality traffic. The other factor that's at play, is where people are in the purchasing process. So let's imagine a scenario where somebody is buying, I don't know, making a big purchase, like a new car.

Increasingly, people actually are buying cars online. It's a different world than it used to be. So we'll imagine this scenario. You're buying a car online. Now, buying a car is a long journey, okay? That involves many different-

Marcus Lillington: Paul, no pun intended.

Paul Boag: A-ha, oh yeah, I didn't even realize I was doing it. So it involves a lot of different steps and a lot of back and forth and consideration, from the point of going oh, our car just found its MOT, we probably ought to look at buying a new one to the moment you're handed the keys. There's a lot that goes along in that journey.

Marcus Lillington: Yes.

Paul Boag: And if you attract people to your website at the wrong time in that journey or more specifically, ask them to the wrong call to action at the wrong time in that journey, then you're going to be wasting your time. Because they're not going to be ready for whatever the action is your website is offering.

So for example, if your website just is focused around that point of conversion, of actually placing an order, then you don't want people too early on in the journey coming to the site because it's not going to be of any relevance to them. And they'll forget about you by the time that you actually, they're actually ready to purchase.

So you need a very clear picture, well there's two sides of it, one is you need a very clear picture of what role your website plays in that overall journey, where it starts and where it stops. So does it help a car owner who's researching different cars to buy? Or is it focused at people that have all ready made that decision.

And then secondly you need to make sure you're driving only that right type of person to your site, especially if you're using paid advertising and things like that. And that's why it makes it so pointless, some of the dark patterns you see.

So you know when you go to a website and they trick you into signing up for an email newsletter, if people are not at the point of being ready to sign up to the newsletter and effectively you trick them into doing it or cajole them into doing it, then all you end up with is a big mailing list of the wrong type of people.

And that's not going to convert, you're going to have a terrible conversion rate on that mailing list. So it's really, really-

Marcus Lillington: Less than that, I would argue.

Paul Boag: Yeah.

Marcus Lillington: You'd also have negative publicity probably.

Paul Boag: Absolutely. You're going to alienate people, you're going to irritate people, but even if you set that aside, it's still not going to work for it, and we get more into the dangers of persuasion later in the season.

And it also shows why customer journey mapping is so important, which I know is something that you've been speaking on a lot recently Marcus, isn't it?

Marcus Lillington: It is, yes. Yeah. Sorry, carry on.

Paul Boag: Oh, I thought you were going to say something profound at that point, I should have known better, my mistake. But yeah, both Marcus and Headscape and myself, we spend a lot of time doing customer journey mapping, precisely so that you are targeted in what you're asking and when you're asking it, and that when you're driving the right kind of people at the right kind of time.

So there's your two lessons for today. Decide on your metrics, be very focused about the type of traffic you're driving to the website. Unless you get that right, all of the other things that we're going to cover in the rest of the season are going to be pretty much pointless. So make sure you start there. All right, Marcus do you have a joke to wrap us up with?

Marcus Lillington: I do. I've got to find it. Hang on.

Paul Boag: Oh, well while he's looking that up, I'll just say, if you want to find out more about the MasterClass go to boag.world/cro-masterclass.

Marcus Lillington: Okay.

Paul Boag: Was that, did I stall long enough then with a pointless ad?

Marcus Lillington: Yeah, perfect.

Paul Boag: Okay, good.

Marcus Lillington: This is from David Philips on the Boagworld Slack channel. You might even get this one. You might not, I don't know. What is the name of Albert Einsteins evil brother?

Paul Boag: What is the name of Albert Einsteins evil brother?

Marcus Lillington: Frank Einstein.

Paul Boag: Frank Einstein, oh. Actually I really like that one.

Marcus Lillington: Frank Einstein. That's excellent.

Paul Boag: That is, that is one of the best you've had in a very long time. Was that David did you say?

Marcus Lillington: David Philips, yes.

Paul Boag: Thank you David.

Marcus Lillington: Well thank you.

Paul Boag: If you want to contribute jokes or just join, come join us in the Slack channel, it's really fun in there, we have lots of great conversations, we have a lot of good moments. You can do that by going to boagworld.com/slacking. We'd love to see you involved.

Next week, we're going to talk about, we're going to get into psychology. We're going to look at, I know, I feel intelligent when I do the next sessions. It's amazing what you can learn from Joe Leech. I'll have to put a link to Joe Leech in the next weeks show.

Okay, so we're going to be talking about how we think and how that influences us making decision. So that's the plan for next week, but till then, thank you very much for joining us on this new season of the Boagworld Show.

Speaker 3: Boagworld.com



Thanks to MaLija from Shutterstock for allowing me to use this image.