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Updated: 2018-04-19T20:22:03+00:00

 



How to Predict the Conversion Value of Keywords for SEO

2016-10-26T23:07:00+00:00

Posted by keshavbhandariThe word “success” is a farsighted and ambiguous term when it comes to the search engine optimization world. Keyword placements are not guaranteed in the SERPs, nor is there an easy way to go about measuring the subsequent conversion value from those keywords (more so after Google’s “not provided” update). Think about it: After conducting a thorough keyword research analysis of your business, you manage to narrow down your monster list to a very refined set of queries; queries that you spent countless hours on, critiquing relentlessly from all possible angles of opportunity — search volumes, competition levels, SERP topics, business relevance, etc. Then, your boss fatuously asks you, “Why not choose this keyword instead?” And to complicate matters even more, your digital marketing agency offers its own portfolio of keywords that they believe would be highly profitable to your business. Now comes the hard part, the decision. Who is right? How would your keyword selection impact your business? Are you willing to throw thousands of dollars and wait for five months (if not more) to go after your keyword selection, praying for the best possible outcome?Or you can be smart about it and confidently bolster your decision with proof of data. Let’s consider a more specific example: Say we’re a secondhand automotive dealer and we have narrowed down our keyword research list to these four queries: Keyword Monthly Searches Suggested Bid Difficulty Index Current Position Used car dealerships 74,000 $4.51 0.97 67 Second-hand cars 4,400 $1.46 0.73 19 Cheap cars for sale 49,500 $1.98 0.89 28 Used SUV for sale 12,100 $4.26 0.93 129 This is a perfect example of a dilemma that any SEOer faces while doing keyword research. The first keyword, "used car dealerships" — “Ah, that search volume looks so juicy! We’re not doing terribly bad. Only if we can push forward a few more paces, we’d be swarmed with web traffic. However, with great search volume comes even fiercer competition.” The next one, "second-hand cars"— “Oh boy! We’re already on the second page and the competition level seems doable. Hmm, but the search volume is not nearly comparable to the first one.” Third, "cheap cars for sale"— “This is another interesting one. But we’re not sure of the intent of the searcher. Are they looking for cheap new cars or used ones?! How would they react if they came to our website?” "Used SUV for sale" — “Look! These people practically have their whole wallet out. They seem to be deep inside the sales funnel, looking for a specific car brand. This keyword could have a lot of potential for us. But the low search volume, along with the current ranking on this one, is both intimidating and heartbreaking. Not sure if this keyword would really be worth all that effort.” What’s the solution? Let’s jump right to it. Experimenting with pay-per-click (PPC) adsYes, you can leverage paid ads to choose which keywords to target for your organic search strategy. The motive behind this is to get web traffic samples from each query, monitor each group’s behavior using performance indicators and finally compare them against each other to know the winner. This can potentially save you loads of time and money by avoiding the catastrophe of channeling all your efforts in something, only to find out later that it’s as worthless as 97% of your web traffic. A few points for implementing the experimentTo set up the experiment, we can create a campaign with multiple ad groups under it, each of which would show an ad for the keywords that we have targeted. While typing in the keywords in our AdWords ad groups, we’d want to make sure they are all set to "exact match" because we wouldn’t want our ads to show up for queries such as cheap car toys for s[...]



What a Decade of Working in Digital Marketing Has Taught Me

2016-10-13T23:05:00+00:00

Posted by Gab-GoldenbergI'd like to share 10 lessons I wish someone had taught me when I started out in SEO and conversion rate optimization. I recently celebrated 10 years in digital marketing and this is my way of giving back to the community. Thanks also to my fellow marketing consultants who shared illustrative anecdotes for this article.#10: The details and technology change, but the principles remain the sameWhen I started doing SEO, you had people debating if content or links were more important. Guess what? They're both still key elements of a sound SEO strategy. One of the people who exemplifies this is Barry Schwartz (above, right; photo courtesy of Real Jerusalem Streets) of Search Engine Roundtable and Rustybrick web development fame. Before anyone else clued in that the app stores were basically new search engines, he was already performing app store optimization, one of many experiences he's shared with others. OK, so there's been a shift in social media usage from forums to Facebook groups. MySpace lost its lead. Instagram and Pinterest didn't exist 10 years ago. But guess what you need to do on Facebook groups, Instagram, and Pinterest? Provide uniquely valuable content and get other users to talk it up and link to it. So don't hesitate to learn from older books that tell you about Myspace or direct mail. Just think about how you can apply those principles with the technology of today. #9: Relationships are key and require constant maintenanceDuncan Morris and Will Critchlow of Distilled were some of the friendliest Moz community members I built relationships with in my early days in the industry. They warmly greeted me at my first conference ever, SMX West. Worried that I wouldn't know anyone during the networking, they quickly allayed that concern. Friends count for so much in this industry. They have referred excellent quality leads to me, and with a warm intro to boot. They've shared my content, unique tactical ideas that aren't blogged about anywhere, and simply been immensely good to me in so many ways. I’m not the only one who feels this way. “I have made some of my closest industry friends at conferences, and we are lucky that people in our industry are so willing to help others. Whenever I have a question about marketing, there is always someone I can find to ask on Skype, email, WhatsApp, Facebook or LinkedIn that can share insight based on their experiences,” says veteran SEO Eli Schwartz. My friends at Shout hold this is to be a key part of their social media efforts: “Sharing the content of those in your network can be of vast help in developing and maintaining relationships with influencers and prospects.” Conversely, many relationships I formed withered over time. When I reached out to restart the relationship, a fair number of people declined to reconnect. Other relationships were lost because I had so neglected the relationship that I’d outright forgotten who many contacts were.This is the biggest mistake I’ve made. #8: Do one thing at a time and persevere past initial failuresWhenever I've tried to run multiple businesses, the results have always been mediocre. My repeated attempts at affiliate marketing have yielded lackluster revenue numbers. My main business has always been consulting, so affiliate marketing was just not something I had time to focus on."Focusing on one thing at a time will significantly increase your chance at achieving breakthroughs," says Arik Liberman, CEO at Pagewiz. "The decision to grow Pagewiz as a self-funded start-up limited us to certain things, but it also taught us about our competitive advantages. Instead of spreading our marketing budget thin across multiple initiatives, we simply focused on landing page optimization. That focus allowed us to rapidly achieve a low cost-per-acquisition in a very competitive market."Here's what I noticed as leading me to embarking on half-hearted projects, and how I finally overcame the bad habit:I'd read an affiliate marketer's blog where they described their success in juicy, t[...]



34 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring an SEO Agency

2016-10-10T23:43:00+00:00

Posted by GilboBagginsFinding the right SEO agency is a part-time job in and of itself. Choosing the right one could be the best thing you ever do for your company. Selecting the wrong one could be the biggest business mistake you ever make. Why? Because the potential damage caused to your online presence as a result of bad/poor-quality SEO could have an indefinite adverse effect on your online assets. There are so many SEO agency options to consider. On top of that, if you haven't been studying inbound marketing for several years, chances are you don't truly know a good SEO agency or freelancer from a poor one."If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur," goes the old saw.Here are some essential questions you need to ask potential SEO agencies and why. Gathering this information will help you separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding high-quality search engine optimization services.Can you itemize the services you intend to provide as part of the strategy?If your potential SEO agency is reluctant to enumerate the work they intend to carry out, be wary. Poor SEO companies/freelancers have a tendency to hide the truth about what they are doing for the cash you're paying them. A good agency will be completely transparent with you and not be scared to list the services they intend to provide as part of the strategy.Services provided could and should evolve over the course of your contract. So bear that in mind when asking these questions. For example, I wouldn’t expect the services provided during month one to be the same as the services provided in month six. Don't be afraid to ask for quantities in hours or the number of assets they will provide each month based on the strategy they are proposing to you. Service questions you should ask:What are the exact services, and quantities of each, you plan to deliver monthly as part of the strategy? How many hours can we expect per month for each service? What technical aspects of the website will you be auditing and fixing? How many pages of the website will you optimize initially? How many pages of the website will you optimize on an ongoing basis each month? How many new landing pages will you create per month? How many internal and external articles will you provide per month? How many backlinks can we expect per month? How much time is dedicated to campaign analysis and reporting?Don’t be surprised if the agency comes back to you and says something like: “this is what we will provide from months one to three, but the services we provide from month four onwards are subject to change based on what we discover in the initial start-up phase.” That would be a good answer, and it would show the agency is all about finding the right strategy for your business and adapting the offering as things evolve. The services they provide should be based on research and data, not on gut feeling.How will you optimize our content?It's the buzziest buzz phrase of the last few years: "Content is king."As much as I'm sick of hearing it (and saying it), content really is important. When choosing an SEO agency, make sure they are going to enhance your content and find out how.Content questions you should ask: Will you create new copy or work with our existing content? How do you optimize content and why is it important? Will you be creating new landing pages as part of the contract?How do you go about link building?External inbound backlinks are one of the most important parts of any online marketing effort. Without good links pointing to your website you'll find it hard to rank higher than your competitors. However, not every link is a good backlink. If you choose the wrong SEO agency, and they build spammy links which don't adhere to Google's guidelines, you risk the website being penalized and you may never achieve your goals. Link building questions you should ask:What kind of links will you be building and how? How many new links can we expect per month? Bear it mind[...]



Here’s How We’re Using Lean Startup Methodologies for Local SEO

2016-09-22T23:07:00+00:00

Posted by dan_leibsonProduct and project management is a critical part of managing any business based on SEO; it's also something that doesn't get discussed nearly as much as SEO in professional circles. For me, I care equally about how our internal process are working versus how our SEO services are performing, primarily because they can't be separated. If your internal processes suck, your products and services are likely going to be heavily burdened by that fact. Conversely, great internal processes will likely be a huge boon to your business by enabling you to deliver on your SEO engagements. Before we get too deep into that, you should know I am a big believer in Lean Startup methodologies. So, if you want to model any part of our internal processes in your own businesses, I would highly recommend reading The Lean Startup as some light background reading while you ponder how to implement any of this stuff. BackgroundSo let's talk about our Lean Startup process real fast before we go over the ideas that inspired it. We utilize a process called SCRUM that I'm sure many of you are familiar with (and many probably aren't). The way we leverage SCRUM is two-fold: We have daily SCRUM meetings - These are primarily about fostering a group dynamic in a remote working environment, creating a shared sense of accountability, and eliminating road blocks. Moving from weekly to daily SCRUMs was actually suggested by team members to help them prioritize; we haven't looked back. Sprints - Sprints are basically "production units." Every single task, whether it's a citation audit, website audit, or a month of link building can be a sprint. Team members are limited in the amount of sprints they can have at one time to force prioritization. (This process is called Kanban.) And, of course, we utilize a project management tool to help us with this. Having used lots of project management tools before (Trello, Basecamp, Podio, and JIRA, to name a few), I settled on a tool called LeanKit. I really love LeanKit for its robust feature set and customization options. It's also really affordable. So, if you are considering moving to a lean/agile system or are unhappy with your current project management software, I totally recommend giving LeanKit a try. There are a few some more things we do related to project management, but I will get to those in a second. How the Lean Startup can helpFor those of you unfamiliar with "lean startup" methodologies, the most important thing to know (in regards to our process) is "Validated Learning," which is basically a way to iterate on your products and services based on data and insights gained in a production environment. By now, you're probably wondering, "Dan, what does this have to do with running SEO operations? Good question! In order to make sure that we are constantly improving our service offerings, we set up everything in a way that allows for it to be measured. That means we can internally measure the success of basically everything we do regardless of final client deliverable. That allows us to have regular post-mortems where we discuss both the efficacy and efficiency of a process. Let me share an example: We had a client engagement recently where we were really struggling with the citation audits (which is the build part of validated learning). It was a really complicated situation, so the struggle was no surprise. However, since we track how many citations get tracked across citation audits/cleanups as well as scope how long we expect individual audits/cleanups to take, we knew exactly where things were going wrong. (This is the "measure" part of validated learning). During our post-mortem for this sprint, we talked about these breakdowns in a meaningful way. As a result, we were able to surface two things to incorporate back into our process, which would prevent the same issue from happening again in a similar situation. (And this is the "learning" in validated learning). There is no rocket science in any of th[...]



Here’s How to Create Original Images That Boost Conversions

2016-08-31T23:07:00+00:00

Posted by nikkielizabethdemereConversion rate optimization (CRO) is a complex business with many different ways to approach it. One aspect of CRO that hasn't been discussed nearly enough is the potential for images to increase views, clicks, and conversions — in addition to customer success and net promoter scores (NPS).But discussing what you can do with the right images isn’t helpful unless you know how to find or create these images quickly and economically. A crash course in the power of picturesTo get to the root of how images improve conversion rates, we first have to look at the series of events that creates conversions. According to Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence, people... Feel obligated to reciprocate – give them something, and they’ll want to give you something Honor their commitments – if they say they’ll do something, they’ll likely do it, because they’ve established that goal as an integral part of their self-image Believe the word of their peers (which is why user reviews are so powerful) and copy behaviors they see Follow authority figures. Buy from people they like Act faster if they perceive scarcity (On Sale Now for a Limited Time!) Our brains are hardwired to believe what we see over what we hear or read. Images have a way of driving straight to our emotional centers. Based on Cialdini's research, some of the ways images can be used for influence include: Giving away a high-value infographic or set of high-quality stock photos that anyone can use (all they have to do is sign up for your newsletter) Creating a series of motivational images that encourage viewers to keep the goals they’ve set for themselves (which your product can help them do) Encouraging users to submit photos of themselves using, wearing, or enjoying your products (or, if you’re selling a service, including images of actual customers next to their reviews or testimonials) Using professional photos and/or high-quality stock images on your website Creating funny, personality-rich images, videos, or GIFs for your social media posts and emails Thinking of creative ways to visually represent scarcity — maybe by making a GIF of a warehouse as it goes from full to empty, or by creating an image that expresses the disappointment someone will fill if they miss out on an opportunity Companies are also using images to delight existing customers and help them become more successful (which improves net promoter scores and leads to increased upsell opportunities). A customer success team, for example, could create GIF screencasts in response to help tickets or even stock an FAQ page with visual demonstrations of how to solve the most common customer support issues.The fast track to DIY imagesImages like these aren’t hard to produce if you have the right tools — and there are many tools to choose from.Visage (free version available)Visage is my go-to for creating images that look professional and tell a story through a combination of words, statistics, and graphs. They’re also a strong choice for making infographics and Pinterest-worthy motivational quotes. Recordit (free version available)Recordit allows you to create mini-screencasts and turn them into embeddable GIFs, which are an easy way to demonstrate on-screen functions, show off features, and help users find what they need in minutes. GIFBoom (free)GIFBoom, for iOS and Android, makes it easy to create original GIFs with text overlays directly from your smartphone. You could spruce up your About Us page with animated clips of the team (great for increasing your likeability factor) or record personal greetings for newsletters and social media posts. Placeit (free version available)Placeit. See it, like it. See it in action, buy it. That’s the difference between a good image and a conversion-oriented image that works almost like a quickie-demo of the product. HubSpot research shows that buyers now want product demos much ear[...]



Case Study: Why it Makes Sense to Optimize Your Site for ‘Near Me’ Searches

2016-08-26T04:07:00+00:00

Posted by colleenharriscdkMay 2015 was full of big change in the search world. First, Google announced that, “More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan.” Then Google followed that up with the news that, “Search interest in ‘near me’ has doubled since last year with 80% of those searches occurring on mobile devices.” In response to these trends, Google updated the local extensions for AdWords, allowing businesses to bid on keywords that deal with “near me” searches. These announcements led us to ask a question: Can content that includes “near me” terms help gain impressions and clicks for those queries in organic search?Our methods to study this question were simple:We tested 82 websites (41 as the control group; 41 as the test group) Within the test group, we updated the hour and directions page title, description, and H1 to utilize the phrases 'franchise dealer near me' and 'nearest franchise dealer.' These franchises included a wide range of auto manufacturers, with the physical locations dispersed throughout the United States. We then spent five months looking at mobile impressions and click-through rates for both groups Noteworthy changes after testing After five months, we started to see a few trends across these websites, including an increase in mobile impressions and clicks for all the “near me” searches. In the test group’s first month, we saw a 27% increase in mobile impressions for “near me” phrases, and the clicks increased from 11 to 40. By comparison, the control group had just a 20% increase in mobile impressions, and click-throughs only increased from 13 to 23.These trends continued every month we looked at the data. In month three, the test group’s “near me” impressions rose another 15%, compared to the 8% increase of the control group’s impressions. Similarly, the click-through rate for the test group almost doubled that of the control group, with 37 and 19 clicks, respectively. By the last month, the test group’s websites saw their mobile impressions for “near me” more than double since the start to total 8,833 impressions and 46 clicks. This is in contrast to the control group, whose “near me” impression share only rose 11% since the start and had just 21 clicks. There were a few other observations we made in our research: Locations in urban and metro areas saw more impressions and clicks compared to rural locations 'Near me' impressions grew from franchises-related searches to include broader phrases, including 'nearest oil change' What this tells usOverall, our results started to give us the answer that, yes, updating your website and content for the appropriate “near me” phrases can have a positive impact on the impressions and clicks for those phrases. This is just the start for a small business website, as mobile search and search intent will only continue to become more important.Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!Posted by colleenharriscdkMay 2015 was full of big change in the search world. First, Google announced that, “More Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the US and Japan.” Then Google followed that up with the news that, “Search interest in ‘near me’ has doubled since last year with 80% of those searches occurring on mobile devices.” In response to these trends, Google updated the local extensions for AdWords, allowing businesses to bid on keywords that deal with “near me” searches. These announcements led us to ask a question: Can content that includes “near me” terms help gain impressions and clicks for those queries in organic search?Our methods[...]



Here’s How to Make Wireframing Work for SEO Success

2016-08-25T12:07:00+00:00

Posted by atxutexas05(image credit: Flickr)Search optimization and engaging design always seem to be at odds. Things like banners and graphics that designers love often conflict with SEOs' need for crawlable content. However, this doesn’t always need to be the case. In fact, if you include various SEO requirements within the initial design mockups before a site’s launch, you can comfortably fit the needs of SEO and design together just like puzzle pieces. It all begins with the initial wireframe. What are wireframes?(Image credit: Flickr)Wireframing can be anything from a low fidelity sketch to a fully designed (but non-functional) user interface. These mockups allow designers to share their ideas without committing too much time and effort, which allows designers to iterate and reiterate quickly and easily so the needs of various members of a team can be established and addressed before launch. This, of course, includes the SEO professionals. SEO is a complex field with a lot of emphasis on site architecture, so it’s no stretch to say it should be included as a primary concern in the initial design process. In a post from way back in 2008, Moz community member, Amplified-media, described the process of building a wireframe specifically for SEO purposes. He noted that he created SEO specific wireframes in order to describe to clients the ways in which internal navigation, metatags, and content could be optimized. Certainly, we’ve come a long way in both the design and SEO worlds in the last 8 years, but this is still solid strategy. Wireframes allow designers to plan user flows and overall aesthetics, while they allow developers to concentrate on the functionality of a website. For SEOs, wireframing can help you plan optimized on-page elements as well as opportunities for generating leads, conversions, and interlinking. Wireframing can even help you prepare your keyword analysis for each page. Let’s take a deeper look at how you can begin implementing your SEO strategy during the wireframing phase. Content first (Image credit: Pixabay)Web design is defined by the content it’s presenting. Oftentimes, a designer is asked to produce a mockup without any clear notion of the ideas it’s supposed to convey. There have been times when our product team has gone forward without bringing every key team member to the table. Once, my team went through the entire development process but realized near the end that the SEO needs weren’t accounted for: Keyword length exceeded character limits; there wasn’t enough content; and we were forced to include SEO haphazardly where we could fit it. Obviously, this wasn’t an ideal strategy, and the launch had to be pushed back. To get ahead of this problem, we’ve altered our approach. Now SEO professionals are always at the table during the ideation phase. And we also collaborate during the wireframing phase. We write our text first. Then we add headlines, taglines, body text, and determine keywords before a wireframe is ever presented. Only then do we hand over to the designer to see what they come up with. If you’re following this model, keep in mind that it’s an iterative process. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked for rewrites or to compromise on length. Or, alternatively, you can go low fidelity and present the designer with a content outline. Give them the bare bones of your ideas for the text and give them suggestions on how to present it. The point is to collaborate. Letting designers know ahead of time that SEO isn’t going to be a roadblock to what they want to accomplish aesthetically. This is if they’re involved in the conceptual discussions at the beginning of the process.The same goes for UX designers. Let them know that usability is important to SEO as well. Potential problems and quick fixes(Image credit: Pixabay)In a recent article, Justin Taylor describes some of the so-called discre[...]



Case Study: The Interconnectedness of Local SEO and Exact Match Domains

2016-08-15T23:06:00+00:00

Posted by MarkPrestonSEOBefore we get into this article, I just want to say that if you are wanting to build a brand, doing it through exact match domains is not the best idea. I selected an exact match domain for myself, however, as I wanted to build up my personal brand. What has happened was purely an accident, but proves that exact match domains (EMDs) or partial match domains (PMDs) really do work — and work very well. My story Back in April 2016, after spending 15 years building digital marketing agencies, I decided to strike out on my own and promote my personal brand as a freelance SEO consultant. I registered the domain markprestonseo.com and launched my small website with the intention of writing weekly blogs. Things did not turn out the way I planned, and work now eats up all my time. When my site went live, I performed all of the usual on-page tweaks and published it on HTTPS. I then set up Google My Business, became verified, and created a few citations on the top UK directory sites and data aggregators. Since then, I have not really done much to promote my site and have not yet got around to doing any natural link building. The only links I have are from citations that use my domain as the anchor text. After a couple of months, I checked my links through Ahrefs and noticed that, to my astonishment, the site was ranking on the first page for Preston SEO. Why is this astonishing? Because my business address, the address on my website, my Google account, and citations all state that my business is located in Blackpool, not Preston. The towns are about 17 miles, or 27km, apart. I started to research the reason my website was outranking SEO agencies that were actually located in Preston and concluded that it was likely due to my domain name.The citations I had submitted all link to my site using the anchor text markprestonseo.com and the words "Preston SEO" are in my domain name. It appeared Google was ranking me in a town unrelated to my location because of exact match anchor text which, by pure accident, happened to be identical to my domain name. I took this as proof EMDs still work very well despite widespread belief to the contrary. I shared the discovery with Rand Fishkin via email. He replied: “I think Google is confusing mentions of your brand name with the keyword itself and thus you're benefiting in their rankings/visibility. I'm not saying exact match anchor text/EMDs don't work, just that it's a conflation on Google's part when they work in these sorts of fashions, not an intentional element of Google's ranking goals.” So, Google is just getting mixed up. I personally think Google is working how Google does: looking at the anchor text and ranking my site accordingly. Something else in my favor: I don’t use a telephone number linked to a specific area code; I use my mobile phone number. Also, my postal business address is in Blackpool; my telephone number is not. Local SEO means local It's widely known that getting a website ranked for a location not attached to your business address (or within a small radius) is nearly impossible these days. But it appears that I have managed to do just that. What happened next totally shocked me.On a recent morning, when I was looking further into this situation, I typed in the term "Preston SEO" and nearly fell off my chair when I saw my site ranking in the No.3 spot on the maps and in the No.5 spot organically. How on earth is this even possible when I don’t have an address in Preston and not a single citation relates to the town of Preston? Does this mean we can just set up exact match domains relating to different areas outside one's physical location and get listed organically and on the maps? Personally, I think not.Armed with this new finding, I set about reaching out to a few top SEO and marketing pros to ask for their comments. The response was fanta[...]



Here’s How a Pricing Tweak Enabled Us to Increase Sales

2016-08-11T23:07:00+00:00

Posted by livenetAs the owner of a website that offers private tutoring, I'm always looking for ways to optimize our processes in order to increase leads and sales. The original offerFor years, we offered an inexpensive 30-minute trial lesson so prospects would be able to check out our services and, if they liked it (and 80% did), purchase a package of English lessons. This way, we were able to filter the prospects for those who were serious about learning English and committed enough to pay a small amount to try our services. However, we were faced with two head-scratching realities: 1. Conversions were low: Were we missing out on prospects who were serious but not ready to make a payment (even a small one) right away? 2. Most of our competitors offer a free trial lesson: Were these prospects going to our competitors because they couldn't try us for free?What changedAt the end of 2015, we decided to change our policy and offer a free 15-minute trial lesson. The idea of the trial lesson was still to make a first contact with the student, introduce him/her to one of our native English teachers, demonstrate how we work, and show the student we could help them improve their English. At the end of the trial lesson, the prospective student received a feedback report that included an evaluation of their English speaking ability as well as suggestions for getting it to the next level.When we compared the numbers from the first quarter of 2016 with those from the first quarter of 2015, we noticed the following:1. Increased conversion rate from traffic: An increase in the rate of conversions from traffic (50% more leads). We were now engaging more with our website's visitors. 2. Decreased conversion rate from trials: A decrease the rate of conversions from trial lessons. That is, a smaller percentage of trial lesson students decided to buy a course. (Instead of 80% of our leads choosing to continue taking English lessons by purchasing a lesson package, as they did in Q1-2015, only 60% chose to do so in Q1-2016.)This oddity was actually expected since the free offer doesn't ask for the same level of commitment. The prospects who register on our website without being required to pay don't always fully follow the process we have in place for them. Once registered, they might not always book a lesson; when they book a lesson, they might not always attend their lesson. A real effort must be made to make sure that each person that registers has a real intention, at minimum, to book and attend a lesson.If offering a free lesson worth the return? This experiment is not over and we still need to optimize our processes and address some of the issues we've uncovered so far. Overall, at this stage, we can say that the increase in purchases due to the trial lesson change is not significant. However: 1. We get a lot more leads: It's up to us to nurture these leads until they are ready to work with us2. We serve our prospective students better: They appreciate the fact that they can talk to us and try our services before giving us any credit card informationWe now have a greater margin of improvement, and we can work with more leads. But we must put the right processes in place to make sure these leads feel that we are fully committed to help them improve their English. Every business needs a lead magnet, a free offer that will help them build a prospect list. We already provide free ebooks and a free English level test, but feel that no offer compares to being able to sample the product or service that is available for purchase. For now, we'll continue to keep our eyes on metrics, including conversion rates and costs, as well as work on optimizing our processes. Also, we will evaluate whether or not the free offer reinforces our brand — which is built on trust, commitment, and customer satisfaction.How has your brand handled [...]