Episode Two: Actionable Tips to Optimize Your Life Science Website for Conversions

There are two ways to double your website conversions: double your traffic or double your conversion rate. Oftentimes it’s easier to improve your conversion rate from 1% to 2% than to double your traffic from 1000 sessions to 2000 sessions (unless you’re paying a lot for the extra traffic). In this episode, we talk about the keys to conversion optimization for life science websites.

This episode includes:

  • The “you” test and understanding who your website is about
  • The fastest and universal way to improve conversions on any website
  • Extremely important questions to ask your customers
  • What types of conversions you should be measuring

Resources mentioned in this episode:

What’s coming next:

  • Life Science SEO Secrets

Transcription:

Sheldon:

Hey everyone. Welcome to the Life Science Marketing Lab. I’m Sheldon, the founder and CEO of Supreme Optimization, the first digital marketing agency exclusively for Life Science Companies. And then I have Leigh Wasson, our chief marketing officer on here as well.

Leigh:

Hey guys, it’s Leigh Wasson here, chief marketing officer. I help Life Science Companies break down effective marketing campaigns to optimize the individual components for kick-ass results.

Sheldon:

Cool. And the primary goal of this podcast is there’s so much that goes into digital marketing, there’s so many different options of things that you can and can’t do and things that you can do and often times things that will give you better results if you choose the right thing, and it’s a better use of your time. So we just want to help simplify it, add a lot of clarity to what’s the most actionable things that you can do right away, and also just longterm, for the longterm play to help you guys drive more traffic, leads, conversions, whatever is going to be a success for you.

So last episode, we talked about the keys to an effective digital marketing campaign, starting with traffic is number one, so that can be paid or organic. Number two is conversion and improving the conversion rate of your website. Three is list building, and four, the follow-up sale, which is a lot of times just e-mail marketing. Today we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into the conversion aspects and Leigh is going to lead this part. He is really our amazing conversion expert, having a ton of experience on this, so I’ll let you take it away, Leigh.

Leigh:

Yeah, thanks man. So yeah, as Sheldon mentioned, we’re going to dive into conversion here, and what I’m going to do in a moment is I’m going to share two things that you can do right now to increase conversion of any sales page. So basically, we’re going to start with this, the way to think about your website is most people think that their website is about who, it’s about them, it’s about their company. It’s not. Your website is about your customer, right? So a quick and easy way to validate if your website is actually about your customer if your best sales page, your most important sales page, your most important product page is actually about your customer, is to go to it through command F and see how many times the word ‘you’ comes up in your copy. If it’s not there, it’s not about your user. So that’s the first thing, is understanding that these pages are about your customer. So what’s the way to actually increase …

The quickest thing that you can do to increase the conversion rate of any site, any page, is to answer your customer’s questions. I know it sounds kind of obvious, it sounds simple, but you’d be amazed how many sites actually aren’t answering specific questions because in order to answer somebody’s questions, you have to understand what the questions are, right? And that’s easier said than done. We can make assumptions about what people’s questions are, and it’s good, it’s a good place to start for sure, but two things that you can do right now is A, go to your top sales people if you have people on your sales team, go to your top sales people and just ask them, send them an email right now that says, “Hey, what are the top questions that you hear?” Just that. And see what they say back. You’re probably going to find commonalities, right?

And then as a follow-up question, ask them, “How do you address those concerns?” And you’re basically letting the conversations that your sales people and your prospects have write your website for you, so in a way this is kind of how to write effective web copy without actually writing. You’re more so just asking questions and listening, right? The second thing to do after you ask your sales people, right? That’s going to be the quickest thing, they’re on your team already, they’re internal, just shoot them a quick email, “What are the biggest questions you hear? What are the ones you hear most often? And then how do you address those questions?” Right?

The second one is to ask your current customers. Send them an email and make it as easy … Either do it as a simple form or even easier just do it as a one-to-one email, and ask them, “What were your biggest hesitations before working with us?” It’s kind of a scary question to ask but it’s incredibly important. What almost kept you from buying from us? What were your biggest hesitations? And they’ll tell you. They’ll tell you, right? And if you’re not answering those hesitations, you have a gap. Every unanswered question that you leave on your website will hurt your conversion rate.

So you want to ask yourself the question, “What unanswered questions am I leaving on this page? What unanswered questions?” And if you don’t know, that’s fine. Even if you have an assumption about what those questions are, you have to validate that, so ask your customers, “What were your biggest hesitations?” And then there’s a follow-up. Ask, “What was your experience after working with us?” So again, you’re letting your customers, you’re letting the conversations between your sales people and your customers do the work for you, and it works because people want to have … Think about why people use the internet. They go to Google and they ask questions, so you want to be the best resource for answering those questions, especially if your traffic strategy involves organic SEO, which it should, it can’t not, people are going to find you based on the quality, depth, and frequency in which you answer your customers questions, so that would be the first place to start.

Sheldon:

So a lot goes into conversion optimization, but before you can even optimize your conversions, how are you … You know, I hear things like micro conversions and macro conversions, and just conversion tracking in general, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Leigh:

Sure. Well, I’m not familiar … I’ve heard micro conversions, I’m not familiar with the term macro, but I’d assume that means bottom line conversions. So the exchange of money changing hands, but there’s a lot of things that would lead up to those. I mean, an email often is going to be one so that would be more so of a micro conversion. And there’s different ways to optimize for each of those, but again, tying back into to what we were talking about before, is the best way to optimize for any kind of a conversion is to answer the questions that people have in their head and to know those we have to ask.

Sheldon:

What degree of … I guess a big question that comes from a lot of the people I talk to, just clients or just marketing execs in the Life Sciences, they’re just trying to understand to what degree that you can actually track conversions.

Leigh:

Oh for tracking specifically?

Sheldon:

Yeah. I mean like what exactly should you be tracking I guess.

Leigh:

Well, sales and … It depends on what the nature of your business is, right? Like if it’s an e-commerce store, you’re tracking sales. In the last episode, we went into more specifically what to be tracking on e-commerce and I’m sure at some point, we’ll do a full episode on e-commerce tracking because there’s a lot to talk about there. But yeah, for e-commerce, you’re tracking sale, you’re tracking the average order value, the lifetime value, the cost per acquisition to get a customer. If you’re a marketing website, meaning that you’re going for leads, you’re tracking the amount of … Well, it depends on if say you’re doing like a consultation, you’re tracking those.

But there’s a difference between sales leads and marketing leads. A marketing lead might be somebody that’s just downloading a helpful e-book and they may not become a customer ever, but that’s okay because you’re building awareness in your market and getting in front of people who are in your market. So there’s different strategies for getting different kinds of leads, but you’re definitely tracking all of those types of options. What do you think? What would you say for what to track when we’re talking about conversions?

Sheldon:

Sometimes there’s kind of like a challenge especially if it’s like an e-commerce store, sometimes like lab managers are the ones that are actually purchasing the products so it’s hard to have that attribution.

Leigh:

True.

Sheldon:

You know. So it’s not actually the end user is the one actually completing the order. So I know that sometimes that gets a little more tricky, but I think obviously for like service based companies, your macro conversion would just be someone calling you or someone submitting a contact form, right? Now we have more people installing live chat, which is also beneficial but I would say some things that people don’t realize is that you can track the phone numbers. There’s a lot of different ways where the phone numbers can easily be tracked based off … Your website actually, you can change the code. You can import some code, so if someone enters from Google Adwords, it’ll have a different phone number, which essentially it’s a forwarder, so Google would know that it came through Google Adwords because that’s the number that shows if it’s a person that came in from that channel and then it would trigger that. So you can get a lot of good visibility in terms of phone call conversions and then the other thing of course is just the contact forms and how you want to set those up, it’s pretty straightforward.

What you need is a thank you page, and a thank you page has a lot of other benefits as well, but the main thing is when someone submits … You’re not tracking a conversion when someone gets on your contact page, right? You’re putting the piece of conversion tracking onto the thank you page, so only until after someone submits a query, submits that form, do they hit that thank you page, and then that’s when the conversion’s triggered. Right? And then from that you can go into Google Analytics, which is why I like to use conversion tracking because I think it’s pretty straightforward, and you can attribute that back into seeing what the entry point is, what their behavior flow across your website was, what the touch points were, so you can get a bunch of data from there. So I think those are probably like the main conversions that you’d do on a track.

Also, Leigh, there’s one other thing that I love that you shared awhile back, and it’s just about kind of … You know, with any website, I think the big thing that we want to be focusing on is making it your number one sales and marketing tool. And not just your number one sales and marketing tool, but it’s almost like your number one sales e-person, who’s working for you every single day of the year, not taking any time off. And how do you do that versus just creating a really expensive brochure, which a lot of companies do, I think it’s taking into consideration a lot of stuff Leigh talked about in the beginning, where it’s asking your top sales people, because in many ways the website is just trying to emulate your top sales person. Except the website can actually do even more than that because you can have a lot of tracking, you can actually see a lot of user data and make adjustments and improve your conversion rate.

But with the questions that Leigh mentioned that you should be asking your sales team and having that on your website, that’s really beneficial in terms of just making your website into your number one sales e-person. But there’s also these other things, with let’s just say a high converting homepage, or a service page, there’s something about that … Leigh, I know you always bring up, which is the five universal objections. Can you just tell us a little bit more about that principal?

Leigh:

Yeah, for sure. Before we dive into that, I have just one thing that came to mind. An equation that Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media said in one of his blog posts that I thought was fantastic, and it was that, “Conversion is a function of friction plus perceived value.” So basically, you’ve got two variables to work with, right? The friction and then the perceived value. So if you want the quickest way to increase conversion is just reduce the friction that it takes to actually complete the opt-in. So for example, form fields, that’s a big one. Often times we’ll see clients who want to get as much information as possible up front in a form field to get the conversion. And we understand that, I get that, however those forms are … they act as greedy forms. You’re asking for too much up front.

Whereas the ideal is to have it be as simple as humanly possible for somebody to take action and then through the sales process you collect the qualifying information that you need. So the other side of that equation is perceived value, and that’s where you, in kind of direct sales lingo, it’s called future pacing. So you’re painting a picture, or even better, is letting your prospect paint the picture themselves, of what it’s like to actually own the product or use the service. So you’re future pacing them saying, “Imagine X, Y, Z.” Like painting the picture of what’s going to happen next. That’s increasing the perceived value, right?

So decrease friction, increase perceived value. Going back into the universal doubts, so those five are very simple. It’s the universal doubts that anybody has about anything before buying, is that I’ve got no time, I’ve got no interest, there’s no difference between this and anything else on the market, I don’t believe what you’re saying, and I don’t want to make a decision right now. So the way to counteract those is what we call the conversion optimization formula, which is four pieces, it’s problem, promise, proof, and proposal. And we’ll write this out maybe in the notes below, so you can reference this any time. And actually, what’s beautiful is that it’s a universal principle you can use for anything. Sales pages, home pages, social media, email, anything literally. If you go through those four things, so problem, and that ties into what we were talking about before, which is answering questions because questions are just problems, right?

So understanding what those problems are and addressing them, so often times using questions in your headline is a great way to tie people in to the full sales presentation, which is what the page is. So that counteract time and interest. I’ve got no time and I’ve got no interest. Well, you’ve got to get their attention by addressing an urgent problem that they actually have. Not just a problem that we’re making up, but a problem that they actually have, all time is going to disappear to them if … Imagine if somebody’s got an ax in their neck and somebody asked you a question, “Hey, do you have an ax in your neck?” Time doesn’t matter to them, they’re going to listen to everything that you have to say, right?

So you need to be very, very specific about their problem using the words that they actually use to describe their problem. The no perceived difference … Well, that comes into the promise section, so it’s problem, and promise. Do you have this problem? Okay. Well, here’s the promise. Here’s our solution. Here’s the actual product or service or whatever it is, and why it’s different. So you have to make a unique promise, and that’s the key for the promise. It’s not the same promise that all of your competitors are making, it’s a unique promise. Okay?

Sheldon:

Yeah, and one thing to add, I think a lot of times when I’m looking at some of the websites in the Life Sciences industry where sometimes people just lead on their home page, just with benefit, benefit, benefit, which is good, but the problem is that they don’t even know who … I mean, if I’m a new user on a website, I might not be aware that I have a problem. And I’ve seen that especially with a lot of innovative technologies, where people aren’t really aware that they have that problem yet, so even if you’re telling them benefits, it’s not going to be very impactful unless you can really identify actually what the problem people have so that intuitively someone reads it and right away, they understand it. Because once you’ve written out the exact problem I have, and then what I’m feeling, I’m going to be interested in the solution, and I’m going to understand …

You know, you see this is in other industries all the time. I remember when I was watching a lot of TV commercials, let’s just say if it’s in the fitness industry, which they always have so many great marketers in that industry because there’s just so much money involved. They’re always doing testing. They do it for a reason by showing you before photos of someone who is out of shape, so then you can see okay, that’s the problem. That’s the problem I have. I’m out of shape and that person looks like me. And then they show the after, which is their solution, right? And you’re like, “Oh, that could be me. I get it.” Do you know what I’m saying?

So I think that’s similar to even like a website where if you’re just talking about … you’re showing the after photos and the benefits, but you haven’t even connected the show me that I have a problem, yet, and I don’t buy that I have a problem.

Leigh:

Yeah, that’s a great point. That’s a great point. And that’s why fitness advertising will never have a shortage of ammo, because it’s literally just before and after pictures, which ties into the third section here, which is proof, right? And unquestionable proof too, so being really specific with the proof that you have, and before and after is the quickest … if you have a product that ties into that kind of a thing, just visually doing before and after pictures is like the quickest way to demonstrate the proof of what you have. So you’re addressing the problem, you’re making a promise, and then you’re proving that promise works with before and after statistics if possible, and there usually is some way to quantify a before and after result that you’re delivering. So just thinking through that. If not, then getting testimonials. Or doing both, that’s the best, but getting testimonials of what transformation took place in your customer’s lives?

So again, if you’re asking people, “What was your hesitation and then what was the result that you found?” You’re basically getting a before and after story by definition, by asking those two specific questions, so that’s a great way to tackle that section.

Sheldon:

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Yeah, and Leigh, I know sometimes a big problem that people have is as we’re designing a new website, or optimizing their home page or some other pages for conversions, they say, “Well, we don’t really have any testimonials,” or, “We don’t have any publications out yet to help illustrate that proof element.” And what I would say to that is the testimonials don’t necessarily have to be from your actual customers either, it can just be from someone internally. I know another company that we work with, they’re targeting a lot of bio pharma and big pharma companies with their products and with their service, and they couldn’t reveal any of those testimonials. I think they probably had some compliance and NDA type of regulations why they couldn’t do it, so instead, we’re like, “You have someone in house that has 20 years working in the pharma industry. She’s a field application scientist, so why not just use some sort of snippet or quote from her?” Because the truth of the matter is, yeah sure, she works out of the company but she also has 20 years of experience working in the pharma industry, she knows the problem people have, and she knows very well what the solution, all the benefits that it can offer.

So instead, we just used that and I think in many ways, it works just as well.

Leigh:

It does. And it moves you away from feeling like you’re reading a corporate website to a real human that’s been through what you’ve been through, that you can trust. Even just taking it to the first person level of somebody that is within the company, it’s still hugely impactful.

Sheldon:

Yup.

Leigh:

Cool. So then the last part of that conversion optimization formula, promise, proof, proposal, is the proposal. And that ties into what we talked about before, just making your proposal as user friendly as possible, meaning the least amount of effort on your prospect’s end to take action, and then being really clear. Just being really clear about what to expect next. If you say, “Contact us.” Say what to expect next. “You’ll hear back from somebody on our team with 24 hours.” Or live chat. “Live chat now to talk to somebody in real time.” Whatever it may be. You’re still building that perceived value by explaining what’s going to happen as a result of taking action.

That’s it. Having those four pieces on your page is going to help conversion. Answering unanswered questions is going to help conversion.

Sheldon:

Yeah, and also I’m just wondering, we work with a lot of companies, just working on their USP, and I know one thing just right off the bat that is having a really clear USP on your home page, above the folding and maybe like the heroes section, which is the main section of your home page, that shows up first. I’m wondering the importance of that, what purpose that serves because I always see when I’m looking at new websites, just people that haven’t done too much marketing. I look at their website, I’m trying to figure out what they do, and that’s a problem if I can’t figure out what they do in a few seconds. And I don’t even know who they’re targeting.

Leigh:

Yeah, absolutely. So two things on that. First we talked about the USP, so that’s the Unique Selling Proposition, and often times … That phrase has been around in marketing for a while now and it’s kind of been watered down to the point that it doesn’t really mean much anymore. So the point of a USP, what it really is not just what you do but it’s what you do differently than anybody else, so you have to differentiate yourself. And to be able to do that, you have to ask yourself the right questions, so it’s not just what does your product do, but it’s what does your product do that nobody else’s does? Right? It’s these three questions.

This is actually what … Perry Marshall explains the USP really well by breaking down these three questions. It’s what does your product do that nobody else does? Why should I buy from you instead of anybody else? So not just why should I buy from you, but why should I buy from you instead of anybody else? And having a really good, clear reason for that. And then third, what guarantee can you make that nobody else can make? If you know those answers to those three questions and they’re true and they’re honest, that is your USP, right? You boil that into a clear communication of what makes you different, not just what you are, but what makes you different.

And then the second part of that questions was okay, how do you communicate that clearly? Well, there’s a lot of ways to do that, but the way to tell if it’s working or not is to do what’s called a five second test. So what a five second test is, you open your home page for five seconds, close it, and then ask whoever who was looking at that, can you tell what this company does? It has to be that simple. If you can’t do it, you haven’t passed the five second rule. So the key is differentiating and being very, very clear upfront.

Sheldon:

Yeah, I’m trying to find actually, there’s this amazing resource that I always personally reference. I don’t know if you use it a lot, Leigh, but there’s a great guide that [inaudible 00:25:16] post … You guys can just also Google it, I would look up Copy Hackers, Copywriting formulas. They have this large article, it has thousands and thousands of shares. It’s kind of my go-to for finding formulas, because you really don’t need to write from scratch. I mean, there’s formulas that really take you 80% of the way, you just need to plug in certain things. So I’ll just give you an example actually, we’ll post a link also with the post that will go along with this episode, but if you go on their thing, they have formulas for writing value propositions, and some of these work really well on a home page.

And they give you a bunch of different options, every company is different so you should find the one that works for you, but for example one of them is four targets, the target audience, statement of the need or opportunity, and then your company is a product category that provides X statement of benefit. So that’s a little bit … over audio, I’m sure it’s a little confusing, but they lay it out visually so you can see it. An example would be, four content teams with aggressive publishing schedules and high standards, their story is the content creation software that helps teams build on each other’s ideas to produce incredible articles, blog posts, and e-books.

So I understand who it’s targeting, it’s the content teams, right? And they have aggressive publishing schedules and high standards. And then I know exactly what the company [inaudible 00:26:52] is doing, is they’re a content creation software for articles,blog posts and e-books. So there’s a lot of these different types of formulas. Other ones are like customer problems solution is a good one. What? How? Why? So some of these ones are good to take a look at as well.

Leigh:

Yeah, definitely. That’s a great point of never writing from scratch. Having formulas is key, having massive amounts of research is key, so even just asking those questions that we talked about before, but having that research to start with. Looking at quotes if there are forms, if there are Amazon reviews for, and sometimes there aren’t for Life Science industry, but if there are … You can look at other people’s research too, or other people’s comments and look what language people are using. Look what questions they’re asking. That’s most important. There’s ways.

Maybe we’ll do a different episode on actual tools, but there’s SEO tools that you can use to just filter by question, so you can look up the main key word that your service or product is related to. And it’s filtered by question, so you can literally see what questions people are asking. Then just go answer those questions and put them on your page. You don’t ever write from scratch.

Sheldon:

Cool. So we’re wrapping up on our time, but Leigh, is there any other last things that you want to just talk about? In general, just conversion optimization, or maybe any good books that you recommend people to read? Anything like that on conversion?

Leigh:

So Ryan Levesque has the book called Ask, the whole thing is exactly what we’re talking about, which is just ask. Ask your customers. I mean, his system gets into complex funnels, which works for certain industries, but I would check out that book just for the concept of asking what is the biggest challenge that you have? If you’re going out to your customers, what’s the biggest frustration? What’s your biggest hesitation? And listening to their answers, and using their language to describe what you do.

Sheldon:

Oh and Leigh, one more thing on that, something else I love is if you do have sales reps in the field, asking them what benefit, or what thing that they say that really gets the customers eyes to light up. Those are the little tidbits that you really want on your website.

Leigh:

Yeah, that’s true. I love asking sales people that question. What gets people to put down their phone in a sales presentation and their eyes light up? Because everybody can think of that, they all have … It helps really get to the meat of what you’re selling.

Sheldon:

Yeah, it probably helps you just realize something that’s maybe different about you or something unique, something they haven’t heard before. And those are the things that you really need to bring out if you want to have a really good, unique value proposition. And it will help you with a lot of other things, just how you position what you do on your services or your products, by knowing those things.

Leigh:

Absolutely.

Sheldon:

All right. So anyway, on our next episode, we’re going to talk a bit more about traffic, so keep in mind there’s four keys to effect marketing campaign. Today we talked about conversion, but arguably just as important is traffic, and traffic can be organic or it can be paid, so we’ll figure out what works best for paid. How to get ranking better than your competitors by actually using some great tools like SEMRush and other tools to be able to figure out exactly what keywords your competitors are bringing in traffic for, what kinds of content they’re targeting, what keywords they’re bidding on in Adwords or other channels as well, so that would be the main point of discussion next time.

Be sure to let us know if you have any other questions, by directly emailing us or leaving a comment if you found this on our website. My email is sheldon@supremeopti.com and Leigh’s is leigh@supremeopti.com, so any other topics that you guys have more questions on or want us to cover, we’d be more than happy to include those in our future podcasts.

Leigh:

Right on, yeah. Traffic’s going to be fun, that’s always a fun one to talk about.

Sheldon:

Yup. All right everyone, have a good day.

Leigh:

Bye guys.

Sheldon:

Bye.

Sheldon Zhai

Sheldon Zhai

Sheldon Zhai is the founder and CEO of Supreme Optimization. He's an expert digital marketing and technical web development specialist. Previously he was a molecular biologist and researcher at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. You can find Sheldon Zhai on LinkedIn.

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