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How can I achieve a high click-through rate with a successful banner placement?

How can I achieve a high click-through rate with a successful banner placement?

It’s unlikely that many people, even the very first to advertise, realized what the online advertising world would become in such a short period of time. Then again, most of us didn’t even know what emails were then, broadband wasn’t even a thing, and Mark Zuckerberg was still a little kid… kind of makes advertising show its wrinkles a little doesn’t it?

Website Banners For High Click-Through Rates
One marker of a successful website banner is a high click-through rate — and 5 easy guidelines will help achieve this.

Along with online advertising came website banners. If you used the internet regularly in the 1990s and early 2000s you might associate the web banner with bright, flashy and obnoxious designs that invaded your browsing experience.

To this day you can still view the first ever banner ad, which was released by Wired on their first website,, on October 27, 1994. While we tried our best to avoid them, web banner ads just wouldn’t go away, and it’s safe to say that they developed quite the negative reputation in the online world.

To this day, there are still organizations not doing website banners justice. Some people just never learn.

Let’s look at some display and banner ad statistics to see where ads went wrong, and what we can do going forward to bring them back in style.

When done poorly, 33 percent of people think that display ads are completely intolerable.

Even worse,64 percent of peoplesay that ads are annoying and intrusive.

Is Banner Blindness Real?

The short answer — very much so.

The reason behind this is very simple – internet users are getting better at just that – using the internet. When they land on any page, their eyes and brains are already wired to go to the most logical places where they can find the information they need.

We’ve learned to use selective attention so that we can accomplish our goal and tune out the noise – in this case, website banners.

According to research conducted by Marketing Experiments, moving a banner ad from the right to the left results in a 74 percent engagement rate increase.

Of course, you should always bear in mind that what works in general, might not work for your brand.

That is why testing banner placement is a key to helping you increase your CTR.


Are Web Banners Doomed?

People fail to realize that if done the right way, web banner ads are, in reality, a great way to spread a message to your desired audience. They are far from being obsolete, and you shouldn’t throw them out the window without careful consideration.

The revenue from banner ads is expected to grow 7 percent annually.

And it’s estimated that in 2019, this revenue will reach $25.

Over time, and thanks to increasing expertise in the world of online design, web banner ads went from the arch-enemy of the internet user to an engaging and impressive way for brands to reach users who might be interested to learn more.

Even though the banner display on desktop computers is on the decline, mobile banner use is increasing. So at the end of the day, companies easily earn $39 per internet user.

That’s huge considering this number used to be $29.

Banners are an acceptable medium for driving traffic and increasing click-through rates, which has quickly become a major marker for success.

So no, banners are still here to stay and they are only doomed if you don’t do them right.

The Purpose Of A Website Banner And How To Use Them

When you create a web banner you typically have an overall intention of driving traffic to your website via a link that you’ve attached to the banner. However, that’s not the only way that web banners can be used. We’ve split the roles that web banner ads can take into four helpful sections.

1. Increasing Website Traffic

As mentioned, this is the most obvious way that web banners are used — purely to get more targeted traffic to your website where users can browse through your content and learn about your product or service.

You need to focus on banner design if you want to capture the user’s attention and intrigue them to click on it.

2. Selling A Product Or Service

Banner ads can be used to encourage users to show interest in, or buy, certain products or services. This is where the context and placement of web banners come into play. If you’re selling a camping tent, you might want to place a banner ad on a camping holiday website next to their latest offers for the coming summer.

For a prime example of how effective web banner ads can be, you only need to check out Airbnb’s case study.

Using targeted banner ads, Airbnb was able to reach an international audience, target new customers and change prevailing assumptions about budget travel. The results were increased awareness and more than 80,000 new home listings on their site.

3. Grabbing A User’s Attention

With dwindling attention spans, and an increased exposure to ads (5,000 per day roughly), our poor little brains are put under immense strain and as a consequence, companies have to be very selective over what they place in their banner ads and why.

To grab a user’s attention you don’t just need to have a web banner that is contextual and placed effectively. It also has to be creative enough to trigger a user’s mind like 4,999 of the other ads they’ll see today don’t.

4. Announcing Discounts Or Sales

Web banner ads are a great way to promote special offers or limited discount codes for your products. Think about Black Friday. If you were a retailer or had recently launched your first product you could create a web banner promoting an x% discount if the user clicks on the banner.

CTAs like “claim his offer,” “get it now,” “shop now” and more will only work if the offer (and the discount percentage) is attractive enough to the website visitor.

Website Banners
Website banners come in all shapes, sizes and designs.  

5. Retargeting

Banner ads play an important role in retargeting. The buyer’s journey from recognizing a problem to the consideration phase where customers actively seek solutions is hectic, to say the least. Consumer attention spans are horrible, especially since we know that opinions are formed in less than a second.

Good CTR rates for banners are around 0.05 percent – 0.07 percent.

However, theaverage CTR for retargeted bannersis 0.7 percent which makes it 10 times larger!

And it’s known that retargeted visitors are more likely to achieve conversion on your website – a staggering 70 percent of them.

Measuring The Success Of Your Web Banner Ads Using Click-Through Rates (CTR)

The widely accepted way to measure how successful a web banner has been to assess the click-through rate (CTR) that it achieved.

The CTR is the number of times a user clicks on the web banner against the number of times it’s viewed.

For example, if your web banner was viewed 100 times and five users clicked on it you would have a CTR of 5 percent. That’s a pretty good CTR by the way!

Google Rich Media Gallery Tool CTR

Google actually states that the average CTR of all display ads across their network is 0.05 percent. That’s a pretty good starting point from which you can set your expectations when you’re measuring web banners. You can actually refine the criteria to pinpoint ads and placements that match your intended ads using this free tool from Google.

What Are The Benefits Of Measuring Click-Through Rate (CTR)?

CTR isn’t just helpful, it’s important. It can tell you a lot about the crucial aspects of your web banner. In order to have a successful banner that will serve its purpose, which we described above, you need to have a measurement process in place that will tell you when you need to change certain features and elements.

A CTR is perfect for that — and measuring it can help you uncover crucial things about your banner, like:

1Does your messaging resonate with your targeted audience?

This one is fairly simple. Having a well-placed banner for an audience of poor choice can break your entire banner strategy. You might be serving your ad to the wrong people and a low CTR can indicate this. Check your buyer personas and use analytics to uncover who your real customers.

With this information, you can design a banner that appeals to the right people. And if you don’t keep track, you’ll put yourself on the path to misplaced and off-topic ads.

2. Is the design aesthetically appealing, or are people irritated by it?

You might have to face the fact that your banner just isn’t appealing enough. The thing about banners is that designers have to walk a fine line between beautiful and noticeable. Just because a banner is aesthetically pleasing doesn’t mean it’ll get noticed. So you have to make sure you’re understanding your audience and the design as a whole.

3. Which placement worked best?

This is a trial and error process, as many things in marketing and design are. You can’t know what will 100 percent work for your brand until you test it. Sometimes even the smallest changes to your banner like the format, font, color, time of placement and more can affect the banner’s CTR and overall success.

4. Is it better to have a banner before a particular piece of content?

The right question is whether to put the banner above or below the fold and where. It all depends on your brand, products, sales copy and how the conversation is going so far between you and your consumers. 

Don’t confuse people and bombard them with off-topic information. And make sure the ad flows with everything else on the page.

5. Does having the banner above the fold actually make that much difference?

Like we’ve said, the right banner placement is all about testing. You won’t know the best spot until you find it.

6. Are people more likely to click on the web banner on some websites compared to others?

Yes, but again, this is where multiple factors come in. Banners have to be well designed, attractive and attention-grabbing, but they also have to stand out from the website’s background. The same banner can perform better on certain sites compared to others, depending on the topic, placement and even the website’s design.

But this is still up for testing. And the more you test, the better your banners will perform.

7.  Is the timing right?

There’s also a lot at stake when it comes to timing and banner placement. Some things can work all the time, and some can’t. For example, offering a restaurant coupon makes sense to do before lunch, but when people get back from stuffing their faces, the last thing they will notice on a full stomach is that banner.

You might be thinking, but how can I tell all of this from just a few web banners? Well, you can’t, that’s why you run a series of web banners testing messaging, graphics, design, placement, CTA’s and audience variables. You can read more about testing in the tips below.

How Much Do Website Banner Ads Cost?

If you’re unsure about the cost of web banner ads don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as you might think. You’ve put all that work into designing these beautiful banners now you need to put some financial investment behind them to make sure they target the right people and in a significant enough quantity.

In general, there are two forms of payment for advertising online. Firstly, you can pay everytime someone clicks on your ad, known as Cost-per-click (CPC) or Pay-per-click (PPC). For example, you’ll pay an agreed amount for every user who clicks on the web banner.

So, say you want to drive 100 users onto your website, you can agree to a set amount per click, say $5, and you’ll then know that once the campaign is complete you’ll have spent $500.

Secondly, you can opt for pay-per-impression (PPI), or cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM). This means that you’re leaving it to chance how my clicks you get through to your website, but if successful you’ll get more value for your investment if the ad performs well. For example, if you set a limit $500 for CPM, and your website is visited 150 times, then it’s in theory cheaper than the above CPC example.

Of course, it might be the case that you don’t get very many clicks per thousand visits, and your cost per click is actually higher through the CPM approach than it would have been via the initial CPC method. Again, like the web banner itself, it’s often the case that you’ll test out both to see which performs best and why.

10 Tips For Creating Website Banners With A High Click-Through-Rate

Regardless of what type of web banner you opt for, you need to make sure that you actually design something that encourages users to take time to view, acknowledge and ideally click on it. We’ve compiled our 10 top tips for how you can achieve a contextual, compelling web banner ad.

1. Get Your Banner Sizing Correct

It’s important to get your sizes right and understand what dimensions mean for how you’re going to design the graphics and copy. Check out Google AdSense for the full lowdown on sizing but for quick reference, the following are commonly used banner ad sizes:

  • 728×90px — Leaderboard
  • 300×600px — Half Page
  • 300×250px — Medium Rectangle
  • 336×280px — Large Rectangle

The website banner that Wired launched in 1994 took the form of an original leaderboard ad and that is what most people imagine when you say “website banner.”

In fact, every third ad is a leaderboard ad.

Here’s an example of a captivating leaderboard ad.

But leaderboard ads aren’t the only stellar ads driving conversions.

Medium rectangle banner ads, even though they’re not the most popular, are proven to have a higher CTR rate – 0.06 percent.

2. Placement Is Crucial!

Rather than guessing where your users are looking and placing ads sporadically throughout websites, you can use analytical data to take the guesswork out of your banner placement. Try using CrazyEgg or other user tracking software and you might be surprised at the trends you spot.

For example, although your banner might be “above the fold” that doesn’t necessarily mean people will click on it if their attention is drawn towards a different section of the page. THAT is where you’d preferably want your banner ad.

Look for unsuspecting areas to place your banner ads that don’t interrupt the UX but still manage to gain attention and drive higher engagement.

For example, a good test is to onto one or two of your favorite online news sites or publications. Here we can see an example of a banner ad from WordPress that’s placed just at the bottom of the featured news section on the homepage.

Entrepreneur Website Banner
This website banner placement is smooth andaesthetically pleasing without blending in too much.

3. Understand The Importance Of Hierarchy

For a web banner to make sense you have to structure your hierarchy appropriately. The design relies heavily on achieving a balance, and the three basic components of any banner ad:

  • Company Logo: Should be visually dominant to build brand awareness.
  • Value Proposition: Showcasing the product/offer and typically takes up the bulk of the ad.
  • CTA (Call-to-action): A clear, simple action that you’d like the user to take, placed at the end of the ad so it’s the next obvious step a user takes once they digest the visuals and copy.

Some great examples of web banners that make use of strong hierarchical structure are these from Adobe.

Adobe Website Banner
These website banners from Adobe utilize a smart hierarchical structure.

You’ll immediately notice that the layout of each advertisement allows you to quickly point out the company logo and brand, the value proposition (the offer/discount) and the CTA (in a different color to the rest of the copy).

Want more design and marketing tips? Sign up for the DesignRush Daily Dose!

4. Keep Your Web Banner Consistent

Your web banner is going to be linking to a page on your website so you want to start telling your “story” from the moment the user sees the web banner. With that in mind, it’s not wise to use completely different branding and design in your web banners from what you have on your website.

Why? Well, there’s a chance that your customer will land on your website with different design features and a different logo and think “I must be on the wrong website, this isn’t the same as the ad!”

When you see a web banner design that is consistent with the company’s branding it can be incredibly powerful and compelling. Take a look at Microsoft’s banner ads here.

Microsoft Website Banner
These Microsoft banner ads are consistent with company branding.

These do a great job of resonating with their audience based on the fact that the ads use a similar design to what the Microsoft’s operating system had at the time. Similar icons, font and colors add a familiar feeling to the ads. Not only does this make people recognize the ad, but it also reduces any potential friction between the ad and the website.

5. Make Sure Your CTA Is Simple, Clear And Effective

We’ve already mentioned the importance of a clear and simple CTA in your web banner, but we can’t help but reinforce that importance again. This is your chance to concisely tell the user what to do next.

Without this element in your ad, even if it’s the best design ever, it will be difficult for users to figure out what to do next. Even if they do click on the banner ad they may very well land on a page they weren’t expecting based on what your copy suggested on the banner.

However, here’s a great example of how to use a CTA to its optimal capacity.

Skype Website Banner
Skype’s website banner uses clear calls to action to grab attention.

Skype used their own brand colors to ensure that the CTA on their banner ads stood out above all else. What’s more, it’s a clear, simple instruction. Just watch the video. That’s all — no requests to buy now, or learn more, just a good old video.

6. Keep Your Fonts And Styles Appropriate

This also ties into point four in relation to keeping your web banners consistent with your brand, but it also takes into consideration the importance of using fonts that are appropriate based on the type of ad you’re running.

For example, let’s look at the font that Starbucks used here in this banner ad. The font alone literally does the talking.

Starbucks Website Banner
This Starbucks website banner uses a bold font that jumps out at you.

Normally you might associate energy with colors or vibrant graphics, but Starbucks has carefully selected a font that allows them to align the banner with their brand colors and still evoke a sense of urgency, energy and power.

7. Consider Animating Your Graphics

You should always try and use any skills you have at your disposal to your advantage. In relation to banners, this includes animated graphics. If used in sequence with effective copy and clean imagery, the result can be an eye-catching, powerful web banner that the user will at least take a glance at.

A really useful tip is to use the animation to direct the user on what to do next, e.g., ‘watch video now’.

Or you can even do what the 7 pm Project (now known as the Project) did and opt for a web banner that builds their brand awareness. Rather than asking a user to ‘click’ or ‘watch’ they simply let you play with the webpage using a colored pen.

Gamification works well on banners as well. For example, Volkswagen presented an amazing expandable banner that lets you build the road for their car in under 30 seconds.

VW Website Banner Ad
Adding interactivity to ads can increase engagement.


8. Instill A Sense Of Urgency — Act Now, Not Later

There’s no better way to encourage someone than to click on your banner ad right now than to suggest they won’t ever have a chance to do so at another time. By using a sale or a promotion, you can drive more traffic to your website, for example, by saying “limited time only”, or “24-hour sale.” What’s more, these short phrases don’t take up much space but are still effective.

Presenting users with a short window of opportunity is exactly what you see in Cyber Monday or Black Friday banner ads. For example, this banner ad uses the “once a year” phrase – you’ll only have one opportunity this year to cash in on whatever deals this might relate to.

Black Friday Website Banner
This bold website banner creates an immediate sense of urgency.

9. Weigh Up The Colors And How They Impact The User

Colors have more of an impact on your web banner than you might suspect. Color is nonverbal communication, but it can also improve (or damage!) reading and understanding. As a visual element the brain can perceive and understand color a lot faster than text, so it’s typically the first thing that people notice about your banner.

There’s no right or wrong answer for what colors to use, but rather, it’s helpful to think which colors suit the context you want to build and which colors ensure you create enough contrast so that the rest of the banner stands out.

In this example, DELL uses a bright, distinctive color to grab your attention and also to highlight the copy of the banner, while also separating it from the other visuals.

Dell Website Banner
Dell uses bright colors in this website banner to pull users in.

Plus, learn how to use color to your advantage with the help of this color psychology study!

10. Test, Test, Test Your Banner Ads

Last, but certainly not least, make sure you test your web banner ads to make sure they actually work.

1. Are the colors displaying correctly?

Make sure you test your banner ad on several monitors.

2. Can you see all of the copy?

This is one of the most common mistakes made. People sometimes use too much copy on a small banner or design it in such a manner that the final banner version doesn’t display the copy properly.

3. Is the font size right?

Play around with several font sizes and types. Choosing the right font can set the mood of the entire banner.

4. Are the visuals offensive/unappealing?

If the banner simply isn’t working, maybe the visuals are wrong. Or maybe they’re on topic but too boring to notice. Change up the visual and play around with imagery to see what works best.

5.Does the CTA make sense?

Maybe it would be better to use different words or phrasing if your CTAs aren’t getting any clicks. The difference between “buy now,” “learn more” and “claim offer” can all yield wildly different results.

6. Does the link to the website actually work? Does it track the user?

You can have the best web banner design in history but if the link is broken or it doesn’t display correctly you’re doomed. These elements make for a failed ad and no brand can afford that.

7. Are the headings bigger than normal copy?

Even banner copy has to follow the right hierarchy. Make sure to check whether the heading size corresponds to the heading and that it is, in fact, larger than the normal text.

How To Perform Split Tests For Website Banners

Basically, a split test is kind of like an A/B test. You test two banners keeping everything the same but changing one element. That one element is the crucial difference between the two banners so that you can monitor which one fares better.

Never make personal decisions based on a hunch – people will tell you through metrics what works best.

This is how Volvo does it.

Volvo Website Banner Testing
Volvo performs website banner testing often to find the perfect, best-performing ad.

As you can see here, Volvo performs a number of split tests in its banner ads. And it only makes subtle changes to ad copy and CTA buttons in order to see what resonates more with consumers.

What It Takes To Create A Stunning Website Banner With A High CTR

Web banners, even despite ad-blocking software, aren’t going anywhere so it’s important that you understand how your design will impact the performance of the banner. Put into practice at least a few of these tips that will help you create compelling, effective web banners:

  • Get your sizing right for your type of banner.
  • Placement is crucial!
  • Understand the importance of hierarchy.
  • Is your web banner consistent with your wider brand?
  • Make sure your CTA is simple, clear and effective.
  • Keep your fonts and styles appropriate.
  • Consider animating your graphics.
  • Instill a sense of urgency — act now, not later.
  • Weigh up the colors and how they impact the user.
  • Test, test, and test your banner ads.

Once you’ve tested out these tips, you’ll probably want to learn how to know if your web banner is successful. If your web banner is successful, you should notice a correlation through higher click-through rates. And these click-through rates should be able to help you better understand:

  • Your audience.
  • If your messaging is correct.
  • If this website banner design is visually appealing.
  • If the placement of the banner was effective.
  • If this was the right choice of website to advertise on.

Gaining these insights is vital for a successful banner. You don’t want to waste all that time creating it for your results to flop. So let’s get creating, and before you know it, you’ll have so much website traffic you won’t know what to do with it!

How do I find the best affiliate offers on the net?

How do I find the best affiliate offers on the net?

You probably started your blog with the goal of making some money somewhere down the line.

And when it comes to making money from your blog, affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to turn traffic into cash.

But affiliate marketing is only a viable strategy if you can find quality products that your visitors are interested in (and that you can feel proud to recommend).

To help, we’ve collected the 11 best affiliate platforms and networks. Collectively, they’ll give you access to tens of thousands of merchants and millions of products.

Whether you want to promote physical products or digital products, or big brands or small brands, you’ll find an affiliate platform on this list that can connect you to something that fits.

Let’s dive in, starting with one of the biggest affiliate platforms out there…

1. ShareASale


ShareASale is one of the most popular affiliate networks out there.

Whereas Amazon Associates is focused entirely on Amazon products, ShareASale houses affiliate programs for 4,500+ merchants, both big and small.

From one spot – the ShareASale dashboard – you can sign up to all these merchants, generate links, and view your statistics.

Note, you’ll need to individually apply to merchants and be approved by each merchant, which is a pretty standard approach for an affiliate network like this.

Overall, ShareASale is a great option for both digital and physical products.

For example, on the digital side, you’ll find plenty of WordPress theme and plugin shops, hosting providers, etc.

And on the physical side, you’ll find plenty of big and small merchants. For example, there’s Warby Parker (sunglasses), Sun Basket, Wayfair, Reebok, NFL Shop, plus thousands of other small and large businesses.

Basically – no matter what niche your website or blog is in, you can probably find some offers worth promoting.

What you need to know about ShareASale

  • Niche/product types: A little bit of everything, including both physical and digital products.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50

ShareASale pros and cons


  • Thousands of merchants for both physical and digital products, including lots of well-known merchants
  • Trustworthy – They’ve been around for many years and work with lots of big brands
  • Lots of exclusive merchants. Over 1,000 of the merchants at ShareASale only work with ShareASale
  • Has a bookmarklet that makes it easy to generate custom affiliate links


  • The dashboard design is a little clunky, though it’s gotten a lot better
Visit ShareASale

2. Awin (Formerly Affiliate Window)


Awin, a shorter rebrand of the original Affiliate Window, is another popular affiliate network that gives you access to over 13,000 different merchants.

Awin actually acquired ShareASale back in 2017, though the two are still run as separate entities and have different merchants.

With 13,000+ merchants, you’ll find a lot of options for both physical and digital products at Awin.

Some of the notable big names are:

  • Etsy
  • AliExpress
  • HP
  • XE (money transfer)
  • StubHub
  • Under Armour
  • Gymshark

You’ll also find lots of smaller merchants across a range of niches.

Awin was founded in Germany, so you’ll find a little bit more of a European tilt to the merchant list, though there are also plenty of US/global companies.

Like ShareASale and CJ, you’ll need to individually apply to merchants within the network. Then, you can generate your links and start tracking statistics.

What you need to know about Awin

  • Niche/product types: With over 13,000 merchants, you’ll find both physical and digital products for almost every niche.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $20

Awin pros and cons


  • Lots of merchants to choose from
  • Dedicated WordPress plugin to help you import products
  • Low minimum payout (only $20)


  • $5 sign up fee (it’s refunded if you’re approved, but you’ll lose it if you’re not approved)
Visit Awin

3. Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates

If you want to promote physical products on your website, Amazon Associates is a good option.

With Amazon Associates, you can earn a commission on pretty much anything sold at

What makes this program even more valuable is that you earn a commission on everything new that someone you refer purchases, even if it’s not the product you linked to.

For example, if you link to a $5 toothbrush but that person ends up buying a $500 TV, you still get the commission (as long as it’s within the cookie duration, of course. Also, the product can’t have already been in that person’s cart).

In the past, Amazon Associates paid you a commission rate based on how much revenue/sales you drove. However, since 2017, Amazon has moved to a flat-rate commission structure where you’re paid a flat percentage based on the category that each product is in:

Amazon Associates Affiliate Fee Rates

While some high-volume affiliates didn’t like the change, this shift makes Amazon Associates even more attractive for smaller sites as you no longer need to worry about hitting a certain amount of sales volume to earn a higher commission.

What you need to know about Amazon Associates

  • Niche/product types: Anything sold on Amazon’s website (including products from third-party vendors).
  • Average commission rate: Ranges from 1% to 10% depending on the category.
  • Cookie duration: Cookies last for 24 hours. However, if you have people directly add a product to their carts, you’ll get a 90-day cookie but only for the specific product that’s in their carts.
  • Minimum payout: $10 for Amazon gift card or direct deposit.

Amazon Associates pros and cons


  • Massive selection of products
  • Universal cookie, so you get credit for everything people buy within the cookie duration
  • Amazon is by far the biggest name in eCommerce
  • Very low payout threshold – only $10


  • The universal cookie only lasts for 24 hours
  • Some categories – like video games – have very low commissions (1%)
  • You need to register for each country individually
  • Amazon has been known to slash commissions every so often
Visit Amazon Associates

4. CJ Affiliate (Formerly Commission Junction)

CJ Affiliate

CJ – formerly known by the lengthier name of Commission Junction – is another affiliate network that brings together thousands of different merchants under one roof (a lot like ShareASale).

Along with ShareASale, CJ is one of the biggest affiliate networks out there, which means that you’ll be able to connect with thousands of both big and small merchants. Currently, the exact number is 2,696 different merchants.

Some of the big physical and digital companies using CJ are:

  • Lowes
  • Overstock
  • Office Depot
  • Priceline
  • GoPro
  • IHG (Hotels)
  • Grammarly

You’ll also find lots of smaller merchants, as well.

Like ShareASale, you’ll individually apply to these merchants from the CJ dashboard. Then, you’ll be able to generate links and view statistics.

I think CJ’s affiliate dashboard has a bit of a higher learning curve than ShareASale, but I prefer it to ShareASale once you figure out how everything works.

What you need to know about CJ

  • Niche/product types: Like ShareASale, CJ covers a range of niches and both physical and digital products.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50 for direct deposit or $100 for check.

CJ pros and cons


  • Huge range of big and small merchants to choose from
  • A nice back-end dashboard to help you manage your affiliate marketing efforts
  • Has a deep link generator bookmarklet that makes it really easy to generate links


  • The dashboard is a little complicated when you’re just getting started (though I like it overall).
Visit CJ Affiliate

5. Rakuten Marketing (Formerly LinkShare)

Rakuten Marketing

Rakuten Marketing (formerly known as LinkShare) is a popular affiliate network that includes a lot of big merchants. Notable merchants are:

  • Walmart
  • Best Buy
  • Macy’s
  • Papa Johns

They also have some smaller merchants, though their network isn’t as large as ShareASale, CJ, or Awin (it’s “only” around 1,000 merchants).

So if you want access to a huge variety of merchants, you might be better off with one of the other networks. But Rakuten is a good option for getting access to the big guns, and they also have some nice features like the ability to rotate ads without the need for an external solution (like a WordPress advertising management plugin).

What you need to know about Rakuten Marketing

  • Niche/product types: With 1,000+ merchants, you can probably still find offers in most niches.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50

Rakuten Marketing pros and cons


  • Gives you access to big-name merchants like Walmart and Best Buy
  • A trusted name (Rakuten is a billion dollar company)
  • Nice-to-have features like easy ad rotation


  • The back-end dashboard looks a little dated in my opinion
  • Not as big a selection as some other affiliate networks
Visit Rakuten Marketing

6. Avangate Affiliate Network


Avangate Affiliate Network is an affiliate network that’s focused on digital goods and software, rather than physical products.

For example, you’ll get access to popular software merchants like:

  • Bitdefender
  • Kaspersky
  • Hide My Ass (the VPN)
  • Awario

In total, Avangate Affiliate Network gives you access to 22,000+ pieces of software, so if your site promotes a lot of digital products, you’ll definitely want to join this one.

Note: Avangate acquired 2Checkout back in 2017, so you’ll see some confusion between the names. The original Avangate tool was merged into 2Checkout, while Avangate Affiliate Network is the affiliate platform that you’ll want to join.

What you need to know about Avangate Affiliate Network

  • Niche/product types: Avangate Affiliate Network focuses on digital goods and software products. You can browse the full merchant marketplace without needing to sign up.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with, but Avangate advertises up to an 85% commission rate and Avangate Affiliate Network’s digital products usually have a higher commission rate than the physical products you’ll find at other networks.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with. Avangate Affiliate Network lets merchants set their cookie length anywhere between 30 to 180 days, so you’re guaranteed at least 30 days at a minimum.
  • Minimum payout: $100

Avangate Affiliate Network pros and cons


  • You can opt to be paid via PayPal
  • Lots of unique software products to choose from
  • Most merchants offer pretty high commissions. It’s not uncommon to see 50%+ commissions


  • The $100 minimum payout is higher than most other affiliate networks
Visit Avangate Affiliate Network

7. ClickBank


Like Avangate Affiliate Network, ClickBank is another affiliate network that has a lot of digital products, though it also offers physical products as well.

Whereas platforms like ShareASale and Awin have a lot of big, nationally known merchants, ClickBank is definitely more on the “smaller” end of merchants.

For example, you’ll find a lot of merchants who are selling eBooks, online courses, or membership sites. These merchants might not have the name recognition of a national or international brand, but they can be great offers if they fit your niche.

There’s also a downside, though – some of the ClickBank products just aren’t very high-quality products. And while ClickBank has gotten better with its review process to filter out the bad merchants, you’ll still want to be careful about which merchants you choose to promote.

What you need to know about ClickBank

  • Niche/product types: ClickBank definitely leans towards digital products, but you’ll find some physical products as well (and ClickBank makes it easy to filter between the two).
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with, but usually pretty high. You’ll find both percentage and flat-rate commissions.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with, but usually ~60 days.
  • Minimum payout: $10

ClickBank pros and cons


  • Lots of smaller niche offers that you won’t find at other affiliate platforms
  • Pretty high commissions for most merchants
  • $10 minimum payout makes it easy to get paid
  • Offers weekly payments


  • ClickBank’s generous refund policy means you might lose commissions after the fact
  • You have to wade through some low-quality products
Visit ClickBank

8. FlexOffers


FlexOffers is a long-standing, popular affiliate platform that gets you access to 12,000+ different advertisers/merchants.

It has one of the better-looking dashboards, in my opinion, and FlexOffers adds 50+ new merchants per day, so you can always find new offers.

FlexOffers has lots of offers from both small brands and big brands, including well-known names like, Macy’s, Skechers, Lenovo, and more. You can browse a full directory of all the merchants before signing up if you want to see what’s available.

Like the other big affiliate platforms, FlexOffers has been around for years, so you can trust that they aren’t going anywhere.

Additionally, FlexOffers assigns every publisher a dedicated account manager, which is a nice touch. Your account manager can help you find the best offers to promote and otherwise work to improve your affiliate marketing.

What you need to know about FlexOffers

  • Niche/product types: With over 12,000 merchants, you can find physical and digital products across all niches.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50 within the USA or $100 outside the USA.

FlexOffers pros and cons


  • Huge selection – 12,000+ merchants to choose from
  • Nicely designed backend dashboard
  • You get a dedicated affiliate manager


  • If you’re outside the USA, the only payment option is PayPal (unless the payment exceeds $5,000 – then you can use a wire transfer)
Visit FlexOffers

9. Peerfly


Peerfly is a rapidly growing affiliate network that gets you access to 3,300+ merchants.

The selection isn’t as big as something like Awin or FlexOffers, but 3,000+ merchants means that you can still probably find something that fits your needs.

Peerfly has both smaller merchants – like Loot Crate – as well as big names like Target, Uber, Agoda, and more.

They also have a nice-looking backend dashboard that makes it easy to see your earnings.

What you need to know about Peerfly

  • Niche/product types: Peerfly offers a range of both physical and digital products.
  • Average commission rate: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Cookie duration: Depends on the specific merchant you sign up with.
  • Minimum payout: $50

Peerfly pros and cons


  • Well-designed dashboard
  • Has a good mix of big and small merchants
  • Weekly payments if you hit $5,000 earnings per week
  • “Cash Flow” feature lets you get faster payments (for a fee, though)


  • The application process takes ~3 days
Visit Peerfly

10. Walmart Affiliates


Walmart’s affiliate program is technically part of Rakuten Marketing, but I’m still giving it its own section because I think it makes a valuable contrast to Amazon Associates.

If you’re selling physical products, Amazon Associates is definitely the biggest name in the affiliate game. And yeah – there’s a reason for that. Amazon holds almost 50% of the US eCommerce market.

Compared to that, Walmart has just 3.7% of the online retail market (eBay, which you’ll see next, is actually in second place at 6.6%).

However, when Amazon Associates switched from its old commission structure to its new category-based approach, the Walmart affiliate program became a little more attractive because it offers higher commissions than Amazon in some categories.

For example, Walmart will give you a 4% commission on toys, while Amazon only gives 3%.

Additionally, Walmart’s tracking cookie lasts for three days, whereas Amazon’s only lasts for one day (24 hours).

In the end, this is something you really just need to test if you sell a lot of physical products.

If you’re already using Amazon, and Walmart offers higher commissions in your category, see if switching to the Walmart affiliate program moves the needle on your revenue (in either direction).

What you need to know about Walmart Affiliates

  • Niche/product types: Anything sold on Walmart’s website (which includes some third-party vendors)
  • Average commission rate: Ranges from 1% to 18%. Most categories are 4% or 1%.
  • Cookie duration: Cookies last for three days.

Walmart Affiliates pros and cons


  • Huge product selection
  • Higher commissions than Amazon in some categories
  • A well-known, trusted brand
  • Longer cookie than Amazon


  • $50 minimum payout, which is higher than Amazon
  • While the product selection is bigger than almost every other store, it still doesn’t come close to Amazon
Visit Walmart Affiliates

11. eBay Partner Network

ebay Partner Network

As the name suggests, eBay Partner Network is eBay’s own affiliate network. With it, you can earn a commission for promoting eBay listings.

Yes – anything that’s listed on eBay, which is obviously going to give you access to a huge selection.

The only downside is that many of eBay’s products are transient due to the auction approach (though you can also find plenty of permanent listings).

What you need to know about the eBay Partner Network

  • Niche/product types: Mostly physical products, though you can earn for anything on eBay so you’ll find digital products as well.
  • Average commission rate: The exact commission depends on the product category, but you’ll earn anywhere from 50%-70% of eBay’s revenue. Note: This is not the total purchase price of the product – you’re earning a percentage of eBay’s own commission.
  • Cookie duration: 24 hours, but you can still earn a commission even if the auction takes up to 10 days to end (as long as the person placed a bid within the first 24 hours).
  • Minimum payout: $10

eBay Partner Network pros and cons


  • Huge variety of products because you can promote anything on eBay
  • Can sell used products, which is unique
  • Low payout – just $10


  • The cookie only lasts for 24 hours

How can I successfully advertise my company / companies using entries in business directories?

How can I successfully advertise my company / companies using entries in business directories?

To survive, local businesses need to learn how to adapt to the modern way of marketing.

If you are seeing a plateau or decline in sales, it’s time for you to mix up your marketing strategy.

Even if your small business is profitable right now, you need to stay ahead of your competition to remain successful in the future.

Analyze the latest marketing trends. Recognize the consumer buying behavior. Learn how to get more money from your existing customers.

Unfortunately, only 33% of small businesses reach the 10-year mark. The rest fail.

I don’t want you to become the sad statistic. This was my inspiration for writing this guide.

If your company is new, you need to do everything possible to stay strong for years to come.

Want More Traffic?

Get help with improving your traffic, leads, and revenue.



Local businesses that have been around for decades may be ready for a marketing facelift. Your strategies that worked 20 years ago probably won’t be as successful in 2018 and beyond.

I narrowed down the top 15 marketing tactics for local business owners. Use this guide as a reference for your future marketing campaigns.

1. Set up your free listing with Google

How are new customers finding you?

If you’re old-school, you may be relying on word of mouth, radio promotions, print ads, and direct mailing. But last year, 97% of consumers searched the Internet for a local business.

Furthermore, positive online reviews make 73% of consumers trust local businesses.

That’s why you need to make sure your local business is listed on Google.


When people use the Internet to search for something, they start with Google.

Setting up your free Google listing makes it easy for consumers to find you when they search for terms related to your business.

Your listing will have all your information:

  • address
  • phone number
  • hours
  • directions
  • link to website

You’ll be able to add photos to give people a better understanding of the way you operate.

Customers will also be able to add photos. They’ll write reviews about your local business for other people to see, which will have a major impact on your successful.

You need to learn how to get your customers to recommend your brand to others.

Your star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to determine whether they’ll buy from your local business.

In fact, 94% of customers will use businesses with a 4-star rating.

2. Start blogging

As you’ve just seen, consumers use the Internet to find local businesses.

That means you need to understand the basic principles of SEO if you want to increase your chances of getting ranked as a top result.

Roughly 47% of clicks go to the top three positions of Google search results.

Blogging will help you tremendously with your SEO strategy. Just look at these numbers:


More website traffic, more followers, and more leads will ultimately translate to increased profits.

Publishing new blog posts means your website will be updated more frequently with fresh content, which will increase your chances of getting a higher search ranking.

Plus, your posts are a great place to add keywords prospective customers may be searching for when browsing online.

Once you’re able to establish a steady group of readers for your blog, they’ll visit your website on a regular basis. The more they visit your site, the greater the chances you’ll have of getting them to convert.

3. Join a local group

Local businesses need to remain active in their communities. Joining a local group is a great way to stay connected with residents and other business owners.

I suggest joining your local Chamber of Commerce. There will be a small annual fee, but it’s worth it.

Attending these meetings and events will expose your brand to other businesses.

Will your competitors be part of these groups? It’s possible. But that’s even more of a reason for you to be there.

Let’s say you own a local t-shirt company.

Another local business may be hosting an event in town and need custom shirts made. Rather than ordering the shirts online, they’ll be more inclined to use your services if you both belong to the same local group.

That’s the whole idea behind joining. The businesses look out for one another and always try to support local brands.

4. Give back to the community

Being part of a local community also means you need to give back.

If you’re charitable, don’t be shy about your involvement. Consumers want to hear about how your local business supports charitable causes.


Research shows 91% of customers say they are willing to switch brands if it means supporting one associated with a charitable cause.

And 85% of consumers will have a more positive image of your local business if you support a charity they care about.

You can even ask your community and customers which charities you should support. Studies show 39% of people want to help decide on the charities a business supports by a voting system.

It’s a safe bet to associate with local charities.

This will definitely help you and your business become closer to your community.

You can approach this in many ways.

For starters, you can make an annual contribution to a charity.

You can also run special promotions with a certain percentage of sales on a particular day or week goes to a cause.

Giving back to your community doesn’t always mean donating to a charity.

For example, let’s say you own a local restaurant. You can provide food for a public high school graduation event. These types of parties run by the school are intended to keep students safe and sober on the night of their graduation.

5. Run contests

Contests are a great way to get people excited about your local business.

The best way to run these contests is through online platforms. Leverage your social media profiles for this strategy.

Run contests that encourage user-generated content. For example, ask your followers to post pictures related to your business. Then pick a winner based on who gets the most likes on their photo.

The whole idea behind these contests is to grow your social media following.

If people see their friends and family posting about your local business on their social profiles, it will increase your exposure and increase the chances of them following you as well.

Now you’ll be able to post promotional content aimed at your new followers that converts them into customers.

6. Verify your information on Yelp

In addition to your Google listing, your local business will also have profiles set up on other platforms, whether you signed up or not.

For example, you may have a Yelp profile because customers rated and reviewed your business.

It’s important that you make sure all your information such as your store hours, phone number, address, and website is accurate on these platforms.

More than 90% of consumers make a purchase after viewing a business on Yelp.


If a customer tries to contact you and the phone number is wrong, or if they show up to your store thinking you’re open and you’re actually closed, it’s going to hurt you.

It’s in your best interest to claim your business on Yelp so that you can control the information in your listing.

7. Implement a customer loyalty program

If you’re looking for a fast way to increase sales, you need to learn how to create a customer loyalty program.

The best part about this marketing tactic is you can make more money without having to acquire new customers. Your focus will be on getting your existing customers to spend more money.

The goal of your loyalty program should focus on two things:

  • increasing purchase frequency
  • increasing average purchase amount

By accomplishing these two things, you’ll be able to drive growth through sales.

More than 82% of consumers are more likely to shop at stores with customer loyalty programs.

Your loyalty program could be something as simple as a punch card. On the 10th visit, the customer gets a free reward or something like that.

Or you can set up a system that’s a little bit more in-depth. Reward your highest spending customers by implementing a loyalty program based on different spending tiers.

The best way to track this type of program is with a customer profile or mobile app, but we’ll discuss that in greater detail shortly.

8. Offer discounts

Consumers are price-sensitive.

As a local business, you need to recognize this and adjust your pricing accordingly.

Some of you may be hesitant to offer discounts because you feel like it lowers the value of your brand. Plus, your current prices may not yield profits if you offer discounts.

If that’s the case, you should consider raising your base prices. Then offer discounts on those new prices.

Psychologically, this is more appealing to your customers. They want to feel they’re getting a deal.

If your local business has an ecommerce store, an active discount code will increase your chances of getting more sales.

discount code

Whether you’re selling online, in-store, or both, it’s important your business offers coupons and discounts to your customers.

9. Increase your social media presence

We briefly discussed social media earlier when we talked about running contests to promote your local business.

You need to establish an active presence on as many social media platforms as possible.

Sure, you might be on Facebook. But that’s not enough. Last year, more than half of small businesses increased their social media investment for platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

social media

If you have a local B2B company, you also need to prioritize networks such as LinkedIn.

Just 43% of small businesses share content and engage with their followers on a daily basis. That number should be much higher.

I know what you’re thinking. Running a small business is tough.

You’re already putting in long days, and you just don’t have enough time to focus on your social media strategy.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Check out my favorite time-saving social media marketing tools to help you automate the process.

10. Partner with a local influencer

To take your social media marketing strategy to the next level, you should consider working with local influencers.

These are people in the community who have a large social following.

You can pay them to promote your local business on their distribution channels to increase your reach.

The best part about this strategy is it’s relatively inexpensive. Each post will likely only cost you a couple hundred bucks at most, and you can even pay them less if you offer them some free stuff as well.

Influencers have extremely high engagement rates with their followers, and their audiences trust their recommendations.

11. Set up a customer referral program

Implementing a customer referral program is one of my favorite ways to acquire new customers without doing any work.

The idea behind this strategy is to get your current customers to do all the heavy lifting.

It’s a strategy that focuses on both customer retention and customer acquisition, which are the top two most significant retail drivers.

retail drivers

For your referral program to be successful, you need to offer an incentive to both parties.

Reward your existing customers for each referral. This gives them the motivation to get out there and refer your local business to as many people as possible.

As for the new customer, they’ll need some type of incentive as well to get them in the door.

If they’re satisfied with their purchase, they’ll start referring new customers as well.

This can turn into a highly profitable cycle for your business. That’s because 86% of consumers say their close friends influence their decisions to make a purchase.

Simply put, referrals work.

12. Add subscribers to your email list

Don’t underestimate email marketing.

While it may not be the newest or sexiest marketing tactic, it’s one of the most effective strategies out there.

According to research, 81% of small business owners say email marketing drives customer acquisition. And 80% of them say they were successful in using email marketing to retain customers.

This strategy is extremely profitable. For every $1 spent on email marketing, your local business can expect to see a $44 return.

In fact, 77% of your email ROI will come from campaigns that are targeted, segmented, and triggered.

But your email strategy won’t be effective if you don’t have subscribers.

Focus your efforts on getting more customers to join your list, and the rest will take care of itself if you stay on top of your campaigns.

13. Launch a mobile app

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or what industry you’re in, I can promise you your customers are using mobile devices.

If you have the funds available, you need to consider launching a mobile app for your local business.

That’s because the majority of mobile time is spent using apps.


Studies indicate 63% of consumers prefer an app compared to a mobile site because it’s more convenient.

And 57% of users like apps because they are faster than mobile sites.

You may not think an app is necessary for your local business right now, but it will be in the future. Even if you’re not ready to start this process today, you need to plan to do it soon.

Once your app launches, it will help you personalize the customer experience.

You can use your app to facilitate your customer loyalty programs and customer referral programs, which I talked about earlier.

If you already have a live app or you’re in the process of building one, refer to my guide on how to improve the profitability of your small business mobile app.

14. Set up Google Alerts

Google Alerts will help you monitor what’s being said about your business online.

Reports will be emailed to you anytime your local business or other keywords are published on the Internet.

This will help you stay on top of the latest news, whether it’s positive or negative.

For example, let’s say some blogger writes an unfavorable post about your brand online.

You’ll be able to see it and act accordingly right away as opposed to finding out about the post weeks later.

Or, on the flip side, if a local news publication writes a positive article about your business, you can share that content on your website and your social media channels.

15. Improve your customer service

Your local business needs to provide excellent customer service:

customer service

How does good customer service help your business?

Well, as I previously discussed, prospective customers will use a number of different tools and platforms to research your business.

They’ll read reviews online, check social media, and take advice from their friends and family.

If you’re able to provide high-quality customer service, it will be evident in the way you’re perceived online. As a result, your current customers will keep coming back, and you’ll get new customers walking through your doors as well.


As a local business, you can’t afford to fall behind your competition.

Take a look at your current marketing campaigns, and ask yourself whether they’re generating the results you’re looking for.

It might be time to switch up your marketing strategy.

If you’re looking for new ways to promote your local business, use this guide as a reference.

I’m not expecting you to implement all these strategies overnight. But go through the list, and prioritize some of these tactics based on the needs of your business.

How to successfully place Google AdSense ads

How to successfully place Google AdSense ads

Best practices for ad placement

It’s important to consider the user experience and the AdSense Program policies when placing ads on your site. Here are some tips.

Consider your users

Organize your site’s content and make your site easy to navigate. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering where to position your ads:

  • What is the user trying to accomplish by visiting my site?
  • What do they do when viewing a particular page?
  • Where is their attention likely to be focused?
  • How can I integrate ads into this area without getting in the users’ way?
  • How can I keep the page looking clean, uncluttered and inviting?

Think like a user, and you may see your page (and your ad placement) in a whole new way. If users can easily find what they’re looking for, they’ll come back to your site.

Let Google place ads for you

One option is to enable Auto ads for your site. Auto ads automatically place and optimize ads for you so you don’t have to spend time doing it yourself. Learn more about Auto ads.

If you’re placing your own ads

Show off your content

Place your ads near the content your users are interested in, and make sure your users can easily find what they’re looking for. For example, if your site offers downloads, make sure the download links are above the fold and easy to find.

For more tips about how to balance content and ads, see our Inside AdSense blog post: Content is king.

Keep your ads looking like ads

Avoid aligning images with your ads or making nearby content mimic their formatting. Displaying ads in these ways isn’t permitted by our Program policies.

Call them what they are

Take care to avoid labels and headings that may mislead users. Ad units may only be labeled as “Advertisements” or “Sponsored links.” Also, avoid placing ads in locations where they might be confused with menu, navigation, or download links.

Optimize your ad sizes

Google can automatically optimize the size of your ads on mobile. Ad unit sizes are chosen for the best performance on your eligible mobile traffic without the need to modify the ad code on your pages. Learn more about the “Ad sizes” optimization setting.

Less can be more

Provided you don’t place more ads than content on your pages, you can put a combination of ad units, link units and/or search boxes on each page of your site. See our valuable inventory policy for more information. However, keep in mind that placing lots of ads on your page may make it look cluttered. If users can’t find what they’re looking for, they may go elsewhere.

Review your site

Explore your site and consider how first-time users might experience it. If you’re using a template builder, check that ads are appearing correctly, including their “Ads by Google” or “AdChoices” label.

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Is my content easy to find?
  • Is it easy to distinguish between my content and my ads?

If the answer is yes to both, then you’re on the right track.

You can watch this video to understand the Better Ads Standards and our Partnership with Industry Associations.

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Most websites continue to struggle with increasing their online conversion rates.

On average, an e-commerce store converts around 3% of its traffic into customers. The remaining 97% of the visitors leave the website without ever placing an order.

Other types of websites struggle with conversion as well. On average, a lead generation or subscription websites convert around 15% of its traffic into customers. The remaining 85% leave the website without ever placing an order.

If you are looking to increase your website conversion rate, you will have to conduct AB and multivariate testing. The problem is that most testing programs start without any planning and thus fail with the first 6 months.

We know this first hand because we have been helping online companies conduct testing for over 12 years. Our goal from this guide to help you with a good introduction to multivariate and AB testing. We will continue updating the different chapters in the book on regular basis, so if you have comments or feedback, please let’s know (@invesp).

What Is A/B Testing (Split Testing)?

If visitors are not converting on your website, then obviously, there is something wrong that is stopping them. That is where AB testing comes in handy. AB testing (sometimes referred to as split testing) is the process of testing multiple variations or designs of webpage against the original page with the goal of determining which page generates more conversions.

What Is Multivariate Testing?

Multivariate Testing or MVT testing is the process of testing multiple variations of multiple ele-ments on a webpage with the goal of determining the best combination of elements to increase conversions.

Comparing Multivariate & AB Testing Tools

It is time now to select an AB or multivariate testing platform to start running your tests. There are over thirty different tools available in the marketplace for you to choose from. So, you might ask:

What is the right split testing tool for my website? Will I affect the success of my conversion optimization program by choosing one particular tool?

The market is full of testing tools that range from simple free tools to sophisticated enterprise split testing software. This article will walk you through the pros and cons of different split testing tools available.


How to Use Google Analytics to Increase Conversions

How to Use Google Analytics to Increase Conversions

Thanks to Google Analytics and amazing data evangelists for popularizing analytics and the use of data in digital marketing!

I recall a conversation I had 12 years ago with Kurt Peters, the editor in chief of the Internet Retailing Magazine, explaining to him how many of the large retailers we were working with back then either did not have analytics installed on their websites and if they did, they did not have a team to analyze the data.

Fast forward to 2017, things have changed quite a bit.

Most companies we talk to nowadays have a dedicated team (or person) looking at analytics.

But now we are facing a new challenge.

We have many analysts who are dedicated to collect and generate data from analytics programs. However, few companies know how to use analytics to derive meaningful business insights and decisions. Sadly enough, the role of an average analyst seems to be limited to simple weekly or monthly reporting.

Sorry, I will be brutally honest in the next couple of paragraphs at the risk of offending some people.

I hear too many consultants say that analytics data tells you about what is going on your website, but it doesn’t tell you why it is happening.

Consultants who make such statements are most likely new to the field of data management and data optimization. This problem is compounded due to very little formal college education to help new graduates and those seeking a career in analytics.

Analytics not only tells you what is problems you have on your website; it will also tell you what changes you need to make to fix these problems.

You just have to examine and analyze the data carefully.

Many analytics consultants are able to examine data and identify a particular problem in visitor behavior. They do not do a good job explaining why a particular problem is happening, the impact of that problem on the website, and the potential revenue gain by fixing that problem.

An expert analytics or conversions optimization consultant should be able to:

  1. Collect the data
  2. Generate the required custom reports
  3. Use data to explain why a certain behavior is taking place (why things are happening in a certain way)
  4. Use data to explain why a certain behavior is taking place (why things are happening in a certain way)
  5. Recommend changes to the website to deal with a particular visitor behavior
  6. Explain the financial impact of any suggestion he makes

In the following chapters, we will focus on how Google Analytics can contribute to your CRO process. We focus mainly on Google Analytics since 90% of the companies we talk to regularly use it as their main analytics tool.

How To Set Up Conversion Rate Goals In Google Analytics

Standard content reports generated by Google analytics describe metrics/performance of a single page. These reports are useful at an introductory and general level. You will have to create many custom reports, goals, and funnels to be able to track visitors’ behavior around your website.

Conversion Rate Goals help you measure the visitor flow from one page of your website to the next.

You can measure the percentage of website visitors that navigate from your homepage to services pages for a SaaS company. For an e-commerce website, you can track visitors moving from category pages to product pages and so on.

Creating goals in Google Analytics

To create your first GA goal, login to your Google account.

Click on the “Admin” in the left navigation which will take you to the administration panel for your Google Analytics account.

On the admin panel of your Google Analytics account, click on “Goals” in the View column.

The goals page lists all the different goals you already have set up for your account.

If it happens that you do not have the “New Goal” button on the Goals page, you do not have the required permission. To see the “New Goal” button you should have “Edit” permission at the account level.

If you have the right privileges, then you will see the “New Goal” button.

Google analytics offers three different top-level goal categories:

  • Template-based goal
  • Smart goal
  • Custom goals

These different top-level categorizations of goals boils down into 5 different goals types which Google analytics supports:

  • Destination: These GA goals are measured by website users visiting a web page. Examples of destination goals could be order confirmation or a “thank you” page from a contact form.
  • Duration: These Google Analytics goals are measured by the visitor spending more than a certain time. For example, you might be interested in tracking visitors that spend more than 30 seconds on your website.
  • Pages/Screens per session: These GA goals are measured for visits that have more than a certain number of pages per session. For example, you might be interested in tracking visitors that visit more than 3 pages of your website in a session.
  • Event: These goals measure different events tracked in Google analytics based on the event category, action, label, or value.
  • Smart Goals: these goals use machine learning to analyze different signals about your website visits to determine which of those are most likely to result in a conversion. Smart goals are popular for AdWords conversions. While there might be some benefit of using smart goals, they are a lazy way out. Do not expect Google to do the heavy lifting on your behalf!

Shortcomings of GA goals

There are a few shortcomings of Google analytics goals that you should be aware of:

  • If you create it, you cannot delete it: As you create different goals in Google Analytics, you will eventually find out that if you create a goal, there is no way to delete it. Your options will be to either:
    • Remove/delete its different steps and rename the goal to something so that you signal to yourself and other team members that the goal is not a valid one.
    • Change the name and the steps with another goal (make sure to annotate your GA account when you made the switch), let it live, and remember that you are not paying for GA.
  • Initial data collection takes 24 hours: After setting up the goals, it takes up to 24 hours for initial data collection and for the goals to be populated. This becomes an issue for many beginners because many set up the goals and wait for 24 hours to discover that they had a mistake in a particular step. That is the reason you should pay close attention to every URL you are including in the goal setup.
  • They are not real-time: goal data is not real-life data which is typical to other data forms from Google.
  • No segmentation: We love segmentation and GA did an amazing job adding both standard and custom segments. The only problem is that there is no way to apply these segments on top of GA goals. This is a huge drawback. There is no workaround to this except creating different Google analytics views to represent the segments you want to track and re-create the goals in them. This seems like a lot of work and data duplication but as of now, this is the only way open available.

After you set up the initial goals in GA, there are two ways to view them:

  • Funnel visualization report
  • Goal flow report

Funnel visualization report in Google analytics

Many marketers like to use funnel visualization reports since it provides with a nice visualization of the visitor flow through the website funnels.

There are a couple of other points that are important to understand if you start using the funnel visualization report.

1. Google Goal Backfilling

According to Google Analytics support:

The Funnel Visualization report backfills any skipped steps between the step at which the user entered the funnel and the step at which the user exited the funnel.

Thus, this makes the report not quite accurate.

2. Order of Funnel Steps

There is another peculiarity of this report that you should be definitely aware of.

The actual order in which the steps were viewed isn’t represented in the Funnel Visualization report. Analytics scans through each session, checks if a certain step is viewed, and then increments that step by 1 in the Funnel Visualization report.”

The support document gives the following example:

“For example, let’s say your funnel is defined as /step1 > /step2 > /step3.html > goal.html. A user then had this session: /xyz > /step3 > /step2 > /abc. The Funnel Visualization report would show an entrance from /xyz to /step2, a continuation to /step3, and an exit from /step3 to /abc.”according to Google Analytics support.

3. Required step

When setting up goals, Google allows you to select a checkbox, if the first step is required or not.

It is important to understand that “the required first step applies only to the Funnel Visualization report. When you check that the first step as required, the Funnel Visualization report only includes goal conversions that pass through that required step.

While the funnel visualization report is excellent in theory, the backfill and the order of funnel steps features make this report inaccurate and not very reliable in most cases.

What is the best way to deal with google analytics backfill and order of steps issues in funnel visualization report?

There are two ways to deal with this issue:

Use the goal flow report

If you create goals in Google Analytics then use the goal flow report since it avoids both of these issues.

According to Google support:

“The Goal Flow report does not backfill steps. You will see flows from the originating dimension to the first step in the funnel that the user saw. You may see flows that skip a step altogether.”

The goal flow report also maintains the same order in which visitors went through going through the funnel.

As an added HUGE bonus, the goal flow report allows for advanced segmentation and allows you to compare data from different dates.

Setup “two steps” goals in GA

These types of goals will have two steps: the starting point and the endpoint. So, there are no steps in between (no middle pages). This might be limiting but it does avoid the issues of backfilling and visitor order mentioned above.

For further reading on the difference between the Funnel Visualization and Goal Flow reports, we highly recommend reviewing the Google Analytics help page here.

Google Analytics Goals as We Like Them for Ecommerce Websites

Humans are not linear when they navigate around a website. We jump from one page to the next. We go back and forth.

While there is good value from single-page reports, increasing a website conversion rate requires us to set up and analyze many goals around the website.

In order for the visitor to convert on your website, he will go through many steps. It is critical to set up different goals to track visitor navigation through these mini funnels.

Here are some of the funnels we usually set up for e-commerce websites:

  1. Homepage to Category pages: this is a goal that tracks the navigation from your homepage to the different category pages on the website.
  2. Category pages flow-through rate (to product page): this is a goal that tracks the navigation from the different category pages to the product pages on the website.
  3. Search to product: this is a goal that tracks the navigation from the search results pages to the product pages.
  4. Search to conversions: this is a goal that tracks the navigation from the search results pages to the conversion pages.
  5. Pre-product page abandonment rate: This goal tracks the number of website visitors that land on your website but never makes it to your product pages. If you have enhanced ecommerce implemented on your website, you can see this metric reported without having to set up a goal.
  6. Product to category page flow back: this is a goal from product pages back to category pages.
  7. Product page effectiveness rate: this is a goal that tracks clicks on the add to cart button from product pages.
  8. Product page to cart page flow rate: if your ecommerce implementation does not take visitors to the cart page after the visitor clicks on the add to cart page, then this goal tracks the visitors’ movement from product pages to the cart page.
  9. Cart to order confirmation: this is the goal starting with the cart page to order confirmation. This goal will allow calculating your cart abandonment rate.
  10. Checkout completion: this is the goal starting with the first step of the check to order confirmation. This goal will allow calculating your checkout abandonment rate.

Please note that these are the 10 minimum goals that you should track on your e-commerce website.

Google Analytics Goals for SaaS and Lead Generation Websites

Most SaaS and lead generation websites are less complex compared to ecommerce websites. And while you deal with different classes of pages when it comes to ecommerce websites, this mostly not the case with SaaS and lead-gen websites.

Google Analytics goals you should create for a SaaS or lead generation website:

  1. Lead magnets: if you have a blog and offer some freebies to download, set up goals for people who download them using either event or “thank you” page.
  2. Email subscription: set up goals for email subscription pages. Later in the goal report, you will be able to check which page brings more email subscriptions.
  3. Trial requests: a simple goal that will track how many people clicked the “Trial” button, if you have one.
  4. Inquiry submission: if you have any inquiry forms (contact forms), set up goals for them as well.
  5. Sign up: last but not the least, don’t forget to set up a goal for the signup button (as even) or “thank you” page.

Data Segmentation Mantra

Analytics data without segmentation is useless. At a minimum, you need to be looking at two main segments based on the device type: desktop (and tablet) vs. mobile visitors.

If your site gets enough traffic, then you should expand into the following 4 segments:

  1. Mobile new visitors
  2. Mobile returning visitors
  3. Desktop new visitors
  4. Desktop returning visitors

Further, as you dig deep into analyzing data, you should analyze the behavior of visitors for each segment based on the traffic source and medium.

How do you create segments in Google analytics?

Out of the box, Google Analytics provides a list of segments that you can use right away. We like to add a few more segments for data analysis. To create new custom segments, follow these steps:

1. To create custom segments, navigate to the admin side of your Google Analytics account.

2. Click on segments under the view

If you have “Edit” permission for your GA account, you will see the “New Segment” button:

This will take to the screen which you can use to create new segments.

Here are some of the segments that you should definitely create:

Desktop visitors segment

For some reason, GA decided to combine desktop visitors with tablet visitors. We like to see the behavior of desktop visitors separately. To create a segment for desktop visitors, you will need to do the following:

1. Click on technology sidebar

2. Under the device category, select “Contains” from the dropdown and desktop in the text box

3. Select “No” for Mobile (including tablet)

4. Click on save

Potential purchasers segment (ecommerce)

This is a segment for the visitors how who click on the add to cart button but never place an order. Setup for this segment will depend on your e-commerce implementation.

To set up this segment:

1. Click on “Conditions” under “Advanced” in the sidebar

2. Create a filter for visitors who visit product pages:

3. Select a filter for “Users” from the dropdown

  • Select “Include” from the dropdown to include visitors in this segment.
  • Select “Page” from the first dropdown
  • If you have reg-ex for your product pages, then select “Matches Regex”
  • include the regular expression for your product pages.

4. Click on “AND” to Add another filter for visitors who click on the add to cart button:

  • Select a filter for “Users” from the dropdown
  • Select “Include” from the dropdown to include visitors in this segment.
  • If you are triggering an event when a visitor clicks on add to cart button, then select “Event Action” from the dropdown
  • Select “Matches Regex”
  • Include the regular expression for the add to cart event

5. Click on “AND” to Add another filter for visitors who did not complete the purchase:

  • Select a filter for “Users” from the dropdown
  • Select “Exclude” from the drop to exclude visitors who placed an order.
  • Select “Page” from the first dropdown
  • If you have reg-ex for your order confirmation page, then select “Matches Regex”
  • Input the regular expression for your product pages. If you only have a single order confirmation page with a unique URL, you can select “Exactly Matches” and include the URL of the confirmation page.
6. Click on “Save”

Potential Subscribers Segments (SaaS)

To set up this segment:

1. Click on “Conditions” under advanced in the sidebar.

2. Create a filter for visitors who visit product pages:

  • Select a filter for “Users” from the dropdown.
  • Select “Include” from the dropdown to include visitors in this segment.
  • Select “Page” from the first dropdown.
  • If you only have one URL to your pricing page, then select “Exactly Matches” from the dropdown (If you have reg-ex for your pricing page, then select “Matches Regex”)
  • Add the URL of your pricing page


3. Click on “AND” to add another filter for visitors who click on the “select the plan” button:
  • Select a filter for “Users” from the dropdown.
  • Select “Include” from the dropdown to include visitors in this segment.
  • If you are triggering an event when a visitor clicks on the “select the plan” button, then select “Event Action” from the dropdown.
  • Select “Matches Regex”.
  • Include the regular expression for the “Subscribe” event.

4. Click on “AND” to add another filter for visitors who did not subscribe:

  • Select a filter for “Users” from the dropdown.
  • Select “Exclude” from the dropdown to exclude visitors who subscribed.
  • Select “Page” from the first dropdown.
  • If you only have a single order confirmation page with a unique URL, you can select “Exactly Matches” and include the URL of the confirmation page.
5. Click on “Save”.

Data Sampling in Google Analytics

To decrease loading latency, Google Analytics employs data sampling when the number of sessions exceeds 500k in the selected date range (GA basic plan).

Ad-hoc queries of your data are subject to the following general thresholds for sampling:

Analytics Standard: 500k sessions at the property level for the date range you are using
Analytics 360: 100M sessions at the view level for the date range you are using

Note that default reports are not subject to sampling. Only custom (ad-hoc) reports are, and this is indicated at the top of the page in Google Analytics.

So, what does this mean from a conversion perspective?

Data sampling is a valid statistical method, but it increases the range of error in your data. Meaning when you look at sampled data, always keep in mind that the level of accuracy is not at 100%, and actual numbers may vary slightly.

One simple way around this is to change the date range to a smaller period of time. This will reduce the number of sessions to the extent that Google Analytics would not sample the data.


Don’t Forget to Send Your AB Testing Data to Google Analytics

Always send your AB testing data to Google Analytics. Even if the software you are using reports data, another tool can’t do harm.

Now keep in mind the data itself may vary from one tool to another (either because of sampling or the method for collecting the data), but Google Analytics gives you more insights than other tools, since it is probably already integrated on your website across all the URLs and events.

This helps you most when you want to start segmenting visitors for each test variation. This can give you endless insights on which variation worked best for:

  • New vs. returning
  • Source type
  • Logged vs. not
  • Technology
  • Geographical regions
  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Content viewed*
  • Action taken

For example, sending your data to Google Analytics enables you to measure which variation did better for visitors who viewed a certain set of content on your website (a blog post or an FAQ page). And the same concept goes for the other segments you can apply.

So, for each test you run, always keep 3 questions in mind:

  1. Does a particular variation perform better for a specific segment? If yes, then:
  2. Did we capture enough data to make the assertion? Because having a high level of confidence in the results is mandatory for making a decision
  3. Does the ROI justify the cost of personalization? And this can be learned by measure the average order value (AOV) for each winning variation/segment

Why I Hate Bounce Rates?

It is difficult to listen to or watch a presentation about analytics/SEO/CRO without hearing the speaker mention pages with high bounce rates are pages optimal for conversion optimization.

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that land on your website and leave without ever visiting a second page.

The bounce rate measures the ability of a single page of your website to persuade visitors to stay on the website. In that sense, bounce rates can be very powerful. However, in our search for “easy” ways to optimize a website, bounce rates were misused in situations where they are not a good fit.

Analytics measures users’ behavior on a website. Thus, using data from analytics without thinking of visitor intent will result in bad conclusions.

When to use bounce rates?

The bounce rate is an excellent metric if you would like to measure the effectiveness of a landing page you created for a campaign. It tells you if that landing page is providing the appropriate amount of information for visitors to stay on the website.

Bounce rates can also be a good indicator if you have an e-commerce website. But in this case, you want to look at three different types of bounce rates:

  • The bounce rate for your top landing pages
  • Bounce rate all across your category pages
  • Bounce rate all across your product pages

When should you ignore your bounce rate?

If you are running a content website, then bounce rates might mean very little for you.

Remember, we are trying to understand visitors’ intent. Most people see a link in social media, an email, or in blog, then click on it, read the article and then leave the website right away.

A friend of mine that publishes very unique and well-researched content was complaining to me that his bounce rate on some of these articles was close to 90%. Mind you that his team sometimes spends months researching the content.

“What is wrong with our content?”, he asked.

Nothing was wrong with his content.

People were landing on the article from an email campaign. They read the article. And then they left. They did exactly what most of us will do.

We can, of course, get into the nitty-gritty of what actions visitors could take (subscribe, share, etc) but let’s focus on the big picture.

Thoughts on Exit Rates

Exit rates measure the percentage of your website visitors, who visited another page and then decide to leave the website at this particular page.

At some point, every visitor to your website will exit.

The bigger problem with bounce and exit rates is that they measure the behavior of visitors on a single page.

But our decision as humans to leave the website is the result of navigating around the whole website. It is not always sensible. Sometimes it is just a shot in the dark that changes everything.

That is the reason, I find that setting up funnels and goals a lot more effective and powerful.

How to Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Website

How to Use Google Analytics Data to Improve Your Website

Do you want to improve your website?

Google Analytics is the most comprehensive tracking tool available on the market. It gives you detailed data about your website visitors and the actions they take on your site. You’ll be able to see what people are doing on your site after they click on an email you send them and beyond.

By effectively using Google Analytics, you can stop making blind guesses and start making data-driven marketing decisions to boost your bottom line.

If you’re looking to get a head start to improve your website this year, we’ll walk you through how to make data-driven decisions using Google Analytics.

Add Google Analytics to your site

Before you dive in to access the data, you need to make sure that Google Analytics is properly set up on your website. Wrongly implemented tracking will skew your tracking data, leading you to take wrong decisions.

To implement Google Analytics, all you need to do is to create an account, connect your website with Analytics and add the tracking code snippet to the <head> section of your website.

If you’re on WordPress, you can use this simple guide to help you get set up with Google Analytics.

Upon the setup, it may take a few hours to start gathering your website data. Let’s take a look at a few different aspects of using Google Analytics to improve your site.

Focus on your goals

To make informed decisions, you’ll need to have a clear focus on your goals and need to figure out how to accomplish them by setting objectives.

For example, if your goal is to drive more conversions from your blog, it is vital to know what type of content resonates best with your audience.

One way to review your content is by going to your Pages report in Google Analytics. There you can identify which blog posts and pages drive the most conversions. It may not be worth your time to focus on content that drives tons of traffic without conversions.

Now that doesn’t mean every blog post needs to drive conversions. Instead, every piece of content you produce should meet your objectives.

For example, if you monetize your blog with AdSense, you might want to track AdSense clicks on your blog posts to figure out the type of content that generates the most revenue. This way you can create more similar content on your blog that is likely to generate more revenue.

After finding the type of content that brings positive results, come up with more content ideas for your blog and add them to your editorial calendar.

Study bounce rate

One of the most important metrics to keep an eye on is bounce rate. In simple terms, bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits on your site. It tells you whether your visitors stick to your site or leave after their first-page visit.

Generally speaking, the lower your bounce rate, the more engaging your site is, the better for your business.

If a large number of visitors navigate away from your site after viewing only one page, this means you need to optimize your content or use better calls to action that intrigue visitors to dive deeper into your offering.

Some ways to improve your bounce rate are:

  • Make your content enticing and consumable in a short span of time.
  • Reduce the loading time of your site and make your landing pages visually appealing.
  • Create an exit-intent popup that shows visitors another useful resource on your site. Using OptinMonster, you can show targeted pop-up campaigns throughout your site at the precise moment your visitors are about to leave.

Study behavior flow

Aside from showing you valuable metrics, Google Analytics allows you to conduct user flow analysis to understand how your visitors explore your site to take action that you deem to be of value.

By studying behavior flow of your users, you can figure out leaky spots in your sales funnel. Once you identified those areas, you can take measures to reduce the drop-off and boost sales and revenue.

For tracking conversions, be sure to set up Google Analytics goals in the first place. And to track sales and revenue, you’ll have to enable e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics.

Conduct an annual content audit

If you’re investing in content marketing, you’ll need to focus on a few different metrics to determine your content marketing return on investment (ROI). Calculating your content marketing ROI enables you to identify whether your content marketing investment is paying off.

For most websites, the primary goal of content marketing is to attract quality leads and turn them into customers. However, you can’t expect to convert every website visitor that lands on your site into customers. That means besides conversions, you’ll have to focus on other key metrics, like lead quality, traffic, and onsite engagement.

When conducting a yearly content audit on your site, below are a few things you need to consider.

  • Find keywords that attract the most traffic to your site. Understand the intention of your organic visitors and figure out whether your articles deliver what your visitors want.
  • Identify your past content marketing pieces that have performed best in terms of driving traffic and engagement. Be sure to add similar article ideas to your editorial calendar.
  • Eliminate content that no longer reflects your business.

I hope the above tips give you some insights into using Google Analytics to improve your website’s bottom line.

It only takes a few minutes to get going, and you’ll be on your way to creating marketing strategies that will help you improve your website this year.


11 Google Analytics Tricks to Use for Your Website

11 Google Analytics Tricks to Use for Your Website

Do you know what is the most common question that I get every day on social media, forums or email?

“How to get insights about my Google Analytics data?” People approach me saying that they have a Google Analytics account for years, but they look only at page views or the number of visitors they get.

And this is wrong, this is so wrong when they have powerful free Web Analytics tools that they can leverage to learn more about their visitors and use those insights to better serve their visitors.

That is why in this article I am going to tell you some Google Analytics tricks that you should use for your website.

You can get the basics from my Google Analytics course, but right now I am going to take this one step further to help you get even more insights from Google Analytics.

Now, if you don’t use the latest version of Google Analytics, login into your account and click the [New Version] link from the top right corner of your screen before we get started.

New Google Analytics Version

This way I can be sure that you use the latest Google Analytics interface and you can follow this article along.

1. Setup Goals

Something that it’s quite a straight forward process, it’s actually neglected by the majority of people and this is the fact that after you install the tracking code on your website you need to setup goals.

Google Analytics Goals

The goals you setup for your website are the foundation of your website analysis because everything gravitates around your goals and conversion rates, the goals that are ultimately your business goals.

If you are wondering what goals you need to setup, start by asking yourself what is the purpose of your website. Is it an eCommerce site and you want to sells tangible goods, is it a blog where you want to make revenue from ads, do you sell eBooks or services? What is the main purpose of your site?

Then, once you figure this out you can go and start setting up goals base on your business objectives.

If this is still unclear for you, here are some examples that will give you traction:

  • eCommerce site – enable eCommerce tracking and start checking the conversion rates for your products
  • Engaged Visitors – people who spend more than one minute on your site
  • Readers – people who visit at least two pages on your site
  • Calls to action – use event tracking (see below in the article) to measure calls to action
  • Best performing ads – again, use event tracking to measure your best performing ads
  • Subscriptions – check how the visitors who subscribe to your list behave
  • Purchases – if you sell eBooks or courses you can get insights about your buyers

Later, these goals will help you track conversion rates and get insights about what are the main traffic sources that send you visitors which convert, what are the keywords who send you customers, which page your visitor use most to signup for your newsletter, where are your customers from and examples can continue.

Use these examples to get started, but please note that every website is unique and it will have unique goals.

2. Connect your Google Webmaster Tools account

Google Webmaster Tools is another free product from Google which helps you see data about your website such as the number of impressions for your search queries and their position in Google, the number of links to your site or diagnosis information reported by Google after crawling your website.

Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools

Additionally, you can check +1 metrics, your site performance or submit a sitemap for Google to index.

But what the really interesting thing is the fact that you can connect your Google Webmaster Tools account with your Google Analytics account and get access to the new Search Engine Optimization reports.

Once you do that, you will be able to see three new reports in your Google Analytics account: Queries, Landing Pages and Geographical Summary. They will help you learn more about your top performing search queries (keywords) and landing pages.

Then, you can use that data to identify:

  • Keywords with a low click through rate, but a good average position. Once you know them, you can change the meta title and description of your page to improve their click through rate.
  • Landing pages with a good click through rate, but a low average position. These pages can be easily run through an on-page optimization process that will improve their rankings.
  • What are the countries of your organic visitors and who your target market is.

To connect your site from Google Webmaster Tools in Google Analytics, go to the [Traffic Sources] section, select [Search Engine Optimization] and then one of the three reports.

At this stage you will see a page with the benefits of linking your accounts and a button where it says [Set up Webmaster Tools data sharing]. Click that button and then click [Edit] from the [Webmaster Tools Settings].

Then, you will be redirected to your Google Webmaster Tools where you can connect it with Google Analytics.

3. Enable Site Speed

Site speed is also a neat feature of Google Analytics that lets you see the load time of your pages. This will help you check what pages need your attention and determine you to look for ways of speeding up the load time of your pages.

If you wonder why this is important, I can tell you that the load speed of your pages can significantly improve your visitors experience on your site and it’s also a ranking factor in Google.

So a good load speed can make your visitors happy and can also increase your rankings.

Google Analytics Site Speed

Along with the number of Page Views and Bounce Rate, you can see the Average Page Load Time (in seconds) and the number of visits that have been used as a sample for every page on your website.

Additionally, if you click on the [Performance] tab, you can check different buckets of your page load time and see what is the average load speed of your pages.

Page Load Time Buckets

The [Map Overlay] will show you what is the load speed for different countries or territories.

If before you needed to add an additional code to your Google Analytics tracking, now that is no longer required and Google Analytics will automatically add data to your reports.

4. Enable Site Search

It’s a fact that visitors who use the search box on your site are more likely to convert than the ones who don’t. The reason why this happens is because they are more engaged with your website, with your content or your products and services.

Google Analytics Site Search

The beautiful thing about site search is that it lets you discover the exact keywords that people use to search for your products, so you can take this a step further and use them in your search engine optimization campaigns.

You can actually use the most important keywords that people use to search on your site to optimize your pages and drive more targeted traffic to your website.

Additionally, they might look for products or services that you do not have on your offer, but you can add them with little effort and increase your sales.

Or if you have a blog, site search is a great way to see what your readers are looking for and get a ton of article ideas out of them.

If you would like to enable site search on your website, first make sure that you have a search form on your site and then enable Site Search in Google Analytics.

5. Track Events

Event tracking is a powerful feature in Google Analytics that can help you track among others:

  • How many people download your eBook
  • What ads are performing better and who clicks on your ads
  • Which signup form converts better (sidebar, below the post, about page)
  • Who pauses, fast forward or stops a video
  • What errors a visitor encounters during the checkout

Google Analytics Site Search

But that is not all. Using the latest version of Google Analytics, you are also able to set these events as goals which can help you see the performance of your events based on different metrics.

Enabling event tracking it’s not a hard process. All you have to do is just add the code below next to your URL, before you replace the default values.

onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘category’, ‘action’, ‘opt_label’, ‘opt_value’]);”

These default values will help you identify your events and here’s what they represent:

  • Category – You can use this element to identify what you want to track: eBook, video, signup form, ads.
  • Action – This element can be used to define the interaction of your visitor and can be: click, button, play, stop. Personally, I use it to specify the place of my button/signup form/ad.
  • Label – Use this to identify the type of event that is tracked.
  • Value – This element helps you specify a value for you event that can be used when you setup a goal for your event.

If you would like to see a working example, here’s what I used to track a link to my new product, where “Ads” is the category of my link, “Sidebar” the place where I added the link and “WAB” the label.

Then once you setup your links, all you have to do is just setup that event as a goal, using the Category, Action, Label, and Value conditions you have setup for your event.

6. Real-Time Reporting

Google has taken analytics one step further recently and introduced Real-Time Reporting, which displays information about visitors that are on your website in a specific moment.

Real Time Reporting

Your are able to see how many visitors are on your website in that moment, where they are on your website, from where they come (keywords and referrals) and where they live.

Additionally, you have access to another 3 reports with more insights about their location, how they arrived on your website and what pages they visit.

To access the real-time reports you need to go to the [Home] menu > [REAL-TIME (BETA)].

The [Locations] report will provide you information about the number of your visitors and the countries where they are located. You can also check their location on a map.

[Traffic Sources] will display information about where they come from. You will see the medium and source along with the total number of your visitors.

The [Content] report will show you what are the active pages that your visitors read and how many active visitors are on each of the pages displayed on your report.

7. Multi-Channel Funnels

With Multi-Channel Funnels Google Analytics provides even more value for users who are passionate about conversion rates.

If before you were able to track the last source that the visitor used to convert, with Multi-Channel Funnels you are able to also track other sources (ads, referrals, social media, organic) that the visitor used to reach your website from.

Let’s say for example that your visitor (Cindy) landed for the first time on your website from Twitter and subscribed to your RSS feed.

Next time, Cindy used the feed reader to come and read your new articles. Ultimately she was looking for advice on blogging and found your eBook using a search engine.

Now, because she knows your site already, she will buy it and become a customer.

Using this example, in the old version of Google Analytics the search engine was used to be credited for the conversion, but now, with Multi-Channel Funnels you can see the whole path that Cindy took to convert: Social Network > Referral > Search engine.

To check the Multi-Channel Funnels reports, go to the [Conversions] section.

Watch this video to learn more about Multi-Channel Funnels:

8. Use Campaign Tracking

Tracking online marketing campaigns will help you get past that large number of direct visits that come from URL shorteners like or clients like tweetdeck.

Additionally, it will help you track more accurately links from other websites and links that you use to promote your content or campaigns.

In order to use Campaign tracking in Google Analytics, you need to tag your URLs with special parameters. Those parameters can be added to your links using the URL Builder tool from Google.

Once you tag your URLs with the mandatory parameters, use them as they are or use an URL shortener when sharing them.

Then, check the [Campaigns] report, under [Traffic Sources] > [Sources] to get insights about your online marketing campaigns.

Campaign Tracking Report

To see step by step instructions and how to check Google Analytics Campaign Tracking reports, read more in this article.

9. Plot Rows

Plot Rows allows you to create instant segments of your data in tabular reports. If you usually look at standard reports, you can use Plot Rows to get more insights from your metrics.

Google Analytics Plot Rows

To use this feature, you need to select two rows from any tabular report and then click the [Plot Rows] button from the bottom of the table.

Once you do that, you will see that the chart has changed and you are able to see additional information there about the items that you have selected.

In other words it instantly creates a segment with two of your items compared with the total metrics.

Use this feature to check how your main keywords, referrals or pages compare with each other and with the overall metrics of the site.

But make sure that you select items that do not have a big difference between their metrics (i.e. compare a keyword with 2340 visits with one that has 154).

10. Custom Dashboards

In the old version of Google Analytics you used to have available only one dashboard. However, right now you can create up to 20 dashboards customized to your needs.

Custom Dashboards

To create a custom dashboard, go to the [Home] menu > [Dashboards] and select [+New Dashboard].

Once you do that, you will need to choose whether you will want to start from scratch with a blank canvas or get some pointers with the [Starter Dashboard].

Then you can use slick widgets to create custom metrics, pie charts, timelines or tables.

To get started with custom dashboards, have a look at my screenshot above and try to duplicate it or check out 5 Insightful Google Analytics Dashboards.

Then, you will be able to customize it and add the metrics that are relevant to your business.

11. Flow Visualization

Flow Visualization definitely deserves a separate article to present it, but in the meantime I will outline it’s benefits.

Flow Visualization

Google Analytics rolled out two reports, [Visitors Flow], under the Audience section and [Goal Flow], under the Conversion section.

Session Duration: How to Measure It and What It Reveals

Session Duration: How to Measure It and What It Reveals

Measuring average session duration often raises more questions than it answers. That’s precisely what makes it so interesting.

As every marketer or analyst knows, any analysis starts with questioning. You just have to figure out what to ask to get the answers you need. With session duration, there’s no reason to bust your head, the questions pop-up naturally:

How did visitors spend their time on my site or app? Which pages did they visit and in which order? How many pages did they browse through per visit?

In this post, we’ll discuss how to use session duration in conjunction with other key engagement metrics, as well as how to evaluate it, and improve your average session duration. First, let’s understand what it means.

What Is Session Duration?

A session begins the moment a visitor arrives at your website and ends when they exit or remain inactive for a predetermined time span. As long as the visitor interacts with your site, the session continues.

To determine session duration, Google Analytics – the industry standard for tracking on-site data – relies on page visits (or ‘hits’) within your site. This means that if a user didn’t interact with the page last visited, the time spent on that page is excluded from the session. Keep this in mind when you analyze your metrics.

The average session duration accumulates all sessions within a given period and calculates the average.

Session Duration: How to Measure It and What It Reveals

How Does Google Analytics Calculate Average Session Duration?

Google Analytics displays session duration in seconds. To calculate the average, Google totals up the lengths of all sessions within the given timeframe and then divides that number by the number of sessions.

  • Average session duration = total duration of all on-site sessions / number of sessions

For example:

1) Visitor A spent 45 seconds on your site.

2) Visitor B spent 255 seconds on your site.

3) Visitor C spent 180 seconds on your site.

This brings us to a total of 480 seconds. When we divide this by three visitors, we learn that they spent an average of 160 seconds on your site—or 2.6 minutes.

What Is a Good Session Duration?

According to Databox, most digital marketers report an average session duration of 2-3 minutes. One could conclude that anything above three minutes is a good average. But is that a relevant benchmark for you? It feels more like comparing a Formula 1 race-car to the entire car industry to figure out how well it performs. The outcome would be useless. A race-car is a different class than a microcar or a four-by-four and each has its purpose.

The same goes for your website or app. To evaluate performance, you need to benchmark your digital performance against businesses pursuing similar goals. A local store does not want visitors to hang around on their site; they want to get contacted. A content-heavy site with professional articles and videos (such as can expect a much longer session duration than a brand awareness site for a physical retail store like An interactive app is a different story altogether.

An online survey in 2017 of 181 companies revealed that visitors to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies spend on average 42.3% more time on site than visitors to business-to-business (B2B) companies.

They also found that people spend significantly longer on healthcare and hospital sites. The average there lies at 3:38 per session. Next are financial services with 2:18 and pharmaceuticals and medical devices with 2:16. All other major industries show an average lower than two minutes.

Here’s a look at the average visit duration per key industries, according to SimilarWeb data:

How Can I Measure My Visitors’ Session Duration With SimilarWeb?

Website visitors behave differently from app users. SimilarWeb’s analytics software, therefore, offers separate metrics for websites and apps.


Visit Duration‘ is the equivalent of Google Analytics’ session duration, but with a small advantage. SimilarWeb puts data into context to provide you with ready-to-use data for your business decisions.

First, you get to choose your business category, so you can compare your numbers to those of similar businesses.

View the average visit duration for traffic from a country you choose or calculate globally. This helps you understand your audience’s geography and adjust region-specific marketing strategies accordingly. Also, select the period for which to calculate your average.

View the average visit duration for traffic from a country you chose, or calculate globally.


Time per User‘ is session duration for app users and lets you measure average app time per user. A session begins when the user logs in to your app and lasts until they close the app or move it to the background for longer than 30 seconds. The next time the app is opened, the software counts a new session.

You can either select a country you want to focus on or get a global average. If you’re getting most of your traffic from app users, then app engagement metrics offer valuable insights into how your app is being used.

'Time per User' is session duration for app users and lets you measure average app time per user.

What Is the Difference Between Session Duration and Pageviews?

Google counts a pageview each time a new page loads. A session can—and usually does—include multiple pageviews. Now’s the time questions should start popping into your head: How many pages do visitors view during a session? How much time do they spend on each page? How many are unique visitors and how many returning viewers? You got it! Now you’re using session duration as a springboard into your analysis.

To get answers, you need to look at additional metrics. On the platform, you will find the related data displayed compactly. You get all key engagement metrics in one place, making it easy and intuitive to dive into your website performance analysis.

What Is the Difference Between Session Duration and Pageviews?

If you are happy with your average session duration, look at your engagement rate. This will tell you if people are active on your site or just window shopping. SimilarWeb lets you benchmark against your competition and get industry averages per category. For example, eCommercedigital publishers, and financial services companies have different benchmark averages.

Optimize Your Digital Marketing Strategy


Which Other Engagement Metrics Should You Consider?

  • Visits / Unique Visitors – Check the number of visits by unique visitors to understand the scope of visitors on which your average session duration is calculated. If the average session duration is 5 minutes, for example, but you only had two visits from one unique visitor, you can hold off on the celebratory champagne for a bit.
  • Daily Active Users – Look at your Daily Active Users (DAUs) to understand real app usage. DAU is a popular metric with Android and iOS app owners to understand the average daily number of users running the app. It allows you to calculate your competitors’ and your market size and growth potential (especially in terms of mobile app monetization).
  • Pages per Visit – Discover how many pages your users visit regularly. This indicates how effective your content is. See which pages get more hits. Check where visitors spend the most time and how they move from page to page. Keep in mind that on Google Analytics, the exit page is excluded from session calculation, unless your visitor interacted. A visitor who spent 20 minutes reading a fascinating 3000-word article and then left, counts as “0”.
  • Bounce Rate – Likewise, pages that users bounce off of without continuing to additional on-site pages are not calculated in the average session duration. Because the user did not take any action, a bounced session counts as “0” as well. Make sure to keep a close eye on your bounce rate.
  • Desktop vs. Mobile Web Split – Learn which devices – computers or mobile devices – have a longer average session duration and try to understand why. Also, identify potential issues with mobile or desktop display and UX.
  • Traffic Sources (Marketing Mix) – Find correlations between traffic sources and average session duration. Do your visitors from email marketing spend more time and view more pages? Is it a profitable marketing channel you should consider expanding? If visitors from organic search have a relatively short session duration and a high number of page visits, they probably zapped through your site looking for something they couldn’t find. It’s time to rethink your SEO content strategy; your keywords may not match the content on your site.

5 Tips to Increase Average Session Duration for Your Website or App 


Tip #1: Use videos, infographics, and images to make your web pages and blog posts more appealing 

Graphic content draws more attention and is often easier to consume than text. Intro videos and recorded interviews work better than written content. Animated product graphics are highly popular on commercial sites.

Use videos, infographics, and images to make your web pages and blog posts more appealing

Tip #2: Improve your website’s UX for easy navigation

Navigation on your website needs to be smooth and simple. Don’t overwhelm visitors with buttons and graphics. Help them discern calls-to-action, navigation panels, and content at first glance. It is crucial that you understand your customers’ journey and know what might interest them next.

Tip #3: Showcase your best performing content (in terms of engagement) to raise curiosity

Start by linking most-read posts, most-watched videos, or most-bought products on your homepage and other pages where people enter your site. Also, add links to related content on the bottom of each page. Plan how you interlink your pages based on your customer journey.

Showcase your best performing content (in terms of engagement) to raise curiosity

Tip #4: Break up your content to make it accessible and easy to read

Use a readable font and don’t pack the page with text. There should be enough white space to encourage effortless reading. Short paragraphs with headers and subheaders make wordy content easier to digest.

Tip #5: Educate and inform customers with content that has value to them

Make sure all your content is useful to your audience and addresses your customers’ intentions. Present specific information and provide updates to stay current. Educate your readers through tips, reviews, data, insights, and training. Engage users by adding interactive sections and requesting feedback.

Educate your audiences

Your Turn to Start Questioning

Do you know how your numbers measure up to others in your category? This is one more question that should always pop up in your mind when you check your site metrics. The data you receive through SimilarWeb’s analytics software puts you one or more steps ahead of the competition. As a result, you won’t be monitoring your average session duration and other metrics in a vacuum, but always within your industry’s landscape.

To learn more about how SimilarWeb can help you boost your digital presence, download our eBook, How to Build the Perfect Marketing Strategy.



Tweaks and methods of increasing average time on page and average session duration on science and technology websites

Keeping website visitors engaged is a crucial element of any digital marketing, website, content or inbound plan. But the metric that measures this engagement isn’t always accurate.

Google Analytics reports by determining the “Average time on page” and the “Average session duration” which refer to the actual time that a website visitor spends on a page and on a website on the whole.

Even though measuring such time is a hugely important consideration for any website or website manager, it brings with it an array of problems because the metrics themselves are ambiguous.


The (main) problem with these metrics is that they are based on averages of other averages of a variety of pages containing different content and goals, from different traffic sources.

Within each default channel group – such as Organic, Social, Paid, Direct, Referral etc. – are breakdowns within each grouping. For Organic, you can narrow down the data from the various search engines and then you can access that specific search engine by region. You can also do a similar analysis for the other channels and what you will see is that the averages for each channel differ quite dramatically. Often, there are no trends.

Which is why it’s sensible to drill down into each channel grouping to determine where the traffic is coming from, which source is generating the traffic with the greatest time, where the leads are coming from and whether there are any campaigns currently targeting those channels and focus there.

The general rule with such analytics, certainly those you see on standard dashboards, is that numbers don’t always tell the whole story (even though we want them to). Sometimes these metrics can also be influenced by a number of activities that may not relate to actual engagement: they shouldn’t all be treated equally to make decisions regarding engagement.


A Content Marketing Benchmark Report (2017) indicated that the average session duration (again, as an indicator) for websites in the Medical Devices & Pharma industry is 2:16sec., with Hospital & Healthcare in front at 3:38sec. So the good news is that if we compare by industry, the sectors we operate within are already on the healthy end of the scale.

Regardless of the algorithms Google Analytics use to determine the metrics, these are the metrics we are served. And if the metric is high then it is likely that the visitor found the content useful, enjoyed being on the website and will be back. High average session duration are an indicator of quality and relevance.

Here are tweaks and methods of increasing average time on page and session duration.


The amount of behavioural and psychological reasons for a site to be visual are in abundance. In simplistic terms, sites that look good perform better than those that don’t. From the website’s theme to its image style, the design of a website is the first port of call when embarking on an optimisation task such as this one.

A clean user interface gives the visitor the opportunity to browse without distractions, making it easier to navigate to the appropriate areas of the website. Every site should be also aesthetically pleasing and consistent with the organisation’s brand guidelines. If a website doesn’t have a modern look and feel, site visitors will drop off even before any content is discovered. Review your website experience against your competitors and consider engaging a designer to assess if your site needs a refresh.


Similarly, websites or web pages should always follow a structure so that discovering and consuming its content is quick and easy. Removing clutter is a simple solution to allow visitors to focus and get engrossed within a topic or content. If that visitor already knows what information he or she is looking for, it shouldn’t be hard to find it on the website. Perhaps surprisingly, site visitors are more likely to stay around if there is less content available because focusing is easier.


Understanding a buyer’s journey is essential to any marketer looking to create content that will directly influence prospects on a website. During the three stages of the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration and decision) a website visitor is generally looking for a particular type of content.

Therefore, each type of content should be available on websites with user journeys crafted so that visitors can access that content, and then find out more via similar content that aims to progress that visitor along the buyer’s journey. Mapping a typical user journey is essential in this sense to craft a path for the visitor to take, building a natural progression through site pages. Begin by researching and creating your buyer personas.


Even with attention spans ever-decreasing, it’s surprising to see the amount of poorly written and presented content on corporate websites going into 2019. But the steps required to change this is relatively straightforward. Written content should always educate, as well as entertain. The structure of any piece of writing should follow a logical storytelling order with a beginning, middle and an end and should resonate with the target audiences at all times. The chosen font should be easy to read, with short sentences and paragraphs creating plenty of white space, accompanied by headings signposting each section. Content should also be worth reading in the first instance.


Linking pages to similar pages is an easy technique to decrease bounce rate and keep visitors on a website for longer. A webpage should have a defined path for visitors to navigate to other pages as standard. But it’s also advisable that a webpage provides users with additional actions and suggestions as the content on the current page can be expanded upon or might have raised more questions that the visitor needs answering. Internal linking also has SEO value, as you are essentially informing search engines that website pages are important, and that they exist in the first place.


Similar to content suggestions, certain functionality on websites can keep visitors on a website for longer. Such as a second layer of content additional to the core content. Page animations, social media integrations, quizzes or videos – any opportunity to engage a visitor by asking them to look, click or slide is good. It’s human nature to want to see, touch and feel; to interact, but we won’t interact with something that isn’t there. These tend to be more visual than the base content, but not too distracting so that the base content is obscured in any way.


In B2B pharma, competition is high. Prospects will be browsing websites, collecting information about suitability by constantly asking themselves: “Why should I work with this organisation over another organisation?” or “Why should I buy?” The website’s role in this instance is to build trust – social proof is a great way of doing this.

The content served can achieve this and by providing answers to satisfy these questions, the website visitor can feel reassured and prompted to browse further. Testimonials, case studies, logo walls and client reviews demonstrate credibility, with staff bios and blog contributions further demonstrating expertise. Showcasing awards and other achievements and milestones achieves the same aim – this is content that can sit throughout all pages of a website. Find out more on how to build trust on your website.


Chat features have received a mix reception of the years. Previously, such a feature was considered costly, ineffective and sometimes even damaging for a brand. However, a new breed of B2B buyer is emerging and an ICMI study demonstrates that this buyer is favouring live chat to engage with sellers during the buying process, with 42% of customers preferring live chat compared to 23% for email.

Of course, a live chat or chatbot can begin a conversation between buyer and seller that can last from anywhere from 2-10 minutes, which can significantly increase session duration. Chat to Orientation Marketing right now to see what we mean!


Google published a study in 2018 indicating that the average time it takes to load a mobile page is 22 seconds. Its research also stated that 53% will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Using mobile devices as a benchmark, websites need to be lightning fast to avoid losing half its audience.

In an age of engagement, decreasing the page load time is difficult but tweaks can be made to a site’s speed that can reap huge benefits. Assessing a site for technical errors is a good start, followed by conducting a content audit to determine if any content, such as interactive content or high-res images, require optimising or compressing to reduce size. Plugins, integrations and sufficient hosting solutions are also usually to blame for slow loading times. For a simple test, Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool provides an overview of potential areas to improve.


Personalisation, although a simple concept – providing tailored content to site visitors – isn’t always easy to implement. It concerns technical complexities as well as implications relating to fully understanding the individual motivations of site visitors. GDPR has made it even more complex because the driver of personalisation is data.

Without data, or the consent for using the data, personalisation cannot be achieved in the B2B world. Still, personalisation is possible with the appropriate systems and processes, and if done correctly, can increase the average time on page as the content served would be highly relevant for that visitor.

A website can remember the page a visitor has accessed, and based on the data and the personalisation criteria/rules, it can serve similar or different content for the next visit. This is the most complex method on this list and should be dealt with caution. But those that get it correct can experience huge rewards, namely in the form of increased website conversions. HubSpot’s Smart Content feature is an effective yet straightforward example.


Amongst the obvious reasons to keep a visitor on a website longer, the consensus is that time on page, or “dwell time” if that visit consists of an organic visit that returns to the SERP after the visit, is an SEO ranking factor. So, although calculating the metric itself is a little tricky, it’s important. Understanding what the metrics actually represent is the general rule and never take a number for its face value. Google elaborate a little more on how this metric is calculated for further investigation.

To address the importance of the metric, the methods listed above can all contribute to increased average time on page and session duration. They all work hand-in-hand and are listed in chronological order of importance and simplicity, though some may not be appropriate for certain organisations and their target audiences.


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, Owner: (Registered business address: Germany), processes personal data only to the extent strictly necessary for the operation of this website. All details in the privacy policy.