Growth Hacking Tips for your WordPress site: Key takeaways from YoastCon

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Last Wednesday, the YoastCon conference took place in Nijmegen (Netherlands) to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Yoast, the company founded by Joost de Valk (yes, THE WordPress SEO expert) and that now boasts over 19 employees.

For those, like me, that could not be there, the talks were streamed live on Youtube, so I took the opportunity to see a couple of them covering what we could call Growth Hacking WordPress tips. If you don’t have the time to revisit the complete talks (the full conference has now been uploaded to Youtube, a mere six hours of video 🙂 ) I’m posting here a few notes I wrote down while attending the talks. Hope you find them useful!

Karl Gilis – Growth hacking tips that work on every website

Karl began by saying that in fact, there are no such universal strategies. What you have to do (and I couldn’t agree more) is to A/B test any strategy you may want to implement on your site to make sure it actually works for you.

He went on to give some tips on how to make sure you get the best out of A/B testing:

  • Wait enough to be confident that the results are significant. This may imply to hold on the experiment until you have over 400 conversions (but this really depends on how different each alternative is behaving, if differences are big enough you’ll be able to reach a conclusion much faster than that). At the same time, he said not to wait too long (no more than one month) or the experiment may suffer of the influence of external factors.
  • Do not do stupid A/B testing changes, like changing a color (his words, not mine 🙂 ). Since you cannot run infinite tests, firts think what you’d like to try out and then prepare an experiment for that (here you may want to read our post on Creativity and A/B Testing). No blind testing.
  • Be careful with what you measure. The important goal is to increase conversions at the end of the funnel (e.g. sales), not on intermediate steps (e.g. navigations to a product description page).
  • Most of your ideas will be lousy so you may think A/B testing is crap. Be prepared to resist that idea.

And even if he started by saying there are no universal tricks he finished by giving some advices that should always work:

  • Sliders suck. Do not use them.
  • Remove all the clutter.
  • Navigations are distracting. They may make sense in your home page but not on landing page targeting people arriving to your site via specific marketing actions like adwords campaigns. They were coming with something very specific in mind so do not lose them by sending them to other pages.
  • People love bullet lists. Refactor your text replacing long paragraphs by bullet lists that summarize the key points of your message.
  • Put reassuring messages near the goal. But use positive words for that, e.g. saying that we will never spam you doesn’t work well as a reassuring message since it may provoke the opposite reaction (users will not believe you). In this case, we guarantee your privacy works much better.
  • The Green check mark myth. It doesn’t work anymore. Adding more green ticks will not convey more confidence to your message.
  • Simplify all your forms. And make sure visitors understand the need of providing any piece of personal information (e.g. phone number only to be used if there is a delivery issue).

And he finished by saying that the most important strategy was to understand better our visitors to know what parts of the site we should improve. Many ways (Google analytics, usability tests, eye tracking, heatmaps, …) to collect relevant data about what visitors do (and more importantly, what they don’t) in our site, including a very simple one, ask them questions. He mentioned two key questions: why did you buy from us? what made you almost desist?

If you want to know more about his vision, you can download his free ebook or watch some of his slideshare presentations.

Chris Lema – Save yourself $135,549.73 when you build your next site

What to say about Chris Lema, probably the best known WordPress blogger out there?

He’s known to give memorable talks based on real stories of WordPress users/businesses and didn’t disappoint. To begin with he said that he would not save us $135.000 but $1M thanks to five easy-to-implement tips (that added up, had saved the companies that followed them over a million dollars) that would help us to learn from others’ mistakes (since “we may not live long enough to learn from our own”).

  1. Everybody hates pop-ups except for the fact that they work. Not at the beginning but when the visitor is about to leave our site. Plugins like OptinMonster offer this configuration option.
  2. Integrate your eCommerce site in your main website. Do not distract and confuse your potential buyers by redirecting them to another site. 60% of them may forget what they were trying to accomplish and just leave.
  3. Don’t ignore indirect and off-line revenue. There’s money to be done offline (coaching, events, …) if you’re building an audience online. Do not put all your eggs on one basket.
  4. Use email automation software. In a case study, they learnt that most of the people purchased after receiving a 4th reminder email. Most of us are not ready to commit our money in the first interaction we have with a web.
  5. Use affiliate links whenever possible. He explained the case of a website using for shortening the links and how detected those links where links to Amazon books and rewrote them to include their own affiliated link. Make sure you earn what you deserve!

But, beyond these five tips, if I have to choose one single aspect of Chris talk was his mantra for the day: “Hope is not a strategy” which summarizes quite well the idea that you have to work towards your goal and not just wait for some miracle to happen.

Future of Yoast

To finish the post, a couple of news about Yoast itself. They announced their web redesign, including a big announcement that has nothing to do with a style change or new avatars. Following the recent path of other companies, Yoast is not a WordPress-specific company anymore but positioning themselves as a software company and will start rolling out their services on other platforms. Time will tell if this was a good move for their business

2 thoughts on “Growth Hacking Tips for your WordPress site: Key takeaways from YoastCon

  1. Regarding Chris Lema’s first point, I’m going to claim selection bias is, at least, hiding some of the truth: he is measuring conversions, and I’m sure they do exist and are significant, but I’m quite sure he is not measuring the amount of hate those pop-ups and modals create in all the rest of users. If you are going to use a pop-up, you should know you are gaining at least a tiny bit of hate from me even if it doesn’t show in your metrics and, please, at least make sure they are as inobstrusive as possible…

    1. I like the option that some pop-up plugins offer of at least making sure that the same user does not see the pop-up twice in a long time (of course providing that she accepts cookies, does not delete them and does not change the device she uses to access the site 🙂 )

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