Posted on June 13, 2014 by

Designing Forms That Convert (Part 1)

In the world of conversion rate optimisation, creating forms that convert well is usually considered to be a seriously high impact activity. So in this post I am going to walk you through some of the things you will want to think about when it comes to designing and developing forms on your website if you want them to perform better.

Let’s just begin by agreeing that forms kind of suck, I am yet to meet a person who genuinely enjoys filling them out and if you’re on a mobile device then your hatred of web forms is likely to go up significantly.

Let’s also agree on another thing, for most business owners, people not completing the forms on their website regardless of if it is a contact us form or a shopping cart, means they are leaving money on the table.

With that out of the way let’s get down to the nitty gritty of designing and developing forms that remove as many roadblocks as possible for your users and help them to get to the finish line of successfully clicking that submit button.

Pro Tip: There is almost no reason to ever label your buttons “submit” unless you happen to run a BDSM website.

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  • Category: CRO
Posted on May 29, 2014 by

3 Dead Simple Tricks to Boost Your CTR & Search Rankings

There are literally hundreds of different ways to improve your organic rankings in Google and many of the most effective ones can take a considerable amount of time and effort. However, all too often many of us overlook some of the most basic things out there and instead dive into the more advanced tactics first.

It is commonly believed that one of the ways in which search engines determine their rankings is by looking at how often users click on a search result in a given position. For example: if the result in position number 8 gets more than the result in position number 7 for a given keyword then it should serve as a very strong signal to search engines that perhaps these two are in the wrong order and to update the rankings to reflect that. In fact Rank Fishkin from Moz recently conducted a test that indicated that perhaps click through results have a much bigger impact than previously thought (although that is fairly debatable).

Therefore, investing heavily in boosting your website’s click through rate (CTR) is actually a great use of your time if your goal is to increase traffic and boost your search engine rankings. So in this post we are going to take a look at a few very simple steps you can take in order to achieve exactly that by making your listings in the search results stand out from the rest.

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Posted on May 19, 2014 by

How I Improved My Website’s Load Time by More Than 27% in Under 10 Minutes

I recently launched a new service offering with my consulting business and in doing so I went ahead and put together a well designed landing page in order to help promote it.

When I had finished creating the page I was slightly horrified to realise that it came in at a fairly heavy 2.1 MB as you can see below. I knew right away that unless I did something about this the load times on anything other than an amazing connection was going to end up costing me money. So it was around that time that I decided that it might be a good time to see how well I could optimise my site performance metrics with the least amount of effort.

page load metrics
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Posted on March 31, 2014 by

5 Key SaaS Metrics You Need To Know & How To Calculate Them

I decided to put together a quick post for you guys who are new to the world of SaaS (Software as a Service) that walked through 10 of the most important metrics you are likely to want to focus on when running a SaaS business as well as how to go about calculating them.

1. Average Revenue Per Customer / User (ARPU)

I figured we would start with one of the more basic ones in order to avoid confusing people too early. However, as the name implies we are simply looking at the total amount of revenue generated divided by the total number of customers you have. Note this is done over a set period of time, typically a month and then trended in most reports.

This is especially helpful in seeing how successful you are at up-selling and cross-selling your customers as this is one of the best and most straightforward ways about increasing your total revenue which is ultimately your end goal here.

Also note: This is different to what you would see in many e-commerce based reports where it is more commonly calculated as average revenue per order (ARPO) rather than ARPU.
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Posted on January 9, 2014 by

SaaS Pricing Strategy: The Decoy Effect

In todays post I want to share with you a technique covered in Dan Ariely’s book: Predictably Irrational known as The Decoy Effect. This is the exact same technique that has been used in top end restaurants for years to improve their revenue however in this post we will see how we can use it online instead.

Let’s start with a simple if rather dated example from The Economist that looks at how they structured their pricing:

Economist's pricing options

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  • Category: CRO
Posted on December 18, 2013 by

Track How Many of Your Visitors Use Ad-Block Style Plugins in Google Analytics

If you run a website that in anyway depends on running ads through networks such as Adsense then you are no-doubt more than aware of the growing prevalence of plugins like AdBlock which as of the time of writing this post has over 15 million users just in Chrome alone and an additional 15-20 million in Firefox.

While many people may be tempted to try and block users running these plug-ins from accessing their content I would strongly suggest you first take the time to assess just how big of an issue this is with your particular audience before undertaking any other measures.

Thankfully, this is exactly the kind of thing we can use Google Analytics to track using custom dimensions and some JavaScript. We can later go back and analyse this data using cohort analysis techniques should we wish to determine how visitors who use Adblock perform differently to those who do not.
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Posted on November 1, 2013 by

Site News & Some Updates

So it’s been just over a month since I last posted anything to the blog but for once there is a good reason for that. As you might have noticed a lot has changed around here. Fancy new design, new name, new domain and much more.

I have also been busy launching two other sites in the meantime namely:

FMH Gifts (

Over the past several months I spent a considerable amount of time trying to bring my web development skills up a notch and decided to build this project from the ground up without any existing CMS platforms or anything to help along the way. I am currently in the process of working with some writers to help add products to the website while I continue to perform a number of additional tweaks and bug fixes to the website. However, I plan on using this site extensively for demonstrating many of the concepts covered here on the blog so expect some future posts about that and I hope that everyone can appreciate having a real life example site to reference for many best practices when it comes to technical marketing.

Afterwire (

This second site is what I am using moving forward for my consulting business. Previously I have intentionally neglected to have a website for this for a number of different reasons, but as things continue to grow that strategy no longer makes as much sense for the business. So if you are looking to get personalised advice regarding your business and how to tailor much of the advice on this blog for your own unique circumstances by all means please feel free to get in touch.

The good news is that with these two major projects out of the way I will have a lot more time to focus on providing more regular updates to the website which I think is hopefully a bonus for everyone, myself included.

Let me know if you have any feedback about the new site or the other two that I have recently launched. I love hearing from you guys about these things. As always, just drop me a line in the comments or get in touch on Twitter at @mdhoad

Posted on September 20, 2013 by

How to Track Custom Dimensions & Metrics in Google Universal Analytics

I wanted to put together a quick post that walked people through the gritty details of how to track custom metrics and dimensions in Google’s Universal Analytics using a real life example for a site that I am currently developing (edit: The site is now live at you can check out the code for yourself there).

In this scenario I have a affiliate style website that contains a number of products. Each of those products belongs to a category and has a price associated with it. So I want to be able to tell which of the products on my website are most popular as well as which overall categories are working well and which ones aren’t performing as well.

However, since this is an affiliate website, I can’t track customers through a sales funnel and the second they leave my website, I am not able to get any further information about their actions. So instead I will track the number of clicks on each product and use that as a way of gauging popularity and answering my original questions.

As a bit of an aside there are a couple of other small constraints that I am including in this example because I don’t want to write sloppy code where I don’t have to and I don’t want to hurt page load times by waiting for libraries like jQuery to load before rendering the page (Note: You should almost always be including jQuery in the footer and not the head of your page).

However, it turns out that when you want to track things like when a user clicks on a page you basically have two options that are essentially guaranteed to work in the maximum number of browsers. One of them is unnecessarily ugly and if you are using jQuery already (chances are that you almost certainly are) then there is no point not to use it for this task as well.
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Posted on August 3, 2013 by

3 Cool Google Analytics Hacks using the new Universal analytics.js code

I spent some time over the past couple of weeks playing around with Google’s new “Universal Analytics” to see what kinds of cool customisations it would allow me to do. I have documented a few for you here which I thought some of you might find useful.

1. Site Speed

So for a while now Google Analytics has had the ability to capture the length of time it takes in order for your page to load. However, the main problem with this is that by default it will only do this for 1% of your traffic.

Now, if you have a huge website with millions of unique page-views a day, this may be sufficient for your needs. If however you run a small to medium sized site then you will most likely want to capture a larger sample size. Doing this with the new universal analytics code is simple as you can see below.

<script type="text/javascript">
  (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
  ga('create', 'UA-XXXXXX-X', {'siteSpeedSampleRate': 100});
  ga('send', 'pageview');

Line 7 is where we can set the ‘siteSpeedSampleRate’ to whatever value we would like. Note: This is the percentage of visitors to your website that you wish to capture.

You can now browse to Content > Site Speed > Overview in Analytics to view a more comprehensive overview of how long your site is taking to load for visitors. However, be warned, the results aren’t always pretty as you can see in a screenshot taken from my own analytics.
Universal Analytics.js Site Speed

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Posted on July 3, 2013 by

What hitting the front page of Hacker News does for a new website

So the other week I wrote a post titled: No, Google Authorship Didn’t Decrease Your Traffic by 90% that kind of blew up somewhat and ended up on the front page of Hacker News.

As this is a totally new website without any kind of pre-existing audience I thought it might be interesting to provide a detailed breakdown that looks at what hitting the front page of such a popular website will do for you in terms of things like traffic, links and social shares etc based on my experience as well as a couple of lessons of things I could have done better.


I have to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what I should expect but I was fairly blown away with the results. What had started off as a small trickle of 5 – 10 visitors at any given time, quickly progressed into 100-200 visits a minute for the better part of several hours.

I took a quick video capture of my Google Analytics to give you a sample of what I mean.

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