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How to Write a Sales Page

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How to Write a Sales Page

Need to write a sales page for an upcoming launch? Looking to improve the existing copy in your funnel or website?

If so, I’m going to teach you the 10 things your sales page MUST include if you want to make sure your copy creates trust, builds authority and converts like craaaaaaazy.

Hey Posse! What’s up? It’s Alex. 

Coming to you this week with a super quick sneak peek into the full sales page training that I teach my students inside my flagship program – the Copy Posse Launch Files. And inside my 5-day Write & Ignite Challenge.

In this video, I’m sharing 10 conversion triggers that I always look for when writing – or reviewing – a sales page. 

But first, if you’re new to the crew – welcome!

Here on my blog, you’ll find tons of tutorials on copywriting, digital marketing, and freelancing – to help you out on your entrepreneurial journey.  Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter, so you’ll get my next tutorial right to your inbox. 

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Now – today I’m going to teach you exactly how to optimize your sales page – from the bottom to the very top. 

This tutorial is perfect for any coach or entrepreneur with a service-based or education business. Think of things like 1:1 coaching or consulting, in-depth online programs, or other services. 

Now – ya ready to dive right in?

All great Sales Pages need to start with… 

#1. Headline 

The headline may be the shortest section of a sales page, but it definitely takes the longest to write. In fact, I usually write my headlines LAST.

But, because it’s the first thing a prospect sees on the page, it’s the first conversion trigger we’ll talk about here.  

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You want to be sure that your headline is strategically written to:

  • Hook your prospects’ attention
  • Introduce a core pain point, benefit, or USP of the offer 
  • Open a loop that entices the reader to keep scrolling below the fold

YEP. That’s a big job for such a small section of text. 

Another thing you need to consider when writing your headline is…

Speaking directly to your target audience – and more importantly – to their specific level of customer awareness.

Now if you have no freakin’ clue what I mean when I say “Customer Awareness”, here is another tutorial that explains all of that for you. 

Moving on to the next conversion trigger you must include… 

#2. Indoctrination

Essentially this is what comes immediately after the headline. It’s the lead-in portion of your sales page – the build-up before you actually start selling anything.

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This copy is insanely important because this is when your reader self-selects and decides whether or not you’re actually talking to THEM! And yes, like the headline, it can be very difficult and take the longest to write…

But it’s worth taking the time to do it right because when done well it can make a MASSIVE impact on your conversion rate.

Your indoctrination needs to “indoctrinate” your readers on who you are, why they should listen to you and why they should care at all. This is where you empathize, educate, and validate your reader – you can do this through storytelling, sharing stats and facts or painting a picture of what’s to come…

And of course, the most important thing is that you speak to your prospects’ immediate needs and fears, which takes us to the next conversion trigger…

#3. Problem & Solution

Of course, the whole point of your sales page is to sell something that solves a problem for your audience. So you need to get really clear on what that is.

As human beings, we’re (unfortunately) wired to avoid pain above gaining pleasure. This means that in our most natural state, we respond to problems more urgently than we do solutions. 

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Because of this, the sales page needs to address your prospect’s problem – what I like to call the aggravating status quo – early on…

Your copy should evoke an emotional response – but be careful not to put salt in the wound.

You don’t want them to feel alienated, misunderstood or attacked you want your copy to make them feel safe, understood and heard.

That’s why you should effectively and accurately communicate ONE core problem in your copy before introducing your promising solution, or the “big promise” your reader is looking for. 

In this case, specificity goes a long, long way. No one is going to believe you have a solution that does EVERYTHING under the sun. Think of how your solution is the BIG easy button for what your client is looking for.

Now, a very important distinction to make is that the solution is not the product… at least not yet.

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Rather, at this point in your sales page, the solution should just be the specialized method, approach, discovery or tool that can solve your prospects’ problem.

Remember – they FIRST have to believe in the solution, before they buy your product – whether it be coaching, mentorship, guidance, expert services…

Now, once a believable solution is presented, you want to pivot into…

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#4. The Offer

This is where you introduce your specific version of that solution – aka product – as the easiest, simplest, fastest, or best way to attain the big promise that you just talked about. Here is where you want to have a clear and concise USP – or Unique Selling Proposition

This is also where you want to include the value breakdown and all those left-brain details that make up your product: 

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • Where to get it
  • When to expect it
  • How much it costs 

The most important thing to remember in this section is that the value of your offer should always be greater than the price. 

The greater the gap between value and price—the more irresistible your offer becomes.

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This is why you often see campaigns that use bonuses, price juxtaposition, or discounts to increase the offer appeal and, therefore, conversion rate. 

Alright. Now you have all the left brain stuff out of the way. It’s time to address…

#5. Juicy Benefits

Or bennies, as I like to call them. This is where you stop talking about the what of your offer and start talking about the why. Or in other words… WHY your prospect would want to buy your product. I mean, what’s in for them – really?

This is where you can do deeper into all the amazing things your product or service does on top of the big promise you already shared.

It’s not enough to simply show them what they’re getting. It changes the game altogether when a prospect believes they have to have it. 

You answer this question in sales copy by presenting the specific and relatable benefits that the product can provide. 

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And remember, features are NOT benefits. 

Features are something a product HAS or IS, whereas benefits illustrate desired results that solve REAL pain points. 

For example, a FEATURE would be “batteries included”. 

Whereas the corresponding BENEFIT would be “no disappointed child on christmas morning”. 

Now it can be pretty difficult to convert features into benefits – especially when you’re writing for your own product or service. It takes practice!!

If you need help squeezing some juicy bennies out of your features, I have a FREE feature-to-benefit converter that you can download at the end of this video! 

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Alright, next up you want to make sure you’re including…

#6. Social Proof & Authority

A common objection in the minds of consumers is whether or not a brand is the RIGHT company or person for them. 

Trust is a huge factor that determines a customer’s decision to buy from you. 

So it’s important that a sales page communicates social proof and authority through testimonials, social media stats, press coverage, credentials, experience and any other credibility factors.

However, authority is not just something you slap into a single section on the salespage — I like to see it communicated throughout the copy as much as possible.

Alright now on to lucky #7…

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#7. Scarcity

In marketing, scarcity refers to the idea of making products or services limited in some way, making people more likely to act because the offer is scarce or exclusive. 

The 4 most common types of scarcity are:

  • Price: limited-time discount
  • Quantity: limited amount left
  • Premium: limited-time bonuses
  • Offer: limited-offer/cart closing

The most effective sales copy communicates scarcity that compels the prospect to act while the offer is still available. 

And – this is insanely important – your copy also needs to clearly and effectively communicate a big reason WHY the offer is limited, without it being hypey, pushy, or misleading. 

Is it because of a special event like an anniversary? A passionate mission to touch 1000 lives by the end of the year? A global cause such as World Mental Health day? 

Having a reason why massively increases trust and believability. And, this goes without saying… but always use REAL scarcity. Never lie and say and offer is limited when it’s not.

Before we move on to the next conversion trigger, I want to make sure I clarify that NOT ALL sales pages need scarcity all the time. 

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If you want your sales page to be 100% evergreen for anyone to purchase anytime, scarcity can be left off the table. Instead, use urgency and provide benefits as to why someone would want to act right away. 

Ok moving right along to #8… 

How to Write a Sales Page

#8. Risk Reversal

In other words, how does the copy make the purchase process seem easy, safe and risk-free?

People like to be told exactly what to do and what is going to happen next, so the copy needs to assure them that they will be taken care of every step of the way… 

From the moment they add the product to cart, to when it will be delivered, to how it can be returned if it doesn’t work out. 

This is where you’d want to include any:

  • Security language
  • Verifications
  • Return or exchange policies
  • Next steps & delivery details

In other words, this is where you want to debunk the fear of,“Am I going to be screwed over by this company/person?”

Now onto #9…

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#9. Call-to-Action

Whether it’s a single button or a multi-tiered order section — the call-to-action, or CTA, needs to pack a serious punch. 

It must only take a second for the prospect to understand exactly where to click and how to buy the product. 

Your CTA should be clear and straight to the point. For instance:

  • “Order Now”
  • “Get Instant Access”
  • “Enroll Now”

The most important rule of copywriting is to have one clear and concise call to action. 

It can appear multiple times though.

For example, if you have a longer sales page, then you’d probably want to include your call-to-action button 2 to 3 times throughout the copy. And always always always make a CTA the very last thing someone would see if they scroll to the very bottom of your page. 

And finally, number 10… 

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#10. Overall Feel & Flow

This is less about the copy itself and more about the readability of your sales page which is an insanely important factor to consider.

Once you have the first 9 conversion and optimization triggers covered, it’s time to sit back, look at the entire picture, and ask yourself:

  • Is the sales page messaging consistent and coherent throughout?
  • Is the page easy to skim with clear section titles that guide me down the page?
  • Was everything easy to read or did I stop to read any sentences twice? 
  • Were there any glaring gaps or illogical links?

Make sure that the copy is simple and effective. 

I’ve said this a few times before and I’ll say it again — studies have shown that the average reader reads at a 7th-grade level. So there’s no need for wordiness, fancy explanations, or long lists of adjectives in a single sentence.  

I personally find that reading the entire sales page out loud helps me answer these questions. 

Now here’s one more bonus tip for ya…

Make sure you read the page on your cell phone!!!  

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With far more than half of online readers consuming sales pages on mobile devices, you want to make damn sure that your copy is easy to read and navigate on small screens… 

And there you have it — an exclusive insider look at the 10 triggers I include on all my sales pages.

Now if you need help connecting the dots and taking your sales page from theoretical to tangible…

Make sure to check out my 5-day program, the Write & Ignite Challenge. 

Where you won’t just learn the parts of writing a sales page…

But I will actually help you IMPLEMENT it all so that you can write your own high-converting sales page in just 5 days! 

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In this challenge, you’ll get…

  • My 5-question copywriter checklist to help create a bomb-ass sales brief. 
  • My Wheel of Persuasion – which includes 6 proven writing prompts to help you build trust, create believability and inspire action.
  • My simple 4-point Offer Matrix to help you craft an irresistible offer. 
  • My 16-step formula for putting it all together.
  • Plus my H.O.T. headline formula and 3 proven hook templates to help you capture and keep your prospects attention. 

If you want help crafting the perfect sales page – from start to finish – you can learn more about my 5-Day Write & Ignite Challenge.

I hope this video has been helpful. 

Now as promised, you can grab your free copy of my feature-to-benefit converter by following that link. 

Until next time, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!


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Crafting Effortless Sales Through ‘Wow’ Moments in Experience Marketing

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Crafting Effortless Sales Through 'Wow' Moments in Experience Marketing

Crafting Effortless Sales Through Wow Moments in Experience Marketing

In an era where consumers are bombarded with endless choices and digital noise, standing out as a brand is more challenging than ever. Enter experience marketing – a strategy that transcends traditional advertising by focusing on creating immersive, memorable interactions. This innovative approach leverages the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity to forge strong emotional connections with customers, making the sale of your core product feel effortless. But how can businesses implement this strategy effectively? This guide delves into the art of crafting ‘wow’ moments that captivate audiences and transform customer engagement.

The Basics of Experience Marketing

Experience marketing is an evolved form of marketing that focuses on creating meaningful interactions with customers, aiming to elicit strong emotional responses that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. Unlike conventional marketing, which often prioritizes product promotion, experience marketing centers on the customer’s holistic journey with the brand, creating a narrative that resonates on a personal level.

In today’s competitive market, experience marketing is not just beneficial; it’s essential. It differentiates your brand in a crowded marketplace, elevating your offerings beyond mere commodities to become integral parts of your customers’ lives. Through memorable experiences, you not only attract attention but also foster a community of loyal customers who are more likely to return and recommend your brand to others.

Principles of Experience Marketing

At the heart of experience marketing lie several key principles:

  • Emotional Connection: Crafting campaigns that touch on human emotions, from joy to surprise, creating memorable moments that customers are eager to share.
  • Customer-Centricity: Putting the customer’s needs and desires at the forefront of every marketing strategy, ensuring that each interaction adds value and enhances their experience with the brand.
  • Immersive Experiences: Utilizing technology and storytelling to create immersive experiences that captivate customers, making your brand a living part of their world.
  • Engagement Across Touchpoints: Ensuring consistent, engaging experiences across all customer touchpoints, from digital platforms to physical stores.

Understanding Your Audience

Before diving into the intricacies of crafting ‘wow’ moments, it’s crucial to understand who you’re creating these moments for. Identifying your audience’s pain points and desires is the first step in tailoring experiences that truly resonate.

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This involves deep market research, customer interviews, and leveraging data analytics to paint a comprehensive picture of your target demographic. By understanding the journey your customers are on, you can design touchpoints that not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Identifying Pain Points and Desires: Use surveys, social media listening, and customer feedback to gather insights. What frustrates your customers about your industry? What do they wish for more than anything else? These insights will guide your efforts to create experiences that truly resonate.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Visualize every step a customer takes from discovering your brand to making a purchase and beyond. This map will highlight critical touchpoints where you can introduce ‘wow’ moments that transform the customer experience.

Developing Your Experience Marketing Strategy

With a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to build the framework of your experience marketing strategy. This involves setting clear objectives, identifying key customer touchpoints, and conceptualizing the experiences you want to create.

  • Setting Objectives: Define what you aim to achieve with your experience marketing efforts. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, boosting sales, or improving customer retention, having clear goals will shape your approach and help measure success.
  • Strategic Touchpoint Identification: List all the potential touchpoints where customers interact with your brand, from social media to in-store experiences. Consider every stage of the customer journey and look for opportunities to enhance these interactions.

Enhancing Customer Experiences with Surprise, Delight, and Reciprocity

This section is where the magic happens. By integrating the elements of surprise, delight, and reciprocity, you can elevate ordinary customer interactions into unforgettable experiences.

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  • Incorporating Surprise and Delight: Go beyond what’s expected. This could be as simple as a personalized thank-you note with each purchase or as elaborate as a surprise gift for loyal customers. The key is to create moments that feel special and unexpected.
  • Applying the Principle of Reciprocity: When customers receive something of value, they’re naturally inclined to give something back. This can be leveraged by offering helpful resources, exceptional service, or customer appreciation events. Such gestures encourage loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.
  • Examples and Case Studies: Highlight real-world examples of brands that have successfully implemented these strategies. Analyze what they did, why it worked, and how it impacted their relationship with customers.

Best Practices for Experience Marketing

To ensure your experience marketing strategy is as effective as possible, it’s important to adhere to some best practices.

  • Personalization at Scale: Leverage data and technology to personalize experiences without losing efficiency. Tailored experiences make customers feel valued and understood.
  • Using Technology to Enhance Experiences: From augmented reality (AR) to mobile apps, technology offers myriad ways to create immersive experiences that surprise and engage customers.
  • Measuring Success: Utilize analytics tools to track the success of your experience marketing initiatives. Key performance indicators (KPIs) could include engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores.

Section 5: Overcoming Common Challenges

Even the best-laid plans can encounter obstacles. This section addresses common challenges in experience marketing and how to overcome them.

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  • Budget Constraints: Learn how to create impactful experiences without breaking the bank. It’s about creativity, not just expenditure.
  • Maintaining Consistency: Ensuring a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints can be daunting. Develop a comprehensive brand guideline and train your team accordingly.
  • Staying Ahead of Trends: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Stay informed about the latest trends in experience marketing and be ready to adapt your strategy as necessary.

The Path to Effortless Sales

By creating memorable experiences that resonate on a personal level, you make the path to purchase not just easy but natural. When customers feel connected to your brand, appreciated, and valued, making a sale becomes a byproduct of your relationship with them. Experience marketing, when done right, transforms transactions into interactions, customers into advocates, and products into passions.

Now is the time to reassess your marketing strategy. Are you just selling a product, or are you providing an unforgettable experience? Dive into the world of experience marketing and start creating those ‘wow’ moments that will not only distinguish your brand but also make sales feel effortless.


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The Current State of Google’s Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

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The Current State of Google's Search Generative Experience [What It Means for SEO in 2024]

SEO enthusiasts, known for naming algorithm updates after animals and embracing melodrama, find themselves in a landscape where the “adapt or die” mantra prevails. So when Google announced the launch of its Search Generative Experience (SGE) in May of 2023 at Google/IO, you can imagine the reaction was immense.

Although SGE has the potential to be a truly transformative force in the landscape, we’re still waiting for SGE to move out of the Google Labs Sandbox and integrate into standard search results. 

Curious about our current take on SGE and its potential impact on SEO in the future? Read on for more.

Decoding Google’s Defensive Move

In response to potential threats from competitors like ChatGPT, Bing, TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, Google introduced SGE as a defensive maneuver. However, its initial beta release raised questions about its readiness and global deployment.

ChatGPT provided an existential threat that had the potential to eat into Google’s market share. When Bing started incorporating it into its search results, it was one of the most significant wins for Bing in a decade. In combination with threats from TikTok, Reddit, and Amazon, we see a more fractured search landscape less dominated by Google. Upon its launch, the expectation was that Google would push its SGE solution globally, impact most queries, and massively shake up organic search results and strategies to improve organic visibility.

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Now, industry leaders are starting to question if Google is better off leaving SGE in the testing ground in Google labs. According to Google’s recent update, it appears that SGE will remain an opt-in experience in Google Labs (for at least the short term). If SGE was released, there could be a fundamental reset in understanding SEO. Everything from organic traffic to optimization tactics to tracking tools would need adjustments for the new experience. Therefore, the prospect of SGE staying in Google Labs is comforting if not entirely reliable. 

The ever-present option is that Google can change its mind at any point and push SGE out broadly as part of its standard search experience. For this reason, we see value in learning from our observations with SGE and continuing to stay on top of the experience.

SGE User Experience and Operational Challenges

If you’ve signed up for search labs and have been experimenting with SGE for a while, you know firsthand there are various issues that Google should address before rolling it out broadly to the public.

At a high level, these issues fall into two broad categories including user experience issues and operational issues.

Below are some significant issues we’ve come across, with Google making notable progress in addressing certain ones, while others still require improvement:

  • Load time – Too many AI-generated answers take longer to load than a user is willing to wait. Google recommends less than a 3-second load time to meet expectations. They’ll need to figure out how to consistently return results quickly if they want to see a higher adoption rate.
  • Layout – The SGE layout is massive. We believe any major rollout will be more streamlined to make it a less intrusive experience for users and allow more visibility for ads, and if we’re lucky, organic results. Unfortunately, there is still a decent chance that organic results will move below the fold, especially on mobile devices. Recently, Google has incorporated more results where users are prompted to generate the AI result if they’d like to see it. The hope is Google makes this the default in the event of a broad rollout where users can generate an AI result if they want one instead of assuming that’s what a user would like to see. 
  • Redundancy – The AI result duplicates features from the map pack and quick answer results. 
  • Attribution – Due to user feedback, Google includes sources on several of their AI-powered overviews where you can see relevant web pages if there is an arrow next to the result. Currently, the best way to appear as one of these relevant pages is to be one of the top-ranked results, which is convenient from an optimization standpoint. Changes to how attribution and sourcing are handled could heavily impact organic strategies. 

 

On the operational side, Google also faces significant hurdles to making SGE a viable product for its traditional search product. The biggest obstacle appears to be making the cost associated with the technology worth the business outcomes it provides. If this was a necessary investment to maintain market share, Google might be willing to eat the cost, but if their current position is relatively stable, Google doesn’t have much of an incentive to take on the additional cost burden of heavily leveraging generative AI while also presumably taking a hit to their ad revenue. Especially since slow user adoption doesn’t indicate this is something users are demanding at the moment.

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While the current experience of SGE is including ads above the generative results now, the earliest iterations didn’t heavily feature sponsored ads. While they are now included, the current SGE layout would still significantly disrupt the ad experience we’re used to. During the Google I/O announcement, they made a statement to reassure advertisers they would be mindful of maintaining a distinct ad experience in search.  

“In this new generative experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page. And we’ll continue to uphold our commitment to ads transparency and making sure ads are distinguishable from organic search results” – Elizabeth Reid, VP, Search at Google

Google is trying to thread a delicate needle here of staying on the cutting edge with their search features, while trying not to upset their advertisers and needlessly hinder their own revenue stream. Roger Montti details more of the operational issues in a recent article digging into the surprising reasons SGE is stuck in Google Labs.

He lists three big problems that need to be solved before SGE will be integrated into the foreground of search:

  1. Large Language Models being inadequate as an information retrieval system
  2. The inefficiency and cost of transformer architecture
  3. Hallucinating (providing inaccurate answers)

 

Until SGE provides more user value and checks more boxes on the business sense side, the traditional search experience is here to stay. Unfortunately, we don’t know when or if Google will ever feel confident they’ve addressed all of these concerns, so we’ll need to stay prepared for change.

Experts Chime in on Search Generative Experience

Our team has been actively engaging with SGE, here’s a closer look at their thoughts and opinions on the experience so far:

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“With SGE still in its early stages, I’ve noticed consistent changes in how the generative results are produced and weaved naturally into the SERPs. Because of this, I feel it is imperative to stay on top of these on-going changes to ensure we can continue to educate our clients on what to expect when SGE is officially incorporated into our everyday lives. Although an official launch date is currently unknown, I believe proactively testing various prompt types and recording our learnings is important to prepare our clients for this next evolution of Google search.” – Jon Pagano, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

“It’s been exciting to watch SGE grow through different variations over the last year, but like other AI solutions its potential still outweighs its functionality and usefulness. What’s interesting to see is that SGE doesn’t just cite its sources of information, but also provides an enhanced preview of each webpage referenced. This presents a unique organic opportunity where previously untouchable top 10 rankings are far more accessible to the average website. Time will tell what the top ranking factors for SGE are, but verifiable content with strong E-E-A-T signals will be imperative. –Kate Fischer, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“Traditionally, AI tools were very good at analytical tasks. With the rise of ChatGPT, users can have long-form, multi-question conversations not yet available in search results. When, not if, released, Google’s Generative Experience will transform how we view AI and search. Because there are so many unknowns, some of the most impactful ways we prepare our clients are to discover and develop SEO strategies that AI tools can’t directly disrupt, like mid to low funnel content.” – Brandon Miller, SEO Specialist at Tinuiti

“SGE is going to make a huge impact on the ecommerce industry by changing the way users interact with the search results. Improved shopping experience will allow users to compare products, price match, and read reviews in order to make it quicker and easier for a user to find the best deals and purchase. Although this leads to more competitive results, it also improves organic visibility and expands our product reach. It is more important than ever to ensure all elements of a page are uniquely and specifically optimized for search. With the SGE updates expected to continue to impact search results, the best way to stay ahead is by focusing on strong user focused content and detailed product page optimizations.”  – Kellie Daley, SEO Sr. Specialist at Tinuiti

Navigating the Clash of Trends

One of the most interesting aspects of the generative AI trend in search is that it appears to be in direct opposition to other recent trends.

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One of the ways Google has historically evaluated the efficacy of its search ranking systems is through the manual review of quality raters. In their quality rater guidelines, raters were instructed to review for things like expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT) in results to determine if Google results are providing users the information they deserve. 

In 2022, Google updated their search guidelines to include another ‘e’ in the form of experience (EEAT). In their words, Google wanted to better assess if the content a user was consuming was created by someone with, “a degree of experience, such as with actual use of a product, having actually visited a place or communicating what a person has experienced. There are some situations where really what you value most is content produced by someone who has firsthand, life experience on the topic at hand.” 

Generative AI results, while cutting-edge technology and wildly impressive in some cases, stand in direct opposition to the principles of E-E-A-T. That’s not to say that there’s no room for both in search, but Google will have to determine what it thinks users value more between these competing trends. The slow adoption of SGE could be an indication that a preference for human experience, expertise, authority, and trust is winning round one in this fight. 

Along these lines, Google is also diversifying its search results to cater to the format in which users get their information. This takes the form of their Perspectives Filter. Also announced at Google I/O 2023, the perspectives filter incorporates more video, image, and discussion board posts from places like TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Quora. Once again, this trend shows the emphasis and value searchers place on experience and perspective. Users value individual experience over the impersonal conveyance of information. AI will never have these two things, even if it can provide a convincing imitation.

The current iteration of SGE seems to go too far in dismissing these trends in favor of generative AI. It’s an interesting challenge Google faces. If they don’t determine the prevailing trend correctly, veering too far in one direction can push more market share to ChatGPT or platforms like YouTube and TikTok.

Final Thoughts

The range of outcomes remains broad and fascinating for SGE. We can see this developing in different ways, and prognostication offers little value, but it’s invaluable to know the potential outcomes and prepare for as many of them as possible.

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It’s critical that you or your search agency be interacting and experimenting with SGE because:

  • The format and results will most likely continue to see significant changes
  • This space moves quickly and it’s easy to fall behind
  • Google may fix all of the issues with SGE and decide to push it live, changing the landscape of search overnight
  • SGE experiments could inform other AI elements incorporated into the search experience

 

Ultimately, optimizing for the specific SGE experience we see now is less important because we know it will inevitably continue changing. We see more value in recognizing the trends and problems Google is trying to solve with this technology. With how quickly this space moves, any specifics mentioned in this article could be outdated in a week. That’s why focusing on intention and process is important at this stage of the game.

By understanding the future needs and wants SGE is attempting to address, we can help you future-proof your search strategies as much as possible. To some extent we’re always at the whims of the algorithm, but by maintaining a user-centric approach, you can make your customers happy, regardless of how they find you.

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Here’s Optimizely’s Automatic Sample Ratio Mismatch Detection

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Here's Optimizely’s Automatic Sample Ratio Mismatch Detection

Optimizely Experiment’s automatic sample ratio mismatch (SRM) detection delivers peace of mind to experimenters. It reduces a user’s exposure time to bad experiences by rapidly detecting any experiment deterioration.

This deterioration is caused by unexpected imbalances of visitors to a variation in an experiment. Most importantly, this auto SRM detection empowers product managers, marketers, engineers, and experimentation teams to confidently launch more experiments. 

How Optimizely Experiment’s stats engine and automatic sample rate mismatch detection work together

The sample ratio mismatch actslike the bouncer at the door who has a mechanical counter, checking guests’ tickets (users) and telling them which room they get to party in.

Stats engine is like the party host who is always checking the vibes (behavior) of the guests as people come into the room.

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If SRM does its job right, then stats engine can confidently tell which party room is better and direct more traffic to the winning variation (the better party) sooner.

Why would I want Optimizely Experiment’s SRM detection?

It’s equally important to ensure Optimizely Experiment users know their experiment results are trustworthy and have the tools to understand what an imbalance can mean for their results and how to prevent it.

Uniquely, Optimizely Experiment goes further by combining the power of automatic visitor imbalance detection with an insightful experiment health indicator. This experiment health indicator plays double duty by letting our customers know when all is well and there is no imbalance present.

Then, when just-in-time insight is needed to protect your business decisions, Optimizely also delivers just-in-time alerts that help our customers recognize the severity of, diagnose, and recover from errors.

Why should I care about sample ratio mismatch (SRM)?

Just like a fever is a symptom of many illnesses, a SRM is a symptom of a variety of data quality issues. Ignoring a SRM without knowing the root cause may result in a bad feature appearing to be good and being shipped out to users, or vice versa. Finding an experiment with an unknown source of traffic imbalance lets you turn it off quickly and reduce the blast radius.

Then what is the connection between a “mismatch” and “sample ratio”?

When we get ready to launch an experiment, we assign a traffic split of users for Optimizely Experiment to distribute to each variation. We expect the assigned traffic split to reasonably match up with the actual traffic split in a live experiment. An experiment is exposed to an SRM imbalance when there is a statistically significant difference between the expected and the actual assigned traffic splits of visitors to an experiment’s variations.

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1. A mismatch doesn’t mean an imperfect match

Remember: A bonified imbalance requires a statistically significant result of the difference in visitors. Don’t expect a picture-perfect, identical, exact match of the launch-day traffic split to your in-production traffic split. There will always be some ever-so-slight deviation.

Not every traffic disparity automatically signifies that an experiment is useless. Because Optimizely deeply values our customers’ time and energy, we developed a new statistical test that continuously monitors experiment results and detects harmful SRMs as early as possible. All while still controlling for crying wolf over false positives (AKA when we conclude there is a surprising difference between a test variation and the baseline when there is no real difference). 

2. Going under the hood of Optimizely Experiment’s SRM detection algorithm

Optimizely Experiment’s automatic SRM detection feature employs a sequential Bayesian multinomial test (say that 5 times fast!), named sequential sample ratio mismatch. Optimizely statisticians Michael Lindon and Alen Malek pioneered this method, and it is a new contribution to the field of Sequential Statistics. Optimizely Experiment’s sample ratio mismatch detection harmonizes sequential and Bayesian methodologies by continuously checking traffic counts and testing for any significant imbalance in a variation’s visitor counts. The algorithm’s construction is Bayesian inspired to account for an experiment’s optional stopping and continuation while delivering sequential guarantees of Type-I error probabilities.

3. Beware of chi-eap alternatives!

The most popular freely available SRM calculators employ the chi-square test. We highly recommend a careful review of the mechanics of chi-square testing. The main issue with the chi-squared method is that problems are discovered only after collecting all the data. This is arguably far too late and goes against why most clients want SRM detention in the first place. In our blog post “A better way to test for sample ratio mismatches (or why I don’t use a chi-squared test)”, we go deeper into chi-square mechanics and how what we built accounts for the gaps left behind by the alternatives.

Common causes of an SRM  

1. Redirects & Delays

A SRM usually results from some visitors closing out and leaving the page before the redirect finishes executing. Because we only send the decision events once they arrive on the page and Optimizely Experiment loads, we can’t count these visitors in our results page unless they return at some point and send an event to Optimizely Experiment.

A SRM can emerge in the case of anything that would cause Optimizely Experiment’s event calls to delay or not fire, such as variation code changes. It also occurs when redirect experiments shuttle visitors to a different domain. This occurrence is exacerbated by slow connection times.

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2. Force-bucketing

If a user first gets bucketed in the experiment and then that decision is used to force-bucket them in a subsequent experiment, then the results of that subsequent experiment will become imbalanced.

Here’s an example:

Variation A provides a wildly different user experience than Variation B.

Visitors bucketed into Variation A have a great experience, and many of them continue to log in and land into the subsequent experiment where they’re force-bucketed into Variation A.

But, visitors who were bucketed into Variation B aren’t having a good experience. Only a few users log in and land into a subsequent experiment where they will be force-bucketed into Variation B.

Well, now you have many more visitors in Variation A than in Variation B.

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3. Site has its own redirects

Some sites have their own redirects (for example, 301s) that, combined with our redirects, can result in a visitor landing on a page without the snippet. This causes pending decision events to get locked in localStorage and Optimizely Experiment never receives or counts them.

4. Hold/send events API calls are housed outside of the snippet

Some users include hold/send events in project JS. However, others include it in other scripts on the page, such as in vendor bundles or analytics tracking scripts. This represents another script that must be properly loaded for the decisions to fire appropriately. Implementation or loading rates may differ across variations, particularly in the case of redirects.

Interested?  

If you’re already an Optimizely Experiment customer and you’d like to learn more about how automatic SRM detection benefits your A/B tests, check out our knowledge base documentation:

For further details you can always reach out to your customer success manager but do take a moment to review our documentation first!

If you’re not a customer, get started with us here! 

And if you’d like to dig deeper into the engine that powers Optimizely experimentation, you can check out our page faster decisions you can trust for digital experimentation. 

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