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How Moz.com Is Losing Money: CRO Lessons for the Pros

How Moz.com is losing money
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What’s with the title? Heard the one about how Benjamin Franklin is the root of all evil? You guessed it!

Benjamin Franklin - root of all evil!

Likewise, Moz is “losing money” by not capitalizing on all the conversion and engagement opportunities they’ve created for themselves.

We all love Moz for their commitment and contribution to the marketing community, but they still need to make money to keep us happy. And what better way to do that than make small tweaks to the site that will serve to slowly but surely increase the happiness quotient of customers and community alike? So here are a few pointers which I hope Moz will find handy in their lead-by-sharing approach.

For easier readability’s sake, this post is written in a me-addressing-you style, as a set of instructions to Moz. Maybe someone has already suggested some of these changes; maybe you’re already working on implementing some of them; maybe you’ve decided not to go for them as a mindful choice after testing or discussions. Some changes are specific to a section; others are more general and can be applied across the site (and social pages). A couple of suggestions are to-the-point, while I’ve rambled on about others. Also included are a couple of “side notes” where I want to ask Moz a question or share how I thought of something in particular.

All ears?

Are you listening?

Hardcorify Your Most Important Call-To-Action

This will be quick, but it might hurt. The Moz Analytics product page has three (yeah, 3) CTAs one below the other with no text separating them. Not good, Roger. This is your MONEY page. Visitors are most probably your fans by the time they land on this page, and you don’t want to make them think even for a moment where they’re supposed to be clicking.

Moz Analytics Product Page

I’m no expert but this needs some serious A/B testing. Moz has probably done that – Rand has said that non-paying repeat visitors who spend the most amount of time on site before they convert are the ones who remain customers the longest.

However, my counter is that there must be other variables to this occurrence (they’ve formed a strong bond with Moz given the time they’ve spent on site, they can use Moz tools more effectively than others since they’ve poked around so much, they’re simply fans who couldn’t afford to buy until that point of time, and so on) and this page is not going to make customers any more loyal by making them linger for that bit longer. You simply need other ways to figure out how to keep them after they’ve converted!

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.

In any case, I doubt this version is the one that makes the most money in the long term, and we’d love to hear from you on this.

Side question: Is Conversion Rate Experts or someone else still helping out with CRO for Moz?

The Ghost Who Logs In

One of the oldest issues to plague the Moz website is that users don’t find themselves logged in automatically when they return to the site, even if they’ve checked the “Remember me” box while logging in. Doesn’t happen in Firefox, doesn’t happen in Chrome. Doesn’t happen in the UK, doesn’t happen in India.

Here’s a conversation from last year:

Moz login cookie issues

This might be the single biggest obstacle that stops people from accessing the most delightful content on Moz. I don’t want to be told something is “For Moz Friends Only” and encouraged to “Join our Community Today” every time I want to see a Mozinar. Please, remember me.

Work over a weekend (Jen can supply the cupcakes) and go all out to solve your long-standing problems. We the community are ready to help in real-time, of course – just let us know which weekend!

Speaking at of Mozinars...

Let’s revisit a piece of history.

User interaction on Mozinars

Wouldn’t we have great, extended conversations on the webinars for days after they happen if we were allowed to comment on them? And of course having thumbs up/down buttons gives more opportunity for the presenter to get feedback (and MozPoints).

Side fact: The idea for this post came to me when Moz responded to my tweet. I thought that was sweet of them, so why not take some time to find other black holes for them to plug in the otherwise serenely blue-and-white site. More on this at the end.

Mozlympics: Citius, Altius, Fortius

The community page could certainly use more gamification. If you’re already doing it, I wouldn’t hesitate to push it up by a couple of magnitudes.

Since Mozinars, Q&A, and Events are the mainstay of the community, it’s natural that they get coverage in the main text area on this page. That leaves the sidebar on the right for featuring users, highlighting interactions and providing usage guidelines. Let’s look at this in two parts.

Moz member spotlight

Throwing the spotlight on a member is a great idea. But you don’t say why Ken Jansen is the featured user for this – uh, is he in the limelight for today, this week, or this month? What got him there? Who did he beat? What can I do to get there? Do I have to be a Pro member? It’s hard to come up with an image and a couple of lines that answer all these questions, but Moz being Moz, I’m sure you can figure out a way!

The “How Does the Community Work?” part is doing great where it is. Games need rules.

Below that I suggest you have a custom stream of the latest peaks members have scaled. For example:

  • Moz has a new Oracle – it’s Gianluca!
  • Bill has a new YouMoz post! Read it!
  • 500 Good Answers on Q&A by Ryan – you rock!
  • Pratik’s YouMoz post just got promoted to the Moz blog! Yay!
  • James has broken into the Top 50 in our members’ rankings!

Don’t forget to put members’ faces next to the updates. As an added incentive, you could also allow folks to get an impromptu virtual “pat on the back” (a thumbs-up-kind-of icon) from a Moz associate for an achievement – sort of like Distilled’s rubber ducks. You used to do this in the form of “staff endorsements” in Q&A:

Staff endorsement on Good Answer (Q&A)

Is there space for all this in the sidebar? Of course! All you have to do is clean up the social-ism a bit:

Moz Community on Social Media

The member ranking (Top Users) page should see a significant increase in visits as a result of this.

Moz Top Users Page

What’s missing on this page is a forum-like avatar of each user and the “level” they’re at.

Moz User Avatar

That’s what they call egobait on steroids! If I was in the Top 50, I’d visit that page at least once a day! (I vaguely remember that is how it used to be, but for reasons best known to you, the page looks like a spreadsheet now.)

Q&A Overflow

Community members who reach +500 MozPoints are eligible for full access to Q&A to respond and ask questions. Consider lowering this – maybe anyone who reaches the “Contributor” level could answer a question.

Levels for Moz Community Members

Display the levels of the users who are asking and answering the questions. This will give a better indication of the quality of both questions and answers.

You could also display the “Pro” tag on a member’s photo, so that for product-related questions, it’s apparent whether the person answering the question is a Moz Analytics user or not.

Like Quora, allow people to pay for an answer with MozPoints.

At the very least, allow everyone to thumbs up a question, so that members are encouraged to ask more (and better) questions, as well as get credit for them.

Quick Q&A on Twitter

Logging in to Q&A is too much of an exertion for lazybones like me, even if they have the requisite points. It’s rumored that at least one Moz Associate is always online. Why not have a #mozinar-like hashtag for quick Qs and As on Twitter? #mozqa has already been taken by Mozilla; will #mozans suffice?

Peeps are already shooting questions at Rand and others on Twitter as well as posting them on the Moz Facebook wall.

Q&A on Facebook

So why not make it official? Answers available anywhere, anytime! You could even combine the answers

Open in New Tab

Having links to other sites and social media pages open in the current tab is definitely a deliberate decision by Moz, notwithstanding the argument that it gives users a chance to leave your site, never to return. What is your rationale behind this rare preference? Personally, I’d like to stay on a post while checking out a related link and definitely don’t want to leave a site for a social media page.

Sites that open third-party links in the same tab:

Sites that open third-party links in a new tab:

Agency Games

You recommend some fantastic agencies founded or led by doyens in marketing, designing and web development. I would give my Enter key to have E2M on that list! Although the firms already there would be delighted to be in Moz’s metaphorical “good books” and welcome the referral traffic with glee, the listing could use a bit of cleaning up (in terms of interface) as well as gamification. For the agencies, this could mean getting much more by being here than what they currently do. Talk about spreading the Mozlove!

Moz Recommended Agencies Page

Just a few examples:

  • Blind Five Year Old and AJ Kohn are much more than just an “internet marketing firm specializing in search.” Imagine the possibilities of what is not being said here!
  • Many descriptions, such as BusinessOnline’s aren’t updated. I’m sure they don’t want to rest on three-year old laurels, given the chance. And keep checking for broken links here; companies may “forget” to tell you after they’ve moved their blog.
  • Tags are so 2005. A filter such as the one Jon Cooper uses in his link building strategies-became-tactics post will do a world of good.

Moz has two options to take agency recommendations to the stratosphere. One is to make companies work for their listing. Granted, they’re all whizzes and some might well be better than Moz at marketing. But that only means they should be able to earn their places easily! Establish criteria for agencies to get into this list, such as have five clients with revenues over $10 million, build 750 links to an infographic, get 100,000 Twitter followers for a celebrity, whatever! It shouldn’t be a big deal for the companies, given that most of them charge $10,000 a month at a bare minimum.

To beautify the catalog, have featured images submitted by the agencies themselves to go with their briefs. Wouldn’t an entry like this look great?

Entry format for recommended agencies

The icing on the agency gamification cake would be to feature the best performing (by predefined criteria) firm each month on the Moz footer.

Featured Agency in footer

Try changing “here’s a list of recommended companies who do!” to “Featured Company and other recommended companies do!”

The other approach involves a lot of work for the already bleary-eyed Moz associates. But the best gift Moz could give their agency friends – and most of all, small businesses looking to hire marketers – would be to have a staff member personally research and describe the work these agencies do, a la Oyster. Marketers (including Rand) can’t stop talking about Oyster.com because of the exemplary way they’ve proved that Researched Content is King. So why not take a leaf out of their book?

Cross-Social Photo Sharing

There isn’t much evidence of Moz being overly active on Google+ (at the levels you are on Twitter and Facebook). Rand and Jen have explained at various times how you focus on getting a foothold on one social network at a time, so I understand it might not be G’s turn yet. Although you were giving it all on Google+ for a while, the enthusiasm looks to have waned now.

One quick low hanging fruit to be plucked without much effort here is to piggyback on Facebook: Divide photos of events and happenings at Moz, post some of them on Facebook and others on Google Plus. You’ve already done this a few times, including Mozcon 2013 and the move to Mozplex (these were on Pinterest too). Try making this the norm, though. For instance, you recently put up pics of the ladies at Moz on Facebook:

Ladies@Moz on Facebook

You could’ve added a note saying something like, “Head over to Google+ and See the Shocking Things Rand Did on Women’s Day!”

And of course all he’d have done would be to pose with Lucy. But you get the idea (and the quick win).

All the King’s Videos…

You have a monster collection of videos now – perhaps more than I have Tweets – Whiteboard Fridays, Mozinars, tutorials at Moz Academy, Whiteboard+ and others on Google+, random bonus videos such as this, and of course YouTube. Say I remember seeing a Moz video about something six months ago – where do I look for it now? Can we access all of them from one place? Or at least have a Human Video sitemap?

Funny Whiteboard Friday

Side question: Why did you stop Whiteboard+? Were you spreading out too thin?

…And All the King’s Presentations

Along with videos, Moz has created and help create some fantastic presentations over the years. Slide decks are an oft-ignored (in favor of videos and infographics) but super-informative and entertaining form of content.

While Moz is not on SlideShare as a company – and given you simply can’t afford to have one more social property to manage – why not include a page in the Learn or Community sections that simply curates all presentations by Mozzers in one place? What I mean is,

  • Rand already blogs at Moz. Add a category with all his presentations from the multitude of events he speaks at.
  • Most of Jen’s SlideShare decks are in the Moz format. Ditto for all of Cyrus’s. Which other employees are presenting (or have presented) and where? Gather all the good PPTs and PDFs on this page.
  • Consider giving away the slide decks of as many presentations from Mozcon as possible.
  • Slides for Mozinars are already available at the respective pages. Link to all of them from here.

On Pinterest, you have a board for slide decks. What are missing here are pins of rabidly viral Moz slides such as the Inbound Marketing one (you’ll find it in the very top row if you do an image search for “inbound marketing”).

Inbound Marketing

You could also have a Pinterest board for WBF screenshots.

Build Up on Comments

There were a total of 576 comments on 10 posts published on the Moz blog in the first half of March 2014. That’s a staggering average of 57 comments per article – many a time, the community’s views easily outstretch the length of the post itself! So what is Moz doing to maximize value from these comments?

Some time ago, I wrote a post on SEJ (and later retracted it) about how links keep spammy social media pages afloat in the SERPs. Since this amounted to outing, I wanted to draw attention to industry-thought-leaders’ opinions on it:

Snippet from post on SEJ

Long ago, Rand happened to mention that it’s a part of our job. Unfortunately, he did so not in his post, but in reply to a comment.

Rand's reply to Jill Whalen

Imagine how convenient and context-clarifying it would have been if I could have simply embedded these two comments there! A List Apart’s been doing it for over a year; it’s time for Moz to follow suit.

Side musing: Does this increase comment load times?

On the same note, Moz fans would also love a Disqus-like ability to share comments on Twitter and Facebook as well as link to a comment thread with permalinks.

Finally, if we could select and tweet any 140 characters of not just a comment, but any part of the post, without the need for a browser extension (until Chrome adds the functionality a la ‘Search Google for …’), that would be tops! You might just see your mentions double…

Parting Notes

One lesson I learnt from this exercise is that it’s a (relatively) easy job to flip around a site and find a few things that want improvement. It took me less than 15 minutes to find 10 suggestions (I’d already tweeted about the first two). However, it’s altogether another thing to get down to writing about it – it took me a month and a half to begin!

Add to that, I’m a slow writer and a perfectionist. If you’re like me, you know that most of our ideas never see the light of the day. @Manish_Analyst hates me for that!

The Post I Never Wrote

In his SearchLove 2011 presentation, Rand asked three questions of the sites he audited:

  • Why does this website exist?
  • Who cares?
  • What motivates, inspires, and interests this audience?

These questions were constantly at the back of my mind when I went flipped through Moz, so I hope each suggestion given here bears consideration.

To state the obvious, CRO is not so much about increasing traffic as holding on to it – sort of “a penny saved is a penny earned.” On behalf of all Moz fans, I urge you guys to go ahead and make these changes. I have no way to tell how many more PRO subscriptions you’ll sell as a result. What I can tell is this blog is of the community, by the community, for the community, so you owe it to us!

I can has inbound

You can Upvote this post on Inbound.org!

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Rohan is responsible for project delivery and campaign management at E2M Solutions. He keeps the wheels spinnin' and the beavers grinnin'. He is @searchrook on Twitter.
  • Ashwin Ramesh

    Great insights Rohan. It’s refreshing to see someone from our neck of the woods (L’Inde) do such an awesome rundown.

    • Rohan Ayyar

      Thanks, Ashwin :)

  • http://moz.com/rand Rand Fishkin

    Thanks Rohan – I think you make a bunch of great points here, and I’m sending around to our team :-)

    • Rohan Ayyar

      That really means a lot coming from you, Rand :) Thanks so much!

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertarosenbergmaven Roberta Rosenberg

    Very insightful. So much so that Rand chimed in! Well done, Rohan.

    • Rohan Ayyar

      Thank you very much, Roberta :)

  • http://www.seobooklab.com/ Ram Babu SEO

    You got the things about MOZ , what should be pointed out . .. great job @rohan_ayyar:disqus

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  • jacek_blaut

    Good one Rohan! I love the style!

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