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Open Up Your EYES! Time to steer in a new direction...

Open Up Your EYES! Time to steer in a new direction... | internetprosperitypodcast | Scoop.it
Open your EYES! It's time and energy to steer your lifetime in to a new direction. We may help you attain the road to success. #internetmarketing #newcareer
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What Makes B2B Content Remarkable for Buyers?

It's no secret. Everyone knows the biggest problem B2B content marketing faces today. Well, actually several give B2B marketers fits.

Which one am I talking about?

Making B2B content engage and actually drive more leads. How bleak does the situation look?

Not good. Content Marketing Institute's 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report surveyed 3,714 B2B marketers from around the globe. The report defines “effective” as “accomplishing your overall objectives.” CMI asked B2B marketers to rate themselves. Shockingly, just 30% of B2B marketers rate themselves as “effective”. And that was down 21.05% from 38% in 2014.

And Heinz Marketing quotes IDG Connect as saying “86% of buyers say content is neither useful, relevant, nor aligned with needs of people in the buying decision.” That makes B2B buyers information-rich and knowledge-poor.

The natural question to ask then becomes, “If marketers' typical approach to B2B content doesn't work, what does?”

I've been on a personal quest to find out over the past several months. Let me explain some of the top elements of lead-generating B2B content.

Show Your Buyer Why They Need to Change Their Behavior

CEB Group research published at Harvard Business Review shows exactly what buyers want. They feel they must learn something new about their business and have a compelling reason to change their present behavior.

This explains why you can craft useful, interesting, and in-depth information, yet still not generate the leads you want. You have to make more of the right content based on your knowledge of your buyer and their industry and problems.

SaleCycle actually had the stomach to admit on Econsultancy that 80% of its B2B content failed.

They were creating lots of content, but most of it wasn't about topics that interested their prospects. Content that taught prospects facts, stats, and best practices about sales worked. Client stories worked too. However, their content about careers and company culture, though useful, absolutely bombed by comparison.

So, SaleCycle learned that lots of in-depth content doesn't necessarily work. But they found what did through their analytics.

Include Emotion in Your B2B Content

You hear it all the time: B2B buyers are intelligent, sophisticated people. They only need the facts. True with some aspects of marketing (especially white papers).

But remember, they're human beings and have emotions too.

What does research say about emotions in the B2B buying process? They play a far larger role than you think. Check it out:

B2B buyers make highly emotional decisions. (Image Source)

In fact, Kapost goes so far as to claim emotions matter more to buyers than logic and reason.

Are they completely outlandish in their claim?

Joint research among CEB Marketing Leadership Council, Motista, and Google also found:

“Not only did the B2B brands drive more emotional connections than B2C brands, but they weren't even close. Of the hundreds of B2C brands that Motista has studied, most have emotional connections with between 10% and 40% of consumers. Meanwhile, of the nine B2B brands we studied, seven surpassed the 50% mark. On average, B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”

Why would this be?

Think about it, well, logically. With many purchases, B2B buyers find themselves in an intensely emotional situation.

They spend a lot of money on their purchases. At least several other people get in on the decision, so they want to look good. Make a bad decision, and they'll lose an abundance of credibility and respect, and possibly their job. They want to go with the safe option, the one practically guaranteed to give them good results.

Consumers, on the other hand, generally make small purchases that don't put a big dent in their budget. If the purchase doesn't work out, they get angry, and often can get their money back. A few family members might be upset too.

But, it's just a little money. And they have plenty of competing choices to choose from. So for many consumer purchases, it's not a big deal to make a bad decision.

Possibly the greatest example of emotional marketing in B2B is IBM's famous slogan from the 1980s:

“No one ever got fired for buying IBM.”

Why did it work so well? With so much at stake for B2B buyers when buying computer hardware back then, they wanted to make a safe decision. No one wanted to lose their job, or a lot of respect, for going with an unknown competitor.

So, the slogan appealed powerfully to buyers' desire for safety, security, and predictability. Like Apple today, IBM was the dominant tech company of the 1980s.

And of Course…B2B Buyers Use Logic Too

While buyers use more emotion in their decision than consumers, they also have to line up all the facts. But most B2B content doesn't give them what they want in this respect either:

“66% of technology buyers feel that digital content needs to be more aligned with organizational objectives and relevant to the decision making process.” – IDG Connect survey

How do you do this? It's a simple process, but it isn't easy. Skilled marketers learn the questions B2B buyers ask throughout the sales cycle. They answer those questions with content.

Does that sound anything like what your sales team does? If they're good at what they do, your sales team should already know these questions and answers. So, it's just a matter of having a productive conversation with sales.

But, not all marketing and sales teams have positive relationships. If you don't have access to this data, you have a number of tactics you can use to get it:

Ask sales if you can silently observe a few of their phone calls Talk with customers you recently acquired because you know they love you now (you could offer a reward to the customer that's chosen) Check out B2B software review websites like G2 Crowd Watch your competitors' content, and especially the pieces that get the most social shares Review your own analytics as you gather data, focusing in particular on how many buyers took your desired next step, which could be done easily with the Kissmetrics funnel report Find and follow industry websites and thought leaders and watch the hot topics Follow your buyers on Twitter and LinkedIn to see what they talk about Do a Twitter advanced search using some of the keywords your buyer might use, and see what questions come up Search and follow the most relevant topics to your buyer on Quora

In my opinion, talking to sales, listening to their conversations, or talking directly with customers gives you the fastest and most useful results. When that's not possible, you'll have to research multiple sources online and construct the sales cycle from scratch.

The Amount of Trust Buyers Give Your Content Depends on Its Source

How your buyer comes into contact with your content directly affects the amount of trust they give it. If they stumble across a blog post or get the exact same content from your sales team, they place a far different level of trust in it.

Look at how much buyers trust content, depending on the source it comes from:

B2B buyers still trust recommendations from their peers more than anything else. (Image Source)

So if you pay any attention, you probably hear non-stop about “influencer marketing.” According to these stats, since buyers trust peer, colleagues, and independent content most, influencer marketing is a worthwhile approach.

It's not just another fad destined to go away. For what it's worth, B2B buyers' minds have worked this way for decades. Count on getting your content into their peers' hands as a valuable marketing tactic for many years to come.

Buyers, Including Millennials, Want Their Content in a Certain Format

You may have heard about 2016 being “the year of video marketing.” Snapchat, Instagram, and even Pinterest also get touted as the next biggest channels for B2B marketers. Periscope even gets some attention.

The real question: should you even spend any of your time working on channel strategies?

According to research from The Economist, no. Both veteran and young professionals still prefer plain ol' text:

Most business professionals still prefer text content over any other format. (Image Source)

That doesn't mean you shouldn't have any video in your B2B marketing strategy. I'm not saying that.

But, if you drive yourself mad because you don't have a podcast, webinar, video, infographic or whatever, relax. B2B buyers don't need anything fancy schmancy.

Just give them new and compelling information that gives them the business case for change.

Each Content Type Has an Ideal Place in Your Sales Cycle

You have such a massive mix of content to choose from. Blog posts, white papers, case studies, newsletters, videos, infographics…

What should you create, and where should you target it in the buy cycle? Eccolo Media surveyed B2B buyers firsthand to find out. And here's what they found:

Where the most common types of content work best in the sales cycle. (Image Source)

Basically, content works well before the sales cycle even begins, and best during the early and middle sales cycle.

To gather the data, Eccolo Media surveyed more than 100 B2B marketers. 33% were influencers while 67% were decision makers ranging in age from 20 to over 60, and holding positions from manager to vice president at all sizes of companies.

And they also give some interesting data you don't see on the above chart: 80% of survey respondents thought it was “important” or “very important” to get content on an ongoing basis after their purchase.

Eccolo Media found B2B buyers want these types of content post-purchase:

36% want “thought leadership” content 30% would like technical support and updates 25% love new product info 9% find customer stories useful Define What Content Marketing Success Looks Like

To find out what buyers want, you have to define what success means to you. Once you know that, then you can determine whether you've given buyers what they want (or not).

Now, all kinds of debate exists as to how you know you've succeeded. Some say MQLs. Others SQLs. Others look at follower counts, likes, and shares.

And then you even hear about brand new metrics like “return visitor rate (RVR).” Which should you trust?

I personally like two indicators:

The number of buyers who take the next step (whatever that is) you ask for in your content gives you a good indicator of what you will see in your final conversion goal (MQLs, SQLs, sales, revenue) Looking at the correlation between increases in your key metrics and changes in your revenue or profit. For example, when you see an increase in prospects who try a demo following a white paper, you notice a jump in revenue too.

And I like these because it's so difficult to get B2B buyers to take the “next step,” regardless of what that is. B2B marketing expert Ardath Albee looks at that action as a sign of commitment, which is hard to get from B2B buyers.

Address the Fear of Loss

Should you focus on benefits or fear?

Many B2B marketers today would say you should sell benefits. And it's not wrong to sprinkle benefits throughout your content marketing.

However, if you want action, you should focus on avoiding pain. Legendary marketer Dan Kennedy says:

“When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you'll understand how incredibly powerful this first formula is.”

With this quote, he speaks in relation to his PAS (problem-agitate-solve) marketing formula. If you click the link above, you can learn about the formula in great detail.

The gist is:

Start your copy with the prospect's problem Agitate the problem by describing all the emotions they feel Talk about the solution you have for them

You'll see more action when you focus on fear of loss instead of only highlighting benefits in your copy and content.

Sales Should Actively Reach Out to Prospects with Case Studies

You've heard the stat: 60% – 70% of B2B content just sits around, collecting digital dust. How do you make a cohesive, usable system that produces qualified leads with that?

Well, you can start with case studies. Because out of all content types, 84% of 319 execs surveyed at companies with $1 billion or more in revenues say they would respond positively when vendors initially reach out with sales emails that include case studies (more than any other content type).

You can see the full data below:

What execs trust most when your sales team reaches out to them with content. (Image Source)

With case studies, the closer the focus customer's success story matches your prospect's situation, the higher the response rate.

Don't have case studies matching the prospects you want to attract? Time to write some. Your sales team knows many customers that succeeded. Offer your sales team $1,000 for the customer that you end up profiling. You'll get more suggestions than you need.

Now You Can Stop Wasting Your Time and Do More of What Works

Over the next few years, I think we'll see more B2B content marketers finding success. Everyone rushed to join the craze so fast, thinking content would be a quick fix to all their marketing ailments.

But now, with reality becoming clear, many will have to evaluate what works, and what doesn't. And with this research in hand, you can stop wasting time and money and beat your competitors to high-ROI prospects.

About the Author: Dan Stelter, “The B2B Lead Gen Guy,” crafts persuasive content that makes attracting qualified leads effortless for B2B service, software, and tech companies. Learn how you can avoid 7 humiliating B2B content mistakes that frustrate buyers when you download your free special report.

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What You Need to Know About Google Maps' Promoted Pins

Image via Shutterstock.

According to the most recent numbers, about one billion people around the world have downloaded Google Maps and use it to reach 1.5 billion destinations each year.

That's a lot of searches and web traffic. But of equal interest to Google and its customers is foot traffic. Shopping online is great, but forecasts indicate 90 percent of retail sales will happen in physical stores rather than online, and half of smartphone users who search for something locally will end up visiting a retail location within 24 hours.

The latest update to Google Maps is called promoted pins. Google hopes it will help bridge the gap between online traffic and foot traffic. It will give local businesses an opportunity to have their voices heard in a new way and take advantage of our glorious, mobile-first future.

So what are promoted pins and why should you care?

If you're a Google Maps user, and you probably are, you're likely already intimately familiar with the ordinary red “pins.” These indicate nearby landmarks, businesses or other places of interest.

Promoted pins will provide a handy contrast, as they now come in royal purple - allowing your business to very visibly stand out from the rest of the locations in your area.

But drawing the eye with fresh new colors is just the start of it.

When you perform a search for, say, children's bicycles, you might see promoted pins from Toys 'R Us or other local toy stores populating the top of your search results.

These will also be accompanied by promotions and coupons tailored precisely to your search history. Maybe it'll be a $5 off coupon for that bike, or, in a different search, $1 off your Grande Mocha Whatever from Starbucks.

Sounds exciting, yes?

What do you need to get started?

Naturally, you'll need to do a little bit of work before you can get your own promoted pins off the ground.

First and foremost, if you haven't already, you'll need to have your business officially verified by Google. This can take a week or two, and involves receiving a postcard at your physical location to verify the address you've provided actually exists, and matches up with existing USPS records.

But to enable promoted pins specifically, you'll also need to meet Google's advertiser eligibility requirements and enable “location extensions” in AdWords. This involves linking your Google My Business account to your Adwords account. You can do this by following these steps:

Sign into your AdWords account and go to the “Ad Extensions” tab.
Select the “View: Location Extensions” option from this dropdown menu:
Click “+ Extension” and you'll be asked to link your Google My Business account.
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Planning your promoted pins strategy

Local businesses will be charged per click for their participation in promoted pins. But just what constitutes a “click”? Here's the rundown:

“Click-to-call” actions on your smartphone “Get directions” interactions “Get location” clicks

Knowing this, how much of your PPC spend should be directed at promoted pins?

Like many other aspects of online marketing and digital advertising, some strategies are simply going to be more effective for certain industries than others. For example, I could see promoted pins working really well for drugstores, gas stations or restaurants – places that people tend to frequent often, even when traveling.

However, I don't see promoted pins being overly beneficial for places like colleges or event venues. People do extensive research and planning when spending money with these organizations, and buying decisions are influenced by many, many other factors outside of location or even pricing.

To put it simply, there's not going to be a magic percentage of PPC spend you can put towards promoted pins to get your ideal results.

You'll need to play around with this new feature and gradually adjust how much money you want to allocate to it after a few months of testing. I will say that I don't think a promoted pins budget should be a majority part of any organization's PPC spend, but you can pick a starting budget based on your past successes with PPC and adjust said budget up or down as you start to see results.

In other words, budgeting for your local search campaign in Google Maps shouldn't feel at all out of step with other forms of digital advertising that charge according to the traffic you generate.

Tracking your promoted pins campaign

All of this is pretty academic if you don't have access to real-time data about your promoted pins, along with the traffic they're generating and some key information about who's interacting with them.

Here's how to access the traffic data for your promoted pins campaign:

Sign into your AdWords account and go to “Campaigns”:
Click “Segment,” then “Click type”:

That should bring you to the all-important data about the types of traffic your promoted pins are bringing in. This traffic might show up in a breakdown similar to your normal “Local” PPC ad analytics, with data for click-to-call, driving directions and location detail actions taken:

What you find there will be the key to tailoring your hyperlocal marketing approach in the months and years ahead.

Sales funnelling from Google Maps

How can you turn your promoted pins into real sales? How do prospective customers become, you know, customers?

The key is hyperlocal marketing, which is marketing tailored to a very small geographic area, such as a single zip code, neighborhood or city.

People are already shopping locally. Your job is merely to make sure they visit your establishment and not somebody else's. Promoted pins should make this easier than ever, by letting you cater directly to the people who are most likely to visit your business in the first place.

Promoted pins also encourage - even require - you to stay up-to-date with what people in your area are actually searching for.

You'll be able to optimize your business' page within Google Maps to reflect the language people are using to find you. Just like you would do keyword analysis and competitor research for your main website, you can take the information you learn about how people find you on Google Maps and apply it to your Google My Business page or promoted pins ads.

This whole process is like a snowball that just needs one gentle push to get started.

One national brand that figured this out early is PetSmart. It learned how to tie together data from its search ads with data from Google's Store Visits. It found that between 10 and 18 percent of folks who clicked on its ads ended up inside a PetSmart store within a month. PetSmart used this information to make more informed budgeting decisions for their online marketing strategies moving forward, and was able to provide data driven proof of the value in search ads for their merchandising partners.

It's this ability to truly understand the customer “journey” that really speaks to the usefulness of promoted pins.

Quick bonus tip: Be transparent about inventory

Here's one more key action you'll need to take, if you haven't already: Become super transparent about the products you have in stock. One in four mobile users avoids visiting brick-and-mortar stores because they fret over the product, or products, they're searching for not being in stock.

Fortunately, Google's already developed a way for companies to do this: local product inventory feeds. This is a list of all the products you sell in each of your stores, and you can choose to update your full product inventory or only the products whose inventories have changed that day. Inventory feeds help consumers feel more confident that they can find what they're looking for at your store, and that they won't arrive to find said item out of stock.

When done in conjunction with promoted pins, inventory feeds assure potential customers that a product is actually in stock and that it can be found at a location in their immediate area.

How promoted pins can help you

If you've read this far, you're probably one of two types of people:

You're excited to dig into the nitty gritty of a new type of ad platform, and you're ready to see what kind of return on investment this can bring to your local business You're fretting over yet another skill set you need to learn to keep your business viable in an increasingly digital-minded world.

Though, the perfectly sane businessperson probably falls somewhere in between.

It's true. There are a couple little tricks you'll have to pick up before you have your promoted pins strategy up and running and actually delivering real-world results.

But for the most part, we think you'll find the process actually dovetails pretty nicely with what you're already familiar with. AdWords is an established platform, and promoted pins is an offshoot of that. You were always going to have to become savvy with local marketing to survive and thrive. It was inevitable. And, thankfully, Google has made it pretty easy to get started.

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How to Localize Your Marketing Campaigns to Increase Conversions

It's all local.

Despite living in a global economy, many customers only care about what's happening in their neighborhoods and cities.

Brands must connect with consumers on their playing fields. And that means understanding people's languages, cultures, and traditions.

Marketing with location at the forefront offers some remarkable benefits. According to Nieman Journalism Lab, “geo-targeted [social media] posts were 6 times more successful than posts shared globally.”

“Localization goes beyond merely having to translate website content, and it connects with consumers on a personal level, builds your brand image in a way that is both accessible and unique. In short, localization is about building trust,” writes Danyelle C. Overbo, a Smartling contributor.

Let's explore how your ecommerce business can localize to boost sales.

Why Localize?

Localization enhances the consumer experience and expands your brand reach. It gives your business an opportunity to target a new consumer group.

Research shows that “75% of consumers prefer to buy products in their native language.”

Image Source

But your team can't simply copy and paste marketing campaigns. Every region has its own culture-specific behaviors.

Be careful when entering into another market. Perform extensive research. That may involve localizing your taglines and slogans.

Nokia failed miserably when launching its Lumia phone in Spanish-speaking countries. The product name is slang for “prostitute” in Spanish. As a result, the brand received negative publicity.

“Even when dealing with industries or product categories that do not seem to need localization, there is a chance that a certain element of the marketing mix may need adaptation if the product(s) will be marketed internationally,” writes Dr. Nitish Singh, a cross-cultural digital media adviser.

And it's more than just delivering the right message. Sometimes, the distribution channel may be totally different.

“[I]f you are planning to use social media, you won't want to market Russian users on Facebook, but you would rather go for VKontakte, which ranks first among the top social network sites in Russia,” says Serena Pasqualetto, an ecommerce marketing specialist.

Let the corporate marketing team establish the overall tone of your brand. They are responsible for ensuring all markets recognize your logo and likeness. Your local marketing teams should lay the foundation to earn consumer trust in the communities.

This strategy is common in the smartphone business. Since 1 in 4 users purchase their devices based on stores in their area, companies increase local mobile ad spending to target these groups.

Localize your marketing. Make the right first impression to convert your target audience.

Work With Localization Specialists

Hire people who understand your consumers' language, culture, and behaviors. Local experts will know how to effectively sell to your customers.

“Who knows a given culture better than a local? Tap into local experts, whether in the form of staff, agencies, or in-country partners, from each of your target markets. This way your team can ensure the most accurate, localized experience for users,” says Amy Rigby, a freelance writer and world traveler.

Let's just be straightforward: don't use Google Translate.

If you're venturing into another country, don't rely on language translation tools to create your marketing materials. Their algorithms usually include errors and miss the context of the intended message.

For example, idioms don't translate well from country to country. In America, when it's raining heavily, one may say: it's raining cats and dogs.

We know animals aren't falling from the sky. But other cultures may be confused by this expression. So, avoid these types of phrases.

Unbounce hired Ben Harmanus to handle its German, Austrian and Swiss market (DACH). Their customers appreciated interacting with a local brand ambassador. He helped translate Unbounce's most popular content into the region's language.

Image Source

Also, respect societal norms and create a cultural guide for each market. Explore beyond the general attitude of the area. Your team should analyze consumer behavior.

For instance, marketers in the United States use aggressive, sales-oriented campaigns. However, in Europe, your team may tone down the message.

More importantly, learn the laws of the area. Some regions prohibit words or phrases that are considered lewd.

Don't localize alone. Hire a specialist to get the job done right.

Diversify Your Product

Studies reveal that “65% of multinational enterprises believe localization is either important or very important for achieving higher company revenues.” Earning more sales might include changing your product.

Inc. contributor Susan Solovic writes, “Tweak your product or service so it appeals to a new group of consumers or users. If you have a 'high end' product or service, consider a less-expensive version. You need to be careful that you don't undercut yourself.”

Restaurant chains are very attentive to how they sell their products in other regions. Not only do they need to worry about the message, restaurants also must take local taste preferences into consideration.

For instance, Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, adapted its menu to Chinese customers. The brand offers East Dawning, a quick-service restaurant that provides authentic Chinese food served with tea.

How you package the product matters, too. Packaging often helps with brand identity and brand affinity.

Coca-Cola adapted its cans to attract Chinese buyers. This global beverage leader uses images of local celebrities and significant events to grab people's attention.

Image Source

Use data to change your product line for different locations. Examine website traffic, pricing patterns, social media engagement, and regional consumer habits.

“VF Corporation combines third-party geodemographic and lifestyle data with daily store-level sales data, extensive consumer research, and competitor analysis to develop localization strategies with retailers, such as Kohl's.”

Facebook understands that localization means much more than just translating:

Founders, this is what localization means, not just translation. pic.twitter.com/cKubLTXYBa

- Arjun Sethi (@arjunsethi) January 14, 2016

Change your product to meet the needs of your consumer. Fit into their lifestyles.

Humanize Your Brand for Local Markets

No matter the location, your company is still marketing to humans. And people understand emotions.

“By positioning the brand behind a core mission to solve important human needs, then fulfilling on that mission with local sensitivity, brands can traverse cultural differences to provide their markets with truths that transcend language barriers,” states Chris Bolman, director of integrated marketing at Percolate.

Work with your team to develop campaigns that touch the hearts of your consumers. You must talk like the locals.

Even within America, vernacular is different from coast to coast. For example, what do you people in Minnesota call a sweetened carbonated beverage? Pop. But in Louisiana, residents normally say “coke.”

Image Source

Imagery is another way to relate to the culture. Displaying photos that speak to a specific area gives customers a sense of comfort with your brand.

But be mindful of how you select your images.

Recently, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr received public backlash after showcasing his campaign ad. Instead of highlighting disadvantaged children in the state, his team used stock video of African children.

“One way to ensure that your photos are regionally relevant would be to only use photos taken by artists who live in said place,” states Janet Giesen, director of business development and APIs at Shutterstock.

“Localizing images will make you more familiar and relatable to your customers-they'll be more likely to recognize a bit of themselves (and the “human” aspects) in your brand.”

Sell to humans. Speak their dialect and highlight their culture.

Localize for Conversions

Every customer isn't experiencing life the same way. They see the world differently based on their location.

Learn how localization can benefit your brand. Hire local specialists to help your team navigate a different audience. And remember to humanize your brand.

Localize to convert.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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25 Inspirational Resources for Copywriters

Image via Shutterstock.

As a copywriter, you need to be immersed in what's going on in the world, even when those things seem completely unrelated to what you're doing. Why? Because you're writing for real people, who may end up being customers if you treat them right. We're all just people, and what we really connect over is stuff which makes us go, “Woah!”

For example, did you know that the poster for Netflix's nostalgic 80s sci-fi series, Stranger Things, was designed using an iPad Pro and Apple pencil?

Image via Kyle Lambert.

That may not seem relevant when you're building out marketing campaigns and landing pages, but when you understand how people are thinking, and what they're doing with technology, art and words, you have a better toolkit for building conversion-friendly content.

Here are 25 inspirational and practical resources, aimed at expanding your mind and copywriting toolkit. If you think we've missed one, drop us a comment below and help us to grow this list.

Technical and grammar

Interesting reads on writing well, and how not to use the semicolon.

1. The Writer - readability checker

The team at The Writer are all about making your words work harder. There's plenty of general advice there for strengthening your copy, but what I really love is their readability checker, which gives you instant feedback on how readable your copy is, on a scale of Harry Potter to Harvard Law Review.

2. The Oatmeal (posters)

I wish they'd do more of these posters, because not only are they funny, they're also genuinely useful.

Check out the one on semicolons: “Using a semicolon isn't hard; I once saw a party gorilla do it.”
3. Mary Norris, Comma Queen (The New Yorker)

One of my absolute favorite resources is the Comma Queen series by Mary Norris, copy editor at The New Yorker. In her witty, to-the-point style, she'll teach you how to properly use commas and semicolons, and how to understand the difference between lie and lay.

4. The Unbounce Dejargonator Extension

There are ways to writing convincingly, without using heady, technical jargon. When you're speaking to people who aren't marketers - or even if they are - it's really beneficial to speak like a human being. Simple, right? This awesome extension for Chrome helps you do just that, by suggesting changes to your landing page copy. It's like having an Unbounce editor all to yourself, you lucky sausage.

5. Ellen Brock, Editor

Ellen Brock is a freelance novel editor, but her advice is extremely valuable for all kinds of writers. When you understand story arcs and how to prioritize your work, you can apply those skills to your marketing copy.

6. Thesaurus.com

No, it's not just a website for looking up synonyms, Thesaurus has a bunch of other really useful articles and tools for improving your writing. Between it and Dictionary.com there's a lot of information on the difference between the likes of Who and Whom, and commonly misunderstood words.

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Content marketing

Using what you write to inform, entertain and convert.

7. Shopify Blog

A little bit like Entrepreneur, only focused entirely on e-commerce. If your landing page is for an online store, what you learn from Shopify could help to make sure customers stick around and spend once they arrive.

8. Copyblogger

Really more of a general content marketing blog these days than straight copywriting advice, Copyblogger is a great resource for anyone in need of specific know-how, or just a bit of inspiration. Well-written, engaging posts and updated regularly.

9. Copyhackers

If you're a new freelancer, or new to content marketing, Copyhackers is the place to go for fundamental advice on running your show. Even if you're an experienced writer or marketer, if you need trusted advice in a hurry, bets are that Copyhackers have covered it.

Whether you're a new or an experienced copywriter, this comprehensive guide to freelance copywriting is a cracking place to start. And then there's the Beginner's Guide to Writing Facebook Ads.

10. Ceros Blog

Another gem in the world of content marketing, the Ceros blog features loads of examples of effective creative content, in the form of opinion pieces and big brand analyses.

Reading and culture

Get outside the world of click and convert for a bit, and see what words can do for your soul.

11. Stephen King - 20 Rules for Writers

I hate seeing the words rules and writing put together, but King's top 20 - let's call them guidelines - can help to get you on track, or back on track depending on where you left off.

Image via Ashley Conti/Bangor Daily News.
12. The Electric Typewriter

Feed your soul at The Electric Typewriter. Possibly the internet's most delicious collection of articles, essays and short stories from the world's best journalists and authors. This is online reading for connoisseurs.

13. Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man

Here's something for when you need some downtime. Science-fiction author Ray Bradbury's brilliant collection of short stories, The Illustrated Man. I'm a big fan of short stories, and I believe that reading and understanding them can help you to craft more potent copy. Why? Check out this post “For More Meaningful Copy, Think Like a Fiction Writer”' to find out.

14. The short stories of O. Henry

Henry is considered a legend amongst short story authors. His command of simple language, and how he used it to offer incredibly short, but always poignant ideas makes his work a good body to study if you're trying to learn how to be more economical with words.

15. Brain Pickings with Bob Dylan

A little off the beaten track here, but in this interview with the singer-songwriter, Dylan muses on the value of new ideas and what it takes to create something with real meaning. Lofty, for sure, but like I said at the start, it's good to know what's going on in the world.

16. Stephen King, On Writing

In relation to my last point, if you'd like some advice on writing fiction, then Stephen King's On Writing is a fabulous resource.

17. How To Format a Screenplay

Here's a fine example of stepping outside your comfort zone. Writing exists in so many formats, and screenplays for TV and movies are one of the most technical and, in my opinion, difficult examples of the craft. Approach this as a pencil illustrator might approach drawing with ink for the first time, and enjoy it, it's an interesting read.

Journalism

To-the-point advice from leading journos and editors at The New York Times.

18. The Opinionator blog, NYT

Plenty of musings on the technical and metaphysics of writing from opinion writers at The New York Times. Interesting reads, and the occasional gem of inspiration or practical advice to be had.

19. Writing rules and advice from the NYT

If you really want to write well and effectively, then taking heed of how (arguably) the world's best newspaper does it is smart.

20. After Deadline blog, NYT

A more technical, nerdy look at The New York Times's approach to copy and editing. An interesting blog to scan over in your lunch break. Keep it bookmarked and build up a vast knowledge of copy-related wisdom from seasoned writers and editors, which might come in handy one day.

Video

Talks and interviews with linguistics experts, authors and journalists from around the world.

21. Charlie Rose interviews

Charlie Rose is arguably the greatest interviewer of all time, and he's had some of the most famous and influential people at his table over the past 25 years. I've linked here to his segments with key journalists, but you'll also find talks there he's done with well-known authors, including David Foster Wallace and Stephen King.

22. TED playlists

Inspiring talks from authors and linguistics experts on how to tell stories, how language evolves and even the origins of words themselves. Look out for The Mystery Box talk from Star Trek director J. J. Abrams, in which he talks about how to effectively draw your audience into a world of possibilities - exactly what you want from your landing pages, right?

10 talks from authors How to tell a story Talks for people who love words How language changes over time

Typography

Get to know the letters which form our words and shape our world.

23. I Love Typography

You click, you change the font, you click, you change to another font. Typography affects readability, emotional impact, tone and whether people stick around long enough to click, or buy. Take a dive here into the completely nerdy world of typography.

Advertising

When words become household sayings.

24. Fast Company, “The Best Advertising Slogans of All Time”

My all-time favorite slogan has to be the one Toys R' Us used for a period in the 1980s - “You'll Never Outgrow Us.” Creepy as hell, right? Here's Fast Company's round-up of the most popular advertising slogans of all time.

Bonus 25. 10 books For copywriters

Unbounce veteran contributor Aaron Orendorff recently tweeted this top 10 list of copywriting books by copywriters. I'll confess that I don't read a lot of nonfiction, but Aaron knows his stuff, so you should check these guys and girls out.

That's it for now, but we'd love for this list to grow. If you have an awesome resource that you'd like to share with your fellow writers, drop it in the comments below, and we'll add it to the list.

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Your Message and Your Voice

I'm writing this for my Owner Insiders but figured I'd share it with you, as well. The idea is one of those simple-but-potentially-profound ones. I'll be sharing it with the people at Owner Action Systems LIVE in Portland, Maine on 9.24.16.

Your Message and Your Voice

I believe that when you better understand what you stand for, what you believe in, what you bring to the picnic, and who you seek to help, everything flows better in your business. I've come to think about this as a “throughline.” In writing, the throughline is a connecting theme or plot.

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The post Your Message and Your Voice appeared first on chrisbrogan.com.

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4 Ways to Reduce Churn With Email Campaigns

Churn is your arch nemesis.

And it's cutting into your profits.

Research shows that “80% of your company's future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.” So, your team must focus on satisfying customers and ensuring they gain value.

To keep ecommerce consumers in the sales cycle, create email campaigns that engage and educate your audience. The goal is to engulf customers in a worthwhile shopping experience.

Retention emails are “designed to get customers more engaged, whether they are totally inactive or just not taking full advantage of your product.”

Initiate email campaigns to retain customer's interest in your brand and products. Try these four strategies:

1. Segment Your List

You've heard it before: segment your list. But what does that mean? And how will it benefit your customers?

Email segmentation is targeting specific groups based on a certain criteria. The notion is that everyone isn't the same.

Consumers live in different locations and possess different interests. More importantly, your business customers have different budgets.

Therefore, it wouldn't be logical to send the same mass email to all your subscribers. It would be useless to the customer.

“Nobody likes generic emails; they're lazy, unhelpful, and a waste of inbox space. So by segmenting your email sends, you're saving your customer time and helping them discover products they'll love,” writes Joe Stych, marketer at Zapier.

Segmentation gives rise to personalization. It lets you inform customers about products that fit their particular circumstances.

By segmenting your email list, your team can provide relevant content to multiple target audiences.

Athletic shoe company Brooks used data to create multiple campaigns based on the weather conditions. The emails below show how their team crafted the copy and inserted photos to fit the consumer.

Image Source

The million-dollar question is: How do you segment the email list?

Analyze internal data to learn about the buyer's habits. For instance, segment the list based on product usage, customer support tickets, or webinar training attendance.

“Identify at-risk customers. Even before a user cancels a subscription, there are several signs to help you identify that they're in danger of churning. Keep a lookout for engagement flags, such as less frequent website visits than before. For example, customers may go from using the service daily to weekly and then monthly,” says Shane Barker, a digital marketing consultant.

Be proactive. Send targeted emails to stop churn.

2. Offer Educational Content

Combat churn by actually teaching customers the value and functionality of your products. They will gain a deeper understanding of your brand.

Mark Quinn, a Segment VP of Marketing with Leggett & Platt, agrees:

“When you're educating people, you're helping them understand the benefit of a solution. Consumers can find information anywhere these days, but when it comes from you, the benefit is twofold: you establish a more knowledgeable customer base while you develop loyalty.”

Stop sending predictable emails; switch things up with gifs, video, and case studies. Educational content includes everything from a detailed guide to a Snapchat story.

And the best content answers questions from customers or concerns they may have.

How can I use your product more efficiently? What features can accomplish X task?

Use email as a launching pad to engage the customer. You don't have to include every little detail in the email. Your goal is to encourage them to take action.

For instance, write short snippets of the article in the email. Then, hook customers to continue reading. Add a “Read more” call-to-action button that takes the subscriber to your blog for the full article.

That's how LinkedIn does it. Their team engages with customers via email to boost blog traffic. See the email below.

If you want email subscribers to act now, create a sense of urgency. Use time limits or add bonus incentives.

“Apply the threat of scarcity to your educational content marketing. This works particularly well when you set up the classic challenge and solution scenario in your content, pinning something like time or money as the motivator to change a behavior,” writes Julie R. Neidlinger, content crafter at CoSchedule.

Keep churn at bay with educational content.

3. Send a Feedback Email

Churn happens for several reasons. And most of the time, it's preventable.

A good starting point is to collect feedback from your users.

“Target customers who have bought from your business before and ask them for a review or recommendation. Not only is this best practice but, for an eCommerce store, it is a genuine means of bringing customers back to your website to purchase again,” writes Chris Hexton, one of the founders of Vero.

Learn from your customers. The direct approach is to ask them questions like:

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy our product? How can we improve our customer service? Would you recommend us to a colleague?

Compose an email leading consumers to a quick survey. And keep the design simple.

Stay away from unnecessary images or headings in the email. Focus on the message and the call-to-action. The key is to reduce distractions and encourage consumers to take your desired action.

Below is a feedback email by Campaign Monitor.

Image Source

Analyzing your email campaign results is an indirect method to gather feedback. Find out if your customers are active.

Monitor your email open rates. Discover which links they click. And evaluate the replies you receive.

“Click-to-open rate can help evaluate the quality of your content and the engagement of your subscribers. It can point to possible ways to improve campaign performance and help compare your subscriber's expectations to what you are actually delivering,” writes Ben Niolet, former marketing director at Contactology.

Take advantage of customer feedback. Cater to their needs to increase retention.

4. Show Appreciation

Everybody needs a little love. It's time to show your customers some appreciation.

Use email as a communication tool to express your gratitude. Remind customers how much you value their business.

“These users have become habitualized to not thinking about your brand, and you need to break them out of that pattern with something special. Coupons, promo codes and special offers are the go-to incentives at this stage, and they have proven effective,” states Bob Colner, director of marketing and data science at Boomtrain.

Appreciation takes several forms. It can range from a simple thank you to a discount on a purchase to an all-access pass to an upcoming conference.

Image Source

Work with your team to determine how to distribute your appreciation. A 10-year customer may get free tickets an exclusive event, while someone who bought $50 worth of products may receive a 10% coupon.

Be mindful of your appreciation gifts. Some customers may consider your discount as a promotion, rather than a thank you.

Brian Morris, a writer for PsPrint, says, “You might think offering customers an upgrade or an add-on item at a discounted price qualifies as a customer appreciation strategy, but it's really an upsell or cross-sell. That's not a customer-centric strategy; it's a sales strategy.”

Decide how you will show customer appreciation. And use it as a tool to reel inactive users back to your brand.

Email to Reduce Churn

Existing customers are your best asset. With the right mix of nurturing, your team can fight high churn rates.

Segment your list to deliver customized messages. Send feedback emails to gather customer intelligence. And show appreciation with a simple thank you email.

Upgrade your email campaigns. Reduce churn.

Marketing to the right customer is the first step towards solving churn. Want to solve customer churn? Make sure you're marketing and selling to the right customer. Don't know who your best customers are or where they're coming from? Kissmetrics analytics shows you. Learn more in our new SaaS retention PDF


About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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Do You Believe in… Conversion Magic?

Do you believe in… conversion magic? Image via Shutterstock.

Like any potions master would attest, the secret to a great elixir lies in the measured combination of its ingredients.

Over the years, Titan PPC, a full-service pay-per-click advertising agency based in Vancouver, has developed a “magic formula” for designing lead generation landing pages that convert at average of 15% or higher.

The secret ingredient? For company founder, Patrick Schrodt, it doesn't boil down to just one.

Read on to find out what key ingredients make Patrick's lead gen landing pages so powerful. Then test them yourself with the new, kick-ass Hyperion template in the Unbounce app.

1. Make your landing pages relevant

Any smart marketer knows that when visitors reach a landing page, they won't all have the same intentions for being there. Some may have clicked an ad looking for a plumber in West Seattle where others may have clicked one looking for a plumber in Capitol Hill.

But if your client is a plumbing company that serves the entire Seattle metropolitan area, your landing page should show both the visitors from West Seattle and Capitol Hill that you've got the service they need in the location they want it.

In other words, you want to use geo-targeting to make your landing pages especially relevant to your prospects. As Patrick explains:

There's always been geo-based searches and there always will be. For our own campaigns, we've gone as targeted as including a map on every landing page. We highlight a visitors location on the map depending on the where their search is coming from - people go crazy for it!

And the conversion rates don't lie.

Watch this clip to hear how Titan PPC used geo-targeting to increase a client's on-page conversion rates from 6% to 33%, practically overnight.

Interview with Patrick Schrodt, founder of Titan PPC.
2. Use (awesome) images to break up your body copy

Never judge a book by its cover… right?

Well, fact is, when a prospect reaches your lead gen landing page, the first thing they'll do is judge your offer or product by the way you've presented it to them. And they'll do it within seconds.

That's why you want to make sure it looks so good they won't want to leave.

The key to keeping prospects interested? Great photography. According to Patrick:

Images help prospects get a clear picture of your client's product or offer, and it shows them you're a professional.

Titan PPC adds full-page horizontal image galleries throughout their lead gen landing pages.

It helps break up a visitor's attention as they scroll by giving them something nice to look at.

But you can't just slap a bunch of images into a gallery and hope that it all comes together.

If you're going to source images for clients, you have to make sure you grab photos from a series. I've seen landing pages where it's obvious that each image belongs to a different suite and it's not coherent or nice to look at.

Check out this example of cohesive image galleries on one of Titan PPC's lead gen landing pages for a lawn mowing client in Philadelphia:

Screenshot of cohesive image galleries, landing page designed by Titan PPC.
3. Remind visitors why they are on your page

Remember that bit about making sure your landing pages were super relevant to your visitors? Well, that sometimes means reminding them exactly why they are on your landing page.

For Titan PPC, the best way to do that is by adding a smooth scroll call-to-action (CTA) bar right below the horizontal image gallery.

Why? Because it brings a prospect right back to where you want them: the form.

It works because every time a visitor sees something visual and eye catching [like the image galleries], they're then prompted to fill out the form.

4. Make the form match the offer

Speaking of taking prospects back to where you want them, the design of a form on your landing page should never be an afterthought. That means weighing, measuring and sifting every item from the questions to the CTA so it's fully optimized to ensure a conversion.

It's so key that the form matches the offer. Otherwise a prospect will just be turned off.

So if your client is offering a 100% free quote on plumbing services, then the form on your landing page should reiterate, loud and clear, that the offer comes at no price.

Sounds pretty straight-forward, doesn't it?

But matching a form to an offer also means making sure you have a solid understanding of your target audience. As Patrick explains:

For real-estate clients, the CTA is always to download a free floor plan. But for clients that are service based, like plumbers or roofers, the CTA is always to get a free quote.

It all comes back to personalization: different types of prospects want to see different kinds of offers. According to Patrick, real-estate prospects want the feeling of exclusivity, whereas service-seeking prospects are probably just looking for the cheapest way to fix a runny faucet or leaky roof.

Titan PPC's last tip for optimizing the form? Make the form catch your prospect's attention.

We always put a starburst or icon in the corner of the form. It's usually something like '100% free' so it pulls a visitor in and reminds them why they want to fill it out!”

Here's an example of what Patrick means:

Screenshot of a high-converting landing page form, designed by Titan PPC.

From showing your visitors ultra-relevant content to making sure that content has awesome design and flow, the landing page magic formula is all about giving prospects exactly what they're looking for and expecting to see when they land on your page.

Care to try some of Patrick's tricks yourself?

Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Unbounce and try the Hyperion template, a design inspired by Titan PPC's powerful elixir for high-converting landing pages.

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How to Use Release Notes to Drive Feature Adoption

Companies are understandably excited to tell the world when they push new features. New developments can take months and they are the hope for more users, greater engagement, and achieving milestones towards success.

So how do teams communicate these big announcements to their users? A blog post, an unread notification, an email, and… that's it. They sit back and wait for impact, but are disappointed if the anticipated uptick in usage doesn't arrive.

Here we'll explain why standard feature announcements are missing the mark, and how to drive new feature adoption amongst your users.

The Standard Feature Announcement

The BJ Fogg behavior model is a big component of our thinking on user experience. It explains that new behaviors form when three elements align:

Motivation-the user wants to perform the action. Ability-the user has the capacity to perform the action. Triggers-the user is nudged to perform the action.

You can see how these three elements intersect in this graph:

When people have high motivation, they are more able to do hard things. When people have low motivation, they will only take action for easy to do behaviors. Triggers will push people into performing the actions, as long as there is sufficient motivation AND ability (above the action line curve).

When trying to change user behavior to adopt a new feature, an announcement serves as the trigger.

However there are three problems with conventional feature announcements:

Users miss them or forget about them because those channels are noisy and are out-of-context. Announcements focus on HOW to use the feature and emails are a terrible way for this: we learn by doing, but emails are not interactive. We explain more here. Announcements don't actually help a user adopt the new behavior, because they don't improve a user's ability (they don't make the new feature “easy to do”).

In these cases, the feature announcement email or notification or blog post is a trigger below the action line, and so it doesn't cause users to act and adopt the new feature or workflow.

Blog & Email Announcements

Blog and email messaging can help motivate users, but they don't help them adopt any new behavior. What's more, when a user is going through their inbox or reading a blog, they are away from the context of the app. Even if they see information about a new feature, it is difficult for them to internalize the new actions just through reading.

Automation tool Zapier has a whole section of their blog devoted to product updates:

They post once a month about new updates to their product. This is great information for new and current customers alike, but it isn't actionable. They are in the wrong place and the wrong frame of mind, so they don't have the ability to make any behavioral changes. They are just reading a blog, not thinking about using the product.

Following this up with an email highlighting the feature is also common. This is an email from email marketing tool MailChimp announcing improvements to their A/B testing tool:

Image Source

This email does tell you all you need to know about the new features. These types of update emails are great for maximum reach as you can send the update to the thousands of users on your email list. If any currently aren't finding good use for your product, this might be enough to bring them back.

But this doesn't help the user actually use the product. The call-to-action at the end of the email is to read more, even though they have just read a very long email about the product. Reading doesn't help the customer internalize the idea of the new feature. Though they might be giving use cases for the new features, the only way people can really learn is by using the product. MailChimp missed the opportunity here to direct the user into the product and to a tour of the new features.

In-app notifications

Ability is slightly higher with in-app announcements. In this case, the user is in the product and they are familiar with how it works.

But they are still way below the threshold needed to get the new user invested in the product. They are often delivered at the wrong time to the wrong user. Also, they just give the user more to read, instead of guiding the user through actions they need to take to get value from the new feature.

Most in-app notifications have this fatal flaw. For instance, if you've ever used project management tool Trello, then you will be familiar with Taco the Husky and his announcements:

Image Source

If you were to click on that link though you would be taken away from the product and to their blog:

This is the opposite of what you want. Users have been moved to a detailed description of your product, possibly raising their motivation, but lowering their ability. Plus, there's no guarantee users will come back once you send them away from your app. How many times have you clicked through a link thinking you'd just read one blog post or article and get back to what you were doing, only to disappear into a hours-long time sink? This is the fate Trello is tempting with this kind of feature announcement.

Instead showing them what to do in bite sized chunks through tooltips and product tours is much more effective. Users can internalize each new concept and start to use that feature, without being overwhelmed.

Increase Adoption with Targeted Product Tours

In each of the feature announcements we've looked at, users are simply told about the new feature and then left to find it themselves. They have low motivation and low ability. You need to get to your users when they have high motivation and high ability. This means teaching users with a product tour within the product.

Some products do this. For instance, Instagram's new Stories feature comes with a quick in-app tour that is easy to find, and pushes you towards using the feature:

These tours work best when they are in-context of what the user is doing at that very moment. For that, you need to segment users by both time and behavior.

Targeting the Right User

Sharing a new feature with all your users may seem the best way to increase engagement. But the truth is that each of your customer personas will have different use cases for your product. They will favor some features over others. Therefore, they will want to hear updates about some new features more than others.

Using behavioral data you can look at how different subsets of users have used a certain feature before, how engaged they currently are with the feature, or if they have used adjacent features recently.

You are looking for a behavior they have exhibited that demonstrates they are ready to learn about your new update. For instance, you could use Kissmetrics Analyze to identify specific customer journeys through your app and target different features to these different journeys.

Another example is the MailChimp feature above. If MailChimp wants to increase the use of their improved A/B testing they could target a tour towards users who exhibit the following behaviors:

Have previously created five regular campaigns - this shows they have the motivation to continually create campaigns, but perhaps not the knowledge of A/B campaigns. Have two or more saved templates - they have the ability to start testing each of these templates immediately with A/B testing. Have 1000+ contacts in their list - they have enough users to make a test statistically useful. Are currently creating their next campaign - they are in the position to start their next campaign.

These are the users that will be ready to use A/B testing in their email campaigns. Users who are just starting out with a single campaign, don't have templates ready, or only a small readership will not find value in this new feature.

Targeting at the Right Time

Targeting at the right time is as critical as targeting the right person. In the MailChimp example above, pinging that ideal customer just as they start generating their new campaign with “Hey, there's a better way!” can be just the trigger to move them to the new feature.

This isn't as simple as targeting someone the moment they sign in or start using a feature. It depends on what the new feature is and how it corresponds to the current feature they are using. Look at this example from survey platform Typeform. They show the announcement at the start of building a new survey:

This is a lost opportunity. At this point I have a form to build. That is my main motivation. I am going to immediately dismiss this tour and continue with my main task. By the time I'm finished, I'll have forgotten about these “cool features.”

If instead this was targeted after I had finished my main task then my motivation could be to check the new features out. Once I had successfully completed one task, I would then be ready to learn more.

Conclusion

Emails, blogs, and in-app notifications all have their place when it comes to feature announcements. Each messaging channel can be used at a different point to inform, teach, and highlight features to users.

But the in-app tour is the most powerful tool at your disposal for engaging users with new features:

You can target the right people: New features will appeal to a certain segment of your users most. Using behavioral data, you can find out who uses the features you're upgrading or aligned features and target a brief tour of the release only to them. You can target those people at the right time: in-app tours let you get your new features in front of users at the exact moment when they would find them most useful. This might be just as they finish a task, or just as they start another. But timing an in-app tour allows users to have the context needed for them to find value in the feature, as well as the ability and motivation to learn more.

When you target a tour to the right people at the right time you will have them when both motivation and ability are high. Then it only requires a small trigger to push them into action.

If you get this targeting right, then you have introduced the best customers to the most valuable features to them, meaning you are building success for them and your product.

About the Author: Pulkit Agrawal is cofounder & CEO of Chameleon, a platform for better user onboarding. He believes that first-user experience is a hidden treasure to drive improved user activation and retention. He writes on the Chameleon blog, which contains great resources on the psychology of effective user engagement. You can converse with him on Twitter.

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People Pay, Not Pageviews. Here's Why People Are Leaving Your Website Without Converting

You've rolled out a lot of marketing tactics to boost traffic for your website. After copious amounts of content production, sharing, social engagement, and even paid ads, you feel like you can finally celebrate because your site is now pulling in tens of thousands of unique visits every month with a ton of page views.

However, if your conversions are bottoming out and growth is sluggish, then don't celebrate just yet.

I hear about this problem on a regular basis. Unfortunately, pageviews don't pay the bills. Purchases do.

If you're struggling and want to improve your conversion rates, you should look beyond the traditional CRO recommendations and A/B testing recommendations for bottlenecks.

Here are some reasons why your visitors might be bailing on you:

Your Design is Turning Them Away

According to data from SmartInsights, more than 80% of people use smartphones as their primary method for accessing the web. You'll see similar rates of mobile usage if you review visitor device information on your analytics platform.

It's important to be aware of this trend, since 30% of mobile users admit to abandoning a transaction if the website isn't fully optimized for mobile browsing.

Personally, I find it incredibly frustrating to visit a site on my phone, only to be greeted by a site that requires me to zoom in and scroll horizontally. It goes from bad to worse when a pop-up designed for desktop users suddenly fills my mobile screen and I'm unable to close it. That site is basically dead to me on mobile and I'll never try to go back after that bad experience.

Responsive and mobile-compatible designs fit content to a mobile display, greatly reduce the need to zoom. Image Source

Google understands that frustration, and they have updated their algorithm to make mobile compatibility a ranking factor. If your site isn't currently using a responsive, mobile-compatible design then it's time to fix it. Otherwise you'll miss out on conversions and risk a significant drop in organic search rank (and subsequent organic traffic).

Mobile usability aside, there are other on-page elements that can repel your visitors like:

Multiple calls to action that prevent them from taking action (analysis paralysis) Poor navigation Sliders and rotators Too many steps in navigation to reach content/products Confusing or cluttered content

Rather than guess at what makes a good user experience, you can quickly identify and work to eliminate a lot of usability issues by working with UserTesting.com. You can submit your site to be reviewed by real people and watch videos of how the interact with and react to your site.

Autoplay Videos Hijack the User Experience

Don't you just love the autoplay feature on ESPN and CNN.com? You land on a page to read an article, a video loads (with an ad) and you scramble to hit the pause or mute button so you can read the article. Or you just hit the back button to read the story on a different site with a better user experience.

With that being said..

Implementing video on your website could work wonders for conversions. According to a Liveclicker survey among major retail brands, the more videos a visitor watches, the more likely they are to spend within your funnel.

According to a survey of major online retailers, the use of video on product pages lifted conversions an average of 9%.

But setting videos to autoplay could potentially harm your conversions. It's potentially a major disruption. According to W3C (the group responsible for setting standards for web design best practices), autoplaying audio can interrupt the navigation process as a user has to search for the source of the audio to shut it down.

Certain groups of people, especially those with attention disorders, can be easily distracted by motion which can disrupt the user experience and make it difficult for them to focus.

Worst case scenario, the visitor has a negative reaction to the disruption and closes the page.

Instead of autoplaying the video, create a call-to-action that draws visitors' attention to it and persuades them to click the play button on their own. Another option is to run the video on silent in the same way Facebook autoplays video in a user's feed.

Your Value Proposition is Unclear

If you're not clearly communicating the value and benefits of your offer, then your visitors won't feel compelled to click or make a purchase.

Why should they, if they have no idea what they'll get out of the exchange?

Here's a great example from Help Scout where they reference the launch of the Apple's early iPod product. Not every member of their audience is tech-savvy, so trying to leverage storage capacity (a feature) would be meaningless to many people.

Instead, they communicated the real value and benefit of the product: 1,000 songs in your pocket.

Make sure your value proposition is crystal clear on your landing pages. Test different variations to see which phrasing gives you the best conversion lift.

Content Doesn't Match Audience Intent

The first conversion opportunity isn't on your website, it's wherever your visitor came from. In most cases, this will be organic search or an ad elsewhere on the web. The headline and description make a specific promise to the reader and set their expectations.

If they arrive on your website and find something completely different, such as copy or offers that don't match their intent, they're more likely to click the back button.

For example, if you're targeting enterprise businesses and your audience is mostly CMOs and upper-level marketers, they're not likely to opt-in if you're only offering a free e-book on local marketing strategies.

Image Source

Make sure the copy, design elements, offers, and calls-to-action all line up with user intent to lift conversions on your landing pages. This is where audience research pays off.

Understanding the specific needs and pain points of audience segments will help you create more targeted offers to keep your visitors engaged.

Site Load Time is Terrible

Kissmetrics produced an infographic that shows us just how load time can impact your bottom line. Not only is load time a ranking factor for organic search, but it can also have a pretty significant impact on conversions.

As many as 47% of consumers expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less. If they're met with prolonged loading graphics or a hanging white page then you risk losing them – and their patience can be short.

In fact, a delay of just 1 second in load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

Do everything you can to reduce page load time on your website in order to avoid negatively impacting your conversion rates. I recommend:

Optimizing/compressing image files to reduce size by using a tool like ImageOptim or TinyPNG. Lossless compression ensures quality isn't compromised. Enabling browser caching Combining multiple style sheets Reducing the plugin load on your website Loading your scripts from the footer, below the fold, so they don't all try to load first Opt-Ins Aren't Optimized

The old trick for improving conversions with opt-in messages was to reduce the number of form fields. This advice was based on a study from 2008 so by now, it's obsolete. In fact, ConversionXL examined another study by Unbounce that compared shortened forms to optimized forms.

The result?

The forms with fewer fields performed worse. Meanwhile, the forms with improved label copy instead of reduced field counts saw a 19.21% lift in conversions.

So which method is the best approach?

The answer is “it depends.” There's no concrete answer here. If you're experiencing friction with opt-ins, then your ideal approach is to test variations and see what works best for your audience. Optimize the labels, try different field counts, adjust the call-to-action, and continue testing until you're satisfied with the conversions.

Trouble with the Calls-to-Action

You would think that crafting an amazing offer, telling a great story with visuals, and writing dynamite copy would send your conversions through the roof. It's actually quite the opposite.

Even if your audience is in tune with your offer, your conversions are going to suffer if you don't have a strong, compelling call-to-action. In many cases, customers just won't engage unless you specifically tell them what you want them to do.

A bold call to action captures attention and tells the audience what to do.

If you're missing a call-to-action altogether, then you're definitely going to suffer from low conversions. One study from Small Business Trends found that 70% of B2B businesses lack a call-to-action on their homepage.

Such a simple thing can have a major impact and at least it's an easy fix:

Create a call-to-action that is prominent and stands out from other page elements Make it compelling and focus on the value; what do visitors get by clicking? Make your call-to-action relevant to match the audience's intent Use verbs and actionable language Leverage urgency with words like “Now” and “Today”

Be sure test different versions of your call-to-action to determine which designs and copy offer the greatest lift in conversions.

There's No Secret Formula

There's no one specific thing you can do to suddenly make your conversions soar. While these individual items could hurt your conversions, making a single adjustment isn't guaranteed to change or improve anything.

Rather than taking a tactical approach to improving conversions, identify the elements that could be creating problems and start testing. A/B testing small changes is more likely to help improve conversions over time and eliminate trouble areas like these.

What have you done to increase conversions on your website? Share your approach and results with me in the comments below.

About the Author: Andrew Raso is the co-founder and director of Online Marketing Gurus, a fast-growing, award-winning search company working with brands including HelloMolly, Baku Swimwear, and Forcast. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewraso1 or on LinkedIn.

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5 Strategies to Entice Consumers to Binge-Watch Your Product Videos

Continue watching.

These two words are infamous in the world of video streaming. When consumers are hooked, they want more to watch.

“Content marketers should consider the binging trend a sort of case study. All of the elements that make us binge are lessons,” says Kari Matthews, a content writer for technology companies.

“We can do what these [television] shows do, in our own way, in our own industries, to make the most of our content and build our brands.”

Work with your team to engage customers with binge-worthy product videos. Get them excited about your brand and ecommerce services.

Try these five strategies below to entice your consumers.

1. Cater to Diverse Audiences

Normally, experts suggest creating content to serve a select group of people. But when it comes to product videos, you may want to take a different approach.

You want your content to be shareable. So, it must serve several different audiences. And that includes people who will never purchase your product.

“Remember that not everybody who buys, buys today, not everybody who consumes content shares it, and not everybody who shares content buys,” states Scott Allan, chief marketing officer at AddThis.

“Instead of focusing on capturing leads, create memorable content that customers will draw on when they or their friends are ready to make a purchase.”

So, produce content that people can share with their family and friends. Focus on moments that everyone can relate to, like laughing with friends, hosting a summer barbeque, or attending a college football game.

Below is the noteworthy Dollar Shave Club product video. Not everyone who shared this content bought the shavers, but it did go viral and reached their target audience.

If your company wants avoid vulgar language, think of your product video like a PG-rated film. For instance, most Disney movies are meant for kids to enjoy, but they have enough common themes to engage the parent.

Don't be afraid to serve more people with your videos. The goal is to spread the word.

2. Develop A Backstory

For product videos to gain your audience's attention, the content must discuss more than the product. Yes, content must go beyond talking about your company.

In other words: Tell a story that emotionally attaches people. It's all about showing your audience a new perspective. And giving them a different insight that humanizes your brand.

Studies show that “Americans alone consume over 100,000 digital words every single day, but 92% say they want brands to tell stories amongst all those words.”

The same holds true in the world of video. A written product description isn't good enough. And a video regurgitating similar information is just awful.

According to For Dummies, a “backstory refers to everything that occurred in your story's past. A character's backstory may include family background, job history, psychological condition, and any memories you create for that person from childhood on.”

Instead, bring your videos to life with characters and a plot. Give the actors names and set up an environment where the product is being used, not displayed.

That's what Amazon did when they introduced its Echo. Rather than giving consumers a run down of the product features, the eCommerce giant showcased the product's value in a simulated setting.

Get creative. Show, don't just tell consumers about your products.

3. Create Episodic Content

According to Netflix, the network's 83 million members watch more than 125 million hours of TV shows and movies every day. That's a lot of time in front of a screen.

But what keeps viewers coming back for more?

One reason is access to uninterrupted content. Consumers don't need to worry about commercials. Advertisements don't get in the way of their favorite shows. Therefore, they can focus on viewing what they love the most.

Another reason is the addicting show plots. A great television show contains episodes that leave the audience wanting more. People constantly want to know what's going to happen next.

Will the main character finally locate the killer? Or will the antagonist prevail and destroy his enemies?

Image Source

Episodic content has people on the edge of their seats. And that's how your team should set up product videos.

Shoot multiple videos with cliffhangers. Get consumers intrigued about your brand culture and latest product benefits.

“Episodic content enhances the credibility of your brand as people become more and more familiar with you and what you are about. This builds trust and value with your target audience,” says Kerri Ponder, a writer at Crowd Content.

One product video is fine. But a bunch can get customers hooked on your ecommerce brand.

4. Notify Customers of Updates

Your customers are busy. They have to manage both their work and home schedules.

So, sometimes certain things get forgotten. And that's perfectly fine.

That's where are your team steps in. Remind your customers of your new product videos.

There's an old marketing adage: The Rule of Seven. It says that a “prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you.”

Create a special website pop-up telling them about new videos. Keep customers informed by sending notification emails leading up to the launch.

Your business already sends updates about new terms and conditions. Mimic the technique for product videos.

“Getting people excited about content that is perhaps not yet fully done whets their appetite and keeps them talking about you and your brand, days ahead of when your campaign or content actually is released,” writes Shanna Cook, senior social media manager at Nokia.

Like any marketing tactic, don't over do it. Reminders can become nuisances if they are sent every single day. Take a look at your internal data and set times best suited for your target audience.

Ask customers to sign up for your email list for product video announcements. There's power in notifications.

5. Offer an Instant Reward

Everyone enjoys special gifts for their efforts. Reward customers for taking the time to watch or share your video.

Customers want to be delighted. They desire instant rewards that help them today, not tomorrow. So, stay away from mail-in rebates or points that can't be redeemed today.

For example, at the end of a product video, offer a 10% promo code. And think beyond discounts. Give away exclusive access to a webinar or a free eBook.

Christian Karasiewicz, a social media marketing professional, suggests the following:

“Develop a video to showcase your expertise or further educate your viewers, then include a YouTube card that leads your audience to related material. This can be a transcription, checklist, infographic, SlideShare or downloadable PDF…”

YouTube cards are notifications that appear in your video. It's a small rectangular box at the top right corner. It gives your viewers a preview of the message. Check out the video below on how to add cards to YouTube videos.

Analyze which rewards consumers like the most. Then, start offering instant rewards for watching your product videos.

Binge-Worthy Content

On-demand video is attracting consumers to brands. The best ones hold the audience's attention and keep them engaged.

Aim to create product videos for a diverse audience. Give your videos a backstory. And notify customers of new releases.

Produce captivating product videos. Let consumers continue watching.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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7 Reasons Your Site Isn't Ready for A/B Testing

You've invested a lot of time and effort into perfecting your website and you want to get the maximum return from that investment. To achieve that goal, you've studied dozens of blogs on conversion optimization techniques. You've poured over countless CRO case studies, and you have a few tools to help you run A/B tests.

Before you start split testing to get those conversion gains, pause for a second. I don't think you're quite ready yet.

There are plenty of free tools to help you test your optimization – not to mention paid options from Optimizely to OptinMonster that'll help you explore different facets of your site's performance – so just about anyone can run A/B tests. But it's not a matter of simply understanding how to do it.

The problem is that your site just isn't there yet. A/B testing isn't for everyone, and if it's not done at the right time with the right conditions, you might end up accumulating a lot of false data that does more harm than good. Before you invest anything in testing and extensive optimization, consider these seven points:

1. The Traffic Volume Isn't There

If this is what your traffic numbers look like, don't bother A/B testing

There's no doubt that A/B testing can be highly useful for businesses that want to improve their conversion rates. Having said that however, a lot of businesses shouldn't bother with A/B testing.

Small businesses that are trying to grow, startups, e-commerce businesses in their early years and other micro businesses simply don't have the traffic and transactions to accurately perform A/B tests. It takes a significant amount of traffic to provide accurate, measurable results.

In a post from Peep Laja of ConversionXL, he provided an example using a sample size calculator from Evan Miller, where the baseline conversion rate is entered. He then entered the desired lift.

Image Source

You can see from this image that in order to detect a 10% lift, the tool recommends at least 51,486 visitors per variation.

If the traffic isn't there yet, you can still optimize your site based on audience data you've gathered, but A/B tests won't be helpful for a while and they might produce false information.

2. You Don't Have Anything to Test

A lot of websites function as a general brochure for a company with minimal conversion points. If you run a B2B site or you have a freshly-created site with little more than a contact form and an opt-in, then it's too early in the game to start running concurrent A/B tests.

If your site is content-lite then it's probably too soon to start running tests.

Even if the volume of traffic is adequate to run accurate tests, you may not see a significant lift from a general opt-in or estimate request form. For most businesses, the amount of effort and cost that would go into designing variations for the tests just to get a small lift around micro conversions isn't worth it.

The same applies to newer e-commerce stores.

Your time would be better spent with your analytics, where you can set up goal tracking, creating marketing campaigns, and developing your content offers and resources. The A/B testing can come later once you have more to offer and traffic has grown substantially.

3. You're Not Sure What Matters

Do you know what the choke points, leaks, and sticking points are in your funnel? I'm referring to the places where you're losing prospective customers, as well as where you're gaining the most.

Before you can run any kind of tests, you have to understand what matters, because some elements are more important than others.

For example: a marketing agency is driving visitors to their estimate request page. They spend a significant amount of time optimizing that page with A/B testing variations and micro changes. After extensive testing, they find that their efforts made very little difference with virtually no impact on their conversions.

Instead, they should have looked for mistakes in their funnel leading up to that page. Maybe the content that led the visitor to that point was where the changes needed to be made. Maybe the search intent of the customer didn't match the content they found.

Another example: a brand selling shoes online puts a great deal of effort into optimizing and testing product pages, only to realize that the lift in conversion was insignificant. Instead, they could find ways to improve the average order value or review their funnel in Kissmetrics to find the biggest leaks where customers are dropping off and fix those problems instead.

Don't know where to test? Find where you're losing customers (and money) with the Kissmetrics Funnel Report.

If you randomly try to test what you think matters, then you'll only be wasting time.

One study from Forrester showed that 60% of firms surveyed saw improvements in their website when they used a data-driven approach to design. It's important to take the time to research what really matters to your business so you know what to optimize and where to make changes.

4. You're Copying Content

While a competitor site (or any site for that matter) might look like an attractive design that your customers will probably engage with, you can't waste time testing if you've played copycat.

Any tests you run after replicating their design and content will only be wasted. If the solution was as simple as copying what we thought worked well for our competitors (or even conversion case studies) then every e-commerce website would function exactly like Amazon.

The fact is, websites are highly contextual and they should relate to both the audience and what you're promoting. Wal-Mart and Whole Foods are in the same business of selling food products, but they cater to completely different audiences and sell vastly different products.

If I stacked up my own services against another marketing agency offering identical services, there would still be contextual differences in how we market, how we service customers, the channels we use to engage them, and how we direct traffic to our sites.

You need to make sure your website is designed specifically for you, your channels, your audience, etc. before investing in testing.

5. The Data Isn't There

The more capable you are with analytics tools like Kissmetrics or Google Analytics, the better off you'll be. But, if the extent of your knowledge consists of checking traffic quantities, referral sources, time on page and bounce rates, then you're only scraping the surface.

If you don't know what data you need to monitor while A/B testing, then testing is a waste of time.

You have to approach your testing and analytics with a problem so you can find an answer in the data. That way, you can identify issues and confirm what aspects you need to change.

Learning a bit more about your analytics can tune you into:

How site elements or offers are performing How your content is performing and whether it is keeping people engaged What people are doing on your site and the routes they typically take Where people are landing, as well as where they're leaving Where your funnel is losing money

The data won't specifically tell you how to fix problems; it's just a starting point where you can discover actionable insights. Without that data, and without the ability to interpret it, A/B testing is pointless.

6. Your Site Has Usability Issues

When was the last time you tested your website in a browser other than the one you typically use? Have you tried going through your entire site on a mobile device?

Have you ever performed a full usability test with a variety of browsers and devices?

This is something a lot of marketers don't consider when they start A/B tests. Ignoring usability issues, tech problems, and bugs is a huge mistake, though. Even minor bugs and slow load times can dramatically impact your conversion rates.

Just a one second delay in load time can drop conversion rates by as much as 7%.

You won't get accurate results from A/B testing if segments of your audience are bailing due to usability issues. Some of your audience may never make it to your conversion point, and even if they do, their progress could be hindered by bugs or load times that will ultimately skew your results.

This misinterpretation could lead to changes and further variations of elements that are actually part of your winning, optimized design.

7. You Don't Know Your Audience

Audience research should be one of the first steps of any marketing strategy. If your goal is to drive lots of traffic to your site with content marketing and paid advertising, I would hope you've done some measure of audience research.

Without it, you're shooting blindly into the darkness and hoping to score a bullseye.

Researching and defining your target audience gives you in-depth information about who you're targeting, such as their pain points, interests, behaviors, demographics info, and more. That information helps you craft compelling copy, winning headlines, and attention-grabbing offers.

A target customer profile. How well do you know your target market?

Without it, you'll resort to guessing what to change about your copy, headlines, offers, and calls-to-action. Every variation you test will be just as random as the one before it, and you likely won't see any significant change in performance.

Know who you're marketing to before you make a large investment in A/B testing.

Testing isn't for Everyone

While there's a wealth of articles and advice online telling you test everything you do and to A/B test every variation, you don't have to. For many statups and growing online businesses there just isn't enough traffic early on to create an accurate sampling with measurable results.

Focus on growing your business for now. As you grow traffic levels, learn more about your customers, and targeted traffic increases you can start testing variations to go after those micro wins.

Do you use A/B testing on your site or landing pages right now? Have you found issues with the quality of your results? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world's largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Leaking Leads? Here's How to Plug Your Analytics Gaps

Full funnel attribution is the dream.

A pipe dream.

In most cases.

Because a majority of the time, you're nowhere close.

Campaigns are tagged. Sometimes.

You track incoming calls. Like 5% of the time.

You've got lead reports. Which go up-and-to-the-right at least.

It ain't your fault. Our tools are limited. Cross-department assistance tricky. And marketing channels exploding.

So here's a simple process to help you take back control, hopefully eliminating all of those little gaps where leads commonly leak out of your funnel and mess up your reporting efforts.

The Great Analytics Gap: Where Exactly Are Your Paying Customers Coming From?

How many leads did you get this month from Twitter?

How about email?

Most likely, those numbers are wrong.

Not because you made a mistake. But because your analytics platform did.

See, most basic analytics programs like Google Analytics are good. But not smart. (They're also free, so we can't complain too much.)

For example, your Email and Social leads this month are probably understated (only getting credit for a fraction of their overall performance), while your Direct ones are overstated (getting more credit than they really deserve).

Sometimes the swing can be 60%!

If campaigns aren't tagged properly (and let's be honest, who tags Tweets with any regularity), analytics programs will have a tough time picking up the referral source. Especially if these visits originate from desktop programs like Tweetdeck (does that still exist?) or Outlook (which you're probably forced against your will to use).

These are tiny examples, but the problem persists.

Even when you're tracking conversions, with monthly reports going to bosses and clients highlighting Goals with the sources that drove them, you might only be seeing a tiny slice of the overall pie.

Just recently, I've seen multiple clients spending tens of thousands of dollars on ads each month, going off of surface level information.

The phone rings, which is great. But why those calls are coming in is anyone's guess. And nobody has a clue how many paying customers or revenue is tied back to the initial spending efforts.

Think about that. Organizations spending a majority of their marketing budgets on a single channel with tracking… kinda, sorta, setup. But not really.

Couple this with the fact that most smaller organizations use 'niche, industry' tools like legacy proprietary CRM's that offer ZERO API's and absolutely no integration possibilities.

So they're forced to cobble this stuff together, manually.

If this stuff was being tracked properly, you'd almost instantly be able to:

Save money on the losing campaigns that aren't performing. Increase revenue by spending more on those that are.

And then you get a promotion. Or a raise, at least.

Fortunately there are a few techniques you can use to help shed more transparency and accuracy into your analytics. They're not all encompassing, but they're relatively easy adjustments to set up to help you practically solve this problem once and for all.

Click Tracking: The Basics of Campaign (or UTM) Tagging

I already know what you're thinking.

UTM codes blah blah blah. Use any number of builders like the Google URL Builder to drop your URL in and idiot-proof your results.

Obvious.

But here's the thing.

Many times UTM codes aren't used properly. Or aren't used holistically as a way to measure channel performance for conversions.

So let's look at it more practically, organizing campaigns properly to make sure we're tracking almost every single possible use case that might not get picked up by our analytics programs.

The easiest way to accomplish this campaign-wide approach is through inbound traffic segmentation. Which is shorthand* for, “Create a ton of landing page versions & funnels for each traffic source so you're able to clearly see how and where click-conversions are coming from, thereby making analytics and reporting simple”. (*Not really.)

And while there is no shortage of tools to do this stuff for you, we still like to manage client campaigns in a simple, collaborative Google doc so everyone can quickly edit and update.

You can also do the same thing for social channels too, breaking it down even further into the primary ones you choose to plan your campaign's content and messaging strategy ahead of time.

All of this time-consuming, upfront work will eventually pay dividends by making funnel analysis a breeze.

(Brilliant segue coming…) You know what also makes funnel analysis a breeze?

Kissmetrics does this with a visualized funnel reporting tool that can help you analyze all of this raw data and make faster (not to mention, more accurate) marketing decisions.

Call Tracking: Gain Insight into Inbound Lead Sessions

Any lead-based company will tell you that good, old-fashioned inbound phone calls are still the best.

Invoca analyzed more than 30 million phone calls and found that they have 30-50% conversion rates (compared to only 1-2% for clicks).

That same study found that 70% of calls are coming from digital channels. And yet, we don't know where.

Or why. As in, what did you do to drive those people to call in the first place? (So you can easily do more of it and take home a nice bonus this year.)

Setting up unique phone numbers on each advertisement or sales collateral is an obvious first step. Duh – your AdWords campaigns are undoubtedly already using phone call tracking.

But…

What happens when those people click to your website instead of calling right away?

Especially if we're talking any type of consultative sale, they're going to click around your site for a bit. Maybe even leave, and come back, several times before pulling the proverbial trigger on someone to work with.

The first step towards limiting the amount of information you don't know is to setup dynamic call tracking that focuses on individual customers.

This way, you're accounting for the multi-device, multi-event, and multi-channel journey (that already happens over half the time).

CallRail is one of my new favorites to do this. You're able to create a pool of phone numbers based on the average amount of real-time website visitors you get.

These dynamic phone numbers will substitute the primary one already on your website pages, and automatically stick with one website visitor while they browse around all of your pages.

Not only can you then see a complete web session history, but also start tracking multiple sessions over time from the same customers.

That extra insight gets you one tiny step closer to being able to close out the big black hole that is your offline phone conversions.

There's also a CallRail and Kissmetrics integration to help you better understand how offline phone calls fit into the customer's website and app activity, email engagement and more. You'll also be able to analyze how phone calls play a broader role in lifetime value of a customer (comparing with those who don't call) and see which specific activities they complete immediately before or just after each call.

But before we can run off to implement, there's still one last thing to figure out.

How to match all of this stuff up with your lead and customer data to see where buyers (not leads) are coming from.

Lead Tracking: Determining Which Leads Are Converting

It's time to bring it home.

You've got basic campaign tagging properly organized, to limit the number of sessions that slip through your analytics cracks. And you've set-up dynamic call tracking to monitor people who may visit your site or call your offices multiple times prior to purchase.

Now we need to line that data up with your lead database.

My completely biased opinion is that HubSpot is one of the best solutions for this problem. Which is no surprise, given my company is a HubSpot partner who receives a nice bonus check every time we sign you up. :)

But what if you didn't appreciate the blatant, selfish sales pitch? Or have the extra budget available? Or you just use some other CRM?

Another (albeit, more manual) solution is to use the excellent (and free) LeadIn to begin turning form submissions into actual people.

Once setup, you can integrate this with a few basic email-marketing services to go freaking nuts on hacking your marketing stack.

You can also begin exporting this data (I know, who the F-exports manual data anymore) and matching it up with whatever lead-based CRM you use – no matter whether they provide integrations or not.

Ideally, you need to know that John Smith just signed up with your company for $X. And John Smith came from a phone call, through AdWords, targeting the term Y.

In aggregate, a tool like Kissmetrics (surprise!) can then connect all of these dots, finally aligning paying customers (and revenue) back to the marketing channels (and decisions), which generated each.

Conclusion

Most of us are making decisions based on incomplete information.

That's life.

The analytics gap problem is only made worse when companies commonly have their own legacy tools that don't play nice with whatever marketing ones you're using.

But when clients and bosses are putting LOTS of money on the line, it's up to us to make bold decisions on how or where to best spend it.

That becomes exponentially easier once you set up proper click tracking for the common online channels people are using once they see, hear or read about your latest campaign. And buttoning-up offline conversions like phone calls can help you finally see how many of those leads you're collecting are transforming into paying customers.

The tips here might not be a perfect solution.

But they can get you significantly closer than where you probably are now.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a founding partner at Codeless Interactive, a digital agency specializing in creating personalized customer experiences. Brad's blog also features more marketing thoughts, opinions and the occasional insight.

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The Three Metrics You Need to Know Before You Waste Any Time on A/B Tests

It's hard to argue that split testing (also know as A/B testing) is changing the face of marketing. According to Unbounce, 44% of online businesses are using split test software. And software products like Unbounce and Visual Website Optimizer are making it ever easier. Split testing, done right, with good context, can put a stop to all the guesswork, anecdotal conclusions, and correlation/causation errors that can abound in marketing circles.

But it's not without risks: split tests are expensive to run, requiring investment for both software, and staff/consultants to run the tests. Not to mention the opportunity cost of lost time exploiting other profit levers in your business.

All of which underscores the importance of testing the right metrics in your business, and the potential cost in time and resources of testing the wrong ones.

While I can't speak for all businesses, what I've seen again-and-again with clients and peers is businesses gravitating toward what's easy to test – landing pages, checkout pages, email subject lines, and sales pages (all of which can be extremely important in the right context) – rather than what's important.

That's why one of the most meaningful changes you can make in your business is to implement a process for identifying which parameters to test and optimize. Below are 3 metrics you need to know before you spend one more minute split testing.

1. List-to-Sale Conversion Rate

What if I told you one simple calculation would tell you whether to optimize any conversion metrics between an opt-in and a sale, or to look elsewhere? That's what the list-to-sale benchmark gives you. “List-to-sale” is the percentage of buyers of your product or service over a given time period relative to the number of opt-ins to your email list for the same period.

Say in a given month you get 1,000 opt-ins to your email list, and in that same month, you make 55 sales of your flagship product. Wondering whether you should go with a webinar funnel instead of an email onboarding sequence? Whether to incorporate video into your sales page? Whether to change the color of your “buy now” button?

The answer to all of them is “no”, and I didn't even need to take a look inside your funnel. Why? With 55 sales, you're converting at a staggering 5% list-to-sale.

To calculate, just take the sales in the last 30 days and divide those by opt-ins over the same time period.

Some readers will be noticing the absence of a sales cycle in that calculation (i.e. since it takes days-to-weeks and several touch points to make a sale. We should be comparing this month's buyers to last month's opt-ins). You can control for this with a simple average:

Take the last 4 months, and average the opt-ins over the first 3 Then average the sales over the last 3. Then perform the same percentage calculation. (Sales divided by opt-ins)

For example, say you're calculating in August:

First you'd average the monthly opt-ins for April, May, and June. Let's just say the average is 1500. Then you'd average the sales from May, June, and July, in order to leave a 30-day lag. Let's say that average came out to 75. Dividing the sales by the opt-ins, and you'd get 5%.

The benchmark you should be aiming for? 1-2%. Below that, go nuts with split testing parts of your funnel. Above 1%, look elsewhere.

Above 2%, and I'd seriously consider raising your prices. In the hypothetical case of the 5% from above, I'd immediately double the price.

Next, and especially if your list-to-sale conversion is at-or-above the 1-2% benchmark, it's time to look at your traffic.

2. Opt-in Conversion Rate

The vast majority of businesses I work with have list-to-sale conversion rates closer to benchmarks than their opt-in conversion rates. Put another way, if they're wasting any resources split-testing their funnel or sales copy, they're completely ignoring the sizable cohort of website visitors who never even see the offer because they bounce off the site.

As with list-to-sale conversions, you can do a back-of-the-napkin calculation for opt-ins. Just count your new subscribes from the last 30 days and divide it by total website visitors during that same 30 days.

The benchmark to aim at for opt-in conversion is 10%.

If you haven't ever found your opt-in rate before, my guess is you'll be astonished how low it is. I've seen it as low as 1-2%.

Luckily, there's a simple strategy to improve it:

Find the individual opt-in rates of your biggest webpages and your 10 most popular content pieces. (If you're using a plugin like SumoMe or OptinMonster, you can set up the software to tell you your opt-ins for each page.) Look for the “outliers” – content pages often perform worse than home and about pages.

Once you've identified the worst-performers, perform this simple checklist (from lowest-hanging-fruit to more subtle)

Can readers find your opt-in offer, or is it buried below the fold or ¾ of the way down a blog post? Are you giving your visitors only one thing to do on each page or post, or are you offering 3 different giveaways on various parts of your page?

This is not the type of page you want to create if you're looking to increase opt-ins.

Don't give your readers more than one choice when optimizing for opt-ins

Is your opt-in offer not just well written, but well copywritten? Does it specify exactly who it's for, describe a clear, specific benefit, and emphasize the urgency for opting in? (Even high performing opt-ins can usually be improved). Are you requiring your subscribers to double-opt-in? This will lower your opt-in conversions. Many founders I've talked to like to use a double-opt-in because it seems more “polite”. In my opinion, making somebody go off the page to get the freebie they just gave your email address for, let-alone to wait up to 20 minutes for it to arrive in their mailbox isn't particularly polite. When I give my email address to get a lead magnet, I want it now – not after reconfirming my email address and waiting 20 minutes for the email.

Split-test ninjas take-note: if you've read this far, and your opt-in rate is indeed garbage, there's ample opportunity to split test:

Two versions of a homepage with different opt-in copy/design. Two versions of an exit-pop on a popular content piece.

Go nuts.

3. Traffic

If you're among the extremely lucky minority with list-to-sale conversions at-or-above 2%, and opt-in conversions at-or-above 10%, and you've raised your prices, I have some disappointing (although kind of good) news: split testing is not a good fit for your business.

Here's the question to ask: Are your monthly sessions at least 50% of your list size? (i.e. if your list has 2,000 subscribers, are you getting at least 1,000 uniques per month?) If not, you need a traffic strategy. Don't waste your time A/B testing anything.

While I'm a conversions expert and not a traffic expert, here's a quick decision tree:

Determine your market size. If you could 5x your traffic, are there enough people in your market to support it? Implement a content/syndication/guest-post strategy ASAP. It's practically the only guaranteed winner across all verticals, but it can take up to a year to bear fruit. Consider hiring a paid traffic expert for one month to test customer acquisition costs from various paid sources. Choose the most profitable and double down while you wait for organic traffic to grow.

Bottom line: the same month spent split testing two opt-in offers on a homepage, landing page, or content page, could provide a 2-4x increase in revenue (by, say, improving an opt-in conversion rate from 1% to 4%), while the same time and money spent trying to boost an already maxed-out sales conversion rate would have a much smaller return.

That's why a little context can save you thousands.

About the Author: Nate Smith is a direct-response copywriter and funnel expert who helps businesses scale by exploiting their most powerful profit levers. Nate is founder of 8020MarketingGuy.com.

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Omni-Channel Marketing: A New Approach to Keyword Research

For many marketers, performing keyword research is a pretty standard procedure. What has primarily changed over time are the tools used to source key search queries and determine the quality and intent behind those keywords.

While the approach to research remains largely the same, the landscape in which consumers search and move toward a purchase has changed. The path from search to purchase is no longer as linear as it once was and consumers generally don't follow clear paths anymore. Your approaches to keyword research and deployment of marketing content need to adjust for this omni-channel era.

In this article, I'll define what this new path looks like, how you can adjust your strategy to be more visible to your ideal customers, and how targeted keyword research and optimization can lead to a dramatic improvement in engagement and retention.

What is Omni-Channel?

Customers are now engaging brands across multiple channels at the same time. (Image Source)

Up to this point, there have been a few different channel strategies for businesses, mainly offline businesses, but they're applicable to online retailers as well:

Multi-Channel – This is a common channel strategy in which a business uses more than one form of media for advertising. For example: a car dealership may have a Facebook page and also send out direct mailers. Those are multiple media channels for outreach and engagement. Online to Offline – This channel strategy consists of online media outlets driving traffic specifically to an offline, brick and mortar business. Cross-Channel – This channel strategy involves an experience that starts in one channel and is then carried over into another. A few good examples of this would be locating a product in a print catalog and ordering it online, or searching for a restaurant online and clicking the phone number to call in an order that will be completed via carry-out.

So what about omni-channel? This strategy involves using multiple visible channels which support one another in a single merged experience with the customer or prospect. The lines between channels blur as the brand and the customer engage across multiple mediums.

For example: A customer pulls up your website to research an item while they're in your brick and mortar store. They search for other information online, which leads them to a blog post you wrote to address a specific pain point. A rep emails the customer some info on the product and they later order the product on your website or through your Facebook store integration.

It's important to understand the omni-channel approach because it has transformed the way customers shop nowadays. 75% of shoppers who find helpful information alongside local retail info are more likely to visit those businesses. Likewise, over 70% of smartphone users research while shopping to help them make more informed decisions.

Search Intent Across Multiple Channels

Search isn't the same creature it used to be. Today, search overlaps a variety of other channels as the results fill up with social media pages, local listings, videos, images, location-specific data, and more.

While many marketers take a blanket approach to keyword research, many of those channels have their own search variations. Marketers mistakenly think the research they apply to search optimization also applies to social media and other channels.

The truth is that the user's search experience varies greatly based on the platform and intent. Not only do you have behavioral differences across the channels (short queries on Twitter vs. multi-keyword queries on Facebook or YouTube), but there are also big differences in a standard search query vs. a conversational search in social media.

Search habits change throughout the purchasing process. (Image Source)

When researching keywords for the optimization of those individual channels, it's important to consider user intent for each channel, as well as the user's position in the buying cycle and whether or not they're searching for local information.

Keyword Research for Omni-Channel

When you're conducting keyword research for organic search and content optimization, you're typically trying to determine the search volume and relevancy of keywords. For paid advertising, you'll also want to gauge how competitive a term is.

Conducting keyword research for social and other channels as part of an omni-channel strategy is a bit more involved. When I perform research for omni-channel efforts, I have a lot of points to look at including:

Popular and trending topics across various social channels Search and query frequency on a given channel The market interest for products and services The demand for specific search queries or conversational searches User intent; the “why” behind their searches Specific points of engagement around important keywords

Here's how you can perform this research on a few popular social channels:

Facebook Keyword Research

Use Facebook's search function to research key phrases for your audience.

Consumers often turn to social channels like Facebook to see what other people are saying about a product, topic, trend, or brand. Keyword research on Facebook can provide a lot of insight when you're mapping out your optimization and marketing strategy:

The frequency of public topics around a keyword What kind of content is most-often shared and discussed How discussions change based on location How well the results align with the search intent Trending topics and hashtags Other keyword trends to expand your research

From an omni-channel perspective, think about how your potential customers might be using Facebook to find information about your brand and your products or services. Build your keyword list and start researching with the Facebook search function.

This will help you refine and locate more keywords, and from there, you can optimize your profile and plan the use of specific keywords within targeted public posts and content shares.

Twitter Keyword Research

Twitter's advanced search can show you the keywords your audience is using most frequently.

Keyword research on Twitter is similar to Facebook. I recommend using the Advanced Search feature.

This gives you more opportunities to narrow your targeting by date, location, and broad or exact match phrasing. The goal on Twitter is the same as on Facebook: you're looking for topic and keyword frequency, post and discussion intent, trending and relevant hashtags, and any opportunities to expand keywords.

Considering the brevity of Twitter posts, you're less likely to see long tail search phrases being used. Instead, your audience is more likely to use shorter, topical words to find discussions, brand names, and product names.

Like Facebook, this presents the opportunity to take the most relevant keywords you discover and work them into your posting strategy in order to get relevant content in front of the consumer.

YouTube Keyword Research

Combine YouTube searches with the Display Planner tool to research popular search queries.

YouTube used to have its own keyword tool, but that was shuttered in 2015 as Google favored the use of Adwords Display Planner. This makes keyword research a little more complex for YouTube than other social channels, but it also provides a lot more data. If you use the AdWords Planner for any other type of keyword research, then you should be familiar with the process.

Log in to Google AdWords and select the Display Planner under “Tools.” From there, you can enter any search phrases you think your customers would be interested in and AdWords will display individual targeting ideas along with impressions and some basic demographics.

Enter the keywords you develop into YouTube's search and examine the types of content that show up in the top results. You'll be able to piece together opportunities to create new content for those search phrases as well as optimize any existing videos you have to improve their visibility with the new search phrases.

Just remember to make sure that you're always matching the search intent of the user.

Omni-Channel Marketing Thrives on Content

BuzzSumo uncovers the most engaging content around a keyword or topic.

Omni-channel marketing doesn't target customers who are set on a purchase and are ready to place their order or head into the store. This kind of keyword research and optimization is meant to attract and educate the customers who are actively engaging you through multiple channels and researching information to help them make a purchase decision.

For that reason, I always try to produce and position content that is most beneficial and relevant to the keywords I discovered during the research phase.

To ensure that I'm consistently providing the best content, one tool I like to use is BuzzSumo. While the research process is predominantly manual for digging into topics and discussions on social, BuzzSumo automates things as you search for content.

Plug in your keywords or relevant search queries, and BuzzSumo will display content to match – specifically the content that has received the most shares and engagement. You can use those results to craft your own content or curate those posts and share them publicly using targeted keywords across various channels.

This way, no matter where your prospective customers are in the sales funnel – either online or in your store – they'll find your content and your high-value content shares, regardless of the channel in which they search.

Conclusion

Focused keyword research across multiple channels allows you to leverage public content to keep it in front of your audience, increasing the likelihood that they'll find you when they research purchasing options.

More importantly, optimizing your content with keywords across multiple channels will capture the attention of the user. If a prospective customer finds your content through means other than search, then the relevant keywords will stand out and encourage them to start engaging you through multiple channels as they enter your funnel.

Keyword research isn't just for organic search anymore. Use this information to improve your omni-channel visibility, attract new customers, and keep your current prospects engaged through to the conversion.

Did you know? With Kissmetrics, you can track the effectiveness of your online advertising. Optimize your marketing by knowing which campaigns perform and which don't. Check out our infographic to learn more.


What's your take on omni-channel marketing and the optimization of social channels? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world's largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Brand Manage Camp is Worth It

I wouldn't ever write a post like this if I were asked. I hate when people ask me outright to say nice things about them or their company or their event. No one asked me to write any of this. I need to tell you that so I can say what I want to say next.

I really REALLY loved Brand Manage Camp in Las Vegas. Run by Len Herstein, I have to tell you that I loved this event. This is SO WEIRD for me to say. I don't like talking about branding. I don't really like branding. But I loved every minute of this. I'll tell you why, really quickly.

Continue Reading

The post Brand Manage Camp is Worth It appeared first on chrisbrogan.com.

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7 Thank You Pages That Take Post-Conversion to the Next Level

You can do better than that. Image source.
Psst: This post was originally published in 2014, but we recently gave it a refresh during our two-week publishing hiatus. Since launching the Unbounce Marketing Blog, this post has become one of our top-performing posts of all time. We hope you enjoy the read.

As conversion-oriented marketers, our focus is typically on persuading traffic to take action once people visit our landing pages. The Holy Grail is getting the click (sale, subscription, etc.). And – once that happens – many marketers simply thank the customer and happily walk away with cash in hand.

Big mistake.

Thank you pages are much more than pieces of virtual real estate on which to display gratitude and order numbers. These pages are an integral part of an optimized conversion system that, when used properly, can continue to boost your revenue.

Here are several examples of thank you pages that do an outstanding job of taking post-conversion to the next level.

1. Jigsaw Health – Limited Time Offer

There's no better proof that visitors are in conversion mode than when they click the buy button. You've earned their trust, explained the benefits of your offer and persuaded customers to action. Don't lose the momentum with a lax thank you page.

Premium dietary supplement manufacturer Jigsaw Health provides extremely limited-time offers to returning visitors, as shown above.

In addition to the standard handshake and order number, Jigsaw draws out that buying mindset by enticing shoppers with deep, short-lived discounts that are hard to pass up.

The countdown timer (under the clock on the right) compounds the sense of urgency, as the red copy immediately gets the point across that 43% savings are about to slip away. And therein lies the psychological trigger this thank you page is based on: Loss aversion.

As the customer watches the seconds tick past, she feels the pressure mounting: “Is this something I take every month?” “Will the supplement expire before I use it?” “43% is a big discount!” All these questions and thoughts can easily bring the visitor to yet another buying decision.

Because Jigsaw Health's shopping cart has the ability to simply add the upsell to the existing order, it's a quick, one-click add-on.

2. AWeber – Social Sharing

What's the biggest challenge marketers face when leads sign up for something free? Is it customer support issues? Maybe it's delivery hurdles?

Nope! The problem comes in actually getting leads to consume the freebie they signed up for.

List management software company AWeber has some simple but effective ways to urge people who have registered for a free webinar to actually attend.

The problem lies in the fact that there is nothing vested in the transaction. Yes, the lead committed (sort of) to attend when they registered. But since most companies offer video recordings these days, that commitment holds little weight. Leads expect to be able to watch the webinar later. Some do, most don't.

Through a combination of calendar tools and social sharing on their webinar thank you page, those who signed up will be reminded of the event via their own tools (Outlook, etc.) or will have shared a post saying they will attend. That one-two punch reinforces their sense of obligation.

Interested in learning more about landing page optimization?
Download this ebook and become an expert at designing landing pages that convert like crazy.
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3. Unbounce – Driving Subscriptions

AWeber isn't the only SaaS company that knows how to rock a webinar thank you page. Unbounce, the landing page builder you know and love, employed a list-building strategy that ramped up their blog subscriber base by 60% in just two (yes, two) webinars

Leads that register for a webinar are already tuned into the content you're offering. It only makes sense that they would get excited about receiving more top-notch info from you if given the chance. So give them the chance!

Unbounce put this simple subscription option on their webinar thank you page and got huge results. I've also been using this list-building method for years. It's one of the highest-converting tactics I've ever tried.

4. Social Triggers – Building Relationships

While you might expect a social media pro to incorporate social aspects into his site, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers goes a step beyond asking people to click a share or like button. He encourages those who have downloaded his free ebook to start a mini-community right on his thank you page.

Derek uses his knowledge about social proof to get thousands of mini-testimonials and referrals right on his thank you page by using a simple WordPress plugin. The timing is perfect, as these smiling, happy people have just downloaded a freebie they are excited about.

In addition, this strategy gets huge engagement scores on Facebook and (so far) has enlisted the help of over 1,200 people in spreading the word (and growing Derek's list!).

5. Spanish Pod 101 – Facilitating the Upsell

Sure, anybody can type the words “thank you” on a web page, but Spanish Pod 101 verbally expresses their gratitude in a video with 29 different languages. In addition, they include a 30% discount on other subscription learning programs.

I have to admit I was intrigued by all the languages and faces in the video, so this unique twist had me engaged. Eventually, I began to scroll as curiosity about the discount kicked in. Talk about a 1-2 punch.

The feature/benefit list and comparison chart help customers quickly choose the program that is right for them. And, of course, trust symbols, such as the 100% guarantee, confirm that this is a risk-free purchase.

6. RoboForm – Incentivizing Referrals

When customers upgrade, it's a pretty good indication that they are satisfied. RoboForm takes advantage of that state of contentment when users download the latest version of their software.

On its thank you page, the password protection company offers an easy way to share with friends and get a little something for yourself, too.

After all, satisfaction is a good reason to share products and services with others, but getting free stuff is much more compelling! Are you having flashbacks from the holiday season?

Many retailers use this same approach to sell gift cards. How many times have we seen promos that advertise a $10 card for you when you buy two $25 cards for others?

Although the denominations may vary, these offers have proven to work well season after season. Now we see online companies putting that same idea to work every day.

7. James Grandstaff – Piquing Curiosity

Most marketers who offer free ebooks, white papers or reports leave the heavy lifting to the report itself. Email marketer James Grandstaff does an admirable job of piquing curiosity on his thank you page and driving post-conversions sooner rather than later.

Considering that the majority of leads who download a free report never open it, this is a brilliant move to push hot leads further along in the process faster than usual.

What Shape Are Your Thank You Pages In?

There's no time like the present. Take a few minutes this week to evaluate your own thank you pages. Check the ones associated with:

Newsletter/Blog subscriptions Sales pages Free downloads Webinar registrations Live demo signups Ecommerce shopping carts Quote requests Online banking transactions

Even the thank you page for your lowly contact form can probably use an overhaul.

Instead of straight lines and dead ends, think circular when it comes to thank you pages. By providing another touchpoint, you can nudge your customers along the marketing funnel faster than you might think.

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What Top Companies Know About Analytics (That You Don't)

Having the right kind of insights available at the right time is crucial in today's business. But some brands are taking analytics a step further by not only relying on it to make sound decisions when opportunities present themselves, but making it the absolute core of every impactful business decision.

And their analysis isn't limited to one type of data. Rather, a study by Salesforce determined that top performers who made analytics their main focus looked at an average of 17 different kinds of data.

So what other things separate the top brands from under-achievers, and how can you make sure your own company is leveraging every possible facet of analytics to the fullest? Read on for all the details.

Analytics is Not a Magic Pill

First off, simply taking steps to understand your analytics and making solid decisions based on them is not going to instantly catapult you to the top of your industry. There are still many, many pain points strongly felt by executive decision-makers. There's simply too much data coming in too fast, among other things:

The Salesforce report details common issues with data and analytics

Fortunately, businesses on the cutting edge understand that having the right tools and technology to analyze the data they're given is a smart strategy, which is why top performers have indicated increasing their analytics-related marketing spend by 50% over the next two years. It's worth noting that they are over six times more likely to invest heavily in analytics tools, training and people than their more lackluster performing counterparts.

Analytics is the Fuel that Drives Exponential Growth

And what's more, analytics is quickly becoming the de-facto driver behind a wide range of business decisions – well beyond the website:

Analytics can be used well beyond improving a website

When analytics is used to improve procedures and processes across the board – from collaboration to developing new products and enhancing current ones, there's virtually no limit to the company's growth.

In addition, top performers are more likely to react in a timely manner based on the insights they receive from their analytics. They follow a predictable pattern of drawing details from all types of data, including (but not limited to):

Emails Transactional information Log files Social media Partner data And much more

And many of these high-performing teams aren't leaving mobile analytics out in the cold either. Although still in its infancy compared to broader analytical applications, mobile analytics adoption is growing just as quickly as mobile adoption itself, and companies who know how to put this data to work are out-maneuvering the competition. Top performing companies are 3.5x more likely to put this information to good use.

Creating an Analytics-Based Company Culture

Perhaps the biggest and most telling difference between top performing companies and their lagging counterparts isn't just in how many different ways they use analytical data, or what data sources they pull from, but their entire approach to the concept of analytics as a whole.

The best performing teams have their entire executive team embracing the use of analytics as part of the company culture and not just a one-off thing managed by a handful of “marketing people”.

Top-level executives understand the need for analytics for everyone - not just a select few

But it's no longer enough to have the support of the C-suite to make analytics work for the entire company. Because of their technical nature, analyzing the data can seem overwhelming and at times unpredictable. But by putting reliable information in the hands of every employee, even more insights, ideas and strategies can be discovered and implemented.

Democratizing the whole analytics process paves the way forward for a truly data-driven company. And as noted in the study, top performers are fifteen, yes, fifteen times more likely to collaborate with other members and roles within their organization to help better organize and glean important actionable strategies and concepts.

That one difference in itself is enough to separate the truly data-driven from those that are struggling to wrap their heads around this whole “analytics thing.”

Embracing New Technology (Even if It's Still Not Proven)

Companies who stand to gain the most from analytics are also not averse to trying out new analytics tools. Both predictive (what will the user do based on their past behavior?) and prescriptive (what actions should we take based on the information we've gathered?) tools are included in the survey:

And of course, there are a lot of tools and technologies out there, including some that are just starting to tap into the potential of unstructured data – which is information that can't be organized or neatly fit into the company's pre-arranged data sets. This is where forward-thinking companies believe their customer behavior gold nuggets are to be found – which is why they're not shy about testing the waters with emergent technologies.

They'll either prove themselves in time, or they won't – but how can you know if you don't test?

So what really seals the deal for these companies when it comes to adopting new analytics technologies or solutions? How do they determine which choices are worth investigating and which might not be the best fit? As it turns out, their priority system looks like this:

A list of the must-have features top companies consider when evaluating analytics tools and technologies

Circling back around to the main points that differentiate them, top companies understandably want something that makes itself useful right from the start; something that employees and the more technologically-inclined can hit the ground running with. Something that lets them plunge right in and start making sense of the data they're collecting. Bonus points if it's mobile or cloud-based.

The Bottom Line in Becoming a Smarter Data-Driven Company

As you can see, it's not just a matter of being able to “read the numbers” that drives top performing companies. It's a full-on embrace and integration of everything analytics offers – from customer preferences to making processes and procedures more efficient. Analytics used in this way tends to have a ripple effect on companies – rather than being some kind of novelty that's stacked away in a silo, it's growing into its own as a formidable growth and revenue driver.

Not only that, but when done right, analytics drives the kind of collaboration that gets people thinking about continuous and measurable improvement. And all of these traits are what makes an industry top performer.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel like you have an analytics-centered culture at your company? Do you embrace new analytics technology or have a more cautious approach? Tell us your experience in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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Advertising Hits a Hurdle

This guy is known as Pewdiepie. You can decide he's a weirdo (he is). You can think his videos aren't interesting because they're mostly “let's play” coverage of video games (currently one of the top watched video categories of YouTube). He also makes $12 million a year from YouTube. However, recently, YouTube implemented some changes to appease the complaints of their advertisers (the reason YouTube exists) and they “forgot” to tell their top creative people like Felix -er- Pewds that the changes were coming. Changes that cost YouTubers money. There's some news here to think about.

Advertising Hits a Hurdle

First, if you want, watch Pewdiepie's comments about the change (language not safe for work – which will become one of the points):

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Next Level Landing Page Optimization: Before and After the Conversion

We spend a lot of time on this blog waxing poetic about the importance of optimizing your landing pages.

But landing pages are only one element of a stellar, high-converting marketing campaign. And focusing all of your attention on optimizing only one element is just foolish.

'Cause - pardon the cliché - but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Image via Giphy.

If you've optimized your landing pages and you're still not getting the results you wished for, maybe there are broken links elsewhere in your conversion chain - like before and after the landing page?

Not sure? We created a 24-page guide for Unbounce customers to help them maximize the value of their landing pages, but we like you too and figured you might find it useful - regardless of whether you use Unbounce to build your landing pages or not.

The guide will help you optimize every step of your prospect's conversion journey:

Before the landing page: Are you doing enough to send healthy doses of traffic to your landing pages? Are there distribution channels you're missing? How can you use each most effectively? On the landing page: Are you making the most of that sweet traffic by constantly optimizing every element of your landing page for more conversions? After the landing page: After people convert on your optimized page, are you making their next step crystal clear? Are you missing additional conversion and nurturing opportunities on your thank you page?
Are you optimizing your entire conversion funnel?
Download this 24-page whitepaper and learn how to better optimize your entire conversion funnel -- both before and after your landing page.
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Labor Day

I've never been one to celebrate Labor Day. It's a US holiday built to say, “Hey good job, workers. You did work!” Seems a bit patronizing to me. I prefer to celebrate work every day. But you can make a holiday what you want, and so I made mine my own.

Labor Day

Over the last handful of days, Jacq launched a new food blog, I launched a nerd blog, and I published a book. I released a new podcast episode, and I've created this blog post.

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Do You Believe in…Conversion Magic?

Do you believe in… conversion magic? Image via Shutterstock.

Like any potions master would attest, the secret to a great elixir lies in the measured combination of its ingredients.

Over the years, Titan PPC, a full-service pay-per-click advertising agency based in Vancouver, has developed a “magic formula” for designing lead generation landing pages that convert at average of 15% or higher.

The secret ingredient? For company founder, Patrick Schrodt, it doesn't boil down to just one.

Read on to find out what key ingredients make Patrick's lead gen landing pages so powerful. Then test them yourself with the new, kick-ass Hyperion template in the Unbounce app.

1. Make your landing pages relevant

Any smart marketer knows that when visitors reach a landing page, they won't all have the same intentions for being there. Some may have clicked an ad looking for a plumber in West Seattle where others may have clicked one looking for a plumber in Capitol Hill.

But if your client is a plumbing company that serves the entire Seattle metropolitan area, your landing page should show both the visitors from West Seattle and Capitol Hill that you've got the service they need in the location they want it.

In other words, you want to use geo-targeting to make your landing pages especially relevant to your prospects. As Patrick explains:

There's always been geo-based searches and there always will be. For our own campaigns, we've gone as targeted as including a map on every landing page. We highlight a visitors location on the map depending on the where their search is coming from - people go crazy for it!

And the conversion rates don't lie.

Watch this clip to hear how Titan PPC used geo-targeting to increase a client's on-page conversion rates from 6% to 33%, practically overnight.

Interview with Patrick Schrodt, founder of Titan PPC.
2. Use (awesome) images to break up your body copy

Never judge a book by its cover… right?

Well, fact is, when a prospect reaches your lead gen landing page, the first thing they'll do is judge your offer or product by the way you've presented it to them. And they'll do it within seconds.

That's why you want to make sure it looks so good they won't want to leave.

The key to keeping prospects interested? Great photography. According to Patrick:

Images help prospects get a clear picture of your client's product or offer, and it shows them you're a professional.

Titan PPC adds full-page horizontal image galleries throughout their lead gen landing pages.

It helps break up a visitor's attention as they scroll by giving them something nice to look at.

But you can't just slap a bunch of images into a gallery and hope that it all comes together.

If you're going to source images for clients, you have to make sure you grab photos from a series. I've seen landing pages where it's obvious that each image belongs to a different suite and it's not coherent or nice to look at.

Check out this example of cohesive image galleries on one of Titan PPC's lead gen landing pages for a lawn mowing client in Philadelphia:

Screenshot of cohesive image galleries, landing page designed by Titan PPC.
3. Remind visitors why they are on your page

Remember that bit about making sure your landing pages were super relevant to your visitors? Well, that sometimes means reminding them exactly why they are on your landing page.

For Titan PPC, the best way to do that is by adding a smooth scroll call-to-action (CTA) bar right below the horizontal image gallery.

Why? Because it brings a prospect right back to where you want them: the form.

It works because every time a visitor sees something visual and eye catching [like the image galleries], they're then prompted to fill out the form.

4. Make the form match the offer

Speaking of taking prospects back to where you want them, the design of a form on your landing page should never be an afterthought. That means weighing, measuring and sifting every item from the questions to the CTA so it's fully optimized to ensure a conversion.

It's so key that the form matches the offer. Otherwise a prospect will just be turned off.

So if your client is offering a 100% free quote on plumbing services, then the form on your landing page should reiterate, loud and clear, that the offer comes at no price.

Sounds pretty straight-forward, doesn't it?

But matching a form to an offer also means making sure you have a solid understanding of your target audience. As Patrick explains:

For real-estate clients, the CTA is always to download a free floor plan. But for clients that are service based, like plumbers or roofers, the CTA is always to get a free quote.

It all comes back to personalization: different types of prospects want to see different kinds of offers. According to Patrick, real-estate prospects want the feeling of exclusivity, whereas service-seeking prospects are probably just looking for the cheapest way to fix a runny faucet or leaky roof.

Titan PPC's last tip for optimizing the form? Make the form catch your prospect's attention.

We always put a starburst or icon in the corner of the form. It's usually something like '100% free' so it pulls a visitor in and reminds them why they want to fill it out!”

Here's an example of what Patrick means:

Screenshot of a high-converting landing page form, designed by Titan PPC.

From showing your visitors ultra-relevant content to making sure that content has awesome design and flow, the landing page magic formula is all about giving prospects exactly what they're looking for and expecting to see when they land on your page.

Care to try some of Patrick's tricks yourself? Build a landing page in Unbounce today with the Hyperion template, design inspired by Titan PPC's powerful elixir for high-converting landing pages.

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36 Creative Landing Page Design Examples: A Showcase and Conversion Critique

Image source.
Psst: This post was originally published in 2013, but we recently gave it a refresh during our two-week publishing hiatus. Since launching the Unbounce Marketing Blog, this post has become one of our top-performing posts of all time. We hope you enjoy the read.

It's landing page examples time.

I've compiled a list of 36 landing page designs to critique. Most of them are awesome, some need a bit more work and a few are downright awful (as a lesson of what not to do). Each will get my customary “what I like” and “what I'd change or test” so you can get some ideas and inspiration for your next page.

Here are the landing page design principles I'll be using as a framework when delivering the critiques:

Encapsulation:
This is a classic technique used to hijack your visitors eyes and create a tunnel vision effect. You can think of it like creating a window on your landing page where your CTA is the view. Contrast & Color:
Some say button color is important, but this a falsehood. In reality, it's the contrast of the color that you need to focus on. A green CTA may well outperform red in some circumstances, but if the page is dominantly green, that green button is going to get hidden among other page elements. If you focus on contrasting colors you will be much more successful at making it stand out. In the case of the green page, a red button would be suitable. Directional Cues:
Call attention to the most important page elements by using strangely placed and angled arrows. Tie a sequence of arrows together to define a path for the visitor to follow, ending at your CTA. Whitespace:
Give your page elements breathing room to produce a calming effect and allow your CTA to stand out from the rest of your design. Urgency & Scarcity:
Common psychological motivators are the use of urgency (limited time) and scarcity (limited supply). Try Before You Buy:
By opening your product to scrutiny before the purchase you appear confident. This increases trust and is an important factor in boosting conversions. Social Proof:
Social proof is created by the statistics and actions of a particular crowd and it can greatly enhance the “me too” factor. The major benefit is a level of authentic believability. A practical application

To demonstrate how to apply these landing page design concepts, I'll show a before and after template design example. The purpose of this particular template is to facilitate the download of an ebook in exchange for the standard name and email.

Note: This template is available for use within the Unbounce landing page platform suite of landing page templates.

The template: before landing page optimization
An ebook landing page template without the aforementioned landing page design concepts applied
The template: after landing page optimization
An ebook landing page template with the aforementioned landing page design concepts applied.
36 landing page examples critiqued for conversion

Are you excited to see some sweet examples? You should be… there are 36 of them. Most are from Unbounce customers, but I've thrown in some scary ones too, just to mix it up, and to scare you into making your own pages better.

I'm sure this isn't your first landing page rodeo, so saddle up, get your design hat on and take a ride with me down landing page lane.

Let the critiques begin…

Create Higher-Converting Landing Pages Using Conversion-Centered Design
Download this ebook and become an expert at building delightful, high-converting marketing campaigns.
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1. Mobile Commons
What I like Clear and enticing headline: Your headline is the first thing that people need to see on your landing page, and Mobile Commons does a good job of utilizing its headline to describe what it does, and make you want to keep reading to “Find out why” . What I'd change or test No back up to claim of 10x conversions: Stating that you'll get a 10x conversion improvement is a very bold claim. It would essentially mean that someone converting at 10% would have a conversion rate of 100%, which isn't attainable. It would be more effective to have a customer testimonial talking about the conversion improvement they achieved. Button copy needs to describe it's purpose: This is a simple one to remedy. Your CTA button should always explain explicitly what will happen when it's clicked, for two reasons: firstly, so people will know what they are going to get, and secondly, so there is another element on the page backing up its purpose. In this instance, I'd suggest something along the lines of “Arrange a call back to discuss a mobile solution”. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation Nicely encapsulated form area: Design principle #1 talks about the use of encapsulation to bring attention to your form areas. Mobile Commons again does a nice job here, making sure the conversion area stands out from the rest of the page and making it clear where you need to go to complete your interaction with the page. Color and Contrast Button color: The CTA should be changed to stand out more from the rest of the page. Right now the blue is swallowed up a bit. It is a nice contrast to the form background, but overall the page has conflicting colors. If you stood back and looked at this page, you'd be hard pressed to identify the most important element. Some of this could be resolved by moving the customer logos to the bottom of the page, potentially in greyscale to prevent them from conflicting with the rest of the page. White Space Crowded page could use some whitespace: Design principle #4 talks about the use of white space to improve the clarity and reading experience of your page. By making the page a little longer, Mobile Commons could make each part of the message more clearly chunked into digestible blocks. It could also draw more attention to the testimonial, by shifting the left column away from the form. Social Proof Powerful testimonial: The testimonial from the CEO of Tumblr is very compelling. It's a brand that many are familiar with and lends a lot of credibility to the page.
2. Macquarie University
Click image for full-size version
Thoughts

This one's hard to critique. It's a really good landing page. Oh, but there is the dreaded Submit button again! Tsk Tsk. There are a few things I'd suggest to keep the landing page experience intact. Firstly, I know people are afraid to remove links (or “leaks” as I call them), but you really don't need to cite every claim you make at this point. It's not a whitepaper, it's a marketing device. Secondly, the form area needs a little work. I'll describe a hypothesis for each.

Hypothesis for A/B testing

The form area:

By enhancing the messaging of the form area to explain, and focus on, the purpose of the page, the clarity of communication will improve and encourage more people to complete a form they know will benefit them. This will also increase the number of relevant and qualified leads.

Page leaks:

Distractions remove people from the reason *you* have paid them to be here. Removing all links on the page so there is only one action will increase the engagement with the page's conversion goal, increasing form completions and reducing the bounce rate.

A/B testing advice

Suggestions on what to test to prove the hypothesis:

Clarify the form's purpose: The form header is your one chance to describe the reason why you're asking for personal data. Here the wording suggests that you complete the form to “Register to their event”. Yet, having skimmed (that's all people will do) the page copy, I see no mention of an event. And the dreaded Submit button does nothing to clear it up. Will you receive information about the university based on your level of study (Current? Desired?) or a prospectus for available courses? So my test advice is to say exactly what you will receive in the header, and reinforce that in the CTA. Never submit: You were warned. Leaky page: Take away all of the links on the page (except for the privacy statement). If you really need to link to something, do it in a lightbox to keep prospective students on the page. Add a FAQ: You can remove the need for so many questions by opening a FAQ page in a lightbox that addresses all of the questions you are currently answering via external links. This will reduce your total points of interaction to three: The CTA, privacy policy and the FAQ. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation This is an obvious one. The form is nicely contained in its own box, which helps it stand out from the image behind it. Directional Cues The arrow may be small, but it's a reminder that the form is where the action's at. Knowing this right off the bat relaxes the mind so that it can explore the content on the page, knowing that you know where to go if you decide to continue on. White Space The form area is nicely separated from the content, and there is a lot of breathing room all around the main image. A really good demonstration of how to use white space properly.
3. American Bullion
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Thoughts

Oh dear. What am I supposed to do with this one? It's a great page. So I'm going to do a 180 here and talk about what I like about it.

What I like Descriptive headline: The headline tells you what the page is about in three words. Simple intro paragraph: Describes what you'll get for completing the form. Perfect form header and CTA: A descriptive form header and button copy. Supporting information: Everything you need to know is pretty much above the fold, but if you're not convinced then you can check out a large amount of social proof below including: testimonials, media mentions and trust symbols.

The only thing I would add to this page would be a sub-header above the three steps to say what they are about: such as “About Gold Investing”.

Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation I'm being spoiled today. Another form that's sitting nicely in a container. 'Nuff said there. Color and Contrast This would be *really* good if the bottom blue area was a different color - perhaps just a dark grey. Then the only blue area would be the form container, which would really pop out. I also like how the trust logos are knocked back by being in greyscale. This keep them visible but not conflicting with more important areas. Social Proof There's a ton of social proof logos on display here, although I think the lower set of logos is overkill. The two testimonials could use a different treatment to make them stand out as quotes rather than the current design that makes them look like a block of text like the rest of the page.
4. Florida Hospital – TAVR
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Another excellent landing page. Although I don't get a clear sense of what TAVR is right away (the tiny description of the acronym is hard to see). If you have highly targeted ads, then you need to make sure the headline is a clear match with them.

Hypothesis for A/B testing

By being more explicit in the headline about what TAVR is, more people will be able to relate, staying on the page and completing the form as a result.

A/B testing advice

Suggestions on what to test to prove the hypothesis

Headline change: I would test using the full name of the procedure, placing the acronym as a second element.”Is Valve Replacement (TAVR) Right for You?” followed by an explanation of what the acronym and procedure are in the first intro paragraph.Note: I can't say if this enough information for people to understand it. Optimize for Pay-Per-Click: If there are any paid ads (AdWords, etc.) driving traffic to this page, I would change the header to be text with a graphical background, compared to having one giant image. This would increase the Quality Score and the test would compare the change in Quality Score by making the header bot-readable. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation I love that form encapsulation is really sticking as a staple design principle. I do have one suggestion here, but it'll be covered in the color section. Color and Contrast Here's a great example of using a single color hue for the majority of the page. Which really opens the way for the use of color and contrast to make your form area stand out. By choosing a color that opposes blue, you'd really attract attention. Here you could try the deep red. You might then change the button to be white.
5. SweetIQ whitepaper download
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Thoughts

This is a fairly standard whitepaper/ebook download page; however, the underlying design doesn't support the aesthetic you'd expect from a brick and mortar targeted page. As an electronic document delivered online, it's important to make it obvious that it's for local businesses.

There are a couple of ways to do this. Use imagery to show physical businesses, either on the ebook or the background of the page or make the CTA very explicit about the local aspect.

Another thing to mention here is that the copy doesn't really say anything about what you are downloading! Is it a report? An ebook? This absolutely needs to be addressed.

Hypothesis for A/B testing

By focusing on the local business aspect in the CTA, there will be a better understanding of the local brick and mortar business relevance and more targeted downloads (creating better qualified leads).

A/B testing advice

Suggestions on what to test to prove the hypothesis

CTA copy: I would test the current CTA copy against something more explicit like “Download your location based whitepaper now”, with a short supporting line beneath the button that says “For brick and mortar retail businesses”. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation Again, I'll defer to Mr. contrast here. Color and Contrast The form area stands out really well on this page. You can't help but notice it. In this instance I'd try going for a red button to make it stand out from the main color palette. Here, the page is so simple that there's no real visual complexity to compensate for, but you should still get in the habit of practicing separation. Try Before You Buy Whenever you have an ebook/whitepaper/report to offer, you need to provide a preview. Sometimes, having a short Slideshare presentation on your page to showcase part of your content can bump your conversion rate (but you need to test).
6. Benchmark
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Thoughts

There are two different CTAs on the page, both in color and copy. These could use more consistency, and represent what the next step will reveal (I'm assuming the homepage).

No clear value proposition. I don't know how the company differentiates from the 100 other email service providers out there.

Hypothesis for A/B testing

By including a strong value proposition that illustrates why Benchmark is unique, people will be more willing to click through to the next step.

A/B testing advice

Suggestions on what to test to prove the hypothesis:

Tagline: There could be a tagline right next to the logo (to use some of the wasted space up there) that helps define the company right away. After all, Benchmark doesn't say email to me. The primary headline: This could be stronger, again, differentiation is key here. Why should I care about Benchmark? What's the main difference? I'd suggest a two-level headline, where the main header explains the core benefit, and the secondary headline backs it up with supporting information (stats, number of customers etc.) Then I'd move it over the top of the first paragraph and video. Image or video of the software in use: Instead of focusing on a testimonial at the first level, I'd include some bullet points that support the headline again - and a video or screenshot of the software. (Then move the testimonial further down).

Test it and see…

Design principle How'd it do? Social Proof The page talks about small business, and then features giant companies as the supporting proof of success. There seems to be a mismatch of company size that could make people perceive their offering is targeted toward the enterprise market.
7. Spousal immigration to Canada
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Thoughts

Well this is a first! An infographic on a landing page. Very cool. Although time consuming to read.

The opening headline is too situational, rather than descriptive. It would be stronger if it were simplified, rather than cute. The infographic has it right: “Sponsor your spouse to Canada”.

Hypothesis for A/B testing

By changing the page title to directly describe the purpose of the page, the bounce rate will be lowered, and conversions lifted.

Replacing the infographic with key facts in written form will improve the clarity and time spent reading, resulting in more people completing the form, as they will have a better idea of what the benefits of using FWCanada are.

A/B testing advice

Suggestions on what to test to prove the hypothesis:

Page title: Change the page title to “Sponsor your spouse to come to Canada” and use a subheader that says something like “Let FWCanada make your sponsorship easy”. Replace the infographic: Take the key points out of the infographic to inform readers who can apply, who can be a sponsor and how to apply. Probably in the form of an intro paragraph and sectioned sets of bullet points. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation It's hard to stand out on this page as it's made up entirely of boxes. I think the best thing that could be done for this page would be to add some white space to let it breathe. White Space As I mentioned, this would be the saving grace for this design. By shuffling the page elements around, to offer up the required information before the call to action and by creating a better hierarchy of information, the page wouldn't make you jump around wondering which order you should be consuming it in. Urgency and Scarcity I think I'd urgently move away from an infographic and back to regular content, even though it's a novel idea. Social Proof The goal of the company here is to perform a legal procedure. For this reason it really needs some strong social proof. It's the perfect service to leverage success stories. I would be reticent to try using this page without to be honest.
8. Falcon Social
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Thoughts

This page is actually a microsite, so I would first suggest ripping out the header and footer navigation to increase the on-page engagement and turn it into a promotion-specific landing page.

What Falcon Social does really well is something that I've been preaching for a long time, namely the use of lightboxes to show extended content without leaving the page. This happens if you click any of the 'Learn more' links.

However, the page lacks explanation of what the solution provides prior to asking someone to start a free trial. This could include having an introductory paragraph beside the video that mentions how long the trial is along and include a benefit statement.

Hypothesis for A/B testing

By changing the CTA copy to a benefit-driven statement and telling the customers what they will get when they sign up, more people will start a trial.

A/B testing advice

Suggestions on what to test to prove the hypothesis:

CTA copy: To test different CTAs, I'd run the original against a core benefit CTA such as “Grow Your Brand Socially” and a third CTA that says “Grow Your Brand Socially” with a smaller supporting “x-day free trial” directly beneath the button. Design principle How'd it do? Color and Contrast The CTAs on this page really stand out. If you try squinting at the page, they are rich with stark contrast. White Space Having the space surrounding the main content area (on both sides), it gives the page a less cramped feeling. If you try to imagine the content going all the way to the edges - maybe to try and reduce the height of the page - it would be much harder on the eyes. There is a lot of content here, so it could still use a little more space vertically. Social Proof This is a good way to use testimonials. It starts with a customer list, then moves on to hear what some of them are saying. In general the information hierarchy is nicely done on this page: intro, details, supporting statements.
9. Manpacks
What I like It's sexy: Predictable response? Yes, absolutely. That's the whole point. Validation: They jump right into showing off the famous publications that have featured their company. From a design perspective, the grey monotone prevents a mishmash of color, preventing any visual distraction from the call to action (CTA). Value propositions: The main content on the page answers two simple questions: “What is it?” and “Why should I care?” Testimonials: The second is one of the funniest I've read. “Socks as a Service” - genius. Removal of doubt: The subtext below the CTA lowers the perceived risk, which can improve the click-through-rate (CTR). What I'd change or test Tagline: To make it more immediately clear what the purpose of the page is, I'd add a succinct tagline beside the logo. Main title (core value proposition): There are a couple of ways to use a headline: A) use a very clear statement of what you are offering to enable an understanding of the purpose of your page, or B) entice your visitor to want to keep reading by using a seductive headline. They've gone with B here, presumably in an attempt to catch your attention and increase curiosity (or to push a particular button). For a test, I'd try approach A and make it really clear from the get go - what Manpacks is (this would work really well with the tagline to help pass a five-second test).

The example below shows an alternate page they created, presumably to speak to a different segment or create a different emotional trigger.

Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation Here the rule of encapsulation is applied to the content. Adding the blue container separates the main content area nicely, making the reading experience much simpler. Social Proof This is the best and funniest example of a testimonial I've ever seen, and fits the fun brand perfectly. The Tweet on the bottom-right contains the phrase: “Socks as a Service” playing off the SaaS acronym. Brilliant. Always makes me laugh.
10. That reset button is what I'd click

Notice the big red button on the bottom-left? Reset what? Your business idea? Your design skills? I just hope something magical happens when you click it.

What I like

Nothing… Awkward!

What I'd change or test

Unlock the potential for what? Living in a cul-de-sac in a Florida gated community? Be a little more specific about what the purpose of the page and offering is.

11. Sugar Daddies
What I like

Again, not much to boast about here.

What I'd change or test

Okay, if rich men are your thing, go for it. Who am I to stop you? But unless I'm mistaken, shouldn't they at least be men? Three of these look distinctly female to me. BTW, I searched “get rich quick” while searching for examples, and this is what I got - I guess marriage/dating is one method.

I get that the hot women are there to help sell the idea (to the men) of using money to “get what you want”. But still, throw in a few statements of what the “service” provides. You'll get more conversions if people know what to expect. And maybe add a little class. #JustSayin.

12. Zen Web Solutions
What I like Good message match on form: It's important in form design to ensure that your form header matches the copy on the button. This really focuses the purpose of the page. Remember never to use the word “Submit,” as this breaks the rule and you lose the supporting information. So great job here. What I'd change or test Client results are hard to decipher: The client results image is an important part of the page header, yet it doesn't really make much sense. I'm not sure what membership services are, so this could use a more descriptive image and supporting statement. Form purpose could be simplified: Currently, the form has two purposes. A phone number to contact the company to discuss business, or to download a marketing guide. As the form action is to get the guide, I wouldn't muddy the waters by having the phone number in there. I'd suggest placing it beneath the form area as a secondary action. Hit them with the free content first and then the request for them to call. You could also test flipping them into the opposite order. Design principle How'd it do? Directional Cues I like the way the “Find out how we can help you” statement has an arrow after it, pointing the way to the form, and the next step. Color and Contrast There are quite a lot of orange elements on the page. By choosing a button color that's not within the orange range you will make it stand out more. Blue or green would be good, and I'd also bump up the size to make it more dominant. The form container could also use a little something to make it stand out from an otherwise flat page. Social Proof The testimonials also have a success metric net to them, which is a smart strategy. However, it could be communicated more effectively if it was written out, rather than trying to play with an image. Bad use of design.
13. Certify
What I like Expectations are communicated next to the form: Beneath the form header, you are told that someone will contact you within 24 hours What I'd change or test The video poster frame should be more enticing: A poster frame is the image that is visible on your video before the play button is clicked. In many cases this is left to be a screenshot of the start of the video. It can be more effective to have a descriptive and enticing benefit statement as the starting point - to make people want to watch. Asking for contact too early: One thing I would test is the placement of the form. It's good to be above the fold for the most part, but when you are asking someone to engage in communication with you, you might want to expose them to more information about your product offering first. It could be as simple as putting a few bullet points in place of the form and nudging it down a bit. This could mean that you need to move the third feature block somewhere else, and switch it to two or four. Or you could extend the header area to be longer, and balance the design by putting a relevant statement beneath the video, talking about a benefit of the service. Or you could switch the testimonial into this spot. Never submit: Change the button copy to say something like “Please contact me for further information”. Polite and to the point. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation As I mentioned above, if you shifted the form down to sit half in and half out of the main header area, you could encapsulate it nicely in a design element that really separates it from the surrounding elements, by virtue of how it would break existing lines. Color and Contrast The color choice for the two CTAs (just one please, tsk tsk) does contrast with it's surroundings, but something about the design is just awfully flat. But at a distant glance they do stand out. White Space There is some generous white space in the main content area which lets your eyes flow down the page through the content. It would be enhanced further by using a larger type size, with an appropriate line height to give the copy room to breathe also. Try Before You Buy Video product demos are always a good window into what you are offering, and can simplify the subsequent content consumption as you can easily scan to seek out any remaining holes in your buying process. In this example, you could easily skip the 1, 2, 3 content below the video as it's covered in the video. Social Proof The subheader of the page is actually a testimonial which clarify the purpose of the product at the same time as adding social proof.
14. FluidSurveys
What I like Clear value proposition: The headline is very simple and leaves no doubt about the purpose of the page and the product. And it's nicely backed up by a well written explanation of some of the core benefits directly below. Highlighted testimonial: The brushed highlight of the testimonial gives it a bit of extra design zing and prevents the page from feeling too text heavy. Contrast: They chose two nicely contrasting colors to highlight important elements. The free label, and the form CTA. Context of use: Their choice of imagery lets you know that the product can produce mobile-ready polls. Validation: Like the example above, they provide a strong sense of trust by including a set of logos. They're Canadian! Woot! What I'd change or test Remove the footer navigation: Any extraneous navigation on a landing page can lead your visitors down the wrong path. I'd recommend removing the footer nav to simplify the available choices. Explain the logos: Add a small label (like example #1) to explain that they are client logos (or sites that have featured/written about them). Design principle How'd it do? Color and Contrast Color is used here to set up the informational hierarchy appropriately: top, middle, bottom. Which allows you to visually break the information into three pieces, speeding the reading process. The CTA also stands out as the only green element on the page. White Space Very simple layout with a spacious design. Let your eye wander around the page and you'll see how easy it is to identify each block of information. Remove the footer navigation and it would be even stronger. Social Proof Just a little touch of design behind the testimonial helps to make it stand out as different from the content section above it, helping to set a visual barrier that keeps your eyes in place when you are reading the three chunks above.
15. Golden Sands
What I like Experience: It immediately makes me want to go on holiday and stay in a luxury hotel. The pillows are literally selling me softly. Price: Travel is very much about price, and they get that out of the way right off the bat, so you can move on to the finder details after unerstanding if you can afford it or not. #smrt What I'd change or test The form header: Apply now? For what? It's unclear what you're applying for - I thought it was a booking site, but apparently I have to apply for something. Make it clear why people are filling out your form. Primary value proposition: There's no clear statement of what the page is for or what you'll get. I'd try moving the hotel logos from the top and adding in a strong value prop. Exclusive: There is a mention of an exclusive preview invitation, but it doesn't explain what you're being invited to. I'd also make this stand out more if it's an important selling point - perhaps using some visual cues to draw the viewer's eye. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation The use of opacity for the form container is a good example of drawing just enough attention to the form, while still following the soft design aesthetic of the page. White Space The use of darker areas on both sides of the content helps to drive you through the content in the middle of the page, like a funnel. Social Proof Good and bad. The Trip Advisor certificate of excellence let's you know that a recognized authority has validated the company. The testimonials shown are anonymous, which reduces their impact (as they could have been made up). Always ask permission to use a testimonial and include the name of the person providing it for extra trust points.
Create Higher-Converting Landing Pages Using Conversion-Centered Design
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16. Echodemic
What I like Opening statement: The opening sentence describes their offering perfectly and succinctly. Honesty: It tells you the cost, so you can weigh up the potential value associated with extending your brand reach. Clear contact method: The big phone number increases the trust factors by letting you know there are real people to deal with. What I'd change or test Move the form: Stick the form above the brand logos. Design principle How'd it do? Color and Contrast On this page, my eyes have no idea what to do. They jump around all over the page, trying to find an area of importance. The contrast needs to be knocked way back and be aligned better in terms of heavy vs. light. Don't even get me started on the form. Even if you manage to work your way down to it, it's so bland and nondescript, with no real purpose attributed to it. White Space Re-architecting the page to focus on one element alone with two columns of visually related content would greatly simplify the reading process. Social Proof The Facebook follower number lends some credibility to their appeal, as it's what they are selling as a service. But not enough to really inspire confidence. I would remove this until the number is significant. How are the logos connected? Are they just hotel names to help you understand the point of the page? Or are they existing customers? Make this clear with a title if they are customers.
17. Demandforce
What I like Market share: They already seem to have a 30% market share - invest. What I'd change or test Big form: There are only two required fields, so don't make a visitor feel like they are taking on a long labor to get information. Scale back to just name and phone number. And don't start the conversation with “Fill in this form.” That's the equivalent of walking into a clothing store and being told to buy a bunch of clothes before you even try them on. Seduce, or even coerce, but don't instruct. Call to action: The visitor isn't really looking to sign up - they'd probably respond more to “Request Tour” or “Get Started”. Footer: The links in the footer, other than Privacy, are just distractions. Get rid of as many leaks as possible to keep conversion high. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation I like the inverted color of the form container here. The white stands out nicely from the solid background (to steal a comment away from Miss Contrast). Social Proof As seen on!: Right at the top is a testimonial that describes a benefit and associates the product with a third-party authority, and then backs it up with a great quote from the company showing how it made them extra money (who doesn't like that!?) - they even have an Amazon review :)
18. Boost Your Search - free audit
What I like ROBOTS: We like robots. What I'd change or test Stick to your guns: Choose one action and stick with it. In cases like this, the email lead is not nearly as valuable as the customer. Make two pages: Differentiate the actions “Free audit” and “Paid Plan” into separate landing pages so you can segment the traffic from channels like PPC. Design principle How'd it do? Encapsulation Too much. Too much. Directional Cues There's a tiny one in the form header, but that's only us
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How to Write Better

I wrote a book on how to Find Your Writing Voice. The idea came because Jacq said she wanted to know how to translate her unique self onto the page, onto her blog, into emails and more. You know, in a world where writing and communication are more important than ever, I wanted to make sure that you weren't just putting your words out there; you were making your words represent you online.

Find Your Writing Voice

It's a pretty simple book of writing advice. The idea is that there's action in there for you and no fluff. You don't have time to read 300 pages. This is just the meat.

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The 7 Principles of Conversion-Centered Design [Free 56-Page Ebook]

I'd like to meet the person who goes into IKEA to pick up a new fridge and walks out with only the fridge. If you're like me, you inevitably wind up with a car full of junk products, an ice cream in one hand and two hotdogs in the other.

That's because IKEA stores aren't designed to help you achieve a single goal.

That's a pretty crappy attention ratio. Image credit: ALEXANDER LEONOV via Shutterstock.com.

They don't care about the “optimal route” to the cash register - they want you to snake in and out of the showrooms. They want you to stop and fantasize about chopping imaginary vegetables on their impeccable countertops.

If you're shopping for a new fridge and you know that's all you need, you're better off going to an appliance showroom, where the goal is clear: Get your gadget and get out.

This focus on a singular goal is the same focus that lies at the heart of our latest ebook:

Maximize Conversions Using Conversion-Centered Design
Download this ebook and become an expert at building delightful, high-converting marketing campaigns.
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For a marketer, conversion means convincing a visitor to do one thing and one thing only. Not one of many things, not accomplishing it in under seven seconds, not successfully navigating from one point to another - just completing a single business-driven objective.

Conversion-Centered Design (CCD) helps you design experiences that guide the visitor towards completing that one specific action, using persuasive design and psychological triggers to increase conversions. In other words, it's about persuasion.

And as you'll learn, persuading your prospects to take the desired action you want them to take doesn't have to be difficult (especially when you're not distracting them with 99¢ hotdogs).

You'll learn:

The theory behind each of the 7 CCD principles (Attention, Context, Clarity, Congruence, Credibility, Closing, Continuance) and how they affect conversion rates. How to leverage the principles to create and optimize high-converting marketing campaigns. Why landing pages are instrumental to improving the ROI of your marketing campaigns.

You can grab the framework as a downloadable ebook above, or check out the content on our interactive site here.

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From Campaigns to Conversions – How to Make Sense of the Data You're Presented With

It's the question on every marketer's mind – “How do we turn these impressions, clicks and conversions into something that drives results for our company?”

The fact is, you have a lot on your plate. From new product launches to generating interest to reaching new markets and paying attention to customer sentiment, there's a lot to juggle. Being able to not just make sense of the data you're gathering, but also turn that information into actionable insights is a must-have skill in today's competitive markets.

The good news is, it can be learned – easily.

The Problem with Reach

When everything is measured in terms of reach and impressions, we start creating goals that don't really measure the results we want

In many cases, campaigns are founded with the wrong goal in mind. Everything is measured in “reach”. We look at impressions as the de facto measurement standard when it barely scratches the surface of measuring a consumer's true interest and intent.

The end result, when focusing too much on reach and impressions, is that you might make a boatload of sales, but not be able to map them definitively to any specific campaign or strategy. Even if people first hear about your product through traditional media (TV, print, newspaper), they're very likely to go online and do some more research – and that's where things like reviews, ratings and testimonials can make a significant impact.

Another issue is that most advertising programs assume a straight path to conversions, when the result is anything but. The customer could go from print awareness to online research at your website, but then go offsite to look up user reviews, do some comparison shopping, seek out coupons, watch a product unboxing video, look over the company's Facebook page to see what people are saying, double-back on the comparison shopping engine to find the best deal, and so forth.

The fact is, the conversion path isn't pretty and that's because it's too often tied to wisps of numbers that don't make any meaningful and measurable impact on the bottom line.

Mapping Campaigns to Results

Changing techniques to focus on revenues and relationships requires a change in how we think about campaigns

So how do you tie your campaigns into the kind of insights that deliver the results you need? Let's take a look at some common types of campaigns and how they can be adjusted:

E-Commerce Sales

E-Commerce relies heavily on the power of reviews, testimonials and coupons – so combining these in a way that makes sense (such as putting reviews of that particular product below the customer's item when they go to view their cart) will help reduce cart abandonment rates and seal the deal.

Automatically adding in a coupon (especially for free shipping) only serves to sweeten the deal, and greatly reduces the risk that the customer will go offsite to search for coupons – and potentially to a competitor.

Don't forget the service after the sale either. Following up to inquire about how the customer likes the product, if they've used it yet or have any questions are crucial for keeping your brand front-of-mind in a way that's helpful, not intrusive.

New Product Launch

New product launches are by far the easiest processes to map. Since initiatives are just getting off the ground, you can more easily segment and monitor them across all channels. But even with that kind of segmentation in place, it's worth noting that few customers who “Like” a particular brand (for a discount, sample or whatever) seldom return to that page.

Your main goal in measuring results with new product launches should be to get customers to visualize their lives made better as a result of having your product in it. Your best customer may not say a lot or interact a lot on social media, but they will tell friends and family about you – and that speaks volumes more than any advertising can.

Brick and Mortar Sales

If your product is featured in traditional storefronts, there's a lot you can do to help increase conversions. Create a coupon code for a specific retail chain or even a specific locale so that you can tie results directly to that specific campaign.

Help thwart showrooming (where customers browse in store but buy online) by price matching. Don't force customers to jump through hoops to get the advertised price, either. Move the conversion needle even more by offering users a social coupon. This is one that can be shared with friends, but must be printed and brought to the store to redeem. You can track the success of the campaign through social analytics or the number of coupons redeemed.

There Is No Best Choice

One of the most common questions from the C-Suite with regard to conversions is “which channel drives the most?” Here again, there's too much of a focus hinging on pure numbers and not more valuable (but intangible) things like customer sentiment, recommendations, brand awareness and so on. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to discovering which channel brings the greatest ROI – because there isn't a single channel that does this all the time, for everyone, with every product.

Oftentimes, it's a mix of initiatives that drive the best results. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Look at the mixes of what's driving the most engagement or converting the most first-time users into paying customers – that's the avenue you want to improve conversions on.

How Kissmetrics Can Help

If you're using Kissmetrics, we've made it incredibly easy to see which marketing channels are sending the most profitable visitors.

We do this by using different channels. These channels include visitors who are referred directly to your site, who come by way of a third party, by email, and much more. But simply knowing where they come from is only part of the equation.

What you really want to know is - which visitors are bringing in the revenue?

And because Kissmetrics tracks users, not sessions, you can easily tie revenues to people. This is done by setting up the Revenue Report. Set it up once and let it start tackling the data effortlessly. You can even import your existing sales data if you wish.

An example of a Kissmetrics revenue report segmenting revenue by product category

The most valuable aspect of the Revenue Report is seeing which channels drive your biggest profits - not necessarily the most traffic or even the highest quality traffic - but pure revenues. As stated, you can even segment by marketing channel, so you'll learn not only which campaigns resonate with your target audience, but what that means in terms of your bottom line.

Map It Out

Always look at strategy from a point of constant improvement rather than a “once and done” campaign

Some of us marketers are just visual learners who perform best when an idea is fully mapped out – so don't hesitate to do this if you feel it will give you a better idea of how to move forward. Draw a horizontal “timeline” showing the different touch points where your customer interacts with your product or service in any way. Then, draw a vertical line showing the stages of the sales funnel.

Now look at it carefully and see where and how the different areas intersect and mingle with each other. Are there areas where customers are dropping off considerably? Are there touch points where the customer isn't getting the help or clarification they need? When you map out the process, it's amazing the findings that will suddenly come to light!

No matter what, going from campaigns to conversions isn't about looking at the raw data as win or lose. It's about looking at the big picture of which campaigns cultivated the kind of customer sentiment and brand awareness you want while minimizing friction or cart abandonment. And more often than not, these kinds of results will come from many different campaigns and channels.

It requires a shift in how you think about conversions and how they tie into overall customer retention, to be sure, but making that shift and looking at initiatives in terms of wide-reaching strategies rather than one-off campaigns can make a significant difference in all areas of business.

Have you integrated any of these ideas into your own campaigns? What kind of results have you gotten? Share your thoughts and comments with us below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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