Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing
The purpose of all landing pages is to bring in as many visitors as possible and convert as many of those as well. There are many different things that can affect the success of a landing page; however, some basic things have been proven to help landing pages in general. This is where this post comes in – I’m here to tell you about these basic general things that will help your landing page shine; I promise this is not rocket science.

Keep it to the point

It most important for your landing page to be to the point, above all else. Why? Because this page is made to convert users – to get them to sign up, to sell to them, etc. If your page doesn’t do that, it will lose people’s interest incredibly fast, which defeats the purpose of having this page to begin with. People don’t like to read, they don’t like to sift through a pile of information online at all. If they came to your landing page, they came there for a reason so you should present their desired information front and center and nothing else. You should always highlight what the value of the landing page is. Your landing page should clearly and successfully convey to your visitors what your offer to them is, by using clear headings, bullets, clear call-to-action and by keeping things simple.

Landing Page 1Landing Page 2

There are many things that could take your landing page off its point. There are three things in particular you need to watch out for – your content needs to be decluttered to its utmost essentials, your headline should be visible and strong and so should your CTA (call to action) be too. Let’s go over those in a little bit more detail, one by one.

Get rid of clutter – visual and content

When it comes to the content, keep things as brief as possible. Landing pages are meant to convert not to keep busy. People don’t have great attention spans online so overwhelming them with a giant amount of text or extreme amounts of imagery will scare them. According to a study by HubSpot, having too many images doesn’t help conversions because they distract users rather then help to convince them to convert.

Landing Page 3Landing Page 4

Make your headline stand out

On many websites, users just flip through the pages – one certain way to get their attention and to get them to stay is through a great headline. A headline is something most people see and even read because it is a big element on a page and it also provides an overview of what the page is about; this, in turn lets the user know whether this page is something that is worth them checking out or not. Therefore, your heading should be spectacular in proving value as to why the users should stay on your landing page. Not to mention, the headline should not be lost within the page’s content; it should be big and bold so that it stands out – so that it is obvious it’s the headline.

Landing Page 5

A strong Call to Action

A call to action is to tell users what to do on a page. Not having one is just as bad as having a poor Call to Action – it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. Your overall Call to Action message should be friendly and encouraging; the action itself can vary on what they user should do but it should nonetheless be an action. Encourage your users to sign up, or purchase a sample. But, whatever you ask your users make sure it is easy for them to do – the easier the action the more people will follow through with it, you can’t ask people to jump through hoops for them, it just doesn’t work that way online.

Landing Page 6

Prove yourself

Users and visitors are skeptical online – especially If they have never used you before. So, prove yourself by providing testimonies, case studies, media quotes, client logos or social media proof. This will provide credibility and trust for you, which is so important and valuable. Without credibility, you don’t’ get too many conversions – this can only help you. If you can include Tweets or Facebook posts by your current customers your credibility – as well as your conversions – will go through the roof.

Landing Page 7

Be consistent in layout

Landing pages should always be A/B tested for most optimal conversions and maximum results. However having too many, too drastic changes can hurt your conversions. Page layout has the most impact on a landing page’s performance therefore consistency should be kept so that users don’t get confused while navigating your page. When users don’t know how to get around your page, they simply leave.

Test, always test

Just like many thing in this industry, landing pages vary so it depends what will help one over the other the most. However, the way to figure out what will help your page best, at the end of the day, it to test and test a lot. Of course don’t go overboard as the last thing I pointed out – consistency in layout – will be compromised but just make sure you try out different things on your page to truly know what works for your page and what doesn’t. A/B testing is so simple nowadays; it’s just silly not to do it – especially on such an important page as a landing page. A/B testing your page will narrow down whether your Call to Action button should be green or blue, whether the headline is too big or too small or whether or not the current graphic you have on there helps at all.

Landing Page 8Landing Page 9

Conclusion

I hope these few tips will help out your pages as these are some very simple and basic rules every landing page should follow. I’d like to think that these element are kind of obvious actually as it doesn’t take a lot to make a landing page successful – you just have to make sure that it is, in the end, clear and to the point so that it is easy for your users to convert.


Author: Paula Borowska

Paula is a UX pioneer that loves speaking for the users when no one else will. She also loves all things mobile. You can talk shop with her on Twitter @paulaborowska or check out her portfolio.


What is marketing strategy?

Let’s have 30 seconds of silence.

30-second-countdown

That was your marketing message without a strategy.

That 30 seconds of silence is what people effectively get out of your communications if your message does not directly address their needs. As Howard Gossage has so aptly pointed out, people see or hear only what interests them. The rest is, well, nothing.

what is marketing strategy1

We are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of marketing messages every day. Why would we be receptive to all of them? This would be mental chaos. So, in response, we tune out all but the most relevant ones. Our brain is actually very good at tuning out stuff that it does not want or need. We do this automatically. This prevents us from going insane.

You probably remember the experience of learning a new word—as a child or even as an adult—and all of a sudden you see and hear that word everywhere. This is an example of how our brains smooth over the parts of our environment that are not relevant to us. That word was always there, of course, but it was effectively invisible to our mind until learning its meaning gave it relevance. As a result, pop! like magic that word is now there where seemingly it never was before. A marketing message operates exactly the same way.

What does marketing strategy have to do with this materialization out of nothing?

Marketing strategy is sorting out who your audience actually is, and then finding out what has meaning for them. What do they care about, and how does this relate to your offer? What message can you deliver that is both true and meets your consumer squarely at the level of their needs? Marketing strategy is the process of uncovering messages that can be heard. Marketing strategy allows you to answer the crucial question your offer must address: “Why should I care?” To paraphrase Peter DruckerConsumers do not buy what you sell. They buy what has value to them. 

Why does marketing strategy matter?

Shortest answer: Because it saves you money.

what is marketing strategyIn marketing, there is strategy and there are tactics. A lot of marketing, in practice, is preoccupied with what I call tactical experimentation. This is the act of  throwing all kinds of things out at the world or at broad demographic targets to see what works. As you do this you are spending money, potentially lots of it. The idea in this method is to do this until you find some marketing actions that work, and when you find them you can then do more of those.

This process often results in the classic Wanamaker dilemma—”Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” He was speaking of advertising, but the principle applies.

Marketing strategy allows you to use pathways and footholds that apply your limited marketing budget more effectively (everyone’s marketing budget is limited). Marketing strategy facilitates your ability to apply marketing money to the correct half of the Wanamaker equation—the half you are not wasting on audiences who do not value your message.

To illustrate this principal with one of our own rather straight forward examples, when we looked at the South Bronx as a marketplace for the Bronx Museum, the situation we saw is reflected by the first competitive advantage diagram below: here there is nothing in their offer, as understood by the consumer, that is of any perceived value. The strategy, therefore, could not be to simply support the institutional desire to communicate about all the great art that was on exhibit (see Drucker above).

Marketing Strategy, Tronvig Group

We had to find factors that could legitimately be moved into the competitive advantage, things that were perceived as valuable to the desired audience, that were not perceived to be offered by the competition. In this case, there was no required product change, just an adjustment of the marketing message communicated through the website and advertising. By effectively marketing on the basis of the factors that reflected what was of value to the target consumer we cost-effectively supported the achievement of their desired objective: to increase attendance from local audiences in the South Bronx. This is marketing strategy applied, and it brought results. (You can read more about this campaign in The Marketing of the Bronx Museum.)

So, for the sake of your own institution or product, please spend the time and energy to really get inside the head of your consumer. Find the intersection between your offer and their needs. Answer Drucker’s Questions #2 and #3: Who is your customer? What do they value? Isolate those specific factors that actually drive behavior for them. Realize they are not buying what you are selling, they are only buying what is of value to them. And, by all means, use THAT in your marketing communications.

You’ll be very glad you did.

If what I’m describing makes sense, if you understand that strategy saves you money, and you need help sorting out the situation for your particular marketplace, please consider one of our Branding and Marketing Discovery Workshops.

by James Heaton

A Tale of Social Media and Cin-e-ma-zoo [Video]

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(Posted on Nov 6, 2013 at 06:52AM by William Cosgrove)
It was the night before Christmas, well very close, and all through the house the creatures were stirring because everything was in doubt. A knock at the door and who would appear but a scrooge with an eviction notice- this was no Christmas cheer for Cin-e-ma-zoo.

One cold day in December After year twenty-two - Gary Oliver, CinemaZoo's founder did not know what to do.

CinemaZoo the Pacific Northwest's largest private sanctuary for exotic creatures was founded on the good intentions of people who acquired an exotic pet but didn’t think it through. That exotic bird was beautiful but was too loud and that cute little sugar glider looked like a cuddly pet but it was noisy all night and would emit nasty things if you tried to hold it. And that pet monitor lizard- it just ate the owner's cat.

 All of these now unwanted and abandoned creatures ended up at CinemaZoo. Close to 300 of these exotic creatures were now facing eviction and, even worse, euthanasia.

 Social media came to the rescue. Gary contacted One Big Broadcast and they pledged to help. First, all of the traditional media were contacted and-

 -Within days local TV stations were airing the news, Vancouver's daily newspaper, The Province, ran a front page story and the drama caught the hearts and minds of the entire province.

 The efforts main focus was centered around One Big Broadcasts socialcasting platform. While the news events were happening the OBB team was dominating the Internet with UGC (User Generated Content) content.

 OBB’s social media tools allowed them to quickly upload images to their broadcast and enabled blogs and GPS galleries from one central CMS console. They also delivered all the ongoing updates via email, SMS, social media and social networking sites. Finally OBB’s widgets updated web sites and blogs carrying the feeds.

Cinemazoo's news dominated every search term on Google and Yahoo within days. One Big Broadcast was able to funnel the traffic into Cinemazoo's donation page.

Money started flowing in online via ecommerce microsite pages One Big Broadcast had created. Donations poured in as the public opened their wallets, bookings soared and merger talks followed from a major zoo for funding and expansion.

 As Gary Oliver said later during one of his follow-up TV interviews, "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for One Big Broadcast.”
This is a story of how powerful social media can be in effectively getting out a message to make a difference. With the proper technology and expertise no other form of multi-media channeling of information can have the immediate and lasting impact of a properly orchestrated social media campaign.

The story ends with this video and a HAPPY ending for all:
By William Cosgrove
A recent article in the Guardian discussed the existential tension between content marketing and advertising. Citing Lego Magazine and the movie The Internship as examples, the writer, Jonny Rose, asked if these qualified as legitimate forms of branded content, or were merely advertising shills? To that end, this question is often asked: When it comes to content marketing, what types of information qualify?

I think that's the wrong question altogether. A much better one is: Does the content we create benefit the end user in some way?

Rose agrees. "The most important question for content marketers and ad execs is not an existential one--is what we are creating content marketing or advertising--but one of utility," he writes. "Is what we are creating helpful to consumers who are seeking information or entertainment to meet their own interests and needs?"

It's a matter of function more than form. Our focus in producing content should be, first and foremost, what benefits the needs and desires of our audience. When that happens, content becomes nothing more than a vehicle through which we educate, inform, inspire or entertain consumers, no matter what form it takes.

In his book Youtility, author Jay Baer says, "There are only two ways for companies to break through in an environment that is unprecedented in its competitiveness and cacophony. They can be 'amazing' or they can be useful. "

The same holds true for content marketing. We can either constantly tout the virtues of our brand, or we can turn our attention to what's best for the customer.

Baer provides the following six admonitions for any brand considering usefulness as a primary marketing philosophy:

1. Identify Customer Needs

The first order of business is to know understand our customer's needs and wants, in terms of the type of information they are looking for.

2. Map Customer Needs to Useful Marketing

You have to understand not just what your customers need, but how and where they prefer to access information.

3. Market Your Marketing

"Content is fire, and social media is gasoline," says Baer. Use social media as a means to convey helpful information first, and your brand second.

4. Insource Utility

Usefulness has to become part of a brand's DNA. Communicating useful information must extend beyond the marketing department and into the company as a whole. While certain individuals may be tasked with producing content, the rest can marshall around them to promote it via their own social networks.

5. Make Utility a Process, Not a Project

Producing content must never be seen as a campaign, but as an ongoing process. The reason: nothing remains the same. Customer needs change, technology changes, and new ideas are continually birthed. "Static" is not an operative word where the web is concerned.

6. Keep Score

In order for content marketing to be most effective, it must be measured. We're not doing this just to make ourselves look like heroes in the eyes of consumers, but to gain market share and increase return on investment.

Whether something qualifies as "content" should not be based on form, but on how well it meets the needs and wants of the people we're trying to reach with our message. As the subtitle of Baer's book suggests, Smart marketing is about 'help' not 'hype.' Make your content useful and the benefits will follow.

Title image courtesy of Shutterstock.


By Paul Chaney
Principal
Chaney Marketing Group

Using the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) to engage with different types of buyers when new products are launched

What is The Diffusion of Innovation?

This model helps a business to understand how a buyer adopts and engages with new products or technologies over time. Companies will use it when launching a new product or service, adapting it or introducing an existing product into a new market.

It shows how the product can be adopted by five different categories/customer types and how to engage as a business with these types of people:

Diffusion-of-Innovation-model

 

Of course, the emergence of new digital technologies and marketing techniques means that the diffusion of innovation model is particularly relevant to digital marketers. Analysts Gartner have a long standing report showing the stages of adoption of new technologies that is useful for digital strategists to follow. See our post on the Latest Gartner Digital Technology Hype Cycle

Returning to the DOI, what characterises each of the groups of adopters, in general they have these characteristics, see the original work by Everett M. Rogers for more details. 

  • 1. Innovator. They are a small group of people exploring new ideas and technologies. It includes “gadget fetishists!” In an online marketing context there are a lot of specialist blogs and media sites to engage them, Engadget and Gizmodo for examples.
  • 2. Early Adopters. Considered to be Opinion Leaders who may share positive testimonials about new products and services, seeking improvements and efficiency. Engagement requires little persuasion as they’re receptive to change. Provide guides on how to use the product/service.
  • 3. Early Majority.  These are Followers who will read reviews by earlier adopters about new products before purchasing. They can be engaged with reviews and via YouTube, where they will look for your products.
  • 4. Late Majority. To generalise, these are sceptics who are not keen on change and will only adopt a new product or service if there is a strong feeling of being left behind or missing out. They can be engaged with providing marketing material, evidence, reviews from Opinion Leaders and case studies to show how it works.
  • 5. Laggards. The descriptor says it all! Typically they prefer traditional communications and will adopt new products when there are no alternatives. Laggards will come on board when ‘others’ have written about your products/services, they have research evidence, statistics or felt pressure from others.

How to use the Diffusion of Innovation?

If you are launching a new tech product, such as software, you can use this model which will help with identifying the marketing materials needed for each group.

The Adoption theory is most useful when looking at new product launches, but it can be useful when taking existing products or services into a new market.

Examples of how it can be applied to digital marketing strategies?

This is an example based on launching new software to the different groups.

  • Innovator: Show the software on key software sites such as Techcrunch, or Mashable. Providing marketing material on the website, with relevant information and lead to potential sales with downloads.
  • Early Adoptor: Create guides and add to the major software sites, providing marketing material such as case studies, Guides and FAQs.
  • Early Majority: Blogger outreach with guest blog posts and provide links to social media pages, key facts and figures, and ‘how to’ YouTube videos.
  • Late Majority: Encourage reviews, comparisons and share press commentary on your website. Provide a press section and social proof with information and links to reviews, testimonials, third party review sites etc
  • Laggards: It’s probably not worth trying to appeal to this group!

What to watch for?

The Adoption theory is mainly useful when developing new products. If you’re in FMCG and launch many new products or lines a year, it may be less effective as it’s not practical to create individuals strategies for hundreds of products.

By .  Annmarie Hanlon is the Smart Insights expert commentator on online and offline marketing strategies for business.

Original sources

Rogers, E.M. (1976). New Product Adoption and Diffusion. Journal of Consumer Research. (March). p290-301.
 

 
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Content marketing is one of the biggest challenges and opportunities for both business and consumer brands today. As brands look to expand their reach online and engage audiences beyond ‘interruptive’ advertising, they’re increasingly looking to cultivate shareable content that is informative, entertaining and interesting.

Marketers regularly cite challenges around producing enough engaging content. A lot of the content out there today simply doesn’t move a brand forward. Content should always map back to a broader brand story that is aligned to a brand’s fundamental story.

Social engagement apps are shareable digital experiences that invite consumers (and their friends) into a social relationship with a brand. Done right, engagement apps can also create snackable, sharable content that is perfect for kicking off a content engagement relationship between brand and consumer, as well as for filling out the content calendar to keep the drumbeat going. They provide the mechanisms that encourage consumers to both create content themselves, and share that content among their own network. The value of marketing on social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn is not only the size of the audience, but also the networked graph of connected consumers. So that sharing of content from person-to-person is a critical opportunity to tap ‘earned’ reach.

Here are 5 ways engagement apps invite consumers to create shareable brand-themed content.

1. Let Your Fans and Followers Vote

Voting allows fans to have a say in the brand’s direction, whether it’s helping choose something as light-hearted as a t-shirt design, or as important as a magazine cover photo. With engagement apps, fans can vote for their favorite destination, product, design — or marketing theme — and share their vote. Those voting results, enriched by commentary and insights, can provide content that fuels other branded channels and provides wider audience insights into how the crowd thinks and feels about your brand. Vitamin Water successfully deployed this idea with its social ‘favor creator’ campaign back in 2009. More recently, Outside Magazine tapped social fans to pick the ‘Best Town of the Year’ in 2011, 2012 and again in 2013 — campaigns that also fed valuable content for both the print and online magazine.

2. Give Your Fans and Followers a Personalized Brand Experience

A brand experience tailored to a user’s profile provides fans with something unique that keeps them exploring. Engagement apps can deliver a personalized experience, such as a set of product and service choices, white papers and case studies, or even fashion outfits, and reflect the identity revealed in their profile data. The clothing brand Jones NY is currently leveraging followers’ LinkedIn profiles this fall with their Style Creator campaign, allowing executive women to have outfits suggested based on their professional LinkedIn profile.

3. Ask Fans and Followers to Contribute Brand-Related Content

Contributions from fans don’t just make the community feel like a more essential part of a brand, they also help brand marketers delegate content creation. Social engagement apps can ask fans to submit photos, videos, or other stories on a brand-related theme. That fan-submitted content can then enrich a brand’s own marketing channels. For example, Dressy.com is reporting engagement success by asking fans to submit photos based on themes such as weddings, to their brand website. Virgin Mobile recently created a TV spot entirely from consumer contest videos.

4. Challenge the Knowledge of Your Social Audience

Challenge your fans, to get their attention and their engagement. Challenges can take the form of quizzes or polls that test a fan’s knowledge. They can pose questions for which the answers are informative and useful, and themselves become shareable results. Earlier this year, Air New Zealand launched a “Kiwi IQ” quiz that challenged fans’ knowledge of New Zealand sights by asking them to decide whether a photo or fact was about Auckland or about San Francisco. On a similar travel-related note, Visit Norway USA challenged their fans earlier this year to answer questions about Norway facts--a question a day for a month.

5. Help Fans and Followers Uncover Profile Insights

Fans will be more likely to come back to a brand if they learn something about themselves by interacting with your brand or branded content. With engagement apps, access to a user’s profile can yield valuable personal insights that the user may not have noticed. By logging in with social credentials, a fan or follower might be able to see patterns or relationships in their profile they hadn’t seen before, or might see how they become ‘matched’ to some brand-related identity or product. For example, Microsoft launched a “Nametag Analyzer” powered by LinkedIn’s professional graph that gave followers a new look at their job title, while at the same time was introducing them to Microsoft products.

Success on social means finding a brand voice that resonates with fans and followers. Having audiences contribute content, discuss content, and talk about wider themes that relate to a brand is a way to cultivate a more prominent voice.

Marketing on social shouldn’t involve just talking about a brand’s products and services endlessly. Delivering informative and entertaining content is essential. When social audiences participate in the creation of the content, brands can reach a new level of success and authenticity, unparalleled to what a brand could deliver on its own.

By Roger Katz

What marketing trend has taken off like conversion rate optimization? Growth hacking? Targeted email drip campaigns? Even with those efforts, often the goal is to optimize getting more people to take more actions (a/k/a convert).

With the practice of CRO rising to prominence, conversion rate optimization experts and advice have, as well. Every day there seem to be new ideas for testing, new tips on how to write better copy, new best practices for creating high converting landing pages, and even advice on understanding the psychology of conversion and behavioral economics.

Almost all of the advice you see today is focused on driving marketing results by altering copy and visual web elements, but there is a whole lot more to the web these days than static websites designed to capture leads and convert sales. We now have robust consumer web applications, the mobile web, and Software-as-a-Service products that need optimizing as well.

In the internet age of the signed-in user, it’s time we start thinking of conversion rate optimization more holistically.

Here are a few major points about conversion rate optimization that haven’t been widely addressed by CRO experts, along with what you can do today to get ahead of the curve.

1. Conversions Happen throughout the Customer Journey

You could be using every tactic known and have awesome top-of-funnel conversion rates to show for it, but that won’t necessarily get you happy, recurring customers.

The visitors you do convert could be low quality customers that buy only once or stay with your service for just a few months.

While optimizing your conversions throughout the buying cycle is important, you shouldn’t stop there. You need to focus on the larger picture – the customer lifecycle.

By optimizing each lifecycle stage your customers go through for conversion, you will start seeing increased user engagement and flow from one stage to the next: more free trial and freemium users converting to paying customers, more paying customers converting on upsell opportunities and renewing, and more happy customers becoming vocal brand advocates.

If you have not already reviewed Dave McClure’s Startup Metrics for Pirates, I advise you to do so and get a quick understanding of the customer lifecycle for most web businesses: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral.

Here are some ways you can optimize each lifecycle stage for better conversion:

I. Acquisition

At the top of the funnel, the goal is clear. Drive people to your website and get them to convert into a subscriber, lead, or customer.

Most people are not going to convert right away, though, at least not on any action that will cost them much money or resources.

As with the overall customer journey, usually various steps are taken beforehand as your visitors investigate how you will help them with their specific needs in the moment.

This is why it is important to take a step back from thinking only about optimization of individual pages and think about how you can create stronger conversion funnels.

People are coming to your site with specific needs in mind. It’s your job to make it easy for them to quickly learn how you can meet those needs and guide them toward converting on your most relevant solution.

user flows

Examples of common user flows. Thanks to Morgan Brown for the image.

For instance, if people search for “how to grow organic tomatoes” and land on a blog post you wrote on the subject for your farmers’ market website, then prominently promoting your organic tomato seeds for sale or a free ebook on organic gardening (two different conversion funnels) on that blog post page could be a good idea. Whereas, simply showing a non-specific ad for your farmers’ market website likely wouldn’t be as effective.

A great example of focused conversion funnels in action is evident on Odesk’s website.

Odesk

Odesk needs both freelancers and people posting freelancer jobs, but going through their site, it’s obvious that the core conversion they focus on is new job postings. They understand that freelancers often have outsourcing needs as well and that they won’t sign up or stay engaged with the platform if there isn’t demand for their services.

Because Odesk understands their visitors in this way, they are able to focus their core message (“Get the right freelancer. Get the job done.”) and free up valuable homepage real estate for promoting different conversion funnels that make it easy for people to take the path that is most relevant to them.

If a user clicks on one of the freelancer types on the homepage, Odesk immediately takes them to a list of freelancers to evaluate. If the list looks good enough for their standards, Odesk makes it very easy to convert. If they are not ready yet, Odesk makes it easy to continue investigating (continue down the conversion funnel).

If the user clicks through to a freelancer’s full profile page, Odesk gives them options. Odesk learned that visitors may not be ready to convert and post a job listing right away. So, on the freelancer profile, they give them the option to “Contact” the freelancer.

If the user clicks on “Contact,” they are taken to a page to create an account. For visitors that go this far down the conversion funnel, without converting, requiring account creation gives Odesk the opportunity to showcase new conversion funnels (through email marketing, retargeting ads, or web personalization) based on the steps they have taken so far.

Get to know the different types of visitors that come to your site, how they enter your site, and what solutions of yours would be most valuable to them. Then, design specific user flows from their entry points to guide them toward the conversion that is most relevant to them in the moment.

If you serve your visitor’s needs effectively, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to convert them on your core conversion metric over time.

II. Activation

Website visitors move into the Activation lifecycle stage as soon as they convert into a customer of your product or service, but the stage doesn’t end there. A customer is “Activated” as soon as they find value in your product, and that often requires the customer to convert on multiple actions.

Twitter, for instance, figured out that if they were able to get users to follow a certain number of people on the platform, those users would be more likely to find value and remain engaged users.

So, Twitter implemented a new user experience specifically designed to get more users to that magic number as soon as they could.

Right after creating a new Twitter account, visitors are placed into an onboarding flow that politely requires them to follow 5 Twitter users before moving on to the next step.

Twitter

Once they follow 5 people, then Twitter asks them to follow 5 more.

Rather than asking users to follow all 10 people up front, they separate the process into two steps. They either assumed or learned through a conversion test that people were more likely to continue the process if they broke it up into steps.

Regardless of what Activation means for your business, there likely are steps you need customers to take for them to get there, which means calls-to-action and whole user experiences that can be optimized for better conversion.

After all, what good is a top-of-funnel free trial conversion when the user does not become fully activated, and then churns before discovering how valuable your product could be for them?

III. Retention

So now you have a fully activated customer. The next objective is to keep that customer engaged in your product or service so they continue to gain value from you and remain a customer.

Driving customer engagement is pivotal to preventing customer churn and increasing customer retention. A study conducted by the Aberdeen Group linked increased engagement to retention rates that were 3.5 times higher than the norm.

But, what is customer engagement exactly? It’s a bunch of conversion points prime for conversion optimization.

The process of driving customer engagement is the process of converting more users on more valuable actions specific to them.

So, your goal in the retention lifecycle stage should be to optimize calls-to-action and user flows to help users have a more successful and enjoyable experience and keep them wanting to stay aboard.

IV. Revenue

According to Gartner Group, 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. This comes from customers that have grown their customer lifetime value (LTV) over time.

Your business model may include automatically charging customers more based on increased engagement and usage of your product, but customers may want to take advantage of a pricier plan or more products from you sooner, rather than later.

If you do not do this already, be sure to present calls-to-action for any upgrade or upsell opportunity within your customer experience whenever relevant. Making the option to take advantage of such offers readily available and optimizing those calls-to-action for better conversion could be one of your biggest opportunities for business growth.

CrazyEgg does this very well with many upgrade related calls-to-action on their dashboard.

crazyegg

You may think “Wow that is a lot of ads to upgrade!” They get away with this because of smart placement and wording. In some cases, they even pose calls-to-action as a value to the user. “Visits Used this Month” and “Stored Snapshots” metrics really are just reminders of how much room users have in their account before they need to upgrade (putting them in that frame of mind every time they visit the dashboard).

CrazyEgg promotes account upgrade in smart ways throughout their product, with the “Change Plan” call-to-action staying in the top navigation on most pages, and by promoting features that are available in an upgraded plan.

“Compare Mobile vs Desktop” and “Filter” are features that are not available in their basic plan, but they show them as options in their web app, anyway. When someone clicks on one of those options, they are shown a relevant drop down message that shares the benefits of those features that are available only upon upgrading.

With such a big chunk of your future revenue riding on how well you can nurture and convert your customers on paying you more, testing and optimization are key.

V. Referral

The meteoric rise of startups like Airbnb and Dropbox launched the growth hacker movement and interest in discovering new ways to make web products more “viral.”

Besides usually having a great product, companies that have success at driving social sharing and word of mouth not only understand how to connect with complementary networks that will give them reach (in the case of Airbnb integrating into Craigslist), they also understand very well how to position and promote sharing.

dropbox example

If a visitor clicks on “Get free space!” in Dropbox, they are presented with numerous ways they can earn more Dropbox storage space simply by sharing Dropbox with others or completing additional engagement tasks. Dropbox follows multiple conversion rate optimization best practices by using “free” in the copy, describing the value of clicking, and prominently placing the call-to-action as the first link in the top navigation.

A social media share button, an email invitation, or simply asking customers to talk about you are all points at which you have to convince your customers to convert on an action (sharing). That convincing can be tested and optimized.

2. All Conversions Are Not Created Equal

Considering only one conversion action as the key metric in a conversion test could be costing your business increased revenue.

For any conversion test, keep track of the users that convert and their engagement further down the line to determine which variation actually results in more business value.

You may get more conversions to your subscriber list with one variation, but the other variation may provide more customers in the long run or customers with a higher customer lifetime value.

Any time you can tie a conversion test back to revenue, you should do it, and that often will require digging deeper into your customer data than your typical A/B testing software can provide.

3. Customer Data Could Hold Your Best Conversion Wins

At every touch point throughout the customer lifecycle, you’re collecting customer information and learning more about how customers behave. You learn things like how they discover and travel through your site and the features they visit most frequently.

The data you collect by watching users progress through your site/product will help you discover the paths users take that result in your desired conversions.

For instance, if you have an e-commerce business, you might find that if your visitors view at least four products, they are more likely to make a purchase. After discovering this correlation, you should run tests to find the causation behind the pattern.

Maybe it isn’t just any four products. After testing, you may discover it is four specific products that are assisting in the purchase of another product.

By digging into customer data, you will start to see patterns that you can test. Then, you’ll likely uncover new methods to increase your conversion rates backed by the proven behavior of your customers.

4. Segmentation and Targeting Should Not Be Ignored

We all know how important relevancy is in marketing. Advertisements convert better when they are targeted to relevant audiences. The same goes for email marketing. Also, if your landing pages are not relevant to your marketing campaigns, then conversion rates will suffer there as well.

The common theme driving positive results in these marketing channels is segmentation.

You segment your target audiences, and then deliver targeted messaging that each segment is more likely to resonate with, take action on, and convert. As marketers, we have gotten used to this idea because it works.

The same strategy should be applied to conversion rate optimization on websites and web applications as well.

Calls-to-action, value propositions, design, and even entire features can be optimized to be more relevant to your users based on many different factors: referring traffic source, geography, demographics, the device being used, on site and in-app user behavior, purchase history, customer lifecycle stage, and the list goes on.

context and action

Rather than having Pinterest traffic arrive at the same site experience everyone else does, Gardener’s Supply Company instead welcomes Pinterest visitors with a relevant popup message and offer.

By aptly addressing incoming Pinterest traffic, they saw a 3x increase in revenue from the Pinterest channel.

Follow Gardener’s lead and take the first step in using segmentation as part of your conversion rate optimization efforts by simply targeting specific messages and content to specific referring source traffic. After that, experiment with personalizing your user’s entire web experience, based on the actions they take on your site and the lifecycle stage they are in, to uncover even better results throughout the customer journey.

In Conclusion, Look at the Big Picture

There is a ton of great advice out there, and a near endless number of ways you can test and optimize for better conversion rates. But, as you think about your next split test, take a step back and think of these big picture CRO points:

  • Don’t stop optimizing at the top of the funnel. You have plenty more conversion points to optimize in order to get more customers engaged, retained, paying you more money over time, and sharing your product or service with others.
  • Look deeper into conversion tests to understand the real impact. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when what you thought was a big conversion win becomes a cause of lower revenue.
  • Discover potential conversion wins in your customer data. People could be going down unexpected paths for conversion. Identify them, and then test ways to improve the flow.
  • Add segmentation to the conversion rate optimization mix. Conversion rate optimization without segmentation is the same as sending bulk email blasts without segmentation. Either way, you are missing out on higher conversion rates.

Have any thoughts on these points? Completely disagree or have other ideas to share? Say so in the comments below and let’s get the discussion flowing on the study of conversion rate optimization.

About This Author: Rob Carpenter is the Director of Marketing at Evergage, a point-and-click, real-time web personalization platform. He writes on real-time marketing, conversion rate optimization, and customer success on the Evergage Blog. Follow Evergage on Twitter to stay up to date and say hello!


Learn How an onsite Social Community can be a perfect tool in Customer Retention

Study: Instagram Is The fastest Growing Social Network, Top Brand Engagement up 350% Since Last year.

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(Posted on Nov 1, 2013 at 06:45AM by William Cosgrove)

Instagram is the fastest growing social network with 150 million users and 40 million photos being uploaded each day according to social analytics company Simply Measured.  A new report from Simply Measured shows that brand engagement and interaction is also thriving on the photo-based social network with 71% of top brands now participating. Brand adoption of Instagram is now rivaling Google+ and Pinterest that have 73% adoption and 74% adoption respectively.

Growth-Instagram

One of the exciting stats from the report is the fact that the number of active brands  is growing (55% more brands using the network than last year) as well as the overall engagement. The entanglement metrics (likes and comments) have jumped 350% since last year. Currently 99% of the engagement is currently coming from image likes.

Engagement-InstagramThe focus on brands engaging their audience has grown as well over the past year. Top brands are posting more content each month with 47% posting 11-50+ times a month:

Frequently-Instagram

An interesting fact is that many users are liking brand images for the content – not the filter/creative treatment. Only  30% of brand posts were filtered, a number that was down 12% from last year.

Filters-Instagram

Additionally hashtags are widely used by brands. 83% of brand posts post include hashtags, and 97% of active brands now are using hashtags.

Want the free full report? Head over to Simply Measured to download.
6 Best Practices for Influencer Marketing

S P O N S O R E D Influencer or word-of-mouth marketing is a key piece of any good marketing plan. The trick is to adapt it to social media, which has made word-of-mouth global and immediate. Learn 6 best practices marketers use to influence the influencers. Download now
 

 

A new study has revealed that email continues to prove itself as the marketing method of choice for driving online purchases from websites, particularly if your target demographic includes high earners.

AW Pro Tools surveyed 1,500 consumers nationwide about which activities lead to most of their online spending, and made two interesting discoveries. First, that the vast majority (67.3 percent) aren’t influenced by any of the major digital marketing channels whatsoever. But, second, those that are are mostly influenced by email – particularly if they’re wealthy.

One-third of respondents across all incomes were influenced by digital marketing tools when making online purchases, with email (13.8 percent) and Facebook (13.5 percent) leading the way, far ahead of Twitter, which registered with less than two percent of respondents.

Email Beats Facebook And Twitter For Driving Purchases, Especially Amongst High Earners [STUDY]

For online shoppers who earned $100,000 or more, one-third were influenced by email, which finished significantly ahead of second-placed YouTube (5.6 percent). Both Facebook and Twitter returned big, fat zeroes.

Email Beats Facebook And Twitter For Driving Purchases, Especially Amongst High Earners [STUDY]

“There’s no doubt that Facebook, YouTube, and even Twitter offer exciting advertising opportunities,” says Jack Born, CEO of AW Pro Tools. “But the winning strategy for entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies alike is to attract a base of raving fans that open, read, and click on the emails you send. Without a well thought out email strategy, money spent on any advertising is going to be much less effective. Especially if you want to attract high income clients.”

By Shea Bennett
 

(Source: AW Pro Tools.)

I joined a Twitter chat about the value of social this week and during the course of the conversation, was surprised to learn that for some people, the idea of enabling employee advocates was a novel concept. So many people recognize the power of social media for marketing and external evangelism, yet they neglect the power within their own organization!

We all know that social technology enables human connections. But the thing is, there are no boundaries between consumers or employees, because most of us are both. Technology has also amplified the speed and reach of every type of communication. This evolution in how we share information and knowledge goes far beyond just social "media." It's a complete transformation in the way we interact. When businesses fail to take advantage of the valuable assets in their organization, they miss out on an excellent way to create both customer engagement and employee empowerment.

Social strategist Ted Rubin was featured recently in a great article by Cheryl Connor, in Forbes. He said, "When someone asks, ‘What is the ROI of Social?' I ask back...‘What's the ROI of Loyalty, what's the ROI of Trust?' In order to sell the concept, you've got to talk in a language they'll understand."

I'd take this a step further, to ask employers, "What's the ROI of employee engagement and effective communication with consumers?" When employees are empowered to make direct connections with the customers they serve, it fuels productivity and loyalty from within. In addition to having satisfied employees, an organization can create an internal army of brand ambassadors and influencers who can help promote the business.

So often in marketing conferences, we hear about an employee who has gone above and beyond for the sake of a customer. In this social and connected world we live in, this single experience can spread like wildfire, promoting the organization in an organic, authentic way. Giving your employees the power to speak out on behalf of your organization (with some guidelines in place) can only help broaden the voice of your brand voice and increase the level of visibility in the marketplace.

What does it take to develop a following of employee brand ambassadors? Start with these guiding principles:

  • Make your organizational knowledge accessible to all employees through the use of social technology within the business.
  • Empower employees to participate in social media on behalf of the brand. 
  • Put clear, easy-to-follow guidelines in place and have a plan for dealing with potential mistakes. 
  • Facilitate innovation by listening and encouraging feedback around processes, services and products. 

Over the next few years, it's going to become clear that businesses will need to give employees a social experience just like the ones they get in their personal lives. This will not only help businesses retain valuable employees, but it will also be a benefit to the bottom line--and a significant competitive advantage for those that do it right. It will improve employee engagement, productivity and innovation. It will help employees deliver exemplary customer experiences to consumers. It will allow organizations to rally their largest group of brand advocates: the employees themselves.

One thing is absolutely true in this new world of free-flowing information: everyone has a voice and the platform to use it. If you're not using it, someone else will.

Michelle Killebrew


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