Tag Archives: Conversion

Ethical Marketing in an Age of Creeps

The phrase “ethical marketing” has always struck some folks as an oxymoron. Isn’t “marketing” just another word for lying, deceiving, and manipulating someone into buying a product or service? Yeah, no. There have always been plenty of good folks in the selling and marketing game. They just tend to be a little less noticeable than
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Web Personalization: The Future of Digital Marketing and Sales Is Now

In the beginning, the business website was a mere brochure. Low value, low shareability, low findability. Around 2005, a big shift happened thanks to content. Cutting-edge business websites became educational resources with valuable content that ranked well in search engines and benefited from the sharing functionality of emerging social media. Soon, “cutting edge” became the
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5 Ways to Convert More Prospects by Making Your Case

Your headline draws them in, while your opening copy maintains the magnetic hold. The express benefits give them hope that they may have found the solution they desire. And then you ask for the sale with an explicit call to action. A total win, right? Then why are you still disappointed with your results? You’re
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The Top 5 Most Shared MarketingExperiments Content from 2016

Yes, yes. 2016 was a bad year. We get it.

But it wasn’t all bad. We published some fairly exciting stuff here on MarketingExperiments. It was so exciting that a good portion of our audience found the time to share it with their followers. Just these five pieces from 2016 were shared 1,435 times.

Read on to view what our audience felt were the top five most shareworthy pieces in 2016.

#1: How Does Page Load Time Affect Conversion Rate? New Research Shows Significant Correlation

Most marketers understand that a slow page produces low conversion rates. But how significant is the correlation? How fast do customers expect sites to load? Are customer expectations for page load time changing?

Continue Reading…

#2: The Best Conversion Rate optimizers do NOT make changes to webpages…

I remember I once I designed and ran four tests in a row — two product page tests and two homepage tests — for a Fortune 500 industrial supply company, and lost every time. The designs were solid — better navigation, easier to find buttons, improved copy and value proposition — but they all lost.

When I look back at it, these four tests lost because I was trying to optimize webpages.

Continue Reading…

#3: Copywriting: 3 tips for optimizing your next direct mail campaign

It might come as a surprise, but according to research conducted by our sister site MarketingSherpa, 54% of U.S. consumers would prefer to receive regular updates and promotions in the mail. That’s the highest percentage of any other method.

While we know stated preferences and actual behavior can differ, it’s still extremely interesting that physical mail ranked higher than email.

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#4: Homepage Optimization: 5 Marketing blind spots that inhibit conversion (and how you can correct them)

We all have blind spots. Some of us more than others. But if we’ve learned anything from the last 100 years or so of marketing and advertising, it’s that marketers have some of the worst blind spots imaginable.

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#5: Build a Better Home Page Strategy: How multiple objectives on a homepage increased clickthrough to a single page by 52%

In a test from the MECLABS Research Library, a large healthcare company was dealing with all of these issues and more. Their homepage was originally focused on a single objective — to get customers onto the “find a treatment center” page further down their funnel.

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You might also like:

Optimizing Software Landing Pages: How to minimize anxiety and maximize conversion in a free download

Do Rotating Sliders Work? Optimizing the first 4 to 6 inches of your landing page

Ecommerce Optimization in 8 Minutes: How to increase the performance of your category pages with a clear value proposition

Are You Losing Sales Because Your Purchase Page Sucks?

mo-losing-sales

Of all the pages on your site, there is only one that actually makes you money: your purchase page.

But too often this page is ignored; most people just use the default shopping cart that comes with their dCommerce system.

If you are serious about selling digital goods online, then you will want to listen to this episode. We deep dive into the specific elements you must have on your purchase page to maximize sales conversions. And we go one step further and discuss the “other” page that is as important as your purchase page.

In this 30-minute episode, Jessica Frick and I explore the key elements required for a successful purchase page, including:

  • The “other” page in the purchase process that people often overlook
  • What you should, and should not, have on your purchase page
  • The one change we did to our purchase process that increased sales by 30 percent
  • Why you are the worst person to review your purchase page

Listen to this Episode Now

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It’s Becoming a Mobile Only World – So Wake Up Retailers

It's Becoming a Mobile Only World - So Wake Up Retailers

Unless mobile optimization is a priority on your enterprise roadmap, you're setting your company or brand up for failure.  That's the warning from Rick Kenny, head of consumer insights at Demandware, a Burlington, Mass.-based provider of a cloud-based e-commerce platform.

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3 Smart Moves that Supercharge Sales Funnels with Content

use content to power up your funnel

The problem with many business blogs is that they’re boring, product-centric, and full of corporate jargon — not exactly the juicy, engaging, personality-filled content that readers love to consume and share.

While you want to establish trust and authority with your audience, content that helps you meet business goals also fills your sales funnel with interested prospects.

So, if you’d like your content to be share-worthy and generate leads, this post is for you. Read on for three ways to supercharge your sales funnel.

1. Eliminate fuzzy funnels

If your current sales funnel is vague and amounts to something like, “I’ll get people onto my email list, and then when my bank account gets low, I’ll make an offer,” don’t worry; you’re not alone! But as a Copyblogger reader, I know you can do better.

At its most basic, your sales funnel is an intentional path that turns a website visitor into a paying customer — and then into a happy, repeat customer.

Your sales funnel might be an email autoresponder that utilizes marketing automation. It helps your audience get to know your business, builds credibility, and makes an introductory offer.

Here’s my main point: if you create content to generate new leads, you first have to establish what your sales funnel looks like.

Action step

Draw out your sales funnel, digitally or with good old pen and paper.  

  • What are the steps that turn a website visitor into a paying customer?
  • How do they hear from you?
  • What offers do they receive and in what order?

2. Give your audience a “little slice” as your opt-in

To fill your sales funnel with the most qualified prospects — your ideal customers — give them a “little slice” of your product or service for free.

Here’s how the “little slice” technique works:

  • For each offer in your sales funnel, identify the problem it solves for the customer.
  • How can you take a “little slice” of that problem and solve it for free in your opt-in gift?

Let’s first look at an example of what not to do

Imagine you’re a weight loss coach. You need an opt-in gift, so you decide to make a PDF with “5 Healthy Recipes.” Unfortunately, this recipe PDF attracts all sorts of different people. (Or, as is the problem with lots of generic content, it attracts no one!)

So, now you’re filling your sales funnel with people who might want weight loss advice, but also busy moms, broke students who need quick meal ideas, bodybuilders, diabetics, and anyone else interested in healthy cooking.  

When you eventually make an offer for your weight loss program, there are only a small percentage of people in your funnel who are seriously interested in losing weight. Everyone else has problems that you’re (probably) not solving.

Contrast that example with the “little slice” technique

This same weight loss coach might offer a free seven-day weight loss jump-start challenge as an opt-in, which then leads to an offer for her paid weight loss program.

That “little slice” opt-in attracts prospects who are interested specifically in weight loss and who also want to participate in a program to help them reach their goals.

These prospects are much more likely to buy a full weight loss program than the random mix of people interested in “healthy recipes.”

The “little slice” technique works for all types of businesses

A software business might offer a free trial or free plugin with a portion of their product’s functionality, which leads to an offer for the full product. 

The “little slice” technique attracts the right people into your sales funnel because your content focuses on a central problem that you solve with your products or services.

Action step

For each product or service in your funnel:

  • Identify the problem it solves
  • Take a “little slice” of that problem and solve it in an opt-in gift

The next step will show you how to extract more “little slices” for additional pieces of content.

3. Create content that attracts your ideal customer

As you know from your own experience, you’re not always in buying mode. Sometimes you’re searching online because you’re ready to buy, but most of the time you just want information, connection, or entertainment. It’s the same for your prospect.

Writing content that your ideal customer wants to read (and share!) starts with identifying which phase of the sales funnel he is in.

Sales funnels can get really complex, but there are essentially three major phases:

  1. Awareness Phase. The prospect has symptoms, may realize he has a problem, but isn’t looking for solutions (he might not even know that solutions exist).
  2. Consideration Phase. The prospect knows he has a problem and knows solutions exist, so he’s actively researching solutions.
  3. Buying Phase. The prospect is actively evaluating solutions to choose the best fit.

We’ll focus on the first two phases, which is when the majority of leads will enter your sales funnel. (You’ll want to handle leads in the Buying Phase differently — by tracking visits to a pricing page and making it easy to get answers to last-minute questions.)

Imagine the type of person who is attracted to the blog post with the headline “Why So Tired? 6 Little-Known Causes.”

This post attracts a reader who feels tired and wants to know why she might feel this way. This reader is most likely in the Awareness Phase.

She has symptoms but isn’t sure about the underlying cause — so selling her directly on your “Quit Caffeine” course wouldn’t work because she doesn’t realize caffeine consumption is related to her tiredness.

Now imagine the type of person who is attracted to the blog post with the headline “How to Quit Caffeine for Good.”

This post attracts a reader who already knows she needs to quit caffeine. She’s probably in the Consideration Phase because she’s looking for a solution to her problem.

You’ll want to bring both types of readers into your sales funnel, but you’ll communicate with them differently.

Readers in the Awareness Phase want to read about their symptoms, the underlying problem, other people who have the same problem, and that there are solutions to fix their problem.

For this phase, consider creating content related to these questions:

  • How can you help them solve a little piece of their problem for free (“little slice content”)?
  • What are the symptoms they’re experiencing and what’s the impact on their lives?
  • What’s the underlying problem that you recognize as an expert, but they don’t?
  • What does a beginner need to know about Problem XYZ?
  • What are the first steps to solve Problem XYZ?

Readers in the Consideration Phase know they have a problem and are looking for a solution.

They’re attracted to:

  • Case studies — how others like them have already solved this problem
  • Review posts that compare various solutions, including yours
  • Buying guides that help them make a smart decision
  • Content that addresses objections
  • Implementation tips, advice, and FAQs

Content that is more likely to be shared isn’t only about your specific product or service; it’s beneficial guidance related to the type of product or service you offer.

Action step

Make a list of content topics based on the ideas above and remember to include topics that provide a “little slice” of your opt-in gift, as well as topics that address the concerns of prospects in the Awareness Phase and prospects in the Consideration Phase.

Plan this content into your editorial calendar to meet your ideal customers’ needs.

Over to you …

When you follow these three methods, you’ll find that your content attracts more of the right customers who also want to share your useful content.

How do you make sure your content helps convert prospects into customers? Share in the comments below.

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Does Your Copy Pass the ‘Forehead Slap’ Test?

how to craft compelling copy

One of the most repeated rules of writing compelling copy is to stress benefits, not features.

In other words, identify the underlying benefit that each feature of a product or service provides to the prospect, because that’s what will prompt the purchase.

This is one rule that always applies, except when it doesn’t.

We’ll look at the exceptions in a bit.

Fake benefits

The idea of highlighting benefits over features seems simple. But it’s often tough to do in practice.

Writers often end up with fake benefits instead.

Direct response copywriter Clayton Makepeace asserts that fake benefits will kill sales copy, so you have to be on the lookout for them in your writing. He uses this headline as an example:

Balance Blood Sugar Levels Naturally!

That sounds pretty beneficial, doesn’t it? In reality, there’s not a single real benefit in the headline.

True benefits

Makepeace advises to apply his patented “forehead slap” test to see if your copy truly contains a benefit for the reader. In other words, have you ever woken up from a deep sleep, slapped yourself in the forehead, and exclaimed “Man … I need to balance my blood sugar levels naturally!”

I think not. So getting someone to pull out their wallet to buy that so-called “benefit” will be difficult at best.

Here’s how Makepeace identifies the real benefit hidden in that headline:

“Nobody really wants to balance their blood sugar levels. But anyone in his or her right mind DOES want to avoid the misery of blindness … cold, numb, painful limbs … amputation … and premature death that go along with diabetes.”

A high-risk person will want to avoid the terrible effects of diabetes. That is the true benefit that the example product offers.

How to extract true benefits

So, how do you successfully extract true benefits from features? Here’s a four-step process that works:

  1. Make a list of every feature of your product or service.
  2. Ask yourself why each feature is included in the first place.
  3. Take the “why” and ask “how” does this connect with the prospect’s desires?
  4. Get to the absolute root of what’s in it for the prospect at an emotional level.

Let’s look at a product feature for a fictional “read later” app.

Feature:

“Contains an artificial intelligence algorithm.”

Why it’s there:

“Adds greater utility by adapting and customizing the user’s information experience.”

What’s in it for them:

“Keeps the data you need the most at the forefront when you’re in a hurry.”

Emotional root:

“Stay up-to-date on the things that add value to your life and career, without getting stressed out from information overload.”

Getting to the emotional root is crucial for effective consumer sales. But what about B2B prospects?

When features work

When selling to businesses or highly technical people, features alone can sometimes do the trick. Overtly pandering to emotions will only annoy them.

Besides, unlike consumers (who mostly “want” things rather than “need” them), business and tech buyers often truly need a solution to a problem or a tool to complete a task. When a feature is fairly well-known and expected from your audience, you don’t need to sell it.

However, with innovative features, you still need to move the prospect down the four-step path. While the phrase “contains an artificial intelligence algorithm” may be enough to get the tech-savvy reader salivating, he’ll still want to know how it works and what it does for him.

The “What’s in it for me?” aspect remains crucial.

For business buyers, you’re stressing “bottom line” benefits from innovative features. If you can demonstrate that the prospect will be a hero because your CRM product will save her company $120,000 a year compared to the current choice, you’ve got an excellent shot.

While that may seem like a no-brainer purchase to you, you’ll still need to strongly support the promised benefit with a detailed explanation of how the features actually deliver.

Remember, change can be scary to the business buyer, because it’s their job or small business on the line if the product disappoints.

Sell with benefits, support with features

We’re not as logical as we’d like to think we are.

Most of our decisions are based on deep-rooted emotional motivations, which we then justify after the fact with logic. So, first help create the emotional desire, then aid the rationalization process with features and hard data so that the wallet actually emerges.


Are you a writer who wants to become a Certified Content Marketer?

Inside our Content Marketer Certification program, we’ve got a lot more for writers.

We designed this program to help writers make the most of their careers — to help them position themselves and their offerings, so that they can build profitable freelance writing businesses.

And we’re opening the program soon. Drop your email address below and you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on February 19, 2014.

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Homepage Optimization: Tips to ensure site banners maximize clickthrough and conversion

Banners take up precious space on landing pages and too often don’t do enough to turn prospects into customers. Yet marketers are forced to work within their constraints.

The latest MarketingExperiments Web clinic outlined how to make every banner a conversion-driving opportunity, because even the smallest changes can make an impressive difference. To prove it, Mike Loveridge, Head of Digital Test and Learn, Humana, Inc., a healthcare insurance provider, presented banner tests from his organization. Take a short break and find out what he discovered here: [Link to clinic.]

Here’s the boon and the bane of banners: They’re often the very first thing that people see when they arrive on the landing page. That means if they aren’t optimally presented, you’re going to lose customers immediately. But optimized banners can drive more prospects than ever before, and it doesn’t take much effort.

Consider this banner that was on Humana’s homepage.

 

Loveridge advises approaching banner design like a billboard. Communicate the message at a quick glance. Saying too much at once confuses and distracts.

Still, it can be tempting to jam copy into a small space. Resist temptation. Instead, make it obvious to the prospect what you want them to do. Save the details for the next step in the funnel and provide a clear call to action so that the prospect takes it. This is where the control falls down.

  • It has too much copy
  • It doesn’t have a strong call-to-action
  • It doesn’t have a clear, concise message

In contrast, the Treatment is focused. It’s clear to the prospect what she is expected to do and how she can do it. It has just enough copy to clearly communicate the message.     

 

Result

The Treatment achieved 433% more clickthrough than the Control.

 

But Loveridge didn’t stop testing, regardless of the impressive lift. Instead, he made the winning Treatment the new Control. Now that he had clarified and simplified the message, he wanted to see if he was accurately gauging customer motivation.

Typically, asking for a lesser commitment, like “explore” wins more clickthroughs. That’s because earlier in the funnel softer calls-to-actions like “explore” better match what customers want to do at that stage in the sales process.

In this case, however, the window to sign up for Medicare is very limited. People have to make a decision between mid-October and early December, and then the opportunity to sign up is gone for the year. Consequently, they’re ready to move forward fast. That’s why Loveridge decided to try more of a hard-sell approach and invite them to shop.

 

The result was another 192% increase in clickthrough — proof that the revised call-to-action better matched customer motivation.

So how do you apply these concepts to your own marketing? Keep the checklist below handy and refer to it whenever you’re up against a banner:

 

You can follow Andrea Johnson, Copywriter, MECLABS on Twitter @IdeastoWords.


You might also like

Using Strategic Testing to Drive Customer Engagement: An interview from MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 [Video]

Live From MarketingSherpa Summit 2016: Humana on the power of iterative testing

Banner Blindness: Optimize your online display advertising to stick out (or blend in)

The #1 Conversion Killer in Your Copy (and How to Beat It)

easy ways to send the trolls away

What makes people almost buy?

What makes them get most of the way there and then drop out of your shopping cart at the last second?

What makes them stare at your landing page, wanting what you have to offer, and yet, ultimately, close the page and move on to something else?

It turns out there’s a hideous troll hiding under the bridge. Every time you get close to making a sale, the troll springs out and scares your prospect away. Get rid of the troll and your copy will start converting better than it ever has before.

The ugly, smelly, dirty, bad-mannered troll is prospect fear.

And it’s sitting there right now, stinking up your landing page and scaring good customers away.

Fear of wasting money

Remember when you were a kid and you went to that rinky-dink carnival that came through town? After eating all the cotton candy you could manage — and throwing it all back up again on the Tilt-a-Whirl — you checked out something called the midway.

Remember that persuasive fellow who convinced you to spend a whole month’s allowance throwing softballs at those damned milk bottles?

It looked so easy. He showed you exactly how to do it. Toss the softball, knock over the milk bottle, win a cool stuffed animal for a prize. Simple.

You spent quarter after quarter trying to do it yourself.

When all your quarters were gone, you got an inkling. It looked easy, but if you were actually standing at the throw line, it was pretty close to impossible. Now the carnival guy had all your money, and you didn’t even have an ugly green plush monkey to show for it.

The troll is born.

Fear of mockery

When the sting of the carnival wore off, you were innocently minding your own business and ran across an ad for a fascinating product called Sea-Monkeys.

They were little people! With tails! They looked pretty awesome on the cover of the package. You begged your parents to get them for you and told everybody you knew. Your little brother. Your best friend. Your entire third-grade class.

This was going to be so cool. The ad said you could even teach them to do tricks. You planned on getting them medicine, vitamins, special formulas, everything they needed to be the happiest pets ever.

You followed the instructions to the letter. You waited breathlessly. You told anyone and everyone how amazing this was going to be.

It turns out Sea-Monkeys are just brine shrimp. In no way do they resemble little people. They resemble fish food, which is what they are.

Your little brother, your best friend, and your entire third-grade class now thought you were an idiot. And they delighted in letting you know that at every opportunity.

The troll gets a little bigger.

Fear of feeling stupid

Every time we’re betrayed by a sleazy salesperson, we toughen up just a little. The troll grows. Our mistrust grows and our inclination to believe shrinks.

And then a content marketer shows up with a helpful article or podcast episode that will solve a problem that’s been really bothering us. Let’s call that content marketer … you.

We want to believe you. We want to get the benefit from what you have to offer. We want to have something — anything — work out the way it was promised.

We would love to be able to trust our own judgment.

But the troll keeps whispering in our ear, with his truly horrendous breath, how stupid we’re going to feel when we fall for that again.

How to kill the troll

Trustworthiness, lots of high-value content, and just plain old decency are your best weapons to combat the troll.

Everything on your site needs to show you can be trusted: Real contact information. Your photograph. Thorough responses to FAQs. Clear, reasonable calls to action.

Every detail matters, including hosting your site on your own domain and publishing content on a consistent schedule. Everything you do needs to build trust and kill the troll.

Unless you sell to 10-year-olds, your prospect has likely been kicked around many times by unscrupulous (or incompetent) businesses. Give the prospect any tiny reason to mistrust you and memories of all those wretched old experiences come back.

There’s an old joke that a second marriage is the triumph of optimism over experience. In fact, that’s exactly what happens every time you make a sale, especially to someone who hasn’t done business with you before.

So, let’s declare war on the trolls.

Prove you’re extraordinarily trustworthy by demonstrating your value, putting your customers first, and keeping your promises.

The troll is tough and hard to kill. But with dedication and commitment, we can chase him off once and for all.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on May 29, 2009.


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