All posts by Oli Gardner

What the Google Chrome Ad Blocker Means for Your Website Popups (Plus 8 Really Smart Targeting Tips)

Last week you likely saw a ton of news about Google Chrome’s Ad Blocker going into effect Feb 15, 2018. And nobody could blame you if you took one look at some of the reports and thought, “Oh no! Popups are dead. Google just outlawed them, and I have to take down the 35 I’m using across my web properties that are generating 12,000 leads per month”.

Well, fortunately, after combing through the details, I’m happy to tell you that — from our early interpretation — this doesn’t seem to be true.

You can still confidently use popups and sticky bars on your website and landing pages, and today I’ll take you through the news with a bit more nuance to explain why (and how to do so without compromising your user experience).

As I wrote in Technology isn’t the Problem, We Are. An Essay on Popups there’s a reason why bad marketing practices exist (spoiler alert, it’s bad marketers), and we all need to play a part in reversing these bad practices because frankly, we all deserve a better internet.

Here at Unbounce, we welcome this defense of higher internet standards by Google. But we do need to unpack the announcement to see what the potential impact could be on your marketing activities.

What is the Google Chrome Ad Blocker and Why Are We Talking About It?

On February 15th 2018, Google officially introduced an ad blocker to the Google Chrome browser that will screen for (and eventually block) what they deem to be “intrusive” ad experiences. This is further to Google’s partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads they announced previously with the January 10th 2017 change re: Mobile ad experiences.

In short, while it seemed like news last week, it’s an initiative that’s been in the works for some time.

The Coalition for Better Ad Standards

The Coalition for Better Ad Standards (CBA) is a group made up of trade associations and companies involved in online media. Their mission is to improve consumers’ experiences with online advertising and includes a set of global standards that address consumer expectations with online advertising.

As part of this mission, they performed a research study of 25,000 consumers to identify the ad experiences most likely to make those consumers install ad blocking software.

The study presents a range of user experience factors to discover which ones ranked worst. But before we get into the ads raising concerns, we should first address what constitutes an ad.

What is an Ad (In the Eyes of The Better Ad Standards Coalition)?

This is where things start to get a little vague. As per the Better Ads Standards website:

An “ad” is promotional content displayed on the web as the result of a commercial transaction with a third party.

In our interpretation, the above refers to a paid ad (such as Google AdSense) that appears on your website, not a popup containing your own marketing materials such as an e-commerce discount, a newsletter subscription, or a time-sensitive offer. The third party being an ad network and the ad being what’s delivered to the website.

If this is the correct interpretation it makes sense, because ads such as this are not related to the marketing efforts of the host website. They’re the result of the host website trying to generate ad revenue and presenting incongruent and somewhat random display ads.

However, at this time, it’s admittedly difficult to determine exactly what the coalition is considering an ad. To ensure we get you the best answer possible, we contacted Better Ad Standards directly to clarify whether our early interpretation of their definition is correct.

My main question is concerned with how the two parties will be evaluating the ads. Is it the content or is it the delivery mechanism? In other words, are Chrome and the Better Ad Standards coalition concerned with the interaction method of the message delivery? Or the content of the message? Or a combination of both?

My gut says it’s a combination, where the content must be considered an “ad” and the delivery mechanism falls into a few specific categories of interaction that are deemed as bad experiences.

Update from the Coalition for Better Ads

We got a response back from the CBA pretty quickly which was awesome. Unfortunately, the response didn’t really add any extra clarity to the original definition.

Here’s a portion of my question:

Are you able to confirm whether an ad in this instance includes website popups (or sticky bars) for our own business, placed on our own website? For example a newsletter subscription popup on our blog, or a discount popup on our pricing page.

Or are you referring to paid ads from an ad service such as Google AdSense that appear on a website, but are not part of that website’s business? For example, an ad for hair products that shows up on the New York Times.

And a portion of their response:

You should direct any questions about the Chrome browser and its plans to Google.

The Coalition does not currently provide specific evaluative guidance on questions of interpretation relating to the current Better Ads Standards. However, in conjunction with the Better Ads Experience Program, this service may be offered to participating companies in the future.

The Coalition for Better Ads plans to release additional details about its Better Ads Experience Program in the coming months. The Program will certify web publishers that agree not to use the most disruptive ads identified in the Better Ads Standards and will accredit browsers and other advertising technology companies that will assess publishers’ compliance with the Standards and filter digital ads based on the Standards. If compliance issues arise, certified companies will be notified and have an opportunity to address violations or to pursue review by an independent dispute resolution mechanism available through the Program.

The opening of enrollment for publishers that wish to certify their compliance with the Better Ads Standards and participate in the Program’s register was recently announced. Interested publishers can follow this link to learn more about the Program and the registration process. The Program expects to introduce an independent dispute resolution mechanism in the second quarter of this year.

Further updates on the Better Ads Experience Program are forthcoming, so please continue to monitor the Coalition for Better Ads’ blog and press releases page for updates. All Coalition initiatives and authoritative guidance are first published on the CBA website.

Based on this, I’m still not entirely sure if our interpretation is right or wrong.

If we are wrong, then it’s more important than ever to be creating the best possible experiences, and the easiest way for you to do that is with advanced targeting and triggers. You will find 8 examples of proactive great experience creation at the end of the post.

Here are some smart ways to do the right thing if you want to skip ahead to some implementation ideas:

  1. Campaign Scheduling
  2. Cookie Targeting
  3. Referrer URL Targeting
  4. Location Targeting
  5. Click Triggers
  6. Mobile Scroll Up Trigger
  7. Frequency
  8. Super Advanced Multi-Option Targeting

Which types of ad experience are raising a concern?

On desktop they refer to the following four ad experiences:

And mobile has an even larger set:

Again, while the images above could be alarming to anyone running popups, based on our early interpretation of the definition above I don’t think these are popups or sticky bars that you place on your own website with your own marketing content in them. I think we’ll end up finding as time goes on that the standards are targeting at neutralizing bad behavior with respect to third-party ads.

Does this mean you should ignore these guidelines if you’re not using third-party ads?

Not entirely, no. Conscientious targeting and triggering still reign supreme. You can continue to present popups and sticky bars to visitors on your website, but you should use the guidelines to do everything you can to deliver great experiences.

To help avoid getting warnings now that the standards are in place, Google offers a tool which can help you to determine if they consider your website to be infringing on the guidelines or not.

How to Check Your Website For Adherence Using The Google Ad Experience Report

The Ad Experience Report is designed to identify ad experiences that violate the Better Ads Standards, and you can check it for both desktop and mobile inside Webmaster Tools (now simply called Web Tools).

You can find the Google Ad Experience Report here.

When you choose your web property from the drop-down on that page, you will see this:

The video explains how it all works, and if you click desktop or mobile in the left navigation, you’ll instantly get a report like this one for unbounce.com:

If you receive any warnings you can make changes and request a fresh site review.

From Google:
Violations of the Standards are reported to sites via the Ad Experience Report, and site owners can submit their site for re-review once the violations have been fixed. Starting on February 15, in line with the Coalition’s guidelines, Chrome will remove all ads from sites that have a “failing” status in the Ad Experience Report for more than 30 days. All of this information can be found in the Ad Experience Report Help Center, and our product forums are available to help address any questions or feedback.

What Else Can You Do to Create Better Popup Experiences?

I fully embrace this news and the mission of the Coalition for Better Ads because it gives me the opportunity to broach the topic of popup misuse. As a platform offering popups, sticky bars (and landing pages of course) it’s incumbent upon Unbounce to take a stance and work hard to help marketers deliver especially respectful and responsible web experiences.

Popup misuse typically falls into the following categories:

  1. Interaction modes that prevent control of the experience by the visitor (such as easy and obvious close and bypass mechanisms).
  2. Manipulative copywriting that uses psychological means to coerce visitors into taking an action, such as the manipulative confirm shaming styles like this: [ Get Your Ebook ] [ No ebook for me. I prefer to kill kittens! ]
  3. Overly persistent frequency rules where you show the popup every time someone arrives.
  4. Multiple popups on the same page, at the same time.

To provide a method of evaluating popup experiences and to help combat bad behavior I created The Popup Delight Equation.

Essentially the equation reverse engineers an excellent popup experience and allows you to generate a percentage score by analyzing seven principles: clarity, control, creativity, relevance, charm, value, and respect.

I’d also recommend you read Stop Making These Common Mistakes with Your Website Popups (Includes Examples and Quick Fixes) which has some great ideas on the topic.

What is Unbounce Doing to Help Customers Avoid Ad Blocker Warnings?

Fabulous question! I asked Cole Derochie, one of Unbounce’s product owners, to elaborate on how we’re approaching the news and what it means for our customers.

“Unbounce respects this policy, and shares Google’s concern for ensuring users are able to easily access content — regardless of device.

Our goal with popups and sticky bars is to help our customers make offers that are relevant and valuable, and thereby increase their conversion rates, without harming the user experience.”

As I mentioned earlier, it does seem the news pertains to third-party ads, but having said that, we are determined to help marketers adhere to great internet standards. One way we’re doing that is by creating tips and warnings inside the Unbounce builder to help prevent some of the design methods that Google considers bothersome, in particular for the mobile experience.

For instance, in the screenshot below, a warning appears if you try to increase the height of the sticky bar beyond 100px:

Despite our belief that this announcement (and the general concerns of Google and the Coalition for Better Ads) isn’t specifically directed at regular popups and sticky bars, it does still represent an opportunity to take an honest look at the ways we’re all presenting our marketing, and step away from some of the more blatant behaviors mentioned in the research.

One of the best ways to ensure a quality experience is to use some of the more advanced targeting, trigger, and frequency settings that Unbounce provides to give your visitors a respectful interaction that’s as relevant as possible.

Using Targeting, Triggers, and Frequency to Improve Popup and Sticky Bar Experiences

From a high-level philosophical perspective, we should be thinking beyond surface level conversion metrics to focus on quality rather than quantity. I’m referring to tactics like showing popups on every visit, which in my mind is just a little desperate, and destined to not be delightful.

Here are some ways you can deliver a better user experience and stay on Google’s good side:

Method #1 – Campaign Scheduling

If you’re running a time-sensitive campaign, it’s important to only show your offer when it’s actually valid. I’m sure you’ve seen those “live” chat windows that tell you nobody is home. If nobody is home, don’t show the live chat box dummies! Similarly, you don’t want to show a discount or special offer when it’s already expired.

In Unbounce you can set your campaign schedule down to the minute.


Method #2 – Cookie Targeting

Cookies are a great way to create more personalized experiences, basing the display of you offer on previous visitation or behavior tracking. But they are equally as powerful when you use them as an exclusion mechanism.

Let’s say you have an offer for a discount on your SaaS product to encourage people abandoning your website, but you don’t want existing customers to see it (it could make them jealous or upset that they didn’t get the discount).

If you are able to set a cookie within your app somewhere to label a customer as a customer, you can then use the “Don’t Show” cookie targeting to make sure they are not shown the offer.

Bazinga!


Method #3 – Referrer URL Targeting

Context is king when it comes to communicating your message quickly, and if you target your popups and sticky bars using the referrer URL option you can present content that’s highly relevant to where the visitor just came from. This is especially effective for co-marketing where your popup or sticky bar can showcase both brands by including the partner’s logo, creating a more powerful connection between the two experiences.

Here’s another really interesting use case that uses the “Don’t Show” setting.

I’m in the middle of a reboot of our landing page course, and I’m running some popups containing Typeform surveys for the purposes of research.

The problem though is that the homepage of the course is a landing page on a subdomain of the primary course domain – and I’m running the survey on both the homepage and the internal pages of the microsite.

Course homepage URL: do.thelandingpagecourse.com
Internal course page URLs: thelandingpagecourse.com/*

There’s a lot of organic traffic coming to the homepage and also the internal pages. But I don’t want to show it to a visitor to the homepage, and then show it again when they click through to start part one of the course.

To solve this problem, I set a “Don’t Show” setting on the Referrer targeting like this:

Which means that none of the internal course pages will show the popup if the visitor got there via the course homepage. This is a brilliantly simple way of solving what would otherwise require a bit of complex coding to resolve.

Even better is the fact that you can add as many “Show” and “Don’t Show” targeting rules as you like.


Method #4 – Location Targeting

Unbounce location targeting allows you to drill all the way down to the city level, and all the way up the the continent level. Personally, I’d be stoked if someone from the Antarctic saw one of my popups, but there are times when you do need to hide your marketing from certain locations, or target it specifically to a location or locations.

Just like in #3, the great thing is that you can add as many rules in here as you like, so you could set it up like the image below to target every major city in Texas, avoiding rural areas if that so happens to not be your target audience. Or reverse it to target all rural areas and avoid the cities. YUSS!


Method #5 – Click Trigger

Undoubtedly the best trigger type is the click trigger. Why? Because it’s entirely user-driven. A great use case for this option is two-step opt-in forms where your popup with a form only shows up when requested. The conversion rates are typically very high because the initial click declares intent making the contents of the popup desirable.

With Unbounce you can set the click trigger to work on any page element by using the CSS id, or you can even apply it to a CSS class which could make multiple page elements interactive.


Method #6 – Mobile Scroll Up Trigger

Google has expressed discontent for certain types of popup that appear on entry, on mobile devices. For this reason we created the “Scroll Up” trigger. It works a little like an “Exit Trigger” on desktop as it may signal that someone is leaving the page. If you use this, and keep the size of your Sticky Bar to 100px in height or below, you can create a nice experience that’s not too interruptive, doesn’t prevent the visitor from leaving, and lets you notify them of something important.


Method #7 – Frequency Settings

What’s the frequency, Kenneth? If you don’t get that reference then either you’re really young or I’m really old. Either way, frequency matters. And when you get it wrong it hertz. << Please tell me you got that one.

Pro tip – once and done
When in doubt, the first option (“Show once per visitor”) is the best. Show it once, and go cry in your soup if it didn’t convert. Do NOT pester people over and over again. If they want it they’ll say yes. If they don’t, well that’s a lesson (in the form of a poor conversion rate) you can use to better understand your audience.

For the other options, if you wanna be super respectful and let people check out your site without any distractions, think about using the “Show only on visit x” option. Typically the x would be the number 2. Show it the second time they are there. That way they’ve had the chance to get to know you and your offer will seem more relevant.

For example, there’s nothing more annoying on a blog than when you get an entrance popup saying “Love this content! Subscribe for more!!!!!”. No, I don’t love this content cos I just got here, dammit! Whereas if you show it on the second visit, you know they liked you enough to come back. Done.


Method #8 – Super Advanced Multi-Option Targeting

How about this idea for some extreme relevance! You can use all four advanced targeting rules at the same time to get hyper-personalized. In the example below I’m targeting people in Vancouver, Canada who’ve got a cookie called “ILikeTurtles” who are coming from my partner’s site during the dates of my campaign. SICK!

In Conclusion: What Should You Do Now?

Well for starters I recommend that you go make 50 popups with “Every visit” targeting and a frequency of 100 times per visit.

Wait. Don’t do that.

Do what a thoughtful marketer would do and spend some time thinking about your visitors, and about the really cool things you can do when you combine triggers, frequency, scheduling, and advanced targeting rules.

The combinations are literally limitless. I’m not sure on my math there, so there may be some finite limit to what you can do, but whatever it is, it’s huge!

This is a hot and contentious topic, with much to discuss, particularly because of how hard it is to interpret some of the communications surrounding it, so please add comments with any intel or different perspectives you have.

We’re committed to staying on top of the situation as it continues to unfold, and will bring you more details and ideas as soon as they become apparent.

Here’s to better marketing standards, and better marketing in general.

Cheers
Oli Gardner

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What the Google Chrome Ad Blocker Means for Your Website Popups (Plus 8 Really Smart Targeting Tips)

Is Content Marketing a Waste of Time and Money? Data and Lessons Learned from 20 posts in 30 days.

Before I address the burning question in the headline, let’s rewind to the start of product awareness month for some context.

I kicked 2018 off with a bold, self-inflicted challenge to write 30 blog posts in 30 days in a bid to increase adoption of our two new products, Popups and Sticky Bars.

The initial thinking was to call this effort Product Marketing Month, with the content based on our (and my) journey to become more proficient product marketers. As I shared at the start of the journey, the adoption of the new products had been disappointingly low; only 6% of our customers were using them when I first started looking at the numbers in August. That number was probably around 7% or 8% at the start of January.

Being a marketer who hadn’t actually practiced the discipline of product marketing, I thought that by talking about our products more directly in the content – including interactive demos and interesting use cases – coupled with a redesign of the blog just for this new content, we’d crush those numbers with ease.

I was incredibly naive

Boy oh boy was I wrong. Not only did I misinterpret what product marketing is: an expansive role that includes customer insights, data analysis, product validation, positioning, and market research, but I assumed that top of funnel content alone could solve our problems.

In my moment of hubris, I even bought the domain whatsproductmarketing.com where I intended to have a blank white page with the word “Marketing” on it. Cos that’s all product marketing is, right? Nope. In the end, I decided against that brazen approach.

It quickly became clear that what I was actually doing was more closely tied to product awareness. As with many other SaaS content marketers, I had little control or influence over what happened to people after they sign up. So we repositioned the challenge as Product Awareness Month.


I also inadvertently caused offense to some folks in the company by including a question in the first blog post that posited “Do we suck at product marketing?”.

While I’d intended it as a question (to start the post with a provocative buzz-generating bang), it came across more as a statement, and pretty offensive one at that. Especially when the social team latched onto the power of that statement (rightly so) and started tweeting about it.

I think it was co-founder Carter Gilchrist who helped me understand the impact by asking me “If you’d said ‘Do we suck at design? Or do we suck at engineering?’ how do you think the team would feel about it?” Pretty shitty I imagine. I removed that line from the post. The talented people on our product and product marketing teams deserve better than that.

The 30-Posts-in-30-Days Challenge

The best part of this challenge was getting back to writing. Because I’ve been on the road so much as a public speaker recently, it turns out I hadn’t written a single word on our blog (or Unbounce marketing content in general) for two years.

30 posts was an audacious goal. Especially when you consider how much of it was designed to be an exploration of an approach to marketing that was completely new to me. The posts ranged from 700 to 7,000 words in length and included many interactive demos of our new products baked right into the blog posts – including many hacks that required custom code.

Fortunately, I had the help of some incredible Unbounce developers:

  • Sam Shen – who, with Sabrina Chan’s mockups, built a redesign of the blog (just for the new product marketing category) in two days.
  • Noah Matsell & Brian Burns – who saved my ass by providing many custom workarounds, use case examples, and interactive demos. The most impressive of them being a way to communicate across domains to set and read cookies so that I could demo the cookie targeting feature of the new products.
  • Luis Francisco – one of our designers who is rapidly becoming one of the best hackers of Unbounce. Including the mind-blowing augmented reality demo in my 5 Legitimately Cool Use Cases for Website Popups post.

Not to mention the guidance, brainstorming, reality checks, and content planning help of the awesome Jen Pepper, and five designers who took turns creating the majority of the blog post hero images under the guidance of Cesar Martinez.

The craziness of the challenge was important to me. I don’t get inspired by normalcy. I love chaos and ridiculous ideas, and honestly, if I’d planned on writing three blog posts I probably wouldn’t have written any.

Turns out I was a bit too ambitious, and after ten consecutive sixteen hour days (weekends included) I decided to remove weekend posts from the schedule because they get little traction anyway, and focus more on quality than quantity, resulting in this post being number 20 – still pretty damn good.

Pretty sure my wife Nicole would’ve left me if I continued at that pace with the neglect that came with it. #alwaysbeoptimizing


Content Marketing Performance: Was I Wasting My Time?

Given that I was now dealing with pure product awareness, the topic of content marketing in general became top of mind. In particular, how does our blog perform as an agent of customer acquisition?

Digging into Kissmetrics I was shocked by what I uncovered.

As an attributable part of customer acquisition, the content I’d written on the blog in January was converting readers to NTS (new trial starts) at the paltry rate of 0.3%. Let me repeat that. Zero point three percent.

The blog converts at 0.3%. WTF?! How can that be the case?

What am I (and/or we) doing so wrong that this number is a possible reality? Content has been the hallmark of our marketing since we started Unbounce 8 years ago.

Time to dig deeper into the data.

The Data Insights & Lessons Learned I’ll be Sharing in This Post

In the interests of transparency (one of our six core values), I’ll be sharing all of the data I could find that helps shed light on the performance and effect of my month of madness.

It’s important to note that the full impact of this endeavor won’t be visible for a few months for a couple of reasons: we measure a customer as someone who’s paid us three times, and true product adoption can occur at any time.

Here’s a linked list of the data, insights, and learnings that you’ll find in the remainder of the post.

  1. The number of NTS (new trial starts) attributed to Product Awareness Month
  2. Historical NTS attributed to the blog
  3. How other companies content marketing performs. I reached out to:
    1. Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media
    2. Cyrus Shepard formerly at Moz
    3. John Bonini from Databox
  4. Impact of the blog redesign
    1. Sidebar
    2. Header
    3. Blog posts with old design
    4. Individual blog post interaction
  5. Blog traffic
  6. Blog Subscription Conversion Rates for different popup trigger types
  7. The impact of changes to our highest organic traffic page
  8. SaaS app login data
  9. Product awareness and adoption numbers
    1. Visitors
    2. Users
    3. Customers
  10. How many words I wrote
  11. Impact on writing quality
  12. What I should be writing about next

I’ll also discuss what I learned as a marketer, writer, and SaaS co-founder, after living the past 30 days like this.

Insight #1 – Blog Conversion Rates to NTS attributed to Product Awareness Month

Here’s a look at the funnel report in Kissmetrics that shows the conversion rate from visits to the new content to new Unbounce trial starts (NTS).

As I mentioned, I was really shocked by this number. Only 37 NTS from all that effort? I was starting to think that my content simply wasn’t interesting or relevant enough to convince people to sign up.

Was it just me?

Insight #2 – Historical Blog Conversion Rates

Then I looked at some historical data to make a comparison. The chart below is for the previous 9 months of blog content. I would’ve looked further back in time, but since we switched the website to HTTPS the reporting gets a little more complex.

Turns out that our blog converts at that rate in general. It’s important to note that the second chart is based on every single blog post on the blog, for that 9 month period, which is why the actual number of signups is so much higher.

At least it’s not just me.

Now, you may be inclined to think that given the low numbers, the blog doesn’t have the efficacy to warrant its existence or at least the amount of effort that goes into maintaining it. I know I started having some doubts.

But then I reached out to some industry folks who I deeply admire for their content marketing prowess, to see what their experiences and thoughts were on the topic.

Insight #3 – Content Marketing at Other Companies

The first person I contacted was Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media a Chicago web development a design agency. Andy is a good friend, an incredible speaker, and a genius content marketer whose expertise I value highly. Here’s what he had to say:

This is an awesome question that gets to something that a lot of content marketers may not understand: it’s the indirect benefits of content marketing that drive results. And in a lot of cases, it’s about SEO. The content drives the links, which drive the authority, which drive the rankings, which drive qualified visitors who searched for a “commercial intent” keyphrase …and now you have a visitor who is highly likely to convert, unlike your typical blog reader.

Here’s the data on our analytics. We had just over a million visits last year. (yay!) And 91% of those visitors started on a blog post.

But do these people ever really turn into business leads?

…not really. Almost never actually. But obviously, we’d have a lot less traffic (brand awareness) if we didn’t publish anything. Our site would be just a brochure. We wouldn’t have followers or subscribers. But the other downside of not having a blog (and maybe the most important benefit of blogging) is the links.

According to Open Site Explorer’s “Top Pages” report, there are virtually no links to our service pages. The top 217 linked-to pages, except for the home page, are blog posts and authors.

So without these pages, we’d have no authority …and no ranking for the “money phrases”.

If you want to attract visitors who have strong intent, who have their wallets out, you have to have a lot of content, links and authority so you can rank for the phrase. I bet the Unbounce analytics and rankings look a lot like this.

If you want the fortune, you’ve got to get the glory first!

Genius.


I also reached out to Cyrus Shepard, the former Director of SEO & Audience Development at Moz. Here’s what he had to say:

Our content with the highest conversion rates were always surprising and very specific (posts about title tags and how to run a site audit). The problem was, while these pieces had a 5x conversion rate over other content, the number of overall conversions they drove was actually small compared to our total. In other words, if we would have focused on these micro-problems exclusively, our overall sales would likely have been much smaller.

Counter-intuitively, we found we did better on big content with corresponding ridiculously low conversion rates, because it raised awareness. Awareness raised brand interest/queries, and 2-3-4 months down the line we close the sale when they are ready to purchase. In other words, our content with the actual highest conversion rates—as it is with all companies—was our homepage and “about” pages (and also our tools, but that’s another story). So raising brand awareness long-term always trumped short-term content-specific conversions.

Some similar sentiment to Andy where the long-term thinking, and believe that if you publish exceptional content you will benefit in indirect ways.


Finally, I reached out to John Bonini from Databox, who explained how they use dashboards (created with their own product which looks awesome) to keep a close eye on blog attribution. Here’s the one John shared with me. I embedded it in an iFrame so I’d suggest clicking inside it to scroll inside the different data blocks.

And here’s what he had to say about how their blog benefits their business:

1. For us, the blog plays a pretty powerful role in getting readers into the product. We transitioned to freemium last year, so the barrier to entry into the product is low. What works well for us is covering the challenges that marketers and salespeople are having in tracking performance and making sense of their data. Rather than rely on premium content like ebooks and webinars (we use these more for customer marketing) we’ll include free templates for dashboards that help solve the problem we’re writing about. It’s a fairly straight line from problem>>solution, which is why the blog is such a powerful lever.

2. Content attribution is hard. And the reality is that monthly reporting decks are binary–were the goals hit or not? Are we growing at or above the rate we need to…or not? Gross revenue was X. ARR is Y. So when you start talking about the importance of multi-touch attribution in order to measure the effectiveness of the blog, you run the risk of seeming like you’re “in the clouds.” I’ve had heated debates with executives who felt strongly against “being a publishing house.” Because attribution in many cases wasn’t a straight line, the content to them was fluff, and the time spent on it was sunk cost. The best thing to arm yourself within those cases is specific examples. Measuring the aggregate success of your blog is hard, but when you’re tracking the success of specific blog posts you know see a lot of traffic, you can better illustrate the value in producing more and optimizing for the long-term. That’s why I use the attached chart to keep an eye on our top visited pages (most of which are blog posts) and track the number of signups coming from each. As organic traffic grows, so does the output from each post. If you can convey that quickly and succinctly, you make a strong case.

Who’s Reading Your Blog?

We need to also recognize the fact that sometimes the person reading your content isn’t the person who ends up paying for it. There’s a difference between a functional user and a functional buyer, and that’s why attribution is the single biggest challenge in marketing today.

Connecting the who with the what with the when and the why is very difficult, for almost everyone.

Takeaway – It’s all yo’ blogs too!

We need to think a little differently when choosing the metrics we assign to our content marketing. I’d love to hear about how your blog performs in regard to similar metrics. Jump in the comments if you’d care to share.

It’s worth discussing a few other factors when thinking about the value of a blog. I know that personally, when I’m looking at the website of a software or service provider, if they don’t have a team page with photos of the company’s employees, a physical address for the office, and a blog that’s active, I won’t give them my business – unless they are the only option.

In many ways perception is reality.

If you don’t appear to be active or don’t appear to be a thought leader in the space you’re selling in, you simply don’t appear as credible as a company who is.

So Is Content Marketing a Waste of Time & Money or Not?

No. Clearly not. You just need to understand the nuances of how you measure your ROI so that you’re not thrown off by the metrics and numbers I’ve just shared with you.

In the rest of this post, I hope you will learn enough to persuade you if you’re not persuaded about the value of content marketing, and if you already are, I hope you learn some brilliant tactical ideas for 2018.

Insight #4 – Impact of the blog redesign

In this section, I’ll cover the impacts a new blog design (just for this month’s posts) impacted interaction behavior. I’ll break it down into three sections:

  1. Sidebar: How did a new product focused sidebar perform?
  2. Header: We introduced a new header navigation bar with a different focus.
  3. Old posts: A comparative look at how the header and sidebar interaction was on posts with the old design.
  4. Individual posts: How did interactions with the header CTAs vary between different post topics?

Insight #4a – Impact of the blog redesign: analyzing the new sidebar

Part of the redesign included a new sidebar dedicated to the two new products. You can see the before and after designs below.

Blog Design Before and After

I was pretty excited to see how this would perform as we’ve never been that blatantly promotional on the blog before.

Here’s a click heat map based on traffic to the first few posts. The screenshot background is auto-generated from the first post, but the sidebar and header were constant elements that show cumulative clicks.

Out of 1,481 (desktop) visitors and 3,428 clicks, only 3 people (0.09%) clicked the sidebar CTA. More people clicked on the statement beneath the button than on the button itself.

My first instinct was to think that the subtext read as a clearer and more actionable statement than the button copy, so I reversed them (putting the subtext as the button copy), but it changed nothing.

Nobody cared about the sidebar CTA.

Something to note is that it wasn’t a sticky sidebar (it disappears as you scroll) which no doubt had an impact on the low engagement numbers, but the content was too long to make it a persistent sidebar because the CTA wouldn’t be visible in most browsers.

Takeaway – Nobody cares about your sidebar

After a week with little to no interaction with the sidebar, we decided to simply remove it. I think the reading experience is significantly nicer without it.

Insight #4b – Impact of the blog redesign: analyzing the new header

The more significant change to the blog was the new header. Removing the standard SaaS navigation with features, templates, integrations, pricing etc. allowed the content to be the focus, with a greatly simplified expression of our product’s value proposition.

Here’s a wireframe for the new header.

I loved nerding out with my new reMarkable tablet to sketch many of the diagrams and illustrations throughout the month. Apologies for my terrible handwriting, but if you’re a visual thinker and communicator it’s the best product I’ve ever used.

Let’s take a look at some heat maps for the header.

Week One

The heat map below is for the first four blog posts and shows quite a lot of activity on the three product CTAs.

Number of clicks
[Landing Pages: 26] [Popups: 39] [Sticky Bars: 43]

Total clicks on product CTAs
108 out of 1,481 clicks = 3.15%

Week Two

The next one is for the middle part of the month after the sidebar had been removed.

Number of clicks
[Landing Pages: 106] [Popups: 124] [Sticky Bars: 99]

Total clicks on product CTAs
329 out of 7,596 clicks = 4.42%

Week 3

Week 3 is missing because I’m an idiot and forgot to start the heat map recording in Hotjar.

Week 4

Later in the month, the heat map tells a slightly different story. Note that this is a smaller sample size as it’s not been collecting data as long.

Number of clicks
[Landing Pages: 16] [Popups: 28] [Sticky Bars: 33]

Total clicks on product CTAs
77 out of 2,387 clicks = 2.56%

The lower % of clicks here might be explained by repeat visitors not having a need to click again. Or it could be the topic and quality of the posts, or it could be a sampling issue.

Insight #4c – Click Map Data From Old Posts

To gain some comparative perspective, I dug out some heat maps from blog posts that have the original design, to see how they fared. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison as the CTAs are not the same in both designs.

But it is interesting to note that on this blog post about 35 landing page design examples (our highest traffic blog post of all time), the combined number of clicks on the top CTA and the sidebar CTA was 2 out of 1,844.

And a similarly high-traffic landing page examples post only received 6 clicks out of 1,777 visitors.

It seems you have to work really hard to get people to click your product CTAs from a blog post.

Insight #4d – Interaction Based on Blog Post Topic

If we look at individual posts from Product Awareness Month, we can see some really interesting patterns based on the topic of the post. For the five posts below, all of them have a dominant percentage of clicks going to the product being discussed in the post.

In the examples below the values represent the number of clicks each CTA received.

Popup Post 1: A Blueprint for the Perfect Popup


[Landing Pages: 4] [Popups: 13] [Sticky Bars: 2]

Popup Post 2: “Maybe Later” – A New Interaction Model for E-commerce Entrance Popups


[Landing Pages: 9] [Popups: 20] [Sticky Bars: 12]

Popup Post 3: 11 Awesome Popup Design Examples – Scored by the Delight Equation


[Landing Pages: 11] [Popups: 16] [Sticky Bars: 2]

Sticky Bar Post 1: 9 Creative Sticky Bar Examples – Plus 21 New Unbounce Templates

Super low traffic on this one, but the pattern remains intact.

[Landing Pages: 1] [Popups: 3] [Sticky Bars: 9]

Sticky Bar Post 2: How to Build a Sticky SaaS Product

This one’s not really even about sticky bars per se. It just has the word in the title and an equal measure of mentions of the sticky bar and popup products.

[Landing Pages: 4] [Popups: 5] [Sticky Bars: 9]

Takeaway – Context Matters

Now it might seem obvious that it would be the case that the blog post topic would dictate product interest, but it’s still really nice to confirm it through data and to know that the content is indeed driving the intended behavior from the audience.

Insight #5 – Blog Traffic

One of the things we’ve been learning of late is the importance of getting back to basics with SEO, and writing content that people are actually searching for. Obvious enough. But that’s not what I had in mind when I started this month of content production. I was stuck in my own head, with my own concepts, and my own ideas of how I was going to change things.

As a result, about half of the content I wrote has an easily identifiable search term to optimize for. But the other half don’t.

I’m okay with that, to an extent, because I firmly believe you can’t spend all of your time answering people’s search questions. That’s a critical path to business success, but in order to rise above your competitors, you also need to invent things. To come up with new ways of thinking – actual thought leadership.

I have an innate need to create things that not only scratch an itch in myself, to expand my intellect, and thought process, but also because I want to inspire someone else to care or grow, or experiment, and think in ways they hadn’t previously considered.

It’s similar to the concept of breaking content marketing into two buckets of lead gen and awareness. You need inspiration as well as resolution.

I digress. What’s the traffic to the blog been like this month? Well for starters, when I made this crazy challenge to myself, I didn’t realize that our blog traffic has taken a big hit in the past year. I’m not sure what my decision-making process would have been had I known. Do I get more excited because I want to re-energize the blog? Or do I think that it’s not worth the effort if we don’t get much traffic anymore?

Here’s a GA chart of traffic to our blog since we started Unbounce in 2009.

You can see that in early 2017, things changed, pretty dramatically.

(You can also see that we’ve got a decent boost this month).

If we segment this by organic traffic and compare April 2017 to January 2017, you see a graph like this, where we lost around 35% of our organic blog traffic in one quarter.

I reached out to Cody Campbell, our Marketing Manager of Funnel Growth (and resident SEO pro) for an explanation. Here’s how he described what had happened:

We have 1250 posts published on the Unbounce blog.

In 2017, those posts drove 1.6 million sessions to our blog. That’s 18% of total website traffic.

Of that 1.6M sessions, 77% was Organic. Yay for SEO…but this was also an incredibly terrifying fact at the same time. We had all our eggs in one basket. And lucky for us, that basket was performing really well. Until it all came crashing down.

The Largest Traffic Drop of 2017
In the 4 month period between January and April, blog traffic dropped 74,000 sessions.

Here’s the breakdown:
Organic: 60k decrease
Direct: 7.3k decrease
Social: 2.2k decrease
Email: 5.3k decrease

After digging deeper, we found that the majority of the traffic drop came from 23 posts. Wait. What? 1.84% of our posts were driving the bulk of our blog traffic? Yup.

…Holy sh!t. What happened?

Most of those high traffic blog posts were written between 2012 to 2016 and we hadn’t touched them since. Meanwhile, numerous competitors entered the market and content marketing hit its climax.

The spreadsheet below shows some of the posts, and the impact this period had on them.

The result?
We’re now competing against a ton of other companies in the Google SERPs all of whom are trying to rank for the same keywords.

Our competitor’s content was far more up-to-date than ours (and in some cases even better), so, naturally, it started to get more attention from readers. Google took notice and started dropping us from position #1 to position 2 or 3.

Moving from position #1 to #3 lost us up to 50% or more of our traffic per post. And when that happens and you only have a handful of posts holding up your blog, you’re in trouble.

Takeaway

In a highly competitive space, it’s critical that you maintain your organic rankings by updating and optimizing your important blog content so it doesn’t fall below the quality and impact of what others are doing.

Insight #6 – Blog Subscription Conversion Rates for Different Popup Trigger Types

In order to explore the concept of two-step opt-in forms, I set up two methods for people to subscribe to the weekly email digests we created for those interested in following along with Product Awareness Month.

Version 1 used an exit-triggered popup to present the subscribe form, and version 2 used a click-triggered popup to create the two-step opt-in experience.

Here’s the popup people were shown:

Trigger Method #1 – Exit Popup Subscribe

Exit popups are great in that almost everyone sees them, but they don’t have the intelligence to know whether the visitor was enjoying the content or not. In our experiences, the conversion rate depends highly on the perceived value of the offer.

When we give away video recordings of events we put on (webinars or conferences) the conversion rates are fantastic, between 15 and 30%.

When you’re offering a blog subscription, it’s typically in the 1-5% range. In this instance, we were offering a subscription to the blog, but the value was described as following along with our product awareness experiment, as opposed to the blog in general. Limiting the value even further.

The conversion rate for the exit popup hovered around the 2% range, dipping to 1.86% overall.

Trigger Method #2 – Click Popup Subscribe

The click trigger is the absolute best option if you want to create a valuable experience, as the popup you show is based on an explicitly expressed intent. I set up links throughout the blog posts, asking people to subscribe. When they clicked the link they got the popup.

The conversion rate for the click-triggered popup varied from around the 20% range, dipping to 15.57% overall.

So for this example, the click-triggered popup outperformed the exit popup by 722%.

Declining Conversion Rates

The reason I mention the dips in conversion rates is that I found the change really interesting. The sample sizes are not very big (120 and 52 conversions respectively), but the conversion rates held fairly steady for weeks, dropping closer to the end of the month.

This could be entirely based on sample size, but another hypothesis I had was that the motivation to subscribe was waning with every day because the value was diminished as the month went on. If you’re being asked to subscribe to a one-month content experience, and there are only 1 or 2 weeks remaining, it makes perfect sense that fewer people would care.

I can’t prove or disprove either explanation, but it’s definitely food for thought when designing time-based experiences like this.

Takeaway

It’s important to consider whether the value of your offer changes over time – either increasing or decreasing – so that you can better understand the subsequent motivation.

Insight #7 – Call to Action Clicks on Our Highest Traffic Content Page

As part of my post about the highest-traffic page you’re neglecting, I rewrote the content on our “What is a Landing Page?” page that receives over 10,000 unique visitors per month.

As part of the exercise, I experimented with three options in a choose-your-own-adventure format, as a learning exercise so we can study what these visitors are actually looking for.

Option 1: “I’m new to landing pages, and want to learn more.”
CTA >> [ Watch The Landing Page Sessions Video Series ]

Option 2: “I have a landing page, but I’m not sure how good it is.”
CTA >> [ Grade Your Page With The Landing Page Analyzer ]

Option 3: “I need to build a landing page.”
CTA >> [ Try The Unbounce Builder in Preview Mode ]

When I looked at the scroll map data it showed that fewer than 50% of visitors were scrolling far enough to see the three CTAs.

So I moved them up to the top of the post, right beneath the opening description of what a landing page is – based on the fact that 86% of visitors scroll that far, and that the needs of most visitors have been met at this point (answering their question about what a landing page is).

Then I recorded the clicks that the three CTAs were getting to measure the intent and experience level of the audience. The values in the heat map below show the percentage of all clicks on the page.

Out of 983 desktop pageviews, the numerical distribution of 141 clicks was as follows:

[I’m New: 111] [I Have an LP: 15] [I need to build an LP: 15]

It’s really clear that the beginner level CTA is most relevant to visitors to this page. Makes total sense. But when we were looking at this, Cody wondered if the order of the CTAs might be an influencing factor.

So I flipped the order and ran it for another 1,000 pageviews.

This time, out of 1,013 desktop pageviews, the numerical distribution of only 83 clicks was as follows:

[I need to build an LP: 48] [I Have an LP: 1] [I’m New: 34]

Really interesting that the number one slot retained its position as the click leader, but the overall number of clicks dropped from 11.94% to 6.33%, a decrease of 89%.

I’d like to run this again as an A/B test with a larger sample size, but my hypothesis for why the number of interactions dropped is that the first option is too aggressive for the majority of visitors to this page, resulting in them not going to the effort of reading all three options.

To add a little confirmation to the experiment, I reverted to the original order and ran the heat map again.

This time, out of 835 desktop pageviews, the numerical distribution of 116 clicks was as follows:

[I’m New: 94] [I Have an LP: 10] [I need to build an LP: 12]

Which is very close to the first one in terms of distribution.

Takeaway

Choose-your-own-adventure navigation is a really fun and interesting way to learn about the intent of your visitors, and the order and magnitude of the action you’re asking people to take can influence how much interaction takes place.

Fascinating stuff!

Insight #8 – SaaS User Login Visits

This one is a bit tangential, and came to me when designing The Login Hijack concept in my post about cool use cases for popups.

For SaaS businesses, it’s very common for people to visit your website for the sole purpose of logging in to your app, and if you don’t take this into account your metrics can be way off.

You can see that for Unbounce 35.04% of website sessions are used to log in to the Unbounce app.

I reached out on Twitter to inquire about the numbers at other SaaS companies and found a lot of similarities:

  • Stefan Debois‏ reported that for SurveyAnyPlace.com it’s 45% of homepage visits
  • John Bonini from Databox shared that their number is 28%
  • Jon Davis from Shape.io reported a number of 30%

All of these numbers represent significant potential for incorrect reporting, and opportunistic product marketing to your customers who are showing up for this reason.

Takeaway

I ran a Twitter poll to extend the question:

What’s particularly interesting is that the majority of people who answered don’t know. We all need to know this number. Go find yours and report in the comments.

Insight #9 – Product Awareness and Adoption Data

In this section I’ll cover the levels of awareness increase based on three segments of people:

  1. Visitors: new folks coming to Unbounce.com who have never used the product
  2. Users: those with an Unbounce account of some type who have not paid us three times
  3. Customers: those who have paid us three times

Insight #9a – Product Awareness: New Visitors

Looking in GA, there were 8,036 new visitors who were exposed to the new Product Awareness Month content – who were not current users or customers.

This will be an interesting chart to follow over time to see which content continues to produce organic traffic.

Looking at Kissmetrics we can look at the cohort who have reached a product touchpoint including documentation, features pages or campaign landing pages specific to popups and sticky bars (but not the new PAM content):

Visitors have seen awareness content (excl. PAM)

Visitors have seen awareness content (with PAM)
These are visitors who have found their way to the product touchpoints AND also saw the PAM content.

What this shows us is that 274/3762 = 7.3% of total new aware visitors in January came from the Product Awareness Month content.

Insight #9b – Product Awareness: Users

Let’s use a different lens for a moment. The previous section was an analysis of Unbounce customers based on our definition of a customer being someone who has paid us three times.

But what if we look at overall users?
Our user count is much larger than the customer count because it includes those still on their free trial as well as plans like free / student / startup / not-for-profit.

In the past 30 days, changes in product awareness look like the chart below. That’s an increase of 2,031 people (10.7%) in the total population based on the activities and campaigns of the awareness squad.

Now if we include folks who’ve seen the Product Awareness Month content, the number rises by an additional 374 people.

In essence, what this tells us is that the Product Awareness Month content contributed 18.4% of the total user awareness increase in January.

That’s pretty damn cool. And because it’s content, it will continue to live on and continue to increase awareness. At least the portions that speak to search intent, and those that inspire backlinks.

Insight #9c – Product Awareness & Adoption: Customers

When we first began marketing popups and sticky bars we were focused on both prospects and customers. But adoption is largely dependent on customer awareness of the products, and so one of our teams in Customer Success got to work.

Knowing awareness was the goal, they launched a campaign designed to make sure our customer base knew we weren’t just a landing page builder anymore.

They created an epic video, embedded it on this landing page, and ran their campaign, which included redesigning our login screen to take advantage of a placement every customer sees multiple times:

The results? The team’s had 3,473 visits to the landing page (about 27% of our active customer base) and 52,603 views of the new login page ad above.

For the purposes of this campaign, the team defined “aware” as anyone who had reached a product touchpoint including documentation, features pages or campaign landing pages specific to popups and sticky bars.

The data below represents awareness changes over time as defined above. It currently doesn’t filter for customers only, but does include criteria that someone has accessed the builder in addition to the other touch points aforementioned:

As you can see, corresponding to the launch of two major customer campaigns, there has been a steading increase in encounters with these touchpoints, and thereby awareness.

There has been a 51.49% increase in awareness in just the first week following the launch, as seen in the day-by-day view below:

Regarding adoption, our product adoption funnel looks like this in simple terms:

Created -> Published -> Installed -> Evaluated -> Adopted

The chart below shows the growth of the various stages since we launched the limited beta at the end of 2016.

Zooming in below, you can see that some of the adoption funnel metrics are a bit flat, but the exciting thing is that the number of popups and sticky bars being created and published is showing a great improvement which will naturally lead to adoption. And it looks like the lift started right around the time of the January 15th campaign launch.

We have a phase 2 campaign going out soon focus on driving people all the way through the adoption funnel, which will hopefully amplify these early successes.

Takeaway

While the blog could work to increase awareness with those who’ve never heard about us, customer campaigns are still very necessary.

Insight #10 – How Many Words Did I Write?

Including this post my tally sits at around 37,000 words.

According to research into the page count of recent NYT bestsellers list books, 300 pages is about the right length. At an average of 250 words per page, that totals 75,000 words.

Basically, I’m halfway to having people read about popups and sticky bars on a plane, in my book they bought in an airport bookstore.

Takeaway

Write 20 more posts then stick ‘em all together and call Wiley and Random House.

Insight #11 – The Impact Quantity Has on Quality

I put out some seriously awesome content this month. Stuff I’m really proud of in terms of creative thought and interaction design. But there’s one thing that’s missing (I think) from the writing, once I started to get tired from all the writing.

I lost my edge in terms of personality and humor.

It just wasn’t possible to write that many posts, with that many words, and find a way to make it as entertaining as I expect my content to be. But that’s because there were no second drafts, no editing, virtually no QA on mobile. It was always a 2am battle to finish the day’s post to publish it before I went to bed.

Add. Rinse. Repeat.

Another important factor was that because I was so rushed, and creating so much content, I had no time to do any image optimization. There are no alt or title tags on the images and links, so there’s a big missed opportunity for image search. Having an extra day per post, would have made a big difference.

Takeaway

I love the quantity. I guess I’m vain that way, but if we want our content to live on past the typical 3-5 day window that blog posts have to be seen, then they either have to be so special that everyone links to them, or so on point with the search intent of your ideal customer that it’s find time and time again.

One of the biggest drivers of traffic to our blog from organic search is to a post about email subject lines, which has absolutely nothing to do with our target audience. We used to have a very broad full-stack breadth to our content which was great, it has a ton of value. But it doesn’t attract our ideal customer, which makes it a waste.

Tough lesson learned. We’ll be focusing our content (aside from this month’s insanity) in a much more targeted manner this year, and I’m excited to see how much of an impact it has on our key metrics.

Insight #12 – What Should I be Writing About Next?

I’ve learned a lot in the past 30 days about what is and isn’t important when it comes to impactful content, and I’m re-energized to continue creating value for our now and future customers. But what form will it take?

Based on the highest organic traffic content, there are two places that need an urgent overhaul:

The Landing Page Conversion Course (LPCC)

The Landing Page Conversion Course has always been great at attracting traffic, however, it’s very out of date, and the product videos are now 5 years old and not representative of what Unbounce has become as a product. It was also purposely targeted at top of funnel signups for our old free account. The focus of the new iteration will be much more targeted at NTS and getting much higher value from the content.

The landing page articles section

The landing page articles section is sooooo old. I wrote it in 2010 and only managed to rewrite one page of it this month (as part of insight #7 above). It’ll be great to freshen this up and provide better value for all those visitors looking for help with their landing page learning.

How do I Feel About Product Awareness Month Now?

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve felt so exhausted at any point in my professional career. This was a barn burner of a month. But it’s been such a rich and valuable journey for me, both as a marketer, and a co-founder. Hopefully it’s also been enriching for those who have followed along throughout this crazy experiment.

What’s next? Well before I dive into those two other projects, I need to get my butt to Mexico for a brief honeymoon with my beautiful bride Nicole. My plane leaves at 10:30am.

Adiós amigos! See you in a week.

Cheers,
Oli Gardner

Continue at source: 

Is Content Marketing a Waste of Time and Money? Data and Lessons Learned from 20 posts in 30 days.

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No-Touch CRO: 11 Ways to Optimize Your Website without Touching Your Website

Wait a minute, no-touch website optimization? How on earth can you optimize your website without touching it? That’s absurd. Insane even. Have you gone stark raving mad, Oli?

Who me? Never! Or at least, not all the way crazy. I’m talking about ways that you can experiment, learn, and change behavior simply by using page and UI elements like Popups and Sticky Bars. An approach I call no-touch CRO (conversion optimization).

What is No-Touch CRO?

Kinda like the title suggests, no-touch CRO is about uncovering, exploiting, and maximizing the conversion opportunities that exist on your website. It’s all about velocity, getting results, and learning quickly and easily so you can make informed updates and optimizations to your website backed by data.

Here’s how it works in a nutshell. You install the Unbounce script on your site once, and then you have access to creating experiences on every page, without touching any code or design on the site.

Think of it as a layer of abstraction that exists above your site. Like literally.

“Are you doing that product awareness thing again, Oli?” Yup. I most definitely am. But only because I think the 11 ideas below are badass, and it’s how I like to work.

(Skip to the 11 website optimization ideas).


Navigating the Politics of Website Optimization

The reason I like this approach is because the politics of website development, design, and optimization are a complicated and slow-moving pain in everyone’s ass. The number of stakeholders, sign-offs, reviews, and revisions that are necessary to get a change implemented are always underestimated. Not to mention budgets, different departmental priorities and needs, and of course time. It’s basically a giant cluster that needs to be navigated proactively.

Which is why, if you can come to the table with some evidence that your ideas can affect positive change, those same naysaying stakeholders will become advocates for your work.

Now, I’m not suggesting the first thing you do is to start hammering your pricing page visitors with popups. You have to be smarter than that. Starting small, on low-traffic pages, and using techniques that are legitimately useful for your visitors, and provide as much evidence and learning as possible. The more successes you can show, the greater the bounds of your website optimization freedom will be in the future.

I’m going to share 11 ideas for you to get started with no-touch website optimization using popups and sticky bars, but first, you need to get your web developer to install the script on the website.

Your developer may have some questions such as: How big is the script? Which pages does it need to be added to? We interviewed two of our web developers at Unbounce to understand these concerns, and it was enlightening to hear about their process, and what they check when considering adding another script to the site.

We found that it’s typically a 1-2 day turnaround to get a new script installed, based on the research they need to do regarding page speed and bug testing etc. But one of the most interesting parts to me was simply the desire for the web developer to be included in the process. They didn’t want marketers installing it on the site themselves because it’s a serious concern that needs to be handled properly.

A big positive insight was that the amount of features available in the Unbounce platform (for triggers, targeting, and timing) allows significantly more functionality, interaction, and marketing campaign content without any requests of the developer’s time – making it a big win-win overall.

Just make sure you involve your developers.

If you have Google Tag Manager set up on your site, it’s even easier to get the Unbounce script added. Send this post about adding the Unbounce script using GTM to your web developer now.


11 No-Touch Conversion Optimization Opportunities You Can Take Advantage of on Your Website

Alright! Time to start optimizing your website without touching your website. Here are eleven creative ways to increase the number of conversions, and insights you get from your website.

#1: What on earth are you clicking on?

If you are a frequent observer of heat maps you’ll have no doubt seen big splotches where many people are clicking a page element (word, image etc.) when the element isn’t even clickable.

There can be several reasons for this:

  1. It’s just what people do when they read
  2. They are expecting something to happen

In the case of option B, there’s an opportunity to learn why they are exhibiting this behavior and ask them what they expected to happen.

You can do this by using the click trigger to launch a popup with a simple open-ended question such as “What did you expect to happen when you clicked that?” or “What are you looking for?”.

Conversion Implications

The responses from these research questions could inform you as to a missing part of the experience which you can then consider adding to the website, either directly, or after an A/B test of some kind.

An Unbounce Example

When I was researching behavior on our “What is a Landing Page?” page, I noticed interesting behavior on the first paragraph, where the first word was really strongly highlighted. I had two theories about this:

  1. It’s just a thing people do when they start reading.
  2. People were clicking on the first word and then dragging their mouse to the end of the first or second paragraph to copy the text. Because the page is a very well written and simple definition of what a landing page is, I hypothesized that people doing research who needed a definition to include in their content were copying the definition.

    To confirm this I watched some session recordings and observed someone doing this. I also searched Google for my newly written definition and found over twenty sites had done exactly that. Inbound links FTW.

#2: Create a Custom 404

Wouldn’t you like to know what people are thinking when they’re on your 404 page? If you dig into your analytics you’ll be able to figure out where they came from, but where should they go next?

By using a popup on your 404, you can take advantage of several conversion opportunities:

Option A: Research & Redirect

If you can establish where people are coming from (in order words, where the broken link is), you can use the referrer URL targeting in Unbounce to create a custom experience for them.

If the broken link is on your own site, you can get that fixed, or a 301 redirect put in place to a relevant page and if the broken link is on someone else’s site you can reach out to them for an update.

However, both of those options take time and resources to accomplish. You should put them in motion regardless, but in the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to learn and optimize.

This is a great place to experiment with a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) experience to see what the preferred next step is. If you can show a pattern of next step desire here you’re ready to make a more permanent 301 redirect to the popular choice.

An open-ended question like “What were you looking for?” coupled with a few large buttons that redirect people to some of your critical path conversion pages.

Option B: Replace

Something you might not know is that if you use the Unbounce WordPress plugin for your landing pages, there’s a way to replace a broken link with a landing page.

When using the WordPress plugin, any URL you set up on your domain in Unbounce will assume dominance over an existing page. Now you most likely don’t want to do this with a legit page that’s working. But for a broken link you could publish a landing page using the very same URL to present an experience that you are in full control of – no developers required.

Warning! Don’t simply go overriding pages all over your website (unless you own it fully). Let your web and marketing coworkers know what you’re doing.

#3: The Login Hijack

I introduced The Login Hijack in my 5 Legitimately Cool Use Cases for Website Popups You’ve Never Considered post. The concept is to create an experience based on the information that you (probably) have a large % of visitors (customers in this case) only showing up to click the login link.

Note: You need to drop a cookie on your login page to identify customers, then you can use the cookie targeting in Unbounce to show the popup when they return next time.

This is a perfect place to insert some product marketing content. Here are two ideas:

Idea #1

Run a “did you know?” survey to measure new feature awareness. This could take the form of a series of large buttons with product or feature names on them, and a request to “Click all of the features you were not aware of.” The heatmap on this could be fascinating. Don’t forget to also include a login link so customers don’t have to click to close the popup before proceeding.

You could also include a login redirect after the question is answered to prevent the need for an extra click.

Idea #2

Present a popup with a 50-50 vertical split. The left side can present information about a new product or feature with a “Learn More” button, and the right half can provide a large login button. Not only does this allow you to get product messaging in front of your customers, it also makes the login link/button bigger that it would have been.

#4: Advanced Video Interactions

If you have any videos on your website you probably have a call to action at the end. This is great. Until you look at the engagement data and realize that 50% of people never get to the end.

You can get around this problem with a very cool interaction model that Unbounce Noah Matsell built.

Using this method (requires a little Javascript – ping me at oli@unbounce.com if you’d like it), you can present your visitors/customers with a popup based on 3 different levels of interaction.

On completion

When the video has been watched to the end. Note that a popup presents a significantly large area to present an offer than the typical text/button CTA that appears in the middle of the video window. You can even instruct people to watch the whole video to get a special offer.

You can see a demo here.

On pause

This idea ups the cool factor for me. You can present an offer if someone pauses the video. A great place to ask a question (“Why did you stop watching”), or to present your offer right away.

You can see a demo here.

On series completion

Saving the best for last, this implementation allows you to monitor the viewing of several videos, show a live progress bar, and then present a reward/prize/offer when all of the videos have been watched.

This is great if you have a series of videos that you want to encourage people to binge watch Netflix-style, like The Landing Page Sessions, or a set of instructional videos that guide a new customer through a training or onboarding sequence.

You can see a demo here.

#5: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) entrance experience

Do you have different target customer segment? At Unbounce we consider agencies and in-house marketing teams to be our ideal target customer archetype.

Given that you most likely have multiple ideal customer types, should they all be getting the same experience? No, of course they shouldn’t. But designing multiple experiences can be difficult. Which is why some experimental experiences can be incredibly eye-opening.

I’m a big fan of the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) approach, and it’s not hard to create a few custom flows for your visitors.

By using an entrance popup with a simple self-identification question, you can drop cookies that help you create more customized experiences in other areas of your website.

I’d start with an “I’m an Agency or Marketing Team” type question.

Once you’ve dropped the cookie(s), you can take that knowledge and create experiences elsewhere on your site (or other web properties), and you can redirect the visitor to the best experience you have on your site for that persona.

For example, if someone self-identifies as working at an agency, you could provide an agency-specific resource or offer if they try to exit your site on the pricing page. For example, “Did you know we offer an agency program that includes a, b, c ?” or “Would you like a demo of Unbounce with one of our agency specialists?

There are almost infinite ways you can leverage this approach just by asking once for people to identify themselves.

And once again, you didn’t have to change anything on your website.

#6: G2 Crowd awareness

Got good reviews on G2 Crowd or Glassdoor? Embed some of the details on an entrance sticky bar for visitors to your “About Us”, “Team”, and “Careers” pages as social proof.

You could take your rating, a badge, or a review to use as social proof.

#7: G2 Crowd reviews

Ask customers (use the cookie you dropped on the login page for the login hijack example) to rate you on G2 Crowd. As you’re dealing with customers and they already do a lot for you, I’d suggest making this a subtle sticky bar and not an in-your-face experience.

#8: Welcome back MVP

If you know what your most important pages are you can use cookies and cookie targeting to drive people to them.

In my Advanced Triggers and Targeting post, I presented the “You Didn’t See My Most Valuable Page (MVP)” concept, where you set a cookie when visitors see your most valuable page(s). That way you can check for the existence of the cookie whenever someone leaves your site, and show them a popup directing them to the important content.

Using a similar approach, you can provide an entrance experience that welcomes them back and drives them to the important content.

To do this you’d combine cookie targeting (doesn’t have the MVP cookie) with a frequency trigger set to second visit. That way you know they are a repeat visitor and haven’t seen the MVP – as opposed to a first time visitor who hasn’t seen it which could mean they are already on their way there.

Create a Google Analytics report that tells you what % of visitors see your MVP, then observe if your Welcome Back MVP influences the number.

#9: Best Blog Content

In tomorrow’s final Product Awareness Month post, I’ll be sharing a lot of lessons I’ve learned over the past 30 days. One of those revolves around the topics of content that you’re writing about, and making sure they are things that people are A) interested in, and most importantly B) searching for.

To help you with this, you can use an exit popup to ask people which content they’d like to see more of. Then use this data (in combination with your SEO research) to guide your writing.

You can embed a simple Typeform in the popup to capture the responses.

Note: to add a Typeform survey in Unbounce, simple paste the embed code (from Typeform) into a “Custom HTML” element that you drop onto your popup in the Unbounce builder.

#10: Product Awareness Clicker

If you want to collect data about the levels of product awareness you have, at the same time as increasing product awareness, this tip is for you.

While similar in terms of the question to the login hijack, your goal here is to target new visitors as opposed to existing customers.

Trigger a popup on your homepage or features page after a time delay, presenting a series of product/feature icons with the request: “Which products/features did you NOT know we provide?”.

To select the appropriate time delay, look at your analytics for the average time on page for the pages you’re targeting, and set it accordingly. You want to set it just below the average so people see it, but still have time to read your content.

You can measure the results with a click heatmap, or by embedding a Typeform survey in the popup like the previous example. I like Typeform because they have some beautiful and simple big-button layouts that are perfect for this concept.

This is a good way to measure movement in your awareness metrics. For more clarity, segment customers from non-customers. You could do this with a second question on the Typeform survey that simple asks are you a customer. Or you could drop a customer cookie on your login or login success page and remove this cohort using the cookie targeting in Unbounce.

#11: Discount on 3rd exit

Just like shopping carts, pricing page abandonment is big deal, but you probably don’t want to give a discount the first time people leave, just because they’re leaving.

But if they repeatedly visit and leave your pricing page, it could be a signal that there’s an issue with them pulling the trigger. It might be the price point, and it might be worth experimenting with a discount using Popup or Sticky Bar.

You should be careful with discounts (if you’re a SaaS business) as they can affect your metrics in negative ways, but there is always a time and a place where it makes sense.

You can choose your own number, but I’d say that the third time someone visits and leaves your pricing page means it’s time to offer either a question (WTF dude?) or an offer/discount.

To do this with Unbounce, just use URL targeting for the pricing page, and show the popup on visit number 3.


So there you have it. A whole bunch of ways you can get into website optimization without bugging your web developer (more than once).

Aaaaand now, tomorrow marks the end of my 30 posts (that became 20) in 30 days product awareness challenge. This will be a transparent deep dive into everything I’ve learned over the course of the month, data from conversions, leads, clicks, adoption, awareness, and every interaction I’m able to consolidate in the next 24 hours.

See you tomorrow. I promise some very interesting learnings and results.

Cheers
Oli Gardner

p.s. Don’t subscribe to “Product Awareness Month”, because it’s over. Instead you should just read the entie epic 20-post collection when you have time for some binge-reading.

Excerpt from:  

No-Touch CRO: 11 Ways to Optimize Your Website without Touching Your Website

5 Legitimately Cool Use Cases for Website Popups You’ve Never Considered (Includes Augmented Reality)

Okay, so perhaps only one of these use cases will blow your mind, but it’s worth risking being labeled as click-bait to get this in your hands. Read on for the coolest things you can do with website popups. Ever. Including augmented reality. Yup.

Example #1: The Augmented Reality Customer Postcard

Alright, people. Prepare to have your minds blown. This example comes from one of our designers, and chief hackers, at Unbounce, Luis Francisco.

Imagine the image below is a postcard you sent to your customers.

They visit the URL printed on it, and then this happens!

Watch me blow my own mind

Try it yourself

Note: This demo uses your laptop’s camera (it won’t work without one). Follow these instructions to see how it works!

  1. Print out the postcard image (opens in new tab)
  2. Open this landing page (opens in new tab)
  3. Grant access to your camera when asked by the browser.
  4. Hold the postcard in front of your camera to see the magic! (Stand a few feet back).

Example #2: The Website Login Hijack

35% of all visitors to Unbounce.com are only there to log in to the app. You read that correctly. Thirty-five percent. You can see the details in this GA screenshot from the month of January 2018.

This is an incredibly common thing for SaaS businesses, where customers will visit the homepage to click the login link. You’ll want to create a segment in Google Analytics for this, so you can remove it from your non-customer website behavior analysis.

It’s a huge opportunity for product marketing.

If you drop a cookie on your login screen that identifies the visitor as someone trying to log in, you can then use the cookie targeting built into Unbounce to target returning account holders with a website popup containing new product release info, along with a large login link that makes their experience even easier.

Click here or the image below to see an example popup.

Example #3: Social Referral Welcome

Are you doing as much as you can to convert your visitors from social? Probably not, but that’s okay. For this idea you can add an extra level of personalization by detecting the referring site (an Unbounce popup feature) and present a welcome experience relevant to that source.

You can take it a step further and have custom URL parameters on the social link that populate the popup with relevant content.

This is made possible by the Dynamic Text Replacement feature in Unbounce.

Check out the Tweet below. When I shared the blog post on Twitter, I added a URL parameter to the end of the URL so it reads:

https://postURL/?postTitle=“Maybe Later” - A New Interaction Model for E-commerce Entrance Popups

Try clicking the link in the Tweet. It will take you to our blog, and will show you a popup that’s only triggered when the referrer is Twitter (specifically a URL that contains t.co which is the Twitter URL shortener).

This is a really powerful way of connecting two previously disparate experiences, extending the information scent from one site to another. All without writing a single line of code.

Example #4: Preferred Social Network Share Request

If someone comes to you from twitter it’s a strong signal that Twitter is a social network of choice – or at least somewhere where they look for and respond to, socially shared content. As such you can give them a customized tweet ready for that network when they’ve demonstrated some engagement with your blog.

Using the referrer URL targeting option in Unbounce you can easily detect a visit from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Which is what I showed you in the previous example.

You can use different triggers for this concept that are likely to be more indicative of someone who’s engaged with the post. I’d suggest the scroll trigger (either up or down), time delay, or exit.

The reason I like this approach is that most people have a preferred social network. Mine is Twitter. If you give me a specific task, such as “Would you share this on Twitter for me, please?” with a Tweet button and prepared Tweet text, I’m more likely to engage versus having 5 social share buttons at the side or bottom of the post with no instructions.

Click here or the image below to see this concept in a popup.

You’d then craft a really good Tweet, with text or links specific to this tactic so you can measure its impact.

BTW: the button in that popup is functional and will actually Tweet about this blog post. I’d really love a share from you, just so you know. Show the popup again so you can Tweet it.

Example #5: Joke of the Day

Let’s end the post with a fun one. I’m sure you’ve all seen those messages or jokes that appear on Slack as it’s loading (it’s a thing). It can be fun to have that unusable time filled with something delightful.

Well, this is kinda like that, except that it’s not appearing during a loading sequence, it’s just straight up thrown in the face of your visitors. Because we need to experiment, people!!!!!!!!!

For bonus points, only show this to folks who have the cookie set in example #2 – “The Website Login Hijack” cos they’re customers and might appreciate it.

To do this, I took a fun joke site called “Good Bad Jokes” and embedded a random joke into an iframe in a popup. Boom!

Fair warning, some of these jokes are a little NSFW.

Click here for your Joke Of The Day.


Now go back to the top and try the augmented reality example again, and then share it on your preferred social network because it’s awesome, and that’s an awesome way to do business!

Cheers my dears,
Oli

Read this article: 

5 Legitimately Cool Use Cases for Website Popups You’ve Never Considered (Includes Augmented Reality)

5 Mind-blowing Use Cases for Website Popups You’ve Never Considered (Includes Augmented Reality)

Okay, so perhaps only one of these use cases will blow your mind, but it’s worth risking being labeled as click-bait to get this in your hands. Read on for the coolest things you can do with website popups. Ever. Including augmented reality. Yup.

Example #1: The Augmented Reality Customer Postcard

Alright, people. Prepare to have your minds blown. This example comes from one of our designers, and chief hackers, at Unbounce, Luis Francisco.

Imagine the image below is a postcard you sent to your customers.

They visit the URL printed on it, and then this happens!

Watch me blow my own mind

Try it yourself

Note: This demo uses your laptop’s camera (it won’t work without one). Follow these instructions to see how it works!

  1. Print out the postcard image (opens in new tab)
  2. Open this landing page (opens in new tab)
  3. Grant access to your camera when asked by the browser.
  4. Hold the postcard in front of your camera to see the magic! (Stand a few feet back).

Example #2: The Website Login Hijack

35% of all visitors to Unbounce.com are only there to log in to the app. You read that correctly. Thirty-five percent. You can see the details in this GA screenshot from the month of January 2018.

This is an incredibly common thing for SaaS businesses, where customers will visit the homepage to click the login link. You’ll want to create a segment in Google Analytics for this, so you can remove it from your non-customer website behavior analysis.

It’s a huge opportunity for product marketing.

If you drop a cookie on your login screen that identifies the visitor as someone trying to log in, you can then use the cookie targeting built into Unbounce to target returning account holders with a website popup containing new product release info, along with a large login link that makes their experience even easier.

Click here or the image below to see an example popup.

Example #3: Social Referral Welcome

Are you doing as much as you can to convert your visitors from social? Probably not, but that’s okay. For this idea you can add an extra level of personalization by detecting the referring site (an Unbounce popup feature) and present a welcome experience relevant to that source.

You can take it a step further and have custom URL parameters on the social link that populate the popup with relevant content.

This is made possible by the Dynamic Text Replacement feature in Unbounce.

Check out the Tweet below. When I shared the blog post on Twitter, I added a URL parameter to the end of the URL so it reads:

https://postURL/?postTitle=“Maybe Later” - A New Interaction Model for E-commerce Entrance Popups

Try clicking the link in the Tweet. It will take you to our blog, and will show you a popup that’s only triggered when the referrer is Twitter (specifically a URL that contains t.co which is the Twitter URL shortener).

This is a really powerful way of connecting two previously disparate experiences, extending the information scent from one site to another. All without writing a single line of code.

Example #4: Preferred Social Network Share Request

If someone comes to you from twitter it’s a strong signal that Twitter is a social network of choice – or at least somewhere where they look for and respond to, socially shared content. As such you can give them a customized tweet ready for that network when they’ve demonstrated some engagement with your blog.

Using the referrer URL targeting option in Unbounce you can easily detect a visit from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. Which is what I showed you in the previous example.

You can use different triggers for this concept that are likely to be more indicative of someone who’s engaged with the post. I’d suggest the scroll trigger (either up or down), time delay, or exit.

The reason I like this approach is that most people have a preferred social network. Mine is Twitter. If you give me a specific task, such as “Would you share this on Twitter for me, please?” with a Tweet button and prepared Tweet text, I’m more likely to engage versus having 5 social share buttons at the side or bottom of the post with no instructions.

Click here or the image below to see this concept in a popup.

You’d then craft a really good Tweet, with text or links specific to this tactic so you can measure its impact.

BTW: the button in that popup is functional and will actually Tweet about this blog post. I’d really love a share from you, just so you know. Show the popup again so you can Tweet it.

Example #5: Joke of the Day

Let’s end the post with a fun one. I’m sure you’ve all seen those messages or jokes that appear on Slack as it’s loading (it’s a thing). It can be fun to have that unusable time filled with something delightful.

Well, this is kinda like that, except that it’s not appearing during a loading sequence, it’s just straight up thrown in the face of your visitors. Because we need to experiment, people!!!!!!!!!

For bonus points, only show this to folks who have the cookie set in example #2 – “The Website Login Hijack” cos they’re customers and might appreciate it.

To do this, I took Unbounce co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Carter Gilchrist’s pet project “Good Bad Jokes” and embedded a random joke into an iframe in a popup. Boom!

Fair warning, some of these jokes are a little NSFW.

Click here for your Joke Of The Day.


Now go back to the top and try the augmented reality example again, and then share it on your preferred social network because it’s awesome, and that’s an awesome way to do business!

Cheers my dears,
Oli

Original source – 

5 Mind-blowing Use Cases for Website Popups You’ve Never Considered (Includes Augmented Reality)

Changing On-Page Behavior with Sticky Navigation and Data-Driven Design

As an optimizer, there’s nothing that excites me more than using design to change on-page behavior. By “change”, I mean to positively influence visitors to achieve their (and your) goals more effectively, and sticky navigation is a great way to increase your odds of driving behavioral change.

The best way I know to design experiences that change on-page behavior is to use my Data-Driven Design (3D) framework to gather and observe available data, and use the Micro Metrics Method (3M) to guide design exploration.

This is what I’ll be showing you today by using sticky navigation on a long landing page and also on this blog post.

It’ll help you move around the content while secretly showing you the cool things you can do with Unbounce ;)


What is Data-Driven Design? (3D)

Data-Driven Design is an 8-step collaborative optimization process designed to help your marketing team work together to increase conversions, but more importantly, to develop empathy for your customers and your coworkers. It begins with The 3D Playbook, which is an interactive lookup table that helps narrow down the data types you should be looking at when trying to optimize your landing pages, websites, and more.

It looks like the screenshot below, and you can check it out at this link. The process for using it needs more explanation that I can give in this post, but I am doing a webinar at Marketing Optimization Week where I’ll cover it in depth.

One of the most important steps in the process is taking the observations we make looking at data (analytics, heatmaps, usability tests etc.), and working as a team to design solutions to each of the problems you observe. Measuring the impact that these design changes have is called the Micro Metric Method (3M).


What is the Micro Metrics Method? (3M)

When you make observations as a team (I recommend you include a designer, copywriter, and marketer), not only are the solutions better, but the collaborative nature helps with team/client/executive buy-in for the changes you’ll propose. You can see a session I ran recently below. We watched usability test videos and took notes about the observations we were making in a shared doc that is created for you as part of the 3D Playbook (when you choose a page element from the menu it will create a series of worksheets for you and your team – the instructions on the first page of the sheet explain how).

A marketing team following the Data-Driven Design process

A definition of micro metrics

A completed worksheet with observations, severity ratings, and those assigned as micro metrics

The design solution sketches the team came up with to solve the problems identified by the micro metrics


I’m actually giving my Data-Driven Design for Marketing Teams talk for Marketing Optimization Week, so you should definitely register for that and I’ll run you through the whole process. MOW is a 4-day event from Feb 20-23 and I’m on the last day.

How to Use Sticky Navigation to Change On-Page Behavior

I’ve set up a demo page that shows a long landing page with a sticky nav that I created using an Unbounce Sticky Bar with some CSS to hide the close button. The goal of sticky navigation is to increase the level of engagement with your page by presenting persistent options that explain what’s available on the page.

I really love this approach to landing page design, where it’s standard – and recommended – to not have navigation (that takes you away from the page). In particular, it’s great because it’s persistent. It scrolls with you so the opportunity for behaviorally interesting clicks doesn’t go away. What I mean by that is that there’s so much more data to collect when the navigation follows you down the page. When it’s fixed to the top of the page, you have very few opportunities beyond the very first click, to get a sense of which items trigger intent.

According to The 3D Playbook, for sticky navigation, we should first look at heatmap data and the click-through rate of each navigation link, as well as the primary call to action you have on your page.

In the Unbounce app, I used a sticky bar to create a navigation bar, assigning each link to the ID of a page element on the landing page that it would reside on.

Below is a screenshot of the sticky nav that shows up on every post of Product Awareness Month (except this one and one other where I’m demoing sticky bars). I’ll be sharing the data I collected from this, and a gazillion other data sources, in the end of month results show.

Sticky nav helps increase engagement with your content, bringing people further down the page to sections they may otherwise not see, and almost as importantly, it lets you measure what people ate interested in.

DEMO: How to Use Sticky Navigation to Increase Blog Engagement

You can click here to show a sticky nav on this blog post. I’ve set it up so that the nav links connect to different “chapters” of the post. It’s a great way to direct your readers, and also to gather valuable engagement data by looking at click heatmaps and analytics.

It’s very easy in Unbounce to duplicate a Sticky Bar and apply it to another page! Huzzah! Product awareness in action. Remember to click here to show the sticky nav.

Notice the CSS ID shown for the click target in the screenshot below (it says URL: “#register-for-mow”). This makes the nav link jump to the corresponding section of the blog post that I set up by adding an ID to a page element.

Sticky Nav in Unbounce: links to #register-for-mow

#register-for-mow as a target ID in the blog post

Do me a favour and click on the nav so I get some heat map data. It won’t be legitimate as I’m asking you to do it, but hey, shits and giggles amiright?

This post wandered a bit into a few directions, but I hope you got a sense for how I like to think about optimization, why sticky nav is awesome, and why we need more collaborative frameworks like Data-Driven Design.

Cheers
Oli


p.s. Register for Marketing Optimization Week to see 4 days of the most badass content including my Data-Driven Design framework, plus Larry Kim from Mobile Monkey, Dana DiTomaso form KickPoint, Purna Virji from Microsoft, David Gerhardt from Drift, and many more.

Taken from: 

Changing On-Page Behavior with Sticky Navigation and Data-Driven Design

4 Ways to Use Advanced Triggers & Targeting to Craft Delightful Popups

I’ve already talked at length about how to design more delightful popups by using The Delight Equation, and today I want to extend that concept by discussing the triggers and advanced targeting you can use to make popup experiences even better.

I think we’d all agree that showing a popup to your visitors on every visit is a bad idea. We can also agree that generic offers and untargeted messaging is a big turnoff.

That’s where triggers and targeting can make a big difference to the user experience.

Advanced Trigger and Targeting Matrix

Below, I’ve sketched out an interaction matrix leveraging the triggering and targeting features that Unbounce Popups & Sticky Bars can use. I’ve filled in a few ideas, and in the rest of today’s Product Awareness Month post I’ll explain how four of these concepts work, including some live demos because it’s really easy and fun to do with Unbounce.

Fair warning. Some of these ideas are a little “out there”. However, I find that being a little ridiculous helps unlock your creativity. And we all need a little more creativity in our marketing.

Use Case #1: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA)

Trigger: Entrance, Timed, or Scroll Up
Targeting: URL

This is a great way to learn about the intentions of your visitors.

We’ve been running experiments on our “What is a Landing Page?” page to figure out what people want to do when they arrive. interesting. On that page, I asked the question “What are your landing page needs?” providing three options (each with their own next step CTA):

I’ll be sharing complete results from this experiment at the end of the month.

CYOA Demos

Pro Tip: You can attach a parameter to a URL (?ttdemo1 for instance) which lets you use URL targeting to only show the popup in that instance. Because I want to keep you on this page, I’m just going to provide three links that reload this page, but with individual URL parameters.

  1. Entrance trigger demo
    with URL parameter targeting ?ttdemo1
  2. Scroll Up trigger demo
    with URL parameter targeting ?ttdemo2
  3. Time Delay trigger demo
    with URL parameter targeting ?ttdemo3

To set this up, I simply duplicated the first popup twice, and set the URL targeting and trigger options appropriately.

What’s even cooler is that because I used the URL targeting for any Unbounce.com URL that contains ?ttdemo1, the experience can be shown to anyone, via any link, just by appending the URL parameter. Like this link to our homepage. #mindblownmuch?

Scroll Up and Time Delay are good triggers to use to capture the attention of people who may not have found what they’re looking for. Like U2. Scroll Up is great for mobile as it’s a little bit like an exit signal on desktop.

Make sure you track these pathways in Google Analytics and stick a heat map on the page (I use Hotjar) so you can get a simple visual of where people are clicking. This is one of the original click maps for “What is a Landing Page?”.

Once you’ve learned something about your visitors’ needs you can start making changes to the page to reflect that. I’ll be digging into a concept I’m calling “No-Touch CRO” next week, which has more examples of how you can use Popups and Sticky Bars to learn about your visitors without having to change your site.

Use Case #2: You Didn’t See My Most Valuable Page (MVP)

Trigger: Exit
Targeting: Cookie

Every website has pages that we consider critical to the conversion experience. For you, it might be the features page, the pricing page, or the homepage. It could even be a blog post that’s particularly good at convincing people to sign up.

How dare someone come to your site without visiting your favorite pages! Let’s be realistic though, not everyone has the time, inclination, motivation, or easily identifiable path to get to where you want them to go.

I’m calling this use case “You didn’t see my MVP!” – as it’s designed to at least make sure they’re given an opportunity to see your magic content.

This is how it works:

  1. Drop a cookie on your most valueable page (MVP).
  2. Set up a Popup or Sticky Bar to fire on exit when the MVP cookie is NOT present.

Pretty simple right?

MVP Demo **Desktop Only**

Follow these instructions to see a demo. It’s desktop only because you can trigger an exit popup on a phone.

  1. Click here
    To reload this page adding a URL parameter ?ttdemomvp.
  2. Trigger the exit popup
    Move your mouse out of the browser as if you are going to close it.
  3. Click the button on the popup to visit the MVP page
    The cookie will be set on that page.
  4. Click the back button to return to this page
  5. Refresh this page and try to trigger the exit popup
    Now that the cookie has been set the popup won’t fire, as we’ve already seen your high-converting content.

Use Case #3: Maybe Later

Trigger: Entrance + Click
Targeting: URL + Cookie

“Maybe Later” is one of my favorite concepts to come out of this month’s exploration. You can read the full post about it here, and I’ll provide the elevator pitch below.

“Maybe Later” is a Solution to Increase Engagement and Reduce Frustration

As you can see in the sketch above, instead of the now classic YES/NO popup “Maybe Later” includes a third option called, you guessed it, “Maybe Later”.

It’s more than just a third button, here’s how it works:

  1. The popup appears when you enter the site. You can choose “No” to get rid of it, “Yes” to take advantage of it, or “Maybe Later” to register your interest but get it out of your way.
  2. When you click “Maybe Later” a cookie is set to log your interest.
  3. Now while you are browsing the rest of the site, a Sticky Bar – targeted at the cookie that was set – appears at the bottom (or top) of the page, with a more subtle reminder of the offer, so that you know it there and ready if you decide to take advantage of it.
  4. If you decide against the offer, you can click “No thanks” on the Sticky Bar, the cookie is deleted, and the offer is hidden for good.

The core purpose of this idea is to put the control back with the shopper while creating an effective method for the retailer to engage with you, with your permission.

“Maybe Later” Demo

Follow these instructions and you’ll see “Maybe Later” in action:

Please note: the demo is desktop only right now.

  1. Visit this page (opens in new window).
  2. Click the “Maybe Later” button and the popup will close.
  3. Refresh that page and you’ll see a Sticky Bar with the same offer appear at the bottom.
  4. Come back to this page.
  5. Refresh this page and you’ll see the Sticky Bar here too.
  6. Click “No thanks” to get rid of it when you’ve had enough :D

Use Case #4: Location Redirect

Trigger: Entrance
Targeting: URL + Location

It’s common for e-commerce businesses to have localized websites like amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk etc. But sometimes you need to redirect people to the correct country because the link they clicked is coming from an affiliate (or other) that’s only pointing to the US domain.

The simplest way to handle this scenario is to create a popup that combines an entrance trigger with URL and Geo Location targeting.

You can then target a “We have a Canadian Store, Eh! Wanna go there instead?” message on the U.S. site to visitors who’s location is in Canada.

I created two popups. One to be shown to Canadians, and one to the rest of the world using the location targeting settings.

Click here to see the popup. If you’re in Canada you’ll see a redirect popup, and if you’re anywhere else you’ll see a “Continue to the U.S. store” popup.

And here’s a video of me VPN’ing to New York to show how the popup changes.

There are so many ways you can combine triggers, targeting, and frequency to create popup experiences that treat your visitors with relevance and respect. If you have any cool combos that you’re using, please chuck ’em into the comments so we can discuss how they work.

Cheers
Oli

p.s. Don’t forget to give the 30-day trial of Unbounce a go. You get landing pages, popups, and sticky bars all included in your plan.

Read this article – 

4 Ways to Use Advanced Triggers & Targeting to Craft Delightful Popups

4 Ways to Use Advanced Triggers and Targeting to Craft Delightful Popups

I’ve already talked at length about how to design more delightful popups by using The Delight Equation, and today I want to extend that concept by discussing the triggers and advanced targeting you can use to make popup experiences even better.

I think we’d all agree that showing a popup to your visitors on every visit is a bad idea. We can also agree that generic offers and untargeted messaging is a big turnoff.

That’s where triggers and targeting can make a big difference to the user experience.

Advanced Trigger and Targeting Matrix

Below, I’ve sketched out an interaction matrix leveraging the triggering and targeting features that Unbounce Popups & Sticky Bars can use. I’ve filled in a few ideas, and in the rest of today’s Product Awareness Month post I’ll explain how four of these concepts work, including some live demos because it’s really easy and fun to do with Unbounce.

Fair warning. Some of these ideas are a little “out there”. However, I find that being a little ridiculous helps unlock your creativity. And we all need a little more creativity in our marketing.

Use Case #1: Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA)

Trigger: Entrance, Timed, or Scroll Up
Targeting: URL

This is a great way to learn about the intentions of your visitors.

We’ve been running experiments on our “What is a Landing Page?” page to figure out what people want to do when they arrive. interesting. On that page, I asked the question “What are your landing page needs?” providing three options (each with their own next step CTA):

I’ll be sharing complete results from this experiment at the end of the month.

CYOA Demos

Pro Tip: You can attach a parameter to a URL (?ttdemo1 for instance) which lets you use URL targeting to only show the popup in that instance. Because I want to keep you on this page, I’m just going to provide three links that reload this page, but with individual URL parameters.

  1. Entrance trigger demo
    with URL parameter targeting ?ttdemo1
  2. Scroll Up trigger demo
    with URL parameter targeting ?ttdemo2
  3. Time Delay trigger demo
    with URL parameter targeting ?ttdemo3

To set this up, I simply duplicated the first popup twice, and set the URL targeting and trigger options appropriately.

What’s even cooler is that because I used the URL targeting for any Unbounce.com URL that contains ?ttdemo1, the experience can be shown to anyone, via any link, just by appending the URL parameter. Like this link to our homepage. #mindblownmuch?

Scroll Up and Time Delay are good triggers to use to capture the attention of people who may not have found what they’re looking for. Like U2. Scroll Up is great for mobile as it’s a little bit like an exit signal on desktop.

Make sure you track these pathways in Google Analytics and stick a heat map on the page (I use Hotjar) so you can get a simple visual of where people are clicking. This is one of the original click maps for “What is a Landing Page?”.

Once you’ve learned something about your visitors’ needs you can start making changes to the page to reflect that. I’ll be digging into a concept I’m calling “No-Touch CRO” next week, which has more examples of how you can use Popups and Sticky Bars to learn about your visitors without having to change your site.

Use Case #2: You Didn’t See My Most Valuable Page (MVP)

Trigger: Exit
Targeting: Cookie

Every website has pages that we consider critical to the conversion experience. For you, it might be the features page, the pricing page, or the homepage. It could even be a blog post that’s particularly good at convincing people to sign up.

How dare someone come to your site without visiting your favorite pages! Let’s be realistic though, not everyone has the time, inclination, motivation, or easily identifiable path to get to where you want them to go.

I’m calling this use case “You didn’t see my MVP!” – as it’s designed to at least make sure they’re given an opportunity to see your magic content.

This is how it works:

  1. Drop a cookie on your most valueable page (MVP).
  2. Set up a Popup or Sticky Bar to fire on exit when the MVP cookie is NOT present.

Pretty simple right?

MVP Demo **Desktop Only**

Follow these instructions to see a demo. It’s desktop only because you can trigger an exit popup on a phone.

  1. Click here
    To reload this page adding a URL parameter ?ttdemomvp.
  2. Trigger the exit popup
    Move your mouse out of the browser as if you are going to close it.
  3. Click the button on the popup to visit the MVP page
    The cookie will be set on that page.
  4. Click the back button to return to this page
  5. Refresh this page and try to trigger the exit popup
    Now that the cookie has been set the popup won’t fire, as we’ve already seen your high-converting content.

Use Case #3: Maybe Later

Trigger: Entrance + Click
Targeting: URL + Cookie

“Maybe Later” is one of my favorite concepts to come out of this month’s exploration. You can read the full post about it here, and I’ll provide the elevator pitch below.

“Maybe Later” is a Solution to Increase Engagement and Reduce Frustration

As you can see in the sketch above, instead of the now classic YES/NO popup “Maybe Later” includes a third option called, you guessed it, “Maybe Later”.

It’s more than just a third button, here’s how it works:

  1. The popup appears when you enter the site. You can choose “No” to get rid of it, “Yes” to take advantage of it, or “Maybe Later” to register your interest but get it out of your way.
  2. When you click “Maybe Later” a cookie is set to log your interest.
  3. Now while you are browsing the rest of the site, a Sticky Bar – targeted at the cookie that was set – appears at the bottom (or top) of the page, with a more subtle reminder of the offer, so that you know it there and ready if you decide to take advantage of it.
  4. If you decide against the offer, you can click “No thanks” on the Sticky Bar, the cookie is deleted, and the offer is hidden for good.

The core purpose of this idea is to put the control back with the shopper while creating an effective method for the retailer to engage with you, with your permission.

“Maybe Later” Demo

Follow these instructions and you’ll see “Maybe Later” in action:

Please note: the demo is desktop only right now.

  1. Visit this page (opens in new window).
  2. Click the “Maybe Later” button and the popup will close.
  3. Refresh that page and you’ll see a Sticky Bar with the same offer appear at the bottom.
  4. Come back to this page.
  5. Refresh this page and you’ll see the Sticky Bar here too.
  6. Click “No thanks” to get rid of it when you’ve had enough :D

Use Case #4: Location Redirect

Trigger: Entrance
Targeting: URL + Location

It’s common for e-commerce businesses to have localized websites like amazon.com/amazon.ca/amazon.co.uk etc. But sometimes you need to redirect people to the correct country because the link they clicked is coming from an affiliate (or other) that’s only pointing to the US domain.

The simplest way to handle this scenario is to create a popup that combines an entrance trigger with URL and Geo Location targeting.

You can then target a “We have a Canadian Store, Eh! Wanna go there instead?” message on the U.S. site to visitors who’s location is in Canada.

I created two popups. One to be shown to Canadians, and one to the rest of the world using the location targeting settings.

Click here to see the popup. If you’re in Canada you’ll see a redirect popup, and if you’re anywhere else you’ll see a “Continue to the U.S. store” popup.

And here’s a video of me VPN’ing to New York to show how the popup changes.

There are so many ways you can combine triggers, targeting, and frequency to create popup experiences that treat your visitors with relevance and respect. If you have any cool combos that you’re using, please chuck ’em into the comments so we can discuss how they work.

Cheers
Oli

p.s. Don’t forget to give the 30-day trial of Unbounce a go. You get landing pages, popups, and sticky bars all included in your plan.

View the original here – 

4 Ways to Use Advanced Triggers and Targeting to Craft Delightful Popups

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[Mobile] How to Turn Your Blog Posts Into a Mobile App Experience – Using Sticky Bars

With so much of your traffic coming from people’s phones, it’s essential that we start to craft exceptional mobile experiences. This means going beyond simple responsive design if you’re going to create a superior mobile UX (user experience) that stands out from your competition.

IMPORTANT: Use your phone to read this post – it’s designed as a mobile experience.

***Click here to show a mobile nav bar***. The concept here is to use a nav bar with icons, to turn this blog post into an app-like mobile user experience. Click the nav buttons to move up and down the blog post on your phone and you’ll get a sense of how the experience has changed from a regular blog post reading experience.

You can use this technique with landing pages, blog posts, or anywhere you want to create a mobile app experience.

For those reading on desktop, this is what you’ll see at the bottom of your mobile browser.


Why Do Landing Pages (and Your Blog) Need Good Mobile UX?

When a landing page or blog post is long, there will most likely be a small percentage of visitors who will actually read the whole thing. You can increase engagement, and make a better experience if you guide people to the most important chapters or segments of the content.

***Click here to show the mobile nav bar***.

To achieve this you can use a navigation bar with clearly labeled sections that are not only helpful but and also feels like you’re inside an app native to your phone.


Turning Your Landing Page into an App-Like Mobile Experience with Unbounce Sticky Bars – in 4 Simple Steps

I’ve set it up so there are 4 main sections in the blog post that you can navigate to using the sticky app nav. So go ahead and click the nav icons to jump to each of the four steps you can follow to add this experience to your own landing pages and blog posts.


Step #1 – Create a Sticky Bar With Retina-Grade Icons

I created a sticky bar with four icons. To make them retina I made them with a width of 160px and a height of 130px, and shrank them to 80×65 in the Unbounce builder. To do this, I added 4 boxes and set the background style to be “Image” and “Background to fit container”. Then I added a fully transparent button above each of the images (because boxes don’t have a link action) to link to each of the 4 page sections.


Step #2 – Add Anchor Links and Sections

You can do this by setting the link action of the icons to point to a page element ID. For instance, the horizontal rule (line) that appears above step #2, has an ID of “section2”. In Unbounce this looks like the settings below. Note that the target of the link is set to “Parent Frame” as the Sticky Bar is set in an iframe above the page.


Step #3 – Hide the Close Button with CSS

As with many hacks that I’ve come up with for Product Awareness Month, this one requires that we hide the “Close” button that is part of the Sticky Bar functionality. When your Sticky Bar is used for promotional purposes it’s important that people can close it. But when you’re creating a navigational experience, the bar becomes part of the interface, and we need it to be always present.

To do this, you need to add a line of CSS to the landing page or blog that you want it to appear on. Note: this is not an official Unbounce feature, so your best bet for geeking out with functionality will be in the Unbounce community.

.ub-emb-iframe-wrapper .ub-emb-close visibility: hidden;

Step #4 – Look at Your Phone and Say Hells Yeah!

I can’t state enough how much I think this is a better mobile experience, so please give it a try and join the conversation in the comments (or ping me on Twitter).

Cheers
Oli

Taken from – 

[Mobile] How to Turn Your Blog Posts Into a Mobile App Experience – Using Sticky Bars

Product Marketing Lessons Learned: An Interview with Shopify’s Hana Abaza [Video]

Hana Abaza runs the marketing show over at Shopify Plus, the enterprise arm of e-commerce software giant Shopify. In the interview, we unpack some of the ways they’re increasing product awareness and adoption of a new product – including the genesis of the idea for Shopify Plus, and some product marketing lessons learned.

We also talk about MacGyvering, crazy startup ideas, and a ton of resources you can use for your own product marketing efforts.

Watch My Interview with Hana Abaza on Product Marketing Lessons Learned

Show Notes

Here are all the resources we talked about:

  1. 09:03 Jobs to be Done (JTBD) Framework | Framework
  2. 15:45 Product adoption tips
    Some of Hana’s presentation slides.
  3. 18:00 Partner Marketing
    How Shopify leveraged their partners to create content to influence organic search for a new product.
  4. 20:08 Marketing a product with no pricing on your website
    Is it harder or easier to market an enterprise product when you only have a demo request?
  5. 24:10 Who does product marketing well?
  6. 25:15 First Round Capital Interview with Joanna Lord
  7. 27:14 Intercom Product Marketing
  8. 30:13 MacGyvering
  9. 31:10 Who would Hana take to a deserted island?
    The Unpublished David Ogilvy.
  10. 33:50 Hana’s favourite dad joke
    What do you call cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho Cheese!

Cheers
Oli Gardner

Get back here on Monday where I’ll be showing you how to use Sticky Bars to craft really cool mobile user experiences.

See the original post: 

Product Marketing Lessons Learned: An Interview with Shopify’s Hana Abaza [Video]