All posts by Amanda Durepos

New to the Unbounce Builder: 10 Data-Backed, Industry-Specific Landing Page Templates

When Unbounce published our Conversion Benchmark Report, we wanted to empower marketers like us to take a more data-driven approach to optimizing their landing pages.

The report documents our findings after using machine learning to analyze the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages belonging to 10 of our most popular customer industries.

For each industry, the report summarizes average (and good and bad) conversion rates, and how certain variables — such as reading ease, page length and emotion — impact how likely a prospect is to convert.

Our hope was that these findings would help marketers make data-informed decisions when writing copy for their landing pages. But at Unbounce, we also like to eat our own dog food.

So when our design team was recently wireframing new landing page templates for the Unbounce builder, they looked to the report (and to commonalities between the 10 highest converting customer landing pages in each industry) to inform design decisions.

The result?

10 brand spankin’ new landing page templates for 10 of our most popular customer industries: Travel, Real Estate, Business Consulting, Business Services, Credit & Lending, Health, Higher Education, Home Improvement, Legal and Vocational Studies & Job Training.

Grab the report (which includes full benchmarks and copy recommendations for your industry) below, or keep reading for a sneak peek at five of our 10 new templates (check them all out here).

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)

By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

Business Services: Harbor Template

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report uses an Emotion Lexicon and Machine Learning to determine whether words associated with eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) affect overall conversion rates.

In the Business Services industry, Unbounce data scientists found that trust is an important emotion to convey. In fact, if more than 8% of your language implies trust, you could see some improvement in your conversion rates.

To complement trustworthy copy, Unbounce designers added a section to the Business Services Harbor Template to flaunt relevant trust seals and certifications, directly under the CTA. It also includes a pretty aesthetically pleasing optional video background:

And here’s one more data-backed copywriting tip for the road:

Be as concise as you can. Overall, Unbounce data scientists found that pages with fewer than 100 words convert 50% better than those with more than 500 words.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how word count is related to conversion rates for the Business Services industry. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Business Consulting: Marconato Consulting Template

You’ll notice the landing page template below that Unbounce designers created is quite short.

That’s because Unbounce data scientists found that every additional 250 words on a Business Consulting industry landing page correlates with 20% lower conversion rates.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how word count is related to conversion rates for the Business Consulting industry. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

You’ll notice that the template is a lead generation page offering an incentive such as an ebook. Our designers made this decision because they found that the top 10 highest converting Business Consulting landing pages they analyzed offered content instead of simply inviting visitors to “get in touch.”

One more thing to keep in mind when writing copy for this template?

Using any words that might evoke feelings of disgust in your audience (words like “blame,” “cheat,” “collapse,” “disaster,” and “offend”) could be hurting your conversion rates.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes disgust is related to conversion rates for the Business consulting industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to disgust — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Real Estate: ALLHËR Template

When Unbounce designers analyzed the 10 highest converting customer landing pages in the Real Estate industry, they found (unsurprisingly) that the pages were chock full of imagery: beautiful hero shots of the interior and exterior of properties, maps, full-width photography backgrounds and floor plans.

They took a cue from this when creating the visually striking ALLHËR Template:

And just because we like ya, here’s a bonus tip to keep in mind when you’re writing copy for your Real Estate landing page:

Unbounce data scientists saw a slight negative trend for pages in the Real Estate industry using more fear-inducing terms.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes fear is related to conversion rates for the Real Estate industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to fear — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

If more than half a percent of your copy evokes feelings of fear, you could be hurting your conversion rates.

Here are some words commonly associated with fear on Real Estate lead capture landing pages: highest, fire, problem, watch, change, confidence, mortgage, eviction, cash, risk… (See the full list in the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.)

Travel: Wayfaring Template

For the Travel Industry, Unbounce designers once again created a template that is quite visually striking, with a video background that transports you:

The emphasis on imagery in this template isn’t only a design choice; Unbounce data scientists found that in the Travel industry, landing pages with clear and concise language tend to perform best.

The large images complement the minimal copy boxes, which encourage you to explain what you are offering as simply as possible.

And here’s one final bonus copywriting tip, pulled straight from the Conversion Benchmark Report:

When writing copy for the Travel industry, keep language positive. If even just 1% of page copy subconsciously reminds your visitors of feelings of anger or fear, you could be seeing up to 25% lower conversion rates. No one wants to be angry on their vacation!

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes anger is related to conversion rates for the Travel industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to anger — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Here’s a selection of commonly used words associated with anger in Travel, pulled from the Emotion Lexicon: limited, tree, money, hot, desert, endless, challenge, treat, fee, feeling, rail, stone, bear, buffet, lynch, bang, cash, cross, despair, shooting.

Higher Education: McGillis University Template

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report indicates that for the Higher Education industry, the highest converting lead generation landing pages are short and sweet.

On average, pages using 125 words or less have 15% higher conversion rates. With this in mind, Unbounce designers created a short but punchy McGillis University Template for the Higher Education industry:

Bonus data-backed tip to help you fill this template with high-converting copy:

Higher Education is one of the few industries where targeting college educated reading levels has similar landing page conversion rates to copy targeting 7th graders.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how reading ease is related to conversion rates for the Higher Education industry. On the x-axis we have the Flesch Reading Ease scale — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

At the end of the day, when you’re writing copy for your Higher University landing page, don’t stress about reading levels too much — if you are communicating complicated concepts to a highly educated audience, it’s okay to use big words.

Let the data guide you

There you have it, five of the 10 data-backed templates that have just been launched in the Unbounce builder. Do you belong to an industry that wasn’t covered in this post? Check out all Unbounce templates here.

Once you’ve chosen the template you’d like to use to get started, read more data-backed copywriting tips for your industry in the Conversion Benchmark Report — and get a feel for what a “good” conversion rate is before you set that baby live!

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)

By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

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New to the Unbounce Builder: 10 Data-Backed, Industry-Specific Landing Page Templates

Data-Backed Advice for High-Converting Real Estate Landing Page Design [+ FREE TEMPLATE]

You’re designing a landing page for your Real Estate client, and you turn to “best practice” advice articles to help guide the way.

But there’s a nagging voice at the back of your mind:

Does this “best practice” advice apply indiscriminately to my industry? Does this author really know anything about my audience at all?

“Best practices” become “better practices” when they are industry-specific.

When our design team was recently wireframing new landing page templates for the Unbounce builder, they set out to create industry-specific templates that addressed this truth: different audiences belonging to different industries behave differently. They have different pains, different motivators and different disincentives.

Firm believers that data needs to inform design, our design team sourced their research in two key areas:

  1. Data from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report: The report includes average conversion rates for 10 popular industries, as well as Machine Learning-powered recommendations around reading ease, page length, emotion and sentiment.
  2. High-converting customer landing pages: Our designers looked at the top 10 highest-converting Unbounce landing pages in those industries, and analyzed common design and copy elements across the pages.

Our design team then combined insight from these two key areas of research to build out content and design requirements for the best possible landing page template for each of the 10 industries.

One of these industries was Real Estate, and now we want to share their findings with you.

See a breakdown of their process for designing the Real Estate page template at the bottom of this post, or read on for their key findings about what converts in the Real Estate industry.

Which copy elements convert best in the Real Estate industry?

Word count

The data scientists and conversion rate optimizers who put together the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report found that for Real Estate lead capture landing pages, short n’ sweet is better: overall, they saw 33% lower conversion rates for longer landing pages.

This chart shows how the word count relates to conversion rates for the Real Estate vertical. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

This was consistent with what the design team saw across high-converting Unbounce customer landing pages in Real Estate: pages were relatively short with concise, to-the-point copy.

Reading ease

The Unbounce Convert Benchmark Report also revealed that in the Real Estate vertical, prospects want simple and accessible language. The predicted conversion rate for a landing page written with 6th grade level language was nearly double that of a page written at the university level.

This chart shows how conversion rates trend with changes to reading ease for the Real Estate Industry. On the x-axis we have the Flesch Reading Ease score — on the y-axis, conversion rate.
According to the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report, 41.6% of marketers in the Real Estate industry have at least one page that converts at less than 1.3% (in the 25th percentile for this industry). Download the report here to see the full data story on Real Estate and get recommendations for copy, sentiment, page length and more for nine additional industries.

Fear-inducing language

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report used an Emotion Lexicon and Machine Learning to determine whether words associated with eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) affected overall conversion rates.

While these emotions did not seem to dramatically correlate with conversion rate in the Real Estate vertical, fear-based language was the exception. We saw a slight negative trend for pages using more fear-inducing terms:

This chart shows how the percentage of copy that evokes fear is related to conversion rates for the Real Estate vertical. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to fear — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

If more than half a percent of your copy evokes feelings of fear, you could be hurting your conversion rates.

Here are some words commonly associated with fear on Real Estate lead capture landing pages: highest, fire, problem, watch, change, confidence, mortgage, eviction, cash, risk…

See the full list in the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.

Calls to action

When our designers looked at the top 10 highest-converting Unbounce customer landing pages in the Real Estate vertical, they took a close look at the calls to action and found that:

  • Every page provided a detailed description of the offer
  • Almost all had a “request a call back” or “call us” option (other CTAs included “get more info,” “apply now” and “get the pricelist”)
  • Most did an excellent job of including button copy that reinforces what prospects get by submitting the form
If you use a “call us” CTA on your landing pages, make sure you try out our CallRail integration. This will help you track which calls are a result of your paid spend and landing pages!

Here are some examples of the forms and calls to action on some of our highest-converting Real Estate lead capture landing pages:

The usual suspects (benefits, social proof, UVP…)

Without much exception, the pages featured a lot of the copywriting elements that one would expect to see on any high-converting landing page (regardless of vertical):

  • Detailed benefits listed as bullet points
  • A tagline that reinforces the unique value proposition or speaks to a pain point:
  • And not surprisingly, testimonials. One page went above and beyond with a video testimonial:

Which design elements convert best in the Real Estate industry?

The highest-converting Real Estate landing pages included lots of imagery:

  • Beautiful hero shots of the interior and exterior of properties
  • Maps
  • Full-width photography backgrounds
  • Floor plans

Some examples:

Our designers also studied other design features as basic guidelines for the template they were then going to create.

While these specifics are meant to be taken with a grain of salt (you may already have brand colors and fonts!) they could serve as a good starting point if you’re starting completely from scratch and want to know what others are up to.

Many of the high-converting pages had:

  • San-serif fonts
  • Palettes of deep navy and forest green
  • Orange (contrasting) call to action buttons
The highest-converting landing pages in the Real Estate industry sit at 11.2%. If your Real Estate page converts at over 8.7%, you’re beating 90% of your competitors’ pages. See the breakdown of median and top conversion rates (and where you stand!) via the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.

Behold, the template our designers created

After synthesizing all that research, our Senior Art Director Cesar Martínez took to his studio (okay, his desk), and drafted up this beautiful Real Estate landing page template:

Not only is the template beautiful, it was created by analyzing actual data: what makes for a high-performing landing page in the Real Estate industry via the Unbounce Benchmark Report and high-converting customer pages.

Footnote: The design process

Curious about the process our designers used to develop this data-backed Real Estate landing page template? Here are the steps they followed:

  1. For the 10 highest-converting customer landing pages, they analyzed all common elements (such as form, what type of information is collected, what type of offer, if there are any testimonials, etc). This allowed them to build their content requirements.
  2. They referred to the word count recommendations in the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report and designed for that word count limit.
  3. They referred to reading ease level recommendations for that specific industry from the Benchmark Report and shared the information with their copywriter.
  4. They sketched out a rough idea of their potential landing page template.
  5. They selected typography and colors relevant to the industry based on what was popular in the 10 examples.
  6. They named their imaginary company in the industry and sketched out some potential logos. They picked photography built out a moodboard.
  7. That helped them gather all the information they needed to build out their template!

See the article here: 

Data-Backed Advice for High-Converting Real Estate Landing Page Design [+ FREE TEMPLATE]

Future-Proof Your Marketing with Call to Action Magazine

The Call to Action Magazine
A good marketer is like a doomsday prepper (bear with me here…)

Instead of preparing for a global cataclysm, learning about water storage and building bunkers, they’re constantly on the lookout for ways they can proof their marketing for, or get ahead of, inevitable and dramatic changes to the marketing landscape.

Frequent and mysterious algorithm changes. New ad platform features. Emerging trends, dying fads. Amidst all this, only marketers who understand these new conditions — then adapt and innovate within them — will see exponential returns.

At Unbounce, we’ve been really lucky to have a network of expert marketers around to ask about the always-changing marketing landscape. We can turn to forward-thinking strategists like Mirum’s Mitch Joel, Moz’s Rand Fishkin, Love Your Customer’s Claire Suellentrop, and even our in-house-experts, like Alexa Hubley, Carl Schmidt and CRO Michael Aagaard. We ask them things like:

  • What does the ever-increasing prominence of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning mean for marketers and their jobs?
  • Are “tried-and-true” frameworks like the buyer persona still relevant, or are there new ways of digging deeper to speak more closely to my target market?
  • Have traditional SEO tactics become completely outdated? Why are the most successful SEOs now becoming well versed in conversion rate optimization?
  • How can you use data to inform your marketing without letting personal biases get in the way?
  • Should marketing stop after the conversion? (Or is customer marketing where it’s at?)

These are questions we’ve seen tossed around recently in our newsfeeds and at conferences.

So we set out to help answer them.

In Call to Action Magazine, we aim to address these questions and dig into some of the recommendations the experts in our network have shared — those that will help you create exceptional marketing no matter what new algorithm comes along.

So, what do you say? Do you want to get lost in the rubble… or do you want to learn how you can future-proof your marketing?

Ready to Future-Proof Your Marketing?

Call to Action Magazine is filled with recommendations from marketing experts to help your marketing thrive — no matter what algorithm gets changed tomorrow.
By accessing the magazine, you’ll receive actionable marketing content from Unbounce. 
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Link: 

Future-Proof Your Marketing with Call to Action Magazine

Mitch Joel on Why Agencies Should Care About Finding Their Unique Voice [INTERVIEW]

Move over Don Draper, the modern day agency marketer needs to be more of a Renaissance (wo)man.

Sure, they need to be creative enough to craft a compelling pitch.

But they also need to be data-driven. They need to be well versed in analytics and the latest MarTech trends. And when budgets get tight, agency marketers need to be able to convince their clients to not cut out conversion rate optimization.

Few people know this better than Mitch Joel, president of Mirum, a global digital marketing agency operating in 20 different countries. Mitch is a best-selling business author, international speaker and agency thought leader. But he’s also a full-stack marketer who has been doing display advertising for longer than Google itself.

Mitch Joel, president of global digital agency Mirum and author of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.Image source.

Since Mitch entered the digital marketing world, a helluvalot has changed — and not just in agencyland. As technology evolves, so too are consumers and the way they interact with our brands. At the Call to Action Conference in June, Mitch’s keynote, Algorhythm: How Technology Connects Consumers To Brands Like Never Before, will dive into how to future-proof your brand and embrace disruption to become a digital leader.

Ugh, why can’t it be June already?

To tide you over, here’s a fascinating interview with Mitch from the Call to Action Podcast. Unbounce Director of Content Dan Levy sat down with Mitch to discuss:

  • How the agency world has evolved over the past 15 years.
  • Mitch’s experience selling his independent agency to WPP, the largest advertising company in the world.
  • How everything from search results to PPC and even the talent you hire for your agency are all extensions of your brand.

Check out some highlights from the interview below. (This transcript has been edited for length. Listen to the full episode on iTunes.)

Dan Levy: You’re known as a bestselling business author, speaker and agency thought leader, but you got your start in the online marketing trenches doing ad sales and even PPC marketing for a site called Mamma.com. Can you take us back to that time? What did the online marketing landscape look like and what did you learn from that experience?

Mitch Joel: Actually, yes, I did do that. But my start in digital came much earlier when I was publishing music magazines in the late 80s and early 90s. I actually was tangentially at the same time very engaged in digital media: first web browser, BBSs, stuff like that. And I actually put those magazines on the “internet” — like air quote internet — because back then, there wasn’t even really an internet.

I remember one of the cover stories for my alternative, cool, fun publication was called, “The Net.” The innovation at that time was hyperlinks. I literally was posting things on the internet from the magazine that couldn’t have hyperlinks. You couldn’t link from one page to the other. That really kept me on the trajectory where eventually I helped launch the sales channel of what at the time was one of the largest meta search engines on the internet. And again, it’s hard to imagine a world before Google. But this was pre-Google. And so the meta search engine would basically grab search results from engines like Yahoo, AOL, Lycos, and create a meta — or a better — search result that we could actually aggregate faster.

My role back then was selling sponsorships on the homepage, it was selling banner advertising. And it was also very early days of selling — literally the first time of being able to take a search result and having a banner that’s related to the search show up in the search result. And to tell you how early and nascent it was, I had to physically go into the code of the search engine to code the banner in. I don’t recommend that in this day in age. Like I don’t think anyone at Google is going into the master code to embed a search result. But that’s how early the times were back then.

DL: Wow. What did you learn from that experience that you brought forth?

MJ: Well I learned to take chances. I can tell you that when they approached me about the opportunity, my first question was, “What’s online advertising?” I mean, we are talking about a time when that first banner ad on HotWired — which became Wired — had just run.

The first banner ad, ever. Image source: Wired.

I didn’t even know what it looked like, what it felt like, what it could be. I think my pedigree in selling traditional print ads and having a construct of what it means to run a media company is what pushed me there. So it was — to this day, it was a great move. And I’m so grateful, I still have a lot of friends in my life now who came from there. A lot of people who’ve become — who’ve ascended in this industry to run major, major web initiatives are people that I hired. People that I brought into the industry. So I have a lot of pride in that.

And I also learned that — again, when I think about it, I don’t know why I took the job. All logic would dictate that at the time, I should not have taken that job. But I took the job and it wound up being great for me because it brought together what I was doing professionally on one side. And on the other side, it brought together my passion for digital. I often say that I was very early into many things. And when we started Mirum, which back then was Twist Image in 2000 (I joined in 2002). At that point in my career I said, even though I might be a little early in this space, I’m going to ride it out.

DL: Performance marketing and brand marketing are often seen as being on different sides of the digital marketing spectrum. Do you think that’s true? Do you see those two disciplines as coming closer together in an age where Facebook has gone from a social media network to just another performance marketing channel?

MJ: I think you’re right. The evolution — and by the way, Google structured themselves — for a long while, and they may still — around brand and performance. And that’s common. Where I think the confusion comes from is that within real behavioral performance-based marketing, there are heavy and hefty lifting around brand and experience that we often dismiss because we think that performance is still about getting the right search word, getting them to the right page.

But actually if you step back from that, the meta message is that it has to be a very relevant and cohesive brand experience. And I was somebody who wasn’t just buying generic brand keywords back in the day, to just keep that going. I actually believe that — a saying I’ve used since the early 2000s is that the first page of search results is a brand experience.


You can’t separate PPC & brand marketing. The 1st page of search is part of your brand…
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So there’s that. That sort of dismisses the idea that performance is not about branding. And you’re right — fast forwarding to today, a lot of my clients and a lot of people I meet when I do speaking events will say that social media is primarily a paid channel, because of what Facebook has done to throttle the content and have you pay against reach. Which I think by the way is a great model and clearly the market would agree with that idea.

But you can’t have any results — whether you’re paying for it or it’s organic — unless it’s a really good experience.

Whether or not that’s through a search result, an email marketing initiative, a great landing page *hint hint wink wink* to you guys, or a good old piece of content. I really don’t care. I’m actually agnostic to that.

DL: Where do performance channels like PPC and landing page optimization and conversion rate optimization come into the picture with the kinds of big brands that you work with? Are those things part of your offer? Do you factor them into how you pitch and bill clients?

MJ: Well it depends on whether someone’s going full bore with us or not. Like any other agency, we work on specific campaigns, specific projects, longer initiatives and then full-on mandates. And even the full-on mandates have sort of splits and fits and starts.

The way we started our company, we only wanted to work with large national and multinational brands and we’ve stuck to that model for what’s coming up onto 17 years. Because of that, being of startup size back in the early 2000s, most brands already had large media companies at play. And those media companies even back then were feeling very threatened by digital and would make those offerings.

So we would come in and grab pieces and parts of it and really focus on the behavioral side. Let us handle the drive to optimization, landing page, unique spaces, unique experience while the media companies were really checking boxes around “online video,” “search,” affiliate marketing” and stuff like that. So from my pedigree, I stand very firmly and aligned with what performance can do in terms of optimizations and moving things forward. I feel like I’m banging against the wall when everyone says, “Well we do that.” I think people do do that, but they don’t really do it.

I still really believe that a lot of the work we see is what I call “rearview mirror.” You know, we did it, we’re running these keywords to a landing page, and let’s see how it did. Post. I believe, and I know that Mirum as an agency believes it, all of that optimization, all of that data, all of that opportunity is now in the passenger seat. When you do it well and you actually are optimizing and driving and creating unique experiences on landing pages and stuff like that, you’ve moved it from the rearview mirror to the passenger’s seat and you can fix it and go so that there always is a positive result, not a result that says, “Oh, that campaign just didn’t work.” I can’t believe we still use that language in business today!

DL: Right, as if a campaign or an experience is a success or a failure — only if it meets your hypothesis. And the learnings aren’t a factor or don’t have anything to do with it at all.

MJ: Right and it’s frustrating for me because I feel like we often lose business or can’t grab the business because there’s a sentiment that we already have someone doing that work. But when you dig into what that work is, you see that there actually isn’t a lot of that stuff that we’re really talking about. They say they do that, it’s on their decks, and it’s on their site. But — and I don’t know if it’s a failure of the brand or a failure of the agency. I’m not sure where it happens. But there is a vast majority of very powerful brands really not doing enough.

DL: Do you think the problem is that optimization is seen as a discipline or a branch of marketing instead of just a mindset?

MJ: Yeah. One of my close friends is Bryan Eisenberg, who I really believe is one of the forefathers of this optimization space. He’s written books about it, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and intent and scent and all that.

My relationship with Bryan is going on for close to 20 years at this point. And he would often say things like, “You know, here we are talking about all this stuff. And the first thing a brand will cut on a budget is the optimization. Hands down.

And it’s mind-numbing and it’s mind-blowing to both of us — and years later it still remains the same — because that’s actually where you make money. And I don’t know why brands, agencies don’t get it. I don’t get how they don’t get it.

DL: Can you talk about the role content played in getting Twist on the map? I imagine that your book and your blog and your podcast were all part of ultimately attracting the attention of WPP and making that acquisition happen.

MJ: It’s a yes and no story.

It’s a yes story in the sense that it’s very interesting when they’re doing financial and product assessments to see an agency that has been so consistent for a decade. Creating the blog, the podcast, Six Pixels of Separation, that lead to 50-60 paid speaking events a year. That lead to two best selling books — and I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but represented by a major New York literary agent, onto a major — largest book publisher in the world, onto the global deal. And other things that come from media appearances and stuff like that.

DL: Yeah, I think that from my perspective, Twist Image and Mitch Joel were kind of one and the same.

MJ: Totally. And we built it that way. We always saw from day one, back in 2003ish, when we started the blog, that Twist Image (at the time — now Mirum) would be managing three brands:

  1. that Mirum brand,
  2. Six Pixels of Separation (which we sort of considered the sort of “content engine” — so blog, podcast, articles, speaking, books)
  3. and then Mitch Joel, this media face. This warm, hopefully friendly and personable face to an agency, which again, now seems very obvious.

But if you go back 10+ years, nobody was really doing that. They didn’t really have that. So the fact that we were sharing content, having conversations with people who just didn’t have a voice before — you know, we were having hour-long conversations with business or marketing thought leaders. That you didn’t get an hour with. You’d be lucky if you had one famous enough to get 10 minutes on Charlie Rose. Suddenly, someone is spending an hour with them, having a conversation like they would over a coffee, and publishing it to the world.

There were these assets there that were built over time, and again, I do know that when it came to the opportunity for us to be acquired, one of the metrics was the fact that there is revenue generation that comes out of the content engine. That doesn’t just create media attention and a level of fame, whatever that might be. But that there actually was revenue behind this thing. And that was very surprising and shocking to them.

DL: Meaning what? It gets clients in the door?

MJ: I mean, yeah, think about it. You pitch for business development, you spend weeks, months pitching. And business development is a cost center. It costs every agency a lot of money to business develop. You don’t win every pitch. It’s a very small percentage. And you hope that the ones you win make up for all the money you spent. When you’re offsetting that cost with speaking gigs, book deals, article writing and stuff like that, it’s really interesting that you’re creating this voice and building a platform and it actually is driving business, it’s driving revenue — both in terms of client and raw revenue. We get dollars to speak and write books. It’s not vanity.

It was always about creating equity in the brand, that would have one of two roles. That one day, we would be acquired. Or if we’re never acquired, we’re running this business in a way where all of the top players would want to acquire it. And there would be extreme value in the brand.

I like building businesses that build equity as they grow. And this channel of speaking, writing, etc — it wasn’t a core component of what we were acquired for, but it was definitely on the list.

DL: It reminds me of the Rolling Stones model, where you’re the front man, but ultimately, you share those profits evenly. I know they’ve credited that for their longevity as a band. It sounds like the same thing for the longevity of Twist, and now Mirum.

MJ: Yeah, and I try to not have it be ego-driven. I look at it like — my job, as a media entity, is to be extremely personable. And to know that I’m managing Mirum, Six Pixels and Mitch Joel. And I conduct myself accordingly. If you look me up on Facebook, there isn’t a ton of personal stuff. There’s a ton of personable stuff.

DL: If you had to give agencies who are looking to set themselves apart from the crowd and spur growth for both their clients and their own business one piece of advice, what would it be?

MJ: I really think it is much like a great book. A great book works not because the topic is unique. I feel like more often than not you’re reading a topic that somebody else covered in one shape or form.

It’s the voice. I don’t see that much in terms of agencies having that unique voice. Do I think we achieved it? Partially. And I think it’s because it’s a journey — you’re constantly changing it, moving it along. But if I were to go across — and we did this exercise when we were trying to figure out the branding for Mirum, Twist Image — I would jokingly tell people, “You could take the website of all our biggest competitors, take off the logos, throw them in the air, and whatever website they fall on, you’d still be pretty much right.” The services, types of case studies, type of work we do. And still to this day, I think that story rings true.

The ones that stand out, though, are the ones that have a unique voice. It could be a unique individual — I’m thinking of people like Bob Greenberg at R/GA. It could just be a unique story to tell. So if you look at an agency like WK, the fact that they’ve been large and independent, the type of work that they’ve done it’s like the voice of the agency is the work that they do. That type of thing is the only component of your business that you can have that is the defendable against a competitor. It’s how you express yourself, tell your stories, the type of team members you bring in, the type of work that you do, the stories you tell in the marketplace, where you network, what you attend. That’s the big one.

The secondary one is get involved in your industry. What  drove this business at Mirum was the fact that we got involved in places like Shop.org, the National Retail Federation, Canadian Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising — I could go on and on. And we didn’t just join and become members. We got involved. In fact, we just had a conversation at lunch about an association that I’m super interested in. And the answer we all came to was: “Not unless we can get deeply involved.” So, what you find out is that by giving (because you love this industry and you want it to be better), you do wind up in some way receiving. We don’t get involved to get results. By getting involved and being active, it just happens.

DL: Well Mitch, it’s always a real treat to talk shop with you. Thank you so much for taking the time.

MJ: My pleasure! Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been edited for length. Listen to more interviews with digital marketing experts on iTunes.

Read More:  

Mitch Joel on Why Agencies Should Care About Finding Their Unique Voice [INTERVIEW]

Mitch Joel on Why Agencies Should Care About Should Care About Finding Their Unique Voice [INTERVIEW]

Move over Don Draper, the modern day agency marketer needs to be more of a Renaissance (wo)man.

Sure, they need to be creative enough to craft a compelling pitch.

But they also need to be data-driven. They need to be well versed in analytics and the latest MarTech trends. And when budgets get tight, agency marketers need to be able to convince their clients to not cut out conversion rate optimization.

Few people know this better than Mitch Joel, president of Mirum, a global digital marketing agency operating in 20 different countries. Mitch is a best-selling business author, international speaker and agency thought leader. But he’s also a full-stack marketer who has been doing display advertising for longer than Google itself.

Mitch Joel, president of global digital agency Mirum and author of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.Image source.

Since Mitch entered the digital marketing world, a helluvalot has changed — and not just in agencyland. As technology evolves, so too are consumers and the way they interact with our brands. At the Call to Action Conference in June, Mitch’s keynote, Algorhythm: How Technology Connects Consumers To Brands Like Never Before, will dive into how to future-proof your brand and embrace disruption to become a digital leader.

Ugh, why can’t it be June already?

To tide you over, here’s a fascinating interview with Mitch from the Call to Action Podcast. Unbounce Director of Content Dan Levy sat down with Mitch to discuss:

  • How the agency world has evolved over the past 15 years.
  • Mitch’s experience selling his independent agency to WPP, the largest advertising company in the world.
  • How everything from search results to PPC and even the talent you hire for your agency are all extensions of your brand.

Check out some highlights from the interview below. (This transcript has been edited for length. Listen to the full episode on iTunes.)

Dan Levy: You’re known as a bestselling business author, speaker and agency thought leader, but you got your start in the online marketing trenches doing ad sales and even PPC marketing for a site called Mamma.com. Can you take us back to that time? What did the online marketing landscape look like and what did you learn from that experience?

Mitch Joel: Actually, yes, I did do that. But my start in digital came much earlier when I was publishing music magazines in the late 80s and early 90s. I actually was tangentially at the same time very engaged in digital media: first web browser, BBSs, stuff like that. And I actually put those magazines on the “internet” — like air quote internet — because back then, there wasn’t even really an internet.

I remember one of the cover stories for my alternative, cool, fun publication was called, “The Net.” The innovation at that time was hyperlinks. I literally was posting things on the internet from the magazine that couldn’t have hyperlinks. You couldn’t link from one page to the other. That really kept me on the trajectory where eventually I helped launch the sales channel of what at the time was one of the largest meta search engines on the internet. And again, it’s hard to imagine a world before Google. But this was pre-Google. And so the meta search engine would basically grab search results from engines like Yahoo, AOL, Lycos, and create a meta — or a better — search result that we could actually aggregate faster.

My role back then was selling sponsorships on the homepage, it was selling banner advertising. And it was also very early days of selling — literally the first time of being able to take a search result and having a banner that’s related to the search show up in the search result. And to tell you how early and nascent it was, I had to physically go into the code of the search engine to code the banner in. I don’t recommend that in this day in age. Like I don’t think anyone at Google is going into the master code to embed a search result. But that’s how early the times were back then.

DL: Wow. What did you learn from that experience that you brought forth?

MJ: Well I learned to take chances. I can tell you that when they approached me about the opportunity, my first question was, “What’s online advertising?” I mean, we are talking about a time when that first banner ad on HotWired — which became Wired — had just run.

The first banner ad, ever. Image source: Wired.

I didn’t even know what it looked like, what it felt like, what it could be. I think my pedigree in selling traditional print ads and having a construct of what it means to run a media company is what pushed me there. So it was — to this day, it was a great move. And I’m so grateful, I still have a lot of friends in my life now who came from there. A lot of people who’ve become — who’ve ascended in this industry to run major, major web initiatives are people that I hired. People that I brought into the industry. So I have a lot of pride in that.

And I also learned that — again, when I think about it, I don’t know why I took the job. All logic would dictate that at the time, I should not have taken that job. But I took the job and it wound up being great for me because it brought together what I was doing professionally on one side. And on the other side, it brought together my passion for digital. I often say that I was very early into many things. And when we started Mirum, which back then was Twist Image in 2000 (I joined in 2002). At that point in my career I said, even though I might be a little early in this space, I’m going to ride it out.

DL: Performance marketing and brand marketing are often seen as being on different sides of the digital marketing spectrum. Do you think that’s true? Do you see those two disciplines as coming closer together in an age where Facebook has gone from a social media network to just another performance marketing channel?

MJ: I think you’re right. The evolution — and by the way, Google structured themselves — for a long while, and they may still — around brand and performance. And that’s common. Where I think the confusion comes from is that within real behavioral performance-based marketing, there are heavy and hefty lifting around brand and experience that we often dismiss because we think that performance is still about getting the right search word, getting them to the right page.

But actually if you step back from that, the meta message is that it has to be a very relevant and cohesive brand experience. And I was somebody who wasn’t just buying generic brand keywords back in the day, to just keep that going. I actually believe that — a saying I’ve used since the early 2000s is that the first page of search results is a brand experience.


You can’t separate PPC & brand marketing. The 1st page of search is part of your brand experience.
Click To Tweet


So there’s that. That sort of dismisses the idea that performance is not about branding. And you’re right — fast forwarding to today, a lot of my clients and a lot of people I meet when I do speaking events will say that social media is primarily a paid channel, because of what Facebook has done to throttle the content and have you pay against reach. Which I think by the way is a great model and clearly the market would agree with that idea.

But you can’t have any results — whether you’re paying for it or it’s organic — unless it’s a really good experience.

Whether or not that’s through a search result, an email marketing initiative, a great landing page *hint hint wink wink* to you guys, or a good old piece of content. I really don’t care. I’m actually agnostic to that.

DL: Where do performance channels like PPC and landing page optimization and conversion rate optimization come into the picture with the kinds of big brands that you work with? Are those things part of your offer? Do you factor them into how you pitch and bill clients?

MJ: Well it depends on whether someone’s going full bore with us or not. Like any other agency, we work on specific campaigns, specific projects, longer initiatives and then full-on mandates. And even the full-on mandates have sort of splits and fits and starts.

The way we started our company, we only wanted to work with large national and multinational brands and we’ve stuck to that model for what’s coming up onto 17 years. Because of that, being of startup size back in the early 2000s, most brands already had large media companies at play. And those media companies even back then were feeling very threatened by digital and would make those offerings.

So we would come in and grab pieces and parts of it and really focus on the behavioral side. Let us handle the drive to optimization, landing page, unique spaces, unique experience while the media companies were really checking boxes around “online video,” “search,” affiliate marketing” and stuff like that. So from my pedigree, I stand very firmly and aligned with what performance can do in terms of optimizations and moving things forward. I feel like I’m banging against the wall when everyone says, “Well we do that.” I think people do do that, but they don’t really do it.

I still really believe that a lot of the work we see is what I call “rearview mirror.” You know, we did it, we’re running these keywords to a landing page, and let’s see how it did. Post. I believe, and I know that Mirum as an agency believes it, all of that optimization, all of that data, all of that opportunity is now in the passenger seat. When you do it well and you actually are optimizing and driving and creating unique experiences on landing pages and stuff like that, you’ve moved it from the rearview mirror to the passenger’s seat and you can fix it and go so that there always is a positive result, not a result that says, “Oh, that campaign just didn’t work.” I can’t believe we still use that language in business today!

DL: Right, as if a campaign or an experience is a success or a failure — only if it meets your hypothesis. And the learnings aren’t a factor or don’t have anything to do with it at all.

MJ: Right and it’s frustrating for me because I feel like we often lose business or can’t grab the business because there’s a sentiment that we already have someone doing that work. But when you dig into what that work is, you see that there actually isn’t a lot of that stuff that we’re really talking about. They say they do that, it’s on their decks, and it’s on their site. But — and I don’t know if it’s a failure of the brand or a failure of the agency. I’m not sure where it happens. But there is a vast majority of very powerful brands really not doing enough.

DL: Do you think the problem is that optimization is seen as a discipline or a branch of marketing instead of just a mindset?

MJ: Yeah. One of my close friends is Bryan Eisenberg, who I really believe is one of the forefathers of this optimization space. He’s written books about it, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and intent and scent and all that.

My relationship with Bryan is going on for close to 20 years at this point. And he would often say things like, “You know, here we are talking about all this stuff. And the first thing a brand will cut on a budget is the optimization. Hands down.

And it’s mind-numbing and it’s mind-blowing to both of us — and years later it still remains the same — because that’s actually where you make money. And I don’t know why brands, agencies don’t get it. I don’t get how they don’t get it.

DL: Can you talk about the role content played in getting Twist on the map? I imagine that your book and your blog and your podcast were all part of ultimately attracting the attention of WPP and making that acquisition happen.

MJ: It’s a yes and no story.

It’s a yes story in the sense that it’s very interesting when they’re doing financial and product assessments to see an agency that has been so consistent for a decade. Creating the blog, the podcast, Six Pixels of Separation, that lead to 50-60 paid speaking events a year. That lead to two best selling books — and I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but represented by a major New York literary agent, onto a major — largest book publisher in the world, onto the global deal. And other things that come from media appearances and stuff like that.

DL: Yeah, I think that from my perspective, Twist Image and Mitch Joel were kind of one and the same.

MJ: Totally. And we built it that way. We always saw from day one, back in 2003ish, when we started the blog, that Twist Image (at the time — now Mirum) would be managing three brands:

  1. that Mirum brand,
  2. Six Pixels of Separation (which we sort of considered the sort of “content engine” — so blog, podcast, articles, speaking, books)
  3. and then Mitch Joel, this media face. This warm, hopefully friendly and personable face to an agency, which again, now seems very obvious.

But if you go back 10+ years, nobody was really doing that. They didn’t really have that. So the fact that we were sharing content, having conversations with people who just didn’t have a voice before — you know, we were having hour-long conversations with business or marketing thought leaders. That you didn’t get an hour with. You’d be lucky if you had one famous enough to get 10 minutes on Charlie Rose. Suddenly, someone is spending an hour with them, having a conversation like they would over a coffee, and publishing it to the world.

There were these assets there that were built over time, and again, I do know that when it came to the opportunity for us to be acquired, one of the metrics was the fact that there is revenue generation that comes out of the content engine. That doesn’t just create media attention and a level of fame, whatever that might be. But that there actually was revenue behind this thing. And that was very surprising and shocking to them.

DL: Meaning what? It gets clients in the door?

MJ: I mean, yeah, think about it. You pitch for business development, you spend weeks, months pitching. And business development is a cost center. It costs every agency a lot of money to business develop. You don’t win every pitch. It’s a very small percentage. And you hope that the ones you win make up for all the money you spent. When you’re offsetting that cost with speaking gigs, book deals, article writing and stuff like that, it’s really interesting that you’re creating this voice and building a platform and it actually is driving business, it’s driving revenue — both in terms of client and raw revenue. We get dollars to speak and write books. It’s not vanity.

It was always about creating equity in the brand, that would have one of two roles. That one day, we would be acquired. Or if we’re never acquired, we’re running this business in a way where all of the top players would want to acquire it. And there would be extreme value in the brand.

I like building businesses that build equity as they grow. And this channel of speaking, writing, etc — it wasn’t a core component of what we were acquired for, but it was definitely on the list.

DL: It reminds me of the Rolling Stones model, where you’re the front man, but ultimately, you share those profits evenly. I know they’ve credited that for their longevity as a band. It sounds like the same thing for the longevity of Twist, and now Mirum.

MJ: Yeah, and I try to not have it be ego-driven. I look at it like — my job, as a media entity, is to be extremely personable. And to know that I’m managing Mirum, Six Pixels and Mitch Joel. And I conduct myself accordingly. If you look me up on Facebook, there isn’t a ton of personal stuff. There’s a ton of personable stuff.

DL: If you had to give agencies who are looking to set themselves apart from the crowd and spur growth for both their clients and their own business one piece of advice, what would it be?

MJ: I really think it is much like a great book. A great book works not because the topic is unique. I feel like more often than not you’re reading a topic that somebody else covered in one shape or form.

It’s the voice. I don’t see that much in terms of agencies having that unique voice. Do I think we achieved it? Partially. And I think it’s because it’s a journey — you’re constantly changing it, moving it along. But if I were to go across — and we did this exercise when we were trying to figure out the branding for Mirum, Twist Image — I would jokingly tell people, “You could take the website of all our biggest competitors, take off the logos, throw them in the air, and whatever website they fall on, you’d still be pretty much right.” The services, types of case studies, type of work we do. And still to this day, I think that story rings true.

The ones that stand out, though, are the ones that have a unique voice. It could be a unique individual — I’m thinking of people like Bob Greenberg at R/GA. It could just be a unique story to tell. So if you look at an agency like WK, the fact that they’ve been large and independent, the type of work that they’ve done it’s like the voice of the agency is the work that they do. That type of thing is the only component of your business that you can have that is the defendable against a competitor. It’s how you express yourself, tell your stories, the type of team members you bring in, the type of work that you do, the stories you tell in the marketplace, where you network, what you attend. That’s the big one.

The secondary one is get involved in your industry. What  drove this business at Mirum was the fact that we got involved in places like Shop.org, the National Retail Federation, Canadian Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising — I could go on and on. And we didn’t just join and become members. We got involved. In fact, we just had a conversation at lunch about an association that I’m super interested in. And the answer we all came to was: “Not unless we can get deeply involved.” So, what you find out is that by giving (because you love this industry and you want it to be better), you do wind up in some way receiving. We don’t get involved to get results. By getting involved and being active, it just happens.

DL: Well Mitch, it’s always a real treat to talk shop with you. Thank you so much for taking the time.

MJ: My pleasure! Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been edited for length. Listen to more interviews with digital marketing experts on iTunes.

Link: 

Mitch Joel on Why Agencies Should Care About Should Care About Finding Their Unique Voice [INTERVIEW]

Mitch Joel on Why Agencies Should Care About Conversion Rate Optimization [INTERVIEW]

Move over Don Draper, the modern day agency marketer needs to be more of a Renaissance (wo)man.

Sure, they need to be creative enough to craft a compelling pitch.

But they also need to be data-driven. They need to be well versed in analytics and the latest MarTech trends. And when budgets get tight, agency marketers need to be able to convince their clients to not cut out conversion rate optimization.

Few people know this better than Mitch Joel, president of Mirum, a global digital marketing agency operating in 20 different countries. Mitch is a best-selling business author, international speaker and agency thought leader. But he’s also a full-stack marketer who has been doing display advertising for longer than Google itself.

Mitch Joel, president of global digital agency Mirum and author of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.Image source.

Since Mitch entered the digital marketing world, a helluvalot has changed — and not just in agencyland. As technology evolves, so too are consumers and the way they interact with our brands. At the Call to Action Conference in June, Mitch’s keynote, Algorhythm: How Technology Connects Consumers To Brands Like Never Before, will dive into how to future-proof your brand and embrace disruption to become a digital leader.

PSST. Hey blog reader, we like the cut of your jib. Get 15% off Call to Action Conference tickets by using discount code “blogsentme” at checkout. Offer expires May 12th.

Ugh, why can’t it be June already?

To tide you over, here’s a fascinating interview with Mitch from the Call to Action Podcast. Unbounce Director of Content Dan Levy sat down with Mitch to discuss:

  • How the agency world has evolved over the past 15 years.
  • Mitch’s experience selling his independent agency to the largest holding company in the world.
  • How everything from search results to PPC and even the talent you hire for your agency are all extensions of your brand.

Check out some highlights from the interview below. (This transcript has been edited for length. Listen to the full episode on iTunes.)

Dan Levy: You’re known as a bestselling business author, speaker and agency thought leader, but you got your start in the online marketing trenches doing ad sales and even PPC marketing for a site called Mamma.com. Can you take us back to that time? What did the online marketing landscape look like and what did you learn from that experience?

Mitch Joel: Actually, yes, I did do that. But my start in digital came much earlier when I was publishing music magazines in the late 80s and early 90s. I actually was tangentially at the same time very engaged in digital media: first web browser, BBSs, stuff like that. And I actually put those magazines on the “internet” — like air quote internet — because back then, there wasn’t even really an internet.

I remember one of the cover stories for my alternative, cool, fun publication was called, “The Net.” The innovation at that time was hyperlinks. I literally was posting things on the internet from the magazine that couldn’t have hyperlinks. You couldn’t link from one page to the other. That really kept me on the trajectory where eventually I helped launch the sales channel of what at the time was one of the largest meta search engines on the internet. And again, it’s hard to imagine a world before Google. But this was pre-Google. And so the meta search engine would basically grab search results from engines like Yahoo, AOL, Lycos, and create a meta — or a better — search result that we could actually aggregate faster.

My role back then was selling sponsorships on the homepage, it was selling banner advertising. And it was also very early days of selling — literally the first time of being able to take a search result and having a banner that’s related to the search show up in the search result. And to tell you how early and nascent it was, I had to physically go into the code of the search engine to code the banner in. I don’t recommend that in this day in age. Like I don’t think anyone at Google is going into the master code to embed a search result. But that’s how early the times were back then.

DL: Wow. What did you learn from that experience that you brought forth?

MJ: Well I learned to take chances. I can tell you that when they approached me about the opportunity, my first question was, “What’s online advertising?” I mean, we are talking about a time when that first banner ad on HotWired — which became Wired — had just run.

The first banner ad, ever. Image source: Wired.

I didn’t even know what it looked like, what it felt like, what it could be. I think my pedigree in selling traditional print ads and having a construct of what it means to run a media company is what pushed me there. So it was — to this day, it was a great move. And I’m so grateful, I still have a lot of friends in my life now who came from there. A lot of people who’ve become — who’ve ascended in this industry to run major, major web initiatives are people that I hired. People that I brought into the industry. So I have a lot of pride in that.

And I also learned that — again, when I think about it, I don’t know why I took the job. All logic would dictate that at the time, I should not have taken that job. But I took the job and it wound up being great for me because it brought together what I was doing professionally on one side. And on the other side, it brought together my passion for digital. I often say that I was very early into many things. And when we started Mirum, which back then was Twist Image in 2000 (I joined in 2002). At that point in my career I said, even though I might be a little early in this space, I’m going to ride it out.

DL: Performance marketing and brand marketing are often seen as being on different sides of the digital marketing spectrum. Do you think that’s true? Do you see those two disciplines as coming closer together in an age where Facebook has gone from a social media network to just another performance marketing channel?

MJ: I think you’re right. The evolution — and by the way, Google structured themselves — for a long while, and they may still — around brand and performance. And that’s common. Where I think the confusion comes from is that within real behavioral performance-based marketing, there are heavy and hefty living around brand and experience that we often dismiss because we think that performance is still about getting the right search word, getting them to the right page.

But actually if you step back from that, the meta message is that it has to be a very relevant and cohesive brand experience. And I was somebody who wasn’t just buying generic brand keywords back in the day, to just keep that going. I actually believe that — a saying I’ve used since the early 2000s is that the first page of search results is a brand experience.


You can’t separate PPC & brand marketing. The 1st page of search is part of your brand experience.
Click To Tweet


So there’s that. That sort of dismisses the idea that performance is not about branding. And you’re right — fast forwarding to today, a lot of my clients and a lot of people I meet when I do speaking events will say that social media is primarily a paid channel, because of what Facebook has done to throttle the content and have you pay against reach. Which I think by the way is a great model and clearly the market would agree with that idea.

But you can’t have any results — whether you’re paying for it or it’s organic — unless it’s a really good experience.

Whether or not that’s through a search result, an email marketing initiative, a great landing page *hint hint wink wink* to you guys, or a good old piece of content. I really don’t care. I’m actually agnostic to that.

DL: Where do performance channels like PPC and landing page optimization and conversion rate optimization come into the picture with the kinds of big brands that you work with? Are those things part of your offer? Do you factor them into how you pitch and bill clients?

MJ: Well it depends on whether someone’s going full bore with us or not. Like any other agency, we work on specific campaigns, specific projects, longer initiatives and then full-on mandates. And even the full-on mandates have sort of splits and fits and starts.

The way we started our company, we only wanted to work with large national and multinational brands and we’ve stuck to that model for what’s coming up onto 17 years. Because of that, being of startup size back in the early 2000s, most brands already had large media companies at play. And those media companies even back then were feeling very threatened by digital and would make those offerings.

So we would come in and grab pieces and parts of it and really focus on the behavioral side. Let us handle the drive to optimization, landing page, unique spaces, unique experience while the media companies were really checking boxes around “online video,” “search,” affiliate marketing” and stuff like that. So from my pedigree, I stand very firmly and aligned with what performance can do in terms of optimizations and moving things forward. I feel like I’m banging against the wall when everyone says, “Well we do that.” I think people do do that, but they don’t really do it.

I still really believe that a lot of the work we see is what I call “rearview mirror.” You know, we did it, we’re running these keywords to a landing page, and let’s see how it did. Post. I believe, and I know that Mirum as an agency believes it, all of that optimization, all of that data, all of that opportunity is now in the passenger seat. When you do it well and you actually are optimizing and driving and creating unique experiences on landing pages and stuff like that, you’ve moved it from the rearview mirror to the passenger’s seat and you can fix it and go so that there always is a positive result, not a result that says, “Oh, that campaign just didn’t work.” I can’t believe we still use that language in business today!

DL: Right, as if a campaign or an experience is a success or a failure — only if it meets your hypothesis. And the learnings aren’t a factor or don’t have anything to do with it at all.

MJ: Right and it’s frustrating for me because I feel like we often lose business or can’t grab the business because there’s a sentiment that we already have someone doing that work. But when you dig into what that work is, you see that there actually isn’t a lot of that stuff that we’re really talking about. They say they do that, it’s on their decks, and it’s on their site. But — and I don’t know if it’s a failure of the brand or a failure of the agency. I’m not sure where it happens. But there is a vast majority of very powerful brands really not doing enough.

DL: Do you think the problem is that optimization is seen as a discipline or a branch of marketing instead of just a mindset?

MJ: Yeah. One of my close friends is Bryan Eisenberg, who I really believe is one of the forefathers of this optimization space. He’s written books about it, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?” and intent and scent and all that.

My relationship with Bryan is going on for close to 20 years at this point. And he would often say things like, “You know, here we are talking about all this stuff. And the first thing a brand will cut on a budget is the optimization. Hands down.

And it’s mind-numbing and it’s mind-blowing to both of us — and years later it still remains the same — because that’s actually where you make money. And I don’t know why brands, agencies don’t get it. I don’t get how they don’t get it.

DL: Can you talk about the role content played in getting Twist on the map? I imagine that your book and your blog and your podcast were all part of ultimately attracting the attention of WPP and making that acquisition happen.

MJ: It’s a yes and no story.

It’s a yes story in the sense that it’s very interesting when they’re doing financial and product assessments to see an agency that has been so consistent for a decade. Creating the blog, the podcast, Six Pixels of Separation, that lead to 50-60 paid speaking events a year. That lead to two best selling books — and I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but represented by a major New York literary agent, onto a major — largest book publisher in the world, onto the global deal. And other things that come from media appearances and stuff like that.

DL: Yeah, I think that from my perspective, Twist Image and Mitch Joel were kind of one and the same.

MJ: Totally. And we built it that way. We always saw from day one, back in 2003ish, when we started the blog, that Twist Image (at the time — now Mirum) would be managing three brands:

  1. that Mirum brand,
  2. Six Pixels of Separation (which we sort of considered the sort of “content engine” — so blog, podcast, articles, speaking, books)
  3. and then Mitch Joel, this media face. This warm, hopefully friendly and personable face to an agency, which again, now seems very obvious.

But if you go back 10+ years, nobody was really doing that. They didn’t really have that. So the fact that we were sharing content, having conversations with people who just didn’t have a voice before — you know, we were having hour-long conversations with business or marketing thought leaders. That you didn’t get an hour with. You’d be lucky if you had one famous enough to get 10 minutes on Charlie Rose. Suddenly, someone is spending an hour with them, having a conversation like they would over a coffee, and publishing it to the world.

There were these assets there that were built over time, and again, I do know that when it came to the opportunity for us to be acquired, one of the metrics was the fact that there is revenue generation that comes out of the content engine. That doesn’t just create media attention and a level of fame, whatever that might be. But that there actually was revenue behind this thing. And that was very surprising and shocking to them.

DL: Meaning what? It gets clients in the door?

MJ: I mean, yeah, think about it. You pitch for business development, you spend weeks, months pitching. And business development is a cost center. It costs every agency a lot of money to business develop. You don’t win every pitch. It’s a very small percentage. And you hope that the ones you win make up for all the money you spent. When you’re offsetting that cost with speaking gigs, book deals, article writing and stuff like that, it’s really interesting that you’re creating this voice and building a platform and it actually is driving business, it’s driving revenue — both in terms of client and raw revenue. We get dollars to speak and write books. It’s not vanity.

It was always about creating equity in the brand, that would have one of two roles. That one day, we would be acquired. Or if we’re never acquired, we’re running this business in a way where all of the top players would want to acquire it. And there would be extreme value in the brand.

I like building businesses that build equity as they grow. And this channel of speaking, writing, etc — it wasn’t a core component of what we were acquired for, but it was definitely on the list.

DL: It reminds me of the Rolling Stones model, where you’re the front man, but ultimately, you share those profits evenly. I know they’ve credited that as their longevity for them as a band. It sounds like the same thing for the longevity of Twist, and now Mirum.

MJ: Yeah, and I try to not have it be ego-driven. I look at it like — my job, as a media entity, is to be extremely personable. And to know that I’m managing Mirum, Six Pixels and Mitch Joel. And I conduct myself accordingly. If you look me up on Facebook, there isn’t a ton of personal stuff. There’s a ton of personable stuff.

DL: If you had to give agencies who are looking to set themselves apart from the crowd and spur growth for both their clients and their own business one piece of advice, what would it be?

MJ: I really think it is much like a great book. A great book works not because the topic is unique. I feel like more often than not you’re reading a topic that somebody else covered in one shape or form.

It’s the voice. I don’t see that much in terms of agencies having that unique voice. Do I think we achieved it? Partially. And I think it’s because it’s a journey — you’re constantly changing it, moving it along. But if I were to go across — and we did this exercise when we were trying to figure out the branding for Mirum, Twist Image — I would jokingly tell people, “You could take the website of all our biggest competitors, take off the logos, throw them in the air, and whatever website they fall on, you’d still be pretty much right.” The services, types of case studies, type of work we do. And still to this day, I think that story rings true.

The ones that stand out, though, are the ones that have a unique voice. It could be a unique individual — I’m thinking of people like Bob Greenberg at R/GA. It could just be a unique story to tell. So if you look at an agency like WK, the fact that they’ve been large and independent, the type of work that they’ve done it’s like the voice of the agency is the work that they do. That type of thing is the only component of your business that you can have that is the defendable against a competitor. It’s how you express yourself, tell your stories, the type of team members you bring in, the type of work that you do, the stories you tell in the marketplace, where you network, what you attend. That’s the big one.

The secondary one is get involved in your industry. What  drove this business at Mirum was the fact that we got involved in places like Shop.org, the National Retail Federation, Canadian Marketing Association, Interactive Advertising — I could go on and on. And we didn’t just join and become members. We got involved. In fact, we just had a conversation at lunch about an association that I’m super interested in. And the answer we all came to was: “Not unless we can get deeply involved.” So, what you find out is that by giving (because you love this industry and you want it to be better), you do wind up in some way receiving. We don’t get involved to get results. By getting involved and being active, it just happens.

DL: Well Mitch, it’s always a real treat to talk shop with you. Thank you so much for taking the time.

MJ: My pleasure! Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been edited for length. Listen to the full episode on iTunes.

Read this article:

Mitch Joel on Why Agencies Should Care About Conversion Rate Optimization [INTERVIEW]

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report – Average Conversion Rates by Industry and Expert Recommendations

Benchmark conversion rates by industry
The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report is filled with industry-specific data, graphs and actionable takeaways.

What is a good conversion rate for my landing page?

If you knew the answer to this question, you could get more out of every optimization dollar you spend. Armed with this one “little” data point, you could double down on pages with lots of growth potential or confidently switch gears to focus on other projects because you know your page is performing well.

But here’s the problem:

  • Companies in different industries use a wide range of landing page copy, traffic generation strategies and product offers. Because of this, average conversion rates across industries vary dramatically.
  • This one “little” data point isn’t really so “little.” Conversion rate benchmarks are the function of a ton of variables, requiring access to hordes of data (not to mention people with the skills to mine and interpret that data).

Scientifically grounded answers to, “What is a good conversion rate?” just haven’t been available… until now.

We created the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report by analyzing the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages created in the Unbounce platform over the last quarter, using a rigorous scientific methodology and our proprietary machine learning technology.

How do your landing page conversion rates compare against your industry competitors?

Get the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report and find out.
By entering your email you’ll receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

For 10 popular industries, we’ll share:

  1. An overview of average conversion rates per industry (the graph on the left).
  2. A summary of how marketers in that industry are performing (right):
real-estate-industry-specific-example-benhcmark-page
The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report is filled with charts, graphs and actionable takeaways for 10 of our customers’ most popular industries.
  1. Industry-specific copy recommendations from our team of data scientists and conversion marketing experts (who have interpreted the data in the report for you). For each industry, we explore how the following factors could be impacting your conversion rates:

    • Reading ease
    • Page length
    • Emotion and sentiment

Our goal isn’t just to help you answer the question, “What is a good conversion rate for my landing page?”

Our goal is to eliminate some of the guesswork so you can build higher-converting landing pages, better prioritize your work and get back to the strategy and creativity that drives your business.

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)
By entering your email you’ll receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

Taken from:  

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report – Average Conversion Rates by Industry and Expert Recommendations

Wow Your Clients, Grow Your Agency – Register for Digital Agency Day 2017

If you could get in a room with digital marketing experts from Google, AdRoll and LinkedIn, what would you ask them? Better yet, what if you could rub shoulders with them without having to leave your desk?

We’re not trying to torture you with hypotheticals. For the second year in a row, Unbounce and HubSpot have teamed up to cregisurate Digital Agency Day: a full day of virtual and in-person events dedicated to the digital agency professional.

And it’s happening very soon: on March 16th, 2017. Completely free.

Register for Digital Agency Day here.

Join expert speakers from the world’s top agencies and agency partners as they share actionable, agency-tailored advice on analytics, reporting, growing retainers, new business strategy, content marketing, conversion rate optimization and much more.

Here’s just a taste of some of the presentations you can expect:

  • Rethinking Retainers & Other Pricing Issues
  • What Your Agency Needs to Execute Content Marketing the Right Way
  • Grow Your Agency With LinkedIn Sponsored Content
  • Extreme Growth with Google AdWords: For Agencies
  • Unifying your Customer Journey: Unlocking the Power of Cross-Device Marketing

Here’s what some of our attendees from last year had to say:

See you then? Click here to register.

Taken from:  

Wow Your Clients, Grow Your Agency – Register for Digital Agency Day 2017

If It’s Painful, It’s Broken: Unbounce Blog Team Takeaways from 2016

Since I joined the Unbounce family three years ago, our marketing team has grown from seven to 35. The content team alone has grown from two to 12.

That kind of growth comes with a lot of potential to do exciting things.

But scaling a team quickly also uncovers inefficiencies, and results in a helluvalotta growing pains.

Which is fine, really. I’m not much of a jock, but I know that without pain there is no gain.

giphy

2016 in particular was a really productive year for the content team at Unbounce. We were able to fix a lot of inefficiencies in our processes, and experiment with things that we just didn’t have the bandwidth for before.

In short, we pulled the plug on what wasn’t working and doubled down on what was working.

If you’ll allow me to, I want to share some of our biggest takeaways with you. In part because I wanna show off our gains (#humblebrag), but also because I wanna prevent your pains.

(P.S. Much of this progress can be attributed to an improvement methodology we started using called the Improvement Kata, which could be the subject of its own 10,000-word post. …But you can learn all about it in this 60-minute webinar.)

Process improvements: If something is painful, it’s because it’s broken

When I began work at Unbounce in 2014, I was the main person dedicated to the blog. I spent my days writing, editing and making sure that we maintained our historically high editorial standards.

But I was doing this in a silo, so when we began onboarding more team members who were to contribute to the blog, things started to feel a little painful.

Suddenly, it was evident that we needed new processes. And the only way to fix inefficiencies was to first diagnose them:

  • I was spending too much of my time working with external contributors and responding to queries that I couldn’t focus on content that contributed to big picture business objectives
  • I was used to being a lone wolf, but now my team members needed visibility into which posts were in the pipeline (and at what stage)
  • With more team members, prioritization of content pieces was becoming more difficult

After listing all the pains, we started looking for solutions as a team.

What did the doctor(s) order? You can read about all our process improvements in this post, but here are some of my personal favorites:

  • We killed our “Write For Us” page.
  • We refused to take on any post that didn’t first have a fully fleshed-out pitch (you can steal the template for it below).

Produce better content by getting off on the right foot

Download Unbounce’s blog pitch framework and ensure all your content is 10x content.
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But my favorite change was one that alleviated a ton of pain…

Treat blog posts like campaigns

When I started blogging in 2008, the #1 piece of advice I was given was to establish a posting frequency and then stick to it.

But last year, at marketing conferences and across the web, I began to hear whispers of something different: publish less, but publish deeper.

This suggestion was attractive to me because I’d been working hard for two years to make sure that our editorial calendar was filled with back-to-back actionable articles. I was able to maintain a frequent publishing schedule, but this resulted in me neglecting something far more important: a sound distribution strategy.

We were working hard to create awesome content, but weren’t making the time to be sure that people would take notice.

So in 2016, we started experimenting with treating blog posts like campaigns.

What do I mean by this? Taking the time to plan, write and promote epic posts — the kind of stuff that makes your CMO drop their work and share the post in a department-wide email — even if it means dialing back on publishing frequency.

More specifically, “campaign” posts go through five phases (read about them in detail in this post):

  1. Determine the goal of your post so you can determine later whether or not it was successful (and guide the content of the post).
  2. Do keyword research if appropriate so your post will continue to get organic traffic.
  3. Loop in influencers who can help you amplify your content after you hit publish. Include quotes — as Andy Crestodina said in his keynote at Content Marketing World, “An ally in content production is an ally in content distribution.” Beyond that, start thinking about distribution strategy before you write a single word.
  4. Create custom blog assets that you’d like to see in your own social media feeds. Think of how you can create a consistent design experience across all channels.
  5. Distribute according to a predetermined plan. Milk all your channels for everything they’re worth.

We get so much more out of posts when we take this well-rounded approach — we feel happier and more strategic (instead of feeling like we’re on a content farm). It feels less painful and it actually feels like less work. Here’s another great bit I heard at Content Marketing World:

More of a spirit of experimentation

Optimization is such a core part of our business — we preach it in our webinars, on our podcast, on the blog. “Always be testing” echoes through the hallways to the extent that it’s become a bit of a cliché.

Yet, when it came to actually conducting tests on our blog and other content, we were quicker to make excuses than make time for optimization. Not because we were slackers — quite the opposite — but because we were too focused on furiously pumping out content to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture.

Until we decided to just do it ✔️️ and were inspired to launch a two week optimization experiment. For the experiment, we halted publishing and focused entirely on optimizing evergreen content. In a nutshell we:

  1. Researched top traffic posts
  2. Freshened up the content of the post to keep them evergreen
  3. Optimized those posts for lead generation (this part was key)

You can read all about our experiment (and how it resulted in 700 new leads for us) in this post. Or just grab the checklist below and get started.

Ready to optimize your high-traffic posts for lead gen?

Steal the exact process that Unbounce used during their two week optimization experiment.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

Our main takeaway? Optimization isn’t just for conversion rate optimizers and performance marketers. Content marketers stand to gain a lot by taking a step back, too. Even if it means temporarily forgetting about your editorial calendar.

More accountability

Everyone is aware of certain inefficiencies and pains within their organization or on their team, but seldom do we make the time to take ownership of these and actually resolve to fix them.

I’d encourage you to take a step back and think about what hurts and what bandaids you have at your disposal. It may seem daunting or like a lot of work at first, but I think you’ll find that it pays off in the long run.

Read this article: 

If It’s Painful, It’s Broken: Unbounce Blog Team Takeaways from 2016

16 Overlay Examples Critiqued for Conversion

overlay-teardown-650
When it comes to overlays, everyone’s a critic — especially your prospects. Image via Shutterstock.

These days, cyberspace is about as cluttered as my closet.

And in that deep sea of endless streams and notifications and other dopamine-releasing distractions, getting your offer seen can be challenging to say the least.

Luckily, overlays can help mute some of that background noise by focusing your visitor’s attention on one (hopefully) compelling offer.

But your job doesn’t end there.

Once you get your prospect’s attention with an overlay, it’s your job to use design and copywriting best practices to keep their interest.

What are these best practices I speak of? Let’s take a look at some overlay examples we spotted in the wild for some concrete examples of what you should — and shouldn’t — do.

Be immediately clear on the value of your offer

I have to admit that when I first saw this overlay, I found the tongue-in-cheek copywriting delightful.

The headline was clever and had me nodding my head:

1-copy

And while the self-aware overlay is a cute idea, you know what’s less cute? Just how quickly your prospect will look for that “x” button if the value of the offer isn’t abundantly clear.

Don’t make readers work to find out what your offer is. It’s fine to be cutesy, as long as you’re explaining what’s in it for them. See how Groove clearly explains the benefit of signing up for their newsletter?

2-copy

The transparency of this offer makes it appealing, and the specificity of Groove’s current monthly revenue adds credibility.

Pro tip: When you’re pushing a subscription, your copy has to do a lot of work because there’s no immediate value. Test including a tangible offer like a free ebook.

It’s not about you!

This overlay by the Chive has personality, but not much persuasive power:

3-copy

The headline – “the best newsletter in the world”  – is playful (if a little cocky), but it fails to communicate what makes the newsletter great and why readers should care.

They’re so caught up in self-praise that they forget to explain what’s in it for the reader. How will signing up for this newsletter impact the reader’s life?

This overlay by GetResponse is guilty of a similar infraction, and to be frank, the tone is a little despie:

4-copy

This overlay uses “I” and “us” language without ever explaining the benefits of the offering — not to mention it never really explains what GetResponse is.

This is problematic, because the overlay appears on a page giving away an ebook only marginally related to their core offering — so it’s safe to assume that not everyone will know what GetResponse is.

I’d test an overlay that includes a compelling, customer-focused unique value proposition and a clear hero shot so people can quickly understand what they’re dealing with at a glance.

Want more overlay best practices?

Download Unbounce’s free guide: Best Practices for Creating High-Converting Overlays
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

Lead with what’s in it for them

So what does customer-focused copy look like? Preneur Marketing’s overlay leads with a headline that explains in detail what the reader will get when they sign up:

5-copy
So much specificity!

But Preneur Marketing doesn’t stop there. They lay the persuasion on thick using a number of trusted devices, such as a UVP, a hero shot, a list of benefits, social proof and a single conversion goal (do these elements sound familiar?).

A great thing to test would be a hero shot representative of the actual offering, like the one in this overlay by Acquire Convert:

6-copy

Use overlays to counter objections

No matter which stage of the buyer journey your prospect is at, their inner monologue will include some objections to your offer. Overlays are a great way to counter them.

For example, have a look at this overlay by Gr8fires, which appeared for visitors to their ecommerce store. They knew visitors to that page were likely shopping around for the best deals and were likely already thinking, “I don’t know how much stove installation is going to cost.”

To counter that objection, Gr8fires created an overlay with an “installation calculator” that detailed the costs associated with installing their product. See how the headline mirrors the conversation in the prospect’s head?

7-copy
The results of Gr8fires’ overlay campaign were incredible: 300% increase in monthly sales leads and a 48.54% lift in sales. Image source.

This example is particularly wonderful because it accomplishes something for both the marketer and the prospect. On the prospect’s end, it delivers great value in exchange for a very small commitment (entering name and email). On the marketer’s end, it helps to educate prospects on a larger-ticket item that typically requires more convincing.

A real win-win scenario. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Don’t be a negative Nelly

If you’ve seen overlays across the web, you’ve likely noticed that “yes” button text is often juxtaposed with “no” hyperlink text in close proximity. And you’ve likely noticed that the “no” hyperlink text is often sassy.

I see this everywhere online — marketers resorting to language like:

8-copy
Nobody thinks this.

Or this one:

9-copy
Come on.

Don’t forget this one:

10-copy
Really?

Or finally, this example, which borders on offensive:

11-copy
This is getting out of hand.

It should go without saying, but you should never talk down to prospects simply because they might not want your offering.

Not only does that create friction to completing the form, it can also damage your brand’s image and credibility.

This example by Narcity misses the mark for a different reason:

12-copy

This overlay forces a lie in order to opt-out: “I’m already subscribed.”

This is problematic for two reasons:

  1. If people are subscribed then they shouldn’t be seeing this to begin with
  2. It creates cognitive dissonance, forcing prospects to stop and think.

In short, it creates a jarring experience that doesn’t make you wanna fill in the form.

So what should you be doing?

Mirror the voice in your prospect’s head

Don’t talk down to your visitors with “I can’t stand exclusive offers” opt-out copy.

Stop and reflect on what they’re likely thinking when they click that “no” button. The folks at TVLiftCabinet.com keep it classy:

13-copy

When at a loss, stick with a straightforward, “No thanks, I’m not interested.”

Make it easy to say yes

There are tons of other things you can test to make your overlay offers irresistible to visitors.

  • Test fewer form fields to reduce perceived friction on your forms:
14-copy
Adding too many form fields can have a negative impact on conversion rates.
  • Make visitors feel like they’re being offered something exclusive:
15-copy
16-copy

Whatever you do, never forget that your prospect’s attention is a valuable commodity.

And once you have it, you should respect it by doing everything you can to deliver meaningful value.

Taken from:

16 Overlay Examples Critiqued for Conversion