All posts by Corey Dilley

Get Access to All the Recordings From Marketing Optimization Week

Just last week you may have joined us, along with 8,000 other marketers online for our first ever Marketing Optimization Week. Held over four days (February 20-23), experts from Hanapin, Emma, Zapier, Drift, Microsoft and more shared their tactics for refreshing your marketing and getting past a results slump.

Running 14 sessions total with 13 amazing partners, we were pretty excited to see marketers get so much out of the event:

I presented on the topic of “How to Improve Your Adwords Conversion Rates” as part of the PPC track (we had four tracks in all, including PPC, AI, Marketing Strategy and Automation). Today I’ll share some of the PPC-related takeaways, both from my session and others.

Making the Most of Your PPC Spend

To start, here’s my pop quiz:

If you’ve optimized your AdWords campaigns to no end, but are still seeing smaller and smaller efficiency gains, do you:

  1. Throw more money at it (cost per acquisition be damned!)
  2. Keep on truckin’. (Refine your keyword strategy further and test new ads), or
  3. Start looking at where your ads are pointing to

Call me crazy, but option 3 seems like a no-brainer, right?

It’s like my pal Joe Martinez, Director of Paid Media at Granular Marketing says:

“Ads get traffic. Landing pages get conversions.”

In other words, no matter how good your keyword and bidding strategies are, your ads can’t do the work alone.

The savviest PPC marketers are optimizing as much of the funnel as they can get their hands on, because AdWords CPC’s have nearly tripled since 2012. To ensure you’re not blindly spending, you need to look at where your ads are pointing to.

The question I have is: with landing pages being such low-hanging fruit in terms of paid ad success, why haven’t all marketers figured this out yet?

I tackled this in my presentation covering:

  • What landing page changes you can make now to lift conversion rates
  • How to make these changes without talking to your developer
  • How to set up an A/B test in less than 30 seconds
If you haven’t already, you can sign up to get all the recordings here

Other PPC-Specific Sessions You Can Check out

Throughout the week it was pretty satisfying to see a big focus on post-click optimization as a major area to consider for improving results and getting the most out of your PPC ad spend.

My personal favourite talks within the PPC track were:

  • PPC Woes And What To Do About Them by Beth Thouin and Richard Beck of Acquisio
  • Beef Up Your Quality Score With Landing Page Updates by Jeff Baum and Diane Anselmo at Hanapin, and
  • Unicorn Marketing: Getting Unusually Great Results Across Every Marketing Channel by Larry Kim of Mobile Monkey

Finally, here are some of my top takeaways from the talks above:

1. Optimize your landing pages to get ahead

Acquisio structured their session around addressing the biggest woes PPC marketers face everyday and they provided actionable tips for prolonging the effectiveness of your campaigns past three to four months.

According to Beth and Richard, one of the best ways to get ahead of the competition (and keep your campaigns fresh and high-converting) is to work on your landing pages. Make sure your images are high-quality, pages load fast, and there’s clear message match between your ads and resulting landing pages.

It’s like Richard said during the session: “[forget] the bucket with holes in it! Not having a good landing page is like having a bucket with no bottom in it when it comes to PPC campaigns.”

2. Focus on navigation to increase your Quality Score

So often we get caught up with page load time, copy, and SEO that we forget to focus on intent and how people expect or want to navigate through our landing page information (i.e.: easily). Hanapin’s session went over just how important Quality Score is for PPC campaign performance and how one factor in improving your score via the landing page experience is navigation.

Jeff and Diane use the analogy of a shoe store: the experience after clicking through on a search ad should be akin to walking through a neatly organized shop where everything is labelled, certain types of shoes are grouped together, and you can easily find what you’re looking for in a matter of minutes. When in doubt: the simpler you make your landing page navigation/information hierarchy, the better.

3. Stop trying to optimize donkeys. They will always be donkeys.

During his session at Marketing Optimization Week, Larry Kim outlined the difference between a unicorn and donkey. What’s a marketing unicorn? Typically, these are the pieces of content or campaigns that outperform the rest. They usually make up only a small percentage of everything you run. One of the main points in this talk that resonated with me was that we should stop trying to optimize donkeys and focus exclusively on the unicorns.

Unicorns are unicorns across channels, so when you find one, take it and apply it across your other channels, including PPC. To find unicorns we need to audition lots of content ideas, identify which ones have unusually high engagement rates, and optimize those few for engagement even further.

These takeaways just scratch the surface from Marketing Optimization Week (there are more tracks and engaging speakers). Be sure to grab the recordings and share them with your team!

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Get Access to All the Recordings From Marketing Optimization Week

Don’t Settle. Build the Marketing Campaigns of Your Dreams Without a Line of Code

Conquer technical limitations with Zapier and Unbounce

Hi, I’m Corey. Are you an idealistic marketer, like me?

That is—do you plan your marketing campaigns by pretending technical limitations aren’t a thing and just map out the ideal experience you want for your prospects from first impression to final conversion? Like this:

A photo of my actual campaign flow on the whiteboard.

If your whiteboard looks this optimistic, read on. We’ll nerd out together.

After us idealistic marketers are done dreaming about our perfect campaign structure from start to finish, the harsh reality sets in: technical limitations are definitely a thing. When the time comes to figure out how to actually do something a little crazy, like augment lead data or enrich it with extra data pulled from ‘the internet’, things get much trickier. But if you’re dedicated to the campaign you mapped out, you really want to make it happen.

Often, you’ll ask a developer for help and hear, “Sure it’s possible. I’ll just need two weeks to code it up. Log a request and we’ll prioritize it against all the other requests for my genius.”

We both know you’re not logging that request, because it’s not getting prioritized.

Eventually, you run a campaign that looks exactly like what you’ve done before, or what everyone else is doing, because it’s relatively easy for us—lowly marketers—to pull off by ourselves.

It’s infuriating.

Can’t we Execute More Sophisticated Marketing?

Is it too much to ask that we can create whatever the hell we dream up, so we can push the industry forward? To deliver the experience we think could make a difference to our prospects—one they might even enjoy?

Not if we need to rely on devs to help build our lead management or the integrations component of our campaigns for us, unfortunately.

However, I’ve found that more and more often I don’t need to have these futile conversations with developers. Modern martech has brought us tools to help, and the tool that comes up most often for me is Zapier.

Your Marketing on Zapier

Have you ever punched above your weight at work and solved a problem that that you’re totally unqualified to solve? It. feels. so. satisfying. You feel way smarter than you actually are.

I got that feeling when I used Zapier with Unbounce for the first time. I still get that feeling today. If you dream big enough, and can connect the right tools together, you can pull off campaign workflows that feel almost impossible.

Exactly how I felt having used Zapier for the first time.

Most recently, I tried to execute the campaign in the whiteboard photo above (the one above the Dragonball Z meme). The campaign—called Conversion Quest—challenges PPC marketers working in agencies to double the conversion rate of one of their client’s landing pages in 30 days.

When planning this campaign, I wanted to have a prospect fill out the form on a landing page with the current date (when they were “starting their quest”), and their current conversion rate. From there, they’d receive an email confirming their personalized quest goal and deadline by which they’d ideally complete the challenge (The email was to automatically pull in someone’s target conversion rate and their custom due date a month out).

Of course, when I’d planned this flow, there was no technical way to magically include a doubled conversion rate and custom due date directly in each prospect’s followup message. That is until my colleague reminded me of Zapier Formatter, which allows you to manipulate your lead data before it goes into your marketing automation platform (or CRM, or Email Marketing Service, or wherever other tool you can think of). Just 30 minutes later (and without approaching our dev team), I had augmented data going into our marketing automation platform.

Now Conversion Quest runs with custom info in the followup, all thanks to a quick Zap (a preconfigured integration template connecting two or more apps).

Here’s an example of the message I send in that campaign:

Here’s a sample of the email I manipulated data with via Zapier to personalize.

Now, are you going to need to use Zapier so you can build Conversion Quest?

No (that’s my great idea)… But my bet is you’ve got amazing campaign ideas for which Zaps could help you create a consistent (better!) experience for your leads, and help you stop relying on developers. As a bonus, Unbounce now has Integrations Powered by Zapier available right in the builder, so you can do this super quickly, without ever leaving Unbounce.

Here’s just a sampling of the Zaps available right in Unbounce. There are 60+ right in app, and with a Premium Zapier account you can access over 900!

Let’s dig into the versatility for a second.

Leveling up your marketing (without a line of code)

You could use Unbounce’s Integrations Powered by Zapier if…

1. You need to connect a client’s hodgepodge of tools

In this case, you’re a marketing agency that needs to build high-converting lead gen landing pages, overlays or sticky bars that connect to anything and everything your clients use, which could include:

  • Hatchbuck
  • Base
  • Follow Up Boss
  • Agile CRM
  • Pipedrive
  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot CRM
  • Capsule CRM
  • PipelineDeals

A few quick Zaps can connect your lead data to all of the above.

2. You want to use an existing CRM or marketing automation platform, with custom landing pages/Unbounce

If you’re using a tool that requires you to use rigid forms or landing pages, but you’d rather have custom landing pages that look great, convert like crazy and give you more control over the experience, you’d simply Zap together your landing page builder with tools/platforms like:

  • GoToWebinar
  • Marketo
  • Salesforce
  • Pardot
  • MailChimp
3. Your CMS or Marketing Automation tool doesn’t enrich your data for you

With Integrations Powered by Zapier, if you collect a lead in Unbounce, Zapier can enrich the lead’s profile with extra data (using, for example, the lead scoring Zap) en route to wherever you’re storing your leads.

4. Your sales team would like to be notified immediately when a super qualified lead comes in…but they never check their email

For this, you can try sending notifications via the following Zaps:

  • SMS integration
  • Slack
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
5. You’d like to route leads to specific salespeople in your CRM depending on the info a prospect submits in a form

Joe Savich from Altos gave this a try in Unbounce, and had high praise for this email parser Zap:

“It’s pretty nice. The integration powered by Zapier was super easy to setup…I was able to create a lead notification with a condition that, depending on which custom field was chosen, would send that lead to the appropriate sales team. My client thinks I am a magician! I could see this being used a lot going forward.”

Overall, of all the feature releases in my 4 ½ years at Unbounce, Integrations Powered by Zapier is my all time favourite. Zaps from right inside our builder empower marketers to do things you shouldn’t be able to do, without developers. And they make you feel really smart.

If you’re committed to driving our industry forward with some next-level marketing (that may look impossible at first glance), I’d urge you to try zapping some connections together and getting creative. You might surprise yourself, or better yet your boss or clients.

Continue reading: 

Don’t Settle. Build the Marketing Campaigns of Your Dreams Without a Line of Code

A Simple but Effective Framework for Landing Page Information Hierarchy

Some marketers do an excellent job of laying out information on their landing page so that it tells a story in a way the reader needs to hear it. Not only does that yield awesome conversion rates, it creates an experience for the reader that feels effortless.

Other times, information is presented in a way that feels disjointed or out of order.

Have a look at this example, which invites people to “get started” without really explaining what “travel nursing jobs” are. They only clarify their unique value proposition below the fold: “We put health care professionals on assignment to do the work they love — in the places they fall in love with.”


Before you ask prospects to convert, you need to explain what your offer is.

Heck, before you even begin to talk about yourself, you need to show prospects that you understand their anxieties — and you must address their objections as they spring up, telling them exactly what they need to hear when they need to hear it. This includes omitting unnecessary information that doesn’t address an actual question in your prospect’s mind.

If that sounds like a tall order, we’ve got a simple solution:

Information hierarchy: the practice of laying out your information so that it answers all your prospects’ questions in a logical order.

And once you get a hang of it, you’ll be weaving a tale on your landing page that has your prospects nodding “yaassss.”

A simple but effective information hierarchy for your landing pages

Information hierarchy is so important that it’s the first thing I consider when creating any marketing asset, from an ad to a blog post to a website.

But I’ve also designed many-a-landing-page, and for that I have a go-to hierarchy. In Google Docs, I start by:

  • Stating how the offer relieves a specific pain for the reader
  • Explaining what the offer will allow that person to do (the benefit)
  • Explaining why I am uniquely positioned to provide the offer (why I have the best solution)
  • Addressing the most common objections that people often have before they’re willing to accept my offer
  • Telling people how they can get offer (the call to action)
  • Providing social proof from people just like the reader, or from people they know and admire

Only when I have that foundational information in place do I start writing copy and designing the page.

Often, I can dedicate a page section to each one of those topics, keep it in that order and call it a day.

However, depending on the complexity of the offer, the assets I have at my disposal (like a sweet image or explainer video) or the objections I know the audience will hold, I may choose to rearrange the order or use a different format than text.

The above hierarchy is great as a jumping off point, but depending on your unique audience, mileage may vary. So don’t forget to test.

Examples of marketers nailing information hierarchy

Want to know what all of this looks like in practice?

Below are a few examples of information hierarchy done right.

Example 1: Logi Analytics


Logi Analytics has managed to pare down the amount of information on the page to include only what’s necessary to convince the right audience member to download their ebook.

They’ve structured it all so that it reads like a pitch that starts with the promise of learning new information and ends with instructions on how to get it:

  1. A headline promising a book with brand new, never before seen “emerging design trends”
  2. A hero shot showing a sneak preview of what you’ll get
  3. A description that digs deeper into what the book contains
  4. A bulleted list that describes the benefits (you’ll learn…)
  5. Social proof, promising that other people trust Logi
  6. A form headline that reassures you that you can apply the information easily
  7. A CTA describing how to get the ebook

The only thing I’d recommend is a link to their privacy policy positioned near the email field (ideally opening in a lightbox so the reader doesn’t need to navigate away) to satisfy those who need assurance that their information will be handled responsibly.

Example 2: Ten-X

Click for full image. Image source.

Ten-X clearly understands what their potential clients want: offers on the commercial property they’re selling.

Though Ten-X also offers services for brokers, they know that the people who are looking at this page — the people who are selling commercial properties — don’t need to know it. So they’ve hidden broker information and focus instead on catering to only one audience.

Additionally, Ten-x focuses only on the next step for readers, displaying only enough information to sell the reader on why they should get a free consultation.

Their copy reads like a persuasive pitch taking someone from “I need to get offers on my commercial property” to “here’s how I can get started.” Here’s how they take someone through that thought process step by step:

  • A headline that promises clients will get offers. Fast.
  • A benefits section that shows why Ten-X is better than the alternatives (These sections actually display more information on click — I’d recommend making that more obvious.)
  • A succinct explanation of how the process works
  • Social proof, providing confidence that others have found success with Ten-X
  • A form header/subhead reassuring prospects that they can start the process for free, with no risk
  • A disclaimer at the end with the qualifier “By the way, we have minimum deal sizes.” I love the placement of this information. It’s important to qualify the quality of the leads, but they don’t want to waste valuable page real estate with it. They bring it up only after the prospect has made their decision. If you have a low-value property, you might be upset about it… but who cares? You can’t become a client anyway.
Bonus tip:

What’s the common thread between this example and the one above?

Both companies have considered what the reader needs to know in order for them to make the next important decision — and the next decision only. #1page1goal

Consider information hierarchy before you even open your builder

Marketers who carefully consider information hierarchy before they even open their landing page builder are more likely to design a landing page that’s delightful and converts.

To help our customers perfect information hierarchy, we just built out a feature that lets you hide information that only some people may want to see in a lightbox that’s triggered by a button click, saving valuable page real estate.

Test it out by clicking the CTA below.

Read this article: 

A Simple but Effective Framework for Landing Page Information Hierarchy

Here’s the Marketing Strategy Brief Unbounce Uses for Every Campaign


When you have a small team, running marketing campaigns is relatively smooth. The right hand always knows what the left hand is doing, communication comes easily and bottlenecks are few and far between.

But as marketing teams grow, things can get rough (to say the least).

As Director of Campaign Strategy at Unbounce, I’ve experienced this first-hand. The company has grown five times over since I started, and now, it’s not uncommon to have up to 20 people contributing to a single campaign.

And while this significantly increases the potential of any campaign, it makes strong communication and process so much more important. With so many people involved, it’s dangerously easy to waste people’s time and create mediocre work that lacks a single vision.

Below, I’m dissecting the process I use to create a campaign with a large team of people: the tools and processes that are critical for making sure everyone’s on the same page and has the information they need to make smart decisions.

These are the elements that will help you run smooth and efficient marketing campaigns that bring the sort of results that will make your boss proud (or your client happy).

Start by defining roles

Before anything else, it’s important to identify people’s roles in a campaign.

Campaign ideas can come from anywhere. In my experience, the person who has the idea (we call them the Champion) should be involved in the whole process, though they’re not necessarily doing much work.

If you’re the Champion and you’re not involved throughout, it’s like you had a baby, cared for it for a year, planned their life out in your mind, then put it up for adoption. It’s rare that the baby’s life will turn out just how you imagined. If you had just hired a nanny instead, you could explain the general idea, trust the nanny to make good decisions and watch your baby grow up and become the ESports celebrity you always dreamed of while you sit back drinking piña coladas and reaping the rewards of internet fame.

…Anyway, along with the Champion, we’ve identified five main roles that exist in almost all of our campaigns:

Role Definition
Champion Responsible for the success of the campaign, including the brief (objective, audience, value prop) and the strategy that comes from the brief (usually, with help from the Architect).
Artist Responsible for the quality of the thing being marketed (ebook, partnership, webinar).
Architect Responsible for consulting on strategy, then squeezing all the marketing opportunity out of the campaign through the tactics chosen.
Expert(s) Responsible for the excellence of each individual tactic and contributing to the strategy if the Architect needs their help.
Stakeholder(s) Responsible for ensuring the piece the Artist created is in line with the overall marketing strategy.

At the end of a campaign, the Champion should be able to make the decision of whether to:

  • Stop doing all the tactics
  • Optimize: cut or change some activities and turn the campaign into an ongoing activity
  • Double down: optimize and invest even more resources

Without pre-defined roles, it’s unclear who is responsible for the success of the project. People tend to feel less accountable, and making a call about the success of the campaign becomes much more complicated when it’s muddled with all other types of efficiency problems.

Determine the targets and messaging

For every campaign, there’s usually “a thing” to be marketed. A new feature, an ebook, a partnership, whatever. When thinking about that thing, there are a few very important questions you’ll want to ask.

These questions will help you begin to draft messaging for your landing pages, social and email marketing, but they’ll also help you create laser-focused campaigns targeted at real people with real problems that need solving:

  1. Who does this solve a problem for? Alternatively, who does this present an opportunity for?
  2. Who are the types of people (buyer personas) the thing you’re marketing solves a problem for/presents a significant opportunity for?
  3. What is the specific problem you’re solving or opportunity you’re opening up for that person?
  4. What will that person’s life look like after they use your thing? (This will be your value proposition.)
  5. Which pains that you’re easing are the most painful? Which opportunities are the most significant?

Each one of the pains/opportunities you pick out for #5 represents its own campaign.

If you have a ton of resources and the thing you’re marketing is monumental, you may choose to do many campaigns. If not, you may choose only the best one.

You’ll need a campaign brief to communicate the goal, strategy and messaging of the campaign internally to the people you need help from (whether it’s stakeholders, specialists like your PPC or email person, or the creative department).

If you’re all on a journey together, the brief’s the map.

PSST. We’re giving away the campaign brief template that Unbounce uses. Scroll to the end of this post to get it.

Determine the objective

For each campaign you run, you should have an objective that every piece of that campaign is working toward.

In other words, what happens when someone clicks the button on your campaign landing page? Often, depending on the type of campaign, there will just be one or two objectives that are a better fit. Some typical examples:

  • Social contest, event sponsorship – Branding
  • Ebook, ecourse, whitepaper, blog contest, comarketing with a partner – New leads
  • New feature launch, seasonal promotion – New customers

At Unbounce, almost all of our campaigns fall into one of those three metrics.

Selecting a single objective is extremely important, because so many decisions will be based on trade-offs.

For example, if you’re planning to write a specific content piece and your goal is branding, you’ll likely want write it as a series of blog articles and leverage SEO as much as possible. But if it’s a lead gen play, you may decide to format it in a PDF and collect email addresses before people can download the PDF.

Determine the strategy

The word “strategy” has become a catch-all for a lot of things. Nobody seems to know exactly what it means anymore.

I think of strategy as “the general idea of how you’re going to communicate the message to the target, then get them to carry out the objective.” It should be able to be summed up in a few sentences at most.

For example, a bunch of strategies for a feature launch targeting account strategists at marketing agencies might be:

  • Get to account strategists by targeting the companies they’re working for. Encourage the clients to tell their account strategists to tell their clients they need our newest feature.
  • Ask our customers to reach out to all the account strategists they know and convince them to try our newest feature.
  • Target account strategists broadly and get them to sign up for a free plan, where we’ll educate them until they upgrade.
  • Target the most valuable account strategists in a very focused way that invites them to a one-on-one demo of the product and our new feature. Shower them with gifts so they love us.

There’s no need to mention the specific way you’ll accomplish any of these things. It’s meant to be a general approach that you and your team can keep in mind while you’re deciding on the tactics you’ll employ and how to execute those tactics.

If one person thinks we’re getting to account strategists through their clients and another thinks we’re just speaking to them directly, you’ve got a disaster on your hands.

Determine the tactics

If your landing page is the hub of your campaign (and it should be), your tactics are your spokes. They’re how you’ll get the target of your campaign (the tire?) to complete the objective (the chain that attaches to the hub?) …I don’t know, this metaphor’s falling apart fast.

Put simply, the tactics are simply a description of the ways you’ll use (or omit) the channels at your disposal to execute the strategy.

Only when you’ve put in the mental effort to decide on your objective and your plan of attack (strategy) should you lock in your tactics. If either the objective or the strategy were to change, all your tactics should reflect that change.

I take four steps to finalize the tactics:

  1. Run through all the channels I think should be used and if I have an opinion on how they should be used, I write it down. We’ve made a list of all the channels at our disposal and how they can be used. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend making one.
  2. I then email the specialists for each channel, give them the objective, messaging and strategy for the campaign and ask them something along the lines of “I’d like to use your channel in this campaign. I thought the best way to drive people to our landing page would be to ______, but if you have a better idea, I’d love to hear your recommendation.”
  3. When I get all those recommendations back, I challenge the person a little to make sure they’ve really thought it through, then when we’re both confident that their recommendation is the best way to drive people to our landing page, I add it to the brief.
  4. I then map out the entire plan on a whiteboard, identify all the points where a conversion will take place and consider ways that we could execute the tactics (or include additional tactics) in a delightful way that would catch the target off-guard and make them more likely to convert. This might happen solo, in collaboration with the experts or in a brainstorm.

Congratulations, you’ve now figured out exactly how you’ll use everyone in your team to work toward a common goal. But wait… there’s more.

Estimate results and effort

Only when you’ve determined your tactics do you understand the scope of your project and the potential results.

We estimate scope using a points system. Depending on the complexity of a campaign, we rate it 1, 2, 3, 5 or 8. We use the Fibonacci sequence because a campaign that’s HUGE in scope (8) would be much more work than a big campaign (5), not just 25% bigger.

To estimate the results of a campaign, we plug all our tactics into a spreadsheet, identify all the points of conversion for each tactic on the way to the objective and estimate those conversion rates.

A sneak preview of the campaign estimate spreadsheet that Unbounce uses. Grab it here.

The result should be the number of [the metric tied to your objective]’s you think you’ll get. Plug your final estimate into the “target” section of the brief.

That estimate will come in handy at the end of the campaign when you need to decide whether to cut, optimize or double-down in the future. If you blow away your estimated results, double-down.

Then pitch it… and get to work

An often-overlooked part of the process is pitching the idea back to those you need help from.

By inviting everyone you need in the project into a single meeting and pitching the campaign like a business pitch (“there’s X opportunity and I have a plan to capture it”), you have the ability to excite your team and get them on board. Run them through the brief starting from a zoomed out view to explain how everyone fits into the plan:

Messaging -> Objective -> Target -> Strategy -> Tactics

If everyone leaves the meeting enthusiastic and invested in the journey they’re all embarking on, they’ll do better work.

Pro tip: Present the plan to your stakeholders (who are usually your bosses) before this big meeting. If you come into the pitch with your head honchos backing you, you further reduce the chance of the meeting going sideways.

Then all you have to do is execute the damn thing!

To help you get there, we’re sharing the campaign brief template that Unbounce uses. Enter your email below and it’s yours to steal. :)

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Here’s the Marketing Strategy Brief Unbounce Uses for Every Campaign