All posts by Angus Lynch


Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors


Back in 2015, Unbounce launched its first ever exit overlay on this very blog.

Did it send our signup rate skyrocketing 4,000%? Nope.

Did it turn our blog into a conversion factory for new leads? Not even close — our initial conversion rate was barely over 1.25%.

But what it did do was start us down the path of exploring the best ways to use this technology; of furthering our goals by finding ways to offer visitors relevant, valuable content through overlays.

Overlays are modal lightboxes that launch within a webpage and focus attention on a single offer. Still fuzzy on what an overlay is? Click here.

In this post, we’ll break down all the wins, losses and “holy smokes!” moments from our first 2,345,864 exit overlay viewers.

Psst: Towards the end of these experiments, Unbounce launched Convertables, and with it a whole toolbox of advanced triggers and targeting options for overlays.

Goals, tools and testing conditions

Our goal for this project was simple: Get more people to consume more Unbounce content — whether it be blog posts, ebooks, videos, you name it.

We invest a lot in our content, and we want it read by as many marketers as possible. All our research — everything we know about that elusive thing called conversion, exists in our content.

Our content also allows readers to find out whether Unbounce is a tool that can help them. We want more customers, but only if they can truly benefit from our product. Those who experience ‘lightbulb’ moments when reading our content definitely fit the bill.

As for tools, the first four experiments were conducted using Rooster (an exit-intent tool purchased by Unbounce in June 2015). It was a far less sophisticated version of what is now Unbounce Convertables, which we used in the final experiment.

Testing conditions were as follows:

  1. All overlays were triggered on exit; meaning they launched only when abandoning visitors were detected.
  1. For the first three experiments, we compared sequential periods to measure results. For the final two, we ran makeshift A/B tests.
  1. When comparing sequential periods, testing conditions were isolated by excluding new blog posts from showing any overlays.
  1. A “conversion” was defined as either a completed form (lead gen overlay) or a click (clickthrough overlay).
  1. All experiments were conducted between January 2015 and November 2016.

Experiment #1: Content Offer vs. Generic Signup

Our first exit overlay had a simple goal: Get more blog subscribers. It looked like this.


It was viewed by 558,488 unique visitors over 170 days, 1.27% of which converted to new blog subscribers. Decent start, but not good enough.

To improve the conversion rate, we posed the following.

Because online marketing offers typically convert better when a specific, tangible offer is made (versus a generic signup), we expect that by offering a free ebook to abandoning visitors, we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.27% baseline.

Whereas the original overlay asked visitors to subscribe to the blog for “tips”, the challenger overlay offered visitors The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design.


After 96 days and over 260,000 visitors, we had enough conversions to call this experiment a success. The overlay converted at 2.65%, and captured 7,126 new blog subscribers.


Since we didn’t A/B test these overlays, our results were merely observations. Seasonality is one of many factors that can sway the numbers.

We couldn’t take it as gospel, but we were seeing double the subscribers we had previously.


  • Offering tangible resources (versus non-specific promises, like a blog signup) can positively affect conversion rates.

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

Experiment #2: Four-field vs. Single-field Overlays

Data people always spoil the party.

The early success of our first experiment caught the attention of Judi, our resident marketing automation whiz, who wisely reminded us that collecting only an email address on a large-scale campaign was a missed opportunity.

For us to fully leverage this campaign, we needed to find out more about the individuals (and organizations) who were consuming our content.

Translation: We needed to add three more form fields to the overlay.


Since filling out forms is a universal bummer, we safely assumed our conversion rate would take a dive.

But something else happened that we didn’t predict. Notice a difference (besides the form fields) between the two overlays above? Yup, the new version was larger: 900x700px vs. 750x450px.

Adding three form fields made our original 750x450px design feel too cramped, so we arbitrarily increased the size — never thinking there may be consequences. More on that later.

Anyways, we launched the new version, and as expected the results sucked.

Things weren’t looking good after 30 days.

For business reasons, we decided to end the test after 30 days, even though we didn’t run the challenger overlay for an equal time period (96 days).

Overall, the conversion rate for the 30-day period was 48% lower than the previous 96-day period. I knew it was for good reason: Building our data warehouse is important. Still, a small part of me died that day.

Then it got worse.

It occurred to us that for a 30-day period, that sample size of viewers for the new overlay (53,460) looked awfully small.

A closer inspection revealed that our previous overlay averaged 2,792 views per day, while this new version was averaging 1,782. So basically our 48% conversion drop was served a la carte with a 36% plunge in overall views. Fun!

But why?

It turns out increasing the size of the overlay wasn’t so harmless. The size was too large for many people’s browser windows, so the overlay only fired two out of every three visits, even when targeting rules matched.

We conceded, and redesigned the overlay in 800x500px format.


Daily views rose back to their normal numbers, and our new baseline conversion rate of 1.25% remained basically unchanged.


Large gap between “loads” and “views” on June 4th; narrower gap on June 5th.


  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).

Experiment #3: One Overlay vs. 10 Overlays

It seemed like such a great idea at the time…

Why not get hyper relevant and build a different exit overlay to each of our blog categories?

With our new baseline conversion rate reduced to 1.25%, we needed an improvement that would help us overcome “form friction” and get us back to that healthy 2%+ range we enjoyed before.

So with little supporting data, we hypothesized that increasing “relevance” was the magic bullet we needed. It works on landing pages why not overlays?

Since “relevance” is key to driving conversions, we expect that by running a unique exit overlay on each of our blog categories — whereby the free resource is specific to the category — we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.25% baseline.


We divide our blog into categories according to the marketing topic they cover (e.g., landing pages, copywriting, design, UX, conversion optimization). Each post is tagged by category.

So to increase relevance, we created a total of 10 exit overlays (each offering a different resource) and assigned each overlay to one or two categories, like this:


Creating all the new overlays would take some time (approximately three hours), but since we already had a deep backlog of resources on all things online marketing, finding a relevant ebook, course or video to offer in each category wasn’t difficult.

And since our URLs contain category tags (e.g., all posts on “design” start with root domain, making sure the right overlay ran on the right post was easy.


URL Targeting rule for our Design category; the “include” rule automatically excludes the overlay from running in other categories.

But there was a problem: We’d established a strict rule that our readers would only ever see one exit overlay… no matter how many blog categories they browsed. It’s part of our philosophy on using overlays in a way that respects the user experience.

When we were just using one overlay, that was easy — a simple “Frequency” setting was all we needed.


…but not so easy with 10 overlays running on the same blog.

We needed a way to exclude anyone who saw one overlay from seeing any of the other nine.

Cookies were the obvious answer, so we asked our developers to build a temporary solution that could:

  • Pass a cookie from an overlay to the visitor’s browser
  • Exclude that cookie in our targeting settings

They obliged.


We used “incognito mode” to repeatedly test the functionality, and after that we were go for launch.

Then this happened.

Ignore the layout… the Convertables dashboard is much prettier now :)

After 10 days of data, our conversion rate was a combined 1.36%, 8.8% higher than the baseline. It eventually crept its way to 1.42% after an additional 250,000 views. Still nowhere near what we’d hoped.

So what went wrong?

We surmised that just because an offer is “relevant” doesn’t mean it’s compelling. Admittedly, not all of the 10 resources were on par with The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design, the ebook we originally offered in all categories.

That said, this experiment provided an unexpected benefit: we could now see our conversion rates by category instead of just one big number for the whole blog. This would serve us well on future tests.


  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between categories.

Experiment #4: Resource vs. Resource

“Just because it’s relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.”

This lesson inspired a simple objective for our next task: Improve the offers in our underperforming categories.

We decided to test new offers across five categories that had low conversion rates and high traffic volume:

  1. A/B Testing and CRO (0.57%)
  2. Email (1.24%)
  3. Lead Gen and Content Marketing (0.55%)
Note: We used the same overlay for the A/B Testing and CRO categories, as well as the Lead Gen and Content Marketing Categories.

Since we believe the resources we’re offering in the categories of A/B testing, CRO, Email, Lead Gen and Content Marketing are less compelling than resources we offer in other categories, we expect to see increased conversion rates when we test new resources in these categories.

With previous studies mentioned in this post, we compared sequential periods. For this one, we took things a step further and jury-rigged an A/B testing system together using Visual Website Optimizer and two Unbounce accounts.

And after finding what we believed to be more compelling resources to offer, the new test was launched.


We saw slightly improved results in the A/B Testing and CRO categories, although not significant. For the Email category, we saw a large drop-off.

In the Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories however, there was a dramatic uptick in conversions and the results were statistically significant. Progress!


  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.

Experiment #5: Clickthrough vs. Lead Gen Overlays

Although progress was made in our previous test, we still hadn’t solved the problem from our second experiment.

While having the four fields made each conversion more valuable to us, it still reduced our conversion rate a relative 48% (from 2.65% to 1.25% back in experiment #2).

We’d now worked our way up to a baseline of 1.75%, but still needed a strategy for reducing form friction.

The answer lay in a new tactic for using overlays that we dubbed traffic shaping.

Traffic Shaping: Using clickthrough overlays to incentivize visitors to move from low-converting to high-converting pages.

Here’s a quick illustration:


Converting to this format would require us to:

  1. Redesign our exit overlays
  2. Build a dedicated landing page for each overlay
  3. Collect leads via the landing pages

Basically, we’d be using the overlays as a bridge to move readers from “ungated” content (a blog post) to “gated” content (a free video that required a form submission to view). Kinda like playing ‘form field hot potato’ in a modern day version of Pipe Dream.

Because “form friction” reduces conversions, we expect that removing form fields from our overlays will increase engagement (enough to offset the drop off we expect from adding an extra step). To do this, we will redesign our overlays to clickthrough (no fields), create a dedicated landing page for each overlay and add the four-field form to the landing page. We’ll measure results in Unbounce.

By this point, we were using Unbounce to build the entire campaign. The overlays were built in Convertables, and the landing pages were created with the Unbounce landing page builder.

We decided to test this out in our A/B Testing and CRO as well as Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories.


After filling out the form, visitors would either be given a secure link for download (PDF) or taken to a resource page where their video would play.

Again, for this to be successful the conversion rate on the overlays would need to increase enough to offset the drop off we expected by adding the extra landing page step.

These were our results after 21 days.


Not surprisingly, engagement with the overlays increased significantly. I stress the word “engagement” and not “conversion,” because our goal had changed from a form submission to a clickthrough.

In order to see a conversion increase, we needed to factor in the percentage of visitors who would drop off once they reached the landing page.

A quick check in Unbounce showed us landing page drop-off rates of 57.7% (A/B Testing/CRO) and 25.33% (Lead Gen/Content Marketing). Time for some grade 6 math…


Even with significant drop-off in the landing page step, overall net leads still increased.

Our next step would be applying the same format to all blog categories, and then measuring overall results.


All observations

  • Offering specific, tangible resources (vs. non-specific promises) can positively affect conversion rates.
  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).
  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between blog categories
  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.
  • “Form friction” can vary significantly depending on where your form fields appear.

Stay tuned…

We’re continuing to test new triggers and targeting options for overlays, and we want to tell you all about it.

So what’s in store for next time?

  1. The Trigger Test — What happens when test our “on exit” trigger against a 15-second time delay?
  2. The Referral Test — What happens when we show different overlays to users from different traffic sources (e.g., social vs. organic)?
  3. New v.s. Returning Visitors — Do returning blog visitors convert better than first-time visitors?

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.


Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors

WTF Are Hedonic Shoppers and Why Should You Care?

abandoned shopping cart
It’s a lonely life for an abandoned shopping cart. Photo by Chris Glass.

67.89% of online shopping carts are abandoned, according to the Baymard Institute.

Across the web, we see toolmakers capitalizing on this number, and promoting the idea that poorly optimized carts are costing retailers two-thirds of their sales.

But is it really true?

Yes, many ecommerce companies are letting sales slip through the cracks because their checkout process isn’t optimized.

But retailers are not losing 67% of sales simply because their shopping carts suck.

Simply put, not every fish that nibbles your line is “one that got away.”

The fish that got away
Yeah, yeah, it was the biggest fish you’d ever seen, right?

And not every user that ditches your shopping cart does so because your checkout CTA is the wrong colour.

Etailers aren’t losing 67% of sales simply because their shopping carts suck. #CRO
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Shopping cart abandonment rates are inflated by a group called hedonic shoppers, and they fill carts for much different reasons than normal utilitarian shoppers.

The bad news is you won’t capture sales from most hedonic shoppers by A/B testing your checkout process.

But by understanding hedonic motivations, you can build a relationship with these shoppers and eventually convert them to valuable customers. It just takes a bit of effort and creativity.

In this post, we’ll discuss:

  1. The differences between hedonic and utilitarian shoppers
  2. Why hedonic shoppers inflate cart abandonment rates
  3. Strategies and tools for converting hedonic shoppers

So let’s tuck in.

Hedonic vs. utilitarian shopping

According to research, people have two primary shopping motivations: hedonic and utilitarian.

Utilitarian vs. Hedonic

Utilitarian shopping is all about actual need and function. We need clothes, we need food, we need dental floss — and utilitarian motives drive these needs. (My dentist recently advised me to “only floss the ones you want to keep.” Good one, dentist).

Our utilitarian motives for shopping include: meeting our basic needs, finding greater convenience, seeking variety, seeking greater quality of merchandise and searching for better prices. For these shoppers, purchasing is a problem-solving activity that follows a series of logical steps.

Alternatively, hedonic shopping is driven by our desire for fun, entertainment and satisfaction. It’s derived from the perceived fun or playfulness of shopping experiences.

We don’t do it because we need to. We do it because we’re huge jerks.

Hedonic shopping stirs emotional arousal within us — both physiological and psychological. The individual is deeply involved in the satisfaction of shopping, and the higher the level of involvement, the greater the level of hedonism experienced by the shopper.

Hedonic shopping is driven by desire for fun & entertainment; we do it because we’re jerks.
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Kind of makes us sound like a pack of lunatics, doesn’t it? There’s actually a more innocent explanation.

In their 2003 paper, “Hedonic shopping motivations”, Mark Arnold and Kristy Reynolds argue that there are six categories of hedonic shopping:

  1. Adventure shopping for stimulation and excitement
  2. Gratification shopping to enhance mood
  3. Social shopping to experience pleasure from interacting with others
  4. Idea shopping to stay current with trends
  5. Role shopping to gain pleasure from buying for others
  6. Value shopping to gain pleasure from finding deals (though not necessarily acting on them)
  7. Hedonic shopping predates ecommerce, but it’s amplified on the web.

Online, hedonic shoppers are free to fulfill their motives without the inconvenience, distance barriers, embarrassment and time constraints of traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.

Hedonic shopping and virtual cart abandonment

The web is a playground of escapism for hedonic shoppers. And within this playground, websites provide the stimuli they’re looking for.

The web is a playground of escapism for hedonic shoppers, where websites provide the stimuli #CRO
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This stimulation means the hedonically motivated shopper doesn’t need to complete the transaction. The shopping experience itself was the outcome they desired. They don’t need to buy to get satisfaction; they need only browse.

Hedonic shoppers need not buy to get satisfaction; they need only browse #CRO #CartAbandonment
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Because of this, the effects of hedonic shopping manifest themselves most noticeably in shopping cart abandonment.

Despite placing items in shopping carts, the majority of online shoppers are quick to abandon carts without a moment’s hesitation.

Conventional wisdom tells us cart abandonment results from breakdowns in the purchasing stage. But hedonic shopping theory counters that many carts are abandoned because the consumer is satisfied — they’ve had their fun.

To dig deeper, let’s look at the most common reasons customers give for abandoning shopping carts, as per a 2013 Shopify survey.

Cart abandonment stats

Looks like the usual suspects, (i.e., a list of utilitarian motivations). But wait…

Cart abandonment stats

Oh you were just browsing were you, you depraved little hedonists!?

Yes, we know your game. Abandoning your cart as part of some twisted charade, laughing as site owners wrack their brains for answers.

But perhaps there’s more to it. Here’s another interesting survey of shopping cart abandoners:

Cart abandonment stats

Taking a closer look, we can identify three main groups of shopping cart abandoners: process abandoners, utilitarian abandoners and hedonic abandoners.

Cart abandonment stats

In both surveys, we see a hedonic motive appear second on the list, with various utilitarian motives near the top. Further down, we see that process issues are cited less frequently. Since hedonic abandoners seem to leave carts regardless of price and functionality, what can site owners do to capture value from them? Aren’t they bound to leave no matter what?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, hedonic shoppers are likely to abandon on their first visit. But no, that doesn’t mean they can’t be converted to customers.

Although 70–95% of first-time visitors to a site abandon the page without taking your desired action — a number that includes shopping cart abandoners — that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on the idea.

And if you can fulfill their motivations, you will convert them. Hedonic shoppers can be some of your most valuable customers, so it’s worth putting in the effort to engage them. Like any potential sales lead, there’s value to capture.

It just takes a little longer.

Extending your engagement with hedonic shoppers

So the question now is obvious: How do we engage hedonic shoppers beyond that initial joyride?

To extend the engagement — and build a mutually beneficial relationship — you must:

  1. Get an email address or other means of contact
  2. Remarket to hedonic cart abandoners through triggered emails
  3. Promise hedonic shoppers more of the rich, engaging experiences they desire within your emails

Let’s tackle email first.

No matter what type of hedonic shopper frequents your website (and bloats your shopping cart abandonment rate), you must be able to stay in contact in order to build the relationship.

Email is key. According to MarketingLand, 77% of us prefer to receive our marketing messages by email, and second place isn’t even close.

But marketers are behind the eight-ball. BizReport states that 80% of online retailers fail to send triggered emails after shopping carts are abandoned.

80% of online retailers fail to send triggered emails after cart abandonment #CRO
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These marketers are missing out on a great opportunity. A survey by ExactTarget showed that 78% of marketers experienced “good to excellent success” with cart abandonment emails.

Post-abandonment emails provide fertile ground for continuing the story you began telling hedonic shoppers on your website, and carrying that momentum toward establishing a customer relationship.

Take every opportunity you can to build your email list. Promise shoppers more of what they want — engaging shopping environments, new ideas, great value — by signing up for regular updates.

The second part of the equation is engagement.

Engagement is defined as the quality of user experience as a measurement of Focused Attention, Perceived Usability, Endurability, Novelty, Aesthetics, and Felt Involvement.

Engagement chart

These 6 factors are critical to engaging all shoppers. The difference is how these vehicles work. Novelty, for example, means something different to different shoppers.

To be successful, marketers must address these motivations on their landing pages. But when dealing with hedonic shoppers, it’s not quite enough — you’re going to need to get a bit more creative and appeal to these motivations throughout the entire remarketing process.

When an adventure shopper receives your triggered follow-up email, for example, you must convey an exciting shopping experience to come.

With novelty shoppers, you should promise a certain measure of exclusivity, something not everyone has access to already.

So accounting for the six hedonic shopping motives, here are some ideas you can employ to engage these shoppers and extend the relationship.

1. Adventure shoppers

Key engagement driver: Aesthetics

Adventure shoppers seek stimulation and excitement. If adventure shoppers are frequenting your website, you’re likely offering a fun shopping experience.

To extend the interaction, you could:

  • Test teasing the user with more excitement to come in your follow-up emails
  • Create landing pages and emails with rich graphics and imagery
  • Test using rich multimedia experiences for users with videos, infographics and podcasts
Adventure time
GoPro may have the best adventure shopping experience I’ve ever seen.

With the promise of stimulating their need for adventure, adventure shoppers may be enticed to return to your site to continue the process, rather than finding enjoyment elsewhere.

2. Gratification shoppers

Key engagement driver: Aesthetics, felt involvement

Hedonic shoppers who shop for gratification purposes are often doing so to improve mood. For the online retailer, the goal here is to make the shopper feel better.

  • Make the shopper feel comfortable, don’t push the sell too hard
  • Encourage and support the shopper throughout the decision-making process
  • Test using encouraging and complimentary language (for example, “5 new candle scents you deserve”)
Suddenly craving a cinnamon bun… Image Source.

After a gratification shopper abandons your cart, focus on building the relationship. Pressure tactics aren’t comforting or reassuring.

3. Social shoppers

Key engagement driver: Felt involvement

This type of hedonic shopper loves to bring others along for the ride. In a traditional brick-and-mortar scenario, they would shop with friends or chat with salespeople.

On the web, it’s a bit different, but that doesn’t mean a friendly, social shopping environment can’t be created:

  • Urge shoppers to review your products and/or read reviews from fellow shoppers
  • Try including a chat link where shoppers can leave comments and engage with employees
  • Include an embedded Twitter and/or Facebook feed with discussions related to the products
  • Create a friendly, people-focused design that relies on imagery of people using and enjoying the product with friends; stress the social aspects of products you sell in your copy

4. Idea Shoppers

Key engagement driver: Novelty

Idea shoppers like to be trendsetters. They value staying current and the novelty of new and exciting ideas.

idea shoppers has perfected idea shopping.

Try testing these ideas:

  • Play to the motivations of idea shoppers by implying they’ll be the first to jump on new trends such as tech developments, fashion ideas or food trends
  • Include a newsletter signup with a strong callout box to capture email addresses, and newsletter content that plays to the idea shopper’s motivations
  • Focus your headlines and email subject lines on ideas and creativity; remember that novelty is the key engagement driver for these shoppers

5. Role shoppers

Key engagement driver: Felt involvement

Role shoppers are stimulated by the act or idea of purchasing for others. To increase engagement with them, test out these ideas:

  • Focus on targeted messaging; examples could include “Pick one up for the kids” or “The in-laws will love it”
  • Try using imagery reflecting the joys of gift-giving and sharing
  • Create a friendly, people-focused design that relies on imagery of people using and enjoying the product with friends; stress the social aspects of products you sell in your copy

6. Value Shoppers

Key engagement driver: Novelty, felt involvement

If there’s any group of users perfectly suited to an email campaign, it’s value shoppers. Groupon built their entire empire off this strategy, and one could argue the majority of their customers are hedonically motivated value shoppers.

value shopper
Groupon’s homepage focuses on just one goal: email signups.

Promising value shoppers a steady stream of exclusive deals is a great idea for appeasing value shoppers.

You’ll absolutely need a strong email signup strategy, as the size and quality of your list will dictate success.

Email is the key profit driver

Capturing email addresses is critical to extending the relationship with hedonic shoppers, and thus reducing cart abandonment rates.

Without a strong list, you won’t be able to remarket effectively or take advantage of your customers’ preferred marketing channel.

PRO TIP: Some country’s anti-spam laws require you to obtain explicit consent before sending prospects promotional emails. Make sure you’re abiding by your local legislation.

The tools you use to build email lists depend on your business, but here are three that should be part of every marketer’s toolbox:

1. Landing pages

Unlike home pages, landing pages focus on a single conversion goal, whether to warm visitors up to make a purchase or to collect their email addresses in exchange for something they want, such as an ebook, white paper or coupon code.

Landing pages don’t have all the leaks found on your typical home page, so the attention ratio is 1:1. That is, there’s only one goal and therefore only one call to action on the page. In the words of Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner: “One page. One purpose. Period.”

Test after test has shown the conversion benefits of landing pages, making them an indispensable tool to build your email list.

Basecamp landing page
Basecamp’s landing page focuses on a single conversion goal.
unbounce logo icon - light backgroundBuild Lead Gen Landing Pages Quickly & Easily with Unbounce Templates Start your 30-day trial now

2. Exit-intent technology

An exit-intent tool measures users’ mouse movements to detect abandoning visitors. When an abandoning user is detected, an exit overlay is activated to engage the user one last time to convince the user to stick around, make a purchase, or sign up.

Exit overlay
An exit overlay from, activated when the user begins to abandon their shopping cart

Exit overlays (driven by exit-intent technology) are particularly effective for building cart abandoner email lists because they a) only activate when the user is about to abandon the page, and b) can be targeted at cart abandoners specifically.

Key Takeaways

  • Hedonic shoppers make up a significant percentage of shopping cart abandoners thereby bloating abandonment figures.
  • Rather than bemoaning the shopper who fills your cart but doesn’t convert, treat abandonment as an expression of interest, an invitation to make contact.
  • There’s a tremendous opportunity to follow up with hedonic shoppers (and cart abandoners) via email; however, 80% of marketers don’t take advantage of this opportunity.
  • To effectively market to hedonic shoppers, you must appeal to their motivations throughout the entire marketing process (including in emails).
  • Building a strong email list is critical; landing pages, value-driven signup forms, and exit-intent technology are all effective tools for making this happen.

Finally, reframe the task in a positive context. Instead of trying to reduce your shopping cart abandonment rate, try increasing your engagement of shoppers who abandon your cart.

Instead of reducing shopping cart abandonment, try increasing shopping cart retention #CRO
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More here:

WTF Are Hedonic Shoppers and Why Should You Care?

The 4-Hour Website Optimization Challenge: What Would the Experts Do?

You’re being lowered into a pit of anacondas over four hours, and only a lift of 0.01% or more could stop it — best get optimizing! Image by Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.

As marketers, the clock always seems to be against us.

So when it comes to conversion optimization, most of us simply don’t have enough hours in the day to plan and execute a proper strategy — even if we do have the necessary skills and resources in place.

This led our team to a simple question: Is it possible to generate a sustainable lift for a website in just a few hours?

We each had our own opinions, but to dig deeper we reached out to five colorful characters in the CRO space — Brian MasseyAngie SchottmullerPeep LajaNeil Patel and Unbounce’s own Michael Aagaard — and asked them a simple question:

“If you could spend only four hours optimizing the marketing performance of a website, what would you do?”

The criteria

First, I must get this out of the way: There’s no such thing as a “get conversion-rich fast” approach.

Conversion optimization (CRO) is synonymous with continuous improvement, and with a few exceptions, simple changes won’t drive long-term results.

And further, mastering CRO takes time and a wide range of skill sets: analytics, marketing, user understanding, user experience, design, copywriting, development and project management.

So when I talk about having four hours to optimize a site, I’m not implying that a site could be fully optimized after a four-hour period. Rather, we wanted to know how our experts could demonstrate the power of optimization in a short period of time.

Will going to the gym five times get you into shape? No. But if you saw results after 5 sessions, would it inspire you to keep going? Yes.

And that’s the purpose of this post — to help marketers get their feet wet in CRO, so they can get excited about the awesome potential it holds.

So here we go!

1. Brian Massey: “Try a headline test.”

Brian Massey

Brian Massey is the founder of Conversion Sciences, a company that helps clients improve revenue and leads from existing traffic.

Brian is a regular speaker at corporate events, universities and conferences worldwide, and is the author of Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.

When I first asked Brian the question, here’s what he told me:

If I had only four hours to optimize a website, I would spend five minutes making myself a coffee, then three hours and 55 minutes looking for another job. Optimization doesn’t happen in four hours.

Ouch, not a good start. But I took his advice, and spent four hours applying for “management” positions at Best Buy and Enterprise Rent-a-Car.

No dice.

I pressed Brian, and asked him to imagine he was being lowered into a pit of anacondas over four hours — and only a lift of 0.01% or more could stop it — surely there’s something he could do?

He relented, and offered me this:

Here are some ideas of what I could do in the four hours: Write 25 headlines for each of my landing pages. Pick the best for each and make the change. Setup Google Analytics and CrazyEgg on my site. Create some awesome, relevant content. Take a course in Web analytics. Spend four hours reviewing my ad campaigns to ensure I’m getting quality traffic. Collect the resumes of professional copywriters and hire one.

He then offered a strategy that involved breaking up the four hours.

Hour 1: Write 25 headlines for your best performing landing page and pick four that are very different from each other.

Hour 2: Create four pages (or four page variants), one with each headline.

Hour 3: Setup Unbounce, Optimzely, Visual Website Optimizer or to send a quarter of the traffic to each. Up all of your ad spends to ensure you get several thousand visits over a week or two.

Wait at least one week, until the test reaches statistical significance.

Hour 4:  If there’s a winner, make the change permanent.

“If I had only 4 hrs for #CRO, I’d create and test 4 pages with different headlines.” ~@bmassey
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Our take

Content matters more than anything else, and within the broad content sphere, headlines and value propositions are the heaviest hitters.

Brian’s approach is perfect for time-starved marketers seeking CRO results, because it gets straight to the point: Testing how users react to changes in your value proposition.

If you perform A/B tests on your value proposition, I can almost guarantee your conversion rate will change. It may go down, but failed tests provide almost as much insight as winning tests.

2. Peep Laja: “Tackle pages with the biggest drop-off.”


Peep Laja is the founder ConversionXL — one of the most popular (and respected) online marketing blogs on the web. He’s a popular speaker on the CRO circuit, and if you happened to catch his presentation at CTAConf 2014 in Vancouver, you know he tells it like it is.

When I asked Peep how he would spend his four hours, he responded in less than five minutes:

I would check Google Analytics to find where the biggest drop-offs are happening and would focus all my efforts on those pages. Heuristic analysis would reveal a bunch of insights, and this combined with some user tests via would give some validation to my experience-based assessment findings. All of these things would be doable within a couple hours.

If @PeepLaja had just 4 hrs for #CRO? “I’d tackle pages with the biggest drop-off.”
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Our take

We like Peep’s approach because it mixes instinct (developed from years of work in CRO) with qualitative data.

Google Analytics is still the best tool for finding actionable data that sets you on the path toward a successful treatment.

Thanks for the insight, Peep!

3. Angie Schottmuller: “Interview your customers.”


Angie Schottmuller is a growth marketing consultant, author and speaker. She was recently named one of Forbes’ top 10 online marketers to follow in 2015 — so she’s no stranger to CRO.

I first met Angie at CTA Conference 2014 in Vancouver, where she gave an incredibly informative and entertaining presentation called “Optimizing Persuasion with Buyer Modalities.”

When I asked Angie how she would optimize a site in four hours, here’s what she said:

I would use an hour or two to better understand the audience. That means interviewing actual customers or prospects to learn why they DO and why they DON’T buy. Talk with customer service or sales reps at the “business front lines” for insights as well. Review the feedback to surface top recurring questions, concerns, interests or objections. Score hypothesis opportunities using the PIE framework. (I adapt this model to PIER — where “R” measures reusability of the learned insight.) Then use the remaining time to implement a fix or A/B test for the top scoring hypothesis from opportunities the audience specifically called out.

Video via WiderFunnel.

A rapid fire four-hour fix isn’t quite practical. However, nothing is more practical than going direct to the source — the customer — for some actionable qualitative feedback. The underlying objective of conversion optimization is to learn more about the customer: preferences, pain points and interests. The more you understand about the customer and how you can assist achieving their goal, the more likely you’ll be to achieve your own.

“In #CRO, nothing’s more practical than asking customers for actionable feedback.” ~@aschottmuller
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Our take

We love how Angie dives straight into a very important — yet often overlooked — aspect of conversion optimization: Understanding your customers.

All high-converting websites do one thing really well and that is answering the customer’s questions. But without interviews, we’re left to guess what those questions are.

Altering your site copy to address the questions of your customers is one of the simplest, least expensive and quickest conversion-focused changes you can make to a web page or landing page.

4. Michael Aagaard: “Focus on heuristic analysis.”


Self-confessed “split-test junkie” Michael Aagaard lives and breathes conversion. He’s spent the past several years conducting hundreds of copy-based A/B tests, which he shares in the many interesting case studies on ContentVerve.

Michael recently joined Unbounce as its Senior Conversion Rate Optimizer (catch him live at CTAConf 2016!).

So how would Michael optimize a website in four hours?

If I had four hours to optimize a website, I’d spend one hour digging through analytics data to identify areas that represent the biggest potential lift. Then I’d spend an hour conducting a heuristic analysis. After that, I’d spend 30 minutes coming up with an optimization hypotheses. Finally, I’d spend the last hour and a half actually creating the treatment.

#CRO in just 4 hrs? “Check Analytics for areas with the biggest potential lift.” ~@ContentVerve
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Our take

Europeans always stick together, don’t they?! Michael echoes Peep’s sentiments by zeroing in on areas with the greatest potential lift.

Michael’s approach shows that even if you’re experienced in the CRO space, you still must test your assumptions. With time and experience, your “gut” will become more reliable in making assumptions, but will never give you a definitive answer without testing.

5. Neil Patel: “Focus on your tags.”


Neil Patel runs the well-known blog Quicksprout, and is the co-founder of both KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. He’s a major influencer in all things online marketing.

Neil answered the question a bit differently than our other experts, instead choosing to focus on SEO and page performance. Here’s what he told us:

If I had only four hours, I would go through Webmaster Tools and fix any of the basic errors that they are showing. This would include crawling errors, 404 pages and even duplicate title tags or meta description tags. Sure these things seem small, but fixing them will help you generate more search traffic in the long run.

Next, he delved into performance.

In addition to that I would set up Google Pagespeed. One major reason websites don’t convert well is because they load slow. By using Google Pagespeed, you can improve your load speed, which should help increase your overall traffic and conversion rates.

“If I had just 4 hrs for #CRO, I’d fix crawling errors, 404s and duplicate title tags.” ~@neilpatel
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Our take

Neil gets right to the heart of an issue marketers often neglect. If your site is slow, or people can’t find it, it doesn’t matter how well you’ve optimized the on-page experience. Optimization should be about the bottom line, and sometimes you can get a tremendous ROI from looking at broader infrastructure or visibility factors.


A common thread throughout all our experts’ answers is the need to focus on changes that actually make a difference to your overall bottom line. When you only have four hours, you don’t have time to test low-impact hypotheses.

There are several simple and fast techniques to identify where you can get a large ROI. The right one for you will depend on what you have immediate access to.

If you can, start by talking to your customers. If that’s not an option right now, dive into Google Analytics and understand where people are exiting and if there are any slow pages.

Finally, you can’t go wrong testing vastly different headlines and value propositions. After all, conversion optimization is really about the art and science of communication, and your words matter.

So, if you had just four hours to optimize a website, what would you do? Drop us a comment.

And once again, many thanks to Brian, Peep, Angie, Michael and Neil for participating in this post.

Read this article – 

The 4-Hour Website Optimization Challenge: What Would the Experts Do?


What Being a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman Taught Me About Conversion Rate Optimization

Image by JD Hancock via Flickr.

A few weeks ago I came clean to my co-workers: in college, I was a vacuum cleaner salesman.

In exchange for a set of shitty steak knives, people would allow me into their homes to demonstrate vacuum cleaners and air purifiers. I was yelled at, threatened and insulted on a daily basis. Even grandmothers flipped me off.

But you know what? Lots of people bought machines from me, and I became loyal to the game. There’s just something about hawking a $2000 vacuum to a perfect stranger that makes you feel like a cowboy. And I’m not a cowboy; I work at a computer and like cats.

The “touch” never leaves you.

The funny thing is, being a vacuum salesman taught me more about people than any other job. Now that I work in conversion rate optimization, I see parallels everywhere.

In CRO, complicated analytics and competing opinions can get in the way of common sense. Sometimes, a simple dose of reality is all we need to increase conversions.

So if your conversion optimization hypotheses need a dose of street smarts, here are three lessons (with case studies) straight from the greasy world of a vacuum cleaner salesman.

Lesson #1: Buy me a drink before you ask for my number

Conversions don’t just happen – they’re generated through a series of steps. Online, these are called “micro-conversions.” In a live sales demo, we call this “get ’em saying yes.”

Online or offline, you don’t ask for all the marbles – or overly burdensome questions – right off the top. First, you need to get prospects agreeing with you by asking questions that are easy to answer in the affirmative.

During a vacuum demo, I would ask a prospect all kinds of questions, ranging from the innocent:

Does anyone in the home have allergies?

… to the mildly invasive:

Would you consider this product a worthwhile investment in your family’s health?

But I would never ask for a large commitment early in the presentation. Likewise, a good landing page never starts with a “Buy Now” CTA; it starts with a series of softball questions like:

  1. Do you have this problem?
  2. Can you picture yourself with this problem solved?
  3. Would you like a free resource that addresses this problem?
  4. May we have your email address to stay in contact?

The key is asking your questions in the right sequence and framing each “ask” in a way that reduces the perceived burden on the user.

Any questions that don’t follow a logical order create friction that works against completing the sale or conversion.

Is your landing page asking too much? Buy prospects a drink before you ask for their number.
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A real world example

To illustrate, here’s an example from a recent conversion optimization project for Bankruptcy Canada.

The company was experiencing a high rate of drop-offs within their signup flow, which asked a series of somewhat difficult questions. Here’s the original first step:

Step 1 in Bankruptcy Canada’s original signup form

The first two steps ask questions about “causes” and “debts.” Besides being a bit cold and unfriendly, these questions are too invasive to ask right off the top before rapport has been established.


On top of this, the five blue tabs at the top of the form scream “this is gonna take forever,” furthering the burden on the user. If I told people that my full vacuum demonstration actually took two hours, I never would have gotten through the door.

Bankruptcy Canada’s analytics backed up this hunch, as half the leads who completed the first page of the multiple-step form failed to complete the whole thing.

Our conversion team hypothesized that since bankruptcy protection is a difficult thing to seek out – and that users may feel somewhat ashamed of their situation – that a connection needed to be established before any difficult questions were asked.

Starting with a smaller ask

After developing a hypothesis, three variations of the page were created. Challenger A – which began with a very small ask (the user’s name and contact information) – immediately showed the most promise. Here’s how the form started:

Hero section of Challenger A for

Gone are the imposing blue tabs, and the entire form is on one page. Lower on the form, the friendly, positive language and smaller “asks” continue:


Most notably, the question “What has caused you to think of bankruptcy?” was replaced with “Why are you looking for debt relief?”

This is an important point of difference:

  • “What has caused you to think of bankruptcy?” focuses on the problem, and all the negative feelings that surround bankruptcy protection.
  • “Why are you looking for debt relief?” focuses on the solution, and uses language with a more positive connotation (e.g. “debt relief” instead of “bankruptcy”).

Finally, the CTA copy was adjusted to take the focus off the function of submitting the form (“Next”), and onto the value of submitting the form (“Get my free personal consultation”).


Though all three challengers outperformed the control, Challenger A emerged as the winner:

Challenger A achieved a 113.63% lift

The winning variation increased conversions from 14.57% to 31.13% – a whopping 113.63% lift in completed form submissions.

From the results, our team concluded that:

  • Asking easier, less burdensome questions early in a form flow is a legitimate tactic for generating micro-conversions, and increases the chances a form will be completed
  • Single-page forms outperform multi-page forms for this type of industry, likely because visitors in high-stress situations have decreased ability to cope with complexity
  • Leading with friendlier language that focuses on the solution rather than the problem increases the odds of a form being completed

Lesson #2: The more you know about prospects, the more you can optimize your pitch

What do all effective salespeople have in common? They’re great listeners and strong judges of character. And they use these skills to adjust on the fly.

As a vacuum salesman, I learned to scour for clues when walking into a prospect’s home:

  • Neat freaks? Demonstrate how much less dirt the Filter Queen leaves behind in comparison to their machine.
  • Parents? Bust out a flashlight and show how much harmful dust the prospect’s vacuum blasts into the air (into their children’s waiting lungs).
  • Gearheads? Tie the neoprene (scuba gear) hose in three tight knots, then suck a lead bullet through the hose to demonstrate durability (makes for great sound effects).

But on the web, much of this adaptability is stripped away. The web is one-way interaction, not a two-way street like a live sales demo.

So how can we make sure we’re appealing to the core motivations of our audience in a digital environment?

By relying on audience demographics.

Uncommon Knowledge proves the value of audience demographics

This case study by VWO shows just how impactful audience demographics can be.

Uncommon Knowledge (UK) offers online training resources to mental health practitioners.

With a new product launch imminent, UK created a lead gen campaign with a dedicated landing page. The campaign would offer a series of videos in exchange for the prospect’s name and email address.


To improve conversion rates, UK decided its website needed a makeover — something a bit more trendy. Here’s what they came up with:


If you’re like me, this trendy design puts you in the mood to buy some overpriced coffee. Gone is the dated magazine-style layout, and in its place is something VWO describes as “simplistic and urban.”

Unfortunately, the metrics didn’t agree. The old page outperformed the new design by 19.55% with 99.99% statistical confidence.

But why?

VWO hypothesized that the answer lay in UK’s audience profile, which was older than the team expected:


Most users were 45 and older, a demographic less likely to be impressed by swaggy design trends. Additionally, since the original page offered much more information than the challenger, the trendier design could have lost its appeal to more methodical buyers.

All told, this case study teaches us an important lesson: the more you know about your audience, the more successful your conversion optimization hypotheses will be.

You can’t create smart hypotheses if you don’t take the time to get to know your audience. Period.
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Lesson #3: In crunch time, put the product in their hands

As most salespeople will tell you, the more prospects can touch, sample or try the product during your pitch, the better.

My crusty vacuum boss taught me to always put the vacuum in a prospect’s hands while the tough questions were being asked.

Granted, this is easier with physical products, but we’re seeing it more and more online – especially with free trials.

Letting customers try your product without any commitment increases trust by showing you have confidence in your product — enough confidence that you’re open to any pre-purchase scrutiny that comes your way.

Let customers try before they buy. It’ll build trust, counter objections and help conversions.
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A real-world example

Here’s an example from Amen Clinics, which operates six clinics throughout the United States with the goal of helping people have “better brains and better lives.”

To promote its “Healing ADD at Home in 30 Days” program, Amen sends organic and paid search traffic to a dedicated landing page — here it is below.


To give users a chance to try without commitment, Amen equipped the landing page with exit-intent technology, which would offer abandoning users the chance to try part of the program for free before making a commitment. Screenshot below:

Exit overlay on Amen Clinics’ landing page, activated when users began to abandon the page.

In this example, Amen Clinics convinced 19.44% of otherwise abandoning users to try the product before they left the site.

Further, Amen avoided cannibalizing average order value from paying customers by only offering the free trial to users who were about to abandon the site without purchasing the program.

Take it from this salesman: putting the product in prospects’ hands during those critical decision moments can make all the difference.

Takeaways from a vacuum salesman

As conversion-focused marketers, we can learn many things from the world of traditional sales.

If you’re a marketer and you find yourself on a car lot, in a presentation centre – or heaven forbid – being pitched by a slippery vacuum cleaner salesman, watch closely. There are many sales techniques that translate to online marketing.

The three lessons I learned in sales that improved my work in conversion optimization are:

  1. Establish a connection with prospects before asking difficult questions
  2. The more you know about prospects, the more you can optimize your pitch
  3. During the prospect’s critical decision moments, put the product in their hands

Have you noticed any parallels between traditional sales and conversion optimization? Drop me a comment!

– Angus Lynch

See the original article here:

What Being a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman Taught Me About Conversion Rate Optimization


35% of Web Visitors Are ‘Spontaneous’ Buyers. Are You Alienating Them?

What do great salespeople have in common?

They’re great listeners and strong judges of character.

When faced with detail-oriented prospects, they morph into data nerds.

When faced with fast-moving prospects, they crank up the charm.

This is often loosely described as being ‘good with people,’ but there’s a more technical explanation.

It actually means that—whether they know it themselves or not—these salespeople are attuned to the 4 buyer modalities (buyer types), and they make adjustments on the fly according to the type of buyer they’re faced with.

But on the Web, this traditional salesperson doesn’t exist. Instead, we have mostly static landing pages, content and CTA buttons. The adaptability of a salesperson has been stripped away.

So how can you appease different buyer types in a digital environment?

By tailoring your copy and graphics to suit the 4 buyer modalities.


The whole point of buyer modalities is to gain insight on how buyers:

a) Approach purchasing decisions
b) Behave during a purchase

And once you understand the 4 buyer types, you’ll have an inside track on how your buyers are motivated, which can then inform some groundbreaking hypotheses for your A/B tests.

The 4 buyer modalities

First off, kudos to Angie Schottmuller for her outstanding presentation on buyer modalities at the first annual Unbounce Call-to-Action Conference.

In her presentation, Angie discussed concepts that were first introduced by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg in Waiting for Your Cat to Bark.

The Eisenbergs argued that customers can be segmented into four fundamental buying types: competitive, spontaneous, methodical, and humanistic.


Buyer modalities are interesting because you’ll instantly recognize which category you fall under, and chuckle to yourself as you think of others you know.

Today’s discerning breed of customer makes buyer modalities especially important. Online customers cannot be accommodated with a one-size-fits-all approach—and the numbers prove it.

Forrester states that 83% of users won’t come back to a website if the experience doesn’t meet their expectations; they don’t like being treated as another spoke in the wheel.

All buyers are driven by one basic question: what it’s in it for me (WIIFM)? But their modality determines how they approach the purchase.


Competitive buying modality

Competitive buyers comprise 5–10% of the buying spectrum.

This type of buyer is driven to make smart and assertive decisions quickly; they see speed and decisiveness as a competitive advantage.


Competitive buyers are driven by achievement, and they see knowledge as a vehicle to achievement. They strive for recognition and employ goal-driven techniques to make this happen.

Competitives are often independent and seek to control in important situations. They use this control to make fast, logic-based decisions.

If niceties or red tape are causing inefficiencies, expect competitives to object. As customers, they’ll be quick to tell you if they don’t like the way you do things.

Capturing the competitive buyer

Competitives want to know your product is the best. They’ve usually done their homework, so make sure you can use logic to convince them why they should choose you.

Your best approach with competitive buyers is to provide proof, rational probabilities, and avoid unsubstantiated claims.

Appeal to their inner competitor. The advantages you offer—and therefore the advantages they’ll benefit from—must be stressed.

Here’s a good example of a competitive-focused landing page from


  1. The headline conveys a classic “best” angle that appeals to competitives
  2. The subheader conveys clear advantages: “Create online, offline, mobile & tablet surveys & forms in seconds”
  3. A healthy dose of social proof to substantiate the claims
  4. Background information provides the educational resources competitives value
  5. Use of the phrase “smarter decisions” appeals to competitive motivations

Methodical buying modality

At 45%, methodicals make up the largest segment in the buying modality spectrum.

Methodical buyers focus on reviewing all data and available information; they’re in no rush and feel uncomfortable making quick decisions.


These buyers do research, ask questions, and will go to great lengths to get all the information they want. Make sure you’ve got nothing to hide, because they won’t feel comfortable making a decision until all the cards are on the table.

Logic rules all with methodical buyers. They need to know every detail and are willing to conduct thorough research. They prefer side-by-side comparisons when considering products, and trust expert opinions.

Capturing the methodical buyer

Your best approach with methodical buyers is to nail the hard evidence:

  • Use hard numbers whenever possible
  • Provide reputable trust badges
  • Watch the fine print; they’re likely to read it
  • Don’t ask for too much information

Never say anything you can’t back up. Any dishonest claims will repel them from your site. To appease them, you’ll need to back up every claim with full details.

Here’s an example of a methodical-focused landing page from Highrise:


  1. Though light on specifics, the headline sets up a clear need that could appeal to methodical buyers. And serves as a testimonial from a real buyer as well—the image goes to further prove the authenticity of the testimonial
  1. A clickable link on the testimonial gives methodicals an avenue to dig into the background and verify claims.
  1. Hard numbers on the capacity of the Highrise service.
  1. More specifics on what the service provides.
  1. A clear screenshot of the product to help illustrate the claims.
  1. A final dose of hard data that will appeal to methodical buyers.

Finally, don’t bother with the contests, time-sensitive discounts or free shipping offers. If anything, such offers build skepticism in the methodical buyer.

Spontaneous buying modality

This modality comprises roughly 25–35% of the buying spectrum, making it the second largest segment.

Spontaneous buyers delight in quick purchases with perceived emotional benefits rather than following logic. Their decisions are driven by feelings.


This type of buyer craves the feeling of tackling something new and interesting, preferably in a setting with plenty of social interaction.

Like competitive buyers, spontaneous buyers make decisions quickly, but that’s where the similarities end.

Rather than following strict logic, spontaneous buyers make decisions based on feelings. This often leads them to exhibit the following characteristics:

  1. Subjective decision-making
  2. Distraction
  3. Distaste for traditional processes
  4. General impatience during purchasing decisions

Capturing the spontaneous buyer

Spontaneous buyers move quickly, and your website better keep up. If you’re boring, they’ll be gone.

A healthy dose of urgency is advisable. They respond quickly to sales, discounts, and time-sensitive offers (such as free overnight shipping). does an excellent job of appealing to the spontaneous buyer:


  1. Strong imagery of excited people
  2. An appeal to the speed motivation of spontaneous buyers
  3. A strong sense of urgency in the CTA
  4. Background information to appeal to more logic-driven buyers

Address their needs immediately; never make them wait. If rationality has to suffer because of this, so be it.

Get excited. If you’re not excited, they won’t be. Use details sparingly. If they’re not highly relevant, leave them out.

Humanistic buying modality

Humanistic buyers are driven by emotion. They comprise 10–15% of the total buying spectrum, but are thought to be the fastest growing segment.

Naturally, things that affect human emotion are known to sway their decisions: creativity, storytelling, rich media, social belonging, and helping others.


Humanists care greatly about the people around them. The emotion behind their decisions drives these primary motivations:

  1. A desire to help others
  2. An interest in social well-being
  3. A need for ethical approval from peers

There are several trends feeding the growth of this buyer modality. The Web has given rise to a new breed of ‘social’ customer that aligns her values, beliefs and ethos with likeminded companies.

Technology has equipped humanistic buyers with the tools to align their values with brands long before entering the sales funnel. They want to understand whom they’re buying from.

Also, a greater awareness of sustainable development and social entrepreneurship is feeding growth in this segment.

Capturing the humanistic buyer

Capturing the humanistic buyer can be quite valuable for organizations, as given their predispositions, these buyers often become social ambassadors.

Your best approach with humanistic buyers is to focus on social proof; testimonials, photos of customers and staff all work, and work even better if spun into a creative presentation. Faces are key.

Belvedere’s campaign in association with (Red)—a fund that supports HIV/AIDS research in Africa—displays obvious humanist appeal:


You want to get social with humanistic buyers. Let them vote on reviews, interact with other users, and facilitate discussions. User-submitted videos and photos can work, as do live chats with company representatives.

Putting it all together: What type of buyer visits your site?

So here’s the rub: you can’t segment your incoming traffic according to buyer modalities.


That said, you can make some safe assumptions about who’s visiting your site:

  • If you’re selling last-minute getaways, chances are spontaneous buyers make up a good portion of your visitors
  • If you’re selling telescopes, methodicals likely make up the lion’s share
  • If you’re pushing donations for an environmental cause, humanistic buyers are your best bet

But since people from each buyer modality will visit your site, your best bet is to:

  1. Account for all 4 within your copy and graphics
  2. Focus your messaging on what you believe is the dominant buyer modality of your visitors
  3. Test variations of your messaging that focus on different buyer modalities

So how do we appease all 4 modalities without leaving anyone out, or worse, alienating a particular group?

Odesk’s homepage is a masterful example of reaching out all 4 modalities in careful balance:


In the hero section:

  1. Competitive and methodical appeal through use of specific claims in the subhead
  1. Spontaneous appeal with the headline “Get more done” and an urgent the urgent CTA “Post a Job!” which allows visitors to instantly take action
  1. Humanistic appeal through bright, smiling faces and naming the freelancers specifically


Below the fold:

  1. Competitive appeal by talking up how skilled, talented and “awesome” Odesk professionals are, plus the excellent subheader “Talent knows no boundaries”
  1. Methodical appeal by indicating how long each freelancer has been an Odesk professional
  1. Humanistic appeal by naming specific freelancers and showing faces, in addition to identifying where freelancers are located


And in the social proof section, Odesk appeals to all 4 modalities with specific, referenced testimonials that convey clear benefits, while also allowing visitors to investigate the source.

Testing your modality-driven messaging

So once you’ve developed messaging targeted at one or all of the buyer modalities, it’s time to test it out.

Like any value proposition, the best place to test messaging is on landing pages or homepages, but checkout pages can also yield good results.

Another excellent place to test modality-driven messaging is within the text of an exit pop-up (exit overlay).

Since exit pop-ups activate only when users begin to abandon your site, they’re fertile ground for messaging targeted specifically at users who weren’t sold by your landing page/homepage copy.

An exit pop-up on—targeted at methodical and competitive buyers—and activated only when an abandoning visitor is detected

Pop-ups sometimes get a bad rap, but when executed properly, they can generate outstanding results.

Wherever you decide to test your modality-driven messaging, remember that every great test starts with a strong hypothesis. Use a combination of data and intuition to guess what type of buyer visits your site, then use buyer modalities to predict their behavior.


  • The purpose of identifying buyer modalities is to gain insight on how buyers approach purchasing decisions, and how they behave during a purchase
  • Ultimately, it’s important to appeal to all 4 modalities within digital experiences, but some sites appeal more to certain buyer types
  • Marketers should hypothesize the type of buyer making up the majority of their visitors, then test these hypotheses on landing pages, homepages, checkout pages, and exit pop-ups

If conversions are low, or if you want to target users with more precision, buyer modalities may be key. It can also add that missing element that a one-on-one sales presentation provides—the ability to speak directly to buyers based on their approach to the purchase.

Which modality seems to fit your ideal customers, and how are you speaking to them to increase engagement and conversions?

The post 35% of Web Visitors Are ‘Spontaneous’ Buyers. Are You Alienating Them? appeared first on The Daily Egg.


35% of Web Visitors Are ‘Spontaneous’ Buyers. Are You Alienating Them?


How Exit Overlays Can Make Your Landing Page Offer More Persuasive

If visitors and leaving your landing page in droves, you need a trusty sidekick to make your offer more persuasive. Image by Daniel Go via Flickr.

When Maverick was busy shooting down MiGs, Goose was watching his tail.

When Han Solo was cornered by storm troopers, Chewbacca was there to bail him out.

And when a high percentage of visitors abandon your landing page, you need a trusty sidekick to swoop in and make your offer more persuasive.

So what’s the perfect sidekick? How about an exit overlay to sweeten the pot for users who are about to abandon your page?

What are exit overlays?
If you aren’t familiar with exit overlays, they’re modal lightboxes that launch by what’s known as exit-intent technology. The technology tracks visitor activities as they navigate your site. When abandoning visitors are detected, an exit overlay is triggered to capture an otherwise lost conversion.

And though the use of exit overlays is a controversial subject, they can be extremely effective when used strategically. When done right, they’re the perfect landing page sidekick; the Robin to your Batman, the McMahon to your Carson.

But like any good duo, there must be chemistry or it just won’t work. And chemistry can’t be forced (*cough* Clooney and O’Donnell *cough*).

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So how can you partner your landing page with an optimized exit overlay that captures conversions that you would have otherwise lost?

Here are three companies that are successfully capturing more conversions with an exit overlay – plus advice on how you can couple your landing page with an exit overlay to make your offer more persuasive.

How to use exit overlays to escalate urgency

YourMechanic, a mobile repair service, positions itself as a convenient, time-efficient alternative to visiting a traditional repair shop.

The YourMechanic marketing team drives traffic to their landing page with a series of PPC campaigns, and has seen lots of success from their exit overlay – converting 7.16% of otherwise abandoning users and resulting in hundreds of new customers.

But what makes their exit overlay so successful?

It all begins on their landing page:


YourMechanic creates a landing page backed up by several elements of social proof – and a very mild dose of urgency is established with the CTA, “Get a Quote.”

But for users who are about to abandon the page, YourMechanic takes things to the next level with an exit overlay.

How YourMechanic uses exit overlays to escalate urgency

For users ready to abandon the page, YourMechanic uses an exit overlay to step up the urgency:

YourMechanic’s exit overlay is activated when a user begins to abandon the page. Image via YourMechanic.

A time-specific headline is used, and the CTA becomes “Get a Quote Now!”

This heightened level of urgency makes the offer a little more compelling by telling users just how quickly they can get a quote.

Further, a directional cue connecting the headline and CTA adds clarity to what the user is being asked to do. They use an arrow, but as Oli mentions in his guide, you can get creative with directional cues and try things such “the suggestive power of the eye.”

Or better yet…

This page should go in the directional cue hall of fame.

With any directional cue, you want your conversion target to be where design pathways (such as arrows) are leading to, or where people (or animals) are looking or pointing towards.

Action item:

An exit overlay is like a second page view served only to abandoning users – try using it to amp up the urgency and entice visitors to make a last-second purchase or opt-in.

Urgency is often conveyed through copy, as per the example above, but another tactic is to use a timer or countdown on your overlay to show that the offer is only available for a limited time.

An exit overlay gives you a second chance. Use it to amp up the urgency of your offer.
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How to use exit overlays to counter objections

Amen Clinics provides brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) analysis to diagnose and treat disorders including ADHD, behavioural problems and memory issues.

To promote its services, the clinic runs online campaigns focused on a single disorder, usually featuring videos of founder Dr. Daniel Amen.

This is the landing page for one of their more popular programs, “Healing ADD at Home in 30 Days”:

Amen Clinics’ landing page for “Healing ADD at Home in 30 Days.” Image via Healing ADD.

The landing page makes excellent use of many of the techniques that Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner discusses in his Ultimate Guide to Conversion-Centered Design; they employ a liberal use of contrast and whitespace to ensure that users focus their attention on the desired action: the big red button.

But even with a landing page chock-full of conversion-centered design techniques, Amen Clinics knew their conversion rate had room for improvement.

How Amen Clinics’ uses exit overlays to counter potential objections and allow prospects to try before they buy

Amen Clinics’ marketing team hypothesized that although “Healing ADD at Home in 30 days” was a good selling point (and a strong starting point), perhaps some users weren’t yet sure that 1) they had ADD, and 2) the program was right for them.

They decided that an exit overlay could be used to address this issue. The exit overlay would take a step back, allowing users to self-diagnose and try part of the program before purchasing.

Use exit overlays to help prospects clear up any doubts they might have about your product or service. Image via Healing ADD.

Amen Clinics’ exit overlay counters objections and allows people to try the program before they commit.

In exchange for their email address, skeptical visitors could try the program without any commitment and determine whether it was right for them.

The results were impressive; during a 30-day test, 19.44% users who viewed this exit overlay were converted from abandoning visitors to highly valuable sales leads.

Action item:
If a high percentage of users are ditching your landing page, an exit overlay is fertile ground to test a last-second offer that counters any objections they may have.

This could come in the form of a quiz, email course series or a free trial offer that employs the “Try before you buy” principle, where visitors are offered the chance to try the product before purchasing to help determine if they’ve chosen the right solution.

Visitors bouncing from your landing page? Exit overlays can help counter their objections.
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How to use exit overlays to provide added value

Yes-Downloads partners with leading software providers to promote PC-based versions of over 50 different games, productivity tools and security programs.

In exchange for the software, Yes-Downloads promotes signups of partner programs – some paid, some freemium.

For their Candy Crush campaign, the marketing team runs high-volume PPC campaigns and uses a combination of attention-driven design principles and an exit overlay to secure conversions. Have a look at their campaign page:

Yes-Downloads’ free Candy Crush Saga offer. Image via Yes-Downloads.

Once more, this page makes excellent use of whitespace and contrast – and a strong directional cue near the CTA. In his guide, Oli calls this type of arrow “about as subtle as a punch of the face,” and I agree – but that’s why they work.

Once their page was optimized with attention-driven design techniques, Yes-Downloads turned to an exit overlay to further increase their conversions.

How Yes-Downloads uses exit overlays to sweeten the pot

To reduce the number of abandoning visitors on the page, the marketing team added an exit overlay that used the same attention-driven design principles as the landing page – but sweetened the pot with a package of additional resources to help users master the game:

This exit overlay includes a package of additional resources to help users master Candy Crush. Image via Yes-Downloads.

To validate their assumptions, they ran an A/B test with an exit overlay on the test variant. The results were pretty staggering:

For landing page “Candy A”, an exit overlay (by Rooster) brought Yes-Downloads from a 10.45% sign-up rate (S/U) to a 18.84% sign-up rate – an impressive 80.28% lift in conversions.

Over a 45-day test, the variant with the exit overlay saw a phenomenal 80.28% lift in conversions.

Action item:
Use an exit overlay to offer more. Are there other incentives you can include to sweeten the pot and encourage prospects to convert?

Is your landing page incentive not hot enough to seal the deal? Exit overlays help sweeten the pot.
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Does your landing page have a trusty sidekick?

In essence, an exit overlay creates a second pageview for your site; when it activates, it should be:

  • Consistent with your landing page offer, but a little sweeter
  • Consistent with your landing page design, but simpler
  • Consistent with the persuasive tone of your landing page copy, but with the urgency ratcheted up

To ensure your exit overlay achieves all of the above, test using attention-driven design principles such as blank space, contrast, urgency and directional cues.

When done effectively, an exit overlay will help make your landing page offer more persuasive and can help recover users before they abandon your page – just like a trusty sidekick should.

– Angus Lynch


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How Exit Overlays Can Make Your Landing Page Offer More Persuasive