Conversion Optimization on a Shoestring Budget

There’s no shortage of conversion optimization tools out there, some of which can vacuum out your wallet faster than you can say “split test.”

For small businesses, it can feel overwhelming to start split testing, analyzing results and developing landing pages on a tight budget.

Fortunately, there are a variety of free and low-cost tools available to help. They may lack some of the bells and whistles of their costlier counterparts, but at their core, they simplify and speed up the optimization process, so you can get back to creating enticing offers that sell.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the best:

Check Site Errors with SEO Site Checkup


Before you jump right into testing and measuring, it pays to double-check your site’s search engine optimization. SEO Site Checkup is a free service that runs your site through a variety of common optimization checks, ranging from meta tags to caching and content relative to other data on the page. Unlike most other tools, it also comes with handy explanations so you can understand exactly what GZIP compression is and how it affects your page.

Price: Free

Uncover the Customer’s Journey to Online Purchasing


Google has a fantastic free infographic-style planner called The Customer Journey to Online Purchase. If you think a customer simply lands on your site and clicks the Add to Cart button, you’re in for a surprise. This diagram goes through all the channels and steps that a customer typically goes through—including Awareness, Consideration, Intent and Decision, as well as the many online paths that take them there—ranging from email to referrals.

What’s more, the chart breaks down AOV (Average Order Value) across specific timeframes for a wide range of industries, factoring in the role that each channel plays in leading up to the order. For example, customers coming through social channels typically require more awareness and assistance than those coming from organic search.

Price: Free

Build and Launch A/B Split Testing Landing Pages in Minutes


True to its name, Instapage is an online service that lets you create and launch landing pages without the need for any programming or design experience. It includes over 70 different templates, each optimized from the ground up to enhance your conversion optimization efforts. With drag and drop simplicity, even non-designers can change colors, adjust positioning of different elements and even create inline forms with no technical know-how.

Depending on the package you choose, there’s a limit to the number of visitors you can have. But on the plus side, you can run an unlimited number of tests across unlimited pages. A WordPress plugin is available as well to tie your landing pages into your existing content management system.  Social and video options can also be integrated with just a few clicks.

Price: A free account is available, but serves only as a demo. A starter account is just $17/month.

Real-Time Split Testing with Growth Giant


Growth Giant, currently in beta, follows the “Multi-Armed Bandit” algorithm wherein the goal is to maximize conversions. That means it continuously analyzes poor or under-performing pages while delivering traffic to better-performing pages to improve conversion rates. A simple premise, but one that could truly change the world of conversion optimization tools for the better.

Because the suite is in beta, there’s no definitive launch window, but you can request beta access from the homepage simply by typing in your email address.

Price: Free, currently in Beta

Paditrack: Google Analytics for the Rest of Us


Let’s face it, for some people, Google Analytics is a mountain of insurmountable data too large to be tamed. If you’re not a web analyst by any stretch of the imagination, it can seem like too much information is being thrown at you for you to wade through and make an informed decision.

Enter Paditrack. Paditrack works together with Google Analytics to simplify the data you’ve collected and breaks it down into meaningful insights that you can use to grow your business. Measure the performance of your landing pages, visualize your conversion funnel, even track e-commerce ROI and revenues from one intelligent dashboard.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of Paditrack is its retroactive funnels, which allow you to go back and view your conversion funnel details for as long as you’ve had Google Analytics installed. Now there’s no excuse not to learn how well your site performed during last year’s holiday season!

Price: Conversion funnels are free, other reports are unavailable on the free plan. Pro pricing is $29/month.

Granify: Seamless Visitor Interaction


Contrary to its name, Granify doesn’t turn you into a sweet old lady who loves to knit and bake mouth-watering pies. What it does do, is analyze and attempt to quell buyer objections before they become a problem.

It does this through the use of prompts, which you create. Granify’s system engineers will even suggest prompt ideas based on your traffic. Each prompt is fully customizable with everything from discounts to reminders. But how does this figure into real-world buying? Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you offer free shipping (a terrific conversion strategy!) but your customers are concerned about the estimated shipping time. And while you may have this information elsewhere in your site, the point is that they didn’t see it or couldn’t find it. So they leave without buying. That’s where Granify comes in.

It puts up your chosen prompt, making sure these specific customers know that you guarantee all shipping times within the U.S.

Boom! Instant purchase. And this is just one of the many prompts you can create. Everything can be personalized to fit your brand and style. Granify even shows you how much extra revenue you made as a result of using them.

Pricing: Varies, A free 30-day trial is available. Cancel anytime.

A Reminder about Using Conversion Tools

As with any tool or service, it can be tempting to feel like this one thing is going to solve all your conversion problems forever. No tool can do that. What each of these tools does is complement your existing skill set, whether you’re in charge of building landing pages, conducting tests, analyzing the data or all of the above.

When you use these tools to help you leverage and wrangle data, you’ll be able to make smarter decisions, gain more influence with buyers and start forging customer relationships that are built on better marketing.

What are some of your favorite conversion optimization tools? Share them with us in the comments below and tell us what you like best about them!

Read more Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.

The post Conversion Optimization on a Shoestring Budget appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Conversion Optimization on a Shoestring Budget


How to Optimize Your Event Marketing With Social Ads and Landing Pages

A successful event marketing campaign will help qualified leads discover your brand – weeks before the event. Image by Stéfan via Flickr.

Participating in live events gives you the opportunity to network, learn about industry trends, find partners and develop relationships with customers – all while getting some fresh air away from your computer screen.

But what many people fail to understand when planning to participate in these events is that they need to be treated as campaigns.

If you’re dropping lots of money on plane tickets, booths and swag, you need to be able to report that it was all worthwhile. And without an action plan, you won’t see a return on your investment.

So how can you be sure that your marketing dollars don’t go to waste and that you identify new prospects and convert them into new leads (even before the event takes place)?

All it takes is a small advertising budget, clear objectives and a couple of dedicated landing pages.

Let’s get started.

1. Lay out the objectives for your event marketing campaign

Before you create any landing pages or straighten out your advertising budget, you need to first get clear on the objectives of your event marketing campaign.

Do you want to spread the word about your brand? Collect more leads? Nurture your relationship with current customers? Establish yourself as a thought leader in your space?

When our client, social eCommerce startup GETONIC set out to participate in two major internet conferences, they wanted to be sure to stand out from other participating startups and receive attention from investors, journalists and biz dev professionals.

In addition to this, they wanted to start developing meaningful relationships with prospects and begin to collect leads.

Here were the objectives of the campaign:

  1. Branding: To get more exposure for the brand before the events.
  2. Direct response: To collect leads in an interest list to schedule in-person meetings with prospects and to ensure the turnout of a speech by GETONIC’s CEO.

2. Find your target audience

Once you have your objectives, the next step is to decide on the appropriate audience to target – and how you’ll reach them. This could mean targeting past attendees, people who have “liked” the event on Facebook and people who bought early bird tickets.

For example, these were the specifics of GETONIC’s targeted social media and retargeting campaign:

  • On Facebook, target users who appear on the list of participants/attendees on the events’ websites and Facebook events.
  • Target users who “liked” the event pages on Facebook.
  • On LinkedIn, target members of the events’ groups.
  • Finally, using Google AdWords, remarket to visitors who click through to the GETONIC website and landing pages from the Facebook and LinkedIn ads.

3. Get more exposure for your brand before the event by leveraging social proof

Any company participating in a conference or other live event does so with the goal of heightening brand awareness.

And a good way to give prospects first (and repeated) exposure to your brand before the event is by creating effective targeted social ads.

But how do you get your company to stand out amongst the hundreds of other presenters?

To get the maximum ROI from our event marketing campaign for GETONIC, we created social media ads and bolstered them with social proof. Each of the branding ads outlined the company’s unique value proposition and highlighted press coverage it had received:


For example, the ad above leveraged the social proof of being featured on TechCrunch and having received $1.3M in funding.


Similarly, this ad highlighted press coverage on The Next Web. It also outlined the unique value proposition of GETONIC:

“…a new ad product that allows businesses to more easily build and share advertisements for products across social channels and other ad networks.”


This ad leveraged a different type of social proof: the likelihood of GETONIC customers becoming brand advocates and referring their friends. It outlined the UVP of GETONIC concisely:

“Create a Facebook shop instantly, sell socially.”

If your prospects are clicking on your ads, odds are they’re interested in learning more – so make it easy for them to do so.

Prospects who clicked through to the GETONIC website from the third ad would then be shown various remarketing ads, giving them second and third exposure to the brand.

Get more exposure for your brand by leveraging social proof in your ads. #event #marketing
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4. Capture interested leads before the event with targeted ads and landing pages

Brand awareness is awesome, but it’s hard to track. If you’re running an event marketing campaign, you probably also want to see more tangible results – in the form of email addresses of leads who expressed interest in your brand.

Collecting email addresses before the event can help you remind prospects to visit your booth, attend your talks and continue to interact with your brand in general.

These were some of the ads and landing pages from the GETONIC campaign. To ensure a high conversion rate, each of the direct response ads led to a dedicated landing page with a straightforward opt in form and a concise call to action.


The Webit Congres Facebook ad above led to the landing page below.


To help increase the attendance of CEO Adi Eyal’s presentation at the conference, the landing page included the AddThisEvent widget (above) to invite attendees to add the event to their calendars.


Additionally, the Web Summit Facebook ad above led to the landing page below.

lp-10 copy

This landing page was meant to get visitors to stop by the GETONIC booth, leveraging social proof in the form of media reviews to further incentivize people to fill out the form to receive reminders.

The results?


GETONIC generated 25 leads ahead of the event and followed up with them to schedule a meeting. And judging by Facebook branding ad clicks, over a thousand event attendees learned about the company.

Takeaways from our event marketing campaign

With a few days of planning, we heightened brand awareness and generated several interested leads for GETONIC before the events even took place.

Before you get started on creating your own event marketing campaigns, have a look at our lessons learned:

1. Prepare for uncertainty

It’s no secret that the success of branding campaigns is less quantifiable than that of direct response campaigns. In our case, it was hard to know which of the thousands of people who visited the GETONIC booth did so as a result of the branding campaign.

To get some idea of the effectiveness of your branding campaigns, consider using a campaign hashtag or simply asking leads how they were referred.

Track the success of branding campaigns with campaign hashtags or by asking how leads were referred.
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2. Co-brand for social proof

If you’re just starting out, the vast majority of your target audience will not recognize your brand. That said, they’ve been exposed to the event’s branding (they registered for it, after all), so you want to leverage that.

We found that the click-through rate in ads with the events’ logos was much higher than those with the GETONIC logo alone. For example, in one of our Facebook campaigns, the CTR of an ad with the Webit logo was four times higher than that of an identical ad with the GETONIC logo (with a statistical confidence level of almost 100%).


3. Don’t be shy to brag – put social proof front and center

Media endorsements are nice to have on your landing page (assuming they’re positive). And when it comes to increasing the conversion rate of your event marketing campaigns, flaunting your mentions in the press and in leading blogs is a must.

You’ve likely heard others sing the praises of social proof, but we saw its effects first-hand.

The landing pages for each of the events were identical in layout other than the placement of the social proof. On the Web Summit landing page, media endorsements were placed above the fold, but appeared below the fold for the Webit landing page.

With the social proof front and center, the Web Summit landing page’s conversion rate was 13.54% – almost double that of the Webit landing page (6.78%; confidence level of 93%).

You should always test to see what appeals to your own audience, but when in doubt, don’t be shy to brag.

Make the most of your event marketing

If you put the time and effort into spreading the word about your participation in events, you may find that your hard work pays off in terms of collected leads and heightened brand awareness.

By using targeted social ads, a small advertising budget and landing pages, even small event marketing campaigns can see great ROI. And though these campaigns are often limited in scope (limited to event registrants), this type of face-to-face lead nurturing can result in lifelong customers who make the investment worthwhile.

Now it’s your turn. Have you run similar event marketing campaigns? Which strategies worked best for you?

– Gil Shterzer


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How to Optimize Your Event Marketing With Social Ads and Landing Pages


Is Your Responsive Design Working? Google Analytics Will Tell You

Responsive web design has become the dominant method of developing and designing websites. It makes it easier to think “mobile first” and to create a website that is viewable on mobile devices.

In the early days of responsive web design, creating breakpoints in CSS for particular screen sizes was common, like 320 pixels for iPhone and 768 pixels for iPad, and then we tested and monitored those devices. As responsive design has evolved, we now more often start with the content and then set breakpoints when the content “breaks.” This means that you might end up with quite a few content-centric breakpoints and no particular devices or form factors on which to test your website.

However, we are just guessing that our designs will perform well with different device classes and form factors and across different interaction models. We need to continually monitor a design’s performance with real traffic.

Content-centric breakpoints are definitely the way to go, but they also mean that monitoring your website to identify when it breaks is more important. This information, when easily accessible, provides hints on what types of devices and form factors to test further.

Google Analytics has some great multi-device features1 built in; however, with responsive design, we are really designing for form factors, not for devices. In this article, we’ll demonstrate how WURFL.js2 and Google Analytics can work together to show performance metrics across form factors. No more guessing.

Why Form Factor?

Speeding up and optimizing the user experience for a particular device or family of devices is always easier. In reality, though, creating a device-specific experience3 for all types of devices is not feasible, given that the diversity of web-enabled devices will just continue to grow. However, every device has a particular form factor. Luke Wroblewski4, author of Mobile First5, outlines three categories to identify device experiences6:

  • usage or posture,
  • input method,
  • output or screen.

Because devices vary between these categories, we get different form factors. Hence, treating form factor as the primary dimension through which to monitor a responsive website makes sense. This will indicate which type of device to test for usability.

The examples in this article all use WURFL.js, including the form factors provided by it, which are:

  • desktop,
  • app,
  • tablet,
  • smartphone,
  • feature phone,
  • smart TV,
  • robot,
  • other non-mobile,
  • other mobile.

Feeding Data To Google Analytics

The first step is to put WURFL.js on the pages that you want to track. Simply paste this line of code into your markup:

<script type="text/javascript" src="//"></script>

This will create a global WURFL object that you can access through JavaScript:


Now that the script tag is in place, the only other thing to do is add the highlighted lines of code to Google Analytics’ tracking code:

/* Google Analytics' standard tracking code */
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-99999999-1']);

/* Tell Google Analytics to log WURFL.js' data */
 _gaq.push(['_setCustomVar',	1,’complete_device_name’,WURFL.complete_device_name,1]);
 _gaq.push(['_setCustomVar',	2,'form_factor',WURFL.form_factor,1]);
 _gaq.push(['_setCustomVar',	3,'is_mobile',WURFL.is_mobile,1]);

/* The rest of Analytics' standard tracking code */
var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';
var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);

Or, if you have updated to Google Analytics’ new “Universal Analytics7, you would add this:

/* Google Analytics' new universal tracking code */
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m)i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r],i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)})(window,document,'script','//','ga');
ga('create', 'UA-99999999-1, 'auto');

/* Define the custom dimensions */
ga('send', 'pageview', 
  'dimension1': WURFL.complete_device_name,
  'dimension2': WURFL.form_factor,
  'dimension3': WURFL.is_mobile

Further, if you are using GA Universal Analytics, you must remember to define the custom dimensions. You do that by clicking AdminCustom DefinitionsCustom Dimensions.

For Universal Analytics you need to define the custom dimensions in the Admin section. (Large preview9)


  1. 1
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  3. 3—responsive-design/
  4. 4
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  6. 6—responsive-design/
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9

The post Is Your Responsive Design Working? Google Analytics Will Tell You appeared first on Smashing Magazine.


Is Your Responsive Design Working? Google Analytics Will Tell You


6 Banner Ad Split Tests To Try Right Now

Online advertising isn’t as alluring as it once was.

When the first banner ad was placed 20 years ago, it was so new and attention-grabbing that it received a click through rate (CTR) of 44%! That’s 440 times more than today’s average CTR. However, it was the only ad on the page and it was unfamiliar to viewers. Essentially, it stood out.

These days, display ads have to work a lot harder to earn clicks. With multiple ad placements on webpages, ad exhaustion and banner blindness, advertisers have to step up their strategy to get ahead.

That’s where the value of display ads come in.  Earlier this year, reports showed that display advertising revenue is currently growing at 21% a year, and is expected to hit $74.4 billion by 2016.

Whether you’re placing your ads using real time bidding (RTB), direct media buys or retargeting, including display ads in your marketing mix is extremely powerful for bringing traffic to your site.

banner ad - placeitSource:

So what’s the secret to making your display strategy a success?

Well obviously, having the right ads in the right place — which can easily be accomplished with media buying intel tools such as WhatRunsWhere.

Start by making a really good ad. By ‘really good,’ I don’t mean the most polished! In fact, some of the best performing ads use filter-free images, but they all have the essentials of a quality ad that drives clicks, including:

  • Minimal but attention-grabbing copy
  • Images that evoke emotions or highlight benefits over features
  • A strong and clear call to action (CTA)

The best way (and truthfully, the only way) to figure out what a successful ad looks like for your campaigns is to test, optimize and repeat.  Split testing takes time, but it provides valuable information about what works and doesn’t work for your target audience.


Start by building 3-4 different ads for each of your campaigns and rotate through them evenly to begin collecting data. Once you start getting significant results, you can begin performing split tests to better optimize the ads that are performing best.

Remember, even the smallest test can make a dramatic difference. Be sure to only test one element of your ad at a time, so you can accurately pin point what’s working.

Examples of things to test are:

  • Ad copy – test size, color, shadowing, font and of course, the ad copy itself.
  • Add a boarder or none – does your ad stand out better with a white background or will draw more attention with a black vs. colored border?
  • Call to action (CTA) – test buttons vs. links
  • Promotion – free shipping or discount offers, such as “save 50%” vs. “save $20″
  • Price points –$0.99 vs. $1 or lowest price guarantee
  • Headlines – this is the most vital part of your ad so definitely test your headlines; consider stating a fact, asking a question, highlighting a feature, etc.

Here’s some inspiration!  Look at what these advertisers are testing…


Personalization is key for directly grabbing your audience’s attention. Your ads should be relevant to consumers, whether that means solving a problem or creating a want/need.

Allstate Insurance has a number of targeted display campaigns. From placing motorcycle insurance ads on motorcyclist sites, to the campaign below, which directly calls on each of their competitor’s clients.

This is a great example for testing targeted copy in your ads…



What is your ad telling the consumer to do?

Testing your CTA is one of the most powerful ways to impact your campaign’s CTR. Your CTA basically sets the tone for the next step.

For example, ‘Buy Now’ may be too aggressive for pushing the sale, so try ‘Shop Now.’  If you are offering a Free Trial, use ‘Try For Free’ instead.

When it comes to high-value items that are not purchased online such as cars, your CTA should drive consumers to your site (no pun intended)!

Look at the various CTA’s that Volvo is using for their V-60 Sports Wagon campaign…



Social media management tool SproutSocial seems to have found their ideal headline, CTA and color scheme. All that’s left is to figure out what design accents these elements best.

Take a look at how these four ads play around with a similar design…


The same ad won’t work for everyone, so switch up images to target audiences with different interests.

Seamless, an online delivery ordering service is split testing by switching the grilled cheese and fries to a salad in order to reach a more health conscious audience.



Another tactic to reach a wider audience is to test your product or service’s benefits over features.

MoneyGram is currently testing two different promotions against each other. On each of the sites where they run ads, they are testing “Send money online 24/7” vs. “Fees start at $5.”

The first ad is powerful for attracting consumers who are not necessarily used to the convenience of sending money online, while the second ad is great for attracting people who already send money online but likely are being charged a higher fee.


Dot & Bo

Testing fine details are important, but don’t get bogged down by it.

This popular online retailer is moving furniture around in their ads and while these little changes may have impacted Dot & Bo’s bottom line, swapping out the product color would certainly have made for a more dramatic split test.  For example: using a different shade of orange or making it an entirely different color.

 Dot & Bo

Time To Get You’re A/B Testing On!!

It may seem like a no-brainer, but shockingly only 44% of companies use split testing when trying to boost conversion rates. Testing and optimizing is imperative to any successful advertising campaign.

Hope these tips will help you get a head start.  If we missed anything, please share your comments below.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Danielle Forget.

The post 6 Banner Ad Split Tests To Try Right Now appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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6 Banner Ad Split Tests To Try Right Now


These Landing Page Copywriting “Best Practices” Turned Out to Be Conversion Fails

Don’t be a fail whale – test landing page “best practices.” Image by Bjarne P Tveskov via Flickr.

PSST! Joanna Wiebe will be speaking at our first ever Call to Action Conference on September 12 in Vancouver. Check it out!

Why split test your landing pages?

Because you never know what impact a copy or design change might have on your business.

Why should you report on your test results?

Because sharing our successes and failures can help inform future optimization efforts. Test data can sometimes tell interesting stories worthy of addition to the canon of landing page “best practices.”

But if the growing body of A/B testing case studies can teach us anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a “best practice” and that you’d be wise not to base your new landing page on what worked for someone else.

Disagree? Agree enthusiastically? Then you’ll definitely want to check out these three examples of landing page copywriting “best practice” fails…

So-called best practice #1: Never be clever

When writing copy for a landing page that will convert, the rule of thumb has been to write a clear message, not a clever one. Clarity trumps cleverness, right?

Not always.

When we tested clear, straightforward copy against clever copy, we were surprised by the results:

Click for larger image.

As you can see, we got nearly 18% more visitors to schedule an iPhone repair when we used a clever headline and subhead.

So does clarity always beat clever copy?

Evidently not. In this case, the clever message may have performed best because it more closely matched the conversation in the visitors’ heads at the moment they landed on the page. Perhaps the less formal language felt relatable and echoed the pain they were experiencing.

Rather than hatin’ on clever messaging, you might want to apply these better practices:

  1. Write the way your audience talks.
  2. Join the conversation already happening in their heads when they arrive on your landing page.

Contrary to “best practices,” clear copy doesn’t always convert better than clever copy.
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So-called best practice #2: Lead with the benefit

The prevailing wisdom is that people do not buy products – they buy solutions to their pain. They buy either painkillers or vitamins, as my friends Jack and Adii put it in this book.

As marketers, we take that wisdom and we try to turn it into repeatable tactics. We say that people always want benefits, not features, so we should never lead with features.

Talk about benefits first! Talk about a great outcome! Talk about value! Do NOT lead with a message about the product itself!

But is this always best for conversions?

We tested a rather bland product-focused headline against two headlines that better spoke to the value of the product and the reason to use it. Here are the three creative treatments we tested:


Which of those two variations do you think beat the control?

Take a look.

Consider them closely.

Decided? Well it may surprise you to learn that neither variation 1 nor 2 beat the control. We ended up with flat results on this test. No winner, no loser.

As a copywriter, I was pretty floored by the results of this test. How could a headline like “VueScan Scanner Software” perform as well as headline and subhead combos that better reflect the benefits – and the value – of choosing VueScan?

Hopefully your brain is whirring with why that was the case. You may be thinking that it’s because the treatment copy was too long. Or the negative “don’t” was too aggressive. Or the “dead” phrasing was too risky. Or visitors were already plenty aware of the product and their own pains, causing them to glaze over almost any headline.

Whatever the case may be, the fact is clear: sometimes, you can lead with your product.

But you have to test.

Think your landing page copy should always lead with benefits? You should test that.
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So-called best practice #3: Use short headlines

If you’ve heard – or told others – that landing page headlines should be seven words or fewer, chew on this…

We tested two lengthier headlines against a shorter control on this B2B SaaS home page. Here’s how many words were in each treatment:

Control: 6 words
Variation 1: 10 words
Variation 2: 22 words

And here’s the creative with the results:

Click for larger image.

The 10-word headline AND the 22-word headline both beat the 6-word headline, with 99.4% and 97.8% confidence respectively. On a short copy page!

When we look at these results, what can we say? What story do the numbers tell?

It’s not that long headlines are best. And it’s not that short headlines are best. It’s that there is no “best.” Sometimes a long headline can outperform a short one. Which means your copy’s success has got abso-freakin-lutely nothing to do with word count.

Use as many words as you need to – no more, no less – to connect with your visitor.
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Only one thing is certain

There are very few facts in the world of copywriting and marketing, but here’s one I can stand behind: there are no best practices. There are only better practices.

That’s why we test.

Because a “sure thing” doesn’t exist.

For every winning test that teaches us X, there’s a losing test that challenges the validity of X.
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Now it’s your turn.

What so-called best practices have you seen fail in tests? What did you once believe about online marketing that’s since been destroyed by cruelly inconsistent reality? Share your fails in the comments below.

– Joanna Wiebe


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These Landing Page Copywriting “Best Practices” Turned Out to Be Conversion Fails


You’re Doing AdWords Wrong (Here’s How to Make It Right)

Growing up, I wasn’t the type of kid who knew how to fix things. I wasn’t into cars or building tree houses and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why my Discman kept skipping (yes, it was because I was moving). But there was one thing I was amazingly good at: making Nutella sandwiches.

Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that I do my best when I play to my strengths. Google AdWords is fortunately one of them. The other is making the occasional grocery store run in a highly effective manner. Let’s just say I still know how to get the essentials.


And although I know you’re not a beginner when it comes to AdWords, I can’t tell you how many high-budget AdWords accounts I’ve seen ($100k – $500k/month) that are set up in a way that just makes me super sad.

You can optimize your landing page all you want, but if you want to get the highest ROI from your PPC campaigns, you should also be optimizing the setup of your AdWords account.

Not only will the ideas I’m about to share improve your CTRs, Quality Scores, ad positions, impression shares, chances of dating and lower your cost per click, it will also help you improve your conversion rates.

Get ready to have your mind blown.


Here are three AdWords mistakes that are hurting your conversion rates… and how to fix them.

1. You’re not using single keyword ad groups

One major obstruction to AdWords performance is when people decide to bundle 10 – 20 keywords in a single ad group. Many people do this because all those keywords fit a common theme.

Sadly, it’s actually recommended by Google to do it this way within the AdWords dashboard:


What Google fails to mention is that having that many keywords per ad group can make search-to-ad message match hard to achieve.

Message match is when the search term matches with the ad, and it’s ideal because achieving it means that Google bolds your ad copy to stand out. In the split second it takes someone to decide which ad to click, yours becomes instantly more relevant.

But when you have that many keywords per ad group, you can never have a 100% message match between the keyword you’re bidding on and the ad that is being triggered to show.

Having too many keywords in an ad group makes search-to-ad message match virtually impossible.
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If you have 10 – 20 keywords per ad group like Google suggests, you’ll end up with a situation like this:

Can’t believe I actually found a Nutella ad.

The keywords that are pointing to this one ad could be:

  • Nutella cookies recipe
  • Nutella recipes
  • Nutella brownies recipe
  • Nutella cake recipe
  • Nutella hot chocolate recipe
  • Nutella frosting recipe
  • Nutella cupcakes recipe
  • Nutella ice cream recipe
  • Nutella crepe recipe
  • Nutella cheesecake recipe
  • Nutella recipe book
  • Nutella recipe book urban outfitters
  • Nutella recipe brownie

As you can quickly see, not all these keywords that you’re bidding on would be relevant to that one ad. In an ideal world, when someone types in “Nutella cookies recipe,” you’d want an ad that has the following headline: “Nutella Cookies Recipe.”

So how do you go about perfecting your message match? The answer is SKAGs.

What are SKAGs?

Single keyword ad groups (aka SKAGs) allow you to control the message match between the keyword and the text ad because only one keyword will trigger that specific ad.

When you only have one keyword per ad group, your best bet will be to make your ad super specific to that keyword. This means that your ad for the keyword “Nutella crepe recipes” could and should look like this:


The reason why this ad is better and more relevant is because you have the keyword you’re bidding on in the ad itself. Perfect message match.

Higher relevancy = higher click-through rate = higher Quality Score = lower cost per click = lower cost per conversion.

I’d recommend having at least two drastically different ads in each ad group that you test against each other that follow the format below:

Headline: Include keyword in headline
Description line 1: Talk about benefits and features.
Description line 2: Talk about benefits. Call to action!
Display URL:

When you create single keyword ad groups, your layout of targeting should start looking like this:


And when it comes to keywords and match types, try setting them up like this in each ad group:

+nutella +cookies +recipe
[nutella cookies recipe]
“nutella cookies recipe”

How SKAGs impact your click-through rates

Here’s an example of what happens to your click-through rates when you continually create single keyword ad groups (screenshot pulled from one of my clients’ accounts):


Your click-through rate slowly starts to grow as your relevancy between keyword and ad increase.

Here’s what happens to your click-through rates when you don’t:


The multiple keywords in your ad group ultimately hurt your performance and relevancy, bringing down your click-through rates and Quality Scores (and adding more just makes it worse).

Here’s another example of a complete single keyword ad group overhaul for the entire account. Notice the spike in click-through rate and the ongoing improvement of it as well.


You may be thinking, “Well crap Johnathan! I have like, a bazillion keywords, and I use dynamic keyword insertion for almost all of my ads! I can’t do this!


And all I’ll say is, “Can you afford not to?”

Here’s why you can’t afford NOT to use single keyword ad groups in your AdWords campaigns.
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2. You’re not focusing on ad group level negative keywords

With PPC, there’s nothing worse than not knowing what you don’t know.

Inside your AdWords account, you most likely have short tail and long tail versions of different keywords. What you may not know is that your shorter tail keywords could be stealing away impressions from your longer-more-specific-tail keywords. Usually, this happens because AdWords doesn’t know how to correlate the search term to your long-tail keyword because of the match types you’ve chosen.

This is a problem. You don’t want your newly-created SKAGs to go to waste, right?

To avoid this scenario, we’ll need to take a very close look within your search term reports and make sure that each search term corresponds with the exact same keyword.

Using ad group level negative keywords

One of the things I always strive to do is to get all AdWords accounts to have at least 25 search terms (from highest impressions and down) in a row that are pulling from the exact same keyword. When that happens, your search term report starts looking like this:

Notice how the search terms correspond perfectly with the exact same keywords?

To make this (almost ludicrous) level of granularity happen, you’ll need to start adding ad group level negative keywords (not campaign or account level negative keywords) when there’s a discrepancy between keyword and search term. This will then prevent your short tail keywords stealing away impressions from the longer tail ones.

When you look at your search term report and see search terms that you want to show for but don’t match up exactly with the keyword that you’re bidding on, you’ll want to add that search term as an ad group level negative keyword (from the current ad group) and then create a new ad group for it.

Ensuring the right ads are being triggered to show

To make sure your keywords are triggering the right ads to show, you should frequently perform keyword diagnoses. To do this, you’ll want to be at the keyword level view within your AdWords account and click on the “Details” button and then “Keyword diagnosis.”


Sometimes you’ll find that negative keywords, bids that are too low or internal competition are preventing certain keywords from triggering corresponding ads. No matter the source of the problem, identifying the issue gives you the information you need to optimize your ads and make them hyper-relevant.

As you continue to do this over time, your Quality Scores, click-through rates and average ad positions will start going up because you’re granulating and improving relevancy.

Ad group level negative keywords are one of the key ingredients to a successful AdWords campaign.
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3. You’re not using dynamic keyword insertion

Now that you’ve done your part on the AdWords side, it’s time to start capturing the traffic on your landing pages. Remember the day you created landing pages for every single keyword? No? I sure do.

Well, luckily, you may never have to go through that.

With dynamic keyword insertion, you can essentially take any text on the landing page and change it out with what you specify in the URL parameters. This allows you to create one landing page around a service or product theme and then change the headlines and calls-to-action to fit the keyword that the visitor searched for.

This will also have a positive impact on your landing page Quality Scores as Google sees that your page is very relevant to the keyword you’re bidding on.

With dynamic keyword insertion in place, your PPC funnel could essentially look like this:

By the way, that’s a horrible landing page. No call to action at all. What is that? A parchment?

A PPC funnel structured like this results in ads and landing pages that are extremely relevant to what people are searching for. Here’s that magic equation again:

Higher relevancy = higher CTR = higher Quality Score = lower CPC = lower cost per conversion.
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Higher relevancy leads to more conversions

This trifecta of strategies will make ads more relevant to your leads and will result in increased conversions. It’s a win-win.

SKAGs, ad group level negative keywords and dynamic keyword insertion work together to improve the relevancy of the ads seen by your visitors and give visitors a consistent experience.

Combined, these three steps will make your AdWords campaign optimization efforts more accurate than a Stormtrooper trying to do its own laundry.


So there you have it: a brand new way to structure your AdWords account. I’d love to hear how your initial tests go.

Do you think this will help with your PPC performance? Why or why not? Please comment below!

– Johnathan Dane


Originally posted here: 

You’re Doing AdWords Wrong (Here’s How to Make It Right)


29 Landing Page Reviews That Show Why Clarity is the Key to Conversion

unbounce tyrian game of thrones meme landing page reviews

What do Game of Thrones and the vast majority of landing pages have in common?

Without seeing a “Previously on Game of Thrones” recap (complete with beheadings, baby-stealing white-bearded giant folk, fashionable incest, and the word Stark), you’d have absolutely no clue what’s going on.

Similarly, if someone lands on a page and the scannable headlines, imagery and subheads don’t communicate effectively – in a succinct and clear manner – you’ll be left wondering why you clicked on the link that brought you there, and again, you’ll have absolutely no clue what’s going on.

That’s a problem.

We should NOT be designing experiences that confuse potential customers. And yet, virtually everyone does.

What’s the solution?


To be clear… Pause for effect. #ChucklesToSelf

There’s an invisible un-clarity counter that sits in everyone’s brain, ticking quietly upward whenever we see a word or phrase that makes us reflect on its meaning.

Every time you disrespect your visitors with a page highlight (something that stands out visually to the scanning eye), that’s confusing or unclear, you increase the count.

And every increase in that count reduces the likelihood that the visitor will convert.

Today, I’m basing my commentary of these landing pages around the Conversion Centered Design principle of Clarity, or lack thereof.

Let the judgement begin!

Sidenote: The 29 landing page examples shown below were submitted to Unbounce for the Page Fights series, but didn’t make it on the show.

Sidenote 2: Click the images for the full page (some were so long I cropped the thumbnails).

Sidenote 3: You should know this by now. If one of these pages is yours, all of my commentary is delivered with love, no matter how harsh. Every page can be better and brutal honesty is the fastest route.

A landing page without clarity is like Game of Thrones without the ‘previously on.’ Confusing.
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1. The Weekly Sticky


Ding. Elevator doors open! Out we go…

  1. Be clear, not clever. “Put Your Patient Education on Automa-TIC”? Wordplay, great. Now I have to figure out your inside joke. It’s okay for the folks in my office to deal with my incomprehensible three-step jokes, but it’s not acceptable to put your visitors through the same. The fact that you put it in quotes is both a mystery and a misfortune.
  2. What is your CTA talking about? “Start Getting Stickies For Your Practice.” This is a gross context misassumption. Not only do I not know what stickies are – aside from the universally branded post-it notes that everyone calls stickies – but you’re asking me to want them before I know what your version of them is.
  3. The hero shot is wasted. Your hero shot is a visual opportunity to showcase your product or service in action. But what you’ve chosen to do here is show what only looks like a web page talking about mechanical lubricant in a lame, editorial manner.
  4. Watch your language please: Go ahead and read the copy beneath “What the Heck is a Sticky?”:

    “It’s an New Principled tool…”

    That’s not English. And why are “New” and “Principled” capitalized? Poor grammar and spelling are trust and conversion killers.

  5. Icky Sticky: The middle testimonial is creepy. Read this out loud:

    “I’ve enjoyed MANY complements on these Stickies.”

    #deepbreath, continuing…

    “Just last week I had a patient who works in marketing share how much she enjoys them.”

    There is so much inappropriately sexually charged innuendo in that testimonial. You need to get rid of it. Or find a new testimonial writer – preferably real customers…

  6. The headlines are confusing on their own. Try to make each headline work regardless of context. “How Do They Work?” should read, “How Do Stickies Work?”
  7. It only gets worse from here. I’m tapping out.

Footnote: Apparently, if you look really closely, this had something to do with chiropractors. I wouldn’t let any of them touch me.

Don’t use wordplay in your landing page headlines. Inside jokes don’t help conversions.
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2. GreenPal


Love the playful design of this landing page.

  1. The headlines and subheads are clear. If you do a quick scan test, reading through the copy that stands out the most you get:

    “Lawn mowing made easy, get my lawn mowed today, how does Greenpal work? tell us when and where, they bid, you save, choose with confidence, schedule and pay online, get free access to 100s of pre-screened lawn care professionals, with no obligation.”

    That’s pretty good – an exception to the upcoming examples I’m afraid. One thing I would say is that the phrase “pre-screened lawn care professionals” feels like it should come earlier on, perhaps mentioned in the four benefit blocks.

  2. How does it work? To find out, you can read the four benefits or you can watch the video later on. Both of these achieve the same goal so they might work better positioned together. Either way, I’d test placing the video section directly beneath the top section because its headline is much more benefit-driven than “How does GreenPal work?”
  3. The footer dilutes the focus of the page. Remember that every landing page should have a single campaign goal, which is to get someone to click the orange button(s). By adding site nav links and social follow icons, you’re diluting the focus and increasing the attention ratio. If someone leaves and goes to your website, they may still convert but you’d be clouding your analytics. Your campaign will register as a failure and your website will gain a conversion – which can result in you making an incorrect deduction about your marketing.
  4. There’s no device targeting. There are app CTAs at the end of the page. If this page is being viewed on a mobile device this is probably okay (and would even be a better CTA than the primary one here). But on a desktop computer, they are an unwanted distraction.

Placing social follow buttons on a landing page is selfish and me-focused. Don’t do it.
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3. Wholesale Insurance


Arrrrgggggg! It’s so crowded. Here’s what I’d do on this page:

  1. Add some space around the form area. The form is complicated so you want to make that region appear a little more user-friendly.
  2. Move the logos down the page. They’re adding too much noise right off the bat. Also, add a label so I know what they are. Are they customers, partners, places that you retrieve quotes from?
  3. Emphasize the word “instant.” The sentence, “Quotes are instant and will appear on the next page.” is great. Don’t bury this – it’s extra urgency incentive for me to fill in the form immediately. Place this as subtext beneath the button.
  4. Don’t overwhelm with legal details. Move the paragraph of terms from the form area to the footer so you’re not overwhelming people.
  5. Pick only one intended action. Do you want me to call you or to fill out the form? Pick one. Or at least make the phone number a secondary consideration instead of one of the first things I read.
  6. It’s 2014. Time to update the date in the footer. Unless you give two-year-old quotes. ;)

Here’s a very quick Photoshop makeover with some of those ideas applied. Notice how much more relaxed your eyes are with the clutter removed. Yes, you still need to add the logos and terms, but they can appear below this area.


Visually noisy landing pages put people in fight or flight mode. Neither is good for conversions.
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4. Trumpia

  1. The headline is generic. The headline could use a lot of work to make it communicate the value of your software. “Powerful” and “Trusted by Fortune 500s” says absolutely nothing about what you offer or why it’s unique. I’d consider moving the trusted part into a subhead and making the main headline focus on your core benefit.
  2. The CTAs send mixed messages. The two CTAs suggest a different purpose. “Contact Us” doesn’t say what will happen when I click the button. It’s confusing – most of the page is designed to get you to contact me, but your CTA suggests I can contact you.
  3. The copy in the screenshot is spammy and confusing. You are wasting a great opportunity to communicate value in the screenshot. Why is there a text message that just says your name? That’s not communication. Then you say that you’re going to send me alerts and deals. Who am I in this situation? Am I your customer, my customer or my customer’s customer?

If an element on your landing page doesn’t add clarity to your offer, throw it away.
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5. Insight Pest Solutions

  1. The value proposition is vague. Simplified pest control doesn’t really speak to the prospect’s pain, which is the bugs bothering them. It makes it sound like they’ve been controlling their pests in a complex way. “Simple” can’t be the biggest benefit of using Insight Pest Solutions.
  2. There’s a lack of urgency. A more urgent headline would probably work better – words like “now” and “today” speak more to the urgency I’m feeling.
  3. Callback? If you’re going to call me back, make the form header and CTA copy reflect this: “Call me back.”

If your service solves an urgent problem, your call to action should use words like Now or Today.
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6. YouVisit

  1. The header image is messy. With so much going on in the background, it’s very hard to read the headline. Your logo is also virtually (see what I did there?) impossible to see.
  2. Who cares about your mobile app? Why are you talking about a mobile app when I don’t even know if you are any good? App for what? Can I create virtual tours on the app? And why are you wasting the subhead on a supplementary offer? You need to use that valuable space to talk about your product.
  3. The testimonials are vague. The Syracuse University quote is vague and could use some relatable numerical impact. In what way has it enhanced their presence?
  4. What do the trust logos mean? Are NBC and the NYT customers? I’m guessing they’re media mentions, so you might want to add a heading that speaks to that, or better yet, use fewer logos and add in what was said about you.
  5. The bottom CTA is incomplete. You’re missing a word. “Your FREE Consultation” isn’t a call to action.

If you’re using company logos for landing page social proof, add a label that introduces them.
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7. Website Toolbox


This is actually a website, so that’s problem #1. Don’t send marketing campaign traffic to your homepage! Remove the navigation and you’d have a beautifully focused experience.

  1. How do I watch a demo? Clearly a demo of this type of thing is important, but navigation aside, the only way to see it is to click on the laptop. Easy enough, except the fact that you don’t show me that I can. Stick a (+) sign on it so I know it’s clickable.
  2. Don’t take me away from the page. The forum site actually scales nicely into a smaller browser window, so you could pop up a lightbox with the forum in an iFrame (or just embed it on the page). This would let people view the “demo” without leaving the site.
  3. What am I demoing? You show an example forum, but you don’t show your actual forum software.
  4. Don’t use hyperboles. “Industry leading support.” Okay, well show me some numbers to back that up.
  5. Ranked #1 in what? How is this ranking determined? Some extra detail might make this more believable. #1 amongst who/what?

If you want me to click on something, make it look clickable! I’m not a landing page mind reader.
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8. Testive

  1. Where’s the headline? Your headline is your first opportunity to communicate your unique campaign proposition and this page completely misses the boat here. There should be a big headline introducing the page and what it’s going to do for me. The closest thing it has is a small statement that’s trying to be clever. The 21st century angle is meaningless to me, as is the parent reference. It’s delivering cleverness instead of clarity, which almost always loses the conversion battle.
  2. What’s the CTA? “Learn more” is very relevant CTA copy as I’ve not learned anything yet and I could use some help.
  3. Don’t use the word “gimmick.” Don’t use words like “gimmick” (beside the $0 free plan). I’ve proven in an A/B test that this exact word caused a drop in conversions
  4. For clicks sake! You are asking me to “Sign up now and get a free 30 min session” but it’s not a button. Then at the bottom of the page you have a button-shaped green thing that isn’t clickable either! Make them both scroll you back to the top of the page. And if it’s a sign-up form, say that on the button. Right now, “Learn more” isn’t a sign up action.

A landing page without a headline is like a chicken with its head cut off. But less funny.
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9. Examine


This is a super confusing above-the-fold experience.

  1. The headline could use some work. Make my supplement routine more effective how? It’s like you’re telling me to as opposed to showing me how.
  2. What’s the offer? Is it something that students read on their tablets? Because that’s what the photo shows. Or is it a physical book? Because that’s what the images show. “Get it now.” I don’t know what “it” is.
  3. Get to the point. I had to read through so much content to even find out what you’re offering.

If I have to read to figure out what your landing page images mean, you have a clarity problem.
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10. Sedation Dentistry

  1. The headlines are too hard to read. “H squiggle creating S squiggle”? If you spent some time squinting at the screenshot figuring out the typography, you wouldn’t be alone. The first two headlines are very difficult to read and are not scannable. Don’t make your visitors work so hard to understand your primary purpose.
  2. The opt-in form uses stop words. The subtext beneath the CTA uses the phrase, “We will never sell your personal information.” I wasn’t imagining you would but now, as I am about to click, you make me think of something bad. I’d remove this or reword to “100% privacy guaranteed.”
  3. What’s the unique value proposition? The messaging is so generic that it could be applied to any dentist. If you are doing pay-per-click campaigns and are targeting particular services such as “sedation dentistry” then you should focus on that – the benefits of coming to you for that specific service.
  4. The testimonials aren’t about the service. The testimonials should speak directly to the experience of receiving one of your services, such as sedation dentistry.

Big squiggly cursive typography can destroy landing page readability and your conversion rates.
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11. Kwik Mortgage

  1. The CTA is hidden. The color contrast of the call to action is so poor that it’s completely hidden amongst the background. Choose a complementary color that makes the button clearly stand out.
  2. The visual hierarchy doesn’t work. The page is all about the meaningless photo rather than describing the offer and why you are unique. The headline should be more dominant in the visual hierarchy. Right now, the headline copy reads more like a call to action rather than a statement of why I should care about your company and your offer.
  3. The subheads don’t stand on their own. You could increase the clarity of this label by qualifying it: “Today’s Mortgage Interest Rates.” It might seem overly simple, but that’s the point. Make each scannable subhead crystal clear so the page reads like a progressive story.
  4. The testimonial is buried. There is a testimonial right at the end of the page but it doesn’t look like a testimonial. At a glance it looks more like legalese.
  5. Back to the future: It’s 2014. #footerupdate

Double check the copyright date in the footer of your landing pages. Do it now! Is it 2014?
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12. Inquisitek

  1. Borrrrrring. Could this page look any less appealing?
  2. Is it a webinar or seminar? My gut reaction to this page was that it was to register for a webinar. This is in part because of the subject matter, but also because the location (and the fact that it’s offline) is completely buried in a big wall of text.
  3. The readability sucks. The copy is really small which makes it hard to read, and the perceived friction of having to read so much is a big barrier to conversion.
  4. In a post-apocalyptic world… There is too much faux drama in the copy (“chaos,” “order” and “in a world” to name a few). Makes it sound like fluff.
  5. The testimonial is misleading. The first testimonial is terrible. It starts like this:

    “This is a great class for a broad overview, but…”

    But? I immediately think the class has a downside and that it has no focus. It makes it sound like there is a class AND a workshop. I’m confused.

  6. What are these bonus sessions? Okay, so there is a workshop first, followed by a free “hands-on” workshop. So confusing.
  7. How do I pay? Will I be paying for the session on the next page after I complete the form?
  8. Outbound links to website/Facebook/Twitter: Don’t. Do. This.

Don’t put links to your social profiles on your landing page. Nobody cares pre-purchase.
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13. Heimdal Security

  1. The navigation works. This is an example of acceptable navigation. Instead of linking to other site pages, it links internally within the page and scrolls down slowly enough that you understand the mechanics of how it works.
  2. What are you protecting? What type of infrastructure are you protecting? Is it for someone who uses online banking? I wasn’t clear on how it would help me specifically.
  3. Don’t make me click away. Noooooo. The “more features” link takes you to a “Why Heimdal?” page on the website without a call to action. If you want to show more features, throw them into a lightbox popup or have an expandable section on the page that opens to show the extra details.
  4. There’s no urgency. You can choose to start a free trial or pay for it now. The price is discounted, but there’s no urgency. Make the offer time-limited to increase the desire to act now on the paid version. Use subtext below the CTA for this – it would get too busy inside the button.
  5. Make your testimonials clear. Introduce them with a subhead. As it stands, I have to read them to figure out that they are customers as opposed to information about your team.

It’s okay to have navigation on your landing page – but *only* if it uses internal anchor links.
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14. BrandBlasting

  1. The network photo is cheesy. The hero shot looks like the type of cheesy stock photo you get for some type of network or I.T. solution. If it’s about social media and storytelling, I’d want to show a much more humanistic visual.
  2. You do or don’t offer social media marketing? In the intro paragraph, it says,

    “We don’t offer elements of social media marketing.”

    Huh? I see that you’re trying to say that you provide the whole thing, not just bits and pieces, but it’s unclear and confusing to read. If you want to keep that copy, I’d add emphasis to the word “elements.”

  3. More chaos: Seems like order and chaos are a common theme today. Instead of painting this type of picture, why not talk about a specific problem that brands have with social media marketing? Chaos is too broad and doesn’t speak to my pain.
  4. The CTA is vague. “Contact us” is a very vague CTA. What will happen when I contact you? Surely it should be about you contacting me.
  5. Fields not required: As you have two fields that aren’t required, you might want to test not including them. You’ll probably get a bit of a conversion lift, but you will want to balance the benefit of more leads with the quality. If the quality of your leads drops with fewer fields, I’d try all five fields as required to add a bit of friction – as counterintuitive as that sounds.
  6. Weak testimonial: The quote is really generic and doesn’t speak directly to any quantitative benefit, which is essentially what people want to know.

Mix quantitative data and qualitative benefit in your landing page testimonials for more impact.
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15. Farm Bureau Insurance

  1. Kissing before sex: If you missed the “Personalize your auto experience” line at the top (positioned where you’d expect a logo), the main opening statement here is “Request your quote,” which is way too aggressive as an opener.
  2. How is it personalized? Justin (that’s the name I have for the guy with his hands clenched) looks friendly enough, but is he the personalized aspect? Is it “personalized” because I’ll set this up with a person? Or will you be tailoring my car insurance quote to me personally?
  3. Where’s the benefit? We all know and love/hate Geiko for their brilliant advertising and one of the best value propositions in the history of advertising (“A 15-minute call could save you 15% or more on car insurance”), so what’s the equivalent here? It’s just Justin and a form. Give me something to want.
  4. Speaking of benefits: “In addition to solid benefits…” Really? That’s lazy copywriting. It’s like saying, “In addition to some good stuff that I’ve not yet pointed out, you’ll get…”.
  5. The testimonials aren’t credible. Linda, I don’t believe you. “Thanks for a wonderful product.” Bullshit. Nobody says that about car insurance.

Stop using fake testimonials on your landing pages. Please.
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16. Patriot Software

  1. Simplify what? Is it simplifying the payroll itself? Or is it simplifying the process of paying your employees? Add some extra benefit to the headline to make me care a little more.
  2. What’s it called? If you have an online product, you should introduce it by name. Right now all I have to identify you by is “Patriot Software,” which could be a service provider. You only get to the actual product – “Patriot PAY” – at the end of the page.
  3. Meaningless subhead: “Use our easy and affordable payroll software” is a bit self-serving. You need to address your customer’s biggest pain point.
  4. Automatic updates? What’s getting updated automatically? The software version? I don’t see much value in saying this. The first bullet point should always drive home the #1 benefit of using the software – which should be something that speaks to the simplification you’re promising.
  5. The “3 easy steps” section is great. This section exhibits excellent clarity. Consider bringing it further up the page to connect with the first CTA.

If your landing page benefit statements could be applied to *any* product, they’re too generic.
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17. Simple

  1. Banking should be… confusing: It’s supposed to be simple, but my immediate takeaway from the header area is that banking should involve a credit card that’s hard to read.
  2. Is Simple a bank? Am I getting on an invite list for a new bank? Or a new credit card company? Or is it a software solution? It’s really not communicated as simply as it’s suggesting.
  3. The tiny type is hard to read. The design is delightfully simple and the whitespace really helps with visual clarity, but the type is too small to be easily read.
  4. Oh, it is a bank. Or is it? Right at the end it says “Ready to replace your bank?” Replace it with another bank or with a new concept entirely? “Switch banks” would be clearer.

With conversion rate optimization, clarity beats clever. Don’t make me guess, I might guess wrong.
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18. Next Level Purchasing

  1. The headline is bland. The headline here is horribly vague and wastes a prime opportunity. Am I purchasing certification? Is this an ecommerce page to buy certificates? The subhead does a better job of clearly pointing out the purpose of the page.
  2. The bullets in the header are generic. The first bullet point is okay, but the other two are terrible. As standalone benefit statements, they are super generic. Right below, they are repeated with details that are actually useful. For this reason, you could probably remove the top three and focus entirely on the headline and subhead.
  3. Study or get certified? The subhead makes me think I’m going to register to get certified online from this page but when I get to the form, I’m told I’m going to get a guide. Feels like an unintentional bait and switch. If the goal of the page is to provide help with getting certified, talk more about the guide and its purpose.
  4. The trust logos are misleading. The company logos have a subhead to introduce them. It’s a good start, but what are they using you (the company) for? Have they used the guide? If not, and they are just customers, you’re sending a mixed message. The purpose of the page is getting someone to download the guide, not believe in your company’s ability to service big companies (in what way I don’t have a clue). Splitting the purpose makes the logos incongruent with the campaign goal, and thus confusing. Remember that your content marketing strategy is to get the email for the guide, and *then* start pushing people further down the funnel towards your actual business.

On your ebook landing page, talk about your ebook – not your company.
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19. The Pink Bride

  1. Start with your headline. The first thing you want people to do on your landing page is read the headline. On this page, the headline states what the event is called. This works well as an identifier beside the logo, but I’d actually treat the subhead as the “real” page title and make it much more prominent – it does a good job of explaining what and why you should attend. The problem design-wise is that the photo of Nashville is so dominant, you can easily gloss over the subhead and go straight to the CTA.
  2. Show the event: A good test would be to try the video at the top instead of the photo, as it shows the event rather than a generic destination shot.
  3. The CTA subtext is wordy. There is an entire sentence below the button that could be replaced with a simple, “Save $2 off tickets when you buy online now.”
  4. Unclear CTA copy: “Take me to the bridal show!” Am I going to be your guest? Are you actually going to take me? Is it a prize? What will happen after I click isn’t clear unless you read the subtext. For clarity, you could try something simple like “Buy Tickets Now.”

Design your landing page so the headline is the very first thing people see.
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20. Milk It Digital

  1. The headline is messy and fragmented. The headline is broken down into three sections, each with its own communication goal. “Learn From the Experts” is fluff and doesn’t help me understand what the page is about. I’d remove it and then flip the order of the remaining parts: “Email Marketing That Sells – A Live Online Training Workshop.” To make it even better, you could remove the workshop line and add a subhead that adds extra benefit to the subject matter.
  2. There’s too much text. In my experience, you don’t need much information to convince someone to register for a webinar. Take a look at this landing page – it follows a WWWH format: what, why, when and how. And it does so in a simple and linear manner. It converts at 70% which is slightly more than our standard (and more meaty) version. There is so much small copy on your page that it can be hard to really find the answers to those WWWH questions that people have.
  3. Stop words: I’ve mentioned it often: remove the word spam from beneath the CTA, it can turn people off. Focus on the positive only.
  4. Who are you? I’d remove the top photo. It only serves to beg the question “Who are you?” and you answer that further down the page. I’d leave it down there and focus the top on the event itself, so people don’t have to jump around to find answers.
  5. Add more whitespace. The visual clarity could be improved dramatically by adding some spacing throughout the content. Here’s a quick Photoshop hack job to show what I mean (also removing the top photo):

Writing the word “spam” beside your landing page call to action gives people a reason to leave.
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21. McCarthy Law

  1. Slow down. The copywriting comes across as very disjointed and staccato. For a page that’s about getting in touch for a consultation, I’d suggest getting a bit more conversational. If you read the copy out loud, you’ll notice that you don’t actually communicate anything of real value or explain how your service is better than the competition.
  2. The subhead is confusing. “Pick a plan” is an action-oriented request, but I don’t actually get to pick anything at this point. Without more context, it’s a bit misleading and confusing at this stage of communications. You should have more value in a subheader.
  3. What do I actually get from you? Free review, consultation or evaluation? What do I actually get from you? Is it an evaluation of the amount of debt I say I have on the form? Is it a free evaluation on the phone to see if I qualify for a free consultation in your office? And the headline says review. For a legal website, the ability for confusion and misconstrued intent is very high.
  4. The expandable FAQ works. This is the right way to do this. Keep people on the page and don’t take up too much space for those who may not have questions.
  5. Stay – no wait, go! You keep visitors on the page with expandable FAQs and then try to send them away to your blog and social profiles. Don’t ask people to leave your landing page.

Every time you add social follow buttons to a landing page, a kitten dies. Stop it.
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22. Einstein Medical

  1. How do you help doctors grow? The headline is very ambiguous. It doesn’t mention that you’re offering internet marketing strategy services. A descriptive headline that talks about what you actually offer would add a lot of clarity. People will be more willing to say yes to a website review if you introduce it properly. Plus, the headline is very me me me. The current headline is more appropriate as a lead in to the social proof area after you’ve told me what you do.
  2. Who’s speaking to me? When you combine the “We’ve been” phrasing in the headline and the photo of the doctor, my first reaction is that he’s talking to me, when in fact it’s a testimonial.
  3. Ditch the social! I’m getting exhausted bringing this point up. Don’t put five social share/follow buttons right in my face. I might go check out your Twitter following, see that you only have 20 followers and decide that you’re lame.

If you’re asking me to do more than one thing on your landing page, you’re doing it wrong.
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23. Air Concierge


This is not a landing page. But I’m going to look at it because it’s such a terribly unfocused landing experience. I really hope people aren’t being sent here from paid advertising.

Seriously, what’s the point of this page? The design is horrible at helping someone understand what they should be doing. Close your eyes and pick a starting point.

If I were to go with convention, I’d look top center to find the headline (the defining purpose of the page). So this page is about “Provide Promo.”

There are so many action items fighting for my attention it’s just overwhelming.

  1. So many CTAs. “Call my concierge,” “Provide Promo 47-21-62-0,” “Like, Tweet, Pin!” Pin? Are you kidding me? Who is going to Pin this to Pinterest?
  2. Epic and un-believable testimonial: “Hello, thank you so much for the good service that I had with Delta Airlines”? Really? Not only does it sound fake, lame, unimportant and not at all helpful to my purchasing decision, it’s about Delta. You’re not Delta!.
  3. Then there are the three price points below… “Fly upper class without paying for it.” Oh wait, the price is 3x the economy price? I guess you are paying for it.
  4. This page could be soooooo much better.
  5. If the page owner is out there, I’d love to know the source of the click that would bring someone to this page.

Know your audience. Don’t ask someone to Pin your landing page to Pinterest if it’s not visual.
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24. Enterhost


I must confess I know diddly about Lync. So to be fair I’m going to go Google it and come back.

Sigh. Wikipedia just made my life way less happy than I’d thought it would. Microsoft’s branding is so poor that it took 43 words for me to kinda understand Lync. Let’s run with, “It’s an enterprise level replacement for Windows Messenger.” Gross. No offense.

  1. The headline sucks. Are you talking to sys admins? Otherwise why would I want you anywhere near my messaging software?
  2. Why hosted Lync? That’s a darling question, Enterhost. You hadn’t even mentioned hosted services, so that’s a pretty abrupt leap from the headline. Oh wait, I can get a free quote over on the right. Man this page is confusing.
  3. Microperbole! (See what I did there?) “With just an internet connection, your computer is transformed into your phone system on-the-go.” Kill me now. I know we’re talking about Microsoft, but this isn’t the 80s. You should speak to people with a little more respect for their intellect.
  4. “Get a free quote on Lync.” I don’t understand this page at all.

Here’s a free quote: “When it takes me 30 minutes to critique a landing page and I leave more confused than when I arrived, you have a problem with clarity.” — Oli Gardner

If I have to visit Wikipedia to understand your landing page, you’re overcomplicating things.
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25. Easy Insights


Sidenote: Ignore the repeating nav bar in the screenshot, that’s not actually how it looks. The screenshot software couldn’t render the persistent nav that moves when you scroll down.

  1. The headline is condescending. Try reading the header experience in isolation:

    “Easy insights: stop guessing and start using data to grow your business.”

    “Easy insights” is arguably the most generic headline in this list of 29 landing pages. Fix that. The start of a public speaking gig is the only time that you have 100% of the crowd’s attention. It’s the same with your landing page headline. Grab me with something unique and very specific. The subhead is a little condescending – don’t tell me I’m guessing. Appeal to my pain and help me, don’t put me down.

  2. Then there’s a wall of text. I can’t read all of that. And I bet most of your visitors won’t either. If you’re writing a long form sales letter, you need to get personal. There are two ways to do that:
    1. Make your landing page look like crap.
    2. Include a personal video from you.

This looks like a shelf-bought site from Squarespace. As such, I find it hard to make a personal connection.


Your headline is the only part of a landing page that gets 100% of a visitor’s attention.
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26. Do Inbound

  1. The headline is confusing. Seriously, read the headline three times fast. I hope this is a landing page for branded search, otherwise it’s pretty confusing. It’s not a useful headline either way, it’s just a statement.
  2. A little foreplay please? “On-demand,” “Instant Access” and “Plus a special offer!” That’s a lot of desperation in the first three seconds of our relationship. Slow. It. Down. A little!
  3. The tone is cold. The copywriting on this page reads like a blog post. A conversational style can be amazingly effective, but it feels like the conversation hasn’t been started elsewhere. You start with a cold, “We recently” which implies some history, but not a direct connection to copy in an email or whatever pre-click experience existed.
  4. The subhead is disconnected from the body copy. Everyone should do this for every landing page they design: Just stand up and read it out loud. If you do that here, you’ll recognize that the subhead (“Get instant access”) doesn’t lead into the body copy in any way. It reads like a blog post on a landing page.
  5. My advice? Stop trying so hard. Focus one a few really awesome things that you do and describe why they help someone. Instant access to a walkthrough of anything doesn’t sound that great.

If you can’t read your page headline 3x fast, it’s too complex. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
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27. Digital Tangible Trust


The blockchain? I’m so out of touch. I think the blockchain is a transactional Bitcoin database.

  1. So what is this page about? Out of context, pretty much nothing. However, I had the pleasure of perseverance when looking over this page, and found my way alllllll the way to the bottom where I stumbled upon a video and this headline:

    “WANTED: Senior node.js Engineer to Pave A New Path in Cryptocurrency.”

    Now that’s some direct copy. I care about that even if I don’t know what’s going on specifically with the technology. If you need to say “build on the blockchain,” make sure you couple it with the passion of your actual requirement. The lower half of the page is humanized, the top is soulless.

Your landing page headline should make sense even without the rest of the page.
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28. SJVC College

  1. There are trust issues. This is a branding issue but I have to draw attention to it. This is an educational institute, but it’s called SJVC without an explanation of the acronym. I have no idea what a “Private Junior College” is, so that doesn’t help me figure you out.
  2. The headline is weak. “Become a medical assistant”. Okay. Where, what, why and how? Give me something to grab onto.
  3. “Are you looking for a medical assistant college?” I hope so. That’s why you created this page right? Read the next paragraph, it reads like a bored answering machine, gah. “Detail-oriented”. What a drag.
  4. The CTA is stressful. There are multiple schools of thought on the progression of multi-step forms, and one rule is to never make it obvious that there is a second step. Saying “Next >” implies more effort for me. Make it more enticing like, “Let’s find out if you’re really detail-oriented!” I jest, but you get my point I hope.

Using acronyms on landing pages slows comprehension and hurts your conversion rates.
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29. ADHD Crusher

  1. Looks like you forgot the header. You should put the name “ADHD Crusher” beside the logo. Right now, with the black stripe at the top, it feels like the page hasn’t finished loading.
  2. The CTA is weak. “Try Now” is generic button copy that only works when it’s part of a group (10 options, each with a “Try Now” button). Tap into the needs of your visitors with something like “Get focused, get organized.”
  3. The trust seal isn’t trustworthy. Zero risk? There is always risk when you’re buying something online. This page isn’t trustworthy enough for me to believe your claim that if I email you, you’ll refund my money. Don’t suggest a method of refund that sounds bootstrapped. I don’t want to think of you in your basement.
  4. Why did the page end? It actually felt like the page ended unexpectedly, like there was something still to come.

Whitespace on a landing page is great, unless it looks like you forgot part of the design.
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Clarity always trumps cleverness

I think it’s pretty clear from these examples that clarity is the most important aspect of your landing page copywriting. Your grandmother doesn’t necessarily need to be able to understand your business, but she should be able to tell you what the page is about.

Remember (and tweet) this:

Clarity beats clever every time when it comes to high-converting landing pages
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– Oli Gardner

P.S. If you’d like to see some brutally honest landing page critiques LIVE, you should come to the first ever Unbounce Call To Action Conference in Vancouver on September 12th, 2014, where myself and two other conversion rockstars will be looking at landing pages from the attendees.

unbounce tyrian game of thrones meme landing page reviews

Link to original: 

29 Landing Page Reviews That Show Why Clarity is the Key to Conversion


A 38-Point Blog Optimization Checklist to Jumpstart Your Lead Generation

Is your blog optimized for lead generation or are you making visitors jump through hoops? Image source.

Does your blog work for your business?

Or would you like to generate a few more leads?

Let’s be honest.

Blogging to generate leads is hard work. Success doesn’t happen overnight and sneaky doubts creep up on us all. Are we on the right track? Are we maximizing opportunities to win business?

Here’s a checklist to help you optimize your blog content, drive more traffic to your site and generate more leads.

Sound good?

Let’s start by reviewing your content strategy.

Optimize your content strategy for your audience

What would you like to achieve with your blog?

Your objective may be to increase traffic, generate leads or to raise your profile as an authority. But if you use your blog just to spread your sales messages, you may struggle to find readers and customers. And your blog may remain a whispering voice, lonely and forgotten.

If you only use your blog to spread your sales messages, you may struggle to find readers.
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Most people aren’t interested in your sales messages. Most people aren’t even interested in your business. They want to know what’s in it for them. Readers like to share content that’s helpful and practical rather than promotional. As Jonah Berger describes in his book Contagious, practicality can trigger content to go viral.

To gain more business with your blog, you should stop thinking like a salesman and start acting like your reader’s mentor. Be insanely helpful.

Start with these nine tips for optimizing your blog for your audience so they’ll come back for more:

  1. Know your ideal customer. Create a short profile of a buyer persona or avatar. When you think about blog topics for the next month, visualize your reader and how you can help her achieve her goals. When you visualize one reader, you’ll find it much easier to generate useful blog topics and write engaging content.
  2. Answer your readers’ questions because it builds trust and authority. Plus you’ll gain more traffic when people search online for answers to their questions. For instance, when a reader asked me why my writing feels so conversational, I wrote a blog post to answer her question. This post now drives visitors to my site who also want to know how to write conversationally.
  3. Include quotes from authorities in your field, because it shows you’re well connected. If the people you’ve quoted help promote your post, it can also boost your social media shares.
  4. Create in-depth articles that are insanely useful because both readers and Google love them. Offer as much value as possible.
  5. Write for your audience first and optimize for Google later. When you write solely to please Google, you silence your unique voice and slaughter your creativity. Add a splash of personality to engage your audience.

Writing to please Google silences your unique voice. Add some personality. @HennekeD
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  1. Create landing pages that provide introductions to a specific topic with links to posts that go into more detail. Check out this example of a landing page about how to write persuasive sales copy. This page is prominently featured in my sidebar as a “free tutorial” driving traffic and engagement with readers. This page also receives more search traffic than any other page on my site. What topics do you want to be known for?
This landing page about creating persuasive sales copy delivers added value to readers and drives traffic.
  1. Create a “New? Start here” page to showcase your most helpful content to new visitors. ViperChill has a “New? Start here” page showing resources for beginner, intermediate and advanced marketers plus a little background about the site owner’s journey as an online marketer.
  1. Keep your content up to date. Don’t allow visitors to stumble on invalid links, discontinued products or advice that’s no longer applicable. Create a spreadsheet with links to all your blog posts and review each post once a year. You can do a running audit or dedicate some time once a year to review your site
  2. Use images that add value. Boring stock photographs undermine your brand. You don’t want to come across as cliché, do you? Here’s a great lists of design resources for marketers.

Don’t think of your blog as a sales tool. It’s simply a way to start a conversation with potential customers.

When you stop selling on your blog and start helping, you’ll find that you sell more.
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Optimize your blog design for readability

You’ve written content your prospects love to read and share.

You answer their questions. You help them make decisions. You show them the way.

But do you make reading your blog posts effortless?

Or is your blog design turning them away in disgust?

Follow these six tips to give readers the feeling they glide effortlessly through your content.

  1. Choose an easy-to-read font for your paragraph texts. Fancy fonts may stand out, but they are difficult to read. Use ornamental fonts like script writing only for your subheadings.
  2. Increase your font size. The recommended size depends on the x-height of your font. This is the height of letters like o, e, n, m or x. Different font types may have different x-heights for the same font size.
  3. Optimize the width of your blog. The optimal line length is between 50 and 75 characters. Lines that are longer make it hard to focus on your text; and shorter lines make your reader feel stressed as he has to jump back to the beginning of a line too often.
  4. Choose a dark font on a white background, because it’s easier to read. You know that don’t you?
Okay, this is an exaggeration – but you get my point.
  1. Increase white space because it guides readers through your text by framing and highlighting content:
    • Dense blocks of texts are discouraging readers, so keep your paragraph length to a maximum of six lines.
    • Have large subheadings after every few paragraphs and increase white space around your subheadings to give your blog an airy feel.
    • Introduce bullet points when you sum up more than three items. Bullet points are easy to scan. They interrupt a monotonous flow and increase white space.
    • Check whether the amount of white space feels comfortable before publishing your post. Adjust paragraphs when necessary.
The blog of graphic designer and web developer Rafal Tomal is easy to read with lots of white space and a font size of 20px.
  1. Make your blog design mobile responsive so it’s comfortable to read on tablets and smartphones, too.

Optimize for email conversions

Blog readers are fleeting passersby.

They look through your shop window, but they might never come back.

Turning blog readers into email subscribers allows you to build long-term relationships. Email subscribers will come back again and again, presenting you with an opportunity to sell to them.

Follow these 10 tips to boost your email list and turn more readers into buyers:

  1. Create email opt-in forms on your home page, about page, sidebar and below each blog post. Consider a feature box. Bidsketch, for instance, prominently displays a free report in a feature box at the top of their blog page, enticing readers to sign up:
  1. Make your sign-up forms stand out so they attract attention. Cloud boxes are useful because they follow your readers as they scroll down. Crazy Egg features a large email sign-up form in the sidebar of their blog:
  1. Consider a two-step opt-in process because it can increase conversions. In a two-step conversion, people initially see a “sign up” or “download” button and only see a field for entering their email address after they click it (as in the Crazy Egg example above).
  2. Create an “ethical bribe” to entice readers to opt in to your list. Use testimonials to show the value of your report, webinar or e-course (see this example from Michael Aagaard). Even a free report has to be sold ­– you need to persuade people to enter their email address and give up their precious time to read your report.
  3. Make your sign-up copy benefits-focused. People don’t want to receive a report. Instead, they want to know how your report helps them become happier, richer or more productive. ConversionXL entices you to sign up by suggesting you can learn 13 ways to increase your conversion rates right now.
  1. Test your sign up form with and without privacy statements, because a privacy statement can decrease sign-ups.
  2. Consider an autoresponder series so new readers can get to know you and your offer. Don’t expect everyone to find your best blog posts themselves ­– instead, point them in the right direction. Your autoresponder is also a good opportunity to offer a free trial of your service, if appropriate.
  3. Use a “popular posts” section to showcase your best converting blog posts.
Orbit Media Studios showcases popular posts in their sidebar.
  1. Remove distractions such as an RSS icon, because an email subscriber is much more valuable than an RSS subscriber.
  2. Create specific opt-in material for high-performing blog posts, like HubSpot does:
HubSpot features bonus material relevant to a post. On a post about improving your LinkedIn performance, for instance, they feature an ebook with LinkedIn Success Secrets.

Optimize your blog to increase social and search traffic

You’re writing engaging blog posts.

You’re enticing blog readers to join your list.

But how can you increase the reach of your blog?

Follow these 13 tips to win more traffic, more fans and more business:

  1. Polish and edit your headlines, because the right headline can massively boost traffic to your site. Don’t forget to arouse curiosity by mentioning a specific benefit.
  2. Attract attention by using numbers or power words (such as “seductive” or “stinky”) in your headlines. Emotional, sensory and unusual words attract more attention than standard phrases.
  3. Consider testing your headlines on Twitter or use a plugin like Headlines by KingSumo.
  4. Include your key phrase in the first 55 characters of headline because longer titles get truncated.
This title preview tool allows you to preview where your title will get truncated in Google’s search results.
  1. Write meta-descriptions that entice readers to click through. The meta-description is the snippet of information that describes your blog post and that shows up in search results. Think about these descriptions as a call to action – a call to reading your post.
  2. Use categories to help human readers and crawling robots find your content. Tags are often not necessary.
  3. Optimize your posts with internal linking. Include links from old posts to your new post and from your new post to old posts. Use Google to do a site-specific search. The following search query will show all blog posts that include the phrase “blog optimization” on the Unbounce site: “blog optimization”

  4. Find blog posts that are ranked high on page two and boost their ranking with a little tweaking. Andy Crestodina explains how here.
  5. Make sure your images don’t slow down your site and optimize file names, descriptions and alt tags.
  6. Choose the perfect image size for your favorite social media channel.
This Ultimate Guide to Using Images in Social Media includes image sizing guidelines for all your favorite social media channels.
  1. Include social sharing buttons to boost social traffic, but consider limiting your buttons to three networks. In one study, Neil Patel received more social shares by promoting three networks rather than five.
  2. Remove negative social proof. If your blog is new and you don’t get many shares yet, use a plugin like Jetpack that allows you to show social sharing buttons without counts. Don’t tell people your blog is a ghost town.
  3. Learn how to write sound bites and use ClicktoTweet to include tweetables in your posts, like this:

Learn how to jumpstart lead generation on your blog with this awesome checklist.
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The simple truth about your blog

To win business with your blog, it’s not enough to write epic content.

You need insanely helpful content and a sound strategy to drive readers to your blog and then to convert those readers into customers.

Build an engaged social media following. Network with influencers. Write posts for other blogs in your field. Tweak your content for SEO.

But whatever you do, don’t forget to woo your readers.

Seduce them. Sweep them off their feet.

Because that’s how you win business.

– Henneke Duistermaat



A 38-Point Blog Optimization Checklist to Jumpstart Your Lead Generation


15 Unforgiving Landing Page Critiques by Conversion Experts Oli Gardner, Peep Laja and Joanna Wiebe

The first rule of Page Fights is… tweet about Page Fights ;) Image source.

It’s no coincidence that the most actionable landing page critiques are also the most brutal.

A little tough love from conversion rate optimization experts can bring to light what hours of A/B testing and conversion marketing research won’t tell you.

So for the 400 brave souls who submitted their landing page for brutal review on the latest episode of Page Fights, a little public shaming was par for the course. This month, judges Oli Gardner and Peep Laja were joined by Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers for the most unforgiving round of Page Fights yet.

Many of our contestants were dissed for their landing page shortcomings, but they walked away with tons of valuable CRO insight. You can watch the full episode here:

Below, we’ve compiled the distilled wisdom from Joanna, Peep and Oli so you can see how your own landing page compares to that of our Page Fights contenders.

Before you throw your landing page into the ring for consideration on the next episode, be sure you’re not making any of these conversion marketing mistakes.

5 Conversion Killers That Will Get Your Landing Page Disqualified

1. The opt-in form causes friction

Though Snap Agency’s landing page has a streamlined design, each of the judges had a bone to pick with their opt-in form.

  • For starters, Peep felt there was a disconnect between the offer on the page and the call to action. While the sub headline promises more traffic and revenue, the CTA button copy encourages leads to “Submit SEO Request.” For Peep, this lack of message match has the potential to confuse prospects and reduces the chance that they’ll fill out the form.
  • Additionally, Oli pointed out that the form’s header is confusing when read in isolation. He explained, “You need to introduce the purpose of your form before you ask people to fill it out. Your form should be able to stand alone on the page.“

Your form should be able to stand alone on your landing page. @oligardner
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  • Joanna questioned the need for two form fields if one of them is optional: “Forms can be good for qualifying prospects, but if half your form fields are optional, really think hard about whether you need all of them on the page.”

Similarly, Styler had a sleek landing page but Oli felt that their opt-in form was unnecessarily convoluted.


Oli pointed out that the steps below the form encourage leads to “Fill in the form in 30 seconds,” when there’s no form to be found on the page. He also criticized Styler’s decision to segment their users on their landing page – especially coupled with an image of a man as the background. He explained that it adds another step to filling out the form and could cause women to think they’re in the wrong place.

Oli suggested an alternative that could potentially increase conversions:

“Don’t make users self-segment on your landing page. Segment in your ads.” – Oli

2. The social proof has the opposite intended effect

Though social proof is universally accepted as being an essential element of any high-converting landing page, many contestants failed to implement it effectively.

C.R. England’s landing page had fine print that explained that real images of their employees had not been used:

The note in the upper right-hand corner reads, “Testimonials are REAL, however, pictures have been changed to protect identities.”

Peep thought that this raised questions about the legitimacy of the testimonials: “If the workers were proud of working for the company, they wouldn’t want to hide their faces.”

For Joanna, the testimonials weren’t that strong to begin with. Coupled with the fake photos, she wondered if the testimonials were bringing negative social proof to the page.

Another example of questionable social proof was found on Styler’s landing page, which referred to an award without listing the award in question:


The judges wondered about the legitimacy of the mysterious award and whether it had been made up in a failed attempt at social proof.

Finally, Snap Agency’s landing page had some ambiguous badges without any context for why they were included.

In reference to the Google Analytics badge below, Oli said, “They’re certified for something, but you can’t read it.” The judges agreed that without sufficient context, the unclear badges took up valuable real estate and even hurt the credibility of the page.


Which brings us to our next conversion killer…

3. The page isn’t credible

You can work as hard as you’d like at creating a beautiful landing page chock-full of conversion-centered design, but a simple overlooked element could be seriously hurting the credibility of your page. Lucky for the contestants, many of the credibility killers that the judges spotted are a quick fix.

Go Paisa’s landing page had a lengthy form ending with a math problem form field to help prevent spam.


For Peep, this was problematic for two main reasons:

  • An extra step reduces the likelihood of a prospect completing the form.
  • CAPTCHAs and other spambot-repelling tests put spam top-of-mind for your prospects and make your offer feel less legitimate… and they tick people off.

‘Nuff said.

On eBoundHost’s landing page, Joanna pointed out that the way the logo rested between the blue and black sections of the header made it look like the page is broken.


As subtle as this might be, Joanna explained that small details can play a larger part when it comes to negatively impacting trust and conversion rates. A viewer summed up her point neatly:

In a similar vein, Tag Team Design’s landing page hit a nerve with Peep.


For a company that specializes in web design, Peep didn’t think their landing page felt current. And without a portfolio to show a variety of other page designs, the service just didn’t feel very credible or trustworthy.

And Peep really let them have it for failing to drink their own Kool-Aid:

“I made my very first website in 1994. It looked liked this. Any 30$ theme in Themeforest would look better.”

To add insult to injury, Page Fights’ producer Tommy pointed out that although the company advertises responsive web design, their responsive site breaks. Ouch.

4. The CTA doesn’t inspire action

Though Oli praised QC Makeup Academy’s landing page for having the best headline the judges had seen thus far, he said their call to action button got lost in the sea of other possible actions.


With an attention ratio of at least 60:1, Oli suggested removing the nav and footer entirely to bring the page closer to the ideal attention ratio of 1:1.

But Peep found the call to action on Myagi’s landing page even less inspiring.

On its own, the “Train up to 50 staff for free now” button copy isn’t terrible. The problem Peep had with it was the lack of message match with the headline:


For Peep, the momentum created by leading with “increase sales” in the headline falls flat with a CTA button that promises to “train staff.” It’s a pretty underwhelming leap and it doesn’t make leads want to click on the call to action button.

5. The unique value proposition isn’t clear

Though a unique value proposition is one of the five essential elements of a high-converting landing page, poorly-defined UVPs kept cropping up on contestants’ landing pages.

For Peep, Snap Agency’s UVP got lost in the keyword-stuffed wall of text:

“I read the copy, and it isn’t written for humans. It’s keyword stuffing.” – Peep

Joanna agreed, taking particular issue with their headline: “Minneapolis SEO Services: Get Traffic. Increase Revenue.” Although the headline is descriptive (and maybe SEO-optimized), Joanna felt it didn’t speak to what differentiated Snap Agency’s service:

“There’s something to be said about being descriptive in your headline, but the rest of the copy doesn’t support the headline. It doesn’t add anything and it doesn’t make you stand out as the best solution in Minneapolis for SEO services.” – Joanna

Joanna suggested that the headline and supporting copy would be better served clearly communicating Snap Agency’s unique value proposition.

Similarly, Open Topic’s landing page lacked clarity on who the offer was intended for. Right off the bat, Peep wondered, “What’s the value proposition?”


Joanna agreed: “If I’m a content marketer, why would I be interested in a whitepaper entitled ‘What is Content Marketing?’ I already know that.”

For Joanna, Open Topic’s page didn’t communicate why she should care about their whitepaper – and chances are, their prospects feel the same.

In the case of Myagi’s landing page, the judges couldn’t find a clear UVP on the landing page either, though it could have been buried in the video. Peep explained that, with only 10% of users watching landing page videos, this is problematic.

For Peep, any landing page should have enough clarity and communicate value without having to watch the video. You should always test to see what resonates best with your audience, but at the very least, video should be complementary to landing page copy.

With only 10% of users watching your landing page video, your page’s copy needs to stand on its own.
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The Landing Page Conversion Killers that Sealed the Fate of the Runner-Ups

Finalist #1: Best Global Movers


The call to action doesn’t stand out

Though the CTA on Best Global Mover’s landing page was front and center, Oli suggested testing a button with a contrasting color: “My eyes jump around the page from red element to red element. The CTA should be the only thing on that page that is that color.”

Oli also suggested that the phone number in the upper right-hand corner may be further distracting from the goal of the page. Peep disagreed. In his experience, including a phone number on a landing page does not result in fewer conversions. He even suggested that including a phone number adds credibility.

So what’s the correct approach? The only way to find out what works is to test.

The trust elements hurt the credibility of the page

Joanna thought Best Global Mover’s landing page did a great job of pre-qualifying prospects by leading with the price, but she found that other numbers on the page didn’t do much to add credibility to the offer:

  • While the headline, “Get Free Quotes from up to 6 Removal Companies,” is specific, it made her question why they could only compare quotes to six other companies – why not a limitless number of companies? Additionally, the awkward phrasing of “up to 6” implies that it could actually only be one.
  • The Trustpilot score was a seemingly average 8.2. To Joanna, that seemed low: “I’d want to go with a moving company that had a 9 or a 10!” She suggested framing the score positively by comparing it to that of other moving companies.

“Are most companies at a 6? Compare it for me so I don’t have to worry that the 8.2 score seems a little low.” – Joanna


Finalist #2: Gig Salad


The unique value proposition should come before the call to action

Though Joanna praised Gig Salad’s landing page for a very clear UVP and CTA, Peep argued that they were in the wrong order. Oli agreed that leading with “Sign up free” is a little aggressive and vague.

Peep suggested moving the “We get performers, bands, speakers, and event services booked” headline up above the CTA to sell visitors on the value proposition before asking them to opt in.

On your landing page, make the case for your value proposition before asking visitors to opt in.
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The most impressive testimonial is buried

Though Joanna praised Gig Salad for their super-digestible testimonial summary headers, Oli found that one of the testimonials wasn’t being given the attention it deserved:


The testimonial above from an America’s Got Talent casting agent was buried under two less impressive quotes. Oli suggested placing it first: “You need to give it more emphasis because of its massive credibility.”

Finalist #3: Financial Advisor


The page is hard to read

Both Peep and Joanna agreed that Financial Advisor’s landing page had messaging that was laser-focused on a very specific problem. Joanna was particularly impressed by the bullets below the form:


“The specifics of the bullets at the bottom work. They totally make me want to call in and find out more.” – Joanna

The issue was that the specific problem had to be teased out from the massive wall of text at the top of the page. As Peep put it, “the readability sucks.” The judges suggested cutting down the blocks of text into more digestible, to-the-point bullets.

The headline isn’t benefits-focused

The judges also criticized the vague headline that didn’t focus on the benefits of the offer.

“Do I need advice? You tell me man.” – Peep

As a copywriting heavyweight, Joanna sees a lot of people default to headlines in the form of questions when they’re writing copy for their landing page. Depending on context, this might not be the most effective for conversions.

Joanna suggested that questions can be great when wireframing, but you should always go back and test answering the question upfront rather than just asking it.

With your headline, anticipate prospects’ questions and answer them before they can ask.
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Finalist #4: Averitt


The form has too much perceived friction

Having done optimization work for moving companies before, Peep found that Averitt’s landing page form had way too many fields. He suggested breaking up the form into two or three smaller steps to reduce friction.

Oli also pointed out that the header and the CTA button had identical design and neither looked very clickable. Coupled with the lengthy form, he felt there was way too much perceived friction.

The copywriting isn’t focused on the visitor

With headers like “Driving for Averitt” and “We’re going somewhere,” the judges saw serious room for improvement in the copywriting department. To Joanna, the copy seemed like placeholder copy and wasn’t focused on benefits or the reader.

“Don’t lead with the word ‘we.’ Speak directly to your prospect.” – Joanna

Finalist #5: Brighton College


The directional and instructional queues are confusing

Oli found the purpose of Brighton College’s landing page entirely unclear. He wondered why the video splash page invited prospects to fill out the form rather than watch the video:

“That frame should come at the end of the video. I want a reason to watch the video.” – Oli

Similarly, the placement of the “What’s Next” instructions seemed out of logical order – to Oli, it didn’t make sense that the prompt to fill out the form would come after the form.


Every element on an optimized landing page should work together to tell a cohesive and linear story.
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There’s no differentiation

Peep felt that Brighton College’s offer wasn’t compelling because they failed to break down what differentiated the degree from that of their competitors.

As he put it, “They’re not explaining why someone should attend Brighton College. They’re speaking to the benefits of the degree – which really only functions to sell their competitors too.”

Does Your Landing Page Have What It Takes to Be a Page Fights Contender?

At the end of the show, the viewers voted and they crowned their landing page champion.

There could only be one survivor.


Congratulations to…

Gig Salad!

While it can be a bit painful to see your landing page torn apart live, the pain is relatively short-lived when compared to the long-term gains of free advice from conversion marketing heavyweights.

Are you ready to trade your pride for a higher-converting landing page?

If you think you’re worthy of appearing on the next episode of Page Fights, throw your landing page into the ring here.

Good luck!

– Amanda Durepos


Link to article: 

15 Unforgiving Landing Page Critiques by Conversion Experts Oli Gardner, Peep Laja and Joanna Wiebe


How Culture Produces Great Work and Attracts A-Players

Why does my 2-year-old iPhone battery die in 3 hours? Why are household appliances built with such poor quality these days?

Remember your parents’ washing machine? It lasted for decades. Today, they barely last 5 years. And don’t even think about repairing them. It’s cheaper to replace the whole thing.

In some industries, quality seems to have gone out of style.

That’s a problem I hear marketers complain about in their digital agencies too. How many times have you been disappointed? You should expect high quality service from your partners and agencies, but it’s not the norm.

Fortunately, delivering a quality service still makes a positive difference to clients.

WiderFunnel turned seven years old a few weeks ago and it’s made me think about what makes us different. I think one of the biggest differences is quality, in addition to the insights gained from thousands of tests, the unique System that consistently delivers great results, and our awesome CEO. (Just kidding about that last bit!)

I’m always so proud when I hear about our team over-delivering on expectations. That’s why our clients say things like this, from the President of a consumer marketing company:

“WiderFunnel was extremely well organized, articulate and mindful of our team’s resources. They executed perfectly, never missed a deadline and had impeccable follow-up. We’re looking forward to launching the next test!”

And, from this Manager at Intel:

“It’s a pleasure working with all of you and we are thrilled with the results!”

(See more testimonials)

I usually talk about marketing optimization strategies on this blog, and will again in the next post. Today, though, I’d like to share some insights about the company doing all this great work to give you a better perspective on our approach and maybe inspire some thoughts about your own company and career.

Today, the question is: what makes WiderFunnel tick?

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What makes WiderFunnel tick?

The key to everything: the team

I’ll tell you the one thing I’ve learned above everything else: success for us is *all* about our team.

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Success is all about the team
That may not be a revelation to you, but it’s been amazing to me to see first-hand how the right team multiplies our effectiveness.

That’s why creating and maintaining a happy team of a-players is now my top priority as CEO.

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Why creating a happy team of a-players is my top priority as CEO

Now, I can hear the critics getting ready to add their comments.

  • “How can our team be more important than our clients?”
  • “Aren’t clients always the number one priority?”
  • “What about profit? Are you running a charity, Chris?”

Well, here’s the thing: delivering success for our clients is why we’re in business. And, we’re in business to pay our bills and a little more besides.

But, as CEO, I can’t serve all our clients on my own. The way I can serve them best is to make sure our team is coached, engaged and fired up to serve our clients. The time and investment I put into our team is my highest leverage activity.

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The time and investment I put into our team is my highest leverage activity

Our co-created purpose pulls us together

A few months ago, I decided the original vision, mission and values I had written for the company were no longer best. I don’t want a top-down dictation of who we are. I thought if we could encapsulate the culture we have now, we’ll always be a great place to work.

So, our core team went up a mountain (literally!) to co-create our foundational beliefs. I was so proud of the honest, challenging conversations we had to find the words that truly drive us.

WiderFunnel values creation experience

An inspiring experience helped create our values

It also always helps to have a little fun along the way…

Ice skating team fun

Work hard play hard

Here’s what we agreed to as our values, which I’m still super excited about. It really reflects who we are.

Our Values:

WiderFunnel values grit trust integrity maverick curiosity

Our Values guide or work

Our Vision:

We give clients profitable “Aha!” moments every day.

Our Mission:

To uncover mountains of cash and copious knowledge for high-octane organizations using evidence-based marketing.

We’ve created some pretty cool weekly and daily habits to keep these alive too. These aren’t just wall-hanging decorations. I overhear the team referring to them in conversations daily. It’s awesome.

Special events help build team cohesion

I’ve realized now that some of WiderFunnel’s most productive times have been outside of the office.

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some of WiderFunnel’s most productive times have been outside of the office

We recently upped the ante again with our first annual summit to end our fiscal year. This time, I took the team on a four-day adventure in Las Vegas!

Vegas sign

What goes in Vegas…

Now, I’ll tell you that I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from it. It seemed like a good idea theoretically, but when it came the day to leave, I was nervous. I’d never been on a trip like this with co-workers.

But it was awesome. We had a great time with plenty of fun, inspiration, and productive planning sessions.

I know you’ll all want to know what happened, so here are some photos. At least, those that were allowed out of Vegas ;)

WiderFunnel Vegas

A few of the team members boarding the flight

WiderFunnel poolside

Inspirational experiences build team cohesion

WiderFunnel casino winning


Chris Goward Vegas winnings

I even came out ahead in winnings

I hope we never get to big to do fun things like this. And, if you’re in a position to consider something like this at your company, you should. If you wonder how it could work for you, feel free to add your comments and questions below.

What our team says about culture

And, don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what a few of our team members said about the culture we’re building. When asked,

How do WiderFunnel’s values influence your life at work?

“They reaffirm that I work for a company I trust. And so I am motivated and grateful to devote all my energy into my work here.”
- Victoria “Vicky”

“The assembled team here at WiderFunnel doesn’t just play lip-service to company values; it’s in every action we take, every strategy session, every document and every meeting. The values help shape our actions and in turn our actions are what cause such great results.
Everyone in this office is motivated to lift WiderFunnel to new heights, the company values are what helps us work in unison.”
- Mike “Newfie”

“I feel more motivated thinking about them because when I consciously apply them, I feel good about myself (even in personal settings).”
- Claire “Clairette”

How do you feel the Vegas Summit experience has contributed to our team happiness and success?

“It gave the opportunity for us to get to know people we don’t normally work with – and what great people they are!”
- Monica

“I think an experience like the Vegas Summit does help attract and retain A-players. I feel like sharing that kind of experience, where we’re practically living with each other, would keep away those individuals who don’t share the same values, or feel the same way about WiderFunnel.”
- Megan

How would you describe the working culture at WiderFunnel now?

“Dynamic and beautiful. It’s a constant evolution and one that I feel blessed to be a part of moving forward.”
- Mike “Newfie”

“Hard working. Fast paced, flexible decision making (opposed to corporations with large hierarchy nets), collaborative/supportive and fun.”
- Jacqueline

What does this mean for our clients?

Most importantly, a happy, smart, engaged team wants to deliver great work for clients. Each one of us takes our work personally and aims to over-deliver. When we accept a new client, we will only do so if we believe we can get great results for them, and we’re committed to working at it until we do.

So, now it’s your turn.

What does culture mean to you?

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What does culture mean to you?
How does your company create, maintain and enhance culture?

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How does your company create, maintain and enhance culture?
Add your comments below.

Also, if you know someone you think would be a great fit for our time, please send them our way. We’re hiring!

The post How Culture Produces Great Work and Attracts A-Players appeared first on WiderFunnel Marketing Conversion Optimization.


How Culture Produces Great Work and Attracts A-Players