Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: February 2015

We always try our best to challenge your artistic abilities and produce some interesting, beautiful and creative artwork, and as designers we usually turn to different sources of inspiration. As a matter of fact, we’ve discovered the best one—desktop wallpapers that are a little more distinctive than the usual crowd. This creativity mission has been going on for almost seven years now1, and we are very thankful to all designers who have contributed and are still diligently contributing each month.

This post features free desktop wallpapers created by artists across the globe for February 2015. Both versions with a calendar and without a calendar can be downloaded for free. It’s time to freshen up your wallpaper!

Please note that:

  • All images can be clicked on and lead to the preview of the wallpaper,
  • You can feature your work in our magazine2 by taking part in our Desktop Wallpaper Calendars series. We are regularly looking for creative designers and artists to be featured on Smashing Magazine. Are you one of them?

Hedgehog Love

“The only thing more adorable that hedgehogs is hedgehog romance, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.” — Designed by Dorothy Timmer3 from Central Florida, USA.

Hedgehog Love4

First Kiss

“With February being the month of love, everyone is thinking about all the good times they have had with their significant other.” — Designed by Diane50 from South Africa.

First Kiss51

Musculitos In Love

“Musculitos is a tortoise that had a love some years ago, but then she left alone. However, I think that he is going to fall in love in this month!” — Designed by Verónica Valenzuela73 from Spain.

Musculitos in love74


Designed by Elise Vanoorbeek94 from Belgium.


Carnival In Venice

“My inspiration was Carnival from Venice and the colors of Brazil carnival.” — Designed by Olga Amorim125 from Portugal.

Carnival in Venice126

Time Thief

“Who has stolen our time? Maybe the time thief, so be sure to enjoy the other 28 days of february” — Designed by Colorsfera138 from Spain.

Time thief139

Hello Foxy!

“Foxes are such a cool creature – and being foxy in February seems appropriate for Valentine’s Day.” — Designed by Katherine Appleby183 from Australia.

Hello Foxy!184


“Malie is the Thai word for zebra – translated ‘striped horse’” — Designed by Rachel Litzinger226 from Chiang Rai, Thailand.


Big Love

“This wallpaper was made to help celebrate World Whale Day and the gentle giants that roam our oceans.” — Designed by Shawna Armstrong247 from the United States.

Big Love248

Love Tipi

“A place for lovers to hide.” — Designed by Malgorzata Nowak263 from Poland.

Love Tipi264

Love Angel Vader

“Valentine’s Day is coming? Noooooooooooo!” — Designed by Ricardo Gimenes306 from Brazil.

Love Angel Vader307


“The Amethyst represents February for royalty, tranquilty, and sincerity.” — Designed by Anna347 from USA.


Ice Cream Love

“My inspiration for this wallpaper is the biggest love someone can have in life: the love for the ice cream!” — Designed by Zlatina Petrova362 from Bulgaria.

Ice Cream Love363

All You Need Is Love

“February is all about the love.These love birds represent the selfless love they have for each other.” — Designed by Adorable Designs405 from the United States.

All you need is Love406

Because Machines Have Feelings, Too

“In the month of love we always seem to remember friends, family, and even pets. But most often our hardest-working companions never even get a deserving smile from us – so here’s a wonderfully whimsical tribute to the machines.” — Designed by Meelblom Assassin448 from South Africa.

Because machines have feelings, too449

Sharing What We Love

“Sharing what we love.” — Designed by Design19463 from Romania.

Sharing what we love464

My Heart Is Too Big!

Designed by Adrian Limbasan518 from Romania.

My heart is too big!519

Year Of The Sheep

“Happy Chinese New Year! This wallpaper was inspired by the Year of the Sheep, considered to be the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac. Those born in the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Ram or Goat) are often artistic, sensitive, sweet and charming.” — Designed by Oculus541 from England.

Year of the Sheep542

Fabulous February

“February is fabulous as I can sense love, fun and liberty all around- through out the month :)” — Designed by Sanchari Sarkar566 from India.

Fabulous February567

House Of Cards

Designed by Dan Di609 from Italy.

House of cards610

Every Love Story Is Written On Stars

“I believe that every Love Story is written by the God on a beautiful Star somewhere far between the galaxies. I believe in these stories, because I believe in Love.” — Designed by Abin Joe652 from Kochi, India.

Every Love Story is Written on Stars653

You’re Getting Warmer

“What I like about this time of year is that, gradually, the days get longer and warmer. I wanted to show this with the sky transforming from cold to warm.” — Designed by Mary Mahling675 from the United States.

You're Getting Warmer676

Join In Next Month!

Please note that we respect and carefully consider the ideas and motivation behind each and every artist’s work. This is why we give all artists the full freedom to explore their creativity and express emotions and experience throughout their works. This is also why the themes of the wallpapers weren’t anyhow influenced by us, but rather designed from scratch by the artists themselves.

A big thank you to all designers for their participation. Join in next month696!

What’s Your Favorite?

What’s your favorite theme or wallpaper for this month? Please let us know in the comment section below.



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Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: February 2015


5 Practical CRO Predictions for 2015

It’s that time of year again. Out with the old, in with the new, onward and upward. Nowhere is that more true than in the business of conversion rate optimization.

As someone who eats, lives and breathes this line of work, I felt that now was the perfect time, not just to look ahead at what 2015 could bring us, but how it will seep into and affect website owners at every level.

Let’s take a look at what could happen, then revisit this post around this time next year to see how accurate it was! Here are my top 5 CRO predictions for the coming year.

1.      Expect Greater Specialization Within the Realm of Conversion Optimization

The Trend

These days, you have search engine optimization specialists who have evolved into calling themselves digital marketers (or some subset therein), specializing in things like optimizing videos for search engines, optimizing social media posts, and so on.

The name change isn’t just to rid themselves of the stigma of solely optimizing for search engines (although that is part of it), but also to embrace changes in the industry that necessitate a better title. Search engine optimizers do more than optimize for search engines—they optimize pay-per-click platforms, social media, audio and video, and mobile as well.

The Prediction

I predict that a similar change will start to affect the conversion optimization industry and that it thankfully won’t take 10 or more years to do it.

According to eConsultancy, only 22% of marketers are satisfied with their conversion rate. What they’re lacking is specialization. One part of the funnel, say, landing pages, may be very well optimized, while another may be sorely neglected, like the checkout process.

Expect to see more specializations crop up in the conversion industry as more agencies and specialists discover how to better put their skills and talents to use.

2.      Greater Emphasis Will Be Placed on Usability and How it Affects Conversion Rate


The Trend

You’ve essentially got two camps: your UX (user experience) champions who look for ways to make a website as simple and straightforward to use without sacrificing aesthetics, and your conversion optimization folks who use their marketing background for persuasive purposes—to convince more people to act using said user interface.

The Prediction

Expect to see these two camps not merge, exactly, but become more blended, in the same way that social media has been embraced and welcomed into the SEO fold. What it boils down to is that these two groups are branches from the same tree—both working toward the same goal with their own specific ideas and processes for how it should happen.

To make sure you stay ahead of this trend, make sure you understand how your onsite user experience affects conversion rate. I expect tools like heat maps to become more advanced and provide greater detail, so be sure to use them.

3.      Improved Design, Implementation and Testing Tools Will Help Small Businesses and Startups Wrangle Big Data


The Trend

“Big data” sounds like a large, looming and dark cloud of information. It’s difficult for small businesses and startups to imagine stepping into it and not being sucked up in a whirlwind of details.

Every business owner needs and demands raw decision-making power. After all, that’s the basis for your A/B tests and other CRO efforts.

Tools like Google Analytics, CRMs and even CrazyEgg are continually evolving to help you make sense of the numbers, and how they correlate to conversions and sales. But as more and more of these numbers become intertwined, and as technology improves our ability to analyze where the customer is in the funnel (information gathering? price comparison shopping? getting recommendations from friends?), you’ll start to see the tools shift along with them.

The Prediction

Perhaps this is just me being hopeful, but I predict that new tools and advancements will come out that will harness this technology and distill it into uniquely useful insights on things like customer behavior, engagement levels and much more.

It will no longer be about “just” having the data, but being able to make sense of it in a way that’s relevant and applicable to your business growth.

For CROs, this is a good thing. Keep your eyes out for new resources to help you analyze your data better, form smarter hypotheses, and run better tests.

4.      Showrooming Will Become a Thing of the Past

showroomingWhy Showroom? Here are the Reasons, from

The Trend

With movements like “site to store” where you can order something online and pick it up at your local retailer and online price matching, it’s clear that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are determined not to lose customers to their Web-based counterparts.

Mostly, they’re determined to create more of a direct, personal and helpful experience that can’t be easily replicated online. Moreover, with the blending of mobile and in-store technologies, shoppers who might normally abandon their carts are now doing a good deal of their decision making through store-based and third-party apps.

The Prediction

This is a pretty bold prediction, but it has its roots in the changes that are already taking place.

While it’s true that Amazon rakes in the lion’s share of showrooming shoppers, from what I see, retailers aren’t giving up without a fight—they will continue to innovate and give customers precisely what they want. As to whether or not this will completely eliminate showrooming, no one knows, but one thing’s for sure, your local brick-and-mortar shop is remaining optimistic.

If you run an online businesses, this means you may need to come up with strategies for keeping people on your site and not abandoning your shopping cart. Your competitors aren’t just online competitors. They may be brick and mortars too.

5.      Content Will Be Less About Quality and Quantity and More About Visibility


The Trend

Rand Fishkin famously predicts the ongoing growth and implementation of near-instant search engine results thanks to advances like Knowledge Graph, instant answers, local search and so on. Along the same vein, Google is looking for ways to keep more users on Google itself rather than forcing them to go offsite.

In addition, consumers continue to eagerly consume content across a variety of channels and platforms. They only demand that it be accessible and synced from one device to another. That goes for websites and content as well as apps, utilities and plugins.

The Prediction

Simply put, in 2015, people still have way too much to do and too little time to do it in. Even the “luxury” of browsing seems to have been overtaken by the need for on-demand everything. The sooner companies can step up, listen and deliver, the sooner they’ll find themselves enjoying the fruits of their labor.

That means there will be less of a focus on creating content, and more of a focus on getting it noticed. What’s more, content will continue to evolve as user’s needs evolve.

You can expect to see more detailed, in-depth posts and fewer cheap “500-word articles.” You can also expect to see those same in-depth posts appear not just as text, but slideshows, video, podcasts and infographics too.

From the CRO perspective, this may require more effort, creating interesting content that’s easy to consume. It also means you need to find ways to streamline your content delivery and overall funnel.

What are your CRO predictions for 2015? Where do you think SEO and conversion rate optimization are headed this year? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments!

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.

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5 Practical CRO Predictions for 2015


Prototyping iOS And Android Apps With Sketch (With A Freebie!)

After the untimely (and still kind of sad) demise of Fireworks1, I found myself looking for other ways to design apps and websites. I also had the desire to produce something more interactive for when I talk about my work with stakeholders. It turned out that Sketch2, when paired with some other neat tools, would be a big part of this workflow.

In this article, I’ll talk you through why you should prototype and how you can do it with Sketch and prototyping tools such as Flinto and InVision. You’ll also get a nicely documented freebie Sketch file to help you.

Before we get started, here are a few articles, in case you‘re curious about why I am using Sketch for UI design:

Why Prototype?

When it comes to showing an app’s design to a team, a client or a stakeholder, I’ve found that an ugly-but-functional prototype beats the static bitmap of one state of a screen that I’d get from Sketch, Photoshop or the like. I’ve found that communicating things like user flow and hierarchy is tougher in static mockups (especially when dealing with responsive websites, but that’s a topic for another day).

Increasingly, animation is playing a stronger role in design. I like how Val Head9 puts it in “All the Right Moves: Putting Your UIs in Motion10” (emphasis mine):

Motion has meaning in UX design, so don’t overlook the importance of good motion design to enhance the experience. […] Animations are a powerful option to add design details to your work. When used well, motion can bring delightful moments to a user interface and improve interactions.

Motion provides meaning and is also central to the functioning of all native mobile apps — and increasingly for the web as well (see “Material Design11” and the Polymer12 project from Google). So, it’s critical to prototype for and to show motion and animation for all digital design work, but especially for mobile apps.

Side note: You can create pretty robust interactive prototypes right in Adobe Fireworks, including mobile prototypes13, web prototypes14 and iOS prototypes15. However, since Fireworks won’t be further developed by Adobe, finding an alternative workflow was vital for me.

I’ve tried several methods of showing mockups to clients. There are a ton of them, and so many look amazing. I ended up trying flat images, clickable PDF wireframes and even prototypes built in Interface Builder16. Here’s how they worked out:

  • Flat images left people wondering how we’d ever get to SuperAmazingFeature 3000™. This surely wasn’t the right way to go.
  • Clickable PDF wireframes upset the scale of our designs by fitting the PDF to whatever size my screen was — clearly, not the right way, either. (There is a way in Adobe Acrobat to specify the zoom level of a page that is the destination of a link within a PDF file so that all pages have a consistent zoom level. But if you do not create the links carefully, then you will need to manually change the zoom level and scroll point on the destination page, because Acrobat usually sets the zoom level for each page to maximize the view of that page, and app screens and web pages often have different lengths and will be displayed at different zoom levels.)
  • Interface Builder (part of Xcode17) is fun, although it comes with a considerable learning curve and investment of time compared to the others. Not everyone designs on Mac OS X or for iOS, either.

While things built in Interface Builder showed animations, neither flat images nor clickable PDFs did. That’s a bummer, because animation communicates what a flat image can’t: transitions, which are another critical part of good design. Here’s an example of why animation is key: That really cool alert you designed to slide up from the bottom of the screen will most likely get lost in a flat mockup. If you can show it animating in, you’re more likely to get your point across to someone.

It wasn’t until recently that I found a happy medium: building a wireframe kit and making interactive prototypes in services such as Flinto4118 and InVision19. I’ve been able to create designs that people view in context, on their devices and on their time. I’ve found that context is important: Showing a screenshot of a mobile app on someone’s computer invites confusion, and we generally want to avoid that.

Flinto has a 30-day trial, while InVision offers a free tier that works with one project. Both have paid plans with more features.

In keeping with the idea of staying lean, I adapted a wireframe kit for iOS (I’m still working on the Android bit!), so that people can focus on structure rather than pixels. I did get a couple of folks asking if that’s how the app would look, but most understood the concept pretty well. I use the metaphor of building a house: Wireframes are the foundation of the house, and painting and moving in the furniture come after we’ve ordered everything just right.

Let’s talk a little about the freebie Sketch file next.

The Sketch Blueprint File

The iOS 7 Blueprint.sketch template file is free to use (I put it under the MIT license), and is intended to help you focus on making interactive prototypes.

The Sketch Blueprint freebie file. (View large version21)

Please note that the template requires Sketch version 3.1+. (The folks at Bohemian Coding changed Sketch’s file format in that version, and versions older than 3.1 won’t be able to open the file correctly.)

I’ve included several elements to get you started:

  • tab bar,
  • menu bar,
  • segmented controller,
  • search bar,
  • tables (with and without icons),
  • images of varying proportions,
  • alerts,
  • various buttons and icons.

You’ll also find linked color and text styles, so you can color and style it as you see fit.

The Sketch file has even been updated for the latest iPhones, 6 and 6 Plus, so it should be up to date as of the publication of this article.

I thought about what the color scheme could be and considered reverting to a grayscale gamma, but that felt too flat to me. Then, I thought more about blueprints24 and how I use that metaphor when talking about building designs, and I decided to go with the monochromatic blue palette.

Note: You can also download the sample Sketch Blueprint file25 that I used to build the demo prototype shown in this article, complete with pages and artboards and ready for exporting. You may wonder why I have two Sketch files? My plan is to regularly update the GitHub-hosted Sketch Blueprint26 file for new mobile devices, and I’m providing the other file in the hope that it is useful to you (although I won’t be maintaining it after this article is published), because you could learn more from it about pages and artboards and how to set up slices for easy image exporting.

How I Organize My Sketch App Files

I use a separate page in Sketch for each section. Let’s say we’re talking about a log-in screen. I’ll give each variation of the log-in screen (registration, lost password, incorrect password, etc.) its own artboard. If I’m making an app that requires a log-in or sign-up process, I’ll put the log-in view on its own page with each state (like showing registration and error states).

Different states on a page in the Sketch file. (View large version28)

Speaking of all of those views, you’ll find it helpful to name your artboards, especially when you export them. Your naming conventions will probably vary, and maybe your team already has one. If not, here’s how I name my pages and artboards, by following a page name – artboard name convention.

  • Log In – Main
  • Log In – Sign Up
  • Log In – Forgot Password
  • Log In – Error

I try to use symbols for repeating elements such as menu bars, images and icons when designing these views. It makes life easier because I can change a symbol once and see its instances update everywhere.

Note: Are you new to Sketch? Learn the basics of artboards29, layers30, pages31, groups32, symbols33 and styles34 (resources that are part of the official documentation35).

Sketch also lets you do this with colors, buttons and text styles, which is neat. I can create one style for headlines, body copy and subheadings that will link throughout every other screen in the document. If I change the color in one spot, every other element that shares the style will be updated. Not having to make the same update manually in 20 other places is nice.

Note: I’ll draw a quick parallel with Adobe Fireworks. Symbols and styles in Sketch work similarly to the way they do in Fireworks, so the concept should be easy to understand. This topic has been covered in depth in the following articles on Smashing Magazine:

Fireworks doesn’t have the artboards feature, but it does have pages just like Sketch. So, moving from one app to the other shouldn’t be very hard for experienced Fireworks users.

Also, note that symbols in Sketch aren’t 100% the same as they are in Adobe Fireworks. Fireworks has both symbols and rich symbols40. Rich symbols in Fireworks allow a symbol’s instance properties to be edited independently — this means that you can make changes to the instances of a rich symbol without affecting the master symbol. This is a very useful feature for designing user interfaces — think of a button with multiple states, for example, or a text label that you can edit without affecting the design of the UI element itself.

Sketch, on the other hand, doesn’t have the concept of states inside a symbol (yet), so be cautious if you’re trying to make a button with multiple states; in this case, breaking your active and inactive states into separate symbols is probably best.

Exporting Into My Prototyping Tool Of Choice

For this example, I’ll use Flinto4118. It isn’t the only option out there (I’ll review a few other prototyping solutions later in the article), but it sure is simple. And super-speedy, too.

Using slices42 in Sketch is easy, and you can export everything as a PNG or JPG to the desktop and drag those files right into Flinto. (Alternatively, you can click on your artboard’s name on the canvas and choose “Make Exportable,” define the export optimization settings and export the images.)

Exporting slices from Sketch. Press Command + Shift + E or choose “File” → “Export” to get here. (View large version44)

Linking the exported images together in Flinto is easy, as is keeping parts fixed to the top or bottom of the window; for example, you can place a fixed menu bar at the top and a toolbar at the bottom. More on that in a moment.

When I’m finished with my design, I’ll create a new project in Flinto and use the iPhone 6 Plus with a white transparent menu bar. In our case, I’ve been dragging my files from the desktop in the order that I want them presented. I’ll make my menu bar fixed, as well as the tab bar.

Drag these arrows to tell Flinto the height of your headers, footers and other fixed elements. (View large version46)

If you need, you can also fix elements to the top and bottom of the page. Just drag these icons down to your desired placement.

Flinto will create an interactive prototype in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. You’ll receive a link via email or SMS to add it to your device’s home screen, and it will look and feel like a real app. Flinto allows you to have the standard transitions of iOS and Android (iOS has a few more than Android does at this point, but they’re all there!). Flinto doen’t support Windows Phone, though.

This is awesome because it lets designers who might not have experience with Xcode or responsive frameworks such as Twitter’s Bootstrap47 or Zurb’s Foundation48 to communicate their ideas and user flows more clearly than by sharing a simple flat image.

If you’re making a responsive website, you could argue that getting into HTML is the way to go, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. It’s up to you to find out the right approach for your project and team.

Some Handy Tips And Tricks

You can show screens for a certain amount of time, like you would an alert or tooltip. This is helpful if you want to show an alert view that pops up for a short amount of time.

How to time transitions in Flinto. (View large version50)

Flinto also lets you duplicate links from one screen to another, which is super-helpful. Just drag the hotspot that you made on one screen on top of the next. Voilà!

Here’s how to create link groups in Flinto. Easy! (View large version52)

Before looking at our prototype, let’s take a peek at the workspace. You should see some of the things we discussed, like where the fixed menu bars and tab bars live, as well as how the link groups look.

Our Flinto workspace. (View large version54)

Now for the fun part: previewing! Let’s give it a shot. Here’s a screen recording55 of what it looks like on my iPhone:

Hey, that looks pretty nice! We’re ready to show it to other people and get feedback to move forward.

One other neat thing is that you don’t have to create a new project once you’re ready to add more design elements — you can keep building it up and changing it as the design evolves. If you’re using the same Sketch file, then you’ll be able to replace the images in your current prototype with higher-fidelity ones; export those artboards from Sketch and drag them into the editor. And if you want to keep it, you could simply duplicate your current project by going to “Settings” → “Actions” → “Duplicate This Prototype.”

Other Prototyping Tools

I mentioned earlier that Flinto isn’t the only prototyping service on the market. In fact, there are too many of them! Before I settled on my Sketch and Flinto workflow, I explored a few alternatives.

There’s InVision56, which is absolutely lovely. You can prototype a design in a similar way to Flinto, from phone-sized all the way up to desktop-sized. It has a free tier (Yay!), and it offers native support for Sketch files57. It also offers gesture support, so you can show people what happens when a user swipes through to the next screen. You can also have fixed headers and footers and a web app that users can install on their devices. It’s pretty neat.

Another thing I enjoy about InVision is that you can add comments directly on a design, so there’s no confusion about whom feedback is coming from.

I recently also looked closely into one other tool, Pixate58, which is made specifically for iOS and Android apps. It gives you a lot more control over animation and gestures. I like it because it allows a designer to show more realistic interactions than Flinto or InVision. Say you have a table that you’d like to scroll horizontally, but you want the rest of the screen to remain static. Pixate lets you get that deep when creating the prototype, which is neat. (A terrific demo video that you should watch is on its website.)

There’s also the good old Interface Builder59. It’s part of Xcode (a Mac-only tool), and it allows you to prototype iOS apps — as well as Apple Watch60 apps as a matter of fact (but that’s a discussion for another time). Interface Builder has got a considerably steeper learning curve, but it will produce higher-quality results than Flinto and InVision. Keep in mind that Interface Builder will make an app prototype that runs directly on an iOS device.

If you need to prototype for iOS specifically, you could also use Keynote61, because it includes nearly all of the native transitions and animations in iOS, and it’s easy to drop in bitmap images and some live text to create something that behaves like your intended design. Its limitation is that it can make prototypes only for iOS (no Android or Windows Phone support).

It’s worth noting here that most of these prototyping tools require the use of flat images and/or slices, and they do not generate any code or framework for a responsive website. The prototypes they create have certain limitations and are intended for discussion only (although Interface Builder could be taken a little further in making an app).

Here’s a table comparing some of the prototyping apps that I’ve tried and their features:

Product Ease of use Platforms Animation support Gesture support Comments
Interface Builder Difficult iOS OS, custom Yes No
Flinto Easy iOS, Android OS No No
Pixate Moderate iOS, Android OS, custom Yes No
InVision Easy iOS, Android, web OS Yes Yes


I hope this article has persuaded you to start experimenting with prototypes (if you haven’t already). Something interactive will almost always communicate more than a picture ever could, and you’ll have better conversations because of it. On the other hand, Sketch is an excellent UI design tool, lightweight and quite powerful, and it works great with Flinto, InVision and the like because they live in the borderlands of flat images and HTML or native code; this approach lets you whip up something to discuss in minutes. Prototyping services like these are lightweight enough to help you if you can’t code a prototype yourself.

If you have questions, let me know in the comments!

Further Reading

(mb, al, il)


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Prototyping iOS And Android Apps With Sketch (With A Freebie!)

5 Characteristics Of An Innovation

The “diffusion of innovations” theory of communications expert and rural sociologist Everett Rogers attempts to identify and explain the factors that lead to people and groups adopting innovations (new ideas and technologies). Design teams that account for both usability and how people adopt innovation stand a much greater chance of having users accept and use their products.
The diffusion of innovations is a complex process; design teams can use their knowledge of the theory to create a road map for how they will address critical factors in the design and marketing of their product.

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5 Characteristics Of An Innovation


The CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook, Part 2

Yesterday, I shared Part 1 of the CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook. If you missed it, I highly recommend that you read it.

Today, we dig into more advanced persuasion tactics, namely, ways to adapt your Web content and copy to drive conversions. These are the tactics relied on most by highly profitable brands. Use them to drive your profits as well.

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get started…

magnetically attract placeit 800Source:

How to create compelling Website content

10. Forget about leads – solve problems

Generic Web content doesn’t solve problems. To stand out as a serious problem solver, you need to concentrate your efforts by writing epic content that stands out.

Down and Feather, for example, reworked their home page around their value proposition, resulting in a 145% increase in conversion rates.

pg 15

To do this, your content needs to describe the client’s issues in the opening paragraph and promise to solve it.

Explain with specific details how a client can solve a problem. Remind your Web visitors how much more productive, happier and better off they will be when they follow your advice.

In solving problems consistently, you win clients.

11. Use anchoring

A cognitive bias that influences people is the tendency to rely too heavily or anchor on the first piece of information when making a decision.

Consider ways in which you can reference an anchor that influences your prospects.

pg 16

For example, iContact makes use of anchoring by having one price that’s higher than other price points. Now this may be because it is an option for some clients, but it may also be an smart strategy for making their mid-range price points seem more affordable.

Anchoring experiments and studies have found that introducing one higher price point can lead to people spending more in total even if nobody chooses that option. Once visitors see the higher price point, all other options appear more affordable.

12. Increase likability

Dr Cialdini, Regents’ professor emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, conducted a study in which pairs of participants conducted negotiations via email.

He found a third of the negotiations failed as the parties involved couldn’t reach agreement. However when the participants first exchanged a few personal details by email prior to the negotiation, the failure rate dropped to 6%.

According to Cialdini, liking is based on sharing something similar with people you like and also on how attractive a person looks.

One of the easiest ways to implement this is to create a great “About Us” page like Wistia does with their team. (Be sure to roll over the images when you look at that page.)

Avon too uses the likability principle on their website. Avon’s business is essentially based on women selling Avon products to their friends and family. After all, family and friends are likely to buy from their friends and neighbors.

pg 17

13. Use seductive words

Use words that have the power to persuade. The following words tend to be more persuasive than others.

You – It adds a degree to personalization, and research shows that such personal references make people trust a message more.

NewResearch suggests this word is a trigger for the reward sensation and gives the perception of a new product. This, however, does not quite work for brands, as people tend to trust familiar brands that they have known for a while.

BecauseResearch shows that people are more likely to accept a request when this word is used.

Free and similar words – A free offer triggers a human response that just feels better according to psychology. Another study also shows that using similar words, like adding a “small” detail, does better for conversions. (Who doesn’t like to get something for free?)

InstantlyStudies show that a sense of quick rewards result when people read this word, and this often drives action.

13. Leverage bullet points

Bullet points make text easy to read and tend to engage skimmers (as opposed to readers). Cook American Express Travel company saw a 48% increase in phone calls with a new layout that outlined benefits as bullet points.

pg 18

Bullet points help break up an idea or concept into digestible chunks. Consider adding some of these tips from Robert Bruce to add greater attraction and persuasiveness to your bullets.

External Fascinations: These types of fascinating bullet points are usually found in sales copy. They create curiosity and work like headlines to prompt a purchase or other action.

Internal Fascinations: Internal fascinations are pretty much identical to external, except they’re designed to persuade people to continue reading the post they’re already reading.

Bullet Chunking: Extracting bullets out of compound sentences helps you drive home a point while also increasing the usability of your content.

Authority Bullets: Authority bullets are used to recite the data and proof that support your argument. As with all persuasive writing, turn dry factual information into interesting reading any time you can.

Cliffhanger Bullets: Cliffhanger bullets tease and foreshadow what’s coming up next or in the near future. You can also use cliffhanger bullets to lay the groundwork for an upcoming promotion, launch, or special content event.

Give-Away Bullets: These are sort of like the lady who hands out cheese cubes at the grocery store. She gives people a little “taste” of food that keeps them alert and shopping—and many times they end up with the thing they tasted in the shopping cart.

Expansion Bullets: These bullets break up the “sameness” of the page (when you have several pages of bullets), and they add more tease, demonstration and curiosity. Plus, they give a nice little “loop” effect to your ad that keeps sucking the reader back in.

 “Can’t Be Done” Bullets: Basically, this is where you say something that is almost unbelievable. Something 100% true, but that is so wacky and “out there” it makes you say, “How in the heck can you do that?”

14. Leverage scarcity

Jeff Paro says:

“Scarcity is a limitation placed on a service or product with the goal of increasing sales through pressure placed on the consumer. The fear of missing out causes people to make the decision to buy. The limitation can be a time based deadline or a limited quantity, often mixed with some kind of perceived benefit for acting quickly, like a reduced price, a bonus item, or an increase in status (you got in, where others missed out).”

The best part is that both these principles can be applied to websites via copy, images, buttons, etc. Case studies prove that urgency and scarcity can improve conversions by 27%.

Here’s how Zappos does it. Just above the “Add to Cart” button, they let customers know there are limited stock quantities. This gives customers the feeling that they need to act quickly to avoid missing out. See the image below.

pg 19

Scarcity can make someone take action even if they don’t have a strong desire for the product or feel they aren’t quite ready to purchase yet. It tends to compel people to make a purchase.

You can achieve this with deadlines and product counts. Here are a few ways to use it:

  • Countdown timers help reinforce when a product becomes available online and when it goes offline.
  • Let your audience know that the special price at which they can purchase your product will end at the designated time or that the discounted price for pre-orders ends at a certain time.
  • Use a value added deadline like: “buy product X and get A and B for free” or “buy product X and get another X for free.”
  • Real-time stock counts involve selling a limited quantity of a product and once it’s all sold, it’s gone for good.

15. Include a decoy

Dr. Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, says most people don’t know what they want unless they see it in context.

This is where the asymmetric dominance effect or the decoy effect can come into play. Essentially, it entails adding a less desirable choice to serve as a benchmark against which to compare the real product or service you wish to promote and sell.

For example, let’s say you had 2 treadmills, a basic model that sells for $499 and another with features like heart monitors and other accessories that sells for $997. The price difference between the models is quite large, so to minimize the shock of the price difference, you could add a third model that has features very similar to the $997 treadmill but sells for $1299.

Regardless of the visitors’ initial preferences, they will be more inclined to consider the benefits of buying the $997 model by comparing it with the decoy model.

16. Make them feel indebted to you

According to Cialdini, human beings are wired to want to return favors and pay back our debts. The principle of reciprocity says that people by nature feel obliged to provide either discounts or concessions to others if they themselves have received favors from those people.

You can use this impulse to spur your Web visitors to action. By giving away something of value to them, with no expectation of anything in return, you can begin to harness the power of this principle.

pg 20

QuickSprout, Neil Patel’s website, is centered around the blog, which provides its readers tips, advice, how-tos and suggestions on how they can be better marketers.

Neil does also sell his website traffic consulting services and the QuickSprout Traffic System Pro, which is designed to drive more traffic to websites. His free offer is perfect for attracting the people who might want his services. And given the amount of information he provides, they are quite likely to do whatever it takes to become customers.

Consider leveraging this principle by giving useful information to help people solve problems related to your paid products or services. The free information may be in a blog post, webinar, infographics, or something else. They key is that you offer it without pushing your products and or services.

17. Create unexpected offers

It may seem odd to sell products that you don’t expect people to buy, but in using the door-in-the-face psychological technique, this strategy will help sell lower-priced products.

For example you could offer a VIP conference pass with back stage access and exclusive networking for $1500. When the Web visitor indicates their disinterest through leaving the page or clicking on the no thanks link, they are then presented with another offer at a lower price which could be a regular attendance ticket for $500.

The second offer seems quite reasonable in comparison to the first offer and the Web visitor is likely to buy.

18. Say why

People need to know why they should do something, so be sure to give them a reason. Believe it or not, it could increase conversions by 31.54%.

Betting Expert wanted to increase the conversions of their email sign up form. In its former state, it didn’t communicate any value to their Web visitors. By changing the copy on the form, they answered the question, “Why should I fill out the form?”

pg 21

Review your content, especially your headlines and titles, to ensure you tell people why they should heed your call to action.

19. Leverage the hurt-and-rescue principle

This principle first informs prospects that they have a problem, then offers a way to fix that problem. A common way to do this online is through a quiz. For example this health website offers a quiz entitled, “Test your healthy choices—and upgrade your health.”

pg 22

By asking questions about diet, family history and level of physical activity, you can determine readers’ areas of risk. This, in turn, opens the opportunity to sell a diet program or fitness program to suit their needs.

This principle is really about emotion-based selling. Show your audience that you understand their pain points and you’ll be more effective in persuading them to consider your offer.

20. Use action-oriented language

Your copy needs to do two things: follow your Web visitor’s thoughts and drive action. Do this, and you can positively impact conversion rates. L’Axelle changed the tone of its copy from being comfort-oriented to action-oriented and received a 93% improvement in their conversion rate.

pg 23

21. Highlight the benefits for your audience

To establish credibility in the eyes of your Web visitors without singing your own praises, focus on their best interest by highlighting the benefits of your product or service.

This is exactly what MarketingProfs did and it earned them a 27.76% increase in leads.

If you have a list of features listed, revise them so the benefits of using your product or service are clear to your audience.

TaskRabbit highlights the benefits of using their service right on their homepage.

pg 24

22. Anticipate and address objections

Understanding your audience, the way they think and their concerns can go a long way in getting people to buy. By anticipating and addressing objections, Moz was able to improve conversion rates to generate an additional 1 million dollars with changes to their landing page and offer.

AppSumo does a great job of combining design and long-form copy to address their audience’s questions, such as…

  • How can I add a Halloween themed offer?
  • Is adding this going to be difficult and time consuming?
  • Will it add to my traffic?
  • Will it add a difference or personality to the site?

pg 25

23. Use video

The video on the Dropbox homepage has been played a few million times and has resulted in increased sign-ups.

According to this case study, the referral page that people come to when a friend sends them to Dropbox has a conversion rate of 30% when the video is not played; however, the conversion rate increases to 33.2% when the video is played.

Vidyard during its early days managed a 100% increase in their optin rate.

pg 26

To leverage video effectively, keep it the main focus of the page in order to ensure it gets played. Keep in mind, though, that testing is the only way to find out whether your audience appreciates this form of visual media.

24. Increase commitment

Cialdini says that the principles of commitment and consistency are based on the deep need of people to be seen as consistent. In other words, if people have publicly committed to something or someone, they are much more likely to carry through and deliver on the commitment.

Gaining a small commitment from your Web visitors can be as simple as getting them to sign up for a white paper, ebook or guide.

Perhaps we can learn from Copyblogger. Copyblogger sells software and training whilst also running a very popular blog. They use their free membership to exclusive content and marketing course to get people to sign up.

This sign-up is, in reality, a micro-commitment. They are getting people to make a small commitment that helps them see themselves as a customer of the company. It then becomes easier to sell these people one or more of their services.

pg 27

Takeaways that you can apply are:

  • Ask for small commitments from your audience
  • Ensure that each commitment step is backed by generous value for the potential customer
  • Look for ways in which the commitment can be publicized and a sense of community developed to reinforce the commitment.

Over to you

No matter how good your products or services or how brilliant you are at spreading your ideas, you need compelling, persuasive content on your website. Otherwise, no one will see it. There’s simply too much competing information.

To help, I’m offering 5 super simple tactics that you can apply to your content… 100% FREE! With these tips and some hard work, you can create content to woo your visitors and win them over.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying you can become a persuasion marketing sensation overnight.

No, in fact you need to really care about your visitors, be prepared to focus and practice every day. You also need to be prepared for setbacks and criticism.

But if you persevere, if you test your theories and make incremental improvements based on your results, you’ll make more money in the long run.

Set your goals. Keep improving. And let me know in the comments—which of these techniques has improved your conversion optimization rate the most? And which techniques are you going to try next?

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The CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook, Part 2

7 Interactive Content Trends for 2015

When it comes to prophesying trends (especially in the marketing world), everyone thinks they’re the top banana. But here’s the thing – there’s not really a right or wrong. There are opinions and that’s the beauty of it. There doesn’t have to be a top banana. There can be a whole bunch of awesomely smart and innovative bananas.

So, we took a little forward looking glimpse at the year to come and what it holds for interactive content (which is big deal right now by the way).

Here we go…David Letterman style…but with 7, not 10.

2015 Interactive Content Trends

  1. Engagement: The whole point of infusing your content with interactivity is to boost engagement. So pull the reigns back on the whole “words on a page” thing and go full throttle with interactive experiences instead. Your interactive content will be the bell of the ball instead of the kid nobody picks for the kickball team. Do it!

  2. Quality over Quantity: Let’s play a game called, “Would You Rather?” It goes like this…Would you rather have piles of content you spent hours and hours creating that people look past because they don’t even know where to begin….OR…would you rather have a fewer pieces of stellar content that you can scale and that people love, click and share the heck out of?

  3. Youtility: Not a typo folks. It’s time to create content useful to YOUr (see what we did there?) buyer. Like an assessment, configurator or solution builder that helps your buyers make decisions around your products and services.

  4. Rapid Innovation in User Experience: Because it really is changing, faster than you can make a deflated football joke. So what’s a modern marketer to do? Engage your audiences with interactivity and keep em’ coming back for more.

  5. Visual & Interactive Storytelling: Once upon a time there was a marketer who created gorgeous digital experiences with no code but lots of awesomeness. Their content was bursting with visual beauty that told a story to completely immerse their audience. Is that marketer you? Could be, you know!

  6. Meaningful Measurement: What’s the bottom line? What’s the net net of interactive content? That’s what everyone wants to know, right? Well, did you know you can measure aggregate user interactions and inputs in your interactive content to yield…yep…you guessed it…significant audience insights. Boom!

  7. Surface Buyer Insights to Sales: The data you provide to sales must be more than just pass/fail. It should hand over rich insights about your buyers’ behavior throughout your interactive experience. Go interactive and insights you will have!

That’s a little peek into what we see in the near future in our little interactive content marketing crystal ball.

How do your predictions compare? We’d love to know! Check out the slides for last month’s 2015 Trends webinar below and feel free to watch the recording here.

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7 Interactive Content Trends for 2015


Multivariate Test increases CTA Button Clickthroughs by 9.1%

The Company

Established in 1976 primarily as a residential condominium management organization, Provident Hotels & Resorts quickly evolved into a pioneer of the Condominium Hotel Industry. By 1980, they had established one of the first “condo-hotel” properties on the Gulf Coast of Florida. You can reserve rooms in hotels, resorts and condos in Florida on their website

The Test

To find out the most promising combination of form title and CTA button text, Sabre Hospitality Solutions Digital Marketing team — the agency hired by to optimize their website — performed a multivariate test with VWO.

Since the reservation console is visible on all their pages, the test was run sitewide by using ** pattern to match all URLs.

This is how it looks:

Provident Resorts Winning Variation Shot 1

And after clicking on the dates, the CTA appears which looks like this:

Provident Resorts Winning Variation Shot2

The original title on the form, “Make a Reservation” was tested against two variations – “Book Your Stay” and “Reserve a Room”. The text on CTA button had four variations – “Check Availability” (original), “Book Now”, “Find Rooms” and “Search”.

They wanted to see which combination of form title and button text would drive most visitors to check for rates and availability of rooms. The goal that was tracked in this test was the clicks on the CTA button.

Since there were 3 variations of the first element (form title) and 4 variations of the second element (CTA button text), VWO automatically generated 12 combinations (3X4) to be pitted against each other.

This is how different variations of the form title and the CTA button text combined to form 12 variations:

MVT table

The Result

The test was run on a total of 27,500 visitors and the traffic was equally split among the 12 combinations.

After the test was run for a month, combination 12 (Reserve a Room and Search) won and recorded 9.1% improvement in CTR.

Why “Reserve a Room” + “Search” combination worked:

In the words of Kelsey, Web Strategy Manager at Sabre Hospitality Solutions, “I think the 12th combination won because the “Reserve a Room” headline describes exactly what the user is trying to do when they click on the call-to-action button. They are going to “Search” for rooms that are available during that timeframe, looking to reserve a room doing the desired timeframe they select. When someone thinks about making a reservation, they may consider that with a reservation at a restaurant. But I think Reserve a Room is specific to hotels to tell the user that they are only looking to reserve a room when they click-through this reservation console to initiate this process. Additionally, search is the immediate action that happens when they click-through to the console.

Let’s Talk

Tell me what do you think about this multivariate testing case study. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

VWO Walkthrough/span>

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7 Conversion Marketing Terms as Explained by Urban Dictionary

Conversion marketing is serious business over here. In fact, we care about it so much that we created a whole glossary to help explain it to the world.

But clearly, not everyone is on the same page as us. And we’re okay with that – especially when the results make us LOL.

So take a break from your super serious life to peek deep into the armpit of the internet (aka Urban Dictionary) and compare actual conversion marketing definitions to more… creative ones.


Since context is everything, let’s start there.

1. Context

Good marketing experiences don’t leave prospects hanging. Smart marketers keep the conversion going from click to click, acknowledging where prospects came from.

And that’s really what context is all about. Here’s the down-low from Oli Gardner:

Oli’s definition:

On a high converting landing page, typically context is used to design an experience that speaks to the desires and motivations that someone had prior to clicking on your ad.

But what do the pros over at Urban Dictionary have to say about context?

Urban Dictionary’s definition:


That’s a good start, right? Sounds like a reasonable explanation.

Oh, wait a minute…


Well that escalated quickly.

2. Credibility

Credibility is an age-old (but still important) marketing concept. In a nutshell, it tells people whether the operation you’re running is to be trusted.

Here’s how Peep Laja explains it:

Peep Laja’s definition:

You say you’re awesome, but is that enough? You want to come across as somebody savvy that knows what they’re doing. And you need to back it up with proof.

Proof could come in the form of endorsements, testimonials, badges, yada yada. You’re probably sick of reading about credibility.

But what do the goons over at UD have to say about it?

Urban Dictionary’s definition:


Sounds like Bob could use some social proof to help his case.

Don’t be a Bob. Back up your claims with solid social proof.
Click To Tweet

3. Friction

Friction is the psychological resistance that visitors experience when trying to complete an action.

It can be caused by unclear messaging, lack of information or unintuitive layout (and so many other things).

As Bryan Eisenberg sees it, though, the presence of friction is an opportunity for improvement:

Bryan’s definition:

Where there is friction there is opportunity. Either you solve it for your customers today or a competitor will do it tomorrow.

But what does friction mean for the users of Urban Dictionary?

Urban Dictionary’s definition:


In other words, “friction bad.”

Half a point.

Friction = opportunity. Either you solve it today or a competitor will do it tomorrow. @TheGrok
Click To Tweet

4. Hero shot

Let’s pull this definition straight from the Conversion Glossary.

Conversion Glossary definition:

A visual representation of your offer that demonstrates how your product or service actually works so your prospects can picture themselves using it.

The hero shot is generally a photo or a video and should clearly show benefits and context of use.

Pretty straightforward. Let’s see what the UD trolls had to say about this one…

Urban Dictionary’s definition:


Actually, they basically nailed it.

Choose the ideal image of your product or service in action and put it front and center on your landing page. There’s your hero shot.

5. Landing page

You really should know what a landing page is by now. Nothing new here.

But just in case, here’s how Oli breaks it all down:

Oli’s definition:

Now let’s see how Urban Dictionary so eloquently puts it…

Urban Dictionary’s definition:


Whoa, that’s not very nice!

Clearly someone had a brutal landing page experience he’ll never forget. I kind of feel his pain.

Let’s move on to my personal favorite…

6. Lead

A lead is someone who has shown interest in your business by providing their email or other contact information.

Why does this matter to marketers? Let’s see what Kipp Bodnar has to say about that.

Kipp’s definition:

Leads are the metric that, as marketers, we have to rely on. Because leads mean money.

Lead, on the other hand…

Urban Dictionary’s definition


Err… I think that’s exactly the opposite of what we want.

Alright, one more before we get back to the real world…

7. Urgency

Urgency is another one of those age-old sales/marketing tricks; the use of trigger words such as “act now” or “limited supply” to increase your prospects sense of having to act now.

Or, as Neil Patel puts it…

Neil’s definition:

Urgency is when a buyer feels like they need to act quickly… [it’s] the feeling that whatever is going on is really important, and therefore, immediate action should be taken.

Check out this example of urgency straight from

Phrases such as “Hurry!” and “Only 1 spot available” trigger urgency and motivate prospects to spring into action. Image source.

A great illustrative example. Almost as evocative as the one from Urban Dictionary…

Urban Dictionary’s definition:


Damn son.

Need prospects to take action? Make ‘em feel like they need to act fast. #feelthewavecoming
Click To Tweet

The verdict?

Surprisingly, it seems as though some of these trolls have a bit of marketing knowledge after all.

Who’da thunk? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Let us know some of your favorite “alternative” definitions of common conversion terms in the comments.*

*Warning: Urban Dictionary is pretty NSFW. My computer is probably going to be confiscated once IT sees my search history…

– Tia Kelly



7 Conversion Marketing Terms as Explained by Urban Dictionary


The CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook, Part 1

Is your Web content helping you win clients?

Sure, your website and content can boost authority, drive relevant traffic and generate leads. But is it really working for your business?

We’re talking ROI here, which is the bottom line for CROs.

In most cases, Web pages fail to perform in one of two areas: the headline and copy don’t capture people’s attention, and the on-page content isn’t compelling enough to keep people on the page.

For this Persuasion Guidebook, I isolated 25 ways to make your Web content more enticing, so it actually gets read (and acted on). These are some of the top tips you need to succeed, and I know it’s a lot of digest in one sitting…

So I’ve broken it into two posts. Today I give you 9 seductive tactics to magnetically capture visitors’ attention. Tomorrow, you’ll get 16 ways to create compelling Web content.

Let’s get started, shall we?

magnetically attract placeit 800Source:

How to magnetically capture visitors’ attention

1. Write better headlines

Compelling headlines are critical to improving conversion rates. In fact, simply changing your headline and positioning has been known to increase conversions by 90%.

With 3 seconds or less to capture people’s attention, you risk losing them for good with poor headlines.

How do you write better headlines? A good way to create compelling headlines is to ensure it is useful, urgent, unique and ultra-specific.

By using exact numbers to specify the length of their free trial, 37 signals was able to increase conversions for Highrise by 30%.

pg 1

To write better headlines consider using at least one or more of the following:

  • numbers
  • interesting adjectives
  • unique rational with words like reasons, principles, facts, lessons, ideas, ways, secrets, or tricks
  • words that answer questions: why, what, where, how or when
  • an audaciously valuable promise (if you can deliver on it)
  • a simple headline writing formula: number or trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise

2. Observe the rule of one

Don’t confuse people by taking them in different directions.

Your headline should bring focus to one concept or idea. The content should also stick to the one point or one position or idea. Take for example the Asana website where the focus is on team work.

pg 2

The Weather Chanel saw a 225% increase in conversions after focusing on a single desired action.

pg 3

3. Focus on loss aversion

What do your visitors stand to lose by not taking you up on your offer? Research shows that a focus on their potential loss can make your conversion rate go up.

Loss aversion is the reason why so many companies offer fully functional free trials for a time-limited period. They base this on the premise that once a person uses the product and gets used to it, they won’t want to lose access. So they’ll be more likely to pay for continued use and access.

The Kapersky free trial offer is just such an example. Once your computer is protected with Kapersky, you’re not likely to make your computer insecure again, are you?

pg 4

To use this principle effectively, use it in cases where the prospect has something very tangible and specific that they are afraid of losing.

4. Set expectations

Be clear about what you offer and why your website visitor will benefit from you offer. This can directly lead to higher conversions. For example, the Sims 3 improved their value proposition and increased game registrations by 128%.

The Dollar Shave Club is an example of a site that makes it clear that their subscription service takes the headache out of replacing your shaving razor. Look at the value proposition to the right of the video. Simple and compelling.

pg 5

5. Add urgency

Urgency is the feeling that something is important enough to require immediate action.

You’re probably used to seeing it in vendor emails:

pg 14

But you can also use it on your website. Urgency can be applied to headlines in the following ways:

a. You need to order this today – deadline or scarcity driven. Something like: “Get Signed Up for the Course Before Price Doubles Tonight at Midnight.”

pg 6


pg 7

b. If you don’t fix X now, then Y will happen. Read this before you put your signature down for a real estate purchase.

pg 8

6. Leverage anticipation

Research shows that most people (in the absence of psychological disorders or negative states of mind) do anticipate future events positively. In other words they automatically anticipate happy outcomes more than they do sad outcomes.

A key step in seducing your visitors is to affirm the anticipation that people have with a headline they can’t help but agree with, like SingleGrain does on their homepage.

pg 9

Create anticipation with headlines by framing them so more questions are asked in the mind of the reader that need to be answered. One of the most popular headlines is “They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play!~”

pg 10 Image source

Readers probably want to know the rest of the story: What happened when the person sat the piano? Did the audience like what was played? What song was played? These questions only increases anticipation and keep the reader engaged.

7. Invoke emotions

Posts with emotional headlines (higher Emotional Marketing Value scores) get shared more according to this analysis. So add to the potency of your content by ensuring your headlines and taglines evoke emotions that reinforce the desire to take action.

Copyblogger Media uses the principle in the copy for their new Rainmaker platform.

pg 11

To invoke emotions with your headlines be sure to use power words like urgent, amazing, breaking, strange, insider, etc. Also test your word choice to find a winning combination.

8. Keep it simple

Simple headlines often work better than clever headlines because they are easier to understand. In this test for a Scandinavian chain of gyms, the simpler and boring headline resulted in 38.46% more memberships being sold.

pg 12

Headlines, taglines and captions below images are key content areas of a page that get read by most people who skim or scan through your content. Ensure that your copy aids easy comprehension and does not make it harder than it should.

9. Make it useful

Emphasize what your Web visitors will get rather that they must do. In other words make headlines value centric as these tests have confirmed with increases in conversion of up to 10%. Making the headline more useful in this test helped increase conversions by 85%.

James Wedmore for example applies this principle on his homepage.

pg 13

To add the element of usefulness to your headlines consider these tips:

  • Show results your readers get by reading and acting on your content
  • Show the value of saving time off a typically monotonous or arduous task.
  • Show how they can save money or earn more by doing something.

Captured attention = engagement

These 9 tips will help you capture your visitors’ attention. In marketing-speak, we call that engagement. And that’s a great place to start in your conversion optimization efforts.

Tomorrow we dig in even deeper. Tune in for 16 ways to create compelling Web content that not only engages, but converts. These persuasion tactics are a win for every marketer. Until then…

Share your favorite engagement tactic below. Have you found any of the above 9 to be especially useful?

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The CRO’s Persuasion Guidebook, Part 1


Punching Beyond our Weight Class with Interactive Content

Justin Talerico, CEO/CMO, ion interactive

Justin Talerico, CEO/CMO, ion interactive

Using Interactive Content to Segment and Target using Marketing Automation

ion has 90,000 addressable prospects in its database. When I don my CMO hat, one of my primary challenges is to identify and surface which of those 90,000 people are ready and able to buy.


In my previous post, I showed an example from our Demand Metric Content Marketing Assessment. I spoke to how we capture insights from that interactive content experience and how we move those insights into our marketing automation platform.

Segmenting with Data from Interactive Content

ion relies heavily on its content marketing digital dialogue to provide reliable data points that can programmatically move the right people from one-to-many marketing to one-to-one account development. Prospects don’t want to waste their time speaking to someone about a solution that isn’t a fit for them. And our sales team can’t afford to squander time and resources searching for needles in a haystack. Marketing needs to do that for them—surfacing best-bet buyers rather than long shots who might be sold.

Our marketing is entirely interactive content driven. We generate leads with high-funnel best practices wrapped in interactive white papers, infographics, quizzes and assessments. We generate demand with mid-funnel tools and thought leadership. And we support our sales team with deep-funnel tools and content. Pretty much everything we do is educational and designed to inform and motivate buyers rather than put our account development people into situations where they are selling.

Each interactive content experience we launch is designed to fit into the buyer’s journey and to provide insights that help us answer key questions like:

  • Where are they in their journey?
  • How well do their needs fit with our solution?
  • Are they qualified to make a buying decision?

We use our marketing automation platform to programmatically evaluate the insights received from the digital dialogue that takes place within our interactive content platform. Simple rules in the MAP look for patterns in the data and segment people when those patterns are matched. There’s no rocket science there. But the underlying value of using explicit insights instead of behavioral inferences as the drivers of those rules is where the real advantage lies.

Relevance, Timeliness and Friendliness

We improved our segmentation accuracy and value when we moved from inference-based data points to explicit ones. Prior to using interactive content as the basis for a digital dialogue, we did a lot of guesswork based on what people clicked on. Since people tend to click on a lot, but engage very little, those behavioral inferences are consistently inaccurate. When we used guesswork as the foundation for targeting and personalization, we saw little upside. When we moved to using explicit feedback as our foundation, we saw higher engagement rates and increased funnel velocity.

Segment membership triggers messaging and sales communication personalization. Subsequent visits and conversations become more relevant, more timely and more welcomed. Those are significant wins when you consider that our mission is to provide marketing and sales as a service—delivering an educational experience that people actually want. When we do that, we generate inbound hand raisers who are much more likely to be near-term buyers. That’s the much-needed sales efficiency that eludes many sales-and-marketing organizations.

Here’s our example dataset taken further to show how we use interactive content insights to segment with marketing automation.

What our team needs before making personal contact are qualified prospects with addressable pain. When we deliver those people, everyone—sales, marketing and the prospect—is well served. Our content marketing assessment asks key questions that establish three things:

  1. The performance of their current content
  2. The reasons they aren’t producing better, more engaging content, and
  3. Whether or not they have budget or management buy-in barriers that would impede their adoption of a solution.

We have three dynamic lists in our marketing automation platform that segment people based on their answers. (All of the leading marketing automation platforms can do this. The mechanics may vary, but the end game is the same.)

List One: Content Performance

The first looks at their answers to the content performance questions and segments those who gave themselves one or two stars on at least one of the evaluation questions.

The first looks at their answers to the content performance questions and segments those who gave themselves one or two stars on at least one of the evaluation questions.

List Two: Pain and (Dis)Qualification

The second list looks at their pains and segments those who have moderate to acute pain in any of the four solvable areas. That second list also excludes people whose pain ion cannot solve: lack of budget and lack of management buy-in. Remember, we are only seeking our best, most qualified prospects to surface to sales.

The second list looks at their pains and segments those who have moderate to acute pain in any of the four solvable areas. That second list also excludes people whose pain ion cannot solve: lack of budget and lack of management buy-in. Remember, we are only seeking our best, most qualified prospects to surface to sales.

List Three: Perfect Matches

The third list simply looks at the intersection of the first two lists and segments those who match both. Those who match both can then be marketed to very specifically, or better yet, engaged in one-to-one communication that picks up where the digital dialogue left off.

The third list simply looks at the intersection of the first two lists and segments those who match both. Those who match both can then be marketed to very specifically, or better yet, engaged in one-to-one communication that picks up where the digital dialogue left off.

We could have done all of this in a single segment or list, but by breaking it up we give ourselves more flexibility to combine segments with others from other interactive content experiences. We also ease maintenance and preserve simplicity that might otherwise be lost in deep layers of logic.

Re-donning My CEO Hat

Big picture, ion uses strategically sound, organic search-friendly interactive content to both attract and then qualify prospects. The majority of our traffic is free. Then, the explicit data that’s used as the foundation for segmentation lets the sales team stay small and deliver big. With my CEO hat on, I look at the cost for ion to acquire a customer and the velocity at which we can make that happen. So when most of the traffic is free, and the sales team can stay relatively small—we punch way beyond our weight class.

Excerpt from:  

Punching Beyond our Weight Class with Interactive Content