Cold Emails Are Killing Deliverability. Earn Permission Instead!

Cold emails are a necessary evil to many B2B technology businesses. You don’t particularly want to send them – you don’t really want any cold anything – but you have to reach out to new prospects, and unsolicited emails let you get a foot in the door. Except they don’t. While you’re using cold emails […]

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Cold Emails Are Killing Deliverability. Earn Permission Instead!

How To Convince Your Leads To Convert In 8 Smart Steps

Cold leads are prospective customers you haven’t contacted before and are really difficult to convert into buyers. It is a known fact that acquiring new customers is a daunting task, but it doesn’t mean the business needs to stop pursuing these leads after a few rejection. Even though we are strictly against spamming, a little […]

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How To Convince Your Leads To Convert In 8 Smart Steps

A Guide To Creating Buyer Personas That Will Improve Your Content Conversion Rates

Amy is 35 years old. She’s just been promoted to Marketing Manager at the SaaS company she works for. She learned the ropes as a marketing assistant for the last few years – but the owners of the company expect a lot from her in her new role. Her first order of business: improving the […]

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A Guide To Creating Buyer Personas That Will Improve Your Content Conversion Rates

How to Conversion Rate Optimize Your Management Style

Why is it that every time a company needs to increase conversions, they immediately start tampering with the product, website, or marketing strategy? We see this the most with SaaS startups. Investors aren’t happy with revenue one month, so everyone stops what they’re doing so they can “optimize the customer journey for increased sales.” This […]

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How to Conversion Rate Optimize Your Management Style

Product Marketing is the New Content Marketing [PODCAST]

Are you serving up yummy, educational content or are you shoving your product down prospects’ throats? Image source.

Your customers don’t care that you think your product is better than the competition.

But they do care about consuming delightful, in-depth content that will make them better at their jobs… which raises the question: is it possible to educate your audience with highly useful content without tiptoeing around what you actually sell?

Gregory Ciotti, Content Strategist at customer support software Help Scout, thinks so.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, our Content Strategist Dan Levy speaks with Gregory about how product marketing is the new content marketing.

You will learn:

  • What the 9x effect is and why it’s stopping your audience from converting.
  • How to integrate your product into content without alienating your audience.
  • How excellent customer success can support your marketing initiatives.

Listen to the podcast

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Gregory: I’m Gregory Ciotti, the Content Strategist at Help Scout.

Dan: You start your post with a great line: “Marketing is not something that you do to people, it’s something that you do for people.” Can you explain what the difference is?

Gregory: Sure. So the simple truth is that it doesn’t really make sense to attract customers who aren’t a fit for your product. It doesn’t really take a marketing saint to kind of want to do that for your own purposes, to do the right thing. But it also doesn’t make business sense to attract people who are just not a right fit. They’re going to add burn to your support team and then they’re going to churn anyway. So I’m not sure in what universe it really makes sense to trick people. It’s really all about truth telling. So doing marketing for people is providing them with the information that they need to make a decision. A big part of marketing is communication. I often think of communication as a mix of vision and conversation. So seeing things – seeing the truth, rather, or seeing real outcomes they might not understand yet, and then communicating those clearly and coherently.

Dan: Interesting. And I guess communicating it in a way that’s empathetic or takes the person you’re communicating with’s own perspective in mind, right?

Gregory: Absolutely. One of the things I’ll tell you is that the inertia that you have to overcome is – they’re just real situations that people deal with. It’s not even necessarily convincing them; it’s kind of just addressing concerns. Especially in B2B. I’ve had so many support managers message us saying that they’re very interested in Help Scout but they need to make the pitch to the rest of their team. There’s a lot of work involved in switching over the software that they’re using. So the job of marketing there is to just give them – actually help them build their own argument. Give clear, coherent reasons that the switch is worth it, that their current solution isn’t as compelling as they think it is, and that they can get real results by taking the effort to try something else.

Dan: That’s interesting. So you’re not just communicating to your customers but you’re also giving your customers the tools to communicate to whatever stakeholders they need to buy into your product, right?

Gregory: Right. And if they’re the decision maker, they’re making their own presentation to themselves anyway, right? They’ve got to build their own pitch for, hey look, I know this might actually take a little bit of work but here are the reasons why it’s worth it. And on top of that, I would add that sometimes they don’t have an accurate representation of what maybe the workload would be like to switch. Or they just don’t necessarily have a full grip on the truth because maybe they had an experience that kind of tinted the way they see things. A quick example to kind of give a reality to this is we’ve improved our ability to import from other help desks. And every time somebody comments on – let’s say there’s a Zendesk import or something like that. They never really say, “That was easy.” I don’t hear that language.

I actually hear, “That was much easier than I expected.” There was a perception in the beginning that didn’t reflect reality. They kind of assumed up front that it was going to be very difficult and there’s a lot of ways that – especially the copy and really everything else that you do to communicate what this process is gonna be like — it’s just about truth telling and kind of getting people back to reality.

Dan: So people often bring lots of baggage to the table by the time they get to to you.

Gregory: Who isn’t, right?

Dan: True that. One of the things that you say customers need to overcome is what you call the 9x effect. Can you talk about what that is and why it’s something marketers need to be aware of?

Gregory: Sure. So the general concept, it’s originally from Harvard Business Review. Customers kind of perceive their current solution as three times better than it really is. And of course as marketers, we kind of end up perceiving our solution as kind of three times better than it is. This is all about perception, of how people perceive it to be.

Dan: Right.

Gregory: So that creates this gap between us, between the business and the buyer that we kind of don’t really realize. Like we’re not understanding as marketers why people don’t see the value. And it’s because of this push and pull. We’re over valuing what we’re positioning and what we’re putting out to the world. And customers are over valuing their current solution. I can’t really say this for certainty but I believe the old 10x product kind of mindset came from it: there’s a 9x product to overcome — it really takes a 10x product to get people to see the value in switching. The big light bulb moment for me with this 9x gap is that most people do not start in a neutral place. They don’t actually start in a reality.

We’re both actually kind of starting a little bit distance from reality. And a funny way I think – I’ve always seen it this way but I’m not sure everyone agrees, but I actually think marketing brings us back to reality. Marketing actually brings us back to the truth that this is how things are going to go down. And I think great marketers really adhere to that because it doesn’t make sense to do otherwise.

Dan: That’s a hell of a perception to overcome, right? I think a lot of people would say the opposite about marketers that were manufacturing reality rather than speaking truth.

Gregory: Right. And then, you know, it’s particularly true for SaaS but really true for all businesses. It doesn’t make sense to burden yourself with customers who aren’t a fit. Especially in SaaS, though, which is where most of my experience lies. All we’re really adding is burden to the entire team, burden to the customer and they’re going to churn anyway. So we’re not helping either ourselves or the customer there… so who are we really helping? Why would we bother to do something like that?

Dan: Okay, so the 9x effect tells us that customers are more likely to want to stick with the status quo and be suspicious of any new product, whereas companies tend to overestimate the value of their own product. As a marketer, how can you bring yourself back down to earth and put yourself into that customer mindset?

Gregory: Sure. I mean I think that comes down to just understanding the objections all along the way. And like I said, the objections aren’t always obvious; hence the over valuing our own product.

Dan: Right.

Gregory: I would like to think that it’s obvious why you should switch to Help Scout from something else but I’m not dealing with a support team of 50 people who have a workflow embedded in something else. So I can’t get to reality either, as a marketer, unless I truly understand the objections that you would have and really give value to those objections, not kind of brush them away, like “That shouldn’t be a problem.” Like, of course it’s a problem! If you perceive it to be a problem, then it is a problem. Perception is reality, right?

So I think it starts on our end really to – the only way we can get back to a neutral place is to just understand objections and give credence to every objection a customer might have, and to structure our language around that. I often think of copywriting as a game of word search where the answer key is what the customer needs to hear. You can’t pick the wrong word ever because if it’s a wrong word, it’s not going to speak to them and in doing so, you’re not really projecting reality.

Dan: I feel like a lot of marketers see those objections as something to overcome, rather than — what you’re saying — as an opportunity to use their words and to craft your copy and your marketing in a way that speaks directly to those objections and those concerns.

Gregory: We work with really everyone on the team — growth is everyone’s job. Words alone won’t always fix the problem. If people feel that the import process is too difficult, then you make it easier. So marketers are not alone in their ability to reduce friction, but we are responsible for communicating things accurately. You should be able to – I keep coming back to the same example but hopefully it makes for a better case. That if you’re going to import something, it needs to be crystal clear on how much effort is expended. And people should have their previous concerns kind of alleviated. If they think it’s going to take a really long time or they think it’s gonna be complex, get them to reality. Tell them how it really is gonna be.

Dan: One thing you suggest for demonstrating the value of your offer is to contrast what people’s life might look like before and then after adopting your product. Can you give an example of what that might look like?

Gregory: Sure. So we have a lot of customers come from Gmail. And it’s no exaggeration to say that your world and support is entirely different when you first use a product like Help Scout or a help desk, right? It’s you’re in a whole new ballpark. I often think of going to a product as switching, no matter what you’re coming from. I kind of say that I switched to a tool like Evernote from a “genius scattered notebooks system.” It wasn’t really switching from an Evernote competitor, per se, but I had something I was using to get the job done, right? So you kind of have to get a sense of what their world is like at the moment and then contrast that with what their world looks like after they make the jump.

And I’ve always kind of believed that contrast gives the best context because it just creates a clear division between two things. It can be awfully muddy when you’re trying to envision what your workflow looks like by adding this thing, this widget, this tool. But when you create this clear contrast, it’s crystal clear. There was a then, there’s a now; I think it’s much easier for people to relate and to kind of understand what their world looks like when they make the jump.

Dan: I wonder if Evernote sees their competitor as like Moleskine notebook?

Gregory: Exactly. I’ve heard a lot of great examples in that space. I can’t remember who said this but one person was saying that newspapers ended up kind of looking at each other as like, “Who’s stealing my readers?” And they didn’t really realize that it ended up being sites like social media – developments, rather, like social media — and everything else that was really the challenger that came in that they didn’t see. They kind of thought it just has to be another newspaper that’s taking these people away.

Dan: True.

Gregory: So for us, we can’t necessarily think that the before and after for people is always another help desk. Sometimes people are coming from this very complex system and outlook and we need to understand what their journey looks like, too.

Dan: All right, well I think a lot of what we’re talking about here can be summed up as really good product marketing. It seems like we’re hearing companies talk about product marketing these days the way they used to talk about content marketing just a few years ago. Why do you think that’s happening?

Gregory: Sure. So the team at Drift released a great SlideShare a few weeks back with the simple title of “What is Product Marketing?” And I think the 40,000 views they later got kind of speaks to this increased interest of people who want to understand the field. I see product marketing as the go-to market strategy, owning the positioning, messaging and it’s really marketing to current customers and creating demand by making sure the word gets out, essentially, to current customers. I think the reason that I would say the popularity, so to speak, has increased is a lot of businesses – and especially online businesses – are moving to a subscription model.

It really makes sense to market to your current customers and to get more customers to use the features you already have, or to use the features they’re already using more frequently. That’s a big part of product development but just because you launch a feature doesn’t mean people will use it. And product marketing ensures that they understand the value, they understand what they would get not only by using the feature for the first time or potentially using it more often, but through that they kind of create demand. By then they’re of course going to tell others, like, “I got this great result with this new Help Scout feature, this new Unbounce feature. You should check it out.” So I do believe that at its core, it’s marketing to current customers but it creates demand by how it echoes out.

Gregory: Right, and then you could leverage that content and those customers who, in a sense, have become evangelists for your product, fire up in the funnel to create awareness and interest in your product.

Dan: Absolutely. And product marketing is really key to enable many parts of the business so I would say product marketers work closely with sales so there’s sales enablement. Product marketers probably understand objections best, which really trickle down to all marketing activities. So they’re a really key component in kind of getting the entire marketing team onboard with how customers see the product and how we could position and package the product better in everything we do when talking to customers.

Dan: It seems like a lot of the most successful companies — online companies — in the last five years have built their reputations and their audiences by creating really successful content marketing. And I’m wondering how you could transition into product marketing without alienating that audience.

Gregory: Sure. So one of the really exciting challenges I think content marketers can contribute to is pulling out the story of a new feature or a new workflow in the product. Some really handsome guy once said that content marketers can learn a lot from journalists. I’m not sure who that was.

Dan: I don’t know about the handsome part.

Gregory: But you know, there is a lot of truth to that. And to give you an example, when we released a feature in Help Scout called satisfaction ratings, which is a quick way to get a kind of happiness report, we brought on Dave Cole from Wistia to talk about the possible downside of using happiness ratings as a way to judge your support team unfairly. Now, it seems kind of strange to launch a feature with a blog post that says basically that there’s danger in looking at happiness ratings the wrong way. But that was the most interesting story to pull and the most honest story to pull from that whole space. This space of happiness ratings and evaluating happiness feedback from every support manager I talked to said that they’re absolutely a good way to get an overall grip on customer satisfaction.

But where I see them being used wrong is teams are essentially graded on their happiness rating. And that causes people to pursue the T-ball ticket questions; you know, they’re going after the easy ones. They’re avoiding anything that’s difficult. And Dave shared some really great experience with that. And that was a super successful post for that feature launch. And it was essentially storytelling and product marketing and content marketing all wrapped up into one. And certainly a much better approach than, “We have this new thing — check it out.” So I think what I see a lot of content marketers doing really well recently is that approach.

They find the story within the product, they tell it really well. They tell it in a use case sort of way so that even if you’re not currently using feature X, if you’re not currently using happiness ratings, you walk away with a much better understanding of how they could be used. So I’m really excited to kind of see that space open up. I don’t think it eliminates the charm of content marketing because again, it was all about advice; it’s all about kind of how people get benefits and it’s all about ideas and instruction. But it also includes the product.

Dan: For sure. We make these distinctions internally between content marketing and product marketing but I think from the customer perspective or from the audience perspective, all they are seeing is good or bad stories that do or don’t resonate and seem relevant to them. And if you could create stories that are speaking to their pain points and find a way to make your product and your customers part of that story, then it really doesn’t matter what you call it.

Gregory: Absolutely. Their distinction is far less severe, maybe, then the ones we create for ourselves. If it’s entertaining and useful, then it hits all the check marks, right? And that’s challenging enough.

Dan: Absolutely. Can you talk a little bit about the role that customer success plays in all of this? We often think of marketing and CS as different departments or different disciplines. But you suggest that they could actually fit into one another.

Gregory: Sure. So I think this really crystallized for me when I was looking at a customer’s site. Docs is our knowledge base product. And they had just read an article I had written on writing great knowledge base articles. And they had a follow up question about organizing your knowledge base. And as I was sitting there in the middle of the workday and looking at someone else’s knowledge base, taking notes to send him this advice-filled email, I was like, “Wait a minute. I do work in the marketing department, right?” And it kind of dawned on me that he had been using – he had been following the article I had written step-by-step. He had been using it for every knowledge base article that he had written so far. And there I was kind of following up with him with further advice over email.

And my point with all that is just that content doesn’t – it’s not necessarily limited to attracting people. It can keep people around. It helps them get more value out of the product when you’re doing it well. It helps them understand the proximity, the kind of like action points of the product. We have knowledge base software but writing a knowledge base article is an entirely different beast. It actually requires writing advice; just having the software is not enough. So I do feel that content is customer success and that a big part of content is planning what topics you can address that will help people after they’re already signed up and happy and have been using your product; how can you kind of take them to the next level.

Dan: Totally agree. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk shop, Greg. Always a pleasure.

Gregory: Yeah, it was great.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.

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Product Marketing is the New Content Marketing [PODCAST]

The top 8 marketing trends for 2016

What should marketers be on top of this year?

As in past years, I sat down with our strategy team and we compiled a list of marketing trends to look for this year. Below is WiderFunnel’s list of the top 8 marketing trends of 2016.

One major theme is the establishment of testing as a widely accepted business practice. If last year we were “embarking on the golden age of conversion optimization,” this year finds us fully entrenched in it.

Here are our 8 marketing ideas to understand:

1. Only the best content will survive

The ever-increasing volume of content produced for marketers makes standing out more difficult. And in 2016, Google and Facebook will try to address the problem by tightening the screws on low quality types of content.

Content marketing is often seen as a default strategy for many companies and they feel pressured to produce high volumes of articles, posts, infographics, contests, videos etc. Andrew Golis illustrated this resulting consumer overstimulation, or “content shock”, with a bunch of dots.

Too much information!
Andrew Golis illustrates consumer overstimulation with a bunch of dots.

Whilst in earlier years it was possible that if you produced good content it would get found and shared, almost by virtue of its quality, this is no longer the case. There is now so much content that even producing great content is not enough. The bar is way higher. Popular sites with great content are also being affected by content shock.

Steve Rayson, BuzzSumo

Content marketing inevitably requires marketers to continuously produce more and more in order to compete. This rapid production of content often means sacrificing quality in favor of quantity and sacrificing original thought in favor of repackaging someone else’s ideas.

In 2016, Google and Facebook will update their algorithms to further prioritize quality, weeding out bait headlines. Lazy publishers won’t be able to rely on formulaic titles like ‘…you won’t believe what happened next’ and ‘13 things your conversion optimization needs to succeed’.

Only the best content, distributed to the right audience, to answer their real questions will survive.

2. The optimization of ubiquitous internet

Consumers already have near-constant access to the internet on their phones.

Apple watch
Are you wearing the internet on your wrist?

Now, with wearables such as the Apple watch and the Internet of Things (IoT), internet has become ubiquitous. These devices are converging to create the always-on consumer.

This will mean increased marketing opportunities, of course. But on the flip side, consumers will become even more inoculated against marketing tactics.

To get through to your audience requires continuous A/B testing and improvement. But testing will also get more technically complex. You’ll need sophisticated optimization strategies to move your messages through effectively on all channels.

Optimization teams will have to expand their skill sets to include the understanding of the contexts in which users interact with their content.

The term “mobile optimization” will be as meaningless as saying “website optimization.” As we’ve been saying for the past few years, mobile is a context, not a device.

3. Seamless retail and omnichannel optimization

‘Omnichannel’ has been a buzzword in the retail e-commerce community for a few years now. Typically, it refers to an improved integration between online and in-store shopping. So, for example a shopper could easily buy online and return in-store. And now, they’ll begin to expect to complete a transaction across devices, creating true seamless retail.

Retailers need to optimize the shopper’s experience wherever it occurs, viewing their shoppers holistically, as people.

Location-based optimization could play a part in this. With technology like iBeacon and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), marketers can detect and trigger messages based on the actual proximity of a shopper.

If marketers are able to link this messaging to that shopper’s online persona, real-time targeted and personalized marketing will be possible. And then optimized.

4. Bite-sized silent video optimization

Video snippets that are embedded within social feeds such as Facebook and Instagram will drive how marketers utilize and format video. Typically, these videos play automatically, but silently, as a user scrolls down their feed.

If you’re a marketer using video content, you’ll need to optimize for those users who do not click on the video to get the full audio experience.

You’ll need to learn how to get your message across in 3 to 5 seconds, soundlessly. ReelSEO offers 20 tips for optimizing video for social media, including emphasizing the first few seconds, choosing a compelling thumbnail and keeping your video ‘short and sweet’.

The right video tactics to use will be media-dependent. What works on your website won’t necessarily work on social. You should test that!

5. Marketing conversations will continue to disperse

Let’s face it, Twitter has become a landfill for content marketers. Social is still evolving and the best channels for useful conversations will solidify in 2016.

More meaningful discussions will happen in public Slack groups, such as the new conversion optimization discussion created by the Global Optimization Group.

6. The conversion optimization tipping point

When we first launched in 2007, we had to focus our energy on convincing companies of the value of conversion rate optimization (CRO). Almost 10 years later, there’s no more question of whether an optimization strategy is good for business. Now, the questions are about how to get the best results.

All companies that produce revenue from web or mobile will need to address their CRO strategies in 2016. Many are developing in-house teams dedicated to CRO, which is smart. But without a proven process and strategy, these teams are getting inconsistent results.

The best approach to CRO in 2016 is a hybrid between in-house and specialist agencies. In our experience, companies who do this get the best results by using their in-house teams to run a high volume of tests while simultaneously leveraging specialist agencies to provide a fresh flow of new ideas.

We see our clients go through stages in their optimization maturity, as they work to achieve this type of hybrid strategy:


As more and more teams bring CRO in-house, listen for more discussions about processes, frameworks and other scalable solutions for ongoing testing.

7. CRO achieves C-suite buy-in

In the past, CRO was handled predominantly by junior level staff: a web analyst, web designer, online sales manager, or perhaps a product manager. It was relegated to the back room and given minimal resources or support within the organization. It was often not even given a full time role.

It’s now getting the attention of senior decision-makers. They may view it as ‘lean’, or growth hacking, or optimization, or kaizen method. Regardless of what it’s called, the success of test-and-learn approaches is widely recognized by business leaders in all industries.

As CRO passes a tipping point of majority awareness, there will be more scrutiny at the C-level in 2016. This will require executive education, as many in the C-suite won’t have had experience in the trenches of statistical theory and scientific methods.

They may not be interested in the details, but they’ll need to understand what makes CRO so effective. Be prepared to answer questions about how the results of your tests tie to the financial reports. You’ll have to show how you’re impacting the business results and backup the reliability of your A/B test reports.

Feel good marketing is over. CEOs, CMOs, and every other influencer in the C-suite will look to marketers for data before, during, and after campaigns to validate return on their marketing investments.

8. Insight management tools and optimization suites will emerge

A new industry is popping up to serve the project management needs of the professional CRO team. Many of these tools are still in beta, but this year will see definite growth and development.

Conversion rate optimization can get messy, especially when you’re trying to keep track of multiple complicated experiments. These tools are meant to help you manage and organize your CRO efforts.

Experiment Engine, for example, allows you to crowd-source experiment ideas and helps you manage your experiment workflow. Effective Experiments is more focused on detailed experiment documentation and idea workflow management.

WiderFunnel’s own Liftmap, while still in beta, seamlessly integrates with Optimizely and features project management utilities specific to A/B testing: you can manage and document your tests at the same time.

Other tools to keep an eye on include Project (formerly known as Canvas by Sean Ellis), Iridion, and MonkeyWorks.

What won’t change…

Marketers will continue to chase the ‘Hey, squirrel!’ shiny new technology and miss the strategy completely, leading to a lot of spinning wheels and little traction.

Sadly, tools will often be sought before strategy, and will be under-utilized in the directionless confusion. But, there’s plenty of reason for optimism when we consider how quickly industries have adopted A/B testing as a core strategy.

Bonus! Future trends we’re keeping tabs on

1. Augmented reality (AR) optimization

Steinway's AR app
Steinway & Sons recently released an AR app to help users find the perfect piano.

As AR becomes a real thing, so will the need to optimize these experiences. AR will revolutionize how we buy and sell, from previewing products, to selecting products from a catalog. It will enable further integration between print and video marketing. Trigger images within print marketing will activate promotional videos when scanned by an AR-enabled device, for example.

The technology may not be there just yet, but keep an eye on this over the next 5 years.

2. Artificial intelligence optimizer bots
AI will evolve enough that we will be able to teach bots a set of psychological principles, which they will be able to apply to copy, design and UI elements. These bots won’t need testing tools, they’ll be the testing tools.

They’ll make decisions on the fly, based on every perceivable piece of data. Forget personalization: these bots will optimize for you mood, based on recent google searches, the time of day, and of course, the weather outside.

Each January, there are a million predictions as to what the top marketing trends of the year will be. These are our picks for the 8 most important marketing trends of 2016.

Want to know why we left something you see trending off the list? What are your thoughts? Please add your comment below!

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The top 8 marketing trends for 2016

Aristotle: The OG of Landing Page Optimization

Aristotle speech
Typical Aristotle, amirite?”

He’s deep, he’s Greek and his beard is on fleek. Who are we talking about, folks? Aristotle — duh. And he’s the original gangster of landing page optimization (sorry, Oli Gardner!).

Philosophy buffs are all too familiar with Aristotle. But what about marketers? Sure, he’s, like, really dead, but Aristotle and his teachings are still relevant for marketers today. Because amidst all his contributions to topics such as physics, biology and poetry, Aristotle was also a man of persuasion.

A long, long, long-long time ago (4th-century BC, to be more specific), Aristotle penned a two-part treatise called Rhetoric, in which he detailed the three modes of persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos:

  • Ethos relates to conveying credibility
  • Logos to explaining your argument through logic and
  • Pathos to evoking emotion.

Aristotle believed that effectively leveraging all three modes of persuasion was the key to, well, persuading. In marketing campaigns, you can leverage his strategies to create high-converting landing pages.

So how do you apply these high-level persuasion strategies to your landing pages, thus getting you more qualified leads? It’s quite simple actually, and I’ll show you how.

Ethos: Make them trust you

Ethos comes from the Greek word for “moral character, nature, disposition, habit, custom.” Aristotle explains ethos in terms of persuasion strategies:

The orator persuades by moral character when his speech is delivered in such a manner as to render him worthy of confidence.

Although Aristotle insists that, “…this confidence must be due to the speech itself, not to any preconceived idea of the speaker’s character,” in today’s world of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and — dare I say — Snapchat, it’s impossible not to consider the person’s (or brand’s) reputation.

When discussing landing page optimization, we can relate ethos to credibility and trust. Without it, who’s going to fill out your lead gen form?

Here are some strategies for boosting the ethos of your landing pages.

Social proof

A TechValidate survey of B2B marketing and sales professionals revealed that 94% of respondents found customer-sourced content as either very effective or extremely effective in convincing prospects of their value proposition,” illustrating the importance of including your customer’s voice in your marketing strategies.

social proof graph

You can inject social proof into your landing pages using case studies or testimonials, either in written or video format. Beware, though: not all testimonials are created equal, so do your homework before hitting publish.

Aristotle’s social proof: Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.
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For those unaware of what SSL is (don’t worry, I would be if it wasn’t relevant to my job), it’s the industry standard for web page security and encryption. It’s indicated with a little green padlock in the corner of your browser address bar and the HTTPS in the URL.

SSL seal

According to a recent report from GlobalSign, 77% of people are concerned about their personal data being intercepted or misused online. That’s a huge piece of your customer pie, so you want to do everything possible to ease that anxiety.

Enter SSL; it’s a simple way to increase your landing page visitors’ trust (a key component in establishing ethos). And for Unbounce customers on Pro99 plans and higher, custom domains come with SSL automatically included. Convenient? I think so.

Logos: Woo them with logic

The second leg of the persuasion strategy trifecta is logos, which relies on facts, figures, quotes and stats to appeal to logic and reason.

Aristotle stresses the importance of establishing truth (or apparent truth) in order to effectively persuade. Fortunately, it’s easy to appeal to logos on your landing pages—lemme show you how.

Repetition breeds familiarity

According to Joanna Wiebe, persuasive copywriting maven of Copy Hackers, the more you hear a message, the more likely you are to believe it’s true; it’s referred to as the Illusion of Truth Effect.

In a 2013 Microconf presentation, Wiebe referred to another repetition strategy called the 3D strategy, whereby you repeat a different variation of the same message three times in sequence.

Apple does a great job of implementing both of these strategies in their Apple Watch landing page seen below.

Apple watch
Think the Apple Watch might be light? And made of aluminum? Yeah, me, too.
Apple watch
Did we mention it’s made with Ion-X glass? Sounds legit.

Features (but don’t forget benefits)

Features are “factual statement[s] about a product or service” — basically all its bells and whistles.  You’ll often see features highlighted when shopping for a new cellphone: up to 26 hours of battery time, 64GB internal memory, wireless charging… the list goes on. In this case, features are important because they allow you to easily compare products to ensure you end up with the one that ticks off the most wants on your list.

But in most cases, landing pages need to go beyond just features, since most people generally don’t respond to only a laundry list of specs. Instead, we recommend focusing on the benefits your product or service will offer, and how it will make your prospect’s life better/easier/happier.

Los Angeles-based meal delivery service Kooshi does a great job of highlighting features and benefits. The features? Organic meals, delivered to your home or office everyday. The benefits? You skip the mess, shopping and food prep. Count me in!


In short, features and benefits are a hybrid of the logos and pathos strategies, and are especially effective on landing pages when presented together.

However, presenting facts is just as important as appealing to emotions, which brings us to our next persuasion strategy…

Pathos: Hit them in the feels

The final mode of persuasion is pathos, which is the appeal to emotions. In other words: hitting your prospects right in the feels!
Hit in the feels
Here’s what our good friend Aristotle says about pathos:

The orator persuades by means of his hearers, when they are roused to emotion by his speech; for the judgements we deliver are not the same when we are influenced by joy or sorrow, love or hate.

There are a few ways in which you can pump up the pathos on your landing page to boost those conversions. Here are a few key ones to keep in mind:


Have you ever landed on a company’s webpage and had such a visceral reaction you couldn’t hit the back button fast enough? Yeah, me, too — and immediately my perception of the company is sullied. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve landed on such beautifully designed pages that I could cry.

Visuals can evoke strong emotions, and it happens quickly.

In a 2012 study by the Missouri University of Science and Technology, researchers found that it takes less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression. That’s less time that it takes me to chow down a slice of spicy pepperoni pizza (which takes about three-tenths, if you’re wondering).

Google also found that pages with low visual complexity (having fewer elements on the page) are perceived as highly appealing. And although the study doesn’t mention whether this impacts conversions, it’s no secret that simplicity is key when designing high-converting landing pages.

Website builder Wix does a great job of reducing visual complexity in favor of appeal. Notice the single call to action and the great use of whitespace.

Wix landing page example

The moral of the story? Make a great first impression, and only include the bare minimum you need on your landing page to convert — seems simple, right?

Scarcity and urgency

You know when you and your friends order an appy to share, and then when it comes it’s, like, pathetically small and you all of a sudden realize how ravenous you are? That’s scarcity. And I don’t know about you, but I act rash when I’m faced with it. (That’s my piece of agedashi tofu!)

Scarcity is a really powerful state that can illicit strong emotions. It taps into our survival instincts, and it drives us to take action — which is the primary goal of a landing page.

And while I don’t recommend totally freaking out your prospective customers, you can leverage scarcity to your benefit to build high-converting landing pages. Vintage-inspired online clothing company Modcloth does a good job of this:

Modcloth scarcity

I swear, I almost bought it.

Urgency is another emotional trigger you can use to boost conversions. Order now and get it by Christmas! Don’t miss out! Only 4 days left! You get the picture.


Few qualities are as important as empathy when trying to get your visitors to convert. Knowing what your customers’ pain points are and showing them how you can help is not only smart, it’s necessary. People can tell when you’re just trying to sell them something. But when you’re trying to help them, their perception shifts.

For example, below is a landing page from Sitter, an app for finding and booking babysitters. Sitter recognizes that hiring a stranger for childcare can be stressful — and scary — for a parent. Sitter alleviates that fear by allowing parents to “build a private network of the parents you know and the sitters you all trust.” Sitter shows visitors that now finding a sitter is easy — and enjoying your time while the kids are at home is easy, too.

Sitter landing page
Sitter uses empathy to appeal to busy parents looking for reliable babysitters.

If you aren’t exactly sure what your customers’ pain points are, put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what issues they might be facing. Ask current customers what their experience was like. Tap into your social media pool by asking via Twitter or Facebook. It’s not hard, just get on the customer’s level and give them what they need.

Aristotle’s empathy:To write well express yourself like the common people but think like a wise man.
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Wrap it up, like a toga

Take a look at your landing pages and ask yourself:

Am I effectively leveraging ethos, logos and pathos or maximum conversions? Does my audience trust me? Do they believe me?

And perhaps most importantly, did I make them feel like they need my product or service?

Because although we can’t all grow a beard as epic as Aristotle, we can certainly influence like him using the three modes of persuasion. And if you’re still thinking, “It’s all Greek to me!” I hear wine helps get the creative juices flowing.


Originally posted here: 

Aristotle: The OG of Landing Page Optimization

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