Why Tailoring Copy for Segments Isn’t Enough

It’s something most marketers don’t really pay attention to. Sure you know the different stages of awareness and how your prospect progresses from attention through to action. And sure, you know that there’s different expectations at each stage requiring a slightly different tact and approach. But how thoroughly do you personalize your messaging for the […]

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Why Tailoring Copy for Segments Isn’t Enough

Is Bad CRO The New Black Hat SEO?

First of all, I need to give a shout out to a commenter on one of my previous articles who (in part) inspired this piece. The comment came from Mitch Rezman, and is as follows: Mitch actually raises two issues that I want to deal with separately. The first is whether or not CRO services […]

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Is Bad CRO The New Black Hat SEO?

Preload: What Is It Good For?


Preload is a new web standard aimed at improving performance and providing more granular loading control to web developers. It gives developers the ability to define custom loading logic without suffering the performance penalty that script-based resource loaders incur.

Preload: What is it good for?

A few weeks ago, I shipped preload support in Chrome Canary, and barring unexpected bugs it will hit Chrome stable in mid-April. But what is that preload thing? What does it do? And how can it help you?

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Preload: What Is It Good For?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The criteria

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here we go!

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

Brian Massey

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

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

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

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

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

No dice.

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

He relented, and offered me this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Peep

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thanks for the insight, Peep!

3. Angie Schottmuller: “Interview your customers.”

Angie

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

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

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

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

Video via WiderFunnel.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Aagaard

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

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

So how would Michael optimize a website in four hours?

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


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

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

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

5. Neil Patel: “Focus on your tags.”

Neil

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

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

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

Next, he delved into performance.

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


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

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

Takeaways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 Chrome Extensions That Guarantee Better Results On Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

Social media marketing is a great way to get your brand noticed by a larger audience. If done effectively, the results can be astonishing, but it isn’t always easy to do. From balancing client accounts to replying to comments, social media marketers usually have their plates full and tools have a become an integral part […]

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10 Chrome Extensions That Guarantee Better Results On Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

Simple Augmented Reality With OpenCV, Three.js and WebSockets


Augmented reality is generally considered to be very hard to create. However, it’s possible to make visually impressive projects using just open source libraries. In this tutorial we’ll make use of OpenCV in Python to detect circle-shaped objects in a webcam stream and replace them with 3D Earth in Three.js in a browser window while using WebSockets to join this all together.

Simple Augmented Reality With OpenCV and Three.js

We want to strictly separate front-end and back-end in order to make it reusable. In a real-world application we could write the front-end in Unity, Unreal Engine or Blender, for example, to make it look really nice. The browser front-end is the easiest to implement and should work on nearly every possible configuration.

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Simple Augmented Reality With OpenCV, Three.js and WebSockets

How a Billion Dollar eCommerce Major Achieved More Visits-to-Order Using VWO

About ShopClues

ShopClues is an eCommerce major in India serving 42 million visitors with a global Alexa rank of 431. Backed by the likes of Helion, Nexus and Tiger Global, the five year old ShopClues is already valued at one billion dollars.

We got in touch with Divakar Ravichandran, marketing technologist at ShopClues, to talk about the process they follow, the hurdles they face and the results they’ve achieved.

The Team Behind Optimization

Divakar belongs to the on-site merchandising team and takes care of on-site optimization. While A/B testing and optimization became a core function only four months ago, they were quick to set a goal of optimizing the high traffic and marketing pages. To scale fast they decided to have at least one effective A/B test deployed every week. The rigorous regimen paid off and they were able to achieve a 26% higher visits-to-order from the homepage.

Optimization Becoming a Practice

When asked if he sees optimization becoming a regular practice at the company, Divakar told us that within four months, a set of few minor and two major design improvements have been made live site-wide. It’s a move in the right direction and he is confident that conversion optimization will be adopted deeper and wider into the marketing function.

Process of Optimization

The team is currently focused on optimizing the homepage and the category pages. They act as owners for the homepage while with category pages they collaborate with the respective category managers.

Test 1 – Homepage

Each element of the homepage is carefully tracked for conversion signals and this data then fuels hypotheses and testing. On the homepage, the main navigation bar links were getting a lot of clicks. Particularly, the first link that was ‘Wholesale’. The challenge, they identified, was to send better qualified traffic to the category pages.

Original

Shopclues A/B test control page Screenshot

ShopClues hypothesized that replacing ‘Wholesale’ with other marketing categories (like ‘super saver’ bazaar) and moving it to the left navbar can make the page more visually aligned and help receive better qualified visitors to each of the category pages.

Variation

Shopclues A/B test variation page screenshot

Results of Optimization

The new top navbar with the marketing categories now receives 50% more CTR. And as expected, the quality of visits to the categories improved as evidenced by an improvement of 26% in visits-to-order.

Testing Helps Uncover Further Areas for Improvement

Re-positioning ‘wholesale’ also meant the change had to be highlighted to the visitors. For this purpose, the team has displayed a banner that says ‘new’ right next to the ‘wholesale’. This change has since then further improved the CTR on ‘wholesale’ category.

Test 2 – Marketing Category Page

With the category pages, the team obtains data from the analytics team, deploys heat maps where required and sends these reports to their respective managers. The category managers then point out areas that require attention. Based on this feedback the team sets about creating hypotheses, prioritizing tests and executing them.

Here’s an example of how this works in real: By using Visitor Behavior Analysis the team noticed that for one of their promotional categories (Sunday Flea Market), filters like ‘new arrivals’ ‘best selling’ and ‘price sorting’ were getting the bulk of user attention. On-Page Surveys were then used to collect feedback from visitors themselves about these filters. Based on this insight a new test was created where visitors were spared that step in their search. The variation presented visitors with the products that matched the filters upfront in a horizontal display (see below).

Here’s how the original page looked:

Shopclues A/B Test Control Screenshot

And this is how the variation created based on user behavior and feedback looks:

Shopclues A/B Test 2 Screenshot of variation 1

Shopclues A/B Test 2 - Variation Screenshot

The test is still going on but early signs are encouraging with the new page getting 16% higher visit-to-order.

Experience Using VWO

VWO consists of a complete set of tools and features using which I was able to infer how visitors use the site (heat maps, visitor-recordings etc) and even how they feel (surveys). Gleaning insights from these data, I could strategize and easily launch A/B tests, multivariate tests, personalization triggers and more to optimize our funnel. The complete process of “data driven” optimization through this tool is self-explanatory and easy to set-up.

As an enterprise customer, ShopClues could also take the help of our Customer Success Managers. Divakar was kind enough to acknowledge the contribution of the CS team to their optimization efforts:

The response from the team is quick and they are available to discuss tests hypothesis and helps in setting up them effectively. I sync up with my support manager almost every day of the week to plan and optimize things.

The post How a Billion Dollar eCommerce Major Achieved More Visits-to-Order Using VWO appeared first on VWO Blog.

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How a Billion Dollar eCommerce Major Achieved More Visits-to-Order Using VWO

Dear Abby: I Need (Marketing) Relationship Advice [PODCAST]

marketing-relationship-advice-650

We all have that friend we go to when we need relationship advice.

But it’s not always about heartache or that roommate who won’t do their dishes. Sometimes it’s your leads who are breaking your heart. You thought you made a great first impression, so why don’t they want a second date?

When your lead gen opportunities are resulting in the marketing equivalent of a one-night stand, let Mike King of digital marketing agency iPullRank be that friend.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Mike tells you how you can create long-lasting relationships with leads – the kind that keeps them coming back for more.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • The dangers of focusing too closely on conversions and what you should be focusing on instead.
  • How data-driven personas can help you get to know your leads before you ask for their number (or email address).
  • Why unqualifying leads is sometimes better than qualifying them.

Listen to the podcast

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan: You said in your talk at Call to Action Conference last year that you appreciated having your landing page brutally critiqued on the Unbounce blog. First off, thanks for being a good sport about that. You then went on to justly critique our own Call to Action Conference landing page for being less than optimal. Thanks for that, too. Is it me, or are marketers a bit like rappers? They love dissing their competitors and peers, but they can’t really take the heat when it’s directed at them.

Mike: I don’t know if that’s relegated to marketers or rappers. I think that’s just people not really liking criticism. Me, I enjoy it because those are always opportunities for me to improve, so when you guys had written that post, my team was crying about it. I was like, “Yo, they’re right. Let’s take this as an opportunity to fix that landing page.” But whenever I can return the favor on something like that, I always love to do so.

Dan: Yeah, fair enough.

Mike: I figured it was gonna be a fun little intro. I like to start out by getting people involved or make them laugh a little bit or something like that because a lot of my stuff gets pretty technical, so I like to start pretty lighthearted, and it was just a really good way to get into the spirit of the things that you guys do and give you a taste of your own medicine.

Dan: Yeah, no, that’s totally fair, and I think it’s a good thing for marketers to look inward sometimes. At the same time you said that lead generation isn’t about us. It isn’t necessarily how marketers feel about it. It’s about how our audience reacts to it. Why was that something that you thought was important to put out there?

Mike: Yeah, I thought there was a lot of discussion around how brands are supposed to be or things that brands are supposed to do. It’s more about how do we do things that people are gonna react the way that we want them to? It’s not about how we feel about what it is that’s being created or how things are being positioned. It’s all about doing the things that work for the audiences that we’re going after, so one of the subjects of contention throughout the conference was things like pop-ups.

Dan: Right.

Mike: Well, yeah, I hate pop-ups, but we all know that pop-ups work, so what’s the point in even making an issue about, “Oh, don’t do this because that makes your brand look bad”? No, it doesn’t necessarily make your brand look bad because they work for people. So I think it’s really important to remember that we as marketers are in this marketing echo chamber where people are just saying things. They have opinions, and they let their personal opinions offset what data is telling them. This isn’t me specifically dissing any one person. I’m just saying that we as marketers just need to be aware of our own biases and remember that it’s about our audiences, not about us.

Dan: Yeah, that’s definitely good to keep in mind. You were kind enough to give some relationship advice in your talk as well. You pointed out that we do a lot of one-night stands in lead gen, but not enough long-term relationships. What did you mean by that?

Mike: Yeah, I think one of the things in marketing, especially digital marketing, is we’re very much focused on that last click, that last action of the user. So many of us work on things that are just completely low funnel, and then they forget about creating this relationship with the user. So what I’m saying is think about more of the funnel rather than just focusing on that last part where you’re just trying to get the prospect in bed with you rather than thinking about taking them out on a date.

Dan: Right, so once you fill that funnel, not forgetting about those people and continuing to serve them with relevant content that eventually gets them to convert.

Mike: Yeah, and I think you guys, or Unbounce rather, is a great example of that. You guys aren’t just doing things that are like oh, get people to sign up right away. You have tons of content that’s educating people, that’s showing the value of what you guys do and the industry in general. It creates a better relationship that you guys have with your customers. Looking at CTAConf as an example, I imagine there’s a lot of people that go there that aren’t Unbounce customers, but they respect what you guys do, and because of that you’re nurturing those relationships, and then they become a long-term customer because of those efforts.

Dan: Yeah, you suggest a model of lead gen that involves spending a lot more time getting to know people before they close the deal.

Mike: Yes.

Dan: What are some of the benefits of that approach?

Mike: Yeah, and I think it goes back to the last point in that the more that you understand who you’re talking to and how you can show value to those people, the more they’re gonna stick around and understand that you get them. Again, this is not about us. It’s about the people that are in these audiences, so how do we position the things that we want these people to do in that it becomes more valuable to them aside from just the actual transaction? So understanding your audience is gonna allow you to be really hyper-focused on the things that they want, and then you’ll be able to create those things and ultimately win based on the goals that you’re going after.

Dan: To get into brass tacks a little bit, what do you mean when you say that personas should inform qualification of leads?

Mike: So when it comes to qualification of leads, I mean typically everyone’s like, “Oh, this person spent five minutes on the site, and they looked at this page, and they looked at that page.” Well, that’s very vague. I mean, any person could do those things and then also not convert, so having a better understanding of who this person is or who these people are as they’re going throughout the process of conversion helps you 1) put the right messages in front of them and 2) makes sure that you’re getting people that are actually valuable to you.

So rather than going after millions of people and then just filtering people out, it would be better to filter people out in the beginning so that people at the back end of the process are only dealing with quality. I think a good example of this is the difference between marketing-qualified leads and sales-qualified leads. A lot of times salespeople get upset at the leads that they’re getting from marketing because they feel like they’re not as valuable yet. They’re not as qualified or not as hot of a lead, so if everybody is thinking the same way like the sales team is thinking — that we only want the most qualified people — then you’re not wasting anybody’s time. What you’re doing is only giving people valuable stuff, so I’m saying if you qualify earlier and get more aggressive about that, then you’re only dealing with quality on the back end.

Dan: Right, I think sometimes it might be hard for people to have that perspective, especially if a marketing team is broken up in a way where the people driving awareness and generating those leads, their KPIs are all about more leads whereas the salespeople, they’re worried about qualification, so if you don’t make that connection to kinda take that holistic approach, then I can see how in a siloed structure you might run into some problems there.

Mike: Absolutely.

Dan: You make the connection between creating data-driven personas and something that I think not enough marketers talk or even think about, which is readability. Why is readability something that not just content marketers, but conversion-oriented marketers should care about?

Mike: Yeah, and we’ve made this connection kinda by accident just playing around with data. I’ve always understood what readability is because I’m a developer myself, and understanding content we’ve always played around with those metrics, but then what we did is we ended up comparing it with that page value metric in Google Analytics, and more often than not we’re seeing that things that are more confusing to read are way lower in page value. So ultimately they’re not converting, and that should be kind of an axiom, an obvious thing, but being that we can look at a specific metric, which is readability, and determine that changing that score for content has a direct impact on conversion. I think that that’s incredibly important, and it’s a very easy way to make more money out of your content.

As far as connecting that to data-driven personas, well, one of the outputs from demographic data is people’s reading level, so if you have an audience that has a very low reading level and your content has very low readability, then there’s a clear disconnect there. So one of the things that people don’t like about personas is that typically they’re just the output of some sort of qualitative group setting affinity mapping session, and then a lot of data-driven marketers just don’t believe in them. They don’t believe that there are ways to make personas measurable, and I counter that that’s absolutely false. There’s so much data now that allows us to do that even for free, so why not leverage that data to make this whole process measurable and then use that as a key component of determining how to convert or make people convert more?

Dan: Yeah, I think that’s another really good example of how using data helps inform the whole funnel and helps kinda break down those silos because content marketers may be looking at KPIs like time on page whereas the performance marketers are looking at things like conversion rate, but here you’re making the connection between those two things, and I think that empowers marketing teams to move forward much more collaboratively and confidently.

Mike: Yeah, and then the other component is we think of all these channels in very different ways, and obviously search is the one where we’re getting intent, and users have a very specific thing that they’re looking for, so generally speaking it’s gonna convert more, but the thing is if you’re able to measure these audience sites based on those different channels, you see that the impact isn’t as dramatic between channels when you see the audience as another data point.

So what you might end up seeing is that certain audience types still convert very well from social media or just as well as they do from search, but because the focus is so broad and you’re getting all types of people, you might see that generally speaking search is your best channel. So when you’re able to segment by audience and channel as multiple dimensions, you get to a point where you understand that it’s not just the channel itself, it’s also the type of person coming from that channel.

Dan: Yeah, I mean I think it goes back to what you said before — like we’re not just talking about rappers and marketers and leads. We’re ultimately talking about people here, and that’s important to keep in mind at every step.

Mike: Right, right.

Dan: You mentioned another model in your talk that involves unqualifying leads instead of qualifying them.

Mike: Sure.

Dan: What does that look like?

Mike: Yeah, and that’s kinda something that I noticed just looking around at people’s different conversion pages or their “Contact Us” pages, and I know that Wil Reynolds — who also spoke at CTAConf — their company actually has recently shifted to an unqualifying contact page as well. So the exemplar that I showed in my talk was from an agency – well, not an agency – it’s hard to describe because it’s like a distributed type of thing where this guy named Dan Mall – his company’s called SuperFriendly – he has no employees. He just pulls together a group of people to work on a given project at any time, and on his page there is no contact form. There’s a bunch of text that you have to read to then figure out how to reach out to them, and I think that’s a very interesting model in that it only brings the people that really wanna work with you.

So I think it’s a very interesting model, but at the same time I think it can also be a turnoff. Like, there are those people that would be very interested in working with you, but they may be turned off by your attitude because you’re kinda coming across as, I don’t know, what’s the word for how startup people act where they’re all condescending towards everyone and then just making some mediocre product? Whatever the word is for that, that’s how you come across when you have copy like that or a process like that, so it’s a double-edged sword. Ultimately it’s about: what do you want to be in the marketplace? How do you wanna be perceived? And it goes back to branding and things of that nature, but I think you need to be very careful with that because you may end up scaring off a lot of people that would be good quality leads, prospects, clients, partners for you.

Dan: Right, yeah. Oli Gardner, Unbounce’s co-founder, talks about good and bad friction and how if you want somebody to fill out a form, then typically you wanna reduce friction, but sometimes when you’re really trying to qualify people, adding a little bit more friction — another field or two — could be a good thing, but of course there are good and bad ways of doing that, and I think thinking about your brand is something that is an important consideration.

Mike: Exactly, exactly.

Dan: You make another distinction between low-effort and high-effort lead gen. Can you break that down for us?

Mike: Yeah, sure. So what we’re in the middle of doing, and it’s still ongoing, is a comparison of things that don’t take much work to do. So for example if you just wanna go after some keywords on paid search, you make a landing page, and you’re just capturing leads that way versus doing something that’s very content-driven and has some components to it that we have to custom build from scratch. And there’s a lot of analysis that went with that content that we created. In this case, what I’m comparing is what we did is we pulled a list of sites from Searchmetrics’s list of winners and losers, and we made landing pages that had messages to go for the winners and the losers, and this is specifically a list that they have of people who had the biggest negative and positive changes in visibility in organic search based on how they tracked things in their system.

So we just created a landing page for that, and then we also did this really in-depth study of the Inc. 500 where we took all 500 of the domains and did some analysis, put together predictive models around their propensity to be penalized by Google based on a variety of metrics that are available, and then we did this entire study. We did very in-depth prospecting of people at all those companies and really put together this concerted effort to reach very specific people through our marketing effort. We just wanted to see what yields the best results, so is it the thing that took a day to do or the thing that took a month to do just to see what impact it has on that target audience to get an indication of which of those is gonna be more valuable like is it even worth doing all the analysis that we did?

Dan: That’s such an interesting and important question, low versus high effort, and it’s something that I know that we talk about constantly. Often there’s a perception that more effort is gonna yield more results. You work hard, and it’ll pay off in the results, but often what it comes down to is working smarter instead of harder, and I think actually setting that up as an experiment is a pretty worthwhile thing.

Mike: It’s interesting because we do so much testing within the guess and check, but we don’t test our guess and check, if that makes sense.

Dan: Right.

Mike: Like rather than having two strategies and thinking like, “Okay, well, let’s try this one and then see what the other one does,” there isn’t as much of that. There’s more like, “Okay, well, I’m just gonna do my landing page, and I have my offer and my ad copy and leave it at that and just test within that.” Not whether different, more valuable – or not necessarily valuable – more high-effort approach might be worth testing against the low-effort approach.

Dan: How has this changed the way you guys approach things in your team?

Mike: I think generally speaking we’re always trying to think about how can we strategically do things differently. I think it’s largely because that’s just the way I am — like I like to question a lot of the status quo. I like to see if things can’t be done the other way, and maybe I’m just a stubborn person or what have you, but if people tell me this is the best practice, I’m like, “Well, why don’t we try the opposite of that and see what happens?” I think everything is based on who you are, how you did things, what have you, but more often than not I see that taking the other approach yields something different. It may not necessarily be better results, but whatever it is, I end up learning something from it, and then we apply it to other things.

Dan: Yeah, that’s a good point: that we as marketers talk about experimenting with and testing our campaigns and our marketing, but we rarely take a step back and put our own processes under the same amount of scrutiny.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely, and I think that being that the agencies I’ve worked in the past have been so strategy-focused, it’s been very easy for me to take that high-level look, but also because my background is in development and computer science and stuff, it’s very easy for me to look at the minutia and be like okay, how do we then turn this into something, like how do we execute on it? To that point, that’s something that we’re really trying to get better at is how do we turn this great strategic focus into equally great execution focus as well.

Dan: Okay, so before I let you go, I wanna ask you about pop-ups. You mentioned them a little bit earlier, and as you said, it’s one of these things that everybody says they hate, but the data shows that conversion tools like exit overlays and welcome mats usually work. Do you think it’s time for marketers to stop worrying about this stuff, or do you see these tactics working right now, but is that bubble gonna burst eventually?

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. In my talk I was kinda making fun of Neil Patel because of – well, I wasn’t kind of. I was definitely making fun of Neil Patel.

Dan: No doubt about that.

Mike: Because of the number of pop-ups he uses. But the reality of it is that a guy like Neil Patel does not care what I think. That guy is very focused on the data, and the data is telling him that he can do that, and it works very well, and despite whoever’s gonna talk shit about him – I don’t know if I can say that, but I guess I just did.

Dan: You did.

Mike: Whoever’s gonna talk about him in a negative way, he’s still gonna focus on the things that make him money, and I think the way that he works is kind of an indication of what really works rather than what any other marketers like, “Oh, well, I feel like that’s not good for your brand,” like whether it’s me, whether it’s whoever, so I think that we just have to continue to have a culture of testing things and see what works for our audiences. Generally speaking it’s to be expected that pop-ups, welcome mats and such are going to yield great results. It’s just what do you wanna do as a brand? What does your audience tell you you should focus on? And then use that as your true north rather than, “Oh, I feel like pop-ups are bad.”

Dan: Yeah, that’s a good point. Neil knows his brand, and he knows his audience, and that might work for them. He might not be speaking to the same audience that you are or that you were speaking to at the Call to Action Conference, but he’s made that decision, and it works.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Dan: Yeah, and I think on the other hand just because it works for Neil Patel and on his properties doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna work for other marketers.

Mike: Right, and I think, again, generally speaking best practices always need to be questioned. Again, I think they need to be ran through the lens of your audience to determine what’s gonna work for you, but it’s very difficult for me, and it should be for anyone, to really just take these “best practices” at face value. You need to always be testing. I guess that’s my sound bite.

Dan: All right, well, let’s end with that one. It’s a good one. Thanks so much, Mike, for taking the time to chat. This was great.

Mike: Yeah, thanks for having me.


Continued here:  

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