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82% of Marketers Aren’t Testing Effectively – Here’s Why

As conversion optimization becomes more of a priority in more and more companies, we’re seeing a lot of statistics on how marketers perform their tests, the tools they use and, most importantly, the tests they run.

These statistics are extremely important because they give us a window into what marketers are doing and how we can improve ourselves and our marketing strategies.

New research from Adobe uncovers two critical issues:

  • More than 8 out of 10 (82%) marketers say knowing how to test effectively is “somewhat” or “very” challenging.
  • Even more important (and distressing), nearly half (42%) say analyzing the A/B test results is the hardest part of conversion optimization.

Here’s the problem with that: Many marketing strategies and entire business plans are built on the results of testing and can, at times, completely alter products or services. This is why I chose to take a deeper look into these two stats, find the pain points and offer a few different ways to solve these issues.

Why analyzing tests is so hard

As with anything new, if you’re just beginning to test, it takes time to build a strategy. The most dominant strategy used today is the behavioral targeting strategy, or what many call the “testing elements” strategy.

In this strategy, one landing page is duplicated and gets a few small changes made to it. The most common changes are a different colored call-to-action button (green vs. red), a different title to the page, swapped locations of elements or a different main image.

The structure and the build of the original page remains the same, except for one change.

In the behavioral targeting methodology, we use the data we get on our users to personalize our landing pages—information such as the browser they come from, their geographic location, the time they came to the site and many other factors.

Below is a great visual by Visual Web Optimizer that shows the process of behavioral targeting.

Behavioral targeting

The issue with behavioral targeting (or testing individual elements) is that, once the test is completed and a winner has been declared, it’s difficult to understand the results.

For instance, if I change my main image on a landing page from a smiling woman to a cute puppy and the puppy variation wins, what do the results mean? Should I change my main site image to a puppy image? What have I learned from the test? And what do I test next?

By testing elements and not actual strategies, marketers find it extremely hard to learn from their tests and, more importantly, to scale them.

Unlocking Purchasing Habits

The key to scale, analyze and understand your tests is to test strategies, not elements, or as we describe it at Conversioner, test emotional triggers. Similar to any of your marketing efforts, conversion optimization needs a clear strategy and a plan for scaling based on your audience, not your product.

The idea of testing strategies comes from understanding why your customers want to buy your product or service. We’re not looking for the physical reason; we’re looking for the emotional reason.

People don’t buy products or services because of their features or their price. We buy them because of what they make us feel about ourselves. We see better versions of ourselves with these services/products, and that’s what motivates our purchasing habits.

Once you understand better what users receive from your product emotionally, you will be able to use different designs and elements to trigger these emotions and increase conversion on your landing page.

Testing Strategies

Emotional conversion optimization is based on testing strategies and concepts, focusing on why people buy products and not why they should.

So how does it look in actual practice?

Instead of two duplicated landing pages with one element altered for testing, each landing page represents a completely different strategy—with a different build, colors, images and messaging. The focus on these pages is not the elements. It’s what we want users to feel by landing on our landing page.

In the world of 2-second bounce rates, it’s important to understand that you have less than 3 seconds to convince your visitor that your product or service is the right one for them.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to make your users feel when they arrive on your landing page, you need to make sure they can feel this in less than 3 seconds.

There are two important elements you need to take into consideration to make sure of this:

  1. Our brains process Images 60,000 times quicker than text, meaning the image you show has a huge impact on your audience’s feelings and understanding of your product.
  2. Colors convey different emotions and can be used in many ways to direct users in the right way. You can find more information on the meanings of color here.

Let’s look at 2 case studies to see the difference between testing elements and testing strategies.

Case Study #1

In this case study, we’re taking a look at a presentation company. Their product allows you to build customizable presentations in a fast and easy way for any purpose. They had two immediate goals:

  1. Increase signups – get more people to sign up to their product
  2. Increase new presentations – get more people to complete the funnel and create presentations (not just sign up)

We started out by running our emotional trigger research and finding two main emotional triggers. Then we started building the pages:

  1. One page was built for a more tech savvy persona who prepares so many presentations, they’re starting to look alike and sound boring. The idea was to make sure they feel this product will be much easier than other presentation softwares but, more importantly, their presentations will stand out from their peers and be different.
  2. The second page spoke to a less tech savvy audience who has a hard time creating presentations. These are usually people who don’t create many presentations and find it extremely painful to create one. The landing page’s main goal was to make these people feel comforted and that they’re in good hands.

Variation 1:

Variation 1

Variation 2:

Variation 2

As you can see, each landing page is completely different from the other in design, color and, most importantly, in strategy.

The 10-day test run had 60,000 sessions. The results were a 316% increase in signups for variation 1 and 114.36% increase in new presentations.

Once the test was finished, we then moved on to testing different signup processes and a few other flow elements, but we didn’t do this until we finalized our strategy and realized what we want people to feel, which in this case, was special and different from their peers.

Case study #2

This case study was one of the first we ran for an e-card company. As is common, the company had a few common obstacles:

  • They have many competitors.
  • They’re the most expensive in their industry.
  • There’s no one-time payment, only yearly or monthly subscriptions.
  • Their product is a download product, meaning people have to download it to their computer before they can start using it.

This was their original landing page:

Original - Control

During our research, we worked on finding out what people want to feel from using this product. Finishing the research we mapped out two types of emotional triggers:

  1. Self image – These are people who want to have the best party, have their friends over and make sure they have the time of their lives. They mainly want to feel good about their decisions, plans and executions.
  2. Social image – These people want their friends and relatives to talk about the amazing event they had, the amazing host, the gorgeous invitation they sent and the perfect party in general.

To convey these feelings, we created two different landing pages:

Variation 1:

Variation 1

Variation 2:

Variation 2

Variation 1 won and increased immediate revenue by 65% and, even more interesting, it increased the yearly signups dramatically. What did this mean? People were not only purchasing a subscription, many of them were now committing to a yearly subscription rather than a monthly one.

One thing that is important about emotional targeting is that you don’t need to go to the end of the funnel to make an impact. The common scenario for companies that want to increase their revenue is working on their checkout process first. But with emotional targeting, it’s a good idea to start at the top of the funnel and make your way down.

A simple landing page can change not only the amount of downloads and signups but also the actual revenue without touching the checkout process yet.

The emotional targeting funnel results

The common conversion optimization funnel looks like the image below. You run a test and the results impact the top part of the funnel and then each part of the lower funnel grows a little accordingly.

Optimization funnel

With emotional targeting you can still start at the top of the funnel and yet the results are different. This is the funnel from our second case study. Downloads, for example, grew by 12% as opposed to the 65% in the revenue. This impact was received from a landing page test, not a checkout test.

Emotional targeting funnel

Figuring Out Emotional Triggers

In order to understand why your customers want to buy your product and what they want to feel from using your product or service it, it’s important to understand why people actually make decisions in life and what those decisions are based on.

Believe it or not, our decision-making as humans is mostly irrational. Although we like to think of ourselves as completely rational people who make our decisions according to hard facts and data, we’re far from it.

We don’t know what we want in life. We have no idea what’s good for us and what isn’t. So we typically make decisions according to our surroundings. Meaning we make decisions by the way things are presented to us.

The decision on which car to buy, what insurance to choose, what laptop to get and how to split our checkings account with our partner comes from our surroundings and of what we compare it to.

The way you present your landing page, call to action, messaging and colors have a huge impact on your user’s decision-making and, if you want to help people choose your product, there are certain cognitive biases, or triggers, you should take into consideration.

Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways. They’re basically unconscious thinking patterns or triggers in our brains that help us make decisions. I’ve summed up a few cognitive biases to give you examples. Used right, they can help you convert people quicker and understand what customers are looking for emotionally in your product or service.

4 common cognitive biases

Anchoring

This is one of the most famous marketing tactics. We’ve all experienced it, often unawares.

Anchoring is the tendency to rely on the first piece of information we received when making a decision. For example, the initial price offered as a salary is used to for the rest of the negotiations. Once an anchor is set, all options are considered while compared to the anchor.

Steve Jobs himself used this tactic to sell the iPad when it came out. He told people that the iPad should cost $999 and then proceeded to talk about the iPad while the price was on the screen behind him.

Then he came out with a dramatic announcement that the iPad will only cost $499.

Now compared to $999 that’s cheap. But is it? It only sounded cheap in comparison to the value Jobs had given it.

A few ways to use anchoring to your advantage:

  • On pricing pages – This is a common use. Create one pricing plan much higher than the rest, then present it first so people have the anchor of a higher price and are pleasantly surprised by the “reasonable” price of the others.
  • Limitations - This one is extremely interesting. By limiting something not by time but by number, you can get more people to take an action. For example, you only allow people to invite up to 5 friends. Before the anchor people might have invited only 2, but now that the anchor is placed, the average goes up.

Endowment effect

The endowment effect (one of my personal favorites) is a state of mind in which a consumer’s valuation of an object (any object) increases once they’ve taken ownership of it.

Meaning, once I have something, even for a brief moment I consider it as my own and will not easily part with it (that’s why we have so much old stuff in our houses that we can’t get rid of).

There are many ways and tips for using the endowment effect to its full extent increase conversion. Several ways include:

  • Free trials - The idea is simple. Once a customer has used the product for enough time, customized it and gotten used to it, they won’t let a small thing like a payment get in the way of keeping it. In the 1950s there were door-to-door salespeople who would offer vacuums and other appliances for trials periods, assuring people that they could give them back for no charge at the end of the trial. These were a huge hit. Nine out of 10 (yes, a full 90%) did not give the product back.
  • Exit pops – These are great way to catch your user’s eye before they leave the landing page and tell them that they’re about to lose all their information. Similar to the emotional targeting method, you need to think about how you want people to feel while seeing this pop up.

Decoy effect

This is a great bias for unlocking pricing page success. In general it means that when we’re presented with more than two options, we tend to choose the first option. Weirdly, it looks better even though it might not be.

Many companies use the decoy effect to direct their visitors to a specific pricing plan and increase sales. The basics of this bias is that people look for an easy way to make a decision, one that doesn’t require thinking or analyzing.

(Further tips for using the decoy effect.)

Hyperbolic discounting

This trigger is great for inbound marketing. Hyperbolic discounting is the tendency of people to prefer more immediate rewards that are worth less than larger rewards that are further away.

For example, people would prefer to get less discount on a service right now than to work harder to get a larger discount in the future.

A great way to use this is by offering several coupons and rewards to your customers for inviting their friends, writing reviews and spreading the word. Here are a few proven ways to use hyperbolic discounting for your inbound marketing.

Bottom line

As your conversion optimization tests take a larger part of your marketing effort, it is important to be able to keep these tests scaling and growing.

In order to be testing effectively you should start start focusing on your prospects’ emotional needs. By continuously researching your audience and identifying their emotional needs, you will be able to learn from your tests, understand them and know what to test next.

The post 82% of Marketers Aren’t Testing Effectively – Here’s Why appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Why Random A/B Testing is a One Night Stand

A/B Testing VS. CRO

So you run a test or two, have your moments of virtual euphoria and promise yourself to roll out a meticulous Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) strategy to increase website sales and revenue. But then… You lose steam, the inspiration wears off, you don’t have the time or the mental bandwidth to conduct the research this “long and winding” process requires. You want quick, Flash-like results, so you give into the delicious temptation of running more random tests.

A successful random test, after all, is like a seductress. The northward-looking graphs, that beautiful-almost-perfect statistical significance, the simple awareness that a mere tweak can bring in so much more fortune. It’s all nothing short of a digital orgasm.

The case for random testing

As the headline of this article suggests, there are going to be some hidden and not-so-hidden innuendos around one-night stands. So if morally-questionable analogies aren’t your thing, try to make them your thing and read ahead. Here are some virtues of random testing:

They are seductive. Addictive too

A/B testing is seductive. It works like a charm. Run one successful test and those shiny numbers won’t let you sleep in the night. Buoyant by the successful result of one test, you will want to jump on to the next bed test.

Immediate gratification

The ratio of “time invested” against “gains in sales/revenue figure” is high. You invest 5 minutes setting up a mindless test and you get a conversion boost of 10%. Similarly, you invest 15 minutes in a bar (modesty is thy name) and get some massive ego/vitality/happiness boost. That’s some insane luck and optimization of time. Rejoice while it lasts.

Justify your existence

Getting nasty e-mails from the boss? He wants results and you need to justify your fancy designation and salary. Run a quick test and justify your existence.

Releases ‘feel-good’ hormones

Research has shown that running a successful A/B test makes the brain release a feel-good chemical called Dopamine. Well, that’s a giant piece of lie. But you get the idea. Successful tests make you feel good. And so does good sex.

But the flip side…

You are not going to be lucky every night time

You might have had beginner’s luck, but not every random test is going to end up on your success list. You are going to make some bad choices and that’s going to lead to some fantastic where-did-I-lose-it-kind-of-existential-crisis.

There is going to be a void

A random CTA change might lift your conversions, but the increase is going to be just a pebble in the pond. It won’t significantly affect your bottom-line. You will have to make big, research-backed design changes to fill the conversion-shaped emptiness of your website.

In short, you will have to learn to live with a permanent void in the world of random testing.

You will be like a rolling stone

However fancy Bob Dylan may have made it sound, but living a life with no direction and plan is kind of uninspiring after a while. With random testing, it’s like the 60’s hippie movement. Each day as it comes. There is going to be no plan to fall back upon. There are going to be a few good tests and then there are going to be many that suck.

So random testing is okay while you are still testing the waters of optimization, trying out a tool, selling the concept to your boss or just discovering its virtues. But you need a streamlined process, a well-oiled structure and something more stable and scientific to be able to use A/B testing in the long run to increase conversions.

The case for CRO

You need a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) strategy. A strategy which stands upon the wheels of research, asking questions, arriving at a hypothesis, testing, reporting and analyzing. A/B testing is not equivalent to CRO, it’s just a part of the CRO process. Albeit, the sexiest part. The CRO process requires planning, thought, commitment and patience – all the hallmarks of a wholesome marriage. So, here’s why CRO is a lot like marriage.

There’s the courtship period

You can’t jump into bed with CRO right away, there’s a courtship phase wherein you lay out the strategy, work on a process, figure out the rules and prepare the ground for a sound and long association.

Requires commitment

Once you commit yourself to a CRO plan, you will have to keep infidelity at bay. Random testing will be lurking at many corners, trying to seduce you with the sinful promise of the forbidden and the mysterious. But you will have to keep your eyes fixed on the strategy at hand so as not to ruin the marriage. Difficult, but worthwhile in the long run.

But it will make you richer

Or at least your bosses. And if you are lucky, the fortune should trickle down. CRO can holistically work to lift your conversions the way random/fluke testing can’t. Of course, there’s no guarantee. But making research-backed design changes that significantly change visitors’ behavior on the website is more likely to increase your bottom-line than making a mere CTA color change.

Happy conversion optimization to you

If you want to find out a bit more about A/B testing and CRO, you can check out the following resources:

The post Why Random A/B Testing is a One Night Stand appeared first on VWO Blog.

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Why Random A/B Testing is a One Night Stand

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What’s Your Website Personality? (And How to Use It to Overcome Buyer Resistance)

He finally had some interviews lined up.

Jose Ayala spent the last few weeks applying for jobs. His first interview was scheduled for a Monday. He was ready and on time.

He was looking to make a good first impression. And if things went well maybe he’d leave with a job.

He felt he was ready, but he forgot about one important detail.

Clothes.

Jose showed up to his job interview naked (he was high on meth).

Poor presentation killed his conversion rate.

Chris Johnson, the shop owner probably won’t forget him, but he’s not going to hire him either.

When we read stories like these we’re amazed. “What was he thinking?” we ask ourselves. It’s amazing because his mistake was so obvious. “Of course presentation is the most important part of a job interview!”

And presentation is the most important part of communication.

We sort people based on their appearance. Job applicants that look the part tend to do better in interviews. People who drive fancy cars or live in nice houses are viewed as rich or successful.

But do we make the same snap judgments about websites?

Dr. Gitte Lindgaard at Carleton University wanted an answer to that question. So she ran a test; she flashed Web pages on the screen for 1/20th of a second. She had participants rate the pages on various scales and she found that…

timer - placeitSource: Placeit.net

Customers form first impressions about your site in as little as 50 milliseconds.

For most adults, this judgment takes place before they’ve had a chance to even think about your content. There’s no thinking involved with this first impression; it’s visual and based almost entirely on emotion.

Negative first impressions can be deal breakers. The halo effect kicks in and users begin looking for evidence to confirm that first impression.

Most of us have a 6th sense about the websites we visit. If our first impression is “Ugh, this sucks,” we’ll look for evidence to confirm our belief, ignoring any evidence that says otherwise.

Because most people assume presentation is simply about looks.

But presentation is actually a vehicle; it’s a delivery system that sends your message to customers. It’s a mix of tangible and intangible factors working together.

  1. Tangible factors are things like color, design, layout, quality, typography and visuals.
  2. Intangible factors would be things like behavior, trust, values, expectations, etc.

When these factors work together, buyer resistance decreases naturally—giving your marketing the chance it needs to convert a customer. Trouble is some businesses aren’t giving their marketing that chance.

Which leads to five common presentation mistakes.

Businesses assume presentation is all about looks too—but that assumption leads to accidental presentation and more resistance from customers. Let’s look at the problem and steps you can take to make things better.

1. A tangible / intangible conflict.

Imagine you’re sent to an author’s website where he asks you to buy his book. His website looks nice enough. But he won’t tell you his real name, where he’s located or explain why you should listen to him. He doesn’t even have a refund policy. He just wants you to buy his book.

Would you do it?

For most of us, the answer would be No.

But that’s the same mistake website owners make when there’s a conflict between the tangible and intangible factors.

Asking customers to trust you doesn’t make sense if your presentation isn’t trustworthy. If you’re not sharing pictures, personal details or your story, you’re doing it wrong. If you hide behind buzzwords and generic content, you increase customer resistance. Why? Because you’re telling customers “I’m not being completely open with you.”

Increase conversions by…

Choosing a personality word for your business. When you choose your personality word, you’re trying to give people a sense of what your business is about. This word needs to be used as a communication anchor.

Ever wonder why GEICO tries to be funny? What would happen if GEICO went all serious on you like Liberty Mutual did?

Confusion!

Choosing your personality word anchors your marketing. It tells you how to communicate. Choosing the right word attracts the customer you’re looking for and sets the tone for what they should expect from you.

2. Their image and their words don’t match.

An image conflict creates confusion. It raises questions. “If you say you’re _____ why do you look like _____?” The tangible and intangible presentations factors in your business should be in sync. If you’re a luxury or premium brand, your website shouldn’t look like this:

Top of the line

Because it raises a whole lot of questions. It creates holes in your credibility as a premium provider. If you’re charging premium prices, you should walk, talk and act like a premium brand. Your design should convey the intangible elements that say “My product is A+, the best.”

Even if your image is based around an idea, all the elements need to match. If you’re a luxury brand, you shouldn’t discount your prices habitually. If you’re offering guaranteed overnight delivery, my package shouldn’t be two days late. If you’re running a customer-centric business, it’s bad form to curse at your customers.

Increase conversions by…

Identifying your intangible factors. Be aware, the criteria you choose places constraints on your tangible factors. Create a list of the intangible factors you’re targeting first. Choosing the right look is easier when you know what you stand for. If you’re designing (or optimizing) a site for moms, using skulls in your design is pretty much out of the question.

3. Failing to guide customer expectations.

Expectations play a large yet subconscious role in the presentation process. Take job roles for example, bankers are expected to dress well and drive nice cars. Athletes are supposed to be ripped and artists create beautiful things.

But The Visual Arts League didn’t create a beautiful website.

Visual Arts League

Artists know beauty. So what happened here?

Doesn’t really meet expectations does it?

Most people expect artists to understand the basic principles of design. The unspoken expectation is that you’ll create something beautiful (or at the very least, understand why it’s important).

Which brings us to your ideal customer. What sort of image are they drawn to (or expecting)? What kind of presentation do they expect from your website?

If you’re missing this info, you don’t have what you need.

You have no idea whether you should match your image to the one in their head. Maybe you need to explain why the image they’re expecting is wrong. But you can’t make the right decision if you’re not sure what they expect. Which means any image you present will be random and, most likely, wrong.

Increase conversions by…

Interviewing your ideal customer. You’re looking for all-stars, not just any customer willing to give you money. You know, the people you love to do business with. Reach out to them and ask for feedback. Here’s what you’ll want to know.

  • What their expectations are as new customers. What do they expect from their ideal provider? What does that provider look like? How do they present themselves?
  • What they actually experienced as a new customer. Was their experience anything like their expectation?
  • How they feel about it. If you were what they expected, how did they feel about it? If you weren’t, why did they stick around?

Remember, you need to know whether your business should match their expectations or not. If their expectations are wrong, you’ll need to know how to educate them. Use your presentation and content to train your customers. Use your interview to guide the way you present your business.

4. Neglecting the tangible for the intangible (and vice versa).

When it comes to presentation, it’s common for websites to be top heavy. This usually happens in one of two ways.

Beauty without benefit: The beautiful website that’s heavy on the tangibles—beautiful design, clear font, lots of visual appeal.

Beautiful-useless-website

Websites like these are heavy on the visuals; there’s no real clarity about where you (the visitor) are, what you’re supposed to do or why you should do it. Websites like these increase customer resistance or reduce interest.

Ethos without excitement: These websites are all about the ideal. They talk about what they believe, they behave the way they’re supposed to. They say and do the right things. But they look like this:

The Drudge Report

Ethos without excitement

There’s nothing in their tangible presentation that draws you in. Their passion comes through in the intangible areas, but that passion isn’t really visible. As a result, sites like these have a tough time attracting new people.

Increase conversions by…

Defining your personality word. Imagine your personality word is “open.” How do you define it? How do you embody that? What does open behavior look like?

Define the tangible and intangible aspects of your personality word. Define tangible elements like color, font, layout, and design. Clarify intangible elements like behavior, values and expectations. Build your website and marketing around your word.

5. Presenting for the customer you have instead of the customer you want.

Your presentation broadcasts what you want. Everything about how you present your business qualifies or disqualifies you in the eyes of your website visitors. Standing for this excludes that. If you’re all about openness but your customer values privacy, you may not be a good fit.

Website owners often make the mistake of going after the customers they can get, instead of the ones they want. If you’re a struggling business and you’re thinking about survival, this makes sense.

But this makes presentation a nightmare. Using words and designs that scream “affordable” won’t attract clients who value prestige or results more than price. Pitching luxury products to bargain shoppers increases resistance, making conversion all but impossible.

Increase conversions by…

Defining the attributes of your ideal customer. What’s their income like? How do they think? What’s their budget for similar items? What are the demographics and psychographics? Where do they hang out?

When you know them well, you’ll know what they want. Use those attributes to speak to your ideal customer. Rework your presentation, content and marketing around them. Conversion is so much easier when you know what your ideal customer wants.

Some ugly websites are pretty successful. Why do I need this?

Sites like Craigslist and dating site, Plenty of Fish, are often used as examples that “ugly is best.” But this misses the point completely. Presentation isn’t just about looks, it’s about tangible and intangible elements working together.

One reason these sites are so successful is because of customer expectations. Customers are okay with an ugly classifieds site. What about luxury, designer or beauty products? Would ugly work there?

Poor presentation increases customer resistance.

Making a good first impression is tough when you’re naked. Poor presentation isn’t always as obvious but it still kills conversions. Cut these mistakes out of your presentation and you’ll decrease customer resistance. Good first impression guaranteed.

How about you? Have you run into any of these presentation mistakes? Were any of these mistakes surprising?

Read other CrazyEgg posts by Andrew McDermott

The post What’s Your Website Personality? (And How to Use It to Overcome Buyer Resistance) appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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What’s Your Website Personality? (And How to Use It to Overcome Buyer Resistance)

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Making Modal Windows Better For Everyone

To you, modal windows1 might be a blessing of additional screen real estate, providing a way to deliver contextual information, notifications and other actions relevant to the current screen. On the other hand, modals might feel like a hack that you’ve been forced to commit in order to cram extra content on the screen. These are the extreme ends of the spectrum, and users are caught in the middle. Depending on how a user browses the Internet, modal windows can be downright confusing.

Modals quickly shift visual focus from one part of a website or application to another area of (hopefully related) content. The action is usually not jarring if initiated by the user, but it can be annoying and disorienting if it occurs automatically, as happens with the modal window’s evil cousins, the “nag screen” and the “interstitial.”

However, modals are merely a mild annoyance in the end, right? The user just has to click the “close” button, quickly skim some content or fill out a form to dismiss it.

Well, imagine that you had to navigate the web with a keyboard. Suppose that a modal window appeared on the screen, and you had very little context to know what it is and why it’s obscuring the content you’re trying to browse. Now you’re wondering, “How do I interact with this?” or “How do I get rid of it?” because your keyboard’s focus hasn’t automatically moved to the modal window.

This scenario is more common than it should be. And it’s fairly easy to solve, as long as we make our content accessible to all through sound usability practices.

For an example, I’ve set up a demo of an inaccessible modal window2 that appears on page load and that isn’t entirely semantic. First, interact with it using your mouse to see that it actually works. Then, try interacting with it using only your keyboard.

Better Semantics Lead To Better Usability And Accessibility

Usability and accessibility are lacking in many modal windows. Whether they’re used to provide additional actions or inputs for interaction with the page, to include more information about a particular section of content, or to provide notifications that can be easily dismissed, modals need to be easy for everyone to use.

To achieve this goal, first we must focus on the semantics of the modal’s markup. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the step is not always followed.

Suppose that a popular gaming website has a full-page modal overlay and has implemented a “close” button with the code below:

<div id="modal_overlay">
  <div id="modal_close" onClick="modalClose()">
    X
  </div>
  …
</div>

This div element has no semantic meaning behind it. Sighted visitors will know that this is a “close” button because it looks like one. It has a hover state, so there is some visual indication that it can be interacted with.

But this element has no inherit semantic meaning to people who use a keyboard or screen reader.

There’s no default way to enable users to tab to a div without adding a tabindex attribute to it. However, we would also need to add a :focus state to visually indicate that it is the active element. That still doesn’t give screen readers enough information for users to discern the element’s meaning. An “X” is the only label here. While we can assume that people who use screen readers would know that the letter “X” means “close,” if it was a multiplication sign (using the HTML entity &times;) or a cross mark (&#x274c;), then some screen readers wouldn’t read it at all. We need a better fallback.

We can circumvent all of these issues simply by writing the correct, semantic markup for a button and by adding an ARIA label for screen readers:

<div id="modal_overlay">
  <button type="button" class="btn-close" id="modal_close" aria-label="close">
    X
  </button>
</div>

By changing the div to a button, we’ve significantly improved the semantics of our “close” button. We’ve addressed the common expectation that the button can be tabbed to with a keyboard and appear focused, and we’ve provided context by adding the ARIA label for screen readers.

That’s just one example of how to make the markup of our modals more semantic, but we can do a lot more to create a useful and accessible experience.

Making Modals More Usable And Accessible

Semantic markup goes a long way to building a fully usable and accessible modal window, but still more CSS and JavaScript can take the experience to the next level.

Including Focus States

Provide a focus state! This obviously isn’t exclusive to modal windows; many elements lack a proper focus state in some form or another beyond the browser’s basic default one (which may or may not have been cleared by your CSS reset). At the very least, pair the focus state with the hover state you’ve already designed:

.btn:hover, .btn:focus 
  background: #f00;

However, because focusing and hovering are different types of interaction, giving the focus state its own style makes sense.

.btn:hover 
  background: #f00;


:focus 
  box-shadow: 0 0 3px rgba(0,0,0,.75);

Really, any item that can be focused should have a focus state. Keep that in mind if you’re extending the browser’s default dotted outline.

Saving Last Active Element

When a modal window loads, the element that the user last interacted with should be saved. That way, when the modal window closes and the user returns to where they were, the focus on that element will have been maintained. Think of it like a bookmark. Without it, when the user closes the modal, they would be sent back to the beginning of the document, left to find their place. Add the following to your modal’s opening and closing functions to save and reenable the user’s focus.

var lastFocus;

function modalShow () 
  lastFocus = document.activeElement;


function modalClose () 
  lastFocus.focus(); // place focus on the saved element

Shifting Focus

When the modal loads, focus should shift from the last active element either to the modal window itself or to the first interactive element in the modal, such as an input element. This will make the modal more usable because sighted visitors won’t have to reach for their mouse to click on the first element, and keyboard users won’t have to tab through a bunch of DOM elements to get there.

var modal = document.getElementById('your-modal-id-here');

function modalShow () 
   modal.setAttribute('tabindex', '0');
   modal.focus();

Going Full Screen

If your modal takes over the full screen, then obscure the contents of the main document for both sighted users and screen reader users. Without this happening, a keyboard user could easily tab their way outside of the modal without realizing it, which could lead to them interacting with the main document before completing whatever the modal window is asking them to do.

Use the following JavaScript to confine the user’s focus to the modal window until it is dismissed:

function focusRestrict ( event ) 
  document.addEventListener('focus', function( event ) 
    if ( modalOpen && !modal.contains( event.target ) ) 
      event.stopPropagation();
      modal.focus();
    
  }, true);
}

While we want to prevent users from tabbing through the rest of the document while a modal is open, we don’t want to prevent them from accessing the browser’s chrome (after all, sighted users wouldn’t expect to be stuck in the browser’s tab while a modal window is open). The JavaScript above prevents tabbing to the document’s content outside of the modal window, instead bringing the user to the top of the modal.

If we also put the modal at the top of the DOM tree, as the first child of body, then hitting Shift + Tab would take the user out of the modal and into the browser’s chrome. If you’re not able to change the modal’s location in the DOM tree, then use the following JavaScript instead:

var m = document.getElementById('modal_window'),
    p = document.getElementById('page');

// Remember that <div id="page"> surrounds the whole document,
// so aria-hidden="true" can be applied to it when the modal opens.

function swap () 
  p.parentNode.insertBefore(m, p);


swap();

If you can’t move the modal in the DOM tree or reposition it with JavaScript, you still have other options for confining focus to the modal. You could keep track of the first and last focusable elements in the modal window. When the user reaches the last one and hits Tab, you could shift focus back to the top of the modal. (And you would do the opposite for Shift + Tab.)

A second option would be to create a list of all focusable nodes in the modal window and, upon the modal firing, allow for tabbing only through those nodes.

A third option would be to find all focusable nodes outside of the modal and set tabindex="-1" on them.

The problem with these first and second options is that they render the browser’s chrome inaccessible. If you must take this route, then adding a well-marked “close” button to the modal and supporting the Escape key are critical; without them, you will effectively trap keyboard users on the website.

The third option allows for tabbing within the modal and the browser’s chrome, but it comes with the performance cost of listing all focusable elements on the page and negating their ability to be focused. The cost might not be much on a small page, but on a page with many links and form elements, it can become quite a chore. Not to mention, when the modal closes, you would need to return all elements to their previous state.

Clearly, we have a lot to consider to enable users to effectively tab within a modal.

Dismissing

Finally, modals should be easy to dismiss. Standard alert() modal dialogs can be closed by hitting the Escape key, so following suit with our modal would be expected — and a convenience. If your modal has multiple focusable elements, allowing the user to just hit Escape is much better than forcing them to tab through content to get to the “close” button.

function modalClose ( e ) 
  if ( !e.keyCode 
}

document.addEventListener('keydown', modalClose);

Moreover, closing a full-screen modal when the overlay is clicked is conventional. The exception is if you don’t want to close the modal until the user has performed an action.

Use the following JavaScript to close the modal when the user clicks on the overlay:

mOverlay.addEventListener('click', function( e )
  if (e.target == modal.parentNode)
    modalClose( e );
  }
}, false);

Additional Accessibility Steps

Beyond the usability steps covered above, ARIA roles, states and properties3 will add yet more hooks for assistive technologies. For some of these, nothing more is required than adding the corresponding attribute to your markup; for others, additional JavaScript is required to control an element’s state.

aria-hidden

Use the aria-hidden attribute. By toggling the value true and false, the element and any of its children will be either hidden or visible to screen readers. However, as with all ARIA attributes, it carries no default style and, thus, will not be hidden from sighted users. To hide it, add the following CSS:

.modal-window[aria-hidden=”true”] 
  display: none;

Notice that the selector is pretty specific here. The reason is that we might not want all elements with aria-hidden="true" to be hidden (as with our earlier example of the “X” for the “close” button).

role=”dialog”

Add role="dialog" to the element that contains the modal’s content. This tells assistive technologies that the content requires the user’s response or confirmation. Again, couple this with the JavaScript that shifts focus from the last active element in the document to the modal or to the first focusable element in the modal.

However, if the modal is more of an error or alert message that requires the user to input something before proceeding, then use role="alertdialog" instead. Again, set the focus on it automatically with JavaScript, and confine focus to the modal until action is taken.

aria-label

Use the aria-label or aria-labelledby attribute along with role="dialog". If your modal window has a heading, you can use the aria-labelledby attribute to point to it by referencing the heading’s ID. If your modal doesn’t have a heading for some reason, then you can at least use the aria-label to provide a concise label about the element that screen readers can parse.

What About HTML5’s Dialog Element?

Chrome 37 beta and Firefox Nightly 34.0a1 support the dialog element, which provides extra semantic and accessibility information for modal windows. Once this native dialog element is established, we won’t need to apply role="dialog" to non-dialog elements. For now, even if you’re using a polyfill for the dialog element, also use role="dialog" so that screen readers know how to handle the element.

The exciting thing about this element is not only that it serves the semantic function of a dialog, but that it come with its own methods, which will replace the JavaScript and CSS that we currently need to write.

For instance, to display or dismiss a dialog, we’d write this base of JavaScript:

var modal = document.getElementById('myModal'),
  openModal = document.getElementById('btnOpen'),
  closeModal = document.getElementById('btnClose');

// to show our modal
openModal.addEventListener( 'click', function( e ) 
  modal.show();
  // or
  modal.showModal();
);

// to close our modal
closeModal.addEventListener( 'click', function( e ) 
  modal.close();
);

The show() method launches the dialog, while still allowing users to interact with other elements on the page. The showModal() method launches the dialog and prevents users from interacting with anything but the modal while it’s open.

The dialog element also has the open property, set to true or false, which replaces aria-hidden. And it has its own ::backdrop pseudo-element, which enables us to style the modal when it is opened with the showModal() method.

There’s more to learn about the dialog element than what’s mentioned here. It might not be ready for prime time, but once it is, this semantic element will go a long way to helping us develop usable, accessible experiences.

Where To Go From Here?

Whether you use a jQuery plugin or a homegrown solution, step back and evaluate your modal’s overall usability and accessibility. As minor as modals are to the web overall, they are common enough that if we all tried to make them friendlier and more accessible, we’d make the web a better place.

I’ve prepared a demo of a modal window4 that implements all of the accessibility features covered in this article.

(hp, il, al, ml)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/27/modal-windows-in-modern-web-design/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/inaccessible.html
  3. 3 http://www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/accessible.html

The post Making Modal Windows Better For Everyone appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Making Modal Windows Better For Everyone

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10 Conversion Psychology Resources That Will Make You a Smarter Marketer

freud-psychology
You don’t have to be Freud to understand how your prospects think. Image by Alan Turkus via Flickr.

Smart marketers know that conversion rate optimization is important.

We run A/B tests to test our assumptions, but we’re sometimes left to wonder what it is about the winning variation that just makes it convert better.

It doesn’t have to be a mystery. The beauty of CRO is that it’s grounded in human psychology. Yep, the stuff you learned about in school.

Understanding peoples’ motivations and behavior – the science of how to persuade – helps you create landing pages that resonate with prospects. More importantly, understanding psychology helps you create marketing experiences that delight and convert.

Here are 10 conversion psychology resources that will help you understand your customers – and make you a better marketer in the process.

1. Conversion Psychology: 10 Ways to Influence People Online

conversion-psychology-10-ways

What you’ll get

Gregory Ciotti‘s ebook is the most thorough introduction to influencing people online you’ll ever find. It’ll teach you patterns of human behavior and how to apply these insights to your marketing to build a loyal customer base.

What you won’t get

This isn’t a step-by-step guide on how to implement the right techniques for your business. The subject matter is quite theoretical – it’s up to you to take the high-level insight and create a plan that best supports your business model.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Personalization helps prospects convert and makes them more likely to become loyal repeat customers.
  • Many people value their time more than money – test emphasizing time saved (instead of money) and you could see a lift in conversions.

2. How to Persuade People Online: 17 Lesser-Known Jedi Mind Tricks

jedi-mind-tricks

What you’ll get

This blog post by Peep Laja will teach you how to leverage the power of influence to help you convert your prospects. Rather than jumping into widely known persuasion principles, it breaks down lesser-known techniques like how to be confident, the art of swearing and getting people to agree with you before you ask for a commitment.

What you won’t get

The principles aren’t explicitly about conversion rate optimization, but they equip you with some interesting psychological principles that you can use to your advantage when framing your offers.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Being confident and talking fast makes you more persuasive – and so can swearing, if you do it tactfully.
  • Balancing your argument by acknowledging opposing points of view can help make your argument more persuasive.

3. 15 Psychological Triggers to Convert Leads into Customers

15-psychological-triggers

What you’ll get

This blog post by Akshay Nanavati will walk you through 15 ready-to-implement marketing tactics to strengthen your conversion rate optimization strategy: from getting attention with controversy to building anticipation. Each tip comes with an actionable takeaway and a first step for getting started.

What you won’t get

The strength of this blog post is in its bite-sized snippets. If you’re looking for in-depth analysis, you may want to pick up a book or two (or three).

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Human behavior is driven by the need to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. Understand your prospect and what they want, and you’ll be able to leverage these triggers in your marketing.
  • Our rational minds are always searching for meaning and context – people are more willing to take action if you give them a reason (even if that reason is arbitrary).

4. The Psychology of Conversion Optimization: Psychology of the Brain

psychology-of-conversion-optimization

What you’ll get

This blog post by Stephen Macdonald will give you a crash course on the brain and how it works. What is it about the human brain that makes persuasion and influence principles true?

What you won’t get

This is another high-level theory resource. You won’t get an actionable, ready-to-implement list of tactics, but it’ll give you the knowledge you need to think about your marketing campaigns in a new light.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Conversion rate optimization requires more than a commitment to implementing best practices. As the author puts it, “Best practices will change but humans won’t.”
  • Brands that focus on listening to their visitors and understanding their motivations will be best positioned for success.


#CRO requires more than a commitment to best practices. Customs change – but humans don’t.
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5. The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Consumer Psychology

consumer-psychology
The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Consumer Psychology by Neil Patel and Ritika Puri (shameless plug)

What you’ll get

Neil Patel and I wrote this comprehensive 200-page guide to consumer psychology. You’ll get started by walking through the mind of today’s consumer, learning about color theory, the psychology of pricing and points of friction to avoid. The ebook is jam-packed with small tactics that lead to big results.

What you won’t get

If you’re looking for in-depth theory and case studies, this guide isn’t for you. It’s not an academic paper – it’s designed to be tactical with ready-to-implement marketing ideas.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Today’s consumers do tons of research before making a purchase decision, so make sure you’re playing your part in informing them about your product or service.
  • Different colors convey different meanings to different audiences. Understanding which colors resonate with your audience can help you run educated A/B tests.

6. 5 Psychological Principles of High Converting Websites (+ 20 Case Studies)

5-psychological-principles

What you’ll get

Though this blog post by Nate Desmond addresses the anatomy of high-converting websites, the psychological principles are worth testing on your campaign landing pages. The 20 high-impact case studies demonstrate how past experiences, simplicity and user-friendly design can contribute to a high conversion rate.

What you won’t get

To get the most out of this post, you’ll need a basic understanding of CRO and related terminology. Don’t expect guidance or an introductory overview. Be prepared to jump in.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Based on past experiences, prospects have certain expectations about your landing page. Understanding and adapting to these expectations will help increase conversions.
  • Your can make your pages more user-friendly (and conversion-friendly) by employing laws of behavioral psychology – but you still need to test.


Prospects have expectations about your landing page. Understand them and adapt.
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7. The Ultimate Guide to Conversion Centered Design

conversion-centered-design

What you’ll get

This Unbounce ebook by Oli Gardner is 68 pages of design-meets-marketing goodness.

It outlines the building blocks of conversion centered design, a discipline which uses design and psychology to create experiences that guide prospects toward completing one desired action.

You’ll learn how to run meaningful A/B tests, how to guide your prospect’s eye and how to leverage psychological triggers to increase the motivation of your leads. Plus, you’ll get a set of ready-to-implement conversion-based templates.

What you won’t get

CliffsNotes or shortcuts – this guide is thorough in both theory and application. Be prepared to take notes and start thinking about how you can apply what you learn to your landing pages and marketing campaigns.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Giving people a preview of what you’re selling (letting them “try before they buy”) can increase conversions and spark a sense of commitment that helps with retention.
  • Simply asking your prospects why they didn’t convert via a survey can give you some of the best insight – and some of the best actionable ideas for your next A/B test.


Talking to your prospects can give you some of the best actionable ideas for your next A/B test.
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8. Are We In Control of Our Own Decisions?

are-we-in-control

What you’ll get

In this TED Talk, professor of psychology Dan Ariely shares some of his research findings that show how human decision making can be unpredictable.

He provides an overview of behavioral economics and shows that our perception and biases sometimes dictate our financial decisions – and demonstrates how consumers can be guided toward making a certain choice.

What you won’t get

This talk is inspiring but it’s not explicitly about conversion rate optimization. It’s up to you to connect the concepts to your campaigns and use what you learn about human behavior to inspire game-changing A/B tests.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • Understanding that customers can make irrational and counterintuitive choices will open up your mind to questioning “best practices” and running A/B tests before you rely on assumptions.
  • Price anchoring and comparing your product to other alternatives (whether different pricing plans or the product of a competitor) can increase the likelihood of conversion.


Customers can make irrational decisions. Question “best practices” and always test for yourself.
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9. Psychology for Marketers: 6 Revealing Principles of Human Behavior

psychology-for-marketers

What you’ll get

This blog post by Ginny Soskey explains when it’s appropriate to use Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion: reciprocity, commitment, authority, social proof, liking and scarcity. It will also teach you how to appeal to consumers’ emotions without being unethical or going overboard (be persuasive without being a jerk!)

What you won’t get

You won’t get real-world examples of each principle in practice, though they do provide hypothetical examples.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • People like being consistent. If you make them commit with a small ask up front, they’ll be more likely to say yes to bigger “asks.”
  • Be likeable. If people like you, they’ll be more willing to do business with you.

10. How to Use the 6 Principles of Persuasion to Create Landing Pages that Convert

6-principles-of-persuasion

What you’ll get

This blog post by Sean Ellis looks at each of Cialdini’s principles of persuasion to show how they can help you optimize your landing pages to generate significant conversion lifts. For each principle, multiple case studies show how other marketers have successfully leveraged persuasion to create landing pages that convert.

What you won’t get

Though these principles worked for the companies represented in the case studies, don’t assume they’ll work every time. You need to test each of the tips to see if they’ll resonate with your audience.

Sneak peek: Lessons learned

  • People have a natural instinct to reciprocate favors, which is all the more reason for you to strive to always deliver value to your prospects
  • Testimonials and other social proof are universally accepted as being effective, but they can backfire if they feel fake.


Social proof is known to improve conversion rates – but it can backfire if it feels fake.
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Brush up on your psychology and become a smarter marker

These conversion-meets-psychology resources are packed with theory, case studies and tips for you to begin applying today.

Though it may be tempting to start with the actionable tactics that you can start A/B testing immediately, remember to make time for some of the more theoretical articles that will give you the skills to think critically and creatively about your marketing campaigns.

If you have a resource to add to this list, please share it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

– Ritika Puri


freud-psychology

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7 Research-Backed Tips on Improving Twitter Conversions

Twitter – what is it good for?

The site, which reported 255 million monthly active users in March, has gone way beyond its original roots to become a place that breaks news, provides customer service and has a goodly dose of snark and humor.

It’s a site where people can pack a powerful punch into a puny 140 characters and flesh out tweets with images and video. But if you’re a marketer, only one thing matters: how can you use Twitter to meet your conversion optimization goals? Some recent research provides some clues.

twitter-placeit 800

1. Use Images

Hubspot provides marketing software for business and is a heavy Twitter user, yet even this company found a way to get more from Twitter. When Twitter started allowing automatic inline image display (a huge plus for many publishers and brand marketers), Hubspot experimented with publishing more image-rich tweets and immediately saw an impact.

We know that images get attention and Hubspot’s experiment proved it. They tested two versions of tweets that were virtually identical, except that one had an image—they immediately saw an increase in retweets, clicks and favorites and had a 55% rise in leads.

More leads equals more business, which is good news for any company. Hubspot’s not the only one to find this works. Research published by Buffer found that tweets with images got 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more favorites.

2. Get the Timing Right

Half the battle in winning the click is getting Twitter content in front of people at the right time. So it’s no wonder that there’s so much research around on the best time to tweet to get maximum impact.

For example, Kissmetrics’ Science of Social Timing tells you when to tweet and how often for maximum conversions. It says that if you tweet when people in the Eastern and Central time zones will see your update, you will be in front of 80% of the tweeting public (or those who follow you, at least). Clickthrough rate spikes at 6 and 12PM and midweek and at weekends.

Meanwhile Sysomos’ research suggests you avoid the dead zone between 3 and 7AM Eastern and tweet on Friday evenings instead. Dan Zarella’s prior research also favors evenings and weekends.

3. Promote Your Tweets

For a while now, Twitter has offered users the option to pay a fee so their tweets appear at the top of the stream. These promoted tweets can really pay off, according to a case study on the Shift blog.

Shift tried the tactic with a client using several sub-brand Twitter handles, sending content targeted to particular users. The company saw engagement rise by 34% while the cost per engagement fell by 38%.

Another example comes from AirBnB, which used a Promoted Tweets campaign in conjunction with a special discount offer to get a 4% increase in engagement for one of their tweets. Promoted Tweets also worked well for Dallas Tanning Spa LUX, which saw a fivefold return on ad spend from its campaign.

4. Use the Power of Recommendations (and Social Proof)

sysomos-twitter-infographic

As we’ve seen before, social proof and word of mouth marketing can help with conversions. People are always looking for information to help them to buy and they trust information from their friends and connections the most. One place where they look for that information is on Twitter.

A study by Sysomos looked at the phrases most used in a six-month period to get product recommendations. The top three were:

  • Who makes the best…?
  • Does anyone know…?
  • I’m looking for…

With 75% of consumers making the decision to buy before they reach your website or store, there’s a strong argument for tailoring at least some of your marketing to answering questions about your products and services. It could be a good time for an influencer or advocate marketing campaign.

5. Follow Twitter’s Advice

Twitter-marketing-screenshot

If you’re tackling the business market, then Twitter’s own research is a good starting point. The site recently published an infographic capturing the results of its survey of 1100 SMB owners, 72% of whom felt that being on Twitter was important. A few conversion tactics coming out of the survey included:

  • using Twitter to send people to other resources such as a wbesite, blog or newsletter
  • increasing engagement by using Twitter as a customer response tool
  • using advertising to increase reach

6. Work Out Why People Follow You

If you know why people follow your Twitter account and what they are looking for, you can provide it, increasing their satisfaction and the likelihood that they’ll interact with you beyond that first tweet. Research from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research highlights some of the main reasons millennials follow brands. The top five for Twitter are:

  • to support the brand
  • to get updates from the brand
  • to get discounts
  • to research brands
  • to follow the people their friends are following

They are also clear about one thing: offering a discount or coupon is likely to lead to an increase in sales.

The research also shows that 66% of Twitter users buy both online and in-store and a significant percentage of millennials use mobile devices for research and shopping. Clearly, getting the mobile social experience right is a must for better conversions. See more insight into millennials on Twitter’s blog.

7. Play Your (Twitter) Cards Right

About a year ago, Twitter introduced Lead Generation Cards, which marketers could use to get email addresses and other details from Twitter users wanting to take up their offer. There are also Product Cards and, recently introduced, Website Cards.

Do they work? According to Twitter’s own research, they reduce cost-per-click while increasing the number of URL clicks. A Webtrends case study of the Lead Generation Cards showed a 500% improvement in cost per lead, with a 996% jump in lead acquisition.

The research is clear: Twitter still has a role to play in acquiring leads and making sales. Use the studies above to improve conversions, then track them with Kristi Hines’ quick and easy guide.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sharon Hurley Hall.

The post 7 Research-Backed Tips on Improving Twitter Conversions appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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7 Research-Backed Tips on Improving Twitter Conversions

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Redirecting Tablet Users to Desktop Website Increased Revenue by 71.81%

The Company

Shirtinator is one of Europe’s leading online providers of customized textiles and personalized gifts such as custom t-shirts, hoodies, personalized mugs and more. They have a website for desktop and laptop users and any traffic coming from mobile devices including tablets is redirected to a dedicated mobile website. This is how a product page from their mobile website looks:

Shirtinator Mobile Webpage

The Problem

Since the mobile website was created keeping in mind the small screen of phones, it wasn’t very well optimized for tablet devices. Simon at Shirtinator wanted to try sending the traffic coming from tablets to the new HTML5-based desktop website that they were developing.

The Test

The folks at Shirtnator set up a split URL test with VWO for the traffic segment coming only from android-based tablets. Visitors, who became part of the test, were equally split between two different versions of the website – the mobile-based version and the new HTML5-based desktop version.

To understand how to perform traffic segmentation, you can read this article from our KnowledgeBase.

Here’s how a product page from their new HTML5 website looks:

Shirtinator Desktop Webpage

Result

To be absolutely sure of the business impact of the test, they set up revenue tracking in VWO for this test. The new HTML5-based website outperformed the mobile website for tablet users by a stellar 71.81% in terms of absolute revenue and 32% increase in number of orders completed.

Here’s a quick comparison image:

Split Test Comparison Image

Takeaways from the Test

Mobile experience cannot always be scaled up to an optimum tablet experience. Mobile websites and apps are usually made such that there is no left or right content and design demarcation. And users have to vertically scroll through the content. If we scale this design up for a bigger and wider tablet screen, it will lead to a lot of space being wasted and no proper eye-path for visitors. Shirtinator mobile website which was made in mind keeping the smaller screen of phones thus wouldn’t have been a perfect fit for tablet users. Trying to send traffic to the regular website instead, worked in favor of them.

It has also been confirmed in a usability study by the NNGroup that regular websites with little modifications work fairly well on tablets and one of the primary uses of tablet devices is web browsing.

You should also read a similar case-study by Smashing Magazine, where they abandoned their mobile website altogether and adopted a responsive design to give users best experience on all types of devices.

If you have an eCommerce website, you should have a look at this built-in report in Google Analytics to find out the percentage of traffic coming from desktop, mobile and tablet. And if you have a sizeable percentage of traffic coming from tablets, it makes complete sense to optimize UX for them. You can read these four things, from the Econsultancy blog, to avoid when creating a tablet experience for customers.

I would love to know if you have had a similar experience of optimizing specifically for tablet users. How was it for you? What did you learn about this user segment that you previously didn’t know. Let’s take it further in the comments section!

The post Redirecting Tablet Users to Desktop Website Increased Revenue by 71.81% appeared first on VWO Blog.

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Redirecting Tablet Users to Desktop Website Increased Revenue by 71.81%

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So You Want to Do a Conversion Audit? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’ve launched your website and are steadily getting traffic, you may feel like the hardest part is over. The truth is, the real work has just begun.

Now your focus shifts from a design/development perspective to a relationship-building, client-centered one. You’re now an inspector, looking for all the little “leaks” in your website that are causing customers not to buy.

There are about as many reasons people don’t buy as there are stars in the sky, so rather than focusing on those, we’re going to look at how to remedy as many of them as possible through a series of steps—a task known as a conversion audit.

conversion auditSource: Placeit.net

What’s a Conversion Audit?

Also known as a website review, a conversion audit looks at your site from your customers’ shoes—pinpointing areas where improvements could be made that would strengthen your conversion rate. Typical areas of focus include design and layout, search engine optimization, social media optimization, checkout process, and content.

Remember that customers arrive at your website from various different points, and with a wide range of experiences. A conversion audit professional takes all of these routes into consideration when analyzing your site. With that in mind, here’s what we look for:

Design and Layout (Both Desktop and Responsive)

Even great looking websites’ conversion rates can flounder. What’s attractive on the surface may not be compelling enough to the end user. With that being said, conversion optimization professionals typically look at things that make it easier for the audience to visually scan the page, including:

Of course, it’s not enough to go on common conversion practices alone. We also look at how the site performs on mobile devices. Since mobile traffic currently accounts for over one third of all web traffic (and is inching closer to the 50% mark), not having a responsive, device-optimized design is just flushing potential revenue away.

responsive

With the advent of technologies like HTML5 and CSS3, there’s no longer any need to develop a separate mobile site. One site can conform to all resolutions and devices. Just go easy on the load time for smartphones!

Search and Social Optimization

You might not think search and social optimization would go together in the same sentence. They produce vastly different conversion results, it’s true. But since customers can enter your website from any number of channels, from an optimization perspective, we typically put these two together.

After all, there are dozens of factors that go into making your site perform well in search, why should those not bleed over into social?

optimized

Moz.com’s graphic on the elements of an optimized page. View full image here

Many people take great pains to optimize their search results, but social seems more like an afterthought, because the traffic is viewed as not as valuable. Let’s face it, how many times have you gone on Facebook to buy something? (Um, never!) But just because the intent isn’t there, doesn’t mean we should be dismissive of these visitors.

A good conversion optimization audit looks at how well your social efforts flow into each other and back to your original website. Because social results can also impact your search engine ranking, you want to have a fluid, seamless flow from each channel. That means doing things like:

  • Customizing your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages to incorporate the same style and tone used on your website.
  • Include branding and graphics from your website on your social properties
  • Promote the same friendly customer service and open discussion on your social channels as you do on your website
  • Give customers on social networks a more engaging reason to interact with you. Surveys, contests and quizzes are all great portals to encourage interaction.

Starbucks has done a phenomenal job of not only responding to customer issues, but also providing a consistent voice, tone and engagement level for all its fans.

starbucks-fb-pinterest

Notice how they invite users to participate by submitting their own photos, as well as voting on a contest for the best artistic cup design through Pinterest. It’s this kind of cross-channel communication that gets people to recommend, discuss and otherwise involve themselves in your offer.

E-Commerce Product Pages and Checkout Process

apple

Apple knows exactly how to design an engaging, beautiful and high performing product page. Click here to see more examples of best practices in e-commerce

A good conversion audit wouldn’t be complete without a closer look at the e-commerce process. This can sound overwhelming, but there are a few key points to consider when auditing your product pages and checkout, including:

  • Always-visible shopping cart, complete with an image of the item added, and the price (along with any discounts)
  • Customization or personalization options (if available)
  • Showing the number of steps to order completion
  • Incorporating free shipping (by far the biggest conversion-producer for e-commerce websites)
  • Use of security and trust seals where appropriate
  • Forms with easy-to-understand errors to let the customer know if they missed or forgot to enter something.

Of course, these are just a few of the many points to consider, but a good conversion audit will take them all into consideration and then make adjustments and test depending on one’s own audience and their expectations.

Content Writing

Browse the Web for any length of time, and you’ll see that for many sites, the content seems more like an afterthought than an integral part of the conversion strategy.

While the tone and voice of the content will differ depending on the audience and brand (you wouldn’t be conversational if you’re selling high-grade technical parts and components), but for most consumer-facing brands, an open dialogue can make a big difference.

chalkfly

ChalkFly, an office and school supply store, uses their content to reinforce that they’re a company you’ll love to do business with.

While every business is different, notable points include reinforcing free shipping, noting the return/exchange policy in plain English, demonstrating your differences in a way the customer can understand, and much more.

Good website content is an art as much as a science, and understanding what compels your users to action is all part of the visitor psychology process.

Wrapping Up Your Audit

It may look overwhelming at first, but a good conversion audit is both thorough and straightforward. By understanding your visitors’ needs and then structuring your site and all of its promotional outlets to meet and exceed those expectations, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition and truly have a site that converts to the best of its ability. Good luck!

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sherice Jacob.

The post So You Want to Do a Conversion Audit? Here’s What You Need to Know appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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So You Want to Do a Conversion Audit? Here’s What You Need to Know

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4 Strategies to Drive More E-Commerce Sales With Your Facebook Ads

facebook-advertising-roi
Do your e-commerce ad campaigns make you feel like you’re wasting cash? These strategies will help you get better ROI on your Facebook ads. Image by alles-schlumpf via Flickr.

With more brands advertising their products on Facebook every year, competition for ad space is crazier than ever. And with higher competition comes higher ad prices (an 123% increase over the last year, according to the Wall Street Journal).

The scariest thing is that while marketers are seeing dramatic increases in cost per click for their Facebook advertising campaigns, they’re also seeing lower click-through rates and poor ROI.

Knowing this, you may be tempted to think that Facebook ads just aren’t an effective strategy for e-commerce, that the space is just too crowded.

But the problem isn’t with Facebook. It’s with your ads.

As the competition increases, the solution isn’t to quit. It’s to adapt and improve to stay ahead of the rest.

Here are four no-fail strategies that will deliver more clicks on your ads, more qualified traffic to your landing pages and, most importantly, more e-commerce sales.

1. Personalize your ads

You’ve heard it many times before.

Identify a buyer persona and cater your messaging to that one person.

Your Facebook ads are no exception to this rule; after all, this is the strategy that earns Zappos an annual Facebook advertising ROI of $10 million!

Their approach is simple: using data from their website, social networks and comments from customers, Zappos creates multiple personas. Then they create ads to target one specific product per persona.

Check out this ad from Zappos that is only advertising their UGG boots:

zappos-facebook-ad-1

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to start by getting to know your buyer persona (here’s a great article to help you get started).

Then, you can re-build the persona in your ad targeting. Here are the extensive options Facebook gives you for targeting demographics, interests and behaviors:

Demographics

Fb_demographics
Facebook allows you to segment ads based on the demographics of your prospects.

Demographics allow you to target age range, gender, and location (down to ZIP code level in the US), and even specific groups such as newlyweds, university students, office administrators or new parents. And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

When Zappos found that their core customer is generally a middle-aged woman with an above average income, they refined their demographics targeting to reflect that.

Interests

Fb_interests
Facebook allows you to segment ads based on the interests of your prospects.

The interests section has many options to browse through, and it’s tempting to insert your product or service here – but err on the side of caution. Though people do buy boots from Zappos, it’s not likely that they’d self-identify as being interested in boots.

Zappos dug a little deeper and found that some customers like listening to NPR, so they further refined their ads with that data.


Prospects don’t self-identify with your products. Don’t segment Facebook ads that way.
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Be creative; you can target blogs that your customers read, influencers they follow and even people who like your competitors’ pages.

Behaviors

Fb_behaviors
Facebook allows you to segment ads based on the behavior of your prospects.

Behavioral targeting options allow you to target people based on their online activities, travel habits, the type of device they use and so much more.

You could target repeat customers, or more granular details such as specific niches they belong to and whether they typically shop for high-end or low-end products.

If you’re not sure which one of these to get started with, start by mapping out a detailed buyer persona. The more important dimensions will become evident as you go.

2. Pre-qualify leads by listing your prices

By now, your ads are targeted and you’ve selected a product that fits that buyer persona. You can further qualify your leads by mentioning the price of that product up-front.

Have a look at this ad for a new programming language course by Udemy that appeared in my Newsfeed:

udemy-2
This ad by Udemy pre-qualifies leads for a new programming language course.

This ad uses contrasting colors and simple imagery to catch the eye. You immediately know what the product is and how much it sells for. If you’re interested in learning Swift (which is pretty likely if this ad is successfully targeted), then you’ll want to read more.

But what about the $29 badge? If you’re already targeting your ads, why do you need to include the price? Won’t that decrease CTR?

Mentioning price up-front pre-qualifies your traffic.

If you have an enterprise app or higher-end product, listing price will filter out people who aren’t willing to pay that amount. That means they won’t click on your ads and you won’t have to pay for those clicks.

And that leads to lower CPC.


List product price in your Facebook ad to prequalify leads and – best of all – lower CPC.
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3. Make it easy for leads to take action

Now you have your prospects’ attention with a hyper-personalized ad – but there’s still something holding them back. They just aren’t clicking through to your landing page.

To get prospects to take action, you’ll need to make them an offer they can’t refuse and incentivize them to click.

Offer an incentive

No matter how well your ad describes your awesome product and its benefits, people are hesitant to open their wallets. You need to incentivize them to take action.

Udemy did this with their massive 70% discount.

discount-udemy

The response rates to ads with a promotion versus regular ads are impressive. In one survey, 67% of Facebook users said they were likely to click on a discount offer.

Hautelook had some amazing results when they offered discounts in their Facebook ads. Giving fans a 50% discount on their products resulted in the third largest day of sales in their history.

hautelook-facebook-ad-1

One final thing: Remember that a discount isn’t very effective if it lasts forever. You don’t want people putting off the purchase ‘til next week, only to forget. Deadlines incentivize people to act now.

It’s clear that Udemy is aware of this when they inject urgency into their ads. If you don’t buy the Udemy course within the next 2 days, you’ll have to pay the full price of $99.

udemy-urgency


67% of Facebook users click on discounted offers, but without a deadline, discounts don’t work.
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Test your calls to action

Now your personalized ad has benefits-driven copy and an irresistible offer. The only thing left is to get the prospect to take action.

Facebook provides you with five options for a call to action button on the bottom-left corner of your ad: “Sign Up,” “Learn More,” “Book Now,” “Shop Now” and “Download.”

What’s the point, you ask? If your ad copy is optimized to incentivize people to click, do you really need to include a button, too?

Heyo ran an A/B test to see how adding one of those CTA buttons impacted click-through rates. They had two identical ads with an offer for a free trial of their software. The only difference was that one ad had a “Learn More” CTA button.

heyo

While the ad without a CTA reached 28,000 people and received 97 clicks at $1.22 per click, the one with the CTA was the clear winner: It reached 24,000 people and received 136 clicks at $0.86 per click. That’s a 63.6% increase in conversions and 40% decrease in CPC by simply adding a call to action.


Adding a CTA button to your Facebook ad can result in a 64% increase in conversions.
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You’ll want to test different variations on your CTA button and ad copy – like Heyo, you may find that small tweaks result in impressive conversion lifts.

4. Use dedicated landing pages

Your highly personalized ads are finally resulting in lots of clicks from prospects who want to take advantage of your product discount. They reach your product page…

… and then they start checking out the rest of your site. Five minutes later they leave without purchasing. What’s happening here?

The problem with a regular product page is it allows people to leave the page and browse the site. This is fine for consumers who reach your site through organic searches or other avenues, but counter-productive for those who reached it through targeted ads for a particular product.

On the other hand, a click-through landing page removes all distractions. This keeps the focus on the offer – the reason the prospect clicked – and leaves them with two options: buy now or lose the deal forever.

Landing pages offer a lower attention ratio

Though there aren’t many marketers employing this in their Facebook ads for e-commerce (yet), there’s evidence that shows it’s an effective tactic for PPC in general.

Avis had a very successful PPC campaign that delivered lots of traffic to their company website – but the traffic wasn’t converting to sales. They ran an A/B test that uncovered the crux of the problem.

avis
The landing page with only one CTA and no distractions resulted in 105% more conversions for Avis. Image source.

The page on the left had a poor attention ratio, giving visitors several potential options that distracted from the main goal of the campaign.

On the other hand, the PPC traffic sent to a dedicated landing page without distractions (right) increased conversions by 105%.

Landing pages offer better message match

The second advantage of a click-through landing page (which Avis also employed in the example above) is that you can change the headline and copy to match your ad without having to tamper with the regular product page.

When your customer clicks through, you want to demonstrate to them that they’re in the right place. A great way to do this is to keep your messaging consistent across the ad and the landing page.

Here’s an ad that appeared in my Facebook account from Blizzard, the creators of World of Warcraft (yeah, I used to play video games). The ad has a headline that doubles as a call to action, and the ad copy emphasizes the word “free” as incentive to click.

warcraft1-1

After the click, you’re taken to a landing page with a sign-up form for the game. There are no other links, no navigational menus or sidebars. One form, one CTA.

warcraft2

Best of all, the messaging is consistent: the word “Free” is reiterated in the header and CTA.


Continue the conversation you start in your Facebook ad on a dedicated landing page. #CRO
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Pick one strategy and get started today

These strategies aren’t “hacks” or quick fixes. It takes time to create customer personas, craft a persuasive offer and build landing pages.

However, the only way to start seeing better returns on your ad investment is to pick a strategy and get started today.

Have you used any of these strategies on your Facebook or social PPC ads? What were the results? Let me know in the comments!

– Siddharth Bharath

facebook-advertising-roi

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4 Strategies to Drive More E-Commerce Sales With Your Facebook Ads

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Dissecting Popup Anatomy: What Works & What Hurts Your Bottom Line

Popups get a bad rap.

To put it bluntly, people hate them.

There’s almost nothing online that’s more annoying than something getting in your way, interrupting your research, FORCING you to take time out just to close a window. Or worse—signing up for an email list you don’t care about just to keep reading.

Sure, things have gotten better from the all-out popup war that led to browser popup blockers, but just because the popup itself has gotten a little more sophisticated doesn’t mean it’s stopped being an unwelcome party guest.

Even in 2013, 70% of people thought irrelevant popups were really annoying, putting them on the same level as lottery scams.

popup anatomy

The popups we grew to hate. All caps yelling, the stench of desperation, and an all-out denial of the fact they’d already lost the reader’s interest.

Why They’re Still Around

But, let’s face it. Popups are still around and they aren’t going away anytime soon.

In fact, the reason they’re still around is because they work—better than almost any other lead generation strategy.

As annoying as the bad ones may be, marketers find popups nearly irreplaceable in increasing blog subscriptions and lead volumes.

In fact, Econsultancy found that an overlay can increase email opt-ins by 400%.

popup - placeitSource: Placeit.net

Bad Popup Anatomy: A List 6 Things NOT to Do

The flip side of this, though, is that a 400% increase in opt-ins doesn’t mean those subscribers are as high quality as the ones that actively seek you out.

Fortunately, you can use popups to dramatically increase your subscribers and leads while keeping quality in check.

When you break down the anatomy of a popup, there are good practices and bad practices, so we’ll explore both. But first, a list of anatomical characteristics to avoid:

1. Don’t use bully language
Your visitors aren’t stupid, so don’t treat them that way. You can’t trick them into giving you their email address by using clever wording and trickery. They can read right through it.

popup anatomy

There’s no need to insult your users like this. They’re intelligent people who can make their own decisions, so respect them for it.

2. Avoid being a conversion sell-out

Sometimes, less is more.

It’s entirely possible that 50 quality conversions can increase your bottom line more than 500 generic ones.

Don’t get caught up in the thrill of a 400% increase until you find out that it’s also significantly impacting your bottom line. When you do your A/B testing and data tracking, use the monetary value of each conversion as your deciding data, not just the number of conversions themselves.

3. Don’t use blanket popups
Blanket popups with generic messages don’t serve anyone, and may be irrelevant to your visitor, turning them off from your website and services forever.

For example, if you have a website that sells health supplements and you’ve got a popup pushing your latest weight loss pill, it might get in front of the eyes of a lot of people, but don’t show it to people who want to boost muscle mass.

Instead of blanket popups, customize them based on purchase and browsing history. At the very least, make them page-specific so you know you won’t be too far off the mark.

4. Don’t hide the X
You might be desperate for people to convert, but hiding the X and making it harder for people to get rid of your popup only makes visitors resent you more.

And, the less they resent you, the higher your chances are for a quality conversion.

5. Don’t get in the user’s way
People get online to do their own thing. They don’t want you to boss them around. If you’re going to use a popup that stops users from doing what they want, you need to have a very easy-to-see escape route.

Better yet, use a popup that doesn’t get in their way at all. It’s less irritating and you won’t get the annoying website reputation.

And the email IDs you do collect will be higher quality ones because it’s more of an elected opt-in than a forced one.

popup anatomy, bottom popup

Econsultancy’s popup is at the bottom of their page. It’s still noticeable, but doesn’t get in the way of scrolling, clicking and reading.

6. Don’t go popup crazy

In short, keep your popups in check and use them in moderation. Don’t use one on every single page, and definitely don’t use multiple popups per visit.

Choose a popup that offers the most value for each landing page, and employ it in a tactful manner. (Not right away, but ideally before they’ve already decided to close the window. Make Web World suggests a 30-second delay.)

The Anatomy of Page-Stopping Popups

Today, the most popular popups are light boxes and overlays. They increase opt-ins, but they do interrupt the user experience by forcing them to look at and interact with the popup.

lightbox, page-stopping popup

As soon as this page loads, a popup stops me from reading and requests me to like their Facebook page, even though I’ve already done so.

There’s a good side and a bad side to both of these, so you can’t really have a 100% win either way: to use them or not.

Since you know you visitors better than anyone else, you’ve got to decide whether or not the leads you get are worth interrupting your user experience and annoying them a little bit. A short stint of A/B testing should do the trick if you’re unsure. But these pros and cons will help you decide where to start:

Pros of Page-Stopping Popups

  • A significant increase in the number of leads and opt-in conversions
  • The ability to catch a reader’s eye with special value offers
  • Can use customized versions of popups to optimize online sales funnels

Cons of Page-Stopping Popups

  • Renders the site useless and forces readers to interact with something against their will
  • Lowering the quality of the visitor experience in exchange for lower quality leads
  • With too many, people become annoyed with your site and may stop visiting

The Anatomy of Hello Bar

Another, more recent popup option that doesn’t impede so much on the user experience is the Hello Bar.

It’s an app that lets you design custom bars that display across the top or bottom of your page—visible to the visitor while he’s scrolling and reading, but doesn’t force him to interact.

Depending on your goals, you can customize formats to drive traffic to a specific URL, collect email addresses, or promote your social media pages.

Even though it doesn’t get directly in the face of the visitor, it’s helped businesses like DIY Themes gain more than 1,000 extra blog subscribers in one month.

hello bar, popup anatomy, more subscribers

When creating your Hello Bar, you get to choose which goal most suits your needs: more traffic, more subscribers, or more social media followers.

Effective Popup Anatomy: 5 Things You SHOULD Do

Though popups get a bad rap for their ability to irritate Web surfers, their reputation shouldn’t stop you from trying them out.

There are ways you can actually make popups valuable rather than irritating, vastly increasing your leads and subscribers while making sure the leads have sales potential.

To make your popups effective:

  1. Be as unobtrusive as possible. To be clear this doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding overlay or page-stopping popups, but it does constant data checking if you do. For example, if you have a valuable well-designed overlay popup that gives you better bottom-line conversions than a message bar across the top of your page, use it. However, if the value of both are equal, opt for the message bar.
  2. Offer real value. Offer users something that will actually help them in return for their email address. Hint: “bi-weekly updates” isn’t nearly as valuable as “7 concrete ways to reduce your ad spend while increasing conversions.”
  3. Have a nice, minimalistic design. Use clear, direct wording with clear, direct images and design layout so your visitors know exactly what you’re offering them and whether or not they want to take part. Clarity wins over confusion every time.
  4. Use respectful language. Don’t try to shame your visitors into agreeing with your offer. It will only make them resent you for insulting their intelligence. Instead, when they feel respected, they’ll have respect for you in return.
  5. Use brand-friendly colors. Bright red and yellow are only acceptable in McDonald’s advertisements. In designing your popups, use your brand colors or colors your brand designer gave you in your color pallet.
popup design, popup anatomy, popup language

Social Triggers offers real value with their well-designed popup, while respecting the visitors who reject their offer.

What’s Worked for Your Business?

What are your thoughts on different kinds of popups? If you’re a marketer who’s employed popups in your on-page marketing, which types gave you the most improvement in your bottom line?

Check out some of Crazy Egg’s other posts on user experience, or read more articles by Chelsea Baldwin.

The post Dissecting Popup Anatomy: What Works & What Hurts Your Bottom Line appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Dissecting Popup Anatomy: What Works & What Hurts Your Bottom Line