When Should You Stop an A/B Test?

So you’re running A/B tests like a good marketer should. But when are you declaring a test “done”? Is it when you reach 100 conversions per variation? No. Is it when you hit 95% statistical significance? No. Is it whenever the testing tool tells you? No. All of these are very common misconceptions. Let’s tackle […]

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When Should You Stop an A/B Test?

Switching From Adobe Fireworks To Sketch: Ten Tips And Tricks

Transitions can be painful. It is in our nature to resist change, even when the possibility of doing something new and different may be exciting. Changing your workflow can be a real challenge if you don’t know where to start or understand how to embark on the change.

Switching From Adobe Fireworks To Sketch: 10 Tips And Tricks

I’ve met with many designers (graphic, interaction, UI, etc.) who stick to old software because they are familiar and in their comfort zone, or because they are too scared to take the “leap of faith” and try something new (even when they know their old software does not allow them to work efficiently and effectively enough).

The post Switching From Adobe Fireworks To Sketch: Ten Tips And Tricks appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Switching From Adobe Fireworks To Sketch: Ten Tips And Tricks


7 Ways Bigshot Companies Delight Customers With Email

There aren’t many canonical examples of great email marketing, but CD Baby founder Derek Sivers is responsible for one.

Years before it was trendy to create kooky transactional emails, Sivers decided that his shipping confirmation email “felt really incongruent with [his] mission to make people smile.”

So he came up with something better:


That email triggered a cascade of goodwill and new business. In Derek’s own words:

That one goofy e-mail created thousands of new customers.

When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world-changing massive-action plans.

But it’s often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all their friends about you.

One witty email won’t change your business, but a series of little moments can create a great experience for your customers and keep them coming back. Those moments can pad your bottom line too. Even just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%.

This got me thinking — who else is using email to delight their customers?

I went searching through my own inbox for examples and came up with seven great ones. These companies aren’t relying on email to do the heavy lifting, they’re sewing a customer-centric mindset into the fabric of their business.

These examples may seem minute. In some case, they are. But little details — no matter how small — get noticed. These emails all make their recipients life a little easier, better or happier. And that’s something we should all aspire to.

1. Starbucks – Make your customer’s day

You’ve got a free drink waiting!

The Starbucks rewards program delivers good news all the time. The result is happy customers (like me) who are eager to open their emails.


What I love about the email below is that it simply delivers good news. It doesn’t ask the customers to take any action.


This is a good example of an email as a layer in a customer-centric company. The only reason the email is sent at all is because of the rewards program — you can’t send an email like this without a good relationship.

Watsi, a non-profit crowd-funding platform, leads with customer satisfaction in mind. Co-founder Grace Garey summed this strategy up nicely in First Round Review:

You want to have at least one email that’s designed solely to make people’s day.

2. Blue Apron – Over-deliver

The Blue Apron newsletter signup on their website is pretty convincing. A new recipe every week? Sure, I’ll sign up.


What Blue Apron doesn’t tell you, though, is that subscribers also get free food. Here’s the welcome email they send a few minutes after the new subscriber signs up:


Blue Apron could use the free food as a hook to get new subscribers, but they don’t because it’s their way of delighting the subscriber. It’s an unexpected surprise.

Death to the Stock Photo does this as well. When I interviewed co-founder David Sherry, he told me they’ve built over-delivering into their business:

A lot of companies will say, “Join our list and get a free e-book.” We don’t say that. But when people sign up, we give them something free. It’s a nice surprise.

And who doesn’t like a nice surprise?

3. Product Hunt – Be helpful

Notifications like this one walk a fine line:


On one hand, it’s another email in the inbox. But on the other, Product Hunt recognized that eight of my friends are all interested in the same product. They included their names or photos in the email as social proof. It makes sense that I’d be interested too.

I actually really appreciated this email since it was so contextual. It kept me in the loop without begging for my attention.

Be careful with emails like this as it’s easy to annoy people. This one works because it’s triggered as a result of my network’s common interest. You’ll need some smart engineering to pull this off but if you can do it and do it well, you’ll be providing extra value to customers.

4. Hover – Don’t ask for anything in return

I almost never receive emails from Hover. When I do, it’s something useful like this. I’m so used to getting value and utility from their emails that I always open them.

The best part? They don’t ask for anything in return.


There are so many ways to deliver utility in the inbox and updates like this are one of them. Your customers deserve to be informed about product updates, security issues and changes to their account. Send them emails that deliver value without asking for anything in return.

It feels more like correspondence than marketing, and your customers will appreciate it.

5. Intercom – Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

This is the email Intercom sends when you request one of their books:


It might take a minute to realize what is special about it…

Got it? You can download the book in three different formats!

That may not seem like a big deal, but think about how you read long-form content. PDFs are great on a desktop computer but the Kindle format is preferable if you open the email on a tablet or smartphone.

No matter which device or platform customers are using, the emails you send (and their attachments) should create an awesome experience for readers. It’s all about putting yourself in their shoes.

Intercom does just that, which makes receiving this email a pleasure.

6. Evernote – Make customers feel accomplished

When you sign up for a new Evernote account, they send a series of five onboarding emails.


In the subject line of each email, they tell you where you are in the series. It’s a progress bar that sets an expectation for more educational emails in the future. There is quite a bit of science behind this strategy, according to marketer Taige Zhang:

…People want progress bars. But why are they so powerful and effective for engagement?

It’s because, as people, we are driven to:

1. Have goals; and then
2. Accomplish goals.

We inherently feel good about achieving something. Dr. Hugo Liu from MIT and Hunch.com says in his article Need to Complete, “It turns out that when you finish a complex task, your brain releases massive quantities of endorphins.”

Building this into your onboarding helps users feel accomplished. And because Evernote broke down their app into small, digestible chunks, it’s easy to get started. Everyone is happy.

(Psst. I wrote an entire case study on these five emails, which you can read here.)

7. ProFlowers – Make things easy

Replenishment emails are one of the easiest ways to make your customers’ day. It’s surprisingly hard to find good examples, but this one arrived in my inbox recently:


Last year, I bought my mom flowers for her birthday. Eleven months later, they sent this email, reminding me that my mom’s birthday is coming up. The savings is nice but the real value here is that it makes it easy for me to be a good son. :)

This is a good example of contextual marketing. It’s personalized based on my past purchase history and arrives at just the right time.

Over to you

It’s not hard to make your customers smile. If you have 30 minutes to check Facebook and Twitter, then you have time to add personality to your marketing.

Have you received an email that made you smile recently? Let us know in the comments.

Mint retention email-560

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7 Ways Bigshot Companies Delight Customers With Email

11 ways to stop FOOC’ing your A/B tests

Work long enough in Conversion Optimization and you will hear this phrase:

“We tried [insert popular a/b testing tool], but there was a latency issue so we stopped testing.”

In 95% of cases, by “latency issue” they’re referring to the noticeable flicker or flash of the original version of a website before test changes are seen. It even has its own acronym: FOOC (Flash of Original Content)*. Here’s a beautiful example I created on the WiderFunnel home page:

An example of FOOC I created. This is not how you want to be A/B Testing.

Why does FOOC matter?

According to a team of MIT neuroscientists, the human brain can identify images in as little as 13 milliseconds.

FOOC can take longer — from 100 ms up to a whole second. Your website visitors will notice.

Is that always a bad thing? No, as David Hauser of Grasshopper discovered:

“Our A/B testing tool had a bug that delayed the $25 activation fee from being crossed out until a few seconds after the page loaded. This error ended up creating a much larger uplift than having it already crossed out on load, when the bug was fixed. The result now is that the activation fee shows, and then is crossed out after a few seconds.”

Sometimes, FOOC is a good thing as seen on the Grasshopper pricing page. Source: Unbounce

That insight came from a lucky side-effect of the FOOC error, but most times it’s not a good thing.

Whether good or bad, you need to get a handle on your FOOC. It hinders your ability to run controlled experiments. If your variation content is appearing with a flicker every time your page loads, how do you know what effect that’s having on your results?

You don’t, unless you isolate the flicker.

Why does FOOC happen in the first place?

All client-side A/B testing tools are inherently susceptible to FOOC.

“Client-side” means that the changes in your test are being applied as your web page loads, through a tag on your website. This is how the most popular tools on the market do it.

AB testing Optimizely snippet A diagram showing how Optimizely’s snippet works. Source: Optimizely

The client-side nature of these tools is what makes them so easy to get started with: a solo marketer has the ability to launch experiments without the need for a development team. It’s what makes the WYSIWYG Visual Editor a reality.

But that selling point comes at a price. For page changes to occur, a couple things must happen: the snippet of the tool must load and the page elements being modified must load. If either takes too long, your A/B test is in the gutter.

Luckily for us all, there are ways around the challenges of client-side tools.

Follow the eleven tips below, and even if you’re a noob jQuery dabbler, you’ll be able to launch FOOC-free experiments.

1. Speed up your website

Besides being one of the proven ways to increase conversion rates, speeding up your website is a first step in helping prevent flickering or long waits during A/B tests. My favorite tool for this has always been WebpageTest.org. Simple, free, effective. Have your front-end development team look into some of the issues and track performance over time.

abtesting-fooc-5Continue to check your site over time, as small changes can have a big impact on speed.

2. Put your snippet where it needs to go

I’ve seen snippets in footers and I’ve seen them served via Google Tag Manager. Don’t do either. For example, Optimizely’s needs to go as high up as possible in the <head>.

abtesting-fooc-6Whenever possible, move your snippet up to the top of your <head>, assuming you have trimmed jQuery in the snippet.

The drawback is that, yes, Optimizely will be adding a few milliseconds of load time to your pages when loaded for the first time. We haven’t found it to be an issue unless the remaining suggestions aren’t followed.

3. Reduce the size of your snippet

Archive any paused experiments and draft experiments that you don’t need the preview links to and load only a trimmed version of jQuery (this is especially important when loading your snippet at the top of your <head> tag). This will reduce the size of the snippet being loaded on your website, mostly affecting first time visitors.


Archive those experiments taking up space in your snippet.

4. Roll up hotfixes

If you’re using your testing tool as a way to make fixes to your website, roll those changes up into project code rather than running them in a separate experiment. If you’re one of many who don’t have access to project-level code, then implement that code along with your current experiment.

abtesting-fooc-8Put “hotfix” code into your project code rather than in an individual experiment.

5. Order your variation code to match your website code

If you’re changing something at the top of your web page, position that change at the top of your variation code. jQuery waits until it finds the element on the page to make the change. If that element comes earlier than later, it will move on to the next line.

This way the content at the top of your website gets changed as quickly as possible.


If using jQuery in your variation code, order it so that you’re making changes in the same order that elements load on your website.

6. Consolidate your variation code

If you want to up the size of your headline and change the color, do so in one swift line. If you decide later that you want to reduce the size of the headline, update your existing code rather than adding another line of code to make the reduction in size.

abtesting-fooc-10Group changes into one and remove unused changes.

In conjunction to consolidating code, when making changes via the Visual Editor, keep the scope of your changes to the most specific HTML element possible. Rather than selecting “#mainbody” to modify the attributes of a sub-element, select that sub-element to begin with.

7. Temporarily hide the <body>

No matter how fast your website is, if your original content is loading before your variation code has time to run, you will experience FOOC. To get around this, you’ll need to quickly hide, then show the <body> of your page.

In your experiment-level JavaScript, force Optimizely to run the following:

abtesting-fooc-11Hide the body of the page as quickly as possible by forcing it at the experiment-level.

This hides the <body> as fast as possible, assuming you’ve placed the snippet at the top of the <head>. Then, in your variation code, put a fail-safe (say 3 seconds) to show the body again if something goes wrong.

Insert your variation code after that.

Finally, make the body visible again. Note the 500 millisecond timer on this one. Keep it as low as possible, just enough to avoid a flicker. After all, FOOC is still better than a really slow loading website.

Be sure to customize your timers to make sense for your website and the test you’re running.

This gets rid of any flashing of original content (assuming your snippet is not loading asynchronously or too late on the page). The potential drawback is a perceived slowness of the website on first load. That’s why you set a timer to make sure the body is shown before a set threshold.

8. Learn front-end development fundamentals

For those of us who never made it past the “Hello World” lesson in JavaScript 101, it’s a good idea to round out your front-end development knowledge. You don’t need to become a coder, you just need to be able to understand how it works.

It takes no more than a weekend to learn the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery — the building blocks of DOM manipulation. Head to a free (and fun!) resource like Codecademy to get started.

abtesting-fooc-13Brush up on your front-end development.

Starting here, most of us will need a front-end developer’s help (I’ll admit, I got help from our dev team for this part). If that’s not an option, don’t worry: with the tips above, you should be able to launch FOOC-free tests. Like this article so far? Let me know! 

Now on to steps 9 through 11:

9. Use CSS as much as possible

By default, Optimizely and VWO visual editors produce your edits via jQuery, even for simple things like changing colors. CSS is a faster way to go, whenever feasible.

Instead of this:

Do this in the Edit Code window:

And add this to the Experiment CSS (or an external stylesheet):

10. Cache your selectors

The DOM is slow. To avoid making redundant calls to it, store selectors you’ll be re-using as jQuery objects. In the example below, 3 changes are being made to the same selector.

abtesting-fooc-17Cache selectors you’ll be re-using to avoid going back into the DOM.

11. Code your variations in raw JavaScript

A/B testing visual editors spit jQuery into the code window. jQuery was created to overcome cross-browser issues and save development time. It’s a library of JavaScript shortcuts.

To change the background color of an element in jQuery it goes something like this:

$('.cta').css('background', 'red');

Now the same thing in raw JavaScript:

document.querySelectorAll(".cta")[0].style.backgroundColor = "red";

While the development time savings is significant, it comes at a cost. As with any JavaScript library, jQuery code runs slower than raw JavaScript.

How much slower? Depends on what you’re doing. Without much digging, I found a non-scientific test that resulted in a difference of 60x in performance between jQuery and JavaScript. It’s not significant evidence, but it points to potential speed gains.

Coding some or parts of your variations in raw JavaScript also means that your dev team will have to put in extra time to produce your A/B tests. You’ll want to strike a balance between improving code efficiency and productivity. For more on the topic of JavaScript and jQuery, I urge you to check out this very informative thread on StackExchange.

If you’re using one of the newer schmancy JavaScript frameworks, there are options for writing variation code. Here are some resources to help:

Watch the accompanying Opticon presentation here.

  • Optimizely has published quite a bit on how to deal with sites using angular or other single page app-type situations.

Are those all of the ways to reduce the chances of FOOC? Certainly not. Feel free to add suggestions or questions in the comments below. We can make this an AMA of sorts, regarding FOOC.

FAQs about FOOC

  • Can I use asynchronous loading to avoid FOOC? You can try, but it probably won’t work. Asynchronous loading addresses a separate issue: helping with overall site speed, not FOOC. Given the speed of modern CDNs, snippets loading synchronously should be the least of your concerns. But, if you’re like our neighbors here in Vancouver, PlentyOfFish, with a bajillion users hitting their site at the same time, you may want to be considerate of what and how things load on your pages.
  • Can I use a server-side / proxy testing tool to avoid FOOC? You could, but say good-bye to most of the benefits of a client-side tool.
  • I noticed a major slow down when I added XYZ A/B testing tool on my website. Should I switch to a more popular tool like Optimizely or VWO? Perhaps. There are some tools out there that don’t use distributed CDNs and that include jQuery by default in their snippet. Yes, some will slow down your website.

PS: If you’re an Optimizely power-user, consider checking out a project by WiderFunnel Labs, Liftmap, a great way to increase your A/B testing velocity by managing your CRO workflow.

* As opposed to Flash of Unstyled Content, which refers to a separate problem, usually unrelated to A/B testing.

The post 11 ways to stop FOOC’ing your A/B tests appeared first on WiderFunnel.

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How to Create Credible Content (Even if No One Knows You Exist!)

We all have them. Those marketing mavens and industry gurus we follow for insights and ideas on how to build our business better. But what makes them worth following, and what can you learn from their efforts? Credibility can’t be bought. You can’t run down to the store and purchase a gallon drum of the […]

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How to Create Credible Content (Even if No One Knows You Exist!)

The Dreaded AdWords Plateau and What You Can Do About It [PODCAST]

Are your AdWords campaigns plateauing? Image via Flickr.

Have you ever run a PPC campaign that was working pretty well, but never seemed to get to the next level?

You may have experienced what PPC insiders call the “AdWords Plateau,” the point where your campaigns are maintaining their value, but are no longer driving the kind of growth you need.

So, do you just sit back and rest on your laurels? Heck no! We want your campaigns to always be converting better. That’s why in this episode of the Call to Action podcast, we talk to Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo, about advanced AdWords tactics that can push your campaigns up and off the plateau.

You will learn:

  • Why categorizing your campaigns based on product can be holding you back.
  • The importance of geography in AdWords.
  • How one company added a call extension and increased mobile leads by 110%.

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo.

Stephanie Saretsky: Hey podcast listeners, I’m Stephanie Saretsky and you’re listing to Call to Action, a podcast about creating better marketing experiences — powered by Unbounce.

Are you running PPC campaigns? Are your results pretty good but you never seemed to be able to get them to be even better? You may have experienced what PPC insiders call the “AdWords Plateau,” the point when your campaigns are maintaining their value, but aren’t doing any better and aren’t doing any worse. So, do you just sit back on your laurels? Heck no! We want your campaigns to always be converting better. That’s why our Content Strategist Dan Levy got in touch with Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo, about advanced AdWords hacks that can push your campaigns up and off the plateau. Take a listen to this.

Dan: Before we get into brass tacks, let’s talk about the infamous AdWords performance plateau. What is it, and how do I know if I’ve reached it?

Igor: You know, if you’ve been advertising on AdWords for a long time and have been trying different tweaks in your campaign, and you come across that moment where you’re sort of like, “Hmm, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get the number of conversions up from week to week, can’t seem to get this CPA down any further.” That’s kind of what I think of as the plateau. And if you’ve optimized AdWords campaigns for a while, it happens and it comes pretty quickly if you’re good at this.

Dan: So what are some signs that you’ve reached a plateau and it’s time to try something new?

Igor: Honestly, I think the biggest thing is that those metrics are staying steady. Can’t seem to get over a certain number of weekly conversions, can’t seem to get under a certain CPA. If other metrics are staying unchanged or you can’t get them higher or better than they were last week, that’s definitely a sign. Especially if you’re doing rigorous testing in the account. If you’ve got an A/B test on your ads live at all times and still, no matter what, you’ve got incumbent ads always beating the new variants, that’s an indicator that the account’s in pretty good shape. It means that things might have plateaued.

Dan: And of course, things are in good shape, then – it’s a good problem to have, but you always want to be optimizing and doing better, of course. So, one of the more common challenges that I think performance marketers find themselves butting up against has to do with the volume. Can you explain why I might want to get more campaign traffic and what I can do to get that?

Igor: So everybody’s looking for more traffic if it’s qualified. It’s easy to spend money on AdWords on traffic that isn’t qualified, so put that asterisk next to the idea of more traffic and why you would want it. But let’s say that you’re getting good traffic through AdWords and you want to get more of it. Basically, there’s two ways that you can get more traffic through AdWords. #1 is expanding your keyword approach and different topics that you want to capture searchers on. #2 is actually creating better performing campaigns. So you might only be able to get a certain percentage of the impression share available on your terms if your ads are not kind of very historically vetted and have been shown to Google to perform really well. Once you pass that test — once you kind of show Google that you can drive consistent performance and you’re going to keep spending in that area and you’re going to outperform in a consistent way the other competitors in that space — you’re going to be able to get more volume. Because Google will trust your ad. Google will know if they serve it a certain number of times a day, they’ll make a certain amount of money from people clicking that ad and you’ll be happy from the results from a conversion standpoint and ROI standpoint. So it’s not a risk for Google. So those are the two main ways to increase traffic.

Dan: And of course, getting more traffic, though, usually means spending more money. How do you know if it’s worth cranking up the budget for that?

Igor: Well, like any performance marketer, I would tell you that if you’re making more money than you’re spending, you’re in good shape. But that’s where people start talking about the concept of lifetime value. You know, sometimes the conversion that you’re tracking in AdWords doesn’t trace all the way back to the credit card or the revenue that comes back to your business. So when you’ve got a sophisticated enough model, when you can take into account lifetime value, if you can feed that back into AdWords through their offline conversions import feature, you can really be in good shape to understand your overall ROI.

Dan: Well, the next tactic, now that we’ve got the basics down, the next one that you look at in your post has to do with lowering cost per acquisition. Most marketers manage CPA by campaign or keyword and ad group. But you’re right that this means that you’re prioritizing search topics over the searcher herself or himself. What do you mean by that?

Igor: So if you’re just adjusting bids based on a specific keyword, basically what you’re telling Google is red shoes are converting better than blue shoes. What you’re ignoring, potentially, is the person that’s typing that in and what experience they’re going to have when they click through to your site. So in the case of an ecommerce site, where maybe you’ve got a high-ticket item and a very considered purchase, maybe the desktop version of the site converts better than mobile, because sometimes it’s tougher to make an ecommerce buy on your mobile device. It’s small and there’s a lot of different options. And so if you’re not optimizing bids at the device level, for example – and there are other dimensions too like geography and we’ll talk about that later – then you’re really doing yourself a disservice to just focus on the thing being searched and not also the searcher and what experience they’re having coming to your site.

Dan: Ultimately, you’re trying to reach a person, so user intent is something that I think maybe some marketers forget about but really should be driving your campaign for the most part, right?

Igor: Absolutely.

Dan: I’d like to dive into device type. Can you take us through what making bid adjustments looks like in the context of a mobile campaign?

Igor: So we just talked about the example of an ecommerce site where you might have a better desktop experience than mobile, and thus your mobile CPA might be higher so you might want to adjust your bids down on mobile to account for that. There’s also the possibility that your mobile experience is the primary experience and you want to bid up on the mobile ads. So an example of that might be that you’re advertising for your restaurant and you want somebody to set up a reservation on OpenTable. That’s something that people often do on their mobile device and they want to have a map handy of the restaurant. They’re not going to be doing that as often from their desktop. So in that scenario, you might bid up by 50 percent on mobile devices and not so much on desktop.

Dan: Another way to adjust bids is by geography, since some products and services convert differently in different places. I get how someone selling raincoats would want to focus on Seattle rather than Phoenix, for example. But could you explain why a marketer in a less tangible place-based industry like SaaS or healthcare or education would want to adjust their bids geographically?

Igor: Yeah, it’s a really good question. But you’d be surprised when you go into the dimensions tab in AdWords. Sometimes it’ll go into a campaign and California has a $40.00 CPA and in Illinois, we’re looking at a $150.00 CPA. Like why would that be? But it happens. The raincoat example is the one that Google kind of gives and that makes sense to everybody. In software as a service, it might be something more subtle. For example, we have a client that’s in usability testing software. And they get a lot of university students going and searching for their software to go and play around with the idea of usability testing and what it means. And those university students aren’t going to be great converters. But you know, in the name of education, they’ll go and click through and look around. And so you might have, in a university town like Berkeley, California, a lot of people kind of going that route and so not converting as often. Whereas across the bay in San Francisco where you have lots of tech startups, there might actually be buyers of the usability testing software. For them, you might have a lower CPA and better converting numbers. So that’s just a scenario where in micro geography, you might have higher bids for San Francisco where you have the tech startups and lower bids for Berkeley, which is a college town.

Dan: That makes sense. Google suggests that you make bid adjustments in the 15 percent range. Why – what’s so magical about that particular number? Do you know?

Igor: That’s a good question. Google usually suggests this; the reps often talk about the 10 to 15 percent range. And I think the reason really is that Google AdWords is a sensitive machine. And if you go in and start tweaking levers at 30 or 50 percent bid increases, there’s not as much stability to that and it can take longer to learn. Whereas if you go gradually, you can learn more and I think you can learn more quickly. I think gradual is the key to a lot of things in AdWords, not just the adjustments.

Dan: So it’s sort of Google giving a hint a little bit about how their algorithm works there?

Igor: I think so.

Dan: Yeah, a lot of AdWords is reading the Google tea leaves, isn’t it?

Igor: I think so.

Dan: The last conversion that you suggest optimizing your AdWords campaign for is click-through rates. Before we get into some of the techs about how to do that, when might you find yourself in a situation where it makes sense to optimize for clicks?

Igor: Yeah. So I think the main caveat here is of course, clicks are good but conversions are better, right? So it’s not that I’m saying you want to go out and get as many clicks as possible, because that can be expensive. But click-through rate has long been known to be the main determinant of Quality Score, which is Google’s 1 to 10 scale of how good of a search result your ad is, in the end, as an experience for the visitor. And the better experience that your ad provides, the more often Google is going to serve that ad, and also the less Google is going to charge you to put that ad in the top three spots because they know that it’s going to get clicked because it’s just such a good quality ad. And so by getting your click-through up and optimizing for clicks, you’re actually going to improve that Quality Score and hopefully take it to the 7, 8, 9, 10 out of 10 range. And that’s really going to help you from a cost perspective and from an impression share perspective. I would say the other reason to optimize for clicks is just if you’re in a very competitive SEM landscape. So if you’re in real estate, if you’re in legal, every qualified click counts. And so getting that impression share optimizing for clicks can be the life blood of your account.

Dan: Yeah, Quality Score I guess is another one of those things that’s a little bit mysterious and Google doesn’t give a whole lot of advice about how to get that up. So I suppose anything counts.

Igor: Exactly.

Dan: So let’s talk about ad extensions, which are one of the key ways that you can set up your PPC campaigns and set them apart from noobs and competitors. So what are ad extensions? What do they look like and why should marketers get really excited about them?

Igor: There’s a couple of different types of ad extensions. I’ll just call out a few. There’s site links, which are up to four different links that will show up underneath your ad headline and will point to specific content on your site; so not just to the landing page that your main ad headline links to, but to an “about us” page, or a partnership integrations page or testimonials page or something like that. The other exciting thing about the site links extension, though, is that it really gives you more real estate on the page. So if you are fortunate enough to have your ads show up in those top three spots in Google, you’re going to take up more room when they show those four site link extensions and so you kind of get more billboard real estate out of that.

Dan: Is there a tradeoff there, though? Because you’re also distracting people from getting to that landing page where the conversion actually takes place, no?

Igor: That’s a really good point and something I’ve had to attack with a client this week — you might have people going to another place on the site that’s less of a direct path to conversion. And so what that tells me is: man, every page on this site has got to have a strong call to action. Even if you’re telling people about your great quality of work and where your product is made and all that type of more informational stuff, you’ve got to have a call to action on the page and be able to point people toward the conversion that way. Otherwise, the site links could well distract more than they add.

Dan: Wouldn’t it depend, then, on where the user that you’re targeting is in your customer lifecycle? Like if it’s a little bit more of a lead gen or brand awareness play, then those site links getting that attention might be worth it. But if you’re looking for that conversion, then maybe not?

Igor: Yeah, that can absolutely make a difference. Another way the companies will use it is that a player like Zappos might have a site link that’s all about their free returns and how you can return something for 365 days out of the year. They might think that if they work that into their 35 character description one line, that’s okay. But having a whole site link and page and description of that policy can be really beneficial for them because that’s one of the big reasons that people buy from Zappos.

Dan: Interesting. So in a way, it’s just a way – well, I guess that’s why it’s called an extension, right? It’s a way to extend your ad and your messaging without –

Igor: Absolutely.

Dan: – messing up your peppy headline, I guess.

Igor: That’s right. And there’s a couple other versions of the extension, also. There’s location extensions for brick and mortar business to show the location of it, there’s call extensions which will bring in a phone number right there into your ad. And there’s a callout extension, which is not a clickable piece of text but it allows you to put a couple of dinger benefits right below your ad about your service.

Dan: I wanted to ask you about the call extension. Can you talk about how an organization called A Place for Mom added a call extension and increased their mobile leads by 110 percent in the process?

Igor: Yeah, absolutely. So A Place for Mom is one of Google’s case studies and they’re in elder care. And you know, at the end of the day, it’s pretty obvious. You add a call extension, you allow people who are searching for information about your service on mobile to call in rather than using the form on your site. And of course they’re going to call so it makes sense that they were able to increase calls. But I think that the real takeaway from this one is that calls can be a much more qualified lead than somebody who just fills out a form on your website. Because what ends up happening is sales teams that call on leads that submit through a landing page form, they’ll usually find that at least half of the submissions are not good leads for whatever reason; either they can’t reach them on the phone number, or by the time they get a call from the sales rep, they’ve filled out three other forms of competitors and so they’re going with a different option. Somebody who’s calling you right there on the spot, they’ve made a lot more effort to pick up the phone and get in touch with you. And something like eldercare in this example — there are lots of other businesses like this. It can be something that people want to talk through on the phone and not just read a couple of bullet points on a landing page and submit a form. And so these people that are calling are treasured leads. They should be viewed as a lead that maybe would be willing to pay three or four times as much to Google to get that lead.

Dan: Yeah. Again, it goes back to that user’s intent and where they are in your funnel, and whether it makes more sense to get them on the phone right away, or what you really want to be doing is getting their email address so you could continue to nurture them through the funnel until it’s time to maybe ask for that big conversion. So yeah, in most cases, the conversion doesn’t happen over the phone but it does happen on that landing page. Can you leave us with one tip for optimizing your PPC landing pages for more conversions?

Igor: Yeah. You know, I think that the last couple years, the trend has really been minimalist text: the idea that people don’t read so much on a landing page and really having a bare bones form where we don’t ask for a lot of fields. So the trend has been don’t ask too much of the consumer. But there’s a flip side to that. I think trustworthiness is one of the main reasons that people do choose to give their information on a landing page. And so sometimes it can take a little bit of content to build that trust. So I guess maybe the tip is this: if I see a great testimonial with a picture of the person that it’s coming from, and it’s from somebody who is just right in my demographic. So I’m a cofounder of a marketing firm. If I see this tool that – I’m looking at their landing page – is used by an executive at a marketing agency and he’s saying, “Man, this tool saved us a bunch of money and you’ve got to try it,” coupled with a lot of other landing page elements that kind of build out the case for that tool, I’m much more likely to convert than if somebody is just using a snappy headline, a really short form, and really bare bones content.

Dan: Yeah, it’s amazing how many marketers still don’t include that sort of social proof on their landing page. That said, our cofounder Oli used to say that 99 percent of marketers still aren’t even sending their AdWords traffic to a dedicated landing page. I think recently he said it’s gotten a little bit better so it’s more like 98 percent. I don’t know what you’re seeing, but where do you think we are, actually, with the state of AdWords and using dedicated landing pages for PPC campaigns, and why do you think most – or why do you think more marketers still aren’t doing it?

Igor: It’s something that’s been changing a lot and certainly there’s really sophisticated companies out there that are building out highly specific landing pages for every search term. I think that, at the end of the day, it takes resources to build these dedicated pages. And so in the spirit of minimum viable product and kind of straw manning something together to get proof out of AdWords before you go and put a lot of technical resources behind it, a lot of companies and a lot of our clients will build kind of the minimum viable landing page approach, which will not necessarily be super specific, keyword by keyword and ad group by ad group. And once they see that work well, one of the optimization steps that we recommend, months down the road after that, is to build out a very specific approach. But it can be really tough to get technical resources devoted to that type of thing and you have to believe in Google AdWords, you have to believe in landing pages that are highly tailored and really put the money there and make it happen and make it beautiful.

Dan: If only there were a tool to help you easily build landing pages.

Igor: Wild idea.

Dan: Shameless plug. Cool. Well, thanks for sharing all these really insightful tips and for the great post, Igor. It was great to chat.

Igor: Dan, thank you.

Stephanie: That was Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


The Dreaded AdWords Plateau and What You Can Do About It [PODCAST]

Space Yourself

There’s more to spaces than the key you instinctively hit with one of your thumbs between words. Let’s find out what other space characters there are, what their heritage is, and how they can be useful today.

Space Yourself

What you see below are two tweets. In one of them, Paul Irish will be notified of my taunt. In the other one, he’ll be completely oblivious. What’s the difference between the two? Read on!

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Space Yourself

How To Improve Conversions On Your Pricing Page And Make The Sale

“It’s all about the money,” says Kevin O’Leary on Shark Tank. Robert Herjavec, who’s heard it numerous times before, looks at Kevin in mock surprise and says, “It’s all about the what?” “It’s all about the money!” You’ve attracted visitors to your site, you’ve informed them, even seduced them, and now it’s time for the […]

The post How To Improve Conversions On Your Pricing Page And Make The Sale appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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How To Improve Conversions On Your Pricing Page And Make The Sale

Can SSL, Trust Seals and Other Security Indicators Increase Conversions?

Imagine you’re in the waiting room at the “Smiles 4 Dayz” dental office. There’s some standard elevator music playing, and everything seems pretty average.

Except that, as you’re filling out the new patient form, you notice there aren’t any dental school diplomas lining the walls of the office (not one…). Even more curious, the form lists the dentist as simply “Mrs. Liza Hoover,” not “Dr. Hoover, PhD, M.Sc.” Finally, when your name is called, the receptionist asks loudly for your social security number while others look on.

Visitor anxiety

Now, this is an exaggerated example, but these subtle (and not-so-subtle) red flags would likely have you questioning this dentist’s credibility.

Point being? You could be evoking the same type of visitor anxiety on your landing pages unwittingly, and losing out on conversions from visitors who can’t decide whether or not to trust you.

These days, 77% of website visitors worry that their personal data could be intercepted or misused online, so that lead gen form on your landing page could be causing more anxiety (and bounces!) than you realize.

Luckily, there are simple measures you can take to reassure visitors that your pages are secure — thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.

SSL to the rescue!

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an industry standard security measure that creates an encrypted link between your landing pages and your visitor’s browser. It encrypts data in transmission and ensures that contact info sent through your landing page forms is secure.

Visitors to your landing pages can see whether you’re serving up secure page based on the ‘HTTPS’ and the small green padlock icon that’ll appear in the address bar:


These two, small visual cues reassure visitors their contact info is safe when submitted through your landing page, and it’s been found that close to half of website visitors check for security indicators like these before they’ll hand over personal information in a form.

Does SSL impact the way visitors perceive your page?

Depending on the importance of perceived security in your industry, you could be leaving conversions on the table if you don’t serve up your pages securely. As GlobalSign, a web-trust certificate provider discovered, 84% of website visitors surveyed said they would abandon a purchase if they knew the data was going to be sent over an insecure connection.

Moreover, because Google prioritizes making the web a safer place for everyone, in 2014 they announced they were using HTTPS as a ranking signal in their search ranking algorithm. Although HTTPS was more of a lightweight signal than high-quality content, Google did say that they might strengthen the signal over time, and ultimately encouraged everyone to swap from HTTP to HTTPS.

As far as your landing pages are concerned, it can’t hurt to take security more seriously, especially in industries like healthcare, finance, security-related tech, and ecommerce (where faulty security can have much higher consequences than in other industries).

After all, your landing page for a finance product might not convert so well if visitors notice you didn’t care to serve it up securely to protect their personal information in transit. A quick swap over to HTTPS is a simple thing you can do today to improve your landing page visitor’s trust.

PRO TIP: SSL is enabled on Unbounce pages on Pro Accounts. Simply update all your current links directing to your landing page to begin with HTTPS, and you’re set!

What about trust seals?

Beyond changing your links to HTTPS, third-party security vendors often offer a security seal, or SSL badge, for you to feature on your ecommerce sites or landing pages with a bit of Javascript. These seals are often cited to correlate with higher conversion rates, but – depending on your use case – your mileage may vary.

Here’s a trust seal from GlobalSign as an example:


The effectiveness of these trust seals seems dependent on whether they’re recognized (some are more recognizable than others), but also on their prominence and usefulness to your audience at a particular time in the buying cycle.

A seal accompanying a final purchase confirmation page may fare well, but could hypothetically decrease trust and conversions if you include it too prominently across a multi-step ecommerce experience. Displaying the trust seal repeatedly may make visitors curious as to why you need to repeat that you’re secure (rather than simply state it once during initial checkout).

Blue Fountain Media cited a 42% increase in conversions with their A/B test of a VeriSign seal (see their A/B test variations below), and US Cutter have reported conversion lifts of 11% with the use of a Norton trust seal.


As with all things, however, running your own A/B test is the only way to determine whether security seals are a win for your landing pages.

Placement matters

As everyone will experience different results with a trust seal, it’s difficult to be prescriptive about their use. Chris Goward of WiderFunnel found, for example, that with one of their clients, a McAfee badge decreased conversions by 1.6%. However, as savvy commenters have noted, this could be due to the seal’s placement in the test.

You could choose to include a trust seal on a checkout or shopping cart confirmation page in the case of an ecommerce page, or you could simply swap all of your landing pages to HTTPS, skip the trust seal entirely, and see if you experience a difference in conversions. A simple swap to HTTPS might be enough for your audience to know you’re secure.

Note that if you do swap over to SSL, you’ll want to ensure all elements on your landing pages are secure (including videos, privacy policies, etc.) as the trust seal can’t be verified by a third-party security vendor if there are insecure items on the page.

Put your prospects at ease

When it comes down to it, security is becoming an increasingly important issue for people and marketers have to work to build their trust.

While design, copy and testimonials play a large part in conveying your company’s credibility, there are other factors to consider. Whether you’re creating a click-through ecommerce page, or simply collecting contact information through a lead gen form, you need to do everything you can to reinforce your trustworthiness and convey to customer that you care about their privacy and security.

SSL is just one way you can reassure your potential customers their info is safe with you.

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Can SSL, Trust Seals and Other Security Indicators Increase Conversions?

Intimate And Interruptive: Designing For The Power Of Apple Watch

“We’re all back at square one again.” That was the overwhelming lesson we learned while designing our first major Apple Watch app for launch. To be successful in designing for this device, the entire way we think about app design will need an overhaul.

Intimate And Interruptive: Designing For The Unique Power Of Apple Watch

The patterns and processes that became standard for other devices are of little help here and, in many cases, can actively hinder efforts to create a beautiful, functional and user-centric watch experience.

The post Intimate And Interruptive: Designing For The Power Of Apple Watch appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Intimate And Interruptive: Designing For The Power Of Apple Watch

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