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Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself With A/B Testing

check-yourself-ice-cube
Ice Cube thinks you should check yourself before you wreck yourself (with A/B testing). Image source.

If you’re a marketer, you likely already know the importance of A/B testing. But do you put your money where your mouth is? Are you testing as much as you could be?

You can’t go back in time and start running game-changing tests, but you can start testing right now.

At last year’s Call to Action Conference, Unbounce brought together three conversion rate optimization experts for their panel “Digital Marketing Through A Conversion Lens.” The panelists explained how to gamify testing, avoid assumptions and start testing smarter — and we’re bringing that knowledge directly to you.

What do these experts have to say about good tests, bad tests and everything in between? We’ve distilled their wisdom down to seven applicable tips.

1. Get all your colleagues involved and invested in A/B tests

In her past position as Head of Conversion Rate Optimization at Shopify, Tiffany Da Silva found that she wasn’t working as closely with her coworkers as she would have liked. Because she knew that more hands on deck equaled greater potential, she asked her SEM guy to set up and run a test with her – start to finish. She explained to him:

For you to understand what I do and for me to understand the problems that you’re having right now, we need to pick one keyword and follow it the whole way.

The results were dramatic: “When we actually worked together and did this test for ecommerce and created this one page, we were able to see a 33% increase [in conversions] for just that keyword.”

That was enough to get her coworker on board. Bringing in help from different departments brings in fresh perspectives and a different set of experiences.

And having others invested in the process – start to finish – can result in big wins that foster more enthusiasm. As Da Silva puts it:

He’ll tell other people, and before long I have the guy who does Facebook coming up to me, and the guy who does SEO coming up to me, and we’re all working together to create really big tests.

2. Gamify your testing process

Want to get your team interested in testing, fast? Braden Hoeppner, CMO at Coastal Contacts, has a solution.

Go find the person who disagrees with you and put cash on the table.

Put weird teams of people together, put $100 on the table, and say whoever designs the winning test wins.

Joanna Lord, VP of Consumer Marketing at Porch and former VP of Growth Marketing at Moz, agrees: “I lost $10 to my CEO last week.”

If you don’t want to use cash bets, you can still find fun ways to gamify the testing process.

Lord’s team uses a Plinko board: “At the bottom of the Plinko board are all of these things you can win, like gift certificates or Amazon gift cards.” People who create winning tests get to play Plinko and claim their prize.

plinko

When you gamify, remember that you can only win or lose within the context of the game. After all, you never lose when you test as long as you learn something from the test.

“You can’t fail at testing,” Hoeppner says. “Your hypothesis gets proven or disproven, and you learn something.”

3. Don’t prioritize beautiful design over conversion

Hoeppner described a test where he assumed an image of a beautiful model would improve conversion, but discovered that beauty doesn’t always convert. “Nothing happened,” he explained.

Lord also learned that beauty doesn’t always win.

When she and the Porch CEO were testing a landing page, she wanted to use “big, beautiful, bold imagery” — a strategy that wound up losing the test.

The takeaway?

A beautifully-designed page won’t always take the cake.

Design is important, but only if it’s supporting the real star of your page: the copy. Start by writing (and testing) persuasive copy – and then work toward a design that complements it.

4. Don’t assume that testimonials are a magic bullet

Da Silva describes an embarrassing moment where she told her boss they didn’t need to test their testimonials because “testimonials always work.”

Her boss asked her to test the testimonials anyway, and Da Silva quickly saw that she was wrong.

“Taking out testimonials was the biggest win I had,” Da Silva said. She would never have discovered that win if she had relied on her assumptions instead of testing.

So, as Oli Gardner puts it, testyourmonials.

testyourmonials

A/B testing isn’t about following the rules. It’s about learning as much as you can and then questioning everything. And maybe even unlearning some things in the process.


Testimonials aren’t the magic bullet you think they are. They still need to be tested.
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5. Don’t lose track of your company’s voice

Joanna Lord warned testers not to lose their company’s point of view as they optimize their pages for conversion.

“That balance between conversion and the point of view of your company is essential,” Lord explains. “Make sure that you’re not over-indexing on conversion and losing what’s special and beautiful and rare about your brand or your voice.”

At Porch, Lord starts by putting together a list of winning words that represent the brand and weighs them against their conversion potential.

Lord described an A/B test that appeared to indicate that the word connection led to high conversion rates, until the Porch team realized that the people who converted on connection weren’t qualified leads:

Those people were not revisiting. They were not engaging, their time on site was lower, their bounce was higher, their revisit rate was lower.

Understanding what type of language your most loyal customers relate to will help you optimize for the right type of conversions:

We might lose a little of that up-front conversion, but we’re winning in the long haul.

6. Don’t assume that “wins” apply across all customer segments

Even if a test was conclusive for one of your customer segments, the takeaways won’t necessarily apply across the board.

Hoeppner learned this the hard way. When he was testing sliders on his ecommerce site, he found that they lost to a static image.

However, he’d only been testing for his US users. When he ran the test with Canadian users, he got very different results.

Surprise: “Canadians like sliders.”

canadians-scrubs

The bottom line? Best practices can help guide your next A/B test – but err on the side of caution and test to validate assumptions.


Best practices don’t necessarily apply across all customer segments. Test to validate assumptions.
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7. Watch out for downstream impacts

A test that leads to a conversion increase in one area of funnel may lead to a negative impacts further down the funnel.

“Whenever we change something, there’s some other downstream impact,” Hoeppner explained. “We’ll see click-through rates go up, and then dramatic drops in average order size.”

Newton’s Laws of Motion tell us: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. It’s true for A/B testing, too. When you make changes based on the results of an A/B test, make sure you track both the positive and negative reactions that occur throughout the rest of your conversion process.

Look for the downstream impacts, and make sure they aren’t negatively impacting your conversion rates or sales.

Ready to learn more?

Want some more?

Watch the ”Full Stack Panel: Digital Marketing Through A Conversion Lens” video and learn even more tips from our experts.

Then get ready to improve your testing and your teamwork. Remember that it’s never too late to become a smarter A/B tester. As the Chinese proverb puts it:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

How are you going to improve your next A/B test?


This article:

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself With A/B Testing

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What’s the Fastest Way to Grow Your List? Pop Ups vs Squeeze Pages

How’s your lead capture conversion rate?

Are you seeing your subscriber numbers shoot through the roof, or has the flow of new subs slowed to a  trickle? Either way, I’m sure you’ll want to increase your conversion rate. I know I do.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been unhappy with the conversions on my own site so I thought I’d delve into a little research and look into what performs better, pop ups or squeeze pages.

Everyone’s already got an opinion on pop ups, and it’s usually negative. I’m sure more than a few of you are already muttering to yourselves how off-putting and annoying pop ups are. Whilst the opinion of your audience and prospects matter, what I really want to examine are the overall results of these two methods. So let’s get into it and see how they perform.


What’s the Fastest Way to Grow Your List? Pop Ups vs Squeeze Pages
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So Why does Everyone Hate Pop Ups? 

For many, pop ups represent everything that’s wrong with modern internet marketing. Many view them as simple money-grabbing nuisances operating in clear contradiction to the increasingly important user experience.

With an in-your-face attitude and steely resolve to obtain your personal details, they’re the digital equivalent of the despised charity mugger. Both rely on intrusive methods and have the potential to turn your prospects away in droves.

The impact of pop ups is so severe that a survey conducted by the Nielsen Norman group listed pop up ads as the number-one most hated advertising method used on the web.

95% of those surveyed agreed that pop ups ‘very negatively’ affected their user experience, placing their ‘potential to annoy’ higher than my personal pet hate of automatic audio ads and deceitful ads that attract unnecessary clicks.

Consumer views on advertising pop ups

Studies aren’t always representative of the real world. Instead of listening to results from a test in a controlled environment, I thought I’d seek out the opinions of regular internet browser. I headed to websites of savvy online marketers and worked my way through the comments of the common folk.

Below you’ll find an example of the more vocal comments from articles on Copyhackers, KISSMetrics and Copyblogger.

Readers views on pop ups
Copyblogger reader's view on pop ups
Kiss metric's reader view on pop ups

Ok, so the general consensus on pop ups isn’t exactly positive, but how do they change your audience’s interaction with your site?

Matthew Woodward wanted to test the effectiveness of pop ups on his site and documented how their introduction affected key metrics. In terms of user interaction, Matthew reported a 9.02% increase in his bounce rate as well as seeing drops in visit duration and pages visited.

Table of pop up's effect on key metrics

It’s not looking too good for this charity mugging-esque method. With all of these negatives, it’s fair to say we’re going to need a pretty substantial benefit to even consider implementing pop ups. Thankfully, there is one.

Pop Ups Convert Like Crazy!

That’s right, despite everyone’s bitching and moaning about user experience and their threats to never return, conversion rates for pop ups are high.

Really high.

Most websites would be ecstatic at doubling their conversion rates whilst tripling conversions—they’d be popping open that bottle of champagne they’ve been saving. So what would you say if I told you that the guys over at WP-Beginner managed a 600% increase in under a month? Incredible, right.

Increasing their daily subs from between 70–80 to securing 445–470 within a month was insane. But the most surprising discovery was that the pop up didn’t increase bounce rate at all.

WP-Beginner isn’t alone in seeing an impressive increase in subscriber numbers. Despite Matthew Woodward’s increase in bounce rate, he still saw an increase in conversions of 44.71% and I’m sure you’re aware of Darren Rowse’s incredible pop up conversion result.

I could sit here and reel off more examples, but I think this graph from Darren Rowse really puts it all into perspective.

Graph highlighting the success Problogger had with pop ups

Despite the complaints and the anecdotal evidence on how they annoy too much to convert, the numbers don’t lie. Pop ups are really a viable option in increasing your conversion rates. Perhaps the key is in their implementation, to make them as unobtrusive and user friendly as possible.

What Makes Pop Ups Work? 

As always, the devil is in the details. For you to find what really works on your site, you need to do some extensive testing. The aforementioned stats may drive you to immediately implement a strategy that crams your pop up down your visitors throats until they finally relent and subscribe.

However, I’d seriously question the effectiveness of a list that’s been browbeaten into submission. You’ll likely end up with a list of subscribers who don’t engage and simply subscribed to put an end to your aggressive marketing tactics.

User experience is more important than ever, so here are a few tips to run a more ethical and successful pop up campaign. 

Time and Frequency

Like the girl (or guy) who talks marriage and kids after your second date, there’s nothing more off-putting than jumping the gun. Don’t block your audience’s view of your content with an email signup form before they’ve even finished the first sentence. Asking them to join your list before they know whether they like you and what you provide is a sure-fire way to increase your bounce rate.

Appsumo advocates that pop ups appear within the first five seconds, but that seems a little on the fast side to me. Most readers won’t have finished your opening line in that time.

Appsumo's advice on pop up timing

A more user-friendly approach would be to give your audience between 45-60 seconds. This is ample time for your audience to get hooked by your content, whilst also being quick enough to catch skimmers before they leave.

There’s a definite temptation to frequently hit your audience with pop ups. The more opportunities they have to subscribe, the more likely they will, right? Wrong. The only thing worse than being asked about marriage on your second date is to be asked 10 times within an hour.

Keep your pop ups limited to one appearance per user visit or risk becoming the desperate lonely guy who has no boundaries.


Pop-up tip: Don’t be the desperate lonely guy with no boundaries. Here’s how
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Go Big or Go Home

Some say bigger is better, others say it’s what you do with it that counts. (Get your mind out of the gutter; we’re still talking about pop ups!)

You’ve probably been on sites that have a small pop up in the corner, whereas others will take up the whole page. Both will likely increase your conversions—but which is better?

Distraction can be a killer when it comes to conversions, which is why simple, focused landing pages are so successful.

When it comes to your pop up, make it large enough to cut out any other distractions on the page and keep the content simple. Alternatively use a service that dims background content so the pop up gets your reader’s attention.

Make it Easy

In the interest of user experience, you need to make your input forms easy to complete and your pop up easy to close. Only ask for the basic information you need, usually no more than a name and an email address.

You’re not going to be able to convince every prospect to subscribe so be sure to make the ‘x’ or ‘no thanks’ button clearly visible. If they’ve already decided to not sign up, making it difficult to close the pop up only serves to lose you a return user.

Test, Test and Test Some More

As with anything in the world of CRO, keep an eye on how your forms are performing. Tweak both the small and the large and run some A/B tests to see what you can do to squeeze that little bit more out of your pop ups.

How Do Squeeze Pages Compare?

The singular aim of the squeeze page is to capture email addresses. Because they’re so focused, they’ve got to be one of the best methods of capturing email addresses, right? Well, yes and no.

Squeeze pages do a lot of things well. Due to their less imposing and intrusive approach, you’re unlikely to hear anyone complain that a squeeze page has ruined their browsing experience. The real question is whether the less intrusive and ethically safer option can convert anywhere near the level of pop ups.

Brian Dean implemented five techniques and increases his conversions by 134.85%. One of these techniques was to turn his About page into a squeeze page. This approach brought four times the amount of conversions than any of the other pages or methods on his site.

Here’s a map of his conversion increase over the 60 days following the squeeze page’s implementation (also includes stats from sidebar optins.)

Conversion increase map from squeeze page

Backlinko saw a 21.7% increase after the introduction of a social squeeze page. Enabling comments social shares added social proof into the equation, increasing the overall trust levels and, ergo, their conversions. When prospects see dozens of tweets, Facebook likes and comments, they’re less likely to believe you’re one of those sleazy marketers they’re trying so hard to avoid.

What Squeeze Pages Don’t Do Well

So squeeze pages seem to be pretty decent at converting. They don’t have the intrusive nature inherent with pop ups, meaning they’re unlikely to cause an outcry after frustrating your audience.

Despite being more user friendly, however, squeeze pages fall short when it comes to their visibility.

Here’s why: Squeeze pages have to be navigated to for them to be seen. The traffic you drive to specific pages or posts through social media are going to bypass your squeeze page, lowering the page’s effectiveness.

Some marketers try to combat this by adding redirects or forcing their squeeze page to appear for every new user, despite the page they visit (effectively creating a pop up!).

With this strategy, you’re not giving your audience an easily closed lightbox overlay on the content they wanted to read but actually forcing them to navigate through a page they never wanted to see in the first place. In making them take this detour, you’re more likely see a huge increase in your bounce rate.

Bnonn Tennant, creator of the email micro-course “5 Sales-Spiking Website Tweaks Web Designers & IM Gurus Don’t Know,” drives the point home in the comment section of a piece written for KISSmetrics.

A comment on Squeeze pages from KISSmetrics author

A more elegant method to combat the lack of visibility would be to implement the Backlinko social squeeze page. Letting those already converted share the page via social media should drive a little more traffic, and more subscriptions as well.

Making Your Squeeze Page 

With the squeeze page’s lower visibility, you’re going to want to make sure it’s as perfectly optimized as can be. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Simplicity Reigns Supreme

Remember those horrible squeeze and landing pages of the past? The ones that are plastered with red text and yellow highlighter, and are so busy you’re not quite sure where your attention is supposed to be?  They don’t work any more.

Instead, opt for a simple page that clearly highlights the main benefit of signing up to your list. Check out the squeeze page from CrazyEgg. It’s beautifully simple. The only copy on the page lets the prospect know exactly what they’re going to get.

The home page squeeze page from crazy egg

Don’t Hold Prospects Ransom

Squeeze pages are often the gateway to the homepage of your site. Holding your prospects ransom by not offering a ‘no thanks’ or ‘continue without signing up’ button isn’t going to help conversions.

No one wants to look for five minutes to get off a page they don’t want to be on. The only metric you’ll be increasing is your bounce rate.

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Including a little social proof on your landing or squeeze page isn’t anything new. We’re always trying to keep up with the latest trends and a little word from a satisfied customer can go long way in convincing a new prospect into converting. Social proof increases trust and triggers the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality, forcing prospects to ask ‘if they’re getting the benefits then why can’t I?’ 

Tom Ewer, of Leaving Work Behind, created a squeeze page that implements the former two points well. Right below the email address is a visible link taking those who don’t want to sign up straight to the blog. He’s also included a testimonial from an authority figure in his niche Social proof to the max!

The squeeze page of leaving work behind

Should You Test?

Do we really need to cover this again? Yes, you need to test!

Who Wins – You Decide!

Both methods have their benefits and shortfalls. You’ll have to look at your audience and your goals to make the final decision on which approach is right for you.

If you can’t decide which to try, there’s nothing to stop you from trying both methods or even fully implementing them at the same time as they do here on Crazy Egg.

Bear in mind that user experience is top priority. Be sure to optimize your chosen method to reduce your prospects’ frustration.

Pros  Cons
Pop Ups Converts very wellSeen by a bigger percentage of your traffic

IntrusiveUniversally despisedSpammy if not properly optimisedSubs from pop ups are often less engaged
Squeeze Pages Better for user experienceGood conversion ratesCan create numerous pages targeting specific audience segments Lower visibilityLess traffic will be presented with formsCan be off putting if placed on every page

 Read other Crazy Egg articles by Pete Boyle

The post What’s the Fastest Way to Grow Your List? Pop Ups vs Squeeze Pages appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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What’s the Fastest Way to Grow Your List? Pop Ups vs Squeeze Pages

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How to Create Meaningful Marketing Experiences Before, During and After Conversion

landing-page-optimization-quest
Optimizing your landing page is a noble quest – but it’s only one step of the customer’s journey to conversion. Image source.

As marketers, we tend to focus (sometimes obsessively) on the conversion.

On our landing pages, we tweak this and that on an endless quest for the perfect conversion rate. It’s a noble quest, but an awesome landing page is only one piece of the puzzle.

As Mack Fogelson, founder and CEO of community building firm Mack Web, explained in our recent Unwebinar, landing pages are just one of many touch points that prospects have with you before they convert.

To create truly delightful and high-converting marketing campaigns, you need to mind all marketing channels: your landing pages, paid advertising, blog, website, social presence, event strategy and beyond.

When all channels are optimized and working together as a unit, everyone wins. You create delightful experiences for your audience and they thank you by converting (and even spreading the word).

So what does it take to create awesome experiences for your audience before, during and after the conversion? Find out by watching the webinar recording here – or keep reading for a breakdown of the key takeaways.

Understand your meaning beyond money

At the core of every business is a greater purpose. It’s what motivates entrepreneurs to quit their day jobs and it’s what attracts your biggest brand advocates.

Before you optimize any part of your marketing campaign, Mack says you should step back and ask, “What is my meaning beyond money?

Take GoldieBlox for example. While the company pay the bills by selling toys to young girls, their meaning beyond money runs much deeper, as their founder Debbie Sterling explains in the video below:

When she was an engineering student, Debbie was always surprised by how few women were in the field. That motivated her to create a toy company that would help girls develop an affinity for engineering, science and technology – ultimately working toward closing the gender gap.

It’s a purpose that resonates deeply with many of her customers, and adds an undercurrent of genuineness and authenticity to GoldieBlox. Mack explained why this is important:

Being authentic is what connects people to your brand.

Beyond that, understanding the core meaning of your business helps you align all your messaging and marketing efforts – starting with your landing page.

Convey that purpose on your landing page

Mack’s client Traveling Vineyard is a wine tasting company that creates stay-at-home jobs for hundreds of women.

When they started working together, Mack found that Traveling Vineyard’s messaging across channels felt disjointed and failed to communicate their unique value proposition. Have a look at one of their older landing pages:

traveling-vineyard-old-lp

While the landing page had some more obvious design issues (multiple CTAs and cheesy stock photos, for starters), Mack knew that the ultimate problem ran deeper: Traveling Vineyard needed to better communicate authenticity and genuineness.

After all, as Mack explained, Traveling Vineyard doesn’t just sell wine. Their company changes the lives of women by introducing a new passion into their lives and empowering them to work.

With all of this sorely lacking in their messaging, it was time to tell the story of real women on their landing pages and across all marketing channels.

Have a look at one of the landing pages they created to this end:

traveling-vineyard-kirby-lp

This new page tells the story of Kirby, a real woman who became a wine guide with Traveling Vineyard. It includes photos and anecdotes, as well as a testimonial of how working for the company has changed her life.

It also goes to great lengths to address fears that potential women might have, culminating in a lead gen form:

travelling-vineyard-lead-gen-form

But does the new landing page motivate like minded women to become wine guides, too?

The makeover, along with other efforts to align their messaging across channels (which we’ll get into below), resulted in a 57% increase in lead form submissions.


Transparency makes you human. It connects people to your brand & builds community. @mackfogelson
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Sync and optimize all your marketing channels

Once you’ve got a landing page that effectively communicates the core meaning of your business, your work isn’t done.

As Mack explained, your next job is to ensure that the message is being conveyed across all marketing channels, including:

  • Your blog posts
  • Your email marketing
  • Your social media campaigns
  • Your paid marketing efforts
  • Your automated email sequences to nurture leads

For example, once Mack had effectively communicated Traveling Vineyard’s purpose on their landing page, she got to work on other channels that prospects encountered at every step of the buyer journey:

  1. Blog posts that told Kirby’s story and drove traffic to the landing page
  2. Emails to existing customers to thank them for empowering women like Kirby
  3. Emails to existing wine guides to inspire them to invite their friends and family to become guides as well
  4. Follow up email sequences that communicated next steps and allowed them to deliver on their promise of changing lives
  5. Paid ads on Facebook that told Kirby’s story:
travelling-vineyard-facebook-advertising

All of these optimization efforts took place over the course of a year. As Mack explained, aligning your messaging isn’t a one-off campaign but a long game that adds durability to your company and makes for a sustainable and successful business.

It leads to evergreen content that people will find valuable for years to come.

And it leads to cohesive marketing experiences connected to the heart of what you want to achieve. That kind of cohesive experience resonates with and attracts prospects who share similar goals.


Cohesive marketing experiences allow you to convey your purpose. And they inspire people to convert.
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Start with the why

While Mack acknowledged that the “meaning beyond money” philosophy might sound a bit fluffy, it lends itself naturally to more concrete goals and financial benchmarks. She explained that understanding the why helps you break down the what of your marketing strategy:

core-goals-tactics

If you start with the why, Mack explained, you can then work backwards to establish concrete business goals – and the strategies and tactics that’ll help you get there.

Over to you. Are your landing pages conveying what matters to you as a business? And does that echo throughout everything you do?

– Amanda Durepos


core-goals-tactics

This article: 

How to Create Meaningful Marketing Experiences Before, During and After Conversion

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27 SaaS Customer Retention Strategies You Need to Be Using Today

In SaaS, customer retention is everything.

In order to be truly successful, a SaaS must have steady customer acquisition and successful customer retention. But since retention is less expensive than acquisition, you’re most cost effective strategy is to…you guessed it…hang on to those customers!

Existing customers are where the big spending happens. According to Groove, there’s a 5-20% chance of selling to a new prospect. What about your existing customers? You have a 60-70% chance of a successful sale!

image002Image source

Existing customers are a lifeline of cash, value, money, and everything nice.

Retention is your number-one strategy for profitability. Churn is public enemy number one. So, the question, is, how do you retain customers?

Thankfully, I have a bunch of strategies to share with you. These strategies truly work. Why? Because I’m not giving you mere gimmicks.

I’m giving you real business-altering approaches that transform you from a customer-in/customer-out churn machine, and into a customer retention unicorn.


27 SaaS Customer Retention Strategies You Need to Be Using Today – by @neilpatel
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1. Raise your price.

A higher price creates a perception of greater value. Such a perception turns into a reality once the customer spends the money. They have committed to a cost, and that cost is reflected on their balance sheet.

Now that they’ve made the expenditure, the customer is far more likely to use the product (engagement). Engagement is the number-one predictor of customer retention. You’ve effectively sparked engagement and reduced the likelihood of that customer canceling.

2. Reconsider your value proposition.

Why did your customer become a customer in the first place? You may not know the exact reason for every customer, but you can get a good sense of the reasons why by understanding your value proposition or unique selling proposition.

I suggest that you take a look at that value proposition, because it forms of the core reason the customer started with you. Very likely, the reason they are still with you is because of the value you offer.

If you’ve somehow gotten off center from your value proposition, make whatever changes are necessary to continue to offer that same great value to your client.

3. Reassert your value proposition.

And just in case the customer has forgotten, remind them of it. A value proposition that was successful in attracting a client should be the same value proposition that is successful in retaining the client.

You can use email marketing and regular touch points with the client to keep making your value proposition stand out in their mind. The more you prove your value, the more they will believe it, experience it, and stay devoted.

4. Re-analyze the onboarding process.

Anything that got the customer to become a customer in the first place should also serve to retain the customer for the long term.

Look at your onboarding process to see what features of your service are appealing, compelling, and motivating to a potential customer. These are the same traits that will keep customers happy for the long term.

5. Follow up on every interaction with the customer.

I’m not talking here about service requests. I’m talking about going the extra mile after the customer’s problem has been solved.

A typical service request and solution looks like this:

  1. Customer: We have a problem.
  2. Support Team: I’ve helped you. Have a nice day.

I recommend that you add another layer of follow-up to this process:

  1. Customer: We have a problem.
  2. Support Team: I’ve helped you. Have a nice day.
  3. Bonus Follow-Up: Hey, we helped you a couple weeks ago. How are things going now? Anything else we can help with?

How’s that for customer care? Not only are you ensuring that the problem is solved, but you’re also making sure that the customer is satisfied. In the customer retention game, solving problems is just as important as satisfied customers.

6. Avoid customer satisfaction surveys, or any unnecessary surveys for that matter.

Let me piggyback on the point above by discussing a common scenario.

Often, this is the situation that I see.

  1. Customer: We have a problem.
  2. Support Team: I’ve helped you. Have a nice day.
  3. Annoying Follow-Up: Hey, please fill out this survey. We know you’re miffed about the problem, but now that it’s fixed, please fill out the survey. Please. Please. Please.
  4. Customer: (Ignores the dang survey.)
  5. Bonus Annoying Follow-up: Didya fill it out?! Huh?! Why not?! Come on!

What’s the result of this exchange? The customer is not happy anymore. Sure, their problem is fixed, but are they happy about it? No. They’re annoyed. From their perspective, you care more about your survey then you do about their productivity and well-being.

Surveys are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you might get important and valuable data. On the other hand, you might tick some people off. I would much rather gain data automatically through customer usage then going the survey route.

Another way to gain valuable data is through phone calls. When you’re making your rounds, calling clients to check on their status, ask them a few diagnostic questions to assess the performance of the SaaS and their experience.

Are customer satisfaction surveys universally evil? No, not always. But they are risky. The very fact that a customer receives a survey can reduce their satisfaction level.

7. Upsell.

A SaaS upsell is the process of engaging an existing customer at a deeper level. You raise the level of service and they pay you more. Upsells improve your profits (as long as you’re pricing them correctly).

Upselling accomplishes three very good things: 1) deepens relationships, 2) raises the value that the customer receives, 3) increases the customer’s customer lifetime value (CLV).

We shouldn’t view upselling as a dirty word, or some underhanded technique to filch extra cash from gullible customers. Upselling is a win-win. Customers get better stuff. You get more cash. And here’s the kicker:  The customer is going to stay around longer.

It’s time to start viewing upsells as a retention strategy.

8. Emphasize engagement as soon as possible.

The most important way to improve your churn rate is to drive engagement. Here’s how Lincoln Murphy defines engagement:  “Engagement is when your customer is realizing value from your SaaS.”

How does a customer realize value from your SaaS? By using it. Whatever you can do to and for the customer to get them to use your product, do it. Emails, questions, phone calls, encouragements, bribery: get the customer to use your service.

The sooner they use it, the quicker they realize value. The quicker they realize value, the less likely they are to quit.

9. Develop a regular interaction schedule.

Interact with your customers as frequently as is realistic. This depends, of course, on the nature and size of your SaaS. If you offer enterprise-level services at thousands of dollars per month, you need to have a stick-close-to-them approach to interacting with your customers.

Don’t just call them for upsells. Don’t just call them about billing problems. Call them to be awesome. Call them to say “hi.” Call them so they can vent if they need to. Create a partner approach, and you’ll lose way fewer clients.

10. Send targeted tips.

When a customer completes a significant action in the SaaS, create an automatic email to send to them.

For example, if a customer creates an invoice on your bookkeeping software, automate an email saying “Hey, that was easy, wasn’t it? Want to get more tips, like creating invoice templates?” Show them your YouTube video on the topic, or point them to an article where they can learn even more.

With simple techniques like that, you can add more value and lose fewer customers.

11. Provide free training.

The more complex your software, the more users will want to learn about its power. Provide free webinars or training sessions to coach users on how to get more value out of the SaaS.

There are several advantages to such an approach. First, you’re increasing the value of the SaaS to the customer. Second, you’re creating a deeper relationship between you and the customer. Both of these features can help to reduce churn.

12. Invite feedback.

When customers suggest improvements, they are investing themselves in the life and existence of the company. They feel a sense of ownership.

Since this is true, make feedback a significant part of your retention strategy. I’m not simply referring to some “suggestion box” tucked away in a dark corner of your website. Instead, create overt invitations for improvements on your pricing page, a link from your monthly invoice, or some other place where customers will see it.


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13. Respond instantly to customer needs.

Make it your goal to respond to all customer inquiries in 24 hours or less. If it’s during the workday, shave that time down to two hours. Customers deserve your immediate attention.

14. Follow your customers on social media.

If your customers follow you on social media, follow them back. This serves two purposes. First, you make them feel good — like they are a valued part of your social circles. Second, you can listen to them and respond to their feedback.

One VentureBeat article puts the issue plainly:

By constantly monitoring the social web, the customer success team ensures that they quickly reply to all inquiries or feedback. In fact, many users have lauded companies for their quick responses on Facebook and Twitter.

15. Build out social profiles to develop multiple ways of interacting.

The more touch points you have with your customers, the more likely they are to stay highly engaged. Be sure to create a robust social presence so your customers will both see you and be able to reach out to you on whatever forum they prefer.

Obviously, social media is not strictly a retention strategy, but it does encourage awareness of your SaaS in front of the customer. This awareness, in turn, can improve engagement. And engagement, as you’ve learned, is the number-one way to reduce churn rate.

16. Consider a loyalty program.

Loyalty programs work. You’ll find that a simple loyalty program can keep customers coming back and sticking with you.

A loyalty program doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated to be effective. Often, simple rewards like an occasional discount or gift card can help users understand that they are recognized and valued.

17. Create progress towards a goal.

Psychologists have discovered that when people progress towards a goal, they feel much happier and fulfilled.

You can apply this truth to your life as a whole, and you can apply it to the microcosm of SaaS. When SaaS users work towards a goal, they develop an eagerness and intensity to have more interaction with the SaaS.

The most obvious place we see this is with games, in which users attain new levels and rankings. But the same holds true for non-game applications. LinkedIn, for example, indicates a user’s progress towards filling out their profile. The Audible App gives users badges for listening to their audiobooks at a certain time or with certain patterns.

If you can delight your customers with simple goal-focused actions, you can retain them better and reduce church.

18. Create a retention team.

If you create a retention team, it proves that you’re serious about customer retention.

Plus, a retention team provides you with a dedicated resource for engaging with clients. Here’s what your retention team can do:

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The more aggressively you tackle the problem of turnover, the better you’ll succeed in retaining your customers.

19. Measure customer engagement.

As explained above, customer engagement is the number one predictor of retention.

Since this is true, it’s important not only to encourage engagement, but also to measure engagement. Whether you develop a customer success map, or perform cohort analysis, it’s important that you get the data that tells a story.

20. Set customer expectations.

Let’s just ask a simple question that gets at the heart of this article. Why would a customer leave?

One blanket reason goes like this:  Their expectations were not met.

How can you affect that factor? The customer’s expectation is their problem, right? Wrong. It’s your problem. Who is responsible for setting the customer’s expectation? You are.

Before a customer signs on the dotted line or downloads a free trial, tell them what to expect if they become a customer.

Pro tip:  Make sure that you set the customer’s expectations lower than you can realistically achieve. Remember to under-promise and over-deliver. But whatever you do, set expectations. As you meet those expectations, customers will be satisfied, and you’ll keep them around for a long time.

21. Brand yourself as a service, not a software.

SaaS providers live in a tricky world. They have to be both a service and software. They can’t fake it on either front or just pretend that they’re a software or a service. They have to truly be both.

But why is it that your customers pay you every month? Because you’re serving them. Can they see that? Can they feel that? Do they know that? If you can provide service in tangible ways, you will become vastly more successful at retaining customers.


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I recommend creating a strategy to roll out service improvements on a schedule that corresponds to your billing schedule. Every month, the customer watches a payment withdrawn for their recurring billing. They need to feel like they are getting something in return. Increase security, upgrade storage, or implement other features that make the customer feel like they’re getting additional value.

22. Add new security features.

What do your SaaS customers want most?

Thankfully, you don’t have to guess. A survey from Vormetric discovered that security is a top concern, especially for SaaS enterprise customers. SaaS is oft-criticized for its lack of security.

In reality, SaaS can be incredibly secure. You just have to prove it to your customers.

Customers want to hear that you are taking active measures to secure their data. The way that you can do this is by incrementally adding new layers of security, rolling it out, and announcing it to your clients.

With every new security iteration, you can build the confidence of your customers. Be aware, however, that this technique has diminishing returns. If you keep making things more and more secure, they may start to wonder why you’re beefing up security. Is there a threat?

Make the changes, with a full disclosure that there is no threat, but you are simply committed to the highest level of security that technology allows.

23. Release a new version.

If customers get bored, they’re going to leave.

Is boredom even a thing in SaaS? Well, maybe. Call it lack of interest or engagement if you want to. Customers who aren’t deriving value from the product will eventually wander off and find something that does provide value (in their view).

To increase the perception that your SaaS is valuable, all you need to do is release a new version. Of course, you need to make it free, and you need to make it automatic, and you need to make it truly meaningful.

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You should not release a new version simply for the sake of releasing a new version. Instead, you release a new version because you want to provide more value for your customers.

24. Upgrade the customer automatically.

How would you feel is you were subscribing to, say, Buzzfeed, a content sharing analysis tool. You were plodding along at the pro level for $99/month. You used it a lot, and kind of wished you had enough in your budget to afford the agency level plan.

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One day, you get an email from a BuzzSumo VP. He says, “Hey, I noticed you’ve been using Buzzfeed quite a bit. We’d like to upgrade your membership, at no charge, to the agency level subscription. You’ll get quite a bit more power out of the tool, and plenty more mentions. I hope you find it useful. The change is effective immediately.”

I’d say you’d be pretty happy about that. I’d even go on to say that you’d stick with BuzzSumo for a long time. How much did it cost BuzzSumo to upgrade your membership? Probably not much. A few pennies maybe.

How much did it increase your likelihood of remaining a customer? A whole lot.

Surprise gifts or delightful experiences are a powerful way of turning laissez faire users into passionate evangelists. Not only do you amp up your marketing, but you also improve your retention rate.

25. Make it easy for customers to leave.

Some customers are going to leave. Fact of life. Don’t make it hard for them. The harder you make it, the more loudly they’ll complain.

A SixteeenVentures article makes that point that an obvious exit is an underutilized means of retaining customers. Why? It’s all about the messaging. If you make the exit process easy, then you must also inform them of the value that they are losing.

Here’s how he explains it:

Just like you must sell them on the value of your offering upon sign-up, you must do this on exit, too. Remind them of why they signed-up, and what they’ll lose — not just the saved data but their investment in the product to this point — if they cancel. Remind them a couple of times, too, because if they actually cancel, all is lost. Make them have to re-consider whether that is the decision they want to make right then or not. But also have a big button that will let them cancel right then.

No one likes to see a customer cancel, but if they do, don’t make it hard for them. If they can’t easily get out, they’re going to make a big social stink about the experience, and you’ll be left looking stupid.

26. Conduct exit interviews.

If a customer is committed to leaving, so be it. But can you have a word with them before they walk away?

Some customers will be so disgruntled that they won’t want to have anything else to do with you. Others will be amenable to answering a few questions or chatting on the phone. Remember, your goal isn’t to get them back. Don’t even try.

Instead, make it your point to understand why they left. You can use this information to transform your process and create more value for your existing customers.

27. Assign each customer a retention specialist.

I’ve suggested that you create a customer retention team. To take this a level deeper, I also suggest that you assign each customer a retention specialist.

If you have a few clients, each paying a lot of money, this technique is extremely effective. A customer retention specialist is someone whose job it is to interact with the client on a regular basis. They may not be able to answer advanced technical questions, but they can at least keep customers happy.

If a customer goes on alert, it’s too late to form a relationship and salvage them. The care and relationship need to be happening long before that point. A customer retention specialist will keep that care and nurture in place.

Conclusion

Customer retention is one of the most important activities in a SaaS business. You’re not left to the winds of chance and bad luck. You can do something about churn rate.

Pick one strategy from this list. Keep your eye on the retention rates, and watch them improve.

What is your favorite customer retention strategy?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Neil Patel.

The post 27 SaaS Customer Retention Strategies You Need to Be Using Today appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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27 SaaS Customer Retention Strategies You Need to Be Using Today

Freebie: Swifticons Icon Set (92×3 Icons, AI, Sketch, PNG, SVG, EPS, PDF)

A good freebie is always good to have. Today, we’re happy to release a quite unique icon set. The goodie contains 92 icons in three editable variants: outlined, filled & colored, covering 15 wide categories: Science, Medical, Tech, Kitchen, Activities, Care, Weather, Marketing, Transport, Holidays, Formats, Interface, Interaction, Photo, Brands. [Links checked February/19/2017]
Using a precise grid of 60px to guarantee sharpness and consistency, unlimited possibilities are unlocked when your creativity applies to this awesome set.

Source:  

Freebie: Swifticons Icon Set (92×3 Icons, AI, Sketch, PNG, SVG, EPS, PDF)

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How Not to Scare Customers with Recurring Billing

“Recurring billing” might sound scary to your customers, and you need to understand that. Recurring billing has the ring of a credit card scam or some interminable spiral of debt. Don’t forget: There are few things people protect more aggressively than their money.

This puts marketers in a tough position. One the one hand, we know that recurring billing is a powerful strategy. It gives businesses higher revenue and more loyalty, according to a MasterCard survey.

But not all customers are eager to latch on to your recurring billing program.

Why? Because of fear, and because of popular financial advice. Some financial experts even advise completely getting rid of cards, which nearly destroys any possibility of recurring billing.

image002No credit cards means no recurring billing.

Some of the common financial advice goes like this:  “Don’t put monthly bills on auto debit.

 image004Consumers often get this type of financial advice.

Customers hear horror stories of people whose life savings were completely destroyed by an automatic bill paying gone awry. They decide to avoid it at all costs.

That’s why recurring billing is a challenging sell to some customers. Is it possible to start a recurring billing program that won’t scare people away?

The answer is yes, absolutely.  I’m going to share with you nine techniques for doing so, no matter if you’re setting up recurring billing for physical or digital products.


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1. Educate your customers.

This first method is broad and far-reaching. Its implications and applications are broad enough to cover a variety techniques and methods.

The best way to fight fear is with knowledge. The knowledge that you provide through your content marketing or email marketing effort will help to dismantle walls of resistance built through fear.

Here are some of the ways to educate users on the advantages of recurring billing:

  1. It’s convenient.
  2. It reduces the risk of identity theft.
  3. It eliminates hassle.
  4. It makes things more convenient.
  5. It saves time.
  6. It’s easy.
  7. It’s safe.

How do you educate your users? It happens through consistent and intentional content marketing.

Beyond just the customary reminders about billing itself, you can broaden your customer “education” to include content on the advantages of your service as a whole. For example, explain how specifically the subscription model is the best way for them to purchase.

If you sell shaving supplies, then explain how often shaving blades need to be replaced. If you sell socks, show how easily socks wear out. If you sell snacks, coach your customers on how often they need to eat snacks for optimal health

KidStir provides a list of reasons why you might want to subscribe to their service. Their reasons reinforce the subscription billing model without referring to it explicitly.

image006

The process is relatively simple. All you need to do is explain to customers that a subscription model makes sense for the particular product they are purchasing.

What about coffee? BlueBottle shows how a subscription model makes sense. Plus, they give exact measurements regarding the package size, how long a supply will last, and how many coffee drinkers it’s good for.

image008

Taster’s Club, a whiskey subscription service, takes their education to a whole new level. They automatically enroll customers in a Whiskey 101 course. Not only do you get your monthly bottle, but you get lots of information, too.

image010

Inform customers as often as possible about the advantages of subscription billing for your particular product or service.

2. Set recurring billing as the only way to purchase your product or service.

The best way to funnel users into your recurring billing program is to make it the only way. When recurring billing is the only way, it leaves no doubt in the customer’s mind that this is how they should proceed. Fewer choices mean easier choices.


“Fewer choices mean easier choices.” @NeilPatel
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Notice how Dollar Shave Club does this. The final step of their signup process is to enter billing information. There is no other way to go than through a monthly subscription:

image012

Giving the customer only one way to sign up increases their confidence that recurring billing is the right way. Providing a choice makes the decision more difficult. If you give them a choice between recurring vs. non-recurring, skeptical customers are more likely to choose what they perceive as the “safe” alternative — non-recurring billing.

ManPacks calls their recurring billing service “auto-ship.” This term change eliminates the “automatic payment” phrase, which can be an alarm signal. Auto-ship is automatic, and customers are reminded of each delivery.

image014

Simplify things for yourself, and reduce the skepticism of the customer by setting recurring billing as the only choice.

3. Add testimonials.

Testimonials are a critical part of improving conversions. Testimonials are also directly linked to the success of a recurring billing program. If you’re skeptical of the validity of testimonials, read this case study.

A potentially fearful customer reads a testimonial, gains the confidence he needs to make the purchase, and follows through with recurring billing.

ManPacks features a testimonial, which provides subtle reminders about the recurring aspect of the service:

image016

4. Make it easy to sign up.

When you make it easy to sign up, you’re doing both yourself and the customer a big favor. You get the benefits of a quick, fluid conversion funnel. The customer, for her part, is rewarded by having little to no cognitive friction in the signup process.

When a customer senses that the signup process is laborious or complicated, he becomes sensitive to risk. Long forms — reminiscent of a passport application or IRS form — signal to the user that he is doing something too serious.

Urthbox uses rich visuals and animation to make their signup process very easy. Here’s the pathway to checkout:

First, you select a box:

image018

Next, you select your billing plan.

image020

The health options come next:

image022

Then, you’re ready to pay:

image024

The entire process could have been a lot more complicated. After all, you are making decisions regarding size preference, quantity, frequency, allergen precautions, taste preferences, and other issues. Urthbox simplified the process, making the signup experience friction free.

5. Make it easy for customers to cancel at any time.

Users need some reassurance that they can cancel at any time. Lincoln Murphy addresses SaaS companies when he tells them to “make it easy to cancel.” When he implemented this easy-to-cancel technique with GetResponse, they experienced a 15% reduction in cancellations:

BTW, what I’m going to tell you got GetResponse an almost instant 15% drop in cancellations pretty much overnight. This is powerful stuff.

The cancellation button shouldn’t be hidden in some deep page. Provide customers with the easiest possible solution to cancelling. It is a good idea to inform them of the cancellation policy up front. Simply knowing that it’s easy to cancel makes them more likely to give recurring billing a try.

Here’s the cancel information for BlueBottle:

image026

KiwiCrate, which offers a variety of different subscription puts the “cancel anytime” phrase under each of their choices:

image028

KidStir, a monthly cooking kit for kids, provides the “cancel anytime” verbiage directly on the join page.

image030

DoodleBug sends “busy bags” for kids every month. Their signup page provides an easy reminder regarding cancellation:

image032

Customers who decide to cancel are sometimes in panic mode. Either they realize that they have gone way too long in their subscription or are running out of money.

Whatever the case, if they feel like they can’t cancel, they might do something drastic — lawsuits, a social media frenzy. You don’t need that kind of mess on your hands.

Provide customers with an explanation on how to cancel their account, and make sure that you share this information publicly. In other words, cancellation information shouldn’t be gated in a members-only section of the site.

Why is this important? A customer who wants to cancel might just Google their query instead of logging in to their member dashboard.

A good example of this is Picmonkey. If you Google “picmonkey cancel,” you get a page that explains how to go about ending your membership:

image034

Clicking that result brings you to this page:

image036

6. Make sure your statements and process are branded or your business identity is clearly stated.

Whenever you send a statement or monthly reminder, make sure that you provide clear information as to the identity of your company.

Remember, a customer signed up for a service from your company, not from some dunning management service or accounting department.

MasterCard’s white paper on recurring billing provides this advice:

It can be as simple as Automatic Bill Pay, or a name that also incorporates your brand image. A brand name says the program is a customer benefit, not merely an accounting function.

If you use a PayPal as the payment method, you have fewer options for customization. However, you can still feature your company name in the automatic payment notice. Here’s a bill reminder from PicMonkey. It’s PayPal branded, but the company name is featured in the information:

image038

7. Bills must be for a consistent amount.

In a consumer survey on recurring billing, researchers found that 89% of the customers considered consistency to be an important factor in recurring billing.

image040

Basically, customers don’t want to get charged a penny more than they signed up for. Even in the area of shipping charges — something that should be standard — customers view it as a major turnoff.

In one survey, 76% of customers rated shipping charges as their number one turnoff in ecommerce transactions. You may not have shipping charges, but are there any extra potential charges that a customer might see on their bill? If so, you need to make this extremely clear.

8. Remind them about security.

Security is a big deal for most people. With predictions of even more security upheaval, it takes a lot of careful persuasion to get someone to share their credit card information online.

How do you do it? Provide security signals. Simple techniques such as HTTPs, and security symbols can help to improve trust.

Baymard’s survey discovered that the Norton seal is one of the primary checkout security seals.

image042Image source

Your users may not have a technical knowledge of encryption techniques or secure sockets layers, but they do know when a site looks and feels trustworthy. Here’s how Baymard explains it:   

It’s not the actual security of your page that matters the most to users as they have little to no technical understanding of TLS/SSL encryption or even how forms are submitted. Rather it is the perceived security that’s of importance to this vast majority of users.

Using terms like “SSL” may help to improve their trust, even if they don’t fully understand it.

Here’s how PoshPak, a monthly subscription box, adds a security reminder:

image044

Their checkout page also includes a security seal.

image046

According to the data, 57% of customers think that lack of security is a “top ecommerce major turnoff.” Make sure you’re protecting your customers with as much security as you can.

9. Provide an itemized statement for each bill.

If the customer gets billed each month without some sort of reminder, it can be scary. Maybe they forgot that they signed up. Maybe they did it when they were drunk. Maybe it happened so long ago that they forgot altogether. Maybe their domestic partner did it. Maybe a thief did it!

Whatever the case, you want to provide the courtesy of regular information to the customer regarding their purchase. This is as simple as a monthly statement or reminder.

As mentioned above, be sure to send a branded invoice. Try to adopt a friendly tone. People aren’t usually thrilled about parting with their money, or reminders thereof.

ConclusionEach of the above provides ways to assure customers that recurring billing isn’t so scary after all. But want to know the panacea solution? It’s this:  Know your customers.

The better you know your customers, the more effective you’ll become at understanding their needs and serving them. Everything depends on it. Knowing what trust signals to use, the type of testimonials to feature, the style of reassurance to offer — all of this depends on a deep knowledge of your customers.

The more you learn about your customers, the better you’ll deliver the kind of no-scare solution for recurring billing.

What is your experience with persuading users into recurring billing?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Neil Patel.

The post How Not to Scare Customers with Recurring Billing appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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How Not to Scare Customers with Recurring Billing

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An Epic Landing Page Makeover That Debunked 3 Landing Page “Best Practices”

If you’re in the online marketing space, your inbox probably looks like mine. An avalanche of emails with advice on A/B testing, conversion rate optimization, lead generation and tips on how to engage your list with valuable content.

Everyone seems to have best practices figured out, so why reinvent the wheel? Tell me what works — I’ll try it. Show me what failed — I’ll avoid it. Follow those who have gone before… it makes sense right?

It does make sense! Until it doesn’t.

In this post, you’ll see how three common conversion tips got totally debunked during our testing with my client NueMD a medical billing software and EHR company. Does it mean these best practices never work? No. But I guarantee it will change the way you think about best practices — and it’ll help prevent you from making the same conversion mistakes on your own landing pages.

Below, check out the initial redesign:

nuemed - 600

The original NueMD landing page (left), and the re-designed and “conversion optimized” version I created (right).

Oh. My. Stars. #FAIL doesn’t begin to describe the best practices bellyflop we experienced. Do we expect to disprove hypotheses in testing? Of course. Do we expect to iterate? Toats!

Do we expect for best practices to do a TOTAL faceplant? No!

“Best practice” #1: Headlines Must Address Visitors Pain

I *know* it seems impossible to debunk this, but before you freak out in the comments, please read on..

Talk to your customers about the problems *they* wanna solve.

This piece of wisdom is a biggie in the realm of optimizing headlines for conversions — and for good reason. In many testing scenarios, it works. You’ve got to lead with your peeps and their problems (not your product!) if you want to connect with your audience.

The result of making this assumption was probably the most surprising piece of data from our testing.

Our original headline read, “Watch a Free Demo of NueMD Medical Billing Software:”

nuemd 2 - 600

When I step into the mind of the visitor reading this headline, I hear:

“Why?”
“What do I get?”
“What does this demo show?”
“These people don’t understand my challenges at work.”
“Am I going to get a call from a sales person?”
“How much does this cost?”

This headline scares people off, right? It’s talking about the product before the people!

After a lot of research and collaboration with NueMD’s marketing director, I developed a hypothetical “script” of what visitors are thinking when searching “medical billing software”:

“Getting reimbursed by insurance companies is consuming a huge part of my practice’s administrative time. Dealing with the back and forth, denied claims, delayed accounts receivable puts such a strain on our productivity. All we want to do is take care of our patients. This should not be such a huge deal and we’ve got to find a way to simplify.”

From this dialogue, we decided to test an alternative headline that touched on real pain points found in our research (delayed accounts receivable, laborious tasks and software that is difficult to use).

The headline we tested encompassed each of these three elements, and appeared just above a testimonial that reinforced the headline statement:

nuemd 3 - 600

So how did it perform against our original headline?

nuemd 4 - 600

Well this is embarrassing. Our new headline lagged by almost 2%.

Our A/B test revealed that our new headline lagged by almost 2%.

Conversion Freak-Out Note #1: If you’re freaking out about the test being called after 13 conversions, this means you: 1) have high traffic landing pages that reach the baseline of 250 conversions in less than a year, or 2) you’re a conversion expert who thinks low-traffic pages aren’t worth testing, or 3) work with clients that have a really large budget for PPC landing page testing. If you read through to the end of this post, you’ll see how we navigated the low-traffic situation and worked within my client’s PPC budget.

Conversion Freak-Out Note #2: This headline test ran for a full month. Would we have preferred to run until we got a total of 250 conversions or a full year of testing data? Of course. However, if you’re like a lot of PPC advertisers, you: 1) have a budget and 2) can’t force more people to search for your keywords. My client, NueMD had a PPC budget to work within and felt confident we could test in a way that produced more leads for their sales department. (See “The Results” at the end of this article for final results.)

Back to the headline. What happened?

We had a solid hypothesis, didn’t we? We addressed the visitor’s problems and that’s a good thing, right? We connected with their pains and dreams and that’s what people want, don’t they?

I think the answers are yes, yes and yes, but our testing disproved several assumptions:

  • We thought visitors needed more information about the benefits and value of the software. Our heatmaps showed they were ready to see a demo.
  • We assumed visitors needed to be “seen and heard” at this phase in the buyer journey, when they actually just wanted to see the product in action.

Testing showed this audience didn’t want to hear about problems within their medical practice. They are most likely in a hands-on role and already know the problems. They’re busy and don’t need to have their in-office problems re-articulated to them.

When they arrive on the landing page, they have a different problem than the actual problem they’re dealing with in their practice. They need the information a demo contains!

And they want a headline that says they’re going to get what they want, which is a demo!

We proved this hypothesis to be true, changing the headline on the new design to read, “Watch a Free Online Demo,” with sub-headline, “And see why 24,000 medical professionals choose NueMD.”

nuemd 5 - 600

This design contains similar information as the original, but consistently outperformed the original.

Takeaways for Your Landing Pages

In this headline test, we learned the importance of defining the buyer journey and identifying where your prospect is in their buyer journey. Before you write your next headline, try the following:

  • Test your PPC traffic to see what message resonates. In our case, we could have tested “Get a Free Demo” against “Automate and Get Paid Faster” or “Get Paid Faster.”
  • Develop a hypothetical “script” of what visitors are thinking when they are searching for your product/service. What phase of the buying process are they in? Are they searching for a solution to a burning problem or are they aware of the solution and looking at their options?

Understanding your prospect’s place in the buyer journey is your first step in writing a headline that resonates.

“Best practice” #2: Only High Value Content Gets Leads

You can’t get quality leads without providing high-value content. This is best practice #2. When people provide their email, they often know they’re being put on a list — so you better make it worth their while.

Based on this best practices advice, we made the assumption that the “Register below to view a FREE demo of our software!” wasn’t a high value offer compared to the quantity of information required to get it.

Landing Page Call to Action

The demo is barricaded behind a form that requires my first/last name, email AND phone number. Notice the emphasis on FREE in the form’s headline…  This implies that some people pay for a demo, which some may find odd or at least confusing.

When I step into the visitor’s mind, I hear a lot of “exit page” dialogue:

“I don’t think so.” /exit page
“I don’t have time.” /exit page
“Just give me the demo.” /exit page
“I don’t want to talk to a salesperson.” /exit page

You get the idea. Logic tells us people don’t provide an email address for something that should be freely available.

Problem is… the data showed I was wrong, and an average of 4–6% of visitors consistently fill out this form.

But why?

One (of many potential) hypotheses: All of their competitors have the same call to action. If you want a demo of medical billing software from *anyone* without providing a name and email, you’re up the creek:

nuemd 6 - 600

All of NueMD’s Google AdWords competitors also used a gated demo.

Of the competitors bidding on “medical billing software,” all of them kept their demos behind a form. In the medical billing software field, requiring contact details for sales staff to follow up is pretty much “table stakes” across the industry.

So how does the competitive landscape change the conversation in our visitors mind?

For starters, it can color their expectations. Maybe their inner dialogue sounds more like this:

“Good grief, I can’t get a demo anywhere without entering my email. Whatever.” /fill form
“Oh they require the same as XYZ company. Okay.” /fill form
“I’ve got to see how these guys compare to XYZ company I’m talking to.” /fill form
“Whatever. I have to see this demo to get on with my research.” /fill form
“I’ve heard good things so I guess it’s fine.” /fill form

Takeaways for Your Landing Pages

In this test we learned:

  • You have to test various offers and CTAs on each audience to find out what really constitutes “high friction.”
  • Logic does not prevail. Even if something seems like a common-sense assumption, you have to test your logic/hypotheses.
  • It’s important to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Click on your competitors’ ads to find out how their messaging may be affecting the action visitors take on your landing page.

“Best practice” #3: Low-Traffic Pages Aren’t Worth Testing

I can’t NOT talk about this. Low-traffic pages, or pages that take a loooong time to reach 250 conversions or “statistical significance” are common. I’ve noted this already, but it’s a point worth exploring in more detail.

To say I’m going to “debunk” this best practice may be overstating, but the results of this test (summarized in “The Results” section) prove that you can still increase leads into your sales funnel using a low-traffic landing page.

So let’s look at the details. Our testing for these pages ran for a total of 5 months and allowed for full-week, Friday-to-Friday testing. Each week we review results and either let the test keep running, or discuss new things to test.

Via AdWords, this page gets around 300-400 unique visitors a month. There could be some AdWords click-through optimization to increase traffic to the pages, but we can’t force more people to search for “medical billing software.” There is a ceiling on the number of people looking for this product, which you may experience in your business as well.

So how do you A/B test pages that won’t reach “statistical significance” (or get 3,000–4,000 conversions, or heck even 100 conversions) until the year 2054?

Test High-Impact Changes

We can’t dramatically increase the number of visits to the page, so the way we handled this question with NueMD is by testing high-impact changes. High impact changes are those that test variants with very different elements. Examples from NueMD include:

  • Different messaging/headline: “Watch a Demo” vs. “Automate and Get Paid Faster”
  • Design: Big shift in the typography, layout and visual design

When you don’t have a ton of traffic to send to your A/B tests, big changes have more noticeable and measurable effects. Making dramatic changes per variant helps you get the data you need, even if you can’t send more traffic (or wait until 2054!).

If you make a dramatic change that seems like it’s promising, it may be worth the wait to keep the test running as long as you can. But if you have a challenger that’s consistently underperforming, don’t be afraid to pull the plug altogether and go back to your control. It’s really a balancing and juggling act — working with your PPC budget, PPC messaging and conversions, landing page messaging and conversion, and doing your best to make wise decisions with the money you have to spend.

The Test Results

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Whether you’re working on a page that gets gobs of traffic or not, at the end of the day, did you drive more leads into the sales funnel or not? Here’s our pre-redesign stats:

Landing Page Stats Before

and our stats after:

Landing Page Stats After

On average, NueMD is consistently seeing 1.5% more leads to their inside sales team over a 5-month period as a result of our testing and optimization. That’s an additional 31 leads to their inside sales team in 5 months. Low traffic or not, calling the test too early or not, that’s a concrete result we can directly attribute to our optimization efforts.

Takeaways for Your Landing Page

To recap, you can test and get meaningful data from low-traffic landing pages. Statistical significance won’t play the same kind of role it does on consistently high traffic pages, but you can still gather insights and optimize for more leads.

When you’re testing low-traffic pages, try the following to keep your A/B testing moving along:

  • Make dramatic, high-impact changes for more noticeable and measurable effects.
  • If a challenger looks like it’s completely bombing, you don’t necessarily need to wait until statistical significance eliminates it. Pull the plug, go back to the original, and move on to your next test.

What to Do Next

The beautiful thing about A/B testing is that even failed tests can bring you invaluable, actionable insight.

The important thing is to start testing today.

There were so many awesome nuggets learned from this exercise that I didn’t even get to share in this post, but here’s a recap of the biggies:

  • Conversion “best practices” can be dead wrong. Test assumptions even if they go against common advice.
  • Do some testing around your buyer’s journey, and find out if you’re making correct assumptions about what they want at their stage in that journey. Effective headlines and CTAs are heavily dependent on location in the buyer journey.
  • Check out your competition — they may be doing things that influence your buyer’s clicking habits.
  • If you don’t have a lot of traffic, you can still optimize your pages by testing for high impact changes. And don’t be afraid to pull the plug on an underperforming challenger, even before statistical significance.

One final word: These insights are a great launching pad for your next test, but you should always test them yourself to be sure the same rings true for your particular niche or audience!

Over to you — have your A/B tests debunked any “best practices”?

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7 Paths of Persuasion: How to Easily Generate the Buying Impulse

Have you ever been swayed by a good email, landing page, or pop-up?

Do you ever unconsciously take out your wallet because of an enticing offer?

All of us, whether we are aware of it or not, are submitted to marketing and propaganda on a daily basis. It’s estimated that the average adult is exposed to 285-305 forms of advertising a day, 76 of which we notice. It’s also estimated that city dwellers are exposed to an astounding average of 5,000 ads per day and that billboards reach 93% of all Americans.

All of these advertisements are forms of persuasion; they’re a mix of a persuasive copy, imagery, and signals that we inevitably become prey to. The majority of these ads are based on the principals of classical conditioning, where a one-second glance is enough time to associate two things (an attractive person and a product, for example).

We’ve been conditioned—like the animals we are—to keep making these associations until they finally stick. The next time we want to become more attractive we buy that product because it’s top of mind.

coke ad

“People are happy when they drink coke? I want to be happy, I’m going to drink coke.” ~your brain

But when we have more time to invest in advertisements, such as commercials, video pre-loaders, and dedicated landing pages, we can utilize more tactful forms of persuasion.

As marketers, the topic of persuasion is naturally enticing and ends up being our answer to the topic “how are we going to do ‘X’” or “how are we going to increase ‘X’” questions. While there are definitely more than a handful of persuasion tactics, we’re going to take a look at seven in this article.

These ‘paths of persuasion’ work well in both digital and physical marketing formats, making them useful for almost any strategic communication or conversion professional. Below are descriptions of each method, examples of how they work, and advice on how to realistically implement them.

1. Altercasting

Think of your ideal target client — what social role would he or she like to be seen as playing?

Altercasting makes use of people’s natural tendencies to want to live up to others’ expectations.

For instance, if you are attempting to obtain donations for a children’s hospital, you might want to create an emotional headline that essentially encourages readers to adopt a role. Such a headline might say:

You care about children’s health. Make a donation to our hospital today and save a child’s life.”

Using this technique, you’re casting a role (in this case, the caring Good Samaritan role) onto your audience. Psychology tells us that the audience will want to live up to these expectations. Thus, they’ll feel more inclined to agree with the altercasted persona we’ve developed and ‘fulfill’ that role by taking action — making a donation.

Altercasting can be broken into two types:

Manded altercasting – is when a new or existing role is made more prominent and told directly to people. Examples would include “You as a Marketer should…” or “You’re the type of person who values…”

Tact altercasting – is a more passive way of forcing people to accept certain roles through subtle triggers. A good example of tact altercasting would be an advertisement that first depicts an opposite; the people who don’t use our product/service, and then transitions into a message supporting those who do use our product/service.

The KISSmetrics slogan is actually a good example of very subtle tact altercasting: “Google Analytics tells you what’s happening, KISSmetrics tells you who’s doing it.” This instills the benefit of being in a position (role) where we have access to better data reporting on our websites and we might think, “Hey, that would be something we could really use.”

Below is an ad illustrating the altercasting method:

smell like a man

(source)

Below is an ad showing how altercasting with reflection can catalyze user behavior:

altercasting reflection

(source)

Flaws with altercasting – while inherently good causes are supported well by altercasting, the ‘attractiveness’ of roles can be less effective when the goal and message is not inherently dramatic, profound, or important.

To account for a reduction in importance , the goals and benefits should be toned down accordingly. An app that helps with organization should promise just that; become a more organized person, rather than glorified carpe-diem copy.

2. AAB Pattern

The AAB Pattern takes your readers on a journey through irony. Essentially, you make one statement, make another statement that agrees with the first statement and then add a final statement that contradicts the first two. It’s surprising and, from a marketing standpoint, sticky.

The general flow of the AAB Pattern is kept to a predictable rhythm. Think of it like poetry in motion:

“I love xyz. I find xyz wonderful. But I never buy xyz because they cost too much.”

It sets up your next paragraph nicely, and individuals will tend to read on to find out why you’re being so inconsistent. We’re already predicting ‘B’ to be a continuation of the ‘A’ messages, so this sets the stage for a somewhat dramatic turn of events.

This method is often used in humor and witty ads, where the subject is built up only to have their expectations blown away. Also, the repetition of ‘A’ can be made more than twice to amplify the effect of ‘B,’ along with an ABA Pattern that still uses ‘B’ as the mental tangent but ‘A’ becomes the true goal.

Below is an ad illustrating the ABA Pattern method:

aab example crabs

(source)

Flaws with the AAB Pattern method - Using repetition to solidify a variant can backfire due to confusion, overload of messages, and unclear call to action. Even if we solidify the ‘B,’ we can still fall short of persuading behavior.

3. Golden Handcuffs

When you’re fearful a potential buyer or user will leave partway through your pitch, ad, or video, make them a middle-term offer that would be difficult to refuse.

For instance, on a landing page for a retailer, you might tell readers that if they sign up for your email newsletter, they will get a valuable coupon of 25 percent off their first order. This encourages them to take the next step and give you their email address, even if they are unsure. You’ve essentially persuaded them through another part of the sales funnel.

The reason this works is because it’s difficult for people to say no to rewards they deem significant. Conceptualized and often associated with the benefits and pay rates one receives at their company, golden handcuffs are the positive enforcers limiting and/or influencing behavior.

Think about what happens when you enter a typical grocery store. You have a general list of items you need, but along your path to get them, you are consistently exposed to deals — and sometimes they are put near the handlebars of shopping carts for us to take immediate notice. Our journey through the aisles is accompanied by savings, discounts, free-samples, and more.

Managers often use this tactic if they feel they might lose key personnel due to a merger or other change. Instead of having a mass exodus, lucrative bonuses are offered to supervisors in return for longer contracts. It’s a bit like dangling a carrot on a stick.

Here is an example of the golden handcuffs method:

123shrink example

(source)

Flaws with the golden handcuffs method - Some people associate discounts with lower quality. For instance, the example above could cause skepticism as well as instilling thoughts of it being a poor product. Additionally, by devaluing our services, we can easily lose revenue by offering too much of an incentive or not putting a limit on the number of discounts/golden handcuffs we offer.

4. Isolation

Isolation may have a negative connotation in a social sense because it can easily come off as manipulative. But if you can isolate a target in your marketing, you have a much better chance of turning him or her over to your way of thinking.

In the physical world, isolation is a technique that can be useful in swaying groups of people. When they are isolated from others who might have contrary positions, they tend to adopt “group think.”

In marketing, isolation is a bit more challenging because, well, you can’t control the sites people visit. Also, it takes a deft hand to instill exclusivity, subtle guilt, desperation, and even uncertainty without becoming obvious. These are manipulative tactics that can turn your prospects off, if noticed.

That said, they can really influenced the attitude and behavior of prospects. For example:

  • black-and-white thinking: “There is no ‘maybe'; you’re either with us or against us.”
  • information control: You only show content reminding visitors of an ‘unfortunate’ situation and content enforcing the benefits of the product/service.
  • emotions and doubt: “The people, facts, and figures you trusted are no longer relevant or true — you may have been lied to; this new information will help you though.”

Here is an example of the isolation method:

isolation ppc

Flaws with the isolation method – A few things can happen if the doubt you create or new information you provide is weak or poorly planned. People might flat-out ignore/not believe your ad, people might see the ‘maybe’ we tried to hide, and people may even call us out on it.

5. Higher Purpose

Just about every person has a natural desire to work toward a purpose higher than him- or herself. Whether the purpose is spiritual, political or social, it drives people to do things they might not otherwise want to do. This can include making substantial donations toward causes or funding start-ups.

If you have a product or service, think about the higher purpose it is serving. Then create a marketing campaign around the higher purpose, a la this campaign to conserve H2O:

Here is an example of the higher purpose method:

save water save life example

(source)

Some of the most enjoyed commercials — yes, sometimes people actually enjoy commercials — are forms of dramatic ‘higher purpose’ advertisements that heavily play on our emotions/heartstrings. The goal is to leave viewers with a spark of inspiration to do something. Here’s a great example from Bell:

Flaws with the higher purpose method – The only real flaw with the higher purpose method is in delivery. People can be persuaded just as easily in the opposite direction, especially if our content has mixed messages, controversial topics, and overly dramatic imagery.

6. Thought-Stopping

Distraction is not just just a counter to productivity. It’s a tool, and our ability to be distracted is in our nature. When something new enters our vision it immediately starts seeding attention. However, this only lasts as long as it takes us to figure out if the new subject is actually worth our attention.

This is the reason it’s essential to get prospects to stop all their dissuading thoughts and focus on your marketing. To do this, you need to employ reasons for them to stay on your page, read your content or listen to your video.

Your words and images have to be riveting, and you may also want to add some kind of rewards into the mix.

By giving your audience a reason to stop doing what comes naturally to them, you’re giving your marketing a better chance of success. Consider how Thought-Stopping is used by this marketing advertisement:

Here is an example of the thought-stopping method:

thought  stopping

(source)

Flaws with the thought-stopping method – Temporal people place a value on their time; it can be spent and wasted. Spatial people are more ‘in the moment’ and view time as more of an experience. It’s the temporal people who are quick to ward off attempts to disrupt their thoroughly planned days and can easily defend themselves against most types of marketing.

7. Special Language

There’s a reason the word “selfie” has been added to Webster’s dictionary: it’s new, it’s evocative and it’s powerful. The term “selfie” is a brilliant concoction, and it’s changed the way we refer to photographs, as well as the act of taking them and their style. This is a prime example of how a piece of “special language” can take hold and build buzz.

Brands may try to combine phrases and keywords in their industry to entice viewers. Our curiosity to learn more about a new term can easily drive clickthrough traffic. One form of special language many of you may be familiar with is hashtags. They’re essentially mashups of keywords for events, trends, and promotions.

Not sure you have what it takes to create a new word? Try this word generator to spark some ideas.

Here are a few examples of the special language method:

special language examples

Flaws with the special language method – Large brands have the convenience of trend-setting with much more ease than small- or medium-sized businesses. Attempts to create fun or funky phrases can cause confusion and disrupt messages meant to convert visitors into customers.

Final Thoughts

Depending on your industry, business size, and audience, different manifestations of these methods may be best suited to your situation. Look at your competitors and pay attention to the marketing and advertising tactics they use to engage.

Most importantly, for any method you implement in a digital setting, always create at least two versions. Testing with tools such as eye-tracking and monitoring performance in your preferred analytics software will ensure you have better insights to act on.

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Jesse Aaron.

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Addicted to Your Brand: 4 Ways to Build a Cult Following

On September 1, 2014, a young couple from Jackson, Mississippi, traveled all the way to New York City to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue. They wanted to buy Apple’s latest iPhone, the iPhone 6.

The phone, however, wasn’t available. In fact, it hadn’t even been announced to the world. The couple had arrived in New York one week ahead of the announcement and three weeks ahead of the phone’s release.

And yet, when they arrived, they found that they weren’t the first ones in line. There were already people queuing up for a phone that didn’t exist yet!

But here’s the shocking part. So eager were the couple to get their hands on the new phone that they paid the first people in line $2,500 to swap spots!

Think about that. They travelled over 1,000 miles, spent $2,500 to get in line, and waited 20 days camped outside the store just so they could be the first to buy the new phone, for which they had to shell out another $400 each.

So, what’s so special about the iPhone 6? It’s not much of a change from the iPhone 5. Sure, there are a few performance upgrades and new features, but most people can’t tell the difference. No, the reason people are willing to spend so much on it is because it’s new.

In fact, studies show that when exposed to something new, our brains release dopamine. In other words, you can actually create an addiction to your products.

How? Novelty gives us pleasure, and that’s why we’re willing to spend boucoup bucks on something new. So this one tactic—creating novelty—can not only re-engage existing customers, but gain new ones and create a cult following in the process.

Of course, we’re not all as big as Apple, but we can still make use of the psychology behind novelty to get customers excited about our brand. In this post, we’ll look at four ways to do this.

New Models and Product Upgrades

Let’s continue with the iPhone example. Most people, including iPhone owners, can’t tell the difference between the current model and the new one, save for the fact that the new one is, well, new.

Jimmy Kimmel actually ran an experiment where he asked people for feedback on the iPhone 5, except he gave them a 4S instead. It’s funny to see how everyone is so certain that the phone is thinner, bigger and faster than what they have, when, in fact, it is the same.

The point is an upgrade means new features and new abilities. This is attractive, especially to people who already have an older version of your product. If they enjoyed your older model, they’re sure to enjoy the new one because it is better than what they currently have.

To people who were on the fence about the older model of your product, a newer version (or upgrade) one might just be what you need to convert customers. That’s why iPhones continue to break records each year. It’s not just attractive to past customers; it also brings in new ones who chose not to buy previously.

As an ecommerce retailer, this is a powerful way to increase conversions and sales over the long term. It does two things. It keeps your business relevant by forcing you to innovate and continuously improve your products, and at the same time the novelty of each new product increases your sales.

Eventually, if each new model outperforms the previous one, you enter a situation like Apple’s, where people expect a newer, better model, and will go out of their way to buy it.

New Products

Just like with new models, entirely new product lines can increase conversion rates. I’m going to continue using Apple as a case study for this. I’m not a fanboy, I swear!

Here’s a look at Apple’s revenues by product. The graph goes up and to the right like any good graph should. Those regular spikes you see every year are when new models come out, generating additional sales before they drop back down to baseline.

Apple new product conversion rates

The interesting thing to note is how the baseline increases as Apple introduced new products. The iPhones came out in 2007-2008, causing a small upward shift in computer and iPod sales. This shift is more marked when you look at 2010, when the iPad came out.

With each new product, the sales of other products increased. The new product lines sold well each time because of the novelty. But, Apple also made sure their products supplemented each other and could be fully integrated. That means it isn’t uncommon to find someone who owns a product from one line buying from another.

If you sell digital products or software, look no further than Udemy. The top instructors on Udemy have multiple courses, and each time they create a new one, sales of their other courses go up. You’ll see that each of these top instructors focuses on a theme, and each course addresses one aspect of that theme.

Again, the advantages of this are two-fold. Creating new products, physical or digital, keeps you innovative and also increases your conversion rates across your portfolio.

New Features

Novelty doesn’t mean you have to create a new product each time. Simply adding features to your existing product can induce the same effect. This might not be viable for physical products, but it’s easy to do for digital products or SaaS businesses.

Buffer is a great example of this. They are a social media scheduling software, and their core feature allows you to set up tweets or posts to go out at pre-determined times. However, they’re constantly adding new features to supplement their core offering, like browser plugins and analytics.

novelty - buffer

Continuously adding to your product keeps your current customers happy. When they first paid for your product, they were buying into a limited feature set. Any additional features you add are bonuses.

It also lets potential customers know that you care about your users by fulfilling their feature requests. For those who are on the fence, it makes more sense for them to buy as soon as possible, and take advantage of free updates than to wait till your software is more feature-rich and higher-priced.

The novelty factor plays a huge role here too. Buffer posts about them online and in their emails. Users and subscribers want to check out these new features so they come back to Buffer and re-engage with the product. That increases traffic and word of mouth, which lead to higher conversions down the road.

Talk to existing customers to find out what’s missing from your product. Dig through your customer support history to see if they have asked for certain features, or if they wanted to do things your product doesn’t support. Also, look at your competitors to see what features they’re pushing out, and try to implement those in a better way.

Improvements

Continuously improving your product or service counts too. It might take time to build new features or products, but making sure your existing features work well is important.

For example, MailChimp recently pushed out a series of improvements to their UI and UX. They made it much easier and simpler for users to create autoresponders and campaigns. The core features are the same, but they just look newer and work better.

novelty - mailchimp

If your product has a free trial or is freemium, small improvements like these can increase conversions from trial to paid user. Conversion rate optimization isn’t just about making changes to your website. You want leads to go on and become customers, and improving your product gets you there.

Again, even minor improvements can result in a whole new experience for your users.

Collect feedback from trial users to find out why they aren’t converting to paid. Look through your support tickets to see what confuses users most. For every one person asking how to do a certain thing, there are many more who didn’t ask and just stopped using your product. Try to pre-empt these questions by improving your product.

Start Creating

We all want new experiences. We want to see new places, meet new people, and use new products. So don’t stop creating something new. Create new products, create new features, create new content, and give your customers new experiences.

Make that a habit, and you could easily create an addiction to your brand. Nothing like a cult following to help your bottom line.

How are you using novelty to increase conversion rates now? Let us know in the comments!

Read other Crazy Egg articles by Sid.

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6 Must-Know Tips for Successful A/B Testing

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) lets you achieve something quite wonderful: it helps you get more out of your existing traffic.

A/B testing is the secret sauce that makes that happen.

But what happens when you finally decide to carry out A/B tests? You find tons of articles on the subject and are bombarded with advice—advice which is often conflicting in nature.

Today I am going to tell you the top six things you should know before carrying out an A/B test.

1. Begin A/B testing without any assumptions at all

Don’t assume anything about your audience when you conduct an A/B test. Don’t assume, just because the big orange button works for Unbounce and Oli Gardner sings praises about it, that it will improve your conversions.

That may not happen. Worse: your test version may get lower conversion rates.

Let’s say it is a CTA (call to action) button you’re testing. You may expect conversions to improve if the buttons are bigger. Or you may believe yellow converts best (after all, that’s what the gurus tell us).

But what if the results show otherwise?

In another post, I discussed a case study about a site that tested yellow versus violet buttons. Despite assertions that yellow buttons perform best, in this case, the violet button converted more.

The reason? It stood out in contrast to the site’s brand colors.

Start your tests with a hypothesis, but don’t presume to know what the results will be. More times than not, they aren’t what you expect.

2. Do a qualitative analysis to understand what your audience needs.

Quantitative analysis is when you ask your audience direct questions about your website/business, and it’s a fantastic way to get detailed information for your testing hypotheses.

Let’s say you are selling a dog training course/eBook. You have a great sales page, plenty of testimonials, excellent design and a bonus eBooks to go along with the course. However, the conversions are dismal; on some days, you don’t even have any conversions.

What can you do?

You sign up for Qualaroo and ask your visitors for feedback. Create a spot in the sidebar or on a slide-in that asks people, “What are the problems you are facing with this site?”

The answer you get may actually be the solution to your conversion problem. For instance, visitors may tell you that your site loads too slowly. Armed with that knowledge, you can fix your site speed, and…

Boom! Your conversions double.

But you can use this tactic to fix your landing pages too. For that, you might ask, “What’s the number 1 problem you face with your dog?”

You likely receive many answers, but the most common problem your visitors report is that their dog doesn’t listen to them.

You can now frame your sales page in a manner that resonates with this demand. You can also set up an opt-in pop-up that pre-sells them the same idea with a free eBook. Best of all, you know exactly how to test your sales page: one without the opt-in pop-up and one with the pop-up.

With targeted email subscribers, now your conversions reach the sky.

Groovehq did something even more amazing: they telephoned their customers to find out what they expected from Groove.

Oli Gardner applied the same philosophy to build a viral landing page.

“After watching the conversion rate hover around 25% I decided to try and figure out why more people weren’t clicking my CTA. To do this I added the Qualaroo widget” ~Oli Gardner

kissinsights-survey1

The secret is to allow users to give you direct feedback. Then apply that information to smarter A/B tests that truly impact your conversion rate.

3. Make sure you reach statistical significance

Statistical significance refers to “the low probability of obtaining at least as extreme results given that the null hypothesis is true.” In ordinary language, it means you’re sure the results of your test were reliable.

Statistical confidence is the likelihood of the same results being repeated. We talk about statistical significance in A/B tests because of chance.

There are other factors to consider as well.

Sample Size:

If the sample size is too small, then you can’t be confident in being able to reproduce the results.

A sample size of 10 to 100 people is generally considered low. In the example below, two versions of the landing page were used.

Version A: Upload button bold; convert button bold; convert button has a right arrow.

Version B: All buttons regular weight; no right arrow on convert button.

But the sample sizes were too small; only 128 users in version A and 108 in version B.

In fact, we can see that the version seems to have made the page more usable with CTAs in bold.

Statistical significance   other A B pitfalls — Cennydd BowlesImage Source

Role of chance:

It’s always possible that the conversions improved not because of the changes you made, but because of the visitor’s mood, the time of year, or maybe something else.

Statistical significance doesn’t mean practical significance: Just because a test is statistically significant doesn’t mean that it is practical.

As you increase the sample size, you may notice small differences in conversions in the order of 1 to 2%. However, for most websites, these small changes mean nothing. In such cases, the costs of obtaining those results might not even be worth the limited improvement.

To determine the statistical significance of A/B tests, you can try this free tool from Kissmetrics.

A/B Testing Significance Calculator

4. Do Not Stop Early

You should not stop a test early, even if it appears that one version of the best is winning. Until you reach the predetermined sample size you set for the test, there’s a possibility that the element of chance may be at play.

Say you are planning on running an A/B test for one full week to meet a sample size of 10,000. What if after two or three days you see conversion rates of 4% on one version and 5% on another?

You should keep going until the sample size is met (and possibly even beyond).

Will Critchlow from Distilled ran tests for two times, four times and eight times longer than planned.

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His conclusions show that “running tests for 8 times as long as we previously thought might only get you back to a 90% confidence level.“

5. Test Multiple Variables

Although A/B testing traditionally tests just one element at a time, there’s a lot more you can do with multivariate testing. Once you are done testing headlines and CTA buttons alone, test combinations of these variables.

Comparing a Multivariate Test to an A B Test

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To know more about multi-variate testing you can refer to this article here or this one here. Read here for 6 tools to help you run your tests.

6. Always remember, popular A/B tests May Not Work for You

This goes back to the point I made above: Don’t assume anything. Just because a test works for another brand doesn’t mean it will work for you.

For example, in most case studies, videos increase conversions—but when Device Magic tried it on their own site, they found that videos decreased conversions.

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The image slider increased conversions from the homepage to the signup page by 35%; it also increased subsequent signups by 31%.

Groovehq took inspiration from popular A/B testing case studies to run their own tests, but most A/B tests ended up inconclusive.

I have seen several examples where changing the button color produced significant changes in conversions.

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However, for Groove’s customers, red, blue and green buttons all seemed to convert the same way.

In one of Neil Patel’s earlier posts here, he suggested that introducing urgency in the CTA buttons may help conversions.

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But urgency seemed to have no impact for Groove.

Basecamp has conducted several A/B tests on pricing options. For them something converted better than others, but for Groove the results were again inconclusive.

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That said, just because it didn’t work for Groove doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. You should keep testing and take nothing for granted.

Here are 6 more such case studies with A/B tests producing unexpected outcomes.

Concluding thoughts

Have you conducted any A/B tests for your website? If so how were the results? Were you able to improve conversions after implementing the changes?

Read other Crazy Egg articles by George Mathew.

The post 6 Must-Know Tips for Successful A/B Testing appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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6 Must-Know Tips for Successful A/B Testing