Tag Archives: marketing

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[VIDEO] The Landing Page Sessions: Marketing Campaigns Deconstructed

There are so many things to keep track of when designing a landing page. Is the goal clear? Is the page mobile responsive? Have you optimized the copywriting, testimonials, UX and design? How’s your attention ratio?

With all that responsibility comes a lot on uncertainty. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a sounding board? How about the guy who’s seen more landing pages than anyone else on the planet?

With our new series The Landing Pages Sessions, we made that happen for 12 lucky marketers; we deconstructed their marketing campaigns so you can learn from their mistakes.

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The Landing Page Sessions are 15-20 minute videos analyzing real-world marketing campaigns from start to finish. In each episode, Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner dissects a campaign landing page along with the ad or email that drove traffic to it.

He gives his feedback on what he thinks could improve conversions, offers A/B testing inspiration, then actually implements those changes in the Unbounce builder so you can get the full picture of the optimized page.

And because we like you so much, we’re dropping the first three episodes today. (After this week, we’ll be releasing an episode every Friday.)

Episode 1: Five Hot Seconds

Powder White, a booking service for ski holidays, wants to collect leads by sending email traffic to a landing page. Unfortunately, this goal is lost in a mix of competing CTAs, unclear copy and disappearing form fields. Oli tries to right the ship with a five-second test in UsabilityHub and some quick copy edits in Unbounce.

Episode 2: A Moment of Clarity

NRG Edge is a social network for oil and gas professionals…or is it? Oli isn’t sure at first. “Tabloidy” headlines, bloated copy and generic business speak get in the way of clearly communicating the value. Can an “Unbounce style” makeover bring a needed dose of clarity?

Episode 3: Message Match… Where Art Thou?

Photosocial is driving Facebook traffic to a landing page for its 12-month mentorship program. In this episode, Oli discusses message match vs. design match, how “conversion context” varies between inbound channels, and how to make your testimonials believable. Oh yeah, and how soon is too soon to say “welcome”?

Happy learning!

Continued:

[VIDEO] The Landing Page Sessions: Marketing Campaigns Deconstructed

The Ultimate Guide to Running a Holiday Email Campaign [Free Ebook]

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In 2014, 35% of holiday shoppers relied on promotional emails to keep track of all the sweet deals. Can your customers count on you to keep them informed? And when your customers do open and click your emails, are you sending them to the right place?

Eliminate the guesswork with The Ultimate Holiday Email Marketing + Landing Page Guide, a free ebook written by Unbounce and the email experts at Campaign Monitor. It’s packed with the essential advice for running a delightful – and delightfully-successful – holiday campaign.

In this free ebook, you’ll learn how to:

  • Write subject lines that cut through the holiday chaos and make your message heard
  • Deliver personalized recommendations that encourage additional purchases
  • Craft high-converting landing pages for every single campaign
  • Ensure your content looks perfect on any device of any size

At 27 pages, you can finish reading it in the morning, plan your campaign in the afternoon, and reward yourself with some hot cocoa at night. (I recommend a dash of cayenne.)

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The Ultimate Guide to Running a Holiday Email Campaign [Free Ebook]

Adopt framework thinking to be a marketing optimization leader

So, the other day, my 10-year-old daughter says to me, “Daddy, why do all the books you read say ‘Leadership’ on the front? Why is that all you read about?”

“Well,” I say, “leadership is one of the topics I’m learning more about this year.”

“But, why do you need to read books about it?” she continues, “Shouldn’t you be your own kind of leader? Why do you need to copy what other people say?”

My first thought: Who has been sneaking into the house and teaching this kid to be so smart?

My second thought: I hope she never stops asking questions like that.

My third thought: She’s right. Learning shouldn’t be an exercise in copying what’s worked for others. Their truths are only true for them. And my experiences and learning may only apply to my situation. I could meticulously copy the habits, attitudes and actions of Steve Jobs and end up a colossal failure. His leadership methods are probably not going to work for me.

On the other hand, there is huge value in learning what has worked for others, and in taking inspiration to find your own way.

That’s why Steve Jobs is part of my personal mentor wall, along with Edison, Ghandi, Picasso, Hitchens, Jim Carrey (for his vision and drive, not necessarily all his movies). Each one of them reminds me of a certain characteristic I want to remind myself of.

Mentors wall
My mentor’s wall

Each of them are multi-dimensional people and could inspire many different qualities, but they particularly inspired me in these areas:

  • Persistence – Thomas Edison
  • Influence – Mahatma Ghandi
  • Expression – Pablo Picasso
  • Intelligence – Christopher Hitchens
  • Vision – Jim Carrey
  • Boldness – Steve Jobs

Inspiration is a start and is important. The learning I gain from others is especially useful when they’ve assembled their knowledge into practical frameworks. Frameworks make their particular insights applicable to other situations.

What do you get from learning how others have solved problems?

  1. Inspiration. The more stories I discover about successful people, the more encouragement I feel that anything can be overcome.
  2. Frameworks for thinking about the challenges you’re facing. Thinking about problems from differing perspectives, and using different frameworks, teaches your brain to explore all possibilities.
  3. Discipline. Even though my kids think of “discipline” as a negative word, it’s clearly necessary for long-term success. Learning new frameworks stretches my mind and keeps it focused on the problems at hand, allowing the focused concentration time needed for my mind’s goal-striving mechanism (or as Maxwell Maltz refers to it in Psycho-Cybernetics, the Servo Mechanism) to lock onto a problem and seek a solution.

Great frameworks separate the pro from the amateur

People often ask me what makes WiderFunnel different than other optimization agencies. I was actually just asked that question again today.

And, while there are many possible answers: great clients, amazing team, high-performance culture, awesome results, years of experience, deep test archives, etc, one aspect stands out.

I made an important decision when we began as a purely Conversion Rate Optimization agency back in 2007. I decided that we would focus on developing framework thinking rather than assembling lists of tips and tricks.

To do that, we needed to learn what actually works through A/B testing, which meant that WiderFunnel would only take projects we could learn from by A/B testing everything.

This was the more difficult path than others have taken, but one I believed would produce better results and knowledge in the long term.

And it has worked.

We’ve run more tests than anyone and developed a more refined and robust process because we’ve focused on refining the process, not just on selling opinions. Selling opinions is easy. Testing and refining our own frameworks is hard.

You can use framework thinking in your work too

I love Sean Johnson’s article about using framework thinking. It’s a reminder that giving an opinion is easy; finding a list of tips and tricks to answer your question is easy. But, finding a framework to help you answer your question is more robust. It gives you an answer that doesn’t expire when one of the variables changes.

Search for frameworks to help you answer your questions and you’ll find a path to continued improvement.

Conversion optimization frameworks

In your conversion optimization work, you’ll likely need to answer questions such as:

  • Where should I test?
  • What should I test?
  • How does my audience perceive my product?

To answer questions like those (and more), WiderFunnel has developed frameworks to use within our optimization process. You can adopt and adapt these frameworks in your CRO work too.

Need to know where to target your test zone?
Use the PIE Framework for prioritizing tests.

PIE framework for A/B testing prioritization.
PIE framework for A/B testing prioritization.

Wondering why your visitors aren’t converting?
Use the LIFT Model to view your marketing touchpoints from their perspective. It has become the world’s most popular optimization hypothesis framework for a reason.

The LIFT Model
The LIFT Model

What is your most important value proposition to test?
Try brainstorming with the points of difference (PODs), points of parity (POPs), and points of irrelevance (POIs).

WiderFunnel PODs, POIs and POPs

The evolution of the best optimization process

As we continue to optimize high volume businesses, WiderFunnel’s process itself is also constantly being reviewed and optimized. We run quarterly projects with our whole team, called “focus areas”, to evolve how we operate to continuously add more value.

As a result, we now have a new process model to share! It’s called the Infinity Optimization Process™.

Infinity Optimization Process (TM)
WiderFunnel’s Infinity Optimization Process™

In the coming weeks, I will provide a more detailed explanation of this next generation of WiderFunnel’s system and how it will continue to deliver the best optimization results in the industry. Make sure you’re subscribed to the blog to get the updates on where we’re leading.

The post Adopt framework thinking to be a marketing optimization leader appeared first on WiderFunnel.

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Adopt framework thinking to be a marketing optimization leader

The 20 Best Lessons from 100 CrazyEgg Posts

I recently had my 100th post published on the Crazy Egg blog. (In case you’re interested, here’s my first, published in 2012.) For me, that’s quite a milestone, as it’s the most posts I’ve written on someone else’s blog. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. In celebration, I’m recapping some of the most successful posts […]

The post The 20 Best Lessons from 100 CrazyEgg Posts appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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The 20 Best Lessons from 100 CrazyEgg Posts

How to Use Emotion to Influence Decisions & Increase Conversions

“Emotions have taught mankind to reason.” -Marquis De Vauvenargues Research done in the last 30 years shows that emotions “powerfully, predictably, and pervasively influence decision making” (Lerner et. al.). Recently, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio studied individuals who were damaged in the area of the brain that generated emotions. When asked, these individuals could not make even […]

The post How to Use Emotion to Influence Decisions & Increase Conversions appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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How to Use Emotion to Influence Decisions & Increase Conversions

Start Talking! How To Do Customer Interviews That Reveal Priceless Insights

Have you ever poured your heart out into an online survey? Or shared your deepest, innermost feelings while completing a customer satisfaction questionnaire? Probably not. There are loads of awesome qualitative research tools out there. But if you want extremely deep insight about your customers, there’s no substitute for picking up the phone and chatting […]

The post Start Talking! How To Do Customer Interviews That Reveal Priceless Insights appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Start Talking! How To Do Customer Interviews That Reveal Priceless Insights

How to Make Your Boring B2B SaaS Sound Sizzling Hot

Here’s your challenge. You’ve got this sweet SaaS. It’s powerful, feature-rich, benefit high, and primed for a raving and fanatical customer base. But how do you make it sound as awesome as it is? From your homepage to your content marketing efforts, what are the characteristics that make your SaaS sound sizzling hot? Let me […]

The post How to Make Your Boring B2B SaaS Sound Sizzling Hot appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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How to Make Your Boring B2B SaaS Sound Sizzling Hot

3 Ways Tinkoff Bank Optimized Credit Card Conversions – Case Study

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a process-oriented practice, which essentially aims at enhancing user experience on a website.

It starts with proactively recognizing challenges faced by users across a conversion funnel, and addressing them through various tools and techniques.

Tinkoff Bank understands the need for a process-oriented approach to CRO and puts it into practice.

The following case study tells us more about Tinkoff’s CRO methodology — and how it delivers incredible results.

About the Client

Tinkoff Bank is a major online financial services provider in Russia, which was launched in 2006 by Oleg Tinkov. In just a small duration, the bank has grown into a leader in credit cards — becoming one of the top four credit card issuers in Russia.

Notably, the bank was named Russia’s Best Consumer Digital Bank in 2015 by Global Finance.

Tinkoff operates through a branch-less digital platform, and relies a lot on its website for finding new customers. Like any other smart business, the bank constantly explores new ways to improve its website’s conversion rate. For this job, Tinkoff has a dedicated web analytics team that plans and executes CRO strategies on the website.

Context

Tinkoff Bank lets users apply for a credit card through an application form on its website. Users can fill up the application form, and submit it for approval from the bank. Once the application is approved, users receive their credit card at their homes — with zero shipment cost.

This is the original application page:

Tinkoff's Application Page

The application page on the website is fairly elaborate, consisting of a multi-step form and details about the application process and the credit card plan. This page is where conversions (form-submits) happen for Tinkoff.

Since the form involves multiple steps for completion, Tinkoff tracks submits for each step of the form along with submits for the complete form. Tinkoff refers to these conversions as short-application submits and long-application submits, respectively.

The ultimate goal for Tinkoff is to increase these conversions.

The Case

The CRO team at Tinkoff was working on improving their website’s usability to get higher conversions. It began with identifying key pages on the website that could be optimized. For this purpose, the team analyzed the website’s user data with Adobe Site Catalyst. It found that the credit-card application page had a significant bounce rate.

Next, the team planned on ways to help users stay on the application page and complete the conversion. They zeroed in on three areas of the web page, where they could introduce new features. The hypothesis was that these new features will improve user experience on the page.

However, the team needed to be absolutely sure about the effectiveness of these new features before applying changes to the web page permanently. There was only one way to do it — through A/B testing!

Tinkoff used VWO to carry out A/B tests on the page, and determine whether it was beneficial to introduce new functions there.

Let’s look at the tests closely.

TEST #1: Providing an Additional Information Box

The Hypothesis

By offering additional details about the credit card above the form, the number of sign-ups will increase.

The Test

Tinkoff created two variations of the original (control) page.

The first variation included a “More details” hyperlink underneath the “Fill out form” CTA button placed above the fold. When clicked, the hyperlink led to a new page which provided additional information about the credit card scheme.

Here is how it looked.

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The second variation had the same “More details” link below the CTA button. But this time, the link opened up a box right below. The box provided additional information — through text and graphics — about the credit card.

Here’s the second variation.

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The test was run on more than 60,000 visitors for a period of 13 days.

The Result

The first variation couldn’t outperform the control. It had an even lower conversion rate than the control.

The second variation, however, won against the control, and improved the page’s conversion rate by a handsome 15.5%. Moreover, it had a 100% chance of beating the control.

The Analysis

Displaying Key Differentiators:

Placing key differentiators — factors that make one superior than its competitors — on a web page prominently is one of the leading best practices in CRO. The key differentiators enhance the image of a brand in users’ eyes, which influences them to make a conversion.

Tinkoff, too, wanted to place its differentiators on the application form page. In order to not clutter the page, Tinkoff decided to display these differentiators within a box, behind the “More details” link.

The box clearly illustrated Tinkoff’s key differentiators such as free shipping of the card, free card recharge, and cashback on all purchases made through the card.

Related Post: Optimize Your Marketing Efforts with a Killer Value Proposition

Emphasizing on Free Shipping:

By now, we all know how free shipping influences the minds of the customers. In fact, lack of free shipping is the number one reason why people abandon their shopping carts!

Naturally, displaying “Free shipping” prominently on the application page worked well for Tinkoff.

free shipping

Note: Although free shipping was already mentioned on the original page’s top right corner, it didn’t have much contrast against the background — making it potentially unnoticeable to visitors. The variation, however, increased the chances of visitors spotting the much loved free shipping offer.

Reassuring Users About Tinkoff’s Credibility:

Reassuring users at each step of a conversion process helps improve the conversion rate. This is the reason why trust badges, testimonials, and social proof work for so many websites.

Likewise, the features-box on the application page reassured users about Tinkoff’s credibility. The box mentioned how Tinkoff is the leading internet bank providing more than 300,000 points of recharge, and how its service is completely digital — users don’t ever have to visit bank branches. This helped in making users trust the bank’s services, thereby increasing form submits.

Related Resource: 32% Increase in Conversions by A/B Testing for The Right Reasons

Why Did The First Variation Fail?

The “More details” link on the first variation page led users to a new page where additional information about the credit card was present. This feature, however, distracted some users away from the application form. And since web users have a short attention span, some users probably didn’t return back to complete the form — reducing the total number of conversions.

Furthermore, users had to make an effort leaving the application page to go on the new link, browsing through the content there, and returning back to the previous page to submit the form. Because of this effort involved, many users wouldn’t have visited the “More details” page — nullifying any value that the page could have provided them with. And without enough information, many users wouldn’t have converted.

Unsure users are the first to bounce off. Keep reassuring them about your credibility. Tweet: 3 Ways Tinkoff Bank Optimized Credit Card Conversions (Case Study) Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/tinkoff-case-study

TEST #2: Gamifying the Form Using a Progress Bar

The Hypothesis

Providing a “progress bar” on top of the four-step application form will motivate users to fill the form completely, resulting in a higher conversion rate.

The Test

Here again, Tinkoff designed two variations of the original form page.

The first variation had a yellow banner-like progress bar, right above the form. The progress bar highlighted the step on which the user was present. It also displayed the user’s progression on the form graphically, using a black line at its bottom. The bar mentioned the probability of approval of a credit card based on how far the user had filled the form.

This is the first variation.

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The second variation also had a progress bar, but with a different design.

Similar to the first variation, the second variation’s progress bar displayed the form’s step number and the probability of approval of a credit card. But, the progress bar here was green in color. And it didn’t have any additional black line to show the user’s progress on the form. Instead, the bar itself represented the user’s progression graphically: The green portion of the bar grew as users moved further on the form.

Take a look.

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The test ran on more than 190,000 visitors for a period of 39 days.

The Result

Both the variations outperformed the control!

The first variation had a 6.9% higher conversion rate than the control.

However, the second variation was the overall winner. It improved the conversion rate of the page by a robust 12.8%.

Both the variations had a 100% chance to beat the original page.

The Analysis

Curbing Users’ Anxiety:

Nobody likes filling up long forms on websites. Users only do that when they expect equal or higher value in return.

When users find lengthy forms, they often become anxious. This happens because they aren’t sure of gaining satisfactory value after completing the form. Many times, user’s anxiety leads them to bounce off the form (or the website altogether).

However, there are various website elements that are used to reduce users’ anxiety on a website — progress bar being one of them.

Progress barSource

A progress bar helps curb anxiety of users by providing them a visual cue about the effort required to complete a process. It reassures users that the process will be completed in due time and effort, keeping them from bouncing off the page.

The above fact has been concluded by various studies conducted on website and application designing.

Gamifying’ Users’ Experience:

Almost all of the web users today would have played video games on some platform or the other. It’s safe to say that most of them are familiar with progress bars displayed within such games. The progress bars, there, are usually associated with users’ progress within a game, telling how far they’ve reached in finishing the game’s objective (or beating a certain opponent in the game).

progress bar in games

The progress bar on Tinkoff’s credit card application form introduced a similar gaming experience to its users. The progress bar could only be fully filled when users completed their whole form. Whenever users found a partially filled progress bar, they had an additional motivation to fill and submit the form.

The fully filled progress bar, later, provided users with a sense of achievement.

‘Rewarding’ Users:

The progress bar deployed another gamification technique — reward.

On Tinkoff’s form page, the technique was put into force using an overlaid text on the progress bar. For instance, when users were on the second step of the form, the text read “The probability of approval is 30%” and “Get 10% for Step 2 completion.” Since users were investing time and effort in applying for the credit card, they would really want to have the highest probability for its approval. By realizing the importance of each step of the form for their application’s approval, users were further motivated to complete them.

Why Did The Second Variation Perform Better Than The First?

Because the second variation’s progress bar had greater visibility on the application page.

Providing contrast to your key elements on a web page is one of the fundamental principles of web design.

The first variation’s progress bar was a black line, and on the bottom of a yellow banner. Since the color scheme of the overall page included white, grey and yellow, the progress bar and the banner didn’t have much contrast. For some users, the progress bar could have easily blended in with the page’s theme. Moreover, the progress bar was quite thin, possibly making it even harder for some users to notice it.

progress bar close up

The second variation’s progress bar, on the other hand, flaunted green color — giving it ample contrast and visibility on the page. The width of the bar, too, was large enough to make it noticeable to the users. And once the the progress bar was noticed by the users, its persuading factors started to work on them.

Gamify your online forms to increase form-submits and conversions. Tweet: 3 Ways Tinkoff Bank Optimized Credit Card Conversions (Case Study) Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/tinkoff-case-study

TEST #3: Letting Users Fill Their Details Later

The Hypothesis

By giving users an option to fill up their passport details on the application form later, the number of form-submits will increase.

The Test

This test involved only one variation that was pitted against the control.

On the form’s second step, users were required to submit their passport related information. The variation gave an option to the users for completing this step later, using a “Don’t remember passport details” checkbox. Upon clicking this checkbox, a small window appeared, asking users to choose a medium — phone or email — to provide their details later. Users could complete the form whenever they had the passport details handy with them.

Here are the screenshots of the checkbox and the pop-up window.

fill details later - checkbox
Checkbox
Fill details later -- box
Pop-up

The test ran on over 265,000 visitors for a period of 23 days.

The Result

The variation won over the control page convincingly. It improved the conversion rate of the form by a whopping 35.8%. The after-filling conversion rate, too, increased by 10%.

The variation had a 100% chance to beat the control.

The Analysis

Acknowledging Users’ Issues:

The second step on the application form required detailed information about users’ passport. The form asked for information like passport’s date of issue, series and number, code division, and more. Most of the users don’t remember these details about their passport by memory. In order to complete the form, the users had no option but to take out their passports and look for the required information. However, some users wouldn’t have their passport handy with them while completing the form. This would have forced them to leave the form.

Now, with the option to fill out the passport details on the form later, users didn’t have a reason to leave the application form in the middle.

Providing Freedom to Users:

Once users clicked on the “Don’t remember passport details” checkbox on the page, they were met with two options for filling up the form later. They could either have the incomplete form’s link emailed to them, or they could choose the ‘phone’ option. The latter option allowed users to fill up the form through a phone call with Tinkoff’s executives.

Completing the form through a telephone call, particularly, reduced a great deal of effort that users had to make.

Virtually Shortening the Form-length:

Once users chose to fill their passport details later, they were only left with two steps to  complete out of the total four. So effectively, users had already covered half of the application form. And this information was reinforced by the progress bar on top of the form.

As users had completed the first half of the form like a breeze, they looked forward to completing the next half equally quickly.

success kid

In addition, the option to fill the passport data through a phone call, actually, converted the form into a three-step process.

Addressing the convenience of your users should be your top priority, always. Tweet: 3 Ways Tinkoff Bank Optimized Credit Card Conversions (Case Study) Read more at https://vwo.com/blog/tinkoff-case-study

Conclusion

Conversion Rate Optimization is not about testing random ideas on your website. It is about improving your website’s user experience through a coherent process. This process involves identifying areas of improvement on your website and suggesting changes based on traffic data and user behavior, and best practices. It’s followed by A/B testing these changes and learning about the effectiveness of the changes. Only when the changes improve the conversion rate of your website, you apply them permanently.

The post 3 Ways Tinkoff Bank Optimized Credit Card Conversions – Case Study appeared first on VWO Blog.

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3 Ways Tinkoff Bank Optimized Credit Card Conversions – Case Study

Hiten Shah on the Marriage of Data and Content [PODCAST]

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If data isn’t driving your content strategy, then it’s time to renew your vows with Google Analytics. Image source.

When you work on a marketing team, the right hand doesn’t always know what the left is doing. The analytics people work on their stuff, the content people work on theirs. But could they tell you what the other is working on, and why it’s important?

Not always. Which is a shame, because analytics and content marketing aren’t as far apart on the marketing spectrum as you might think. Or at least they shouldn’t be.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Hiten Shah, co-founder of Kissmetrics and Crazy Egg (to name a few), makes the case for why more content folks should spend more time thinking about data, and vice versa.

You’ll learn:

  • The framework Hiten uses to determine which content pieces should be optimized for conversion.
  • Why Hiten thinks you shouldn’t focus on converting people through content until you have at least 100,000 visits a month.
  • How to talk to your analytics person if you suspect they don’t quite get the value of the content you create.

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Stephanie Saretsky: Hey everyone, it’s Stephanie Saretsky here from Unbounce and you’re listening to Call to Action, the podcast about creating better marketing experiences.

In the last month on the podcast, we’ve talked quite a bit about the relationship between quantity vs. quality in your content marketing. We wanted to take this question a step further and look at the role that analytics plays in creating strong content.

Unbounce’s Content Strategist, Dan Levy spoke with Hiten Shah, co-founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg (to name a few) about the complex, and sometimes fraught relationship between content marketing and analytics, and why some marketers are still choosing one over the other. Keep listening to hear Hiten answer the question that’s been plaguing the internet: “why not both?”

Dan Levy: So you’re one of the few people who can actually say they’re an expert in both content marketing and analytics. But why do you think these two disciplines are often seen as being on different sides of the marketing spectrum?

Hiten Shah: When it comes to content and analytics especially content marketing or online marketing, maybe you can even say marketing as a whole, I wouldn’t say anybody’s an expert. So I would first like to dispel that myth. The reason I think my companies are great at it is because we don’t really believe we’re experts, and we’re always trying to get better. So we’re always trying to look for new ways to do marketing for our software. And so content marketing happens to be one of the best tactics today, and I’m sure I’ll dive deeper into that as we talk. And in terms of analytics, just to add some context, the software company that I started that actually worked, the first one, was called Crazy Egg. It’s still around, and it creates heat maps for people who are clicking on a page, and the whole thesis of that business was “analytics is difficult, analytics is a bunch of numbers.”

So how can we make a visual and extremely easy to understand so anybody, even somebody who doesn’t have a website, could look at this and understand it. So I think my perspective comes from twofold, (1) seeing the value of content marketing for my businesses, and then (2) constantly trying to create better ways for people to understand data. I think people tend to make things very complicated when it comes to marketing and analytics, and I’ll share something really simple: marketing allows you to get traffic and then analytics helps you measure it, and it’s very simple in the sense if you get traffic and you try to get them to sign up for what you want, and I can boil down any marketing channel, any marketing tactic into those two simple things, which is get traffic and make people do something you want them to do.

Dan Levy: So you said that only 32 percent of marketers think they’re producing enough content, but your companies you’ve been involved with and you personally have put out ton of it, how do you strike a balance though between content quality and quantity? Is more content always better?

Hiten Shah: Better quality with more content or with more quantity is always better. The things I see today and this just happened yesterday actually, somebody mentioned a company to me and they were like “hey look they do content marketing really well. They have blog posts, they post them on Facebook, and then they get people to their site and people sign up for their software.”

I’m like yeah that’s cool. I mean I’ve seen it and I’ve done it, but the person was talking to me about it like it was a big deal. And then I tried to think about like why do I think this is not a big deal? And what I realized about that company specifically is they didn’t spend the time to build a brand. So when you look at their content and the work process they have, it’s like really good images for Facebook.

And I would say from a scale of like zero (being really awful content) to ten (being like amazing content), they’re probably sitting in a five or a six range. And so what I’ve noticed when it comes to content, especially content marketing, is that unless the quality is really high for your audience, you tend not to be able to build a brand. And if you don’t build a brand you won’t get visitors for no reason. What I mean by no reason is unattributable visitors who came from nowhere and it was like a direct visitor. So one tactical thing you can do is see if you’re getting a growth in the direct visitors that are coming to your site. Just look in analytics you can find this, and if you are then it’s likely you’re building a brand, and if you’re not and that tends to be flat or growing very slowly, it’s likely you might need to improve your content so that people start remembering it more and coming back organically to your blog or your site.

So I’m one of those people that’s like I always go for quality first, and the argument I hear as well is as we create more we cannot maintain the quality. So what I tend to do is have people create high quality content even if it’s just like one or two a month, and then if they know their process of creating that high quality content it’s honestly as simply as figuring out how to make that repeatable. Where are your biggest bottlenecks in it and how do you get help kind of making it repeatable? So my philosophy today because I think content marketing helps you build a brand, is that you need quality first, and then you need quantity, and you need to be able to maintain the quality as you increase the amount.

Dan Levy: I guess this is really hard to do. I know that HubSpot and Moz recently both ran tests on their blogs to see what decreasing frequency would do in terms of adding traffic and conversions and stuff like that. And I think what they saw was reducing quantity didn’t necessarily mean more quality, and that’s because sometimes it’s really hard to tell what posts are actually gonna resonate with people, and convert them down the line. So to some extent I do think you have to throw things at the wall and see what sticks at the same time you can’t compromise the quality of those things because that will damage your brand as you say.

Hiten Shah: There’s a couple of things, right, you have to look at these things not in a vacuum but holistically, and if you look at content out there today there’s more content than ever. So being able to stand out and build a brand around the content is really critical for you to actually have sustainable growth. One of the things with some of these studies is like until someone can show me like the 90-day, 180-day results of these efforts, I don’t put a lot of weight on their data. And the reason being in my experience it’s two things: quantity helps you learn, quality helps you build a brand, and then the long-term impact is really what helps you measure whether you’re being successful. For example, if you don’t write enough posts that are high quality and you start reducing the amount, it’s very likely your search traffic is gonna suffer in the long-run, not just your brand.

So just some things to keep in mind when people do some of this research is to make sure that they’re accounting for long-term effect, and I say that because I’ve had business blogs around the same space, multiple ones, running for like – I bet the number’s like seven or eight years now, maybe even ten – and like the one thing that we always come back to is that if we have the best content or what we consider the best, what our audience thinks is the best for them, then we end up building a long-term brand and lot of long-term traffic including a ton of traffic from search. So the one thing, again, people forget, is that the majority of your traffic in the long-run is probably still gonna come from search.

Dan Levy: That’s a really good point. When people say the word brand, it sounds like we’re talking about something more fluffy, but it all starts with quality search. You’re not gonna rank if it’s not quality content, so it’s all connected.

I wanted to ask you a little bit more about search down the line, but first, something that you said a little bit earlier was that find out what content is working and do more of it. But you said that people actually often argue with you when you say that that they take issue with. Why do you think marketers are hesitant to do more of what they know works?

Hiten Shah: Yeah, I’ve probably just been in too many marketing plan review meetings honestly, and it comes from this thing where it’s like I look at a company, and they’re on this slide – like someone in marketing is presenting – and they’re on this slide and they’re like “oh yeah here are all the things we’re gonna do,” and they’ve got PR, SEO, social media, email campaigns, even TV ads, and phone numbers, and outbound calls, you know, which sometimes is considered marketing in some businesses. And I’m looking at all this, and I’m like the simple question I ask is what are we doing today that’s already working? Can we start there? And then I reprioritize the list because sometimes they’re like well actually SEO’s kind of working for us, it’s converting, or you know, PR like every time we do PR we actually get a ton of signups, right?

So I usually ask the question and then I get answers like that, and I’m like okay, great, so are we confident we can repeat and scale those initiatives? And nine times out of ten the answer is no, so then that’s where I go “hey you’re already doing this stuff why don’t you get really good at doing that stuff because you already know it works.”

So make is scalable, make it repeatable before you move on to new tactics. Now one of the things is and I’d say that the Unbounce blog, the KISSmetrics blog, to some extent Quick Sprout, as well as Crazy Egg, which are all sort of different blogs targeting similar audiences, they all encourage marketers to learn, do more, right? So it’s easy for a marketer to get distracted by tactics that just don’t matter to them right now because there’s so much information on these tactics.

You get excited because you read a 2000-word post about LinkedIn and how you should be using LinkedIn Groups or whatever, right? And then you get all excited you’re like yeah I’m B2B I can use LinkedIn Groups, but guess what, like if you go jump to every new tactic that you hear about what you think can work, then you’ll never actually make what’s working better.

Dan Levy: So to get into the search stuff a little bit, there’s a lot of speculation that SEO is dead or it’s not as important as it used to be. But you’ve talked about how the majority of traffic for some of the biggest blogs out there is still coming from search. So why the disconnect here between perception and reality do you think?

Hiten Shah: Yeah. I recently had to make a deck that was ten lessons in ten years of content marketing I looked at the five blogs I have access to, and for all of them the number one source was either search or direct depending on the level of brand they had. And so I think that SEO is still, I mean, up from a search term in search perspective, SEO I believe is still bigger than content marketing from like just the amount of attention it gets. I mean there used to be and there’s still TV ads talking about SEO and getting your site found on Google especially if you watch late at night or right around primetime on certain channels, you’ll see them trying to target small business owners.

Dan Levy: In between the phone sex commercials and the Sham Wow?

Hiten Shah: Yeah, exactly, you got it. And back in the day when I first started on the Internet in 2003, the consulting company we built was first built around SEO and helping people with it. And even today there’s really large firms helping people, and I know there are other new things like social, which I’m sure we’ll talk about a little bit later. But to me it’s like the oldest channel on the Internet. It’s the oldest channel that we have the most information about, and that’s still very relevant because of the whatever billions of searches that are happening every day. As Google has evolved, I think it’s gotten to be more of a battle. People say it’s harder to get ranked and stuff like that. But at the end of the day we have this beautiful thing called content marketing now that even Google is starting to embrace in a big way where we can write great content and get a lot of traffic for it even before it hits search engines.

I mean the whole thing is sort of connected now where it’s like if you write a blog post, first you’ll probably get a bunch of shares on it. Because of those shares, the blog post is really good, you’ll get a bunch of links to the blog post, and then give your – depending on how old your site is and other factors – within 30 days or a little bit longer you’ll start getting search traffic for it if not like right away. How can you say that, you know, when you used to look at the data, for example, I think this might go to your first question about content marketing versus analytics and how people just don’t look at the data. Just looking at the data it becomes evident, it becomes super clear that search is such a big driver. I’m just speaking based on the data.

Dan Levy: You make a really good point there. It seems like that conversation about SEO has been superseded by the conversation about content marketing, but we’re talking about the same thing ultimately, aren’t we?

Hiten Shah: Yes. No content, no search traffic.

Dan Levy: So should SEO just be a bigger part of the content marketing conversation there? Should these two roles be intertwined, or should SEOs and content marketers just learn how to play nicely together?

Hiten Shah: I think we’re seeing a paradigm shift because content marketing in its modern form of blogging and sort of all these social channels is definitely a newer thing, let’s say in the last five years. Let’s just put a tag on it. That content is converging with the people doing SEO, so a lot of the folks doing SEO realize that one of the most scalable ways to build back links, which really helps with SEO, is to do content marketing. So you’re actually seeing what I’m seeing is that SEOs are getting more into content marketing. Content marketers as a result of being educated by that are actually starting to lean towards “okay I get how SEO works and how my efforts are helping with that.”

So I see a paradigm shift of like it becoming kind of complimentary, and the skill sets in marketing being really fuzzy around like are you a content marketer, are you doing SEO or what? So at some point we’re probably gonna lose some level of specialization. It’ll all converge to being back to oh this is online marketing.

Dan Levy: Right, right back to where we started.

Hiten Shah: Pretty much.

Dan Levy: So we’ve talked about SEO, we’ve talked about traffic, let’s talk a little bit about conversions. You say that you shouldn’t focus too much on getting people to convert through your content until you get at least 100,000 visits per month. Why is that?

Hiten Shah: There’s a very simple thing and I think the knowledge is better now, so you could lower the bar a little bit maybe, maybe to 50,000, but in general it’s just math again. So let’s say if you have 100,000 visitors, the most I’ve seen with like zero effort just like standard best practices if you want to call them that, is that you can get up to basically half a percent or a percent of that traffic to convert to like emails. I’ve seen one company that’s up to like 10+ percent on collecting emails from every visit, or every visit ten percent of them convert and I’ve seen a little bit higher. But that requires a lot more work and tricks, so I think in the beginning you really need to get a good idea of your audience, and you really need to get a good idea of what resonates with them and what’s gonna help you build traffic.

And that 100,000 is like you can probably pull that off in anywhere from three to six months usually, and once you get that then you generally have a system and what I would call a content marketing engine where you can repeatedly create more content that at least gets you that amount of traffic. Also about three to six months is when SEO starts kicking in, so you’ll start seeing like 10, 20, 30 percent of your traffic out of that 100,000 coming from search, which is residual, right? But the searchers have an even lower conversion rate to giving their email, so you have to do a lot of tricks there. So it’s really just about knowing what content is gonna resonate, and knowing that like once you hit about 100,000 visits a month, you’re at a place where you actually have this core understanding of it and can repeat it. So it really comes out of just seeing a lot of things scale and realizing that 100,000 is a really easy number to like focus on as an initial goal.

Dan Levy: Yeah, you’ve actually created kind of a framework to help marketers figure out how to optimize our content where the X axis is conversions and the Y axis is traffic. Can you walk us through that a little bit?

Hiten Shah: I created this framework and actually first shared it at HubSpot’s conference last year I believe, and I shared it but I really didn’t have this diagram, and then somebody actually drew the diagram. I turned that diagram into a slide in some presentations I’ve had. So basically just imagine in front of you just because we’re visually thinking right now via voice, but imagine in front of you there’s like a sort of square box, and then you cut the box into four just by cutting the middle lines and there’s an axis. So there’s a top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right, and like you said the Y axis is traffic and the X is conversions, and so on the bottom left is basically your sort of worst quadrant where it’s like low traffic and low conversions. So if there’s channels that are in that quadrant, you basically need to figure out how to move it up one to the quadrant above it, which is the top left where it would be like you’re trying to get more traffic for it.

So what I do just in short on how I would use this framework is I would map all my channels or even all my landing pages to see where they fit. Are they high converting and high traffic? That’s the top right that’s where we want to get everything to, and if they’re high converting and high traffic, all you’re worried about as a marketer is losing that. So you’re basically monitoring that and making sure that it’s working as well as it is, and making sure that you’re also constantly running tests to see if you can make it better. But it’s like you won’t be able to make it much better because it’s already at the highest point it can be. So it’s really just about maintenance. Then at the bottom right is an interesting one where it’s like you don’t have that much traffic but you have high conversions. So what you need to do is, again, get that one up. All you’re trying to do is get any quadrant to eventually get to the top right where it’s high converting and high traffic.

So if something is high traffic and low converting, you basically need to spend time figuring out how to improve the conversions. That’s the top left and I believe high traffic low conversion is bottom right, and you’re just trying to figure out how to convert it better. But in short, again, you’re just trying to map your channels, map your landing pages, and figure out where the opportunities are, what’s already work, and what’s not working. And it just goes back to the theory of like how do we simplify how we do marketing into its most basic form and kind of getting back to basics of marketing because it’s too easy to get caught up in all the tactics and all the ways to drive traffic when really looking at the traffic you’re currently driving and figuring out the opportunities is really the most important first thing that you should be doing.

Dan Levy: I’m wondering what do you think the bigger opportunity is: low traffic and high conversions or high traffic and low conversions?

Hiten Shah: The biggest opportunity is always when you have high traffic – high traffic, low conversions – because then you have enough traffic to run A/B tests to convert people. If you have low traffic and high conversions, you need to go find new channels that you can get high traffic and high conversions. If you have high traffic and low conversions, you’re just running A/B tests constantly trying to get that to be high traffic and high conversions.

Dan Levy: So where’s the best place for content marketers who might be intimidated by data and analytics to get started with this stuff?

Hiten Shah: Well, all of us use Google Analytics or can use it, and they have a bunch of videos, and there’s also a lot of blog posts. My advice would be force yourself to spend half hour to an hour in Google Analytics every day. One, you’ll probably learn a few things like some things are hard to find no matter how experienced you are with Google Analytics just because of the way that they make you find stuff. So you end up using bookmarks and stuff like that a lot. If you get really sophisticated, there’s a lot of cool custom reports that people have created and that you can copy and a lot are for content. You’ll also notice that there’s really cool hacks to add extra data like how long people are spending reading or how far they got on your pages, and you can pump that data pretty easily into Google Analytics, with just some extra scripts and stuff.

So that’s more sophisticated but at the end of the day I would spend a lot of time in Google Analytics because all the fundamentals of traffic, all the data, is sitting in Google Analytics and it’s free, and it’s very powerful. It’s just a little bit daunting, so just force yourself to spend time with it, and read up on what people have written about how to get value out of it for content marketing.

Dan Levy: So schedule some time in to look at it and dive into some of the resources that are out there, which we’ll post as well with this podcast.

Hiten Shah: Yeah, you’ve just got to get over that thing that it’s like data and I don’t understand it, and I know as human beings it’s like if we don’t understand something we tend to shy away from it. So I’m giving advice that like is probably the hardest to follow, but if your job is relying on it and you’re doing content marketing, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t understand the most popular analytics tool out there that you can use and it’s free.

Dan Levy: Fair enough, yeah, like you said if you don’t understand it you’re afraid of it, but also if you don’t force yourself to look at it you’re also afraid of the unknown. So just like spending time with it actually makes it less scary.

Hiten Shah: Yep.

Dan Levy: So on the other hand, what would you say to hard core data people who maybe don’t get the value of quality content?

Hiten Shah: Oh yeah my favorite one. There’s a simple truth and it’s very simple and you might not buy it, but like the simple truth is if you’re not creating the best content for your audience someone else is, which means long-run it’s likely someone else is building a brand that you’re not. And that brand is what really drives a business long-term, all the word of mouth traffic when people are talking about their brand. Even like if somebody’s like “h yeah I created this LinkedIn Group, I don’t know, I’m picking on LinkedIn today. But I created this LinkedIn Group and it’s doing amazing, and then someone asks how did you learn how to do that, or where can I go learn how to do that can you teach me? And then they go link to a KISSmetrics blog post or Unbounce blog post, that’s what you want and you don’t get that unless your content is high quality.

You don’t get that word of mouth unless your content is really high quality, and so the best thing there is just like even if your less sub-par content is converting, that doesn’t mean you’re building a brand around that content so that you can have continual growth. So there is nothing wrong in my mind with creating content specifically for conversion. Just know that there’s a likely hit you’re taking on the long-term opportunity, and also if there are competitors and/or alternatives depending on how you view the world, to get the same information you’re sharing, and if they’re better than you, then it’s likely people will stop coming to you at some point.

Dan Levy: Everything that we’ve talked about from SEO to traffic to conversions… you have to have that quality content in the first place for people to care.

Hiten Shah: Yeah. Back in the day with search like we used to be able to do all kinds of weird stuff that really didn’t mean quality, whether it’s keyword stuffing and all this. But like Google, our search engine overlord, is very sophisticated and at the end of the day the quality of the content and the quality of the people linking to it, even the shares and the tweets and all that, are really what impact what traffic you can get. So we basically went from a world of hacking SEO, SEO hacks, SEO optimization, and all these tricks to a world today where it’s like well quality content that actually gets shared tends to work the best. I think those are some of the things that have changed in the last sort of however many years is basically now there’s a channel besides search, we call it social, where you can get traffic prior to getting search traffic or prior to the search engine finding that piece of content and ranking it.

And social just helps with all the inbound links and all that, so it’s really odd, but like to me it’s almost like if we just had like one pillar of a table let’s say like one leg of a table and it used to be SEO, and now there’s like these complimentary legs that keep the table up. If you consider the table our marketing strategy or our content marketing strategy, then we have more likes, we have conversion, and now a lot of people are actually converting visitors to emails, right? And we have a lot of tools and systems to do that, so that’s one leg. Another leg is SEO. Another leg is social, and the fourth leg is obviously the content you create, right? So I think that we were missing some legs, and the table is wobbly. Now you have no excuse to not make content marketing work.

Dan Levy: That’s really exciting and I think a positive note to end on. You have all the tools at your disposable… go and use them!

Hiten Shah: That’s right.

Dan Levy: Cool. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Hiten, this was a great conversation.

Hiten Shah: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.

Stephanie Saretsky: That was Hiten Shah, co-founder of KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg.

So we’ve ditched the intro portion at the beginning of the podcast, and I’d love to know what you think. Love it? Hate it? Let me know at podcast@unbounce.com,

That’s your Call to Action, thanks for listening!


Link:

Hiten Shah on the Marriage of Data and Content [PODCAST]

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Just about every marketer has been there. “Our numbers are looking a little low this month. We need to do something to boost sales.” *Lightbulb* “Let’s run a giveaway!” “That’s perfect. The new iPhone just came out, so we can give one of those away.” I’ve been in this situation myself, which is why I feel that […]

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Why That Giveaway Is A Terrible Marketing Idea