The Part-Time Nihilist’s Guide to Marketing Terms You Hate, But Need

shutterstock_548874589
It’s about time that we take a step back and have a little chuckle at ourselves. Image via Shutterstock.

Plenty of products and services help people, making them healthier and happier. For those things, marketing is great — but sometimes, the way we talk about ourselves is absurd. Yeah, I said it, it’s absurd, but it’s all right because this post has a happy ending (stay tuned).

If you work in any sort of marketing role, you might have noticed that as a collective, we’ve done something incredible:

We’ve turned buzzwords into real, salaried jobs.  

You can be a Growth Hacker these days, or a Content Marketer. If you work somewhere really cool, you might even be a Conversion Ninja. Plenty of people do these jobs (myself included) and one day we’ll have the awkward pleasure of explaining to our grandchildren what it was like being paid to be a Solutions Architect, or a Dev Mogul.

“Neat, grandpa! Did you invent a new form of calculus?”

“No, son. But I had over 25,000 Twitter followers. I was an influencer.”

This is the part-time nihilist’s guide to all those marketing terms you hate (but need). It might also clarify why your parents will never understand what the heck your job is.

Homer gets back to basics with marketing. Video: Fox.
Disclaimer: This post tears down marketing terms and the idea of becoming an influencer. We hope that it is popular and that you share it. We see the irony, and we’re disgusted by it, so just move on, okay?

Being considered an “expert” or a “genius”

To be considered an expert in most other professions, you need to have studied and practiced for years and years and years. You study, you’re tested, you pass, you advance. After what feels like a lifetime of this, people trust you as a voice of authority, as an expert.

Pro tip: Inclusion in a listicle or roundup guarantees automatic employment — should you want it — with some of the most prestigious companies in Silicon Valley.

There are expert marketers, of course: people who have been to school, who dedicate their lives to the craft of combining insight and communication into the most irresistible calls to action. But if you’ve got a profile photo, maybe a Linkedin Premium account, and a byline on somewhere like Unbounce (Hey, that’s me!), you might be considered an expert.

This will do one of two things to you:

  1. It’ll make you lazy, because you’ll think that you’ve reached the top of the mountain. (By the way, there’s no top. There’s no mountain either.)
  2. It’ll scare the crap out of you, and you’ll work your ass off to become a genuine expert, or at least, someone with useful insights.

I hope for everyone’s sake that it’s the second one.

Bonus option: You’ll develop a nasty case of Imposter Syndrome, where you’ll live in constant fear of being called out. It’ll make you triple your efforts, but it’ll never be enough.

Pursuing “thought leadership”

As a marketer, when you have a good idea, you call it a thought leadership piece and you milk it until it’s red and sore. Never mind the idea that “thought leadership” sounds like some sort of mind control, it’s just damned impressive that we managed to turn the act of having ideas into a tool for marketing.

In a way, being considered a thought leader is a lot like being considered an expert. Not so long ago there were real thought leaders, people like Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr.. Now, all you need to do is tip that scale from 9,999 followers to 10,000 and praise, be! You’re a thought leader.

“One of us, one of us, one of us.” Video: Fox

Free infographics and ebooks

The only real way to tell whether a post is legitimate — whether the author’s really serious about the information they’re giving you — is to check for an associated infographic or ebook. At Unbounce, they call these in-post giveaways Conversion Carrots. Some other places call them Lead Magnets. I call them necessary evil.

nihilist-marketer-graph

“Can we make it go viral?”

I once worked at a place where a department, armed with five grand, asked us if we could make them a viral video. In their defense, they didn’t understand the process of how something becomes viral (another gross marketing term), so points at least for the thought. But directly asking for a viral video, or setting out with the intention of making a viral video, is like marrying a stranger for the tax benefits, and not because you love them.

Influencer marketing

Hey bud, if you RT me, I’ll RT you.

As a marketer, you want eyeballs. You’re hungry for eyeballs, you want to pour them all over your website. Some people have lots of eyeballs looking at them; those people are called influencers, and if you’re kind to them, sometimes they’ll let you borrow their eyeball collections.

People with a lot of eyeballs in their collection tend to be good at making things go viral. They often make infographics and eBooks, as well. They are the Aaron Orendorffs of the world (Hey, man!), and they are all-powerful.

“We simply could not function without his tireless efforts.” Video: Fox

“Epic,” “unicorn,” “guru,” etc.

No, it’s not. No, they’re not. No, you’re not.

“That’s hilaaaaaarious.”

“We need more user-generated content.”

The idea behind user-generated content is sound; it’s word-of-mouth for a digital age. Having a strategy to develop user-generated content, though?

Do you ever watch those videos publications like Gothamist do on some donut shop in Brooklyn that’s been around for 140 years? You think, “Wow, they must have a lot of user-generated content!” No, they just make great donuts. If you want your users to generate more content, just make stuff they like.

“Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp!” Video: Fox

Time to follow in mommy and daddy’s footsteps?

For over 20 years my dad spent most of his days with his hands plunged into ice water, gutting and slicing one fish at a time. I spend my days trying to get prospects to type their names into a CTA form field. In those final years before the sun explodes and we’re all plunged into an every-man-for-himself scenario, who’s going to be more useful? My money’s on the old man.

I told you that there was a happy ending, and in a way, the sun exploding and annihilating everything from Mercury out past Pluto is a happy ending. It’s a reminder that we’re all in this together, from your parents and their grinding manual labor jobs, to us word-pickers and graph-checkers who moan when we can’t find the right long-tail keywords to optimize conversion rates. One day everyone that’s left will go together, burning up with all the finest email lists, and all the leads. It’s all going to be fine.

People make some great stuff, and for the short time we’re here, it’s up to us to help get it in front of as many of the right people as possible. That’s your job, and it’s a fun one.

What are some of the marketing terms you hate to need? Drop them in the comments below, then download this free infographic. Jokes, there’s no infographic.

More here:

The Part-Time Nihilist’s Guide to Marketing Terms You Hate, But Need

Infographic: How To Create The Perfect Social Media Post

It’s easy to get into the habit of robotically posting content to social media every day. However, how you post to social media is just as important as the content itself. You need people to click on your post to see your content. So, before you rush around doing your daily social media tasks, pause, take a step back and think about how you can improve what you’re doing. Study this infographic and use it as a cheat sheet the next time you post to social media. One last hint: It’s a good idea to measure your social media efforts…

The post Infographic: How To Create The Perfect Social Media Post appeared first on The Daily Egg.

Continued here – 

Infographic: How To Create The Perfect Social Media Post

It’s Time To Start Using CSS Custom Properties

Today, CSS preprocessors are a standard for web development. One of the main advantages of preprocessors is that they enable you to use variables. This helps you to avoid copying and pasting code, and it simplifies development and refactoring.

It's Time To Start Using CSS Custom Properties

We use preprocessors to store colors, font preferences, layout details — mostly everything we use in CSS. But preprocessor variables have some limitations.

The post It’s Time To Start Using CSS Custom Properties appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

This article is from:

It’s Time To Start Using CSS Custom Properties

Save the Date for Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference 2017 [Discount Code Inside]

unnamed

I know you’re busy, so let’s cut to the chase.

Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference is back on June 25th – June 27th in beautiful Vancouver, Canada.

What’s in it for you?

First off, we’ve carefully curated a star-studded speaker lineup that includes the likes of Mari Smith, Scott StrattenKindra Hall and Rand Fishkin. See the full agenda here. (Fun fact: We made a pledge to have 50% female speakers this year, and we stuck to it.)

insidepost3

Additionally, unlike other conferences where you’re torn between tracks, this conference is single-track. No need to miss a thing or weigh up your love for PPC or CRO. You can have it all and bring back stellar takeaways to your team on each of their respective specialities. #Teamplayer

We’re also working closely with our speakers to ensure talks are as actionable as possible. (This is our conference’s promise).

Explore the topics below to see featured talks and get a sense for the ones most exciting to you:

PPC
SEO
Copywriting
Social
CRO

Jonathan Dane — The PPC Performance Pizza

Jonathan DaneIn this session, Johnathan will cover 8 ways to make any PPC channel work with positive ROI. He’ll guide you through a simple framework, The PPC Performance Pizza, that will double performance on any PPC channel, from Google Adwords to Facebook.

You’ll learn:

  • How to use search, social, display, and video PPC to your advantage
  • Which channels and offers work best in tandem for more conversions
  • The frameworks KlientBoost uses to double your performance within 90 days

Rand Fishkin — The Search Landscape In 2017

Rand FishkinMuch has changed (and is changing) in SEO, leaving us with an uncertain future. In this talk, the one and only Rand Fishkin will share his view on the search landscape 2017, dive into data on how users behave in search engines, explain what the election of Donald Trump means to site owners and, most importantly provide you with the essential tactics every marketer should embrace to be prepared for the changes.

You’ll learn:

  • How has search behavior changed and what does it mean for marketers seeking organic search traffic
  • What new tactics and strategies are required to stay ahead of the competition in SEO
  • How might new US government policies affect the web itself and future platform and web marketing opportunities

Amy Harrison — The Customer Disconnect: How Inside-Out Copy Makes You Invisible

Amy HarrisonWhen you write copy, there are 3 critical elements: What you KNOW about your product, what you WRITE about your product, and what your customer THINKS you mean. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to have a disconnect between all three, and when that happens, customer’s don’t realize the true value of what you have to offer. In this talk, you’ll identify any disconnect in your own marketing, and learn how to write copy that breaks through the noise, differentiates your brand, and speaks to your customers’ desires.

You’ll learn:

  • How to recognize if you even HAVE a disconnect
  • How to beat the blank page – know what to include for every piece of copy you create
  • How to make even commoditized products sound different and fresh to your customer

Mari Smith — Winning Facebook Advertising Strategies: 5 Powerful Ways To Leverage Your Results & ROI

Mari SmithFacebook is constantly adding new features, new products and new ad units. What works today and what’s a waste of time and money? How should marketing teams, agencies and brands focus their ad spend for maximum results? In this dynamic session, world-renowned Facebook marketing expert, Mari Smith, will answer these questions and more.

You’ll learn:

  • Simple processes for maximizing paid reach to build a steady flow of top qualified leads
  • How to make your Facebook advertising dollars go much further, and generate an even higher ROI
  • The top ten biggest mistakes marketers make with their Facebook ads and how to fix them

Michael Aagaard – Your Brain Is Lying To You: Become A Better Marketer By Overcoming Confirmation Bias

Michael AagaardHave you ever resisted or ignored a piece of info because it posed a threat to your worldview? If you answered “yes,” you’re like most other human beings on the planet. In fact, according to the last 40 years of cognitive research, favouring information confirming your worldview is extremely common human behaviour. Unfortunately, being biased towards information confirming what we already believe often leads to errors in judgment and costly mistakes in marketing. But how can we overcome this?

You’ll learn:

  • The facts about confirmation bias and why it is such a dangerous pitfall for marketers
  • A framework for becoming aware of and overcoming your own confirmation bias
  • Hands-on techniques for cutting through the clutter and getting information rather than confirmation

Did we mention the workshops?

We’re bringing back workshops (see Sunday’s tab on the agenda) and we’ve tailored the topics based on your feedback. We’ll be talking hyper-targeted overlays, how agencies can leverage landing pages and getting people to swipe right on your landing page. The best part? They’re all included in your ticket price. Most importantly, marketers who purchase CTAConf tickets, get notified first once registration for workshops opens. Workshops were standing room only last year and we’re bringing them back bigger than ever, so first dibs on registration’s a real bonus.

Finally, we want you to have a ton of fun while you learn. We’re talkin’ 8 food trucks, incredible after parties, all the dog hoodies you can handle, wacky activities and full access to the recordings of every session. SPOILER: we’re looking into renting a Ferris wheel (seriously, this is a thing).

Convinced? Grab your tickets here.

(Hey, blog reader. Yeah, you. We like you. Get 15% off ticket price when you use discount code blogsentme.” That’s cheaper than our early bird price.)

Want to see the excitement in action?

Here’s a peek at what we got up to last year:

The countdown is on

Regardless or whether you’re a PPC specialist, conversion copywriter, full-stack marketer or living that agency life, we’ve got something in store for you. Our workshops and talks touch on everything marketing: pay-per-click, agencies, copywriting, conversion rate optimization, landing page optimization, branding and storytelling, email marketing, customer success, search engine optimization and product marketing.

Check out the full agenda here.

insidepost5

See you at the conference (and on that Ferris wheel)!

Grab your tickets here and remember to use discount code “blogsentme” at checkout for 15% off that ticket price!

Read the article: 

Save the Date for Unbounce’s Call to Action Conference 2017 [Discount Code Inside]

How PowToon Optimized Its Pricing Page To Increase Revenue

PowToon is a cloud-based animation software company based out of London. Launched in 2012, PowToon has over 12 million users worldwide from various business verticals who use the tool to create fun and engaging explainer videos.

Problem

For any SaaS firm, the pricing page is closest to the funnel. So it makes sense to optimize it for maximum impact on the bottom line. Like most SaaS businesses, PowToon’s pricing model is based on different feature offerings. These include watermark removal, privacy control, quality, and export options, among others. A relatively new entrant to these capabilities is storage.

Powtoon offers three plans:

  • A free plan that offers 100 MB storage.
  • A $19 monthly pro plan that offers 2GB storage.
  • A $59 monthly business plan that offers unlimited storage.

This is how PowToon’s pricing page originally looked:

unlimited_2gb

Test

Dan Rimon, director of product at PowToon, decided to test out different pricing levers. The hypothesis was that the ‘unlimited storage’ feature offered under the business plan was an unquantifiable and vague commodity, whose true value could not be perceived by prospective buyers.

“We didn’t know exactly how our target audience would perceive the ‘storage’ capability. Both our business plans (unlimited and 2 GB) offer practically unlimited storage. The fact that we were not able to crunch the feature in real numbers (unlimited) may have been leading to the wrong perceived value,” said Dan.

The idea was to test different storage values for the Pro and Business plans. Dan tested three versions against the original:

  • 10 GB storage in Business Plan and 10 GB storage in Pro Plan
  • 2 GB storage in Business Plan and 2 GB storage in Pro Plan
  • 10 GB storage in Business Plan and 2 GB storage in Pro Plan

Just to remind the readers, the original version offered Unlimited versus 2 GB storage for the Pro and Business plans, respectively.

Results

The third version with 10-GB storage for the business plan versus 2-GB storage for the pro plan turned out to be the winner. It increased the revenue by 27.9%. Here’s the winning version:

Powtoon Pricing Page A/B testing

Dan attributes the results to a clear distinction between the value perceived in the case of the 10 GB versus 2 GB version.

“We attribute the results of the test to our users’ abilities to really understand the value they were getting. Users responded better to a real number (10 GB) than ‘unlimited’, which frankly sounds lovely but is hard to quantify,” Dan added.

Continuous Process

PowToon has taken the route to continuous testing to optimize its pricing page. Their product team runs a test every two weeks and shares the results and learnings internally, regardless of an inconclusive test. They next tested the way their monthly and annual pricing plans were displayed to find out whether it psychologically impacted the way visitors chose a particular plan. Though the original version outperformed the variation in this case, they nevertheless made this cool video to share the results internally.

The post How PowToon Optimized Its Pricing Page To Increase Revenue appeared first on VWO Blog.

Originally from: 

How PowToon Optimized Its Pricing Page To Increase Revenue

Glossary: Value Proposition

glossary value proposition

A value proposition is what you guarantee or promise to deliver to your potential buyers in exchange for their money. It’s also the main reason why people choose one product over other. If it’s done right, it can give you the competitive edge and help you grow your business. The value proposition is vital to conversion optimization as it allows you to build a perception of the value that a user is getting. So, if you test it, these few sentences might have a significant impact on your conversion rate and sales. What the value proposition does when done right:…

The post Glossary: Value Proposition appeared first on The Daily Egg.

Originally posted here: 

Glossary: Value Proposition

How to do server-side testing for single page app optimization

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Gettin’ technical.

We talk a lot about marketing strategy on this blog. But today, we are getting technical.

In this post, I team up with WiderFunnel front-end developer, Thomas Davis, to cover the basics of server-side testing from a web development perspective.

The alternative to server-side testing is client-side testing, which has arguably been the dominant testing method for many marketing teams, due to ease and speed.

But modern web applications are becoming more dynamic and technically complex. And testing within these applications is becoming more technically complex.

Server-side testing is a solution to this increased complexity. It also allows you to test much deeper. Rather than being limited to testing images or buttons on your website, you can test algorithms, architectures, and re-brands.

Simply put: If you want to test on an application, you should consider server-side testing.

Let’s dig in!

Note: Server-side testing is a tactic that is linked to single page applications (SPAs). Throughout this post, I will refer to web pages and web content within the context of a SPA. Applications such as Facebook, Airbnb, Slack, BBC, CodeAcademy, eBay, and Instagram are SPAs.


Defining server-side and client-side rendering

In web development terms, “server-side” refers to “occurring on the server side of a client-server system.”

The client refers to the browser, and client-side rendering occurs when:

  1. A user requests a web page,
  2. The server finds the page and sends it to the user’s browser,
  3. The page is rendered on the user’s browser, and any scripts run during or after the page is displayed.
Static app server
A basic representation of server-client communication.

The server is where the web page and other content live. With server-side rendering, the requested web page is sent to the user’s browser in final form:

  1. A user requests a web page,
  2. The server interprets the script in the page, and creates or changes the page content to suit the situation
  3. The page is sent to the user in final form and then cannot be changed using server-side scripting.

To talk about server-side rendering, we also have to talk a little bit about JavaScript. JavaScript is a scripting language that adds functionality to web pages, such as a drop-down menu or an image carousel.

Traditionally, JavaScript has been executed on the client side, within the user’s browser. However, with the emergence of Node.js, JavaScript can be run on the server side. All JavaScript executing on the server is running through Node.js.

*Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment, used to execute JavaScript code server-side. It uses the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine.

In laymen’s (ish) terms:

When you visit a SPA web application, the content you are seeing is either being rendered in your browser (client-side), or on the server (server-side).

If the content is rendered client-side, JavaScript builds the application HTML content within the browser, and requests any missing data from the server to fill in the blanks.

Basically, the page is incomplete upon arrival, and is completed within the browser.

If the content is being rendered server-side, your browser receives the application HTML, pre-built by the server. It doesn’t have to fill in any blanks.

Why do SPAs use server-side rendering?

There are benefits to both client-side rendering and server-side rendering, but render performance and page load time are two huge pro’s for the server side.

(A 1 second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, according to Kissmetrics.)

Server-side rendering also enables search engine crawlers to find web content, improving SEO; and social crawlers (like the crawlers used by Facebook) do not evaluate JavaScript, making server-side rendering beneficial for social searching.

With client-side rendering, the user’s browser must download all of the application JavaScript, and wait for a response from the server with all of the application data. Then, it has to build the application, and finally, show the complete HTML content to the user.

All of which to say, with a complex application, client-side rendering can lead to sloooow initial load times. And, because client-side rendering relies on each individual user’s browser, the developer only has so much control over load time.

Which explains why some developers are choosing to render their SPAs on the server side.

But, server-side rendering can disrupt your testing efforts, if you are using a framework like Angular or React.js. (And the majority of SPAs use these frameworks).

The disruption occurs because the version of your application that exists on the server becomes out of sync with the changes being made by your test scripts on the browser.

NOTE: If your web application uses Angular, React, or a similar framework, you may have already run into client-side testing obstacles. For more on how to overcome these obstacles, and successfully test on AngularJS apps, read this blog post.


Testing on the server side vs. the client side

Client-side testing involves making changes (the variation) within the browser by injecting Javascript after the original page has already loaded.

The original page loads, the content is hidden, the necessary elements are changed in the background, and the ‘new’ version is shown to the user post-change. (Because the page is hidden while these changes are being made, the user is none-the-wiser.)

As I mentioned earlier, the advantages of client-side testing are ease and speed. With a client-side testing tool like VWO, a marketer can set up and execute a simple test using a WYSIWYG editor without involving a developer.

But for complex applications, client-side testing may not be the best option: Layering more JavaScript on top of an already-bulky application means even slower load time, and an even more cumbersome user experience.

A Quick Hack

There is a workaround if you are determined to do client-side testing on a SPA application. Web developers can take advantage of features like Optimizely’s conditional activation mode to make sure that testing scripts are only executed when the application reaches a desired state.

However, this can be difficult as developers will have to take many variables into account, like location changes performed by the $routeProvider, or triggering interaction based goals.

To avoid flicker, you may need to hide content until the front-end application has initialized in the browser, voiding the performance benefits of using server-side rendering in the first place.

WiderFunnel - client side testing activation mode
Activation Mode waits until the framework has loaded before executing your test.



When you do server-side testing, there are no modifications being made at the browser level. Rather, the parameters of the experiment variation (‘User 1 sees Variation A’) are determined at the server route level, and hooked straight into the javascript application through a service provider.

Here is an example where we are testing a pricing change:

“Ok, so, if I want to do server-side testing, do I have to involve my web development team?”

Yep.

But, this means that testing gets folded into your development team’s work flow. And, it means that it will be easier to integrate winning variations into your code base in the end.

If yours is a SPA, server-side testing may be the better choice, despite the work involved. Not only does server-side testing embed testing into your development workflow, it also broadens the scope of what you can actually test.

Rather than being limited to testing page elements, you can begin testing core components of your application’s usability like search algorithms and pricing changes.

A server-side test example!

For web developers who want to do server-side testing on a SPA, Tom has put together a basic example using Optimizely SDK. This example is an illustration, and is not functional.

In it, we are running a simple experiment that changes the color of a button. The example is built using Angular Universal and express JS. A global service provider is being used to fetch the user variation from the Optimizely SDK.

Here, we have simply hard-coded the user ID. However, Optimizely requires that each user have a unique ID. Therefore, you may want to use the user ID that already exists in your database, or store a cookie through express’ Cookie middleware.

Are you currently doing server-side testing?

Or, are you client-side testing on a SPA application? What challenges (if any) have you faced? How have you handled them? Do you have any specific questions? Let us know in the comments!

The post How to do server-side testing for single page app optimization appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

Continue reading – 

How to do server-side testing for single page app optimization

How to do server-side testing for SPA optimization

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Gettin’ technical.

We talk a lot about marketing strategy on this blog. But today, we are getting technical.

In this post, I team up with WiderFunnel front-end developer, Thomas Davis, to cover the basics of server-side testing from a web development perspective.

The alternative to server-side testing is client-side testing, which has arguably been the dominant testing method for many marketing teams, due to ease and speed.

But modern web applications are becoming more dynamic and technically complex. And testing within these applications is becoming more technically complex.

Server-side testing is a solution to this increased complexity. It also allows you to test much deeper. Rather than being limited to testing images or buttons on your website, you can test algorithms, architectures, and re-brands.

Simply put: If you want to test on an application, you should consider server-side testing.

Let’s dig in!

Note: Server-side testing is a tactic that is linked to single page applications (SPAs). Throughout this post, I will refer to web pages and web content within the context of a SPA. Applications such as Facebook, Airbnb, Slack, BBC, CodeAcademy, eBay, and Instagram are SPAs.


Defining server-side and client-side rendering

In web development terms, “server-side” refers to “occurring on the server side of a client-server system.”

The client refers to the browser, and client-side rendering occurs when:

  1. A user requests a web page,
  2. The server finds the page and sends it to the user’s browser,
  3. The page is rendered on the user’s browser, and any scripts run during or after the page is displayed.
Static app server
A basic representation of server-client communication.

The server is where the web page and other content live. With server-side rendering, the requested web page is sent to the user’s browser in final form:

  1. A user requests a web page,
  2. The server interprets the script in the page, and creates or changes the page content to suit the situation
  3. The page is sent to the user in final form and then cannot be changed using server-side scripting.

To talk about server-side rendering, we also have to talk a little bit about JavaScript. JavaScript is a scripting language that adds functionality to web pages, such as a drop-down menu or an image carousel.

Traditionally, JavaScript has been executed on the client side, within the user’s browser. However, with the emergence of Node.js, JavaScript can be run on the server side. All JavaScript executing on the server is running through Node.js.

*Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform JavaScript runtime environment, used to execute JavaScript code server-side. It uses the Chrome V8 JavaScript engine.

In laymen’s (ish) terms:

When you visit a SPA web application, the content you are seeing is either being rendered in your browser (client-side), or on the server (server-side).

If the content is rendered client-side, JavaScript builds the application HTML content within the browser, and requests any missing data from the server to fill in the blanks.

Basically, the page is incomplete upon arrival, and is completed within the browser.

If the content is being rendered server-side, your browser receives the application HTML, pre-built by the server. It doesn’t have to fill in any blanks.

Why do SPAs use server-side rendering?

There are benefits to both client-side rendering and server-side rendering, but render performance and page load time are two huge pro’s for the server side.

(A 1 second delay in page load time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, according to Kissmetrics.)

Server-side rendering also enables search engine crawlers to find web content, improving SEO; and social crawlers (like the crawlers used by Facebook) do not evaluate JavaScript, making server-side rendering beneficial for social searching.

With client-side rendering, the user’s browser must download all of the application JavaScript, and wait for a response from the server with all of the application data. Then, it has to build the application, and finally, show the complete HTML content to the user.

All of which to say, with a complex application, client-side rendering can lead to sloooow initial load times. And, because client-side rendering relies on each individual user’s browser, the developer only has so much control over load time.

Which explains why some developers are choosing to render their SPAs on the server side.

But, server-side rendering can disrupt your testing efforts, if you are using a framework like Angular or React.js. (And the majority of SPAs use these frameworks).

The disruption occurs because the version of your application that exists on the server becomes out of sync with the changes being made by your test scripts on the browser.

NOTE: If your web application uses Angular, React, or a similar framework, you may have already run into client-side testing obstacles. For more on how to overcome these obstacles, and successfully test on AngularJS apps, read this blog post.


Testing on the server side vs. the client side

Client-side testing involves making changes (the variation) within the browser by injecting Javascript after the original page has already loaded.

The original page loads, the content is hidden, the necessary elements are changed in the background, and the ‘new’ version is shown to the user post-change. (Because the page is hidden while these changes are being made, the user is none-the-wiser.)

As I mentioned earlier, the advantages of client-side testing are ease and speed. With a client-side testing tool like VWO, a marketer can set up and execute a simple test using a WYSIWYG editor without involving a developer.

But for complex applications, client-side testing may not be the best option: Layering more JavaScript on top of an already-bulky application means even slower load time, and an even more cumbersome user experience.

A Quick Hack

There is a workaround if you are determined to do client-side testing on a SPA application. Web developers can take advantage of features like Optimizely’s conditional activation mode to make sure that testing scripts are only executed when the application reaches a desired state.

However, this can be difficult as developers will have to take many variables into account, like location changes performed by the $routeProvider, or triggering interaction based goals.

To avoid flicker, you may need to hide content until the front-end application has initialized in the browser, voiding the performance benefits of using server-side rendering in the first place.

WiderFunnel - client side testing activation mode
Activation Mode waits until the framework has loaded before executing your test.



When you do server-side testing, there are no modifications being made at the browser level. Rather, the parameters of the experiment variation (‘User 1 sees Variation A’) are determined at the server route level, and hooked straight into the javascript application through a service provider.

Here is an example where we are testing a pricing change:

“Ok, so, if I want to do server-side testing, do I have to involve my web development team?”

Yep.

But, this means that testing gets folded into your development team’s work flow. And, it means that it will be easier to integrate winning variations into your code base in the end.

If yours is a SPA, server-side testing may be the better choice, despite the work involved. Not only does server-side testing embed testing into your development workflow, it also broadens the scope of what you can actually test.

Rather than being limited to testing page elements, you can begin testing core components of your application’s usability like search algorithms and pricing changes.

A server-side test example!

For web developers who want to do server-side testing on a SPA, Tom has put together a basic example using Optimizely SDK. This example is an illustration, and is not functional.

In it, we are running a simple experiment that changes the color of a button. The example is built using Angular Universal and express JS. A global service provider is being used to fetch the user variation from the Optimizely SDK.

Here, we have simply hard-coded the user ID. However, Optimizely requires that each user have a unique ID. Therefore, you may want to use the user ID that already exists in your database, or store a cookie through express’ Cookie middleware.

Are you currently doing server-side testing?

Or, are you client-side testing on a SPA application? What challenges (if any) have you faced? How have you handled them? Do you have any specific questions? Let us know in the comments!

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How to do server-side testing for SPA optimization

How to Convert More Customers by Adding Perceived Value

What separates a Hermès Birkin bag from a high-quality leather handbag you could buy anywhere? A label, a fancy charm, and about $22,000. But unlike the tangible qualities of a purchase, like the grade of leather used or the fact that the utterly useless bag charm is 14 karat gold, the perception of value is what really separates one bag from the other. One bag contains social cachet and the ability to draw envy from other women – intangible benefits so valuable; it justifies the raised price. The nameless bag, however, has its own set of benefits for a different…

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How to Convert More Customers by Adding Perceived Value

Infographic: The Anatomy of an Optimal Marketing Email

anatomy of email fi

This infographic is a keeper, so you might want to bookmark it now :). It’s a very concise, but an all-you-need-to-know reference that can be pinned up on your office wall. Any time you’re about to send out an email blast, you can look at this infographic to make sure your headlines are top-notch and that you’re not sending out an email that looks awful on a certain device. Which brings me to this one little tip I like to tell my fellow marketers: I suggest checking your email on multiple devices before you send it out to your entire…

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Infographic: The Anatomy of an Optimal Marketing Email