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Your mobile website optimization guide (or, how to stop frustrating your mobile users)

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One lazy Sunday evening, I decided to order Thai delivery for dinner. It was a Green-Curry-and-Crispy-Wonton kind of night.

A quick google search from my iPhone turned up an ad for a food delivery app. In that moment, I wanted to order food fast, without having to dial a phone number or speak to a human. So, I clicked.

From the ad, I was taken to the company’s mobile website. There was a call-to-action to “Get the App” below the fold, but I didn’t want to download a whole app for this one meal. I would just order from the mobile site.

Dun, dun, duuuun.

Over the next minute, I had one of the most frustrating ordering experiences of my life. Labeless hamburger menus, the inability to edit my order, and an overall lack of guidance through the ordering process led me to believe I would never be able to adjust my order from ‘Chicken Green Curry’ to ‘Prawn Green Curry’.

After 60 seconds of struggling, I gave up, utterly defeated.

I know this wasn’t a life-altering tragedy, but it sure was an awful mobile experience. And I bet you have had a similar experience in the last 24 hours.

Let’s think about this for a minute:

  1. This company paid good money for my click
  2. I was ready to order online: I was their customer to lose
  3. I struggled for about 30 seconds longer than most mobile users would have
  4. I gave up and got a mediocre burrito from the Mexican place across the street.

Not only was I frustrated, but I didn’t get my tasty Thai. The experience left a truly bitter taste in my mouth.

10 test ideas for optimizing your mobile website!

Get this checklist of 10 experiment ideas you should test on your mobile website.




Why is mobile website optimization important?

In 2017, every marketer ‘knows’ the importance of the mobile shopping experience. Americans spend more time on mobile devices than any other. But we are still failing to meet our users where they are on mobile.

Americans spend 54% of online time on mobile devices. Source: KPCB.

For most of us, it is becoming more and more important to provide a seamless mobile experience. But here’s where it gets a little tricky…

Conversion optimization”, and the term “optimization” in general, often imply improving conversion rates. But a seamless mobile experience does not necessarily mean a high-converting mobile experience. It means one that meets your user’s needs and propels them along the buyer journey.

I am sure there are improvements you can test on your mobile experience that will lift your mobile conversion rates, but you shouldn’t hyper-focus on a single metric. Instead, keep in mind that mobile may just be a step within your user’s journey to purchase.

So, let’s get started! First, I’ll delve into your user’s mobile mindset, and look at how to optimize your mobile experience. For real.

You ready?

What’s different about mobile?

First things first: let’s acknowledge that your user is the same human being whether they are shopping on a mobile device, a desktop computer, a laptop, or in-store. Agreed?

So, what’s different about mobile? Well, back in 2013, Chris Goward said, “Mobile is a state of being, a context, a verb, not a device. When your users are on mobile, they are in a different context, a different environment, with different needs.”

Your user is the same person when she is shopping on her iPhone, but she is in a different context. She may be in a store comparing product reviews on her phone, or she may be on the go looking for a good cup of coffee, or she may be trying to order Thai delivery from her couch.

Your user is the same person on mobile, but in a different context, with different needs.

This is why many mobile optimization experts recommend having a mobile website versus using responsive design.

Responsive design is not an optimization strategy. We should stop treating mobile visitors as ‘mini-desktop visitors’. People don’t use mobile devices instead of desktop devices, they use it in addition to desktop in a whole different way.

– Talia Wolf, Founder & Chief Optimizer at GetUplift

Step one, then, is to understand who your target customer is, and what motivates them to act in any context. This should inform all of your marketing and the creation of your value proposition.

(If you don’t have a clear picture of your target customer, you should re-focus and tackle that question first.)

Step two is to understand how your user’s mobile context affects their existing motivation, and how to facilitate their needs on mobile to the best of your ability.

Understanding the mobile context

To understand the mobile context, let’s start with some stats and work backwards.

  • Americans spend more than half (54%) of their online time on mobile devices (Source: KPCB, 2016)
  • Mobile accounts for 60% of time spent shopping online, but only 16% of all retail dollars spent (Source: ComScore, 2015)

Insight: Americans are spending more than half of their online time on their mobile devices, but there is a huge gap between time spent ‘shopping’ online, and actually buying.

  • 29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if the original site doesn’t satisfy their needs (Source: Google, 2015)
  • Of those, 70% switch because of lagging load times and 67% switch because it takes too many steps to purchase or get desired information (Source: Google, 2015)

Insight: Mobile users are hypersensitive to slow load times, and too many obstacles.

So, why the heck are our expectations for immediate gratification so high on mobile? I have a few theories.

We’re reward-hungry

Mobile devices provide constant access to the internet, which means a constant expectation for reward.

“The fact that we don’t know what we’ll find when we check our email, or visit our favorite social site, creates excitement and anticipation. This leads to a small burst of pleasure chemicals in our brains, which drives us to use our phones more and more.” – TIME, “You asked: Am I addicted to my phone?

If non-stop access has us primed to expect non-stop reward, is it possible that having a negative mobile experience is even more detrimental to our motivation than a negative experience in another context?

When you tap into your Facebook app and see three new notifications, you get a burst of pleasure. And you do this over, and over, and over again.

So, when you tap into your Chrome browser and land on a mobile website that is difficult to navigate, it makes sense that you would be extra annoyed. (No burst of fun reward chemicals!)

A mobile device is a personal device

Another facet to mobile that we rarely discuss is the fact that mobile devices are personal devices. Because our smartphones and wearables are with us almost constantly, they often feel very intimate.

In fact, our smartphones are almost like another limb. According to research from dscout, the average cellphone user touches his or her phone 2,167 times per day. Our thumbprints are built into them, for goodness’ sake.

Just think about your instinctive reaction when someone grabs your phone and starts scrolling through your pictures…

It is possible, then, that our expectations are higher on mobile because the device itself feels like an extension of us. Any experience you have on mobile should speak to your personal situation. And if the experience is cumbersome or difficult, it may feel particularly dissonant because it’s happening on your mobile device.

User expectations on mobile are extremely high. And while you can argue that mobile apps are doing a great job of meeting those expectations, the mobile web is failing.

If yours is one of the millions of organizations without a mobile app, your mobile website has got to work harder. Because a negative experience with your brand on mobile may have a stronger effect than you can anticipate.

Even if you have a mobile app, you should recognize that not everyone is going to use it. You can’t completely disregard your mobile website. (As illustrated by my extremely negative experience trying to order food.)

You need to think about how to meet your users where they are in the buyer journey on your mobile website:

  1. What are your users actually doing on mobile?
  2. Are they just seeking information before purchasing from a computer?
  3. Are they seeking information on your mobile site while in your actual store?

The great thing about optimization is that you can test to pick off low-hanging fruit, while you are investigating more impactful questions like those above. For instance, while you are gathering data about how your users are using your mobile site, you can test usability improvements.

Usability on mobile websites

If you are looking take get a few quick wins to prove the importance of a mobile optimization program, usability is a good place to begin.

The mobile web presents unique usability challenges for marketers. And given your users’ ridiculously high expectations, your mobile experience must address these challenges.

mobile website optimization - usability
This image represents just a few mobile usability best practices.

Below are four of the core mobile limitations, along with recommendations from the WiderFunnel Strategy team around how to address (and test) them.

Note: For this section, I relied heavily on research from the Nielsen Norman Group. For more details, click here.

1. The small screen struggle

No surprise, here. Compared to desktop and laptop screens, even the biggest smartphone screen is smaller―which means they display less content.

“The content displayed above the fold on a 30-inch monitor requires 5 screenfuls on a small 4-inch screen. Thus mobile users must (1) incur a higher interaction cost in order to access the same amount of information; (2) rely on their short-term memory to refer to information that is not visible on the screen.” – Nielsen Norman Group, “Mobile User Experience: Limitations and Strengths

Strategist recommendations:

Consider persistent navigation and calls-to-action. Because of the smaller screen size, your users often need to do a lot of scrolling. If your navigation and main call-to-action aren’t persistent, you are asking your users to scroll down for information, and scroll back up for relevant links.

Note: Anything persistent takes up screen space as well. Make sure to test this idea before implementing it to make sure you aren’t stealing too much focus from other important elements on your page.

2. The touchy touchscreen

Two main issues with the touchscreen (an almost universal trait of today’s mobile devices) are typing and target size.

Typing on a soft keyboard, like the one on your user’s iPhone, requires them to constantly divide their attention between what they are typing, and the keypad area. Not to mention the small keypad and crowded keys…

Target size refers to a clickable target, which needs to be a lot larger on a touchscreen than it is does when your user has a mouse.

So, you need to make space for larger targets (bigger call-to-action buttons) on a smaller screen.

Strategist recommendations:

Test increasing the size of your clickable elements. Google provides recommendations for target sizing:

You should ensure that the most important tap targets on your site—the ones users will be using the most often—are large enough to be easy to press, at least 48 CSS pixels tall/wide (assuming you have configured your viewport properly).

Less frequently-used links can be smaller, but should still have spacing between them and other links, so that a 10mm finger pad would not accidentally press both links at once.

You may also want to test improving the clarity around what is clickable and what isn’t. This can be achieved through styling, and is important for reducing ‘exploratory clicking’.

When a user has to click an element to 1) determine whether or not it is clickable, and 2) determine where it will lead, this eats away at their finite motivation.

Another simple tweak: Test your call-to-action placement. Does it match with the motion range of a user’s thumb?

3. Mobile shopping experience, interrupted

As the term mobile implies, mobile devices are portable. And because we can use ‘em in many settings, we are more likely to be interrupted.

“As a result, attention on mobile is often fragmented and sessions on mobile devices are short. In fact, the average session duration is 72 seconds […] versus the average desktop session of 150 seconds.”Nielsen Norman Group

Strategist recommendations:

You should design your mobile experience for interruptions, prioritize essential information, and simplify tasks and interactions. This goes back to meeting your users where they are within the buyer journey.

According to research by SessionM (published in 2015), 90% of smartphone users surveyed used their phones while shopping in a physical store to 1) compare product prices, 2) look up product information, and 3) check product reviews online.

You should test adjusting your page length and messaging hierarchy to facilitate your user’s main goals. This may be browsing and information-seeking versus purchasing.

4. One window at a time

As I’m writing this post, I have 11 tabs open in Google Chrome, split between two screens. If I click on a link that takes me to a new website or page, it’s no big deal.

But on mobile, your user is most likely viewing one window at a time. They can’t split their screen to look at two windows simultaneously, so you shouldn’t ask them to. Mobile tasks should be easy to complete in one app or on one website.

The more your user has to jump from page to page, the more they have to rely on their memory. This increases cognitive load, and decreases the likelihood that they will complete an action.

Strategist recommendations:

Your navigation should be easy to find and it should contain links to your most relevant and important content. This way, if your user has to travel to a new page to access specific content, they can find their way back to other important pages quickly and easily.

In e-commerce, we often see people “pogo-sticking”—jumping from one page to another continuously—because they feel that they need to navigate to another page to confirm that the information they have provided is correct.

A great solution is to ensure that your users can view key information that they may want to confirm (prices / products / address) on any page. This way, they won’t have to jump around your website and remember these key pieces of information.

Implementing mobile website optimization

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, the phrase “you should test” is peppered throughout this post. Because understanding the mobile context, and reviewing usability challenges and recommendations are first steps.

If you can, you should test any recommendation made in this post. Which brings us to mobile website optimization. At WiderFunnel, we approach mobile optimization just like we would desktop optimization: with process.

You should evaluate and prioritize mobile web optimization in the context of all of your marketing. If you can achieve greater Return on Investment by optimizing your desktop experience (or another element of your marketing), you should start there.

But assuming your mobile website ranks high within your priorities, you should start examining it from your user’s perspective. The WiderFunnel team uses the LIFT Model framework to identify problem areas.

The LIFT Model allows us to identify barriers to conversion, using the six factors of Value Proposition, Clarity, Relevance, Anxiety, Distraction, and Urgency. For more on the LIFT Model, check out this blog post.

A LIFT illustration

I asked the WiderFunnel Strategy team to do a LIFT analysis of the food delivery website that gave me so much grief that Sunday night. Here are some of the potential barriers they identified on the checkout page alone:

Mobile website LIFT analysis
This wireframe is based on the food delivery app’s checkout page. Each of the numbered LIFT points corresponds with the list below.
  1. Relevance: There is valuable page real estate dedicated to changing the language, when a smartphone will likely detect your language on its own.
  2. Anxiety: There are only 3 options available in the navigation: Log In, Sign Up, and Help. None of these are helpful when a user is trying to navigate between key pages.
  3. Clarity: Placing the call-to-action at the top of the page creates disjointed eyeflow. The user must scan the page from top to bottom to ensure their order is correct.
  4. Clarity: The “Order Now” call-to-action and “Allergy & dietary information links” are very close together. Users may accidentally tap one, when they want to tap the other.
  5. Anxiety: There is no confirmation of the delivery address.
  6. Anxiety: There is no way to edit an order within the checkout. A user has to delete items, return to the menu and add new items.
  7. Clarity: Font size is very small making the content difficult to read.
  8. Clarity: The “Cash” and “Card” icons have no context. Is a user supposed to select one, or are these just the payment options available?
  9. Distraction: The dropdown menus in the footer include many links that might distract a user from completing their order.

Needless to say, my frustrations were confirmed. The WiderFunnel team ran into the same obstacles I had run into, and identified dozens of barriers that I hadn’t.

But what does this mean for you?

When you are first analyzing your mobile experience, you should try to step into your user’s shoes and actually use your experience. Give your team a task and a goal, and walk through the experience using a framework like LIFT. This will allow you to identify usability issues within your user’s mobile context.

Every LIFT point is a potential test idea that you can feed into your optimization program.

Case study examples

This wouldn’t be a WiderFunnel blog post without some case study examples.

This is where we put ‘best mobile practices’ to the test. Because the smallest usability tweak may make perfect sense to you, and be off-putting to your users.

In the following three examples, we put our recommendations to the test.

Mobile navigation optimization

In mobile design in particular, we tend to assume our users understand ‘universal’ symbols.

Aritzia Hamburger Menu
The ‘Hamburger Menu’ is a fixture on mobile websites. But does that mean it’s a universally understood symbol?

But, that isn’t always the case. And it is certainly worth testing to understand how you can make the navigation experience (often a huge pain point on mobile) easier.

You can’t just expect your users to know things. You have to make it as clear as possible. The more you ask your user to guess, the more frustrated they will become.

– Dennis Pavlina, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel

This example comes from an e-commerce client that sells artwork. In this experiment, we tested two variations against the original.

In the first, we increased font and icon size within the navigation and menu drop-down. This was a usability update meant to address the small, difficult to navigate menu. Remember the conversation about target size? We wanted to tackle the low-hanging fruit first.

With variation B, we dug a little deeper into the behavior of this client’s specific users.

Qualitative Hotjar recordings had shown that users were trying to navigate the mobile website using the homepage as a homebase. But this site actually has a powerful search functionality, and it is much easier to navigate using search. Of course, the search option was buried in the hamburger menu…

So, in the second variation (built on variation A), we removed Search from the menu and added it right into the main Nav.

Mobile website optimization - navigation
Wireframes of the control navigation versus our variations.

Results

Both variations beat the control. Variation A led to a 2.7% increase in transactions, and a 2.4% increase in revenue. Variation B decreased clicks to the menu icon by -24%, increased transactions by 8.1%, and lifted revenue by 9.5%.

Never underestimate the power of helping your users find their way on mobile. But be wary! Search worked for this client’s users, but it is not always the answer, particularly if what you are selling is complex, and your users need more guidance through the funnel.

Mobile product page optimization

Let’s look at another e-commerce example. This client is a large sporting goods store, and this experiment focused on their product detail pages.

On the original page, our Strategists noted a worst mobile practice: The buttons were small and arranged closely together, making them difficult to click.

There were also several optimization blunders:

  1. Two calls-to-action were given equal prominence: “Find in store” and “+ Add to cart”
  2. “Add to wishlist” was also competing with “Add to cart”
  3. Social icons were placed near the call-to-action, which could be distracting

We had evidence from an experiment on desktop that removing these distractions, and focusing on a single call-to-action, would increase transactions. (In that experiment, we saw transactions increase by 6.56%).

So, we tested addressing these issues in two variations.

In the first, we de-prioritized competing calls-to-action, and increased the ‘Size’ and ‘Qty’ fields. In the second, we wanted to address usability issues, making the color options, size options, and quantity field bigger and easier to click.

mobile website optimization - product page variations
The control page versus our variations.

Results

Both of our variations lost to the Control. I know what you’re thinking…what?!

Let’s dig deeper.

Looking at the numbers, users responded in the way we expected, with significant increases to the actions we wanted, and a significant reduction in the ones we did not.

Visits to “Reviews”, “Size”, “Quantity”, “Add to Cart” and the Cart page all increased. Visits to “Find in Store” decreased.

And yet, although the variations were more successful at moving users through to the next step, there was not a matching increase in motivation to actually complete a transaction.

It is hard to say for sure why this result happened without follow-up testing. However, it is possible that this client’s users have different intentions on mobile: Browsing and seeking product information vs. actually buying. Removing the “Find in Store” CTA may have caused anxiety.

This example brings us back to the mobile context. If an experiment wins within a desktop experience, this certainly doesn’t guarantee it will win on mobile.

I was shopping for shoes the other day, and was actually browsing the store’s mobile site while I was standing in the store. I was looking for product reviews. In that scenario, I was information-seeking on my phone, with every intention to buy…just not from my phone.

Are you paying attention to how your unique users use your mobile experience? It may be worthwhile to take the emphasis off of ‘increasing conversions on mobile’ in favor of researching user behavior on mobile, and providing your users with the mobile experience that best suits their needs.

Note: When you get a test result that contradicts usability best practices, it is important that you look carefully at your experiment design and secondary metrics. In this case, we have a potential theory, but would not recommend any large-scale changes without re-validating the result.

Mobile checkout optimization

This experiment was focused on one WiderFunnel client’s mobile checkout page. It was an insight-driving experiment, meaning the focus was on gathering insights about user behavior rather than on increasing conversion rates or revenue.

Evidence from this client’s business context suggested that users on mobile may prefer alternative payment methods, like Apple Pay and Google Wallet, to the standard credit card and PayPal options.

To make things even more interesting, this client wanted to determine the desire for alternative payment methods before implementing them.

The hypothesis: By adding alternative payment methods to the checkout page in an unobtrusive way, we can determine by the percent of clicks which new payment methods are most sought after by users.

We tested two variations against the Control.

In variation A, we pulled the credit card fields and call-to-action higher on the page, and added four alternative payment methods just below the CTA: PayPal, Apple Pay, Amazon Payments, and Google Wallet.

If a user clicked on one of the four alternative payment methods, they would see a message:

“Google Wallet coming soon!
We apologize for any inconvenience. Please choose an available deposit method.
Credit Card | PayPal”

In variation B, we flipped the order. We featured the alternative payment methods above the credit card fields. The focus was on increasing engagement with the payment options to gain better insights about user preference.

mobile website optimization - checkout page
The control against variations testing alternative payment methods.

Note: For this experiment, iOS devices did not display the Google Wallet option, and Android devices did not display Apple Pay.

Results

On iOS devices, Apple Pay received 18% of clicks, and Amazon Pay received 12%. On Android devices, Google Wallet received 17% of clicks, and Amazon Pay also received 17%.

The client can use these insights to build the best experience for mobile users, offering Apple Pay and Google Wallet as alternative payment methods rather than PayPal or Amazon Pay.

Unexpectedly, both variations also increased transactions! Variation A led to an 11.3% increase in transactions, and variation B led to an 8.5% increase.

Because your user’s motivation is already limited on mobile, you should try to create an experience with the fewest possible steps.

You can ask someone to grab their wallet, decipher their credit card number, expiration date, and ccv code, and type it all into a small form field. Or, you can test leveraging the digital payment options that may already be integrated with their mobile devices.

The future of mobile website optimization

Imagine you are in your favorite outdoor goods store, and you are ready to buy a new tent.

You are standing in front of piles of tents: 2-person, 3-person, 4-person tents; 3-season and extreme-weather tents; affordable and pricey tents; light-weight and heavier tents…

You pull out your smartphone, and navigate to the store’s mobile website. You are looking for more in-depth product descriptions and user reviews to help you make your decision.

A few seconds later, a store employee asks if they can help you out. They seem to know exactly what you are searching for, and they help you choose the right tent for your needs within minutes.

Imagine that while you were browsing products on your phone, that store employee received a notification that you are 1) in the store, 2) looking at product descriptions for tent A and tent B, and 3) standing by the tents.

Mobile optimization in the modern era is not about increasing conversions on your mobile website. It is about providing a seamless user experience. In the scenario above, the in-store experience and the mobile experience are inter-connected. One informs the other. And a transaction happens because of each touch point.

Mobile experiences cannot live in a vacuum. Today’s buyer switches seamlessly between devices [and] your optimization efforts must reflect that.

Yonny Zafrani, Mobile Product Manager, Dynamic Yield

We wear the internet on our wrists. We communicate via chat bots and messaging apps. We spend our leisure time on our phones: streaming, gaming, reading, sharing.

And while I’m not encouraging you to shift your optimization efforts entirely to mobile, you must consider the role mobile plays in your customers’ lives. The online experience is mobile. And your mobile experience should be an intentional step within the buyer journey.

What does your ideal mobile shopping experience look like? Where do you think mobile websites can improve? Do you agree or disagree with the ideas in this post? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

The post Your mobile website optimization guide (or, how to stop frustrating your mobile users) appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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Your mobile website optimization guide (or, how to stop frustrating your mobile users)

Building Killer Robots: Game Behavior In iOS With Fuzzy Logic Rule Systems

Imagine that it’s a hot day. The sun is out, and the temperature is rising. Perhaps, every now and then, there’s a cool breeze. A good song is playing on the radio. At some point, you get up to get a glass of water, but the exact reason why you did that at that particular time isn’t easy to explain. It was “too hot” and you were “somewhat thirsty,” but also maybe “a little bored.” Each of these qualities isn’t either/or, but instead fall on a spectrum of values.

Building Killer Robots: Game Behavior In iOS With Fuzzy Logic Rule Systems

In contrast, our software is usually built on Boolean values. We set isHot to true and if isHot && isThirsty && isBored, then we call getWater(). If we use code like this to control our game characters, then they will appear jerky and less natural. In this article, we’ll learn how to add intelligent behavior to the non-player characters of a game using an alternative to conventional Boolean logic.

The post Building Killer Robots: Game Behavior In iOS With Fuzzy Logic Rule Systems appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Building Killer Robots: Game Behavior In iOS With Fuzzy Logic Rule Systems

What Facebook Advertisers Are Doing Wrong: Q&A with Mari Smith

Facebook has over 1.28 billion daily active users.

To have more than a billion prospects in one place, literally at your fingertips, is a marketer’s dream (thanks, Mark Zuckerberg!). But turning those prospects into customers… well that’s another story.

As marketers, we know that a stellar Facebook campaign is made up of a lot more than clever copy, snazzy design and a hefty PPC budget. In a constantly changing environment of new features, products and ad units, it can be tricky to stay ahead of the pack — let alone stand out.

Facebook’s granular targeting makes it more possible than ever to reach the right person, in the right place, at the right time. But only marketers who are committed to making connections with real people and then maintaining those relationships will come out on top.

If there’s one person that knows this best, it’s Mari Smith.

Named Forbes’ #4 “Top Social Media Power Influencer,” Mari is one of the world’s leading social media thought leaders and educators in the world of marketing. Her knowledge of Facebook runs so deep that she was personally hired by the folks at Facebook to teach SMBs throughout the US at the Boost Your Business series of events.

Mari’s speaking at our Call to Action Conference this June, and here’s a quick word from the Facebook Queen herself.

PSST: Blog readers get 15% off tickets to Call to Action Conference until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout

Despite her packed schedule, Mari recently took the time to sit down with Unbounce Marketing Educator Christie Pike to reveal some of her best kept Facebook advertising secrets. In this interview you’ll get Mari’s actionable tips and insights into:

  • Some of the biggest missed opportunities for marketers advertising on Facebook.
  • Companies that are crushing it in the social advertising space and what you can learn from them.
  • The next big thing on the horizon that Facebook marketers should be preparing for and investing in.
Christie Pike: You’ve been active on Facebook long enough to see its evolution from social media network to a performance tool not unlike AdWords. How has this changed the way that marketers run Facebook campaigns?

Mari Smith: The main thing to consider is the enormous amount of data that Facebook gathers, not only on the platform itself but in partnership with data companies. So every time you use your credit card, every time you make a purchase, surveys that you complete, any information that’s out there is moved into a kind of personal dossier that then gets matched with your Facebook ID. Because of all of this, people get scared and freaked out, Big Brother and all that, but it’s all anonymized and encrypted, so from a user standpoint I always say, “caveat emptor”, just recognize that in today’s day and age of privacy, everything is out there.

From a marketer’s or advertiser’s standpoint, it’s an unprecedented time that we’re in.  It’s a paradigm shift in terms of being able to reach the exact person that you want with Facebook’s granular targeting. Down to zip code, down to propensity to possibly make a certain purchase, from going on a cruise in the next six months, buying a BMW in the next three months, income, the number of kids you have, what you do for a career — all of this is just extraordinary.

So, we really do have to think of Facebook as a platform in which to get our message, our products and our services in front of our target market, but done so in a very relationship-oriented way. I think the businesses that are really standing out are the ones that can make us laugh or cry or go “awwww” and tear at the heartstrings — you know, create something that has viral shareability as opposed to how some business send a message that says “Hey, sign up for our stuff,” “Buy our stuff.”  It’s a cold market, you know.

CP: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen on the ad platform itself?

MS: I would say that a big change is in terms of ad units, which initially were just a link and some basic visuals, but over the years they have a much, much, much more visual emphasis. I especially love the carousel ads you can swipe. I think Amazon is one of the best at doing retargeted multi-product ads. I remember seeing one of its ads that had about 32 cards on the carousel that you could swipe and I asked myself, “How did they know I like all this stuff!?”

And then what they call slideshow, which is really just images made into a video, but definitely the prevalence of video is key. One of Mark Zuckerberg’s favorite words is “immersive,” and so the introduction of more immersive type of content like canvas ads has huge importance in the current ad space.

I worked directly with a video creation company, and they shared a great case study from Brussels Airlines that pull up a canvas ad advertising flights to Mumbai in India. They got something like 27 times more time on site after doing this beautiful canvas ad, whereas their previous Facebook campaigns led to an average of three seconds on site. The reason behind this was because back in the day, ads were just a link with a tiny wee thumbnail, and then they got bigger and turned into GIFs, slideshows, animations, interactive content and full-screen content.

So, between (1)  the ad products (2) the placement and (3) the targeting, I would say those are the three key areas where there are the biggest changes. Placement being whether it’s Instagram, mobile news only or if it’s right rail (which still has its place), but users are in mobile more than anything else.

CP: Who is doing Facebook advertising particularly well? What do you like about their ad campaigns? Can you provide some examples?

MS: My favorite video ad that I include in almost every single one of my presentations is by a fun company called Chatbooks. It’s a simple app (a subscription service) that takes your Instagram and Facebook photos and prints them in a book format, it’s really clever.

They worked with a really good PR/creative agency and hired a professional actress/comedian. From there, they created this three minute and forty-second ad. The ad was first put out on their Facebook page, which had just over 100,000 fans (now over 200, 000). And when I last checked, that video ad had 69 million views and almost 500,000 shares.

This is what I love to teach — when you can craft your content to be visually appealing (ideally video). When people are engaged with it they’ll share it with others.


When you craft your content to be visually appealing, people are engaged + will share with others.
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I’ve never found a better example than Chatbooks. In fact, I originally saw it in my News Feed as a shared organic post by a friend of mine, and after I watched the full three minutes and forty seconds, I was ready to sign up and buy the subscription!

Another great example is from our friend Rand Fishkin from Moz,  who I know is speaking at CTA Conference this year.

Rand is doing these really great video ads called Whiteboard Fridays. I see the most recent one from April has over 4,600 views and 15 shares.

Whiteboard Fridays. Image source: Moz.

It’s so good because it’s educational and it’s the kind of video ad that you can stop and watch or at least save and watch later. It’s really cool what he’s doing because he’s not saying, “Hey everybody, sign up for Moz, see what we can do for you!” Instead, he’s like, “Hey here’s some education on SEO,” and it’s the kind of stuff that people will stop and save and consume.

One last shout out to my good friend Ezra Firestone and his company called Smart Marketer. He does really amazing stuff with video ads and lead gen.

CP: Unbounce cofounder Oli Gardner estimates that 98% of AdWords campaign traffic is not being sent to a dedicated landing page. If you had to guess, what percentage of Facebook marketers do you think are sending their traffic to mobile optimized landing pages? Do you see this as a missed opportunity?

MS: I would have said it’s probably a lot lower. My guess is that 65% is going to a dedicated landing page on Facebook — I get the sense that Facebook advertisers, for the most part, are a little more savvy. They realize you can’t spend all this money and have a captive audience and then just send them away to figure it out for themselves.

But to Oli’s point, I do see a missed an opportunity — especially when marketers are not really thoroughly checking and having a small test group. It’s important to invest a small amount — about $60 – $100 dollars — towards some A/B testing to see which ad gets better conversions. Doing the pixel and tracking the standard events, all of these components are key.

The second part is mobile optimized websites/landing pages. If someone’s clicking through and it’s too wide for the phone,  or the pop-up appears and you can’t find the ‘X’ on it it takes less than a second and they’re outta there.

CP: Are you seeing good examples of Facebook campaign landing pages? 

MS: I think my good friends over at AdEspresso – they were recently acquired by Hootsuite, a fellow Vancouver company —  they’re doing some really good stuff. I love their blog. In fact, they quote you there.

I’d have to think really hard to narrow down a specific landing page example, but in terms of components, or landing page elements, less is always more, something simple that’s really congruent with the ad itself.


Drive FB ad traffic to a landing page that’s simple & consistent with your ad. Less = more.
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The job of an ad and the job of an email is to get people to a landing page, and the job of a landing page is to convert, whether I’m asking for your email or I’m asking for you to make a purchase. And the beautiful thing about Facebook pixels is if someone doesn’t decide right then and there, you’re able to do some retargeting campaigns to refine further.

CP: Are there certain verticals that are more successful with Facebook advertising than others?

MS: I was just speaking at Marketo’s conference last week and they are, as you know, almost exclusively B2B, and so my talk was very geared towards the B2B audience.

I think Facebook has a reputation for being known to perform better for B2C, but I always like to say that businesses are running as “people to people.”

In terms of verticals, it’s probably easier to say what verticals are more difficult to reach, which are the highly regulated ones like insurance or finance —  but otherwise with every conceivable small business and niche or industry there’s a market that can can take advantage of generating leads on Facebook.

CP: When we talk Facebook ads, what are some missed opportunities?

MS: This comes back to the subject that’s close to my heart, which is really that relationship component: customer care, really engaging well when people are actually commenting and engaging on your ad.

I think what happens — especially with marketers that do the dark ads — is these ads can be very effective and you can be really selective in who you’re reaching without populating your wall, but then what often happens is out of sight, out of mind.  I’ve seen many major household brands where people are posting negative comments on the ad. There’s spam, people are asking questions about their products, and nobody is responding or acknowledging. I see that as a massive missed opportunity.

I think that’s one of the best investments that companies can make is having trained, qualified, passionate social customer care moderators. I always like to say that technology is moving at warp speed and it’s hard to keep up — but human beings, we’re not changing that much, and we want to know that we’re important, that we matter.

CP: What’s on the horizon?

MS: Right around the corner is Facebook television and that’s launching next month. Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely adamant that they’re not a media company, but just watch — just watch that space, they’re absolutely moving into that.

In the United States, the TV advertising industry is worth about $70 billion — it’s over $200 billion globally. And so Facebook now has licensed/paid for original content to be aired on video. And remember, they also have that app that they brought out not long ago that you can stream through your Apple TV or Amazon Fire.

So what’s coming next month are full one-hour shows that are highly professionally produced and then also small episodes — three to 30 minutes that will refresh every 24 hours, from what I’ve read.

For advertisers and marketers, we have to be thinking about quality video ads because that’s where Facebook’s next monetization horizon is (monetizing this digital streaming video with mid-roll ads). They swear they’re not going to do pre-roll, so let’s hope they stick to that.


Think quality Facebook video ads — for @MariSmith, that’s next on FB’s monetization horizon.
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It’s all about being in that frame of mind — somebody’s watching a show they’re really engaged in and all of a sudden, just like television, it interrupts and your ad comes in.  So when it comes to video, it’s about how can you make it quirky, or fun, or entertaining, or emotional — I don’t think those things will ever go away as long as we’re human.

At the F8 conference, within the first 30 seconds Zuckerberg was talking about camera, and camera platform and developing for the camera. I saw some really cool augmented ads by Nike, and they were incredible.

Facebook is also really pushing live and they’re also deploying a lot of resources to combat fake news. They also announced two weeks ago that they’re they’re going to hire 3,000 more employees to make a team of 7,500 employees dedicated to watching for fake news plus anything untoward happening on Facebook live.

Really the key is for businesses and marketers is really education. I can’t stress that strongly enough. That’s why I just I love that you guys are doing this conference — you can’t get enough quality education.

PSST: Catch more from Facebook Queen Mari Smith at the Call to Action Conference this June. Blog readers get 15% off tickets until May 25th — just use promo code “blogsentme” at checkout.

See more here – 

What Facebook Advertisers Are Doing Wrong: Q&A with Mari Smith

Simplifying iOS Game Logic With Apple’s GameplayKit’s Rule Systems

When you develop a game, you need to sprinkle conditionals everywhere. If Pac-Man eats a power pill, then ghosts should run away. If the player has low health, then enemies attack more aggressively. If the space invader hits the left edge, then it should start moving right.

Simplifying iOS Game Logic With GameplayKit’s Rule Systems

Usually, these bits of code are strewn around, embedded in larger functions, and the overall logic of the game is difficult to see or reuse to build up new levels.

The post Simplifying iOS Game Logic With Apple’s GameplayKit’s Rule Systems appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Simplifying iOS Game Logic With Apple’s GameplayKit’s Rule Systems

Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation

Pull-to-refresh is one of the most popular gestures in mobile applications right now. It’s easy to use, natural and so intuitive that it is hard to imagine refreshing a page without it. In 2010, Loren Brichter created Tweetie, one of numerous Twitter applications. Diving into the pool of similar applications, you won’t see much difference among them; but Loren’s Tweetie stood out then.

Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation

It was one simple animation that changed the game — pull-to-refresh, an absolute innovation for the time. No wonder Twitter didn’t hesitate to buy Tweetie and hire Loren Brichter. Wise choice! As time went on, more and more developers integrated this gesture into their applications, and finally, Apple itself brought pull-to-refresh to its system application Mail, to the joy of people who value usability.

The post Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Prototype And Code: Creating A Custom Pull-To-Refresh Gesture Animation

Infographic: How to Build a Loyal Audience on the Web

loyal-audience-2

There are two ways to do marketing. Throw money at ads and gush out content hoping some sort of ROI will be made. Build a loyal audience that is constantly tuned into what you have to say, where every campaign you embark on is instantly received and propagated by that audience. Think about it this way. When your typical PC manufacturer creates a device with a new and interesting feature, they have to spend millions on ads to get it out in front of consumers. All Apple has to do is whisper that something is coming, and the whole world…

The post Infographic: How to Build a Loyal Audience on the Web appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Infographic: How to Build a Loyal Audience on the Web

How To Build A SpriteKit Game In Swift 3 (Part 1)

Have you ever wondered what it takes to create a SpriteKit game from beginning to beta? Does developing a physics-based game seem daunting? Game-making has never been easier on iOS since the introduction of SpriteKit.

How To Build A SpriteKit Game In Swift 3 (Part 1)

In this three-part series, we will explore the basics of SpriteKit. We will touch on SKPhysics, collisions, texture management, interactions, sound effects, music, buttons and SKScenes. What might seem difficult is actually pretty easy to grasp. Stick with us while we make RainCat.

The post How To Build A SpriteKit Game In Swift 3 (Part 1) appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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How To Build A SpriteKit Game In Swift 3 (Part 1)

How To Poison The Mobile User

One of the most popular children’s television heroes here in the Czech Republic is The Little Mole, an innocent, speechless and cheerful creature who helps other animals in the forest.

How To Poison The Mobile User

TV heroes often fight against people who destroy their natural environment. When watching The Little Mole with my kids, I sometimes picture him as a mobile website user. Do you want to know why?

The post How To Poison The Mobile User appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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How To Poison The Mobile User

Your growth strategy and the true potential of A/B testing

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Imagine being a leader who can see the future…

Who can know if a growth strategy will succeed or fail before investing in it.

Who makes confident decisions based on what she knows her users want.

Who puts proven ideas to work to cut spending and lift revenue.

Okay. Now stop imagining, because you can be that leader…right now. You just need the right tool. (And no, I’m not talking about a crystal ball.) I’m talking about testing.

Build a future-proof growth machine at your company

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So many marketers approach “conversion optimization” and “A/B testing” with the wrong goals: they think too small. Their testing strategy is hyper focused on increasing conversions. Your Analytics team can A/B test button colors and copy tweaks and design changes until they are blue in the face. But if that’s all your company is doing, you are missing out on the true potential of conversion optimization.

Testing should not be a small piece of your overall growth strategy. It should not be relegated to your Analytics department, or shouldered by a single optimizer. Because you can use testing to interrogate and validate major business decisions.

“Unfortunately, most marketers get [conversion optimization] wrong by considering it to be a means for optimizing a single KPI (e.g – registrations, sales or downloads of an app). However conversion optimization testing is much much more than that. Done correctly with a real strategic process, CRO provides in-depth knowledge about our customers.

All this knowledge can then be translated into a better customer journey, optimized customer success and sales teams, we can even improve shipping and of course the actual product or service we provide. Every single aspect of our business can be optimized leading to higher conversion rates, more sales and higher retention rates. This is how you turn CRO from a “X%” increase in sign ups to complete growth of your business and company.

Once marketers and business owners follow a process, stop testing elements such as call to action buttons or titles for the sake of it and move onto testing more in-depth processes and strategies, only then will they see those uplifts and growth they strive for that scale and keep.”Talia Wolf, CMO, Banana Splash

Testing and big picture decision making should be intertwined. And if you want to grow and scale your business, you must be open to testing the fundamentals of said business.

Imagine spearheading a future-proof growth strategy. That’s what A/B testing can do for you.

In this post, I’m going to look at three examples of using testing to make business decisions. Hopefully, these examples will inspire you to put conversion optimization to work as a truly influential determinant of your growth strategy.

Testing a big business decision before you make it

Often, marketers look to testing as a way to improve digital experiences that already exist. When your team tests elements on your page, they are testing what you have already invested in (and they may find those elements aren’t working…)

  • “If I improve the page UX, I can increase conversions”
  • “If I remove distracting links from near my call-to-action button, I can increase conversions”
  • “If I add a smiling person to my hero image, I can capture more leads”, etc.

But if you want to stay consistently ahead of the marketing curve, you should test big changes before you invest in them. You’ll save money, time, resources. And, as with any properly-structured test, you will learn something about your users.

A B2C Example

One WiderFunnel client is a company that provides an online consumer information service—visitors type in a question and get an Expert answer.

The marketing leaders at this company wanted to add some new payment options to the checkout page of their mobile experience. After all, it makes sense to offer alternative payment methods like Apple Pay and Amazon Payments to mobile users, right?

Fortunately, this company is of a test-first, implement-second mindset.

With the help of WiderFunnel’s Strategy team, this client ran a test to identify demand for new payment methods before actually putting any money or resources into implementing said alternative payment methods.

This test was not meant to lift conversion rates. Rather, it was designed to determine which alternative payment methods users preferred.

Note: This client did not actually support the new payment methods when we ran this test. When a user clicked on the Apple Pay method, for instance, they saw the following message:

“Apple Pay coming soon!
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Please choose an available deposit method:
Credit Card | PayPal”

marketing-strategy-payment-options
Should this client invest in alternative payment methods? Only the test will tell!

Not only did this test provide the client with the insight they were looking for about which alternative payment methods their users prefer, but (BONUS!) it also produced significant increases in conversions, even though that was not our intention.

Because they tested first, this client can now invest in the alternative payment options that are most preferred by their users with confidence. Making a big business change doesn’t have to be a gamble.

As Sarah Breen of ASICS said,

We’re proving our assumptions with data. Testing allows me to say, ‘This is why we took this direction. We’re not just doing what our competitors do, it’s not just doing something that we saw on a site that sells used cars. This is something that’s been proven to work on our site and we’re going to move forward with it.’

Testing what you actually offer, part I

Your company has put a lot of thought (research, resources, money) into determining what you should actually offer. It can be overwhelming to even ask the question, “Is our product line actually the best offering A) for our users and B) for our business?”

But asking the big scary questions is a must. Your users are evolving, how they shop is evolving, your competition is evolving. Your product offering must evolve as well.

Some companies bring in experienced product consultants to advise them, but why not take the question to the people (aka your users)…and test your offering.

An E-commerce Example

Big scary question: Have you ever considered reducing the number of products you offer?

One WiderFunnel client offers a huge variety of products. During a conversation between our Strategists and the marketing leaders at this company, the idea to test a reduced product line surfaced.

The thinking was that even if conversions stayed flat with a fewer-products variation, this test would be considered a winner if the reduction in products meant money saved on overhead costs, such as operations costs, shipping and logistics costs, manufacturing costs and so on.

marketing-strategy-jam-study
The Jam Study is one of the most famous demonstrations of the Paradox of Choice.

Plus! There is a psychological motivator that backs up less-is-more thinking: The Paradox of Choice suggests that fewer options might mean less anxiety for visitors. If a visitor has less anxiety about which product is more suitable for them, they may have increased confidence in actually purchasing.

After working with this client’s team to cut down their product line to just the essential top 3 products, our Strategists created what they refer to as the ‘Minimalist’ variation. This variation will be tested against the original product page, which features many products.

marketing-strategy-product-offerings
This client’s current product category page features many products. The ‘Minimalist’ variation highlights just their top 3 products.

If the ‘Minimalist’ variation is a clear winner, this client will be armed with the information they need to consider halting the manufacture of several older products—a potentially dramatic cost-saving initiative.

Even if the variation is a loser, the insights gained could be game-changing. If the ‘Minimalist’ variation results in a revenue loss of 10%, but the cost of manufacturing all of those other products is more than 10%, this client would experience a net revenue gain! Which means, they would want to seriously consider fewer products as an option.

Regardless of the outcome, an experiment like this one will give the marketing decision-maker evidence to make a more informed decision about a fundamental aspect of their business.

Cutting products is a huge business decision, but if you know how your users will respond ahead of time, you can make that decision without breaking a sweat.

Testing what you actually offer, part II

Experienced marketers often assume that they know best. They assume they know what their user wants and needs, because they have ‘been around’. They may assume that, because everybody else is offering something, it is the best offering―(the “our-competitors-are-emphasizing-this-so-it-must-be-the-most-important-offering” mentality).

Well, here’s another big scary question: Does your offering reflect what your users value most? Rather than guessing, push your team to dig into the data, find the gaps in your user experience, and test your offering.

“Most conversion optimization work happens behind the scenes: the research process to understand the user. From the research you form various hypotheses for what they want and how they want it.

This informs [what] you come up with, and with A/B/n testing you’re able to validate market response…before you go full in and spend all that money on a strategy that performs sub-optimally.” Peep Laja, Founder, ConversionXL

A B2B Example

When we started working with SaaS company, Magento, they were offering a ‘Free Demo’ of the Enterprise Edition of their software. Offering a ‘Free Demo’ is a best practice for software companies—everybody does it and it was probably a no-brainer for Magento’s product team.

Looking at clickmap data, however, WiderFunnel’s Strategists noticed that Magento users were really engaged with the informational tabs lower down on the product page.

They had the option to try the ‘Free Demo’, but the data indicated that they were looking for more information. Unfortunately, once users had finished browsing tabs, there was nowhere else to go.

So, our Strategists decided to test a secondary ‘Talk to a specialist’ call-to-action.

marketing-strategy-magento-offering
Is the ‘Free Demo’ offering always what software shoppers are looking for?

This call-to-action hadn’t existed prior to this test, so the literal infinite conversion rate lift Magento saw in qualified sales calls was not surprising. What was surprising was the phone call we received 6 months later: Turns out the ‘Talk to a specialist’ leads were far more valuable than the ‘Get a free demo’ leads.

After several subsequent test rounds, “Talk to a specialist” became the main call-to-action on this page. Magento’s most valuable prospects value the opportunity to get more information from a specialist more than they value a free product demo. SaaS ‘best practices’ be damned.

Optimization is a way of doing business. It’s a strategy for embedding a test-and-learn culture within every fibre of your business.

– Chris Goward, Founder & CEO, WiderFunnel

You don’t need to be a mind-reader to know what your users want, and you don’t need to be a seer to know whether or not a big business change will succeed or flop. You simply need to test.

Leave your ego at the door and listen to what your users are telling you. Be the marketing leader with the answers, the leader who can see the future and can plan her growth strategy accordingly.

How do you use testing as a tool for making big business decisions? Let us know in the comments!

The post Your growth strategy and the true potential of A/B testing appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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Your growth strategy and the true potential of A/B testing

25 Inspirational Resources for Copywriters

copywriter's workstation
Image via Shutterstock.

As a copywriter, you need to be immersed in what’s going on in the world, even when those things seem completely unrelated to what you’re doing. Why? Because you’re writing for real people, who may end up being customers if you treat them right. We’re all just people, and what we really connect over is stuff which makes us go, “Woah!”

For example, did you know that the poster for Netflix’s nostalgic 80s sci-fi series, Stranger Things, was designed using an iPad Pro and Apple pencil?

Stranger Things poster made on ipad
Image via Kyle Lambert.

That may not seem relevant when you’re building out marketing campaigns and landing pages, but when you understand how people are thinking, and what they’re doing with technology, art and words, you have a better toolkit for building conversion-friendly content.

Here are 25 inspirational and practical resources, aimed at expanding your mind and copywriting toolkit. If you think we’ve missed one, drop us a comment below and help us to grow this list.

Technical and grammar

Interesting reads on writing well, and how not to use the semicolon.

1. The Writer — readability checker

The team at The Writer are all about making your words work harder. There’s plenty of general advice there for strengthening your copy, but what I really love is their readability checker, which gives you instant feedback on how readable your copy is, on a scale of Harry Potter to Harvard Law Review.

2. The Oatmeal (posters)

I wish they’d do more of these posters, because not only are they funny, they’re also genuinely useful.

The Oatmeal semicolon poster
Check out the one on semicolons: “Using a semicolon isn’t hard; I once saw a party gorilla do it.”

3. Mary Norris, Comma Queen (The New Yorker)

One of my absolute favorite resources is the Comma Queen series by Mary Norris, copy editor at The New Yorker. In her witty, to-the-point style, she’ll teach you how to properly use commas and semicolons, and how to understand the difference between lie and lay.

4. The Unbounce Dejargonator Extension

There are ways to writing convincingly, without using heady, technical jargon. When you’re speaking to people who aren’t marketers — or even if they are — it’s really beneficial to speak like a human being. Simple, right? This awesome extension for Chrome helps you do just that, by suggesting changes to your landing page copy. It’s like having an Unbounce editor all to yourself, you lucky sausage.

5. Ellen Brock, Editor

Ellen Brock is a freelance novel editor, but her advice is extremely valuable for all kinds of writers. When you understand story arcs and how to prioritize your work, you can apply those skills to your marketing copy.

6. Thesaurus.com

No, it’s not just a website for looking up synonyms, Thesaurus has a bunch of other really useful articles and tools for improving your writing. Between it and Dictionary.com there’s a lot of information on the difference between the likes of Who and Whom, and commonly misunderstood words.

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Content marketing

Using what you write to inform, entertain and convert.

7. Shopify Blog

A little bit like Entrepreneur, only focused entirely on e-commerce. If your landing page is for an online store, what you learn from Shopify could help to make sure customers stick around and spend once they arrive.

8. Copyblogger

Really more of a general content marketing blog these days than straight copywriting advice, Copyblogger is a great resource for anyone in need of specific know-how, or just a bit of inspiration. Well-written, engaging posts and updated regularly.

9. Copyhackers

If you’re a new freelancer, or new to content marketing, Copyhackers is the place to go for fundamental advice on running your show. Even if you’re an experienced writer or marketer, if you need trusted advice in a hurry, bets are that Copyhackers have covered it.

Whether you’re a new or an experienced copywriter, this comprehensive guide to freelance copywriting is a cracking place to start. And then there’s the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Facebook Ads.

10. Ceros Blog

Another gem in the world of content marketing, the Ceros blog features loads of examples of effective creative content, in the form of opinion pieces and big brand analyses.

Reading and culture

Get outside the world of click and convert for a bit, and see what words can do for your soul.

11. Stephen King — 20 Rules for Writers

I hate seeing the words rules and writing put together, but King’s top 20 — let’s call them guidelines — can help to get you on track, or back on track depending on where you left off.

Stephen King

12. The Electric Typewriter

Feed your soul at The Electric Typewriter. Possibly the internet’s most delicious collection of articles, essays and short stories from the world’s best journalists and authors. This is online reading for connoisseurs.

13. Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man

Here’s something for when you need some downtime. Science-fiction author Ray Bradbury’s brilliant collection of short stories, The Illustrated Man. I’m a big fan of short stories, and I believe that reading and understanding them can help you to craft more potent copy. Why? Check out this post “For More Meaningful Copy, Think Like a Fiction Writer”’ to find out.

14. The short stories of O. Henry

Henry is considered a legend amongst short story authors. His command of simple language, and how he used it to offer incredibly short, but always poignant ideas makes his work a good body to study if you’re trying to learn how to be more economical with words.

15. Brain Pickings with Bob Dylan

A little off the beaten track here, but in this interview with the singer-songwriter, Dylan muses on the value of new ideas and what it takes to create something with real meaning. Lofty, for sure, but like I said at the start, it’s good to know what’s going on in the world.

16. Stephen King, On Writing

In relation to my last point, if you’d like some advice on writing fiction, then Stephen King’s On Writing is a fabulous resource.

17. How To Format a Screenplay

Here’s a fine example of stepping outside your comfort zone. Writing exists in so many formats, and screenplays for TV and movies are one of the most technical and, in my opinion, difficult examples of the craft. Approach this as a pencil illustrator might approach drawing with ink for the first time, and enjoy it, it’s an interesting read.

Journalism

To-the-point advice from leading journos and editors at The New York Times.

18. The Opinionator blog, NYT

Plenty of musings on the technical and metaphysics of writing from opinion writers at The New York Times. Interesting reads, and the occasional gem of inspiration or practical advice to be had.

19. Writing rules and advice from the NYT

If you really want to write well and effectively, then taking heed of how (arguably) the world’s best newspaper does it is smart.

20. After Deadline blog, NYT

A more technical, nerdy look at The New York Times’s approach to copy and editing. An interesting blog to scan over in your lunch break. Keep it bookmarked and build up a vast knowledge of copy-related wisdom from seasoned writers and editors, which might come in handy one day.

Video

Talks and interviews with linguistics experts, authors and journalists from around the world.

21. Charlie Rose interviews

Charlie Rose is arguably the greatest interviewer of all time, and he’s had some of the most famous and influential people at his table over the past 25 years. I’ve linked here to his segments with key journalists, but you’ll also find talks there he’s done with well-known authors, including David Foster Wallace and Stephen King.

22. TED playlists

Inspiring talks from authors and linguistics experts on how to tell stories, how language evolves and even the origins of words themselves. Look out for The Mystery Box talk from Star Trek director J. J. Abrams, in which he talks about how to effectively draw your audience into a world of possibilities — exactly what you want from your landing pages, right?

Typography

Get to know the letters which form our words and shape our world.

23. I Love Typography

You click, you change the font, you click, you change to another font. Typography affects readability, emotional impact, tone and whether people stick around long enough to click, or buy. Take a dive here into the completely nerdy world of typography.

Advertising

When words become household sayings.

24. Fast Company, “The Best Advertising Slogans of All Time”

My all-time favorite slogan has to be the one Toys R’ Us used for a period in the 1980s — “You’ll Never Outgrow Us.” Creepy as hell, right? Here’s Fast Company’s round-up of the most popular advertising slogans of all time.

Bonus

25. 10 books For copywriters

Unbounce veteran contributor Aaron Orendorff recently tweeted this top 10 list of copywriting books by copywriters. I’ll confess that I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but Aaron knows his stuff, so you should check these guys and girls out.

That’s it for now, but we’d love for this list to grow. If you have an awesome resource that you’d like to share with your fellow writers, drop it in the comments below, and we’ll add it to the list.

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25 Inspirational Resources for Copywriters