Tag Archives: brand

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Optimizing Your SaaS Conversion Funnel (Guide)

saas conversion funnel

The average company used 16 SaaS apps in 2017. That’s a 33 percent increase from the year before. That doesn’t mean your SaaS business will flourish, though. If you want your piece of an industry that’s worth an estimated 116 billion globally, optimizing your SaaS conversion funnel most become a priority. Your conversion funnel describes the steps your prospective customers take to reach a buying decision. Narrowing the conversion funnel and pushing prospects through faster can result in higher profits. Do to so, you must learn how to nurture your leads and prospects. Let’s look at some of the most…

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Optimizing Your SaaS Conversion Funnel (Guide)

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How To Turn Your Users Into Advocates




How To Turn Your Users Into Advocates

Nick Babich



(This article is kindly sponsored by Adobe.) As businesses become more consumer-oriented, competition grows fiercer. Thousands of companies worldwide are struggling each day to gain more market share and to win over new consumers. A significant number of companies concentrate only on acquiring new customers — they allocate enormous marketing budgets trying to strengthen their customer base. But acquiring new customers only becomes harder and more expensive. According to the 2017 Digital Advertising Report by Adobe, ad costs are seeing growth five times faster than US inflation rates.


Cost of advertising increase from 2014 to 2016 in the US.


Cost of advertising increase from 2014 to 2016 in the US. (Image source)

In an attempt to find new customers, companies often forget to think of ways to engage with existing users. However, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

To succeed in the modern market, companies need to do more than produce an excellent product or provide reliable service: They need to turn their faithful users into advocates.

In this article, I’m going to discuss:

  • who are product advocates,
  • actionable ways to turn your customers into brand advocates,
  • what to consider when creating a strategy for advocacy.

Who Are Product Advocates?

Brand advocates are people who feel so positively about a brand that they want to recommend it to others. They’re often called volunteer marketers because they pass on positive word-of-mouth messages about the brand to other people (both offline and online). Advocates do it organically — money is not the primary reason why they promote a brand or product; they promote it because they truly believe in the brand.

Why Advocacy Is Great

Who sells your products or services? You might think it the sole responsibility of the sales and marketing team. Yes, for a long time, sales and marketing was the team responsible for product growth, but the situation has changed. Your customers have quickly become the most critical people to sell what you’re offering. More specifically, your customers have become keen advocates for your product or service. Advocates can be a key part of growing your customer base:

  • Organic promotion
    Brand advocacy is the modern form of traditional word-of-mouth marketing. And word of mouth about a product or service is one of the most powerful forms of advertising; when regular people recommend a product, their message carries more weight than a paid advertisement. According to a McKinsey study, word of mouth can generate more than double the sales of paid advertising.
  • Authentic reviews and testimonials
    Social proof plays a vital part in the process of product selection. Reading reviews and testimonials is the first step potential users make when researching a product; reviews and testimonials play a role in the wisdom of the crowd. And advocates can be excellent sources of reviews and testimonials. According to Google, 19% of brand advocates share their experiences online in their networks — twice as many as non-brand advocates.
  • Brand awareness
    Advocates use the power of social channels to amplify a brand’s exposure. As a result, they can reach out to people you might not have considered.
  • Valuable customer feedback loops
    Advocates can provide valuable customer insights. Their insights can help you formulate more focused, customer-centric product road maps.

Loyalty And Advocacy Are Not The Same Thing

Many people confuse loyalists and brand advocates. Brand loyalists and advocates aren’t the same groups of customers. Loyal customers are people who stay with your brand. For example, if you run an e-commerce store, loyal customers will be your return buyers. But they might not actively promote your brand to others (i.e. they might not be comfortable with sharing information about your brand publicly).

Advocates, on the other hand, are people who not only are loyal to your brand, but also proactively talk up and advocate for your company to their own networks. The word “proactive” is key here. Advocates invest in the success of your brand heavily. The goal is to turn brand loyalists into brand advocates.

Who Has The Potential To Become A Brand Advocate?

Your existing customers are the most apparent advocates for your brand. Let’s define the groups of existing users who likely to be interested in a brand advocacy program:

  • Promoters
    Promoters are people who participate in an NPS survey, a single-question survey that sounds like, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends, family, or colleagues?”, and who answers 9 or 10.
  • Referrers
    These are existing customers who refer new users to your product.
  • Repeat visitors
    Repeat visitors are highly engaged and interested in the content you provide.
  • Social sharers
    These are people who share your content on social media on a regular basis.
  • Critics
    Critics leave feedback about your product or service.

However, your customers are not your only advocates. The best brand advocates are people who work with you: your employees. Communications marketing firm Edelman found that 52% of consumers view employees as very credible sources of information about a brand.

How To Encourage Advocacy

Getting customers to advocate for a brand is a lot different from getting them to buy products or services. Users don’t become advocates without reason. To acquire a brand ambassador, companies need to create the conditions that generate not only happy customers, but true customer advocates.

Don’t Try To Force It

Pushing people towards a particular type of action typically results in them doing the opposite. Don’t try to force advocacy; it should be completely natural.

Create A Delightful UX

Designing for the user experience has a lot more to it than making a product usable. It’s also important to generate a certain positive emotional effect while people are using a product. After all, user experience is about how users feel when they interact with a product. As humans, we establish some sort of an emotional connection with all of the products we use. It’s possible to establish a deeper connection with a product by adding elements that generate positive emotions at multiple points along that journey.


Pleasure is at the top of Aaron Walter’s pyramid of emotional design. Designers should have a goal to please their users and make them feel happy when they use the product.


Pleasure is at the top of Aaron Walter’s pyramid of emotional design. Designers should have a goal to please their users and make them feel happy when they use the product.

The reward for brands that connect with customers’ emotions in a positive way can be substantial. People love to talk about products that make them happy.

Duolingo is an excellent example of incorporating delight in UX. What makes Duolingo thrive is its smooth functionality wrapped in a friendly design with elements of gamification. Each lesson is presented as a challenge to the user. When users accomplish a task, Duolingo celebrates this progress with the users by rewarding them with a badge. By presenting the learning process as a challenge, the service creates a sense of development and accomplishment. The latter has a significant impact on delight.


Evoking a positive emotional response in users is key to creating a delightful UX. Duolingo transforms the task of learning a new language into an inviting experience. This motivates users to level up and achieve mastery in the discipline.


Evoking a positive emotional response in users is key to creating a delightful UX. Duolingo transforms the task of learning a new language into an inviting experience. This motivates users to level up and achieve mastery in the discipline.

Focus On Building Trust

Advocacy is always a risky business. When discussing a company, advocates are putting their reputation on the line. They know that if something goes wrong, people will blame them for it. But one thing can alleviate those fears: trust. The more they trust you, the more easily they will recommend your product.

Below are a few things that play a significant role in building trust.

Stand By What You Offer

Deliver what you promise, and promptly solve problems when something goes wrong. That’s the obvious starting point, but you’d be surprised at how many fail to execute well on this simple principle.

Casper, an e-commerce company that sells sleep products online, is an excellent example of a company that exemplifies trust. Ordering a mattress on the Internet isn’t a simple thing. A customer might try a product and find that it’s not good for them. The company understands this and offers an extended trial period (customers can test a product for 100 nights) and an incredibly lenient return policy. By making returns as simple as possible, Casper makes the process of ordering a mattress as comfortable as possible. Casper not only stands by its products, but also trusts its customers to be honest when requesting a refund.

Make It Easy To Reach You

When customers interact with a brand, they expect to have a dialog, not a monologue. They want you to listen to them and demonstrate that you care about them as individuals. This is especially important when users face problems. Users should be able to reach a company through whichever channel is most convenient to them at the time. Whether they prefer face-to-face communication, email, a phone call or a message in a social network, make sure you’re available by all those means.

Ask For Feedback

Asking users for feedback not only is one of the best ways to gain insight into your business, but is also a great way to build relationships. When you ask users for feedback, they understand that you actually care about them and want to make their experience better.

However, the way you ask for feedback plays a vital role in how users react to it. Generic surveys with questions like, “Are you happy with our service? Answer yes or no” won’t deliver many insights. You need to research users problems first, get to know what is bothering them, and only after that ask questions that your users will be happy to answer.


DigitalOcean makes users feel that their opinions carry weight.


DigitalOcean makes users feel that their opinions carry weight.

Encourage Your Customers To Talk About You

Despite the digital world constantly changing, one trend remains the same: When it comes to evaluating a new product or service, potential clients trust the advice and expertise of existing clients. To build trust, you need to encourage users to talk about you. Here are a few things to remember when asking users for a review:

  • Find the right time to ask for a review. The request for a review should be a natural part of the customer journey.

Booking.com makes asking for feedback a natural part of the user journey. When Booking.com users check out at a hotel, the service asks them to review their stay.


Booking.com makes asking for feedback a natural part of the user journey. When Booking.com users check out at a hotel, the service asks them to review their stay.

  • Focus on quality, not quantity. Stay away from reviews and testimonials that praise the product. “Amazing product, highly recommended” doesn’t say much to potential customers. Prioritize testimonials that have context and that tell a story. This testimonial from Amazon illustrates exactly what I mean:

Product reviews can act as social proof and encourage prospects to convert. The best reviews not only describe the pros and cons of a product, but tell a story of how the product benefits the user.


Product reviews can act as social proof and encourage prospects to convert. The best reviews not only describe the pros and cons of a product, but tell a story of how the product benefits the user.

Offer A Loyalty Program

A loyalty program is a tried-and-true technique to show users your gratitude. As mentioned above, loyalty and advocacy aren’t the same thing. Still, a loyalty program can be used to increase the number of brand advocates:

  • Beat negative experience.
    A loyalty program might come in handy when users face a problem and complain about it. Of course, it’s essential to respond to the user request and provide a solution to the problem as fast as you can. But once the issue has been resolved, you can offer the customer loyalty points as an apology. This might help you to win back frustrated users, and maybe they can even advocate for your brand.
  • Encourage social activity.
    Motivate users to participate in social activities. For example, reward users by awarding loyalty points every time they tweet or post to Facebook, write a review, or refer their friends.

Offer A Referral Program

Running a referral program is a great way to encourage existing users to share information about your business. A successful referral program can help you achieve two key goals:

  • acquire new customers,
  • turn existing customers into brand advocates.

Moreover, studies confirm that referred customers are more valuable than customers acquired by other methods; they tend to yield higher profit margins and stay longer (they have a 16% higher lifetime value than non-referred customers), resulting in an overall higher customer lifetime value.

The critical point with a referral strategy is to find out the right incentive to make users spread the word about your product. Dropbox’s referral program is possibly one of the most famous cases of referral marketing done right. The service grew 3900% in 15 months with a simple referral program. When existing Dropbox users referred Dropbox to someone and the person signed up, both got extra free space. Apparently, Dropbox’s tremendous rise is not all due to the referral program; the service provides an excellent user experience, and the team continually improves its product. But the referral program was a great accelerator of the process of promotion.


Dropbox offered a two-sides referral program. Both advocate and referrer are rewarded for completing the desired task.


Dropbox offered a two-sides referral program. Both advocate and referrer are rewarded for completing the desired task.

Uber is an excellent example of how a referral program baked into the service from day one can boost adoption. When Uber launched, it was quite a revolutionary service that brought the sharing economy to the transportation industry. People had to adapt to this new format of ridesharing — many potential users had doubts that stopped them from trying the new experience. The referral program was an excellent tool to alleviate fears. The incentive for participation in the program is straightforward: The service offers a free ride to both the referrer and the new rider upon a successful referral. A free ride is an excellent opportunity to get to know the service. This way, Uber gives new customers the perfect introduction to the service.


Uber’s referral program


Uber’s referral program

Both Dropbox and Uber integrated the referral program very naturally into the product experience. For Dropbox users, the referral program is presented as the final step of the onboarding process — at the point when users already know what benefits the product brings to them and when they’ll be most likely to participate in the program. As for Uber, the referral program has its own option in app’s main menu.

Personalize Customer Experiences

Personalization allows brands to build deeper connections with their customers. It feels great when a product offers an experience that feels tailored especially to us. A personalized experience is what often drives a customer to say, “This is the brand for me.”

It’s possible to make the experience more personal by gathering information on customers and using it to deliver more relevant content. For example, you could have an intuitive interface that adjusts exactly the way the user expects. Netflix is an excellent example of earning loyalty based on providing a personalized experience. The service offers content suggestions based on the user’s viewing history. Netflix also notifies users when new seasons of their favorite TV shows are released.


Netflix does a great job of personalizing its mobile push notifications.


Netflix does a great job of personalizing its mobile push notifications.

Leverage The Power Of Social Media

The power of word of mouth created by brand advocates is amplified through social media. In fact, if there’s one place your company should look for brand advocates, it’s on your social media channels. Today, 70% of Americans use social media channels to engage with friends, family and the people they know. Thus, it’s essential to practice social listening — listen to what your current customers and advocates are saying about your brand — and respond to their comments accordingly.

Choose The Social Networks Most Effective To Your Business

It’s extremely important to know where your audience lives on social media and where potential advocates could have the most influence.

Carefully Choose Content To Publish

Before posting anything on social media, ask yourself two simple questions, “Does it benefit our company?” and “Does it meet our audience’s needs?” Ideally, you should post content that both reflects your business’ goals and satisfies the needs of your target audience.

Respond To User Feedback

Recognizing and responding to positive feedback is particularly important over social media. Reward the people who stand out in your community. If you have a customer who wants to engage with you, engage with them. Give them as much love as they’re giving you.


Users giving positive feedback about your brand is by far the best brand promotion. MailChimp responds to positive customer feedback on Twitter.


Users giving positive feedback about your brand is by far the best brand promotion. MailChimp responds to positive customer feedback on Twitter.

Share User-Generated Content

One of the best ways to push customer advocacy is through user-generated content.

It’s great for brands because one piece of user-generated content can reach thousands of people within hours. And it’s great for users: Being mentioned or having content shared by a brand is really exciting for many consumers.

Airbnb is an excellent example of how user-generated content can be a vital part of a brand’s content. In the company’s Instagram account, Airbnb shares stunning photos captured by its customers. The photos include exotic locations, and this kind of content is highly attractive to prospective customers.


Sharing user content helps you get to that user’s audience. Airbnb uses such content to show off its users’ talents behind the camera.


Sharing user content helps you get to that user’s audience. Airbnb uses such content to show off its users’ talents behind the camera.

Solve User Problems

When users have a problem with a product, they often post questions or complaints on social networks in the hope of getting a quick response. It’s tremendously important to address every concern users have about your brand. By solving their problems, you clearly demonstrate that your brand is genuinely addressing customer concerns. Just imagine the effect when you resolve an issue on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and the happy user shares the whole conversation with their friends and family. The benefits will be priceless. Thus, the more you interact with people and solve their issues on social media, the more value you will provide to them, and the more they will like you.


MailChimp deals with user problems on Twitter.


MailChimp deals with user problems on Twitter.

Encourage Your Followers To Share Content

Social media are great places to run promotional campaigns. Next time you run a promotion, ask your followers to share special moments using the hash tag assigned to the campaign. Track the hash tag, and choose the most inspiring contributions. This type of sharing has three significant benefits:

  • It builds brand loyalty.
  • It brings a community together.
  • It helps you create great content relevant to your brand.

In Adobe XD’s promotional campaign on Twitter, designers share their work with Adobe XD using the hash tag #AdobeXDUIKit.


In Adobe XD’s promotional campaign on Twitter, designers share their work with Adobe XD using the hash tag #AdobeXDUIKit.

Provide Social Reward

Monitor your social media channels to identify people who are frequently mentioning your brand, and reward them with personal messages or gifts.


Reward users for connecting and interacting with your brand on social media. Starbucks sent a personalized, reusable Starbucks cup to one of its loyal customers to thank her for promoting Starbucks’ products in her Instagram posts.


Reward users for connecting and interacting with your brand on social media. Starbucks sent a personalized, reusable Starbucks cup to one of its loyal customers to thank her for promoting Starbucks’ products in her Instagram posts.

Make Social Engagement A Natural Part Of The User Journey

Encourage your users to share their achievements in the app on social media. Every once in a while, give users a shout out by sharing their posts on your page as well. Such encouragement can play a key role in making other people do the same. Just make sure the spotlight is on their accomplishments, not your product.

Runtastic (an app that tracks the number of kilometers a user runs every day) is a great example. The app encourages users to share their run with friends on social networks. Users love to share their progress with their network because it makes them look good.


Encourage your followers to share special moments. Runtastic encourages its users to share their accomplishments on social media.


Encourage your followers to share special moments. Runtastic encourages its users to share their accomplishments on social media.

Boost Employee Advocacy

Your employees can help you amplify the brand’s message. According to Weber Shandwick research, 30% of employees are deeply engaged and have a high potential to be employer advocates. Moreover, the leads generated by an employee through social networking convert 7 times more often than other leads.

Your employees know the product inside out; they are capable of providing support and answering detailed questions about the product. It’s possible to boost employee advocacy by following a few simple rules:

  • Train your employees on social sharing activities. Organize seminars to educate your employees on the importance of social sharing and how they can participate in this activity.
  • Incentivize participation in social activities. Provide benefits to frequent sharers and referrers, and acknowledge them in company events.
  • Practice co-creating content with your employees. Give your employees more opportunities to be involved with your brand by sharing their own messages that reinforce business goals.
  • Help them build their personal brand. When your employees gain enough credibility to market your company, the impact of promotion will be much higher.

Help Customers Reach Their Professional Goals

Every brand should help customers to become more experienced in what they do. One way to help your customers with their professional advancement is to provide educational opportunities. Today, many big companies are focused on creating content that will help their users. For example, Adobe offers a magnificent suite of products for designers, but it isn’t only the products that make the company recognizable; it’s the content it publishes. Adobe runs a blog that offers free in-depth educational content that helps thousands of designers create better products.


Hundreds of thousands of designers return to Adobe’s blog every month to learn more about design. Readers recognize and love the brand because the blog posts help them in what they do.


Hundreds of thousands of designers return to Adobe’s blog every month to learn more about design. Readers recognize and love the brand because the blog posts help them in what they do.

Create “Wow” Moments For Your Users

One of the most effective ways to make your users happy (and turn them into brand advocates) is to surprise them — for example, with an unexpected gift. A gift doesn’t mean something expensive. It could be as simple as a handwritten note. Most users would be delighted to receive such a gift because they understand that it takes time to write a personal message. Give your customers such a surprise and they’ll want to talk about it and about, more importantly, its sender.


In today’s world of digital communication, a handwritten note stands out. Sending thank-you notes is a fantastic, and very personal, way to surprise your customers.


In today’s world of digital communication, a handwritten note stands out. Sending thank-you notes is a fantastic, and very personal, way to surprise your customers. (Image source)

Things To Remember When Creating A Brand Advocacy Program

We’ve just reviewed a great list of methods to boost brand advocacy. But which methods should be applied in your case? Unfortunately, when it comes to creating a brand advocacy program, there’s no silver bullet that turns customers into enthusiastic advocates. Each company has its own unique set of requirements, and it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all solution. But it is still possible to provide a few general recommendations on how to create an advocacy program.

Set A Goal

Without clear goals, your chances to engage advocates decrease significantly. Before you get started, know what you want to achieve from your advocate marketing program. What do you want advocates to do?

Choose advocacy goals that align with your overall business objectives. For example, if your top business goal is to increase conversions, then one of your top advocacy goals could be to get more high-quality referrals.

Here are a few common goals:

  • Higher brand engagement
    The number of comments, likes and mentions on your channels is a signifier of success.
  • Higher conversion rates
    Get more high-quality referrals that result in increased sales.
  • Better brand awareness
    By tracking keywords associated with your brand, you’ll know how often people mention your brand and in what context.

Quick tip: Use the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting program to set the most effective goals possible. The goals you define should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

Measure The Outcome

When it comes to measuring the outcome of an advocacy program, many teams use NPS (Net Promoter Score) as a key metric. NPS is computed by asking users to answer, “How likely are you to recommend this product to a friend or relative? Rate it on a scale from 0 to 10.” The answers are then grouped into three categories:

  • Detractors: responses of 0 to 6, which indicate dissatisfaction.
  • Passives: responses of 7 or 8, which indicate moderate satisfaction.
  • Promoters: responses of 9 or 10, which indicate high satisfaction and a strong likelihood of recommendation.

The NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. The NPS can range from -100% (only detractors) to +100% (only promoters).


The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products to others.


The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products to others.

While NPS is an excellent base level for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty, don’t use NPS as a key performance indicator. Jared Spool provides a few valid arguments on why NPS can be considered harmful to business. Figure out the more reliable and actionable ways to measure how customers feel about your brand and its offerings.

Also, when it comes to evaluating your advocacy program, focus on measuring retention, not conversion. Customer retention refers to a business’ ability to keep a customer over a specified period of time. Your retention rate can tell you a lot about your user base.

Here are three metrics that can help you measure it:

  • Customer retention rate
    The customer retention rate indicates what percentage of customers have stayed with you over a given period of time. While there’s no standard formula for calculating a customer retention rate, Jeff Haden shares a simple way to measure it. Customer retention rate = ((CE – CN) / CS)) x 100, where CE is the number of customers at the end of a period, CN is the number of new customers acquired during a period of time, and CS is the number of customers at the start of a period of time. A business with a low customer retention rate is like a bucket of water with holes in it.
  • Customer lifetime value
    The customer lifetime value is a projection of revenue a business can expect from a customer relationship. Knowing the lifetime value of a customer will help you determine how much money you can spend on customer acquisition; it also enables you to calculate your return on investment (ROI). A customer’s acquisition costs being higher than their lifetime value will often cause problems.

Customer lifetime value


Customer lifetime value (Image source)

  • Referral rate
    If a business runs a referral program, customer referrals are the ultimate proof of your advocacy program. Referral rate = number of coupons redeemed / number of coupons issued. If any user has a personal coupon they can share with friends and family, the formula can be even more straightforward: referral rate = number of coupons redeemed / total number of users.

Conclusion

Think of brand advocates as your new sales team. They have tremendous brand value, they drive awareness, and they are capable of persuading people to consider your product. By focusing your efforts on developing brand advocates, you will see an increase in your company’s growth.

This article is part of the UX design series sponsored by Adobe. Adobe XD tool is made for a fast and fluid UX design process, as it lets you go from idea to prototype faster. Design, prototype and share — all in one app. You can check out more inspiring projects created with Adobe XD on Behance, and also sign up for the Adobe experience design newsletter to stay updated and informed on the latest trends and insights for UX/UI design.

Smashing Editorial
(ms, al, il)


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How To Turn Your Users Into Advocates

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How to Create and Optimize an Effective Exit Popup

exit-popup-11

What if you could boost email signups by 1,375 percent (or more)? And what if I told you that the secret to those kinds of results lies in something as simple as an exit popup? Craft blogger Nikki McGonigal used to just have an email signup form in her website’s sidebar. Then she added an exit popup. Her conversion rate increased by more than 1,300 percent. Before you dismiss her results as industry related or as an aberration, you should know that businesses in just about every industry use exit popups. How do you get results from exit popups? I’m going…

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How to Create and Optimize an Effective Exit Popup

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5 Super Simple Ways To Increase About Page Conversions

You’ve heard the marketing mantra a bazillion times: people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Nowhere is this truer than on your About Page. When people click on your About Page, they want to get to know you. It’s a golden chance, and possibly your only chance, to impress them. You must strive to woo them so they fall in love with you and your brand. And, once they do, like and trust you enough to do business with you. But that’s easier said than done. The plain truth is most About Pages suck. They’re so bland and…

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5 Super Simple Ways To Increase About Page Conversions

10 Beautiful Website Color Palettes That Increase Engagement

Is the color scheme you’ve chosen for your website triggering a desired response? Everyone has favorite colors they tend to gravitate towards when it comes to their work or otherwise. But a skilled designer understands the importance of evaluating a color scheme based on the brand, the meanings of the colors, and the products or services being promoted. Good color choices take careful planning. It can influence how a visitor interprets what they see as much as a site’s layout and typography — and when done well, it can have a positive impact on each visitor’s evaluation of the brand…

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10 Beautiful Website Color Palettes That Increase Engagement

Creating A UX Strategy

(This is a sponsored article.) As designers working primarily on screen, we often think of user experience design as being primarily a screen-focused activity. In fact, user experience affects the entirety of what we build and that often includes activities that are undertaken off-screen.

To design truly memorable experiences, we need to widen our frame of reference to include all of the brand touchpoints that our users come into contact with along their customer journey. Doing so has the potential to materially impact upon business outcomes, recognizing the role that design — and user experience — can play at the heart of a wider business strategy.

Whether you’re building a website or an application, at heart you are designing for users and, as such, it’s important to consider these users at the center of a customer-focused ecosystem. Great brands are more than just logos or marques, and websites or applications, they’re about the totality of the user experience, wherever a customer comes into contact with the brand.

This expanded design focus — considering touchpoints both on- and off-screen — becomes particularly important as our role as designers widens out to design the entirety of the experience considering multiple points of contact. It’s not uncommon for the websites and apps we build to be a part of a wider, design-focused ecosystem — and that’s where UX strategy comes in.

Over the last few years, we have seen designers move up the chain of command and, thankfully, we are starting to see designers occupy senior roles within organizations. The emergence of designers as part of the C-Suite in companies is a welcome development and, with it, we are seeing the emergence of CDOs, Chief Design Officers.

As James Pallister put it in “The Secrets of the Chief Design Officer,” an article exploring the CDO phenomenon written for the UK’s Design Council:

“As Apple’s valuation shot higher and higher in recent years, a flurry of major corporations — Philips, PepsiCo, Hyundai &mdahs; announced the appointments of Chief Design Officers to their boards.

This was no mere coincidence. Seeking to emulate the stellar success of design-led businesses like Apple, global companies are pouring investment into design.”

This investment in, and appreciation of, design has been long overdue and is beginning to impact upon our day-to-day role as designers.

Forward-thinking companies are elevating the role of designers within their hierarchies and, equally importantly, stressing the importance of design thinking as a core, strategic business driver. As a result, we are seeing design driving company-wide business innovation, creating better products and more engaged relationships with customers.

As this trend continues, giving designers a seat at the top table, it’s important to widen our scope and consider UX strategy in a holistic manner. In this article, the eighth in my ongoing series exploring user experience design, I’ll open the aperture a little to consider how design impacts beyond the world of screens as part of a wider strategy.

Considering Customer Journeys

Before users come into contact with a website or an app, they will likely have been in contact with a brand in other ways — often off-screen. When considering design in the widest sense, it’s important to focus on the entirety of the customer journey, designing every point of contact between a user and a brand.

Forrester, the market research company, defines the customer journey as follows:

“The customer journey spans a variety of touchpoints by which the customer moves from awareness to engagement and purchase. Successful brands focus on developing a seamless experience that ensures each touchpoint interconnects and contributes to the overall journey.”

This idea — of a seamless and well-designed experience and a journey through a brand — should lie at the heart of a considered UX strategy. To design truly memorable experiences, we need to focus not just on websites or apps, but on all of the touchpoints a user might come into contact with.

Consider the Apple Store and its role acting as a beacon for Apple and all of its products. The Apple Store is, of course, an offline destination, but that doesn’t mean that the user experience of the store hasn’t been designed down to the last detail. The store is just one part of Apple’s wider engagement strategy, driving awareness of the business.

The Apple Store is an entry point into Apple’s ecosystem and, as such, it’s important that it’s considered in a holistic manner: Every aspect of it is designed.

Jesse James Garrett, the founder of Adaptive Path which is an end-to-end experience design company, considers this all-embracing approach in an excellent article, “Six Design Lessons From the Apple Store,” identifying a series of lessons we can learn from and apply to our designs. As Garrett notes:

“Apple wants to sell products, but their first priority is to make you want the products. And that desire has to begin with your experience of the products in the store.”

Seen through this lens, it becomes clear that the products we design are often just one aspect of a larger system, every aspect of which needs to be designed. As our industry has matured, we’ve started to draw lessons from other disciplines, including service design, considering every point as part of a broader service journey, helping us to situate our products within a wider context.

If service design is new to you, Nielsen Norman Group (helpful as ever), have an excellent primer on the discipline named “Service Design 101” which is well worth reading to gain an understanding of how a focus on service design can map over to other disciplines.

When designing a website or an app, it’s important to consider the totality of the customer journey and focus on all of the touchpoints a user will come into contact with. Do so, and we can deliver better and more memorable user experiences.

Designing Touchpoints

As our industry has evolved, we’ve begun to see our products less as standalone experiences, but as part of a wider network of experiences comprised of ‘touchpoints’ — all of which need to be designed.

Touchpoints are all the points at which a user comes into contact with a brand. As designers, our role is expanding to encompass a consideration of these touchpoints, as a part of a broader, connected UX strategy.

With the emergence of smartphones, tablets, wearables and connected products our scope has expanded, widening out to consider multiple points at which users come into contact with the brands we are designing.

When considering a UX strategy, it helps to spend some time listing all of the points at which a user will come into contact with the brand. These include:

  • Websites,
  • Apps and mobile experiences,
  • Email,
  • Support services,
  • Social media.

In addition to these digital points of contact, it’s important to consider >non-digital points of contact, too. These off-screen points of contact include everything, from how someone answers the phone to the packaging of physical products.

To aid with this, it helps to develop a ‘touchpoints matrix’ — a visual framework that allows a designer to join the dots of the overall user experience. This matrix helps you to visually map out all of the different devices and contexts in which a user will come into contact with your brand.

The idea of a touchpoints matrix was conceived by Gianluca Brugnoli — a teacher at Politecnico di Milano and designer at Frog Design — as a tool that fuses customer journey mapping with system mapping, which can be used as the basis for considering how different user personas come into contact with and move through a brand.

Roberta Tassi, as part of her excellent website Service Design Tools — “an open collection of communication tools used in design processes that deal with complex systems” — provides an excellent primer on how a touchpoints matrix can be used as part of a holistic design strategy. Tassi provides a helpful overview, and I’d recommend bookmarking and exploring the website — it’s a comprehensive resource.

As she summarises:

“The matrix brings a deeper comprehension of interactions and facilitates further development of the opportunities given by the system — of the possible entry points and paths — shifting the focus of the design activities to connections.”

This shift — from stand-alone to connected experiences — is critically important in the development of a ‘joined up’ UX strategy.

When you embark upon developing and mapping a broader UX strategy, a touchpoints matrix helps you to see how the different nodes of a design join up to become part of an integrated and connected experience or an ‘ecosystem.’

Building Ecosystems

When we holistically consider our role as designers, we can start to explore the design of the whole experience: from initial contact with a brand offline, through engaging with that brand digitally. Collectively, these amount to designing a brand ecosystem.

Ecosystems aren’t just for big brands — like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter — they are increasingly for everything we design. In a world that is ever more connected, what we design doesn’t stand in isolation. As such, we need to consider both context and scope as part of an integrated strategy.

In addition to considering the design of products, we also need to consider the wider ecosystem that these products sit within. For example, when considering the design of applications — whether web-based or native — we also need to consider: the user’s first point of contact and how we drive discovery; the experience while using the application itself; and addressing wider issues (such as offering users support).

All of the aspects of an ecosystem need to be designed so that we deliver great user experiences at every point in the process. This includes:

  • The process of discovery, through social and other channels;
  • The design of a company or application’s website, so that the story that’s told is consistent and engaging;
  • The content of email campaigns to ensure they’re equally considered, especially if there are multiple email campaigns targeted at different audiences;
  • The packaging, when we’re designing physical, connected products; and
  • The support we offer, ensuring that customers are looked after at every point of the journey, especially when issues arise.

This list is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, but it clearly shows that there are multiple points on a customer’s journey that need to be designed. A considered UX strategy helps us to deliver on all of these aspects of an ecosystem and become increasingly important as the ecosystems we design become richer and more complex.

In Closing

The opportunities ahead are fantastic for designers working in this industry. The landscape we are designing for is evolving rapidly and, if we’re to stay ahead of the game, it’s important that we turn our attention towards the design of systems in addition to products. This involves an understanding of UX strategy in the broadest sense.

When embarking upon the design of a new website or product, or undertaking a redesign, it’s important to widen the frame of reference. Taking a step back and considering the entirety of the user experience leads to better and more memorable experiences.

By considering the entirety of the customer journey and all the touchpoints along the way we can create more robust, connected experiences. By focusing on the design of holistic experiences, we can delight users, ensuring they’re happy with the entire experience we have crafted.

This article is part of the UX design series sponsored by Adobe. Adobe XD is made for a fast and fluid UX design process, as it lets you go from idea to prototype faster. Design, prototype, and share — all in one app. You can check out more inspiring projects created with Adobe XD on Behance, and also sign up for the Adobe experience design newsletter to stay updated and informed on the latest trends and insights for UX/UI design.

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Creating A UX Strategy

How to Increase Your Ranking by Mixing “Hidden” Keywords in Your Content

Comprehensive content, a tone of voice, storytelling, punchy texts, surplus value, social signals… While all these big words swallow up the digital marketing world today, one tiny detail sobs in the corner of your marketing strategy. Keywords. In 2018, search engines are smart and more concentrated on behavioral factors, so we sometimes belittle the role of keywords. SEO specialists know that anchors matter, but – afraid of keyword stuffing penalties – they struggle to broaden SEO far beyond this core instrument. They reshape market- and customer-defining descriptors for better rankings, so today we have tons of keyword types to include…

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How to Increase Your Ranking by Mixing “Hidden” Keywords in Your Content

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Stop Making These Common Mistakes with Your Website Popups (Includes Examples and Quick Fixes)

Depending on who you talk to, website popups are either a godsend for list building and subsequent revenue creation, or they’re a nuclear bomb for the user experience.

Some can’t stand popups and completely disregard sites that use them (or that’s what they say, at least). And there are even entire websites dedicated to hating on especially bad popups.

However, many marketers are fully charmed to their capabilities for revenue generation, lead collection, and driving attention and conversions in general.

It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation, though.

You can create website popups that aren’t detrimental to the user experience; In fact, if you do it really well, you can even improve the user experience with the right offer and presentation.

We all want to be companies that care a lot about our visitors and make the best popups possible, so it goes without saying, we care about timing, targeting, and triggering (i.e. who we send offers to, when we send them, and what those offers are). After all, the main reasons visitors get annoyed by popups are 1) when they disrupt the user experience and 2) when they offer no value or help:

Fortunately, you can easily solve for these things. In this article I’ll outline common website popup mistakes with real examples, and I’ll cover a few ways to remedy these mistakes.

Mistake 1: Poor timing

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make with website popups is with timing. It’s almost always the case that we trigger popups too soon (i.e. right away, no matter the context of the page or visitor).

On an Inbound.org discussion, Dustin J. Verburg had this to say:

“The most hilarious popups are the ones that say ‘LOVE THIS CONTENT? SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE’ because they assault my eyes before I even read two words of the article.

Now I guess I’ll never know if I love the content, because I close the tab immediately and never come back.”

Similar to Dustin, imagine you’re taking break from work to check out GrowthHackers. You find an article on the front page that looks interesting. You open it and immediately get this:

Woah, what’s this full screen takeover? I know this is common today, but most people are jarred by this experience.

Now you may not even remember what the article was, so you’re likely to click away and go back to actual work.

One possible way to remedy this – just spitballing here – could be to add some copy explaining that the visitor needs to click to continue on to the article. Forbes does this (though Forbes could never claim a good user experience without a good laugh):

At least you know where you’re at (the logo is prominent) and what to do (continue to site). But, it goes without saying, Forbes’ experience is not ideal so don’t copy it.

So how do you fix poor timing?

The best possible solution for user experience is to trigger a popup at a time that actually benefits a visitor. On a long-form blog article, this is usually at some point of strong user engagement, either measured by time on site or, better, by scroll-depth and content engagement.

You can do this with an on-scroll popup created in Unbounce.

Once you’re happy with your design, simply set your trigger for when someone scrolls through a certain percentage of the page, or even after a delay you specify:

Click above for a larger, clearer image.

Overall, poor timing is a common problem, and it’s almost never intentional. We simply act hastily when setting up popups, or we spend all of our time crafting the offer and forget that when the offer is shown matters too.

I want to point out, however, that it’s not always a bad decision to throw a popup at visitors on arrival. It’s all about context.

For example, if you’re shopping for clothes, there are a million options available. Therefore, it’s imperative for ecommerce shops to grab your attention as quickly as possible with an attractive offer. This is why you see so many website popups with discounts on arrival on ecommerce sites, like this one from Candle Delirium:

As well as this one from BustedTees:

It’s a very common tactic. We’ll go over it specifically in regard to ecommerce later in section three.

In general, it’s important to analyze a visitor’s behavior and trigger the popup at the exact moment (or as close to it as possible) that someone would want to subscribe/download your offer/etc. It’s a lot of work to tease out when this may be, but the analysis is worth it as you’ll annoy fewer visitors and convert more subscribers or leads.

Fix annoying timing: Consider the user experience. Does it warrant an on-arrival popup? If not, what’s the absolute ideal timing for a popup, based on user intent, behavior, and offer?

Mistake 2: Poor targeting

Poor targeting is a broad problem that’s usually made up of a mismatch between who you’re targeting and what offer you’re sending (though, you could also add in when you’re targeting them as a variable as well).

For instance, if you’re targeting a first time organic visitor to a blog post with a popup that announces a new product feature, you may spur some confusion. Rather, you should try to target based on appropriate user attributes, as well as within the context of where they are in the user journey. A better offer for a first time blog visitor might be an ebook or email course on a topic related to the blog post.

An example of poor targeting is LawnStarter’s guide on their post about where new residents of Birmingham are moving from. It’s a cool infographic-based guide they’re offering up, but the popup is really irrelevant to the content of the post someone’s currently reading in this case:

In another, better example, Mailshake has a massive guide on cold emailing, which would be a daunting read in a single session. It’s probably appropriate, then, that they offer the book up for download via a sticky bar at the bottom of a related article:

There are ways they could improve copy, design, or the offer itself, but the core point is that their targeting is spot on (i.e. after someone’s reading something about cold emailing, and offered up as added, downloadable value).

Now, if I already visited this page and downloaded the playbook, and they still hit me with this offer, then we’d have a targeting problem. They could use the fact that I’m a repeat visitor, as well as a subscriber already, to target me with a warmer offer, such as a deeper email course, a webinar, or possibly even a consultation/demo depending on their sales cycle and buyer’s journey.

The fix for poor targeting

Remember with targeting, you’re simply trying to align your offer with your visitor and where they are in their awareness and interest of your company and product.

This is where the value of progressive profiling comes in. But if you’re not doing that, at the very least you should be aligning the offers on your page with the intent of the traffic on that page.

You can also target offers based on URLs, location, referral source, and cookies. Really think about who is receiving your offer and at what point in the customer journey before you set a popup live.

With popups created in Unbounce, for example, you can use referral source as a way to target appropriate offers to someone who’s come from social traffic, vs. someone who’s arrived via AdWords traffic:

Simply create your popup, and in advanced targeting, select which referral sources you’d like to have access to the offer:

Fix targeting the wrong people at the wrong time with the wrong offer Analyze your customer journey and intent levels on content. Craft offers according to customer journey status as well as on-site user behavior.

Mistake 3: Offers with no obvious value

How many times have you been on a blog that simply wants you to sign up for a mailing list, no value promised or given? Like this:

If you’re an active reader of the blog, maybe this works. After all, you already know the value of the content and simply want to sign up for updates. Makes sense. But I’d wager this type of active reader is a small percentage of traffic, and these people will sign up however they can. Thereby the popup isn’t useful for everyone else.

As we covered before, a much better way to capture attention is with a discount, like Allen Edmonds offers here as soon as I land on the site (on another note, this is a great use of an immediate triggering. It’s not an annoying popup when it delivers me a discount).

This is a super common ecommerce tactic.

It’s a competitive world out there, and giving an immediate hit in the form of a discount is a good way to capture some of that oh so valuable attention. It’s especially common when used on first time visitors to the homepage, as a homepage visitor’s experience is generally more variable and less intent-based (if they land on a product page from a search ad, it’s a bit of a different story).

Here’s an example from Levi’s:

The fact that most ecommerce sites have similar messages nowadays is indicative of a creativity problem, one that presents itself to marketers in any industry. We look to competitors and to the consensus and think that we can’t fall behind, so we replicate tactics.

However, I’m more interested in sites, like Four Sigmatic, that push beyond and implement a creative offer, like their lottery style subscription featured below. (This is one of the only popups I’ve signed up for in months, by the way):

Offering up poor or no value is really the least forgivable mistake if you’re a marketer. Crafting offers that align to your buyer persona is your job. Also, it’s fun. If you have a bland offer, this could easily be the biggest opportunity for lifting conversions, as well as improving the user experience (no one is complaining about awesome offers).

Foot Cardigan does a really good job of offering value and conveying it in a fun way too:

Triggering popups with zero value? Think about ways you can give massive value to your site visitors, so much that they really want to give you their email, and create an offer for this.

Mistake 4: Poor design

If you use Unbounce Popups, it’s almost hard to create an ugly one. Still though, the internet is filled with eye-sore examples:

Design matters. A poorly designed website element can throw off your whole brand perception, which is important in creating trust, value, and in easing friction.

As Ott Niggulis put it in a ConversionXL article:

“Success in business online is all down to trust. You either see something that makes you trust a vendor or you don’t. Trust is also directly linked to conversions – if people leave your website because it’s so badly designed that it makes you seem untrustworthy then you’re missing out on lost prospects, customers, sales, and profits.

Good design = trust = more conversions = more money in your pocket. It’s as easy as that.”

That same article cites a study where 15 participants were directed to Google health information that was relevant to them, then they were asked about their first impressions of the sites.

Out of all the factors mentioned for distrusting a website, 94% were design related. Crazy!

So don’t just put up a poorly designed popup thinking the message will be the focus. Put some effort into it.

Of course, you don’t always need to look like a luxury brand. If cheap spartan is your schtick, then it can work for you. After all, Paul Graham’s site isn’t pretty but it’s so, so valuable:

Image of Paul Graham’s site.

As Aurora Bedford from NN/g explains it, it’s more about matching design to your brand values and objectives:

“The most important thing to remember is that the initial perception of the site must actually match the business — not every website needs to strive to create a perception of luxury and sophistication, as what is valuable to one user may be at complete odds with another.”

No matter what your brand positioning may be, however, make sure you clean up obvious design mistakes before hitting publish.

Fix up bad design: Spend a few hours longer designing your popup, hire a designer, or use a tool like Unbounce with a template.

Mistake 5: Poor Copy

Presenting your offers with clear copy is huge. Most copywriting, not just on popups but online in general, is:

  • Boring
  • Vague
  • Confusing
  • Cringe-inducing

…in that order, I’d wager. Not often do you find crisp, clear, and compelling copy (unless it was whipped up by a professional, of course).

As with the example below, you’re more likely to find copy that’s vague (how many ebooks, which ones, etc.) and cringe-inducing (Rocking with a capital R is pretty goofy):

The copy you write for your popup may be the most effective mechanism you have for converting visitors (outside of the targeting rules). Here’s how Talia Wolf, founder of GetUplift, put it in an Inbound.org comment:

“Many people are trying to capture your customer’s attention too so you need to give them a good reason for subscribing/not leaving.

It’s not enough to talk about yourself, you need to address the customer’s needs: one way is by highlighting the value your customer gains. The other, highlighting what they might lose. (Example: “Join thousands of happy customers” vs. “Don’t lose this unique content we’re giving our subscribers only”

Her website has a solid example of a popup with great copywriting, by the way:

Sometimes, all you need to do is pull your message to the top and make it prominent. Often we try to write clever copy instead of clear copy, but clear always beats clever.

For example, if the following popup led with the money offered for the account, it’d probably be more compelling than their current vague headline:

Mistake 6: Overload

Sometimes websites can get pretty aggressive. Here’s an experience I ran into on Brooks Brothers’ website:

One (pretty value-less) popup that I click out of, only to be followed by another one:

Now, there’s just a lot of clutter going on here. Different colors, different offers, different banners. As a first time visitor, I’m not sure what’s going on. Plus, they have animated snowfall, which adds to the clutter.

This is quite extreme, but it’s not uncommon for marketers to see some results with a popup and go overboard, triggering two, three, even four in a single session. When all of this occurs within 10 seconds of being on the site, things get annoying quickly.

Take down too many popups: Simplify and strategically target any popups on your site. They shouldn’t appear everywhere for everyone, your targeting is key.

The lesson

Popups don’t need to be annoying. Rather, they can actually add to the user experience if you put a little time and effort into analysis and creative targeting and triggering.

If you avoid the mistakes here, not only will your popups be less likely to feel intrusive, but they’ll convert better and they’ll convert the types of subscribers and leads you actually want.

Run a popup experiment of your own See Unbounce templates you can get up and running today.

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Stop Making These Common Mistakes with Your Website Popups (Includes Examples and Quick Fixes)

7 Reasons to Lay a Bet on Instagram Micro-Influencers in 2018

If you believe that launching an advertising campaign is enough to beat your competitors, we have bad news for you then: those days are far behind us. And truth to be told: most customers opt for skipping an ad as they are fed up with the overly polished professional pictures that seem too good to be true. As Forbes has revealed, customers crave authenticity. Thus, marketers are seeking out ways to deliver the genuine messages that align with their brand principles. For this reason, the collaboration with influencers has been booming over the past few years. The numbers speak for…

The post 7 Reasons to Lay a Bet on Instagram Micro-Influencers in 2018 appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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7 Reasons to Lay a Bet on Instagram Micro-Influencers in 2018

Your Author Bio Is a Conversion Goldmine

gold mine

Are you treating your author bio as an afterthought? If you’re like most online marketers, the answer is probably yes. Don’t believe me? Just Google ‘author bio optimization’ and see what your search turns up. Not much. Just one or two dated guides. Clearly, digital marketing experts are not seeing the business potential of an optimized author bio. Well, I’ve got news for you. By ignoring your bio, you’re missing out on a lot of business. Your author bio has a lot of marketing potential. It’s an untapped goldmine that can do so much for your business. Would you like…

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Your Author Bio Is a Conversion Goldmine