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[Case Study] Ecwid sees 21% lift in paid plan upgrades in one month

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What would you do with 21% more sales this month?

I bet you’d walk into your next meeting with your boss with an extra spring in your step, right?

Well, when you implement a strategic marketing optimization program, results like this are not only possible, they are probable.

In this new case study, you’ll discover how e-commerce software supplier, Ecwid, ran one experiment for four weeks, and saw a 21% increase in paid upgrades.

Get the full Ecwid case study now!

Download a PDF version of the Ecwid case study, featuring experiment details, supplementary takeaways and insights, and a testimonial from Ecwid’s Sr. Director, Digital Marketing.



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A little bit about Ecwid

Ecwid provides easy-to-use online store setup, management, and payment solutions. The company was founded in 2009, with the goal of enabling business-owners to add online stores to their existing websites, quickly and without hassle.

The company has a freemium business model: Users can sign up for free, and unlock more features as they upgrade to paid packages.

Ecwid’s partnership with WiderFunnel

In November 2016, Ecwid partnered with WiderFunnel with two primary goals:

  1. To increase initial signups for their free plan through marketing optimization, and
  2. To increase the rate of paid upgrades, through platform optimization

This case study focuses on a particular experiment cycle that ran on Ecwid’s step-by-step onboarding wizard.

The methodology

Last Winter, the WiderFunnel Strategy team did an initial LIFT Analysis of the onboarding wizard, and identified several potential barriers to conversion. (Both in terms of completing steps to setup a new store, and in terms of upgrading to a paid plan.)

The lead WiderFunnel Strategist for Ecwid, Dennis Pavlina, decided to create an A/B cluster test to 1) address the major barriers simultaneously, and 2) to get major lift for Ecwid, quickly.

The overarching goal was to make the onboarding process smoother. The WiderFunnel and Ecwid optimization teams hoped that enhancing the initial user experience, and exposing users to the wide range of Ecwid’s features, would result in more users upgrading to paid plans.

Dennis Pavlina

Ecwid’s two objectives ended up coming together in this test. We thought that if more new users interacted with the wizard and were shown the whole ‘Ecwid world’ with all the integrations and potential it has, they would be more open to upgrading. People needed to be able to see its potential before they would want to pay for it.

Dennis Pavlina, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel

The Results

This experiment ran for four weeks, at which point the variation was determined to be the winner with 98% confidence. The variation resulted in a 21.3% increase in successful paid account upgrades for Ecwid.

Read the full case study for:

  • The details on the initial barriers to conversion
  • How this test was structured
  • Which secondary metrics we tracked, and
  • The supplementary takeaways and customer insights that came from this test

The post [Case Study] Ecwid sees 21% lift in paid plan upgrades in one month appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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[Case Study] Ecwid sees 21% lift in paid plan upgrades in one month

How to Use Smarter Content to Build Laser-Focused Lists of Qualified Prospects

Laser Focus Content Marketing

Many companies invest a lot of time and money in content marketing. But very few are ever really successful with it. That’s because a lot of companies approach to content marketing as some sort of hands-off sorcery. They write blog post after blog post and then sit around and wait for something to happen (hint: nothing will happen). Instead, you should think of content as a type of currency – a strategic asset that you can use within a framework to drive business results. This requires a plan and a strategy for how you will use content and then which…

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How to Use Smarter Content to Build Laser-Focused Lists of Qualified Prospects

How pilot pesting can dramatically improve your user research

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today, we are talking about user research, a critical component of any design toolkit. Quality user research allows you to generate deep, meaningful user insights. It’s a key component of WiderFunnel’s Explore phase, where it provides a powerful source of ideas that can be used to generate great experiment hypothesis.

Unfortunately, user research isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

Do any of the following sound familiar:

  • During your research sessions, your participants don’t understand what they have been asked to do?
  • The phrasing of your questions has given away the answer or has caused bias in your results?
  • During your tests, it’s impossible for your participants to complete the assigned tasks in the time provided?
  • After conducting participants sessions, you spend more time analyzing the research design rather than the actual results.

If you’ve experienced any of these, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Even the most seasoned researchers experience “oh-shoot” moments, where they realize there are flaws in their research approach.

Fortunately, there is a way to significantly reduce these moments. It’s called pilot testing.

Pilot testing is a rehearsal of your research study. It allows you to test your research approach with a small number of test participants before the main study. Although this may seem like an additional step, it may, in fact, be the time best spent on any research project.
Just like proper experiment design is a necessity, investing time to critique, test, and iteratively improve your research design, before the research execution phase, can ensure that your user research runs smoothly, and dramatically improves the outputs from your study.

And the best part? Pilot testing can be applied to all types of research approaches, from basic surveys to more complex diary studies.

Start with the process

At WiderFunnel, our research approach is unique for every project, but always follows a defined process:

  1. Developing a defined research approach (Methodology, Tools, Participant Target Profile)
  2. Pilot testing of research design
  3. Recruiting qualified research participants
  4. Execution of research
  5. Analyzing the outputs
  6. Reporting on research findings
website user research in conversion optimization
User Research Process at WiderFunnel

Each part of this process can be discussed at length, but, as I said, this post will focus on pilot testing.

Your research should always start with asking the high-level question: “What are we aiming to learn through this research?”. You can use this question to guide the development of research methodology, select research tools, and determine the participant target profile. Pilot testing allows you to quickly test and improve this approach.

WiderFunnel’s pilot testing process consists of two phases: 1) an internal research design review and 2) participant pilot testing.

During the design review, members from our research and strategy teams sit down as a group and spend time critically thinking about the research approach. This involves reviewing:

  • Our high-level goals for what we are aiming to learn
  • The tools we are going to use
  • The tasks participants will be asked to perform
  • Participant questions
  • The research participant sample size, and
  • The participant target profile

Our team often spends a lot of time discussing the questions we plan to ask participants. It can be tempting to ask participants numerous questions over a broad range of topics. This inclination is often due to a fear of missing the discovery of an insight. Or, in some cases, is the result of working with a large group of stakeholders across different departments, each trying to push their own unique agenda.

However, applying a broad, unfocused approach to participant questions can be dangerous. It can cause a research team to lose sight of its original goals and produce research data that is difficult to interpret; thus limiting the number of actionable insights generated.

To overcome this, WiderFunnel uses the following approach when creating research questions:

Phase 1: To start, the research team creates a list of potential questions. These questions are then reviewed during the design review. The goal is to create a concise set of questions that are clearly written, do not bias the participant, and compliment each other. Often this involves removing a large number of the questions from our initial list and reworking those that remain.

Phase 2: The second phase of WiderFunnel’s research pilot testing consists of participant pilot testing.

This follows a rapid and iterative approach, where we pilot our defined research approach on an initial 1 to 2 participants. Based on how these participants respond, the research approach is evaluated, improved, and then tested on 1 to 2 new participants.

Researchers repeat this process until all of the research design “bugs” have been ironed out, much like QA-ing a new experiment. There are different criteria you can use to test the research experience, but we focus on testing three main areas: clarity of instructions, participant tasks and questions, and the research timing.

  • Clarity of instructions: This involves making sure that the instructions are not misleading or confusing to the participants
  • Testing of the tasks and questions: This involves testing the actual research workflow
  • Research timing: We evaluate the timing of each task and the overall experiment

Let’s look at an example.

Recently, a client approached us to do research on a new area of their website that they were developing for a new service offering. Specifically, the client wanted to conduct an eye tracking study on a new landing page and supporting content page.

With the client, we co-created a design brief that outlined the key learning goals, target participants, the client’s project budget, and a research timeline. The main learning goals for the study included developing an understanding of customer engagement (eye tracking) on both the landing and content page and exploring customer understanding of the new service.

Using the defined learning goals and research budget, we developed a research approach for the project. Due to the client’s budget and request for eye tracking we decided to use Sticky, a remote eye tracking tool to conduct the research.

We chose Sticky because it allows you to conduct unmoderated remote eye tracking experiments, and follow them up with a survey if needed.

In addition, we were also able to use Sticky’s existing participant pool, Sticky Crowd, to define our target participants. In this case, the criteria for the target participants were determined based on past research that had been conducted by the client.

Leveraging the capabilities of Sticky, we were able to define our research methodology and develop an initial workflow for our research participants. We then created an initial list of potential survey questions to supplement the eye tracking test.

At this point, our research and strategy team conducted an internal research design review. We examined both the research task and flow, the associated timing, and finalized the survey questions.

In this case, we used open-ended questions in order to not bias the participants, and limited the total number of questions to five. Questions were reworked from the proposed lists to improve the wording, ensure that questions complimented each other, and were focused on achieving the learning goals: exploring customer understanding of the new service.

To help with question clarity, we used Grammarly to test the structure of each question.

Following the internal design review, we began participant pilot testing.

Unfortunately, piloting an eye tracking test on 1 to 2 users is not an affordable option when using the Sticky platform. To overcome this we got creative and used some free tools to test the research design.

We chose to use Keynote presentation (timed transitions) and its Keynote Live feature to remotely test the research workflow, and Google Forms to test the survey questions. GoToMeeting was used to observe participants via video chat during the participant pilot testing. Using these tools we were able to conduct a quick and affordable pilot test.

The initial pilot test was conducted with two individual participants, both of which fit the criteria for the target participants. The pilot test immediately pointed out flaws in the research design, which included confusion regarding the test instructions and issues with the timing for each task.

In this case, our initial instructions did not provide our participants with enough information on the context of what they were looking for, resulting in confusion of what they were actually supposed to do. Additionally, we made an initial assumption that 5 seconds would be enough time for each participant to view and comprehend each page. However, the supporting content page was very context rich and 5 seconds did not provide participants enough time to view all the content on the page.

With these insights, we adjusted our research design to remove the flaws, and then conducted an additional pilot with two new individual participants. All of the adjustments seemed to resolve the previous “bugs”.

In this case, pilot testing not only gave us the confidence to move forward with the main study, it actually provide its own “A-ha” moment. Through our initial pilot tests, we realized that participants expected a set function for each page. For the landing page, participants expected a page that grabbed their attention and attracted them to the service, whereas, they expect the supporting content page to provide more details on the service and educate them on how it worked. Insights from these pilot tests reshaped our strategic approach to both pages.

Nick So

The seemingly ‘failed’ result of the pilot test actually gave us a huge Aha moment on how users perceived these two pages, which not only changed the answers we wanted to get from the user research test, but also drastically shifted our strategic approach to the A/B variations themselves.

Nick So, Director of Strategy, WiderFunnel

In some instances, pilot testing can actually provide its own unique insights. It is a nice bonus when this happens, but it is important to remember to always validate these insights through additional research and testing.

Final Thoughts

Still not convinced about the value of pilot testing? Here’s one final thought.

By conducting pilot testing you not only improve the insights generated from a single project, but also the process your team uses to conduct research. The reflective and iterative nature of pilot testing will actually accelerate the development of your skills as a researcher.

Pilot testing your research, just like proper experiment design, is essential. Yes, this will require an investment of both time and effort. But trust us, that small investment will deliver significant returns on your next research project and beyond.

Do you agree that pilot testing is an essential part of all research projects?

Have you had an “oh-shoot” research moment that could have been prevented by pilot testing? Let us know in the comments!

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How pilot pesting can dramatically improve your user research

12 Eye-Opening Video Marketing Stats to Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions

12 video marketing stats

Video marketing has been on the rise for more than a decade now. Consumers are getting more and more used to consuming video content wherever they go, be it on Facebook or on a product page. Which may make one think: Isn’t video content expected by now? Shouldn’t we produce a video every chance we get? However, the real question is: Will videos be a conversion ignitor or a conversion killer? Let’s find out! First, Some Tempting Stats… There are plenty of case studies and reports claiming that using a video on a landing page is a great idea for…

The post 12 Eye-Opening Video Marketing Stats to Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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12 Eye-Opening Video Marketing Stats to Help Boost Your Landing Page Conversions

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What does Evolutionary Site Redesign in action look like? Like this.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

TL;DR: After 7 months of testing with weBoost, an electronics manufacturer, their website looks radically different and the company has seen an over 100% lift in their year-over-year conversion rate. This is evolutionary site redesign (ESR) at work. Read the full case study here.

The company

weBoost homepage
The hero section from weBoost’s (current) homepage.

Our partnership with weBoost began in the summer of 2015. weBoost is an ecommerce retailer and manufacturer of cellular signal boosters. These boosters provide stronger, more reliable cellular signals while simultaneously enhancing the user’s ability to receive and transmit data.

The goals

Beyond the goal of simply increasing ecommerce sales, the weBoost team was looking to fuel their entire marketing program. In order to do that, weBoost executives were also hoping to gain customer insights through WiderFunnel’s proven conversion optimization process: the Infinity Optimization Process™.

At the outset, there were several questions that weBoost was looking to answer through a partnership with WiderFunnel:

  1. What kind of information do we need to provide about our products in order to make the sale?
  2. Are our customers well-informed for the most part, or do they need more technical, descriptive details about our products?
  3. What user flow results in the best conversion rate?
  4. How can we learn about our customers to fuel marketing efforts across the company?

The results

After 7 months of testing, the weBoost website looks dramatically different and the company has seen a lift of over 100% in their year-over-year conversion rate.

The insights achieved along the way have allowed weBoost to broaden their further up-funnel programs as well as boost e-commerce sales. The benefit of conversion optimization, then, is not just about direct sales, but increased brand awareness and overall growth.

And this is only the beginning.

Mike St Laurent

The testing we’ve done with weBoost is a perfect example of evolutionary website redesign (ESR). Their website looks radically different than it did when our partnership began, and it’s converting at a much better rate.

Michael St Laurent, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel

How did we do it?

In this case study, you’ll read about several tests we’ve run on 3 key areas of the weBoost site: the homepage, the product category page, and the product detail page. We have been able to redesign the entire website iteratively, based on statistically significant wins on each of these pages: this is evolutionary site redesign in action.

ESR works by implementing a system of continuous A/B split testing throughout an entire website and digital marketing. Rather than relying on gut feeling and flawed intuition, website decisions are made against the crucible of customer actions.

Check out the full case study for the specifics:

  • A shortened weBoost homepage sees huge success
  • A well-intentioned layout change on the category page goes south
  • A stronger scent trail on the product detail page leads to a 27% increase in completed orders

…and more!

Jamie Elgie

WiderFunnel delivers Wilson Electronics [weBoost] a cadence and quality of A/B testing that is game-changing for our brand. Direct sales increases are enabling us to increase our spend on other advertising because of the known performance return. That in turn is driving our overall brand awareness. Put simply, WiderFunnel does not just help us sell directly; it is rocket fuel for our entire cross-channel marketing program.

– Jamie Elgie, Chief Marketing Officer, weBoost

Read the full case study here

Learn more about how the weBoost website underwent a dramatic transformation through evolutionary site redesign (and how it’s now converting at a much better rate). Read the full case study here.

The post What does Evolutionary Site Redesign in action look like? Like this. appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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What does Evolutionary Site Redesign in action look like? Like this.

Do Video Backgrounds Help or Hurt Conversions?

gold bars
Not everything that glitters is gold. Only by testing can you know for sure if you’ve hit the jackpot. Image via Shutterstock.

So far, video backgrounds have been implemented fairly successfully on websites (they add a certain cool-factor, right?), but there is some debate over whether or not they should be used on landing pages. While video backgrounds may look beautiful, initial research reveals that they could prove too distracting for some landing pages, and could contribute to lower conversion rates.

As is the case with most new innovations in web design, it can be tempting to use this new technology without a clear understanding on how it affects conversion.

Nonetheless, marketers love video backgrounds: they are modern, appeal to the inner design ego in all of us and have already been hailed as one of the biggest design trends of 2016. Trendy marketers have made it clear that they definitely want to use them on landing pages.

In fact, when Unbounce released video backgrounds as a built in feature, it become one of the most popular discussions in our community. Ever. And, when we opened it up for beta testing, we got some pretty enthusiastic responses.

Like Jon here…

jon

And David…

david

And, of course, Gary…

gary

And, Dave…?

dave t

So, video backgrounds on a website? Go for it. But video backgrounds on a landing page? Not so fast.

Not so fast
Image via Giphy.

Here’s why: Video backgrounds can make pages load slower and distract visitors from your Call to Action (CTA). And since every great landing page has only one end goal (conversions), it begs the question: Should we nix the idea of using video background altogether?

Well, not entirely.

Like anything else you implement on a landing page, you’re going to want to test that puppy out thoroughly to see what effect (if any) it has on conversion rates.

Here at Unbounce, we’ve been testing out the use of video backgrounds on landing pages. Based on our results, we’ve come up with some guidelines outlining when to use a video background versus a static hero image and best practices for applying a video background.

When should you use a video background on a landing page?

I looped in Unbounce’s senior conversion expert, Michael Aagaard, to explain how using a video background on landing pages has worked for us:

We’ve been experimenting with video backgrounds for a while now. What we see is a tendency for video backgrounds to work well on landing pages where the goal is to communicate a certain “vibe” or “feeling.

In other words, video backgrounds could work well on landing pages that promote a unique atmosphere, like a conference, performing arts event or restaurant.

Video backgrounds can help demonstrate a hard-to-describe experience or atmosphere.

When shouldn’t you use a video background on a landing page?

Aagaard explains that video backgrounds could have an adverse effect on landing pages when there’s a complex sales offer at stake. When that’s the case, he recommends concentrating on the landing page copy to convince users to convert:

With more complex offers where you need to read a lot of copy in the first screenful, video backgrounds can be a bit distracting.

Copy has a direct and measurable effect on landing page conversions. If your offer requires a lot of explaining, use your words rather than running the risk of distracting visitors with video.

The Unbounce house rules for using video backgrounds

Landing pages are different from websites, and thus deserve their own set of laws for applying video backgrounds. Here’s our (not-yet-foolproof) list of ground rules for using video backgrounds on a landing page. Is this a comprehensive, complete, end-all, be-all list? Of course not! Join the dialogue and add your own rules and/or lessons learned in the comments below.

1. Avoid major distractions

Keep the conversion goal front and center. The video background content should always support the overall goal of the page. ConversionXL founder Peep Laja has a similar opinion:

Video that doesn’t add value works against the conversion goal.

Essentially, video backgrounds shouldn’t distract visitors from the primary goal of the page — rather, they should supplement or enhance the CTA.

The video background on this landing page enhances the CTA without distracting visitors.

2. Contrast is essential

In most cases, you’ll want to have some text layered on top of the video background — make sure it’s legible and easy to read throughout the entire video loop. Generally, aim for a strong light/dark contrast between the video background and the copy.

One way to ensure full, legible contrast is by applying a solid, monochromatic filter on top of the video. Not only does this look super professional, but also the color contrast makes the text, form and CTA on the landing page really pop.

The monochromatic filter applied on top of this video background makes the text and CTA really pop. BTW, like this ^? Log into Unbounce to use this brand spankin’ new template.

3. Short loop

A 5-10 second video loop should be enough time to get the point across without sacrificing quick load time.

Keep in mind that a background video will be playing on a constant loop. If the video is too short, the loop will appear disjointed or incomplete. On the other hand, if the video is too long, the viewer may click away from the website, or onto another page before the video has had a chance to work its magic in eliciting the desired emotional response.

Look for (or produce) a simple looping background that is relevant to the content of your landing page.
There are many libraries of stock video clips online (here’s a pretty good roundup). If you can’t produce your own footage, make sure to double-check the copyrights associated with any video before you use it.

4. Mute the audio

One of the biggest pet peeves of net users everywhere is unsolicited audio when landing on a page. Don’t let your landing page be that landing page.

The general rule of thumb is that sound should always be muted (on all Unbounce pages, audio is turned off by default). If, for some reason, you need to add sound to your video background, don’t autoplay the video with sound — let viewers press play when they’re ready.

5. Remove visual controls

As long as the video content is relevant and the quality sufficient, there should be no reason for landing page visitors to press play or pause.

#alwaysbetesting

So, if you follow all of our House Rules, placing a video in the background of your landing page should increase conversion, right? Or, at the very least, it won’t actually hurt conversion… right?

Well, maybe.

Video backgrounds are still in the early days of their inception and, like any good data-driven marketer, you’re going to want to take it for a test drive before committing fully.

A/B testing is both an art and a science. It’s also very unpredictable. Most marketing departments, usability specialists, designers and management rely on a mixture of experience, gut instinct and personal opinion when it comes to deciding what makes a delightful marketing experience for their customers.

We recommend running an A/B test to compare how your page performs with a video background compared to a static image. Start by segmenting a small portion of traffic towards the page — just to be safe.

At the end of the day, it’s your customers and your brand that will decide what converts best.

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Do Video Backgrounds Help or Hurt Conversions?

How Agencies Can Use Branded Content Marketing to Stand Out from the Crowd

As an agency, you spend much of your time thinking about how to spread awareness about your client’s brand — but how much time do you spend doing the same for your agency?

At first glance, your offerings may appear very similar to that of your competitors. So how can you stand out from the crowd of other agencies that seemingly offer the same services to the same market?

Main in crowded train station.
A branded content marketing approach lets your agency stand out from the crowd. Image via Unsplash.

Many agencies are seeing results by publishing their own branded content: content that blurs the lines between traditional advertising and content marketing.

Take Miami-based agency Fractl, for example. In 2013, the Fractl team published a study in the Harvard Business Review where they openly discussed what helps campaigns go viral. They used their own experience and client work as the backbone of this case study, which was picked up by many popular online publishers.

The result? In their own words, their branded content marketing:

“catapulted our brand’s authority, increased our brand awareness, and drove dozens of qualified leads.”

Or if you’re a numbers person, the branded content helped Fractl grow its referral traffic by 7000%, its overall site traffic by 4000% and its contact list by 1900%.

Graph showing increased referral traffic due to branded content case studies.
Notice the spike in referral traffic in October 2013 when Fractl’s research was published in Harvard Business Review.

In short, the Fractl team’s branded content helped deliver value to peers, clients and prospects, all while sharing their expertise with the world and painting themselves as thought leaders in the space.

So how can you do it for your own agency? We’ve broken down three different approaches to branded content strategy that agencies are using to lead the parade and step away from the crowd.

Turn case studies into prospects

When in doubt, start with what you already know.

For the team at Fractl, this meant creating and distributing a series of case studies: detailed reports of campaigns they had run (and the marketing insights they gleaned from them).

This approach allowed them to position themselves as the authority on the services they provide — topics they were intimately familiar with. And their razor-sharp focus on data made their branded content all that much more shareable. Ultimately, they were picked up by high-authority blogs and widely shared by leads.

And by partnering with marketing services like BuzzStream, Fractl was able to create even more research-driven case studies, to the tune of 10 data-driven pieces of content with a total of 45,000 social shares.

With the success of the off-site distribution of these case studies, Fractl decided to give them a permanent home on the agency website:

Screenshot of agency website with branded content case studies
The headline on this page clearly describes what’s in it for prospects.

This page serves as a hub for all of Fractl’s branded content. It demonstrates that Fractl is made up of thought leaders in their space, and leads are able to take advantage of all the valuable information and apply it to their marketing campaigns.

So how can you replicate some of these successes?

  • Use case studies to share your own data and experiences with prospects, along with the actionable insights you learned along the way.
  • Be as data-driven as possible to encourage social shares.
  • Partner with third parties for social proof and to show that your expertise extends into other verticals.
  • Create a hub on your agency website to give prospects a one-stop shop for all your branded content case studies.
  • Consider gating your case studies to capture and nurture qualified leads with landing pages.

Tap your experts to build brand awareness

While reporting on past campaigns is a start, other agencies are being even more generous by giving prospects access to their team of experts.

Social@Ogilvy is a global initiative that takes cross-disciplinary insights from the Ogilvy & Mather’s team of experts and shares them as webinars, case studies and podcasts. The agency uses the site as a platform to be as transparent as possible about their social media knowledge.

Screenshot of branded content on agency website
Ogilvy & Mather’s uses Social@Ogilvy to tap its existing network of professionals world-wide as well as other industry thought leaders to bring the most important branded content to its clients.

Its transparency on subjects which are everyday to Ogilvy & Mather’s experts serves to further cement its team’s position as thought leaders in the industry and build awareness about its brand.

Plus, sharing their knowledge and insights serves to empower social media marketers and demonstrate that the Ogilvy & Mather’s team are invested in the success of their prospects and clients.


Share your marketing expertise to help empower prospects. They’ll thank you with their business.
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Create branded tools to capture leads

Beyond sharing your experts and data with the world, there’s much more you can be doing to empower prospects. Sharing tactics and strategies helps paint you as useful, but what if you were creating tools that made you indispensable to your prospects’ success?

Some agencies are finding success in creating marketing tools that keep their brand’s name top-of-mind and help demonstrate that they’re invested in the success of their leads.

Creating branded tools allows an agency to provide value to future clients in a constructive way. Every time potential leads use your tools your brand is directly associated in the process. Using the tools results in them thinking of your name every time the the tool used or mentioned.

Take UK agency Rocket Mill for example.

It’s taken the branded content approach even further and created actual tools for CRO, SEO and social media management.

The lab section of Rocket Mill’s website boasts that their tools “have been adopted by over 60,000 businesses and agencies globally, including some of the world’s biggest brands” — and it breaks down what each of the tools does and which specific pain point is addressed:

Screenshot of branded content tools for agency.
Rocket Mill has created several tools that address the specific problems that its prospects face.

Their CRO Monitor, for example, lets you keep track of any changes your competitor is testing on its website:

Spefic screenshot of CRO tool.

And Social Crawlytics allows you to keep tabs on your competitor’s most-shared content:

Spefic screenshot of social tool

And while each of the tools is free, Rocket Mill doesn’t miss out on the chance to collect leads. Each tool on their site has a CTA that leads to a microsite with a signup form.

It’s a perfect way to deliver tangible value to leads while making handing over their email address a total no-brainer.


Give prospects the tools they need to succeed (literally). Trading their email will be a no-brainer.
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Dive into your archives

Gif of Madmen thinking about the future of advdertising.

Sharing your knowledge as an agency is one of the best ways to market your services.

Go the distance and go beyond an agency blog. Blogs may be the most common way to showcase your agency’s work, but they’re not the best way to stand out from the crowd.

Lucky for you, establishing a branded content strategy doesn’t mean starting from scratch!

You’ve likely got data-driven content sitting around: past campaigns that have succeeded (or even failed) are perfect fodder for content that can be packaged and distributed on-site or off.

Then put your agency’s name on it and use branded content to gain leads and generate some buzz.

Read article here:

How Agencies Can Use Branded Content Marketing to Stand Out from the Crowd

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

content-and-data-650
If data isn’t driving your content strategy, then it’s time to renew your vows with Google Analytics. Image source.

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

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

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

You’ll learn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiten Shah: Pretty much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiten Shah: Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiten Shah: That’s right.

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

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

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

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

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


Link:

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

Product Design Unification Case Study, Part 2: “Burger-Driven” Framework


In the first part of the case study about Mail.Ru Group product design unification, I described our first approach — a mobile web framework. Aside from creating a unified visual style and interaction principles for a dozen services, we’ve also transformed our design process from the classic “prototype → design mock-up → HTML → implementation” approach for every screen, to a modern and more efficient framework-based approach.

Product Design Unification Case Study, Part 2:

In this second part I’ll show how we have improved the same technology to embody larger versions of these products and made our “Bootstrap on steroids” more powerful. In the spring of 2012, our business unit acquired 11 content-based projects: Auto, Events Guide, Health, Horoscopes, Kids, Lady, Moto, News, Sports, TV, and Weather. Many of them are very successful in their market niche in Russia; however, they each have their own history, often with outsourced designs that led to inconsistencies.

The post Product Design Unification Case Study, Part 2: “Burger-Driven” Framework appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Link to article: 

Product Design Unification Case Study, Part 2: “Burger-Driven” Framework

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4 Ways a Lack of Clarity Could Be Killing Your Conversions

What's for sale?
Don’t expect your customers to buy anything if they can’t understand what’s for sale. Image source: Terry Robinson.

What’s the most important ingredient of a successful landing page? Witty copy? A beautiful design? An oh-so-clickable CTA?

It’s clarity — creating a page that allows anyone to quickly determine what your offer is and if it’s right for them. If someone can’t understand what you’re selling, they’re certainly not going to be interested in buying it.

Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly easy to mess it up. Creating a clear page requires that you put yourself in the shoes of your audience, ignoring all of the context that you have and they don’t. Which is easier said than done.

That’s probably why it was the most prominent problem with the landing pages in this month’s episode of Page Fights — a grand digital coliseum (okay, it’s a Google Hangout) in which landing pages are critiqued by a team of expert judges, including Unbounce’s own Oli Gardner, Peep Laja from Conversion XL, and this month’s guest Jay Baer, author of Youtility.

Read on for the top clarity lessons culled from this month’s episode, or check out the recording for a more visceral landing page takedown experience.

1. You’re not showing the product

It might seem too obvious to point out, but showing the product you’re selling is critically important. If your product is visible, like a physical item or software, show it. If you’re selling an invisible good — like insurance — illustrate the positive impact it will have on the user’s life.

This is crucial to helping your customer imagine themselves using the product and experiencing its benefits.

Hey Gluten Free, a gluten-free product subscription service, comes close to pulling this off, but falls short in the execution.

Hey Gluten Free

This landing page was a favorite among the judges, and Oli thought the headline did a great job of effectively communicating the product’s value to prospects. But compared to the strong copy, the imagery didn’t carry its weight.

They’ve relegated their actual product shots to a cluttered corner of the hero image, while illustrations of boxes adorn the rest of the page. As Jay pointed out, this introduces a lot of uncertainty:

Well, this might sorta kinda maybe be the product we eventually give you.

Hey Gluten Free is unique in that their product is essentially randomized, with a different box of goodies arriving every month. Still, this landing page could have been elevated from strong to stellar by displaying an actual box, with actual products inside, front-and-center.

PetitePuf, an organic cotton candy cart service, made a similar mistake.

Petite Puf

While you’re welcome to rent a cart — complete with various flavours, décor and “spinning artists” — for your next classic muscle car jamboree, their core focus is on catering weddings. Their site is packed with beautiful photos of nuptial table-settings, happy brides and brides-to-be and seriously delicious-looking candy floss.

It’s a shame, then, that none of this imagery made it onto their landing page.

The sole photo here features the cart and cotton candy as an obscured background decoration, with a lone, faceless woman in the foreground. Jay suggested more product and customer-centric photography and perhaps a short video showing people enjoying the candy.

Whichever way they decide to approach it, PetitePuf would be wise to heed Oli’s advice:

Bring the delight the cotton candy will bring to your wedding guests front and center.


Make it easy for your potential customers to imagine themselves using and loving your product.
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2. You’re speaking your own language, not your audience’s

PetitePuf’s troubles didn’t end with their imagery – Peep took them to task for their confusing form copy.

I understand you want to be cute, but that shouldn’t impede reading your content.

Petite Puf form

In general, the judges had many problems with their form copy:

  • “Chat With Us” is a misleading and ineffective headline. Not only is this not a chat, but the headline should reinforce what the user is here to do. In this case, that’s requesting a quote or finding out more about the service.
  • As Jay mentioned, “We need your name so we can say hi!” is a strange and unnecessary justification.
  • “Sweet nothings? Sure thing.” What?

While nobody would suggest that sterile copy is something that PetitePuf should aspire to, anything that makes your proposition more difficult to understands needs to go.


If your “clever” copy doesn’t clarify the value of your product, trash it.
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But at least PetitePuf’s copy calamities were confined to the form alone. The same can’t be said of Bosky, purveyor of sunglasses made with FSC certified wood.

Bosky

First problem: what on earth is FSC certified wood?

As Jay pointed out, Bosky’s page is packed with confusing copy, extolling the virtues of “base-six curvature,” “skateboard construction” (???) and “stainless steel hinges with a three-point mount” – all while burying what these features actually mean for the wearer.

Jay’s advice:

What these guys need is 20% as much copy and just an FAQ. Describe in clear language what it is you do well.

Terminology that might seem accurate or downright impressive to you has a good chance of being totally lost on an unfamiliar reader. Unless your page is targeted at a demographic that lets you assume a base level of knowledge, you should really write your page without making any assumptions.


Don’t write your copy like you would an email to your colleague. Speak your audience’s language.
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3. You’re telling the story backwards

Clarity isn’t just about what you say. It’s also about how you say it and, in this case, what order you say it in.

vetPromotion is a social media management tool aimed at busy veterinary practice owners.

vetPromotion

It’s a pretty cool idea, but vetPromotion has to convince those managers that social media marketing is something that should be a priority to veterinary business. It’s here that vetPromotion drops the ball, digs a hole and buries the ball in it.

Only after explaining their product in several (increasingly confusing) ways do they begin stating the case for social media in vet practices.

This was totally backwards. To their credit, vetPromotion took the feedback to heart and overhauled their page after the show, doing more to prime their prospects on the benefits of social media before going for the conversion.

So what does this mean for your landing pages?

If your product makes it “easier to do X,” you have to convince your audience that “X” is worth doing at all.


If you make it “easier to do X,” your landing page has to convince that “X” is worth doing…
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4. You’re putting form before function

Landing pages can — and should! — strive to be beautiful and fun, but that should never get in the way of your visitor understanding the value of your offering.

Consider this page from Imation. It’s about their Nexsan line of enterprise data storage. But can you tell?

Imation
The very confusing adventures of Captain Lumenwrangler.

Here’s what Peep had to say about it:

I’ve never in my life seen such a disconnect between a landing page and the product a company is selling.

To be clear, it’s immediately apparent to anyone who visits that this page has had a ton of effort, money and love poured into it.

But that doesn’t make it good.

It doesn’t show or explain their product in any meaningful way. It’s packed with tons of copy, but none of it explains what Nexsan is, what problem it is they solve and why anybody should care.

It’s obvious that Nexsan was trying to inject some delight into the fairly dry topic of enterprise data storage, but the execution falls short. The idea is heavy-handed, the plot uncompelling and the five-click, seven-form-field ask far too demanding for what’s given in return: a pretty boring comic strip.

Imation Comic
The real nightmare is having to fill out a new form for every single page of this comic.

To their credit, Nexsan seemed to take the criticism in stride:

But hopefully they’ll take it to heart, too. Oli said it best:

What this page needs is a superhero named Captain Clarity.

Captain Clarity is the hero this page deserves, and gosh, does it ever need him right now.

Your prospects don’t come to your landing page to be impressed by flashy artwork or a self-indulgent narrative. They came to you because they have a real problem. It’s your job to help them solve it as expediently as possible.


Your prospects have a problem that they need your help solving. So don’t waste their time.
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Bring clarity through real cleverness

“Clever” is a word that’s gotten a pretty bad rap among conversion rate optimizers. But when we call out landing pages for being too “clever,” what we really mean is that they’re failing to achieve the cleverness that they’re striving for.

To be clever is to be ingenious and adaptive, ready to approach problems from a new perspective. And it’s also about knowing when restraint is warranted.

So I encourage you: be truly clever. Seek out ways of communicating your value that are uniquely yours, while remembering that your audience is counting on you to be clear and honest with them.

And once your truly clever landing page is ready for prime-time, put it to the ultimate clarity test: submit it to next month’s Page Fights!


More: 

4 Ways a Lack of Clarity Could Be Killing Your Conversions