If you’ve been using WordPress for any amount of time, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the following statement: “Free as in speech, not free as in beer.’ If you haven’t, pull up a chair and let’s talk.
WordPress is a free and open-source software (also known as FOSS) project. The explanation of that could easily fill up a separate article, but the TL;DR version is that the software is free to download, use, inspect and modify by anyone who has a copy of it.
The beginning of a new year seems like a perfect time to think about what we web professionals do, why we do it, how we could do it better and even how we could have more fun doing it.
Like everyone, we learn lessons as we make our way through life and work. If we’re lucky, we pick up some good advice along the way, so we thought it might be useful to find out what kind of advice you all have found to be particularly valuable.
In order to encourage web professionals to consider some of the key points of their working lives in this still nascent industry, we asked folks on Twitter and Facebook to share their best work-life balance tips that worked really well for them. We received lots of responses: most very sensible, many very insightful, some quite unexpected and a few deliberately tongue-in-cheek.
The most important thing to note when thinking about work-life balance is that it is different for everyone.
Landing pages can get really long, which is totally fine, especially if you use a sticky anchor navigation to scroll people up and down to different page sections. It’s a great conversion experience and should be embraced.
However, there are times when having a small multi-page site, known as a microsite (or mini-site) can offer significant advantages.
This is not a conversation about your website (which is purely for organic traffic), I’m still talking about creating dedicated marketing-campaign-specific experiences. That’s what landing pages were designed for, and a microsite is very similar. It’s like a landing page in that it’s a standalone, controlled experience, but with a different architecture.
The sketch below shows the difference between a landing page and a microsite.
The landing page is a single page with six sections. The microsite has a homepage and 5 or 6 child pages, each with a persistent global navigation to conect the pages.
They are both “landing experiences”, just architected differently. I’ve noticed that many higher education landing experiences are four-page microsites. The pharmaceutical industry tends to create microsites for every new product campaign – especially those driven by TV ads.
What are the benefits of a microsite over a long landing page?
To reiterate, for most marketing campaign use cases, a single landing page – long or short – is your absolute best option. But there are some scenarios where you can really benefit from a microsite.
Some of the benefits of a microsite include:
It allows more pages to be indexed by Google
You can craft a controlled experience on each page (vs. a section where people can move up and down to other sections)
You can add a lot more content to a certain page, without making your landing page a giant.
You can get more advanced with your analytics research as there are many different click-pathways within a microsite that aren’t possible to track or design for on a single page.
The technique I’m going to show you takes an Unbounce landing page, turns it into a 5-page microsite.
How to Create a Microsite from a Long Landing Page
The connective tissue of a microsite is the navigation. It links the pages together and defines the available options for a visitor. I’ll be using an Unbounce Sticky Bar as the shared global navigation to connect five Unbounce landing pages that we’ll create from the single long landing page. It’s really easy.
First, Choose a Landing Page to Work With
I’ve created a dummy landing page to work with. You can see from the zoomed-out thumbnail on the right-hand side how long it is: 10 page-sections long to be specific. (Click the image to view the whole page in a scrolling lightbox.)
The five-step process is then as follows:
I’ll explain it in more detail with screenshots and a quick video.
Create the microsite pages, by duplicate your landing page 5 times
Delete the page sections you don’t want on each microsite page
Create a Sticky Bar and add five navigation buttons
Set the URL targeting of the Sticky Bar to appear on the microsite pages
Add the Unbounce global script to your site
Click “Publish” << hardly a step.
Step 1: Create Your Microsite Pages
Choose “Duplicate Page” from the cog menu on your original landing page to create a new page (5 times). Then name each page and set the URL of each accordingly. In the screenshot below you can see I have the original landing page, and five microsite pages Home|About|Features|FAQ|Sign Up.
Step 2: Delete Page Sections on Each Microsite Page
Open each page in the Unbounce builder and click the background of any page section you don’t want and hit delete. It’s really quick. Do this for each page until they only have the content you want to be left in them. Watch the 30 sec video below to see how.
Pro Tip: Copy/Paste Between Pages
There is another way to do it. Instead of deleting sections, you can start with blank pages for the microsite, and copy/paste the sections you want from the landing page into the blank pages. This is one of the least-known and most powerful features of Unbounce.
The best way is to have a few browser tabs open at once (like one for each page), then just copy and paste between browser tabs. It’s epic! Watch…
Step 3: Create the Navigation With a Sticky Bar
Create a new Sticky Bar in Unbounce (it’s the same builder for landing pages and popups). Add buttons or links for each of your microsite pages, and set the “Target” of the link to be “Parent Frame” as shown in the lower-right of this screenshot.
Step 4: Set URL Targeting
This is where the connective tissue of the shared Sticky Bar comes together. On the Sticky Bar dashboard, you can enter any URLs on your domain that you want the bar to appear on. You can enter them one-by-one if you like, or to make it much faster, just use the same naming convention (unique to this microsite/campaign) on each of the microsite page URLS.
For the URL Targeting, I simply set one rule, that URLs need to contain “pmm-micro”.
For the Trigger, I selected “When a visitor arrives on the page.”
for the frequency, I selected “Show on every visit.” because the nav needs to be there always.
Step 5: Add the Unbounce Script
Note: As this microsite solution was 100% within Unbounce (Landing Pages and Sticky Bar), you don’t actually have to add the script to your website, you can just add it to the each of the landing pages individually. But it’s best to get it set up on your website, which will show it on your Unbounce landing pages on that domain, by default.
Ste 6: Hide the Sticky Bar Close Button
As this is a navigation bar, and not a promo, we need to make sure it’s always there and can’t be hidden. It’s not a native feature in the app right now, so you need to add this CSS to each of the microsite pages.
A Few Wee Caveats
This use of a Sticky Bar isn’t a native feature of Unbounce at this point, it’s just a cool thing you can do. As such, it’s not technically supported, although our community loves this type of thing.
As it’s using a shared Sticky Bar for the nav, you’ll see it re-appear on each new page load. Not perfect, but it’s not a big deal and the tradeoff is worth it if the other benefits mentioned earlier work for you.
Aall in all, this type of MacGyvering is great for generating new ways of thinking about your marketing experiences, and how you can guide people to a conversion.
I’ve found that thinking about a microsite from a conversion standpoint is a fantastic mental exercise.
Have fun making a microsite, and never stop experimenting – and MacGyvering!
We Have 1.06 Products. Do we suck at product marketing?
I wrote that statement on a whiteboard at the start of a website brainstorm session.
What does 1.06 products mean?
1.06 sums up my frustration at the adoption rate of our new products. Yup, Unbounce is now more than just a landing page builder. We released two new products, namely “overlays” and “sticky bars”, and we grouped them together under an umbrella term “Convertables”.
The number 1 represents our flagship industry-leading landing page product (100% of our customers have adopted it), and the .06 represents the tragic adoption rate of our new products (6%).
And yes, you’d be correct if you noted that “Convertables” isn’t a real word, but then neither is Unbounce, so we went with it after a notable amount of company-wide polling, and general corporate groupthink. More on that later.
So, how does this scenario result in me writing 30 blog posts about product marketing?
Rewind to October 5th: I was in a meeting with fellow co-founders Rick, Carl, and Carter, openly expressing my frustration with the adoption numbers, and Carter interrupted me to ask, “Okay, fine, but what are you going to do about it?”.
Then this video happened…
Awesome, right?! Yeah, it is, until the moment I realized it’s been exactly 301 days since I last wrote a blog post (I’ve been focusing on public speaking), making this level of bravado a tad audacious at best. Aaand, yes I realize I was a little intoxicated in the video.
But, I’ve learned over the years, that being a bit ridiculous in my promises is the only way I really know how to get shit done. When I tell everyone that I’m doing something big, the self-imposed peer pressure is what motivates me to make sure I complete my mission.
Enter Product Marketing Month (PMM): A Product Marketing Journey
This brings me to our blog. We’ve never written much about our products on the blog, in fact, we’ve actively avoided it to let the content speak for itself as an educational pillar of the community, and to remain non-salesy.
I’ve realized though, that it doesn’t make much business sense to be that overtly humble in all marketing communications. There has to be a way to balance exposing people to your product without it detracting from the experience.
It’s my fault in many ways. When I started our blog back in 2009, I had a mission to be different from our competitors, to not come across as a salesperson, and just to provide value and entertaining content that stood out.
We dominated the realm of conversion content for many years, but in an increasingly competitive SaaS martech space, our content is no longer number one, and it’s time that we change our approach.
Which is why we’re doing a blog takeover for the whole of January.
Our goal is to explore a category we’ve not covered before (product marketing), but also to expose a transparent window – transparency is one of our six core values at Unbounce – into our journey as a company, as a marketing team, and myself personally, to become better product marketers.
For me, it’s the first time I’ve ever been involved in product marketing, which will make it a fascinating personal journey reinventing myself as a different kind of marketer.
I’m also cutting the number of speaking gigs I do in 2018 in half, because let’s be honest, in this moment, the success of Unbounce can be more rapidly impacted by me staying home than being on the road.
Along the way, I’ll be opening up the Unbounce vault to share our core metrics with you. This will include our churn and product adoption metrics, which we hope to be able to lift in a big way throughout this 30-day experiment. There will be data check-ins throughout, with a halfway report, and then a full “Results Show” at the end.
I’ll also be digging into our analytics to see what the engagement and attribution looks like for every one of the 30 blog posts.
Some of the content will revolve around the learnings and experiences of becoming a better product marketer, and the rest will be an exploration of the ways we’re trying to rethink what our products are, what they mean to our customers, and how we can do a better job communicating their benefits (with some case studies and new ways of thinking – I hope).
I say “I hope” because I’m writing this as you read it. That’s what tends to happen when you commit to something as absurd as 30-in-30.
Follow Along << Mid-Post CTA
I encourage you to follow along by subscribing to our weekly update emails at the bottom of the page. I’m really keen to have our community (that’s you) help us explore how to do this properly, and hopefully, we’ll all learn how to do a better job of marketing our products.
This is a screenshot of the subscribe form at the bottom of the post. Thought you should know.
Aaand I’ve configured it so you’ll see an exit popup when you leave this page. Note, that I’m doing this to show the product in a relevant and hopefully useful manner.
Unbounce Product Adoption Metrics
How do we measure adoption at Unbounce? To understand, it helps to explain a little about how we define a customer. In the old days, a customer was any signup, someone who started a 30-day trial. Over time we learned we should be measuring a little deeper into the customer lifecycle, and decided a customer was someone who paid us twice; once after the 30-day trial, and again after sixty days.
In 2017 we modified this further to someone who pays us three times, giving us a much better sense of true churn numbers.
To be considered a customer who has adopted our products, we have an additional set of app usage criteria:
For landing pages adoption means: a customer who has built and published one or more pages, has set up a custom domain, configured an integration with another tool, and has paid us three times.
Full transparency: 6% adoption for a new product sucks. It sucks really bad.
So what went wrong? Why was adoption so low?
We made some mistakes, namely…
Mistake #1: We called a popup an overlay. Mistake #2: We created a fictitious umbrella term “Convertables” for only two child products, and for a few months, only one child product. Mistake #3: We assumed that people would find and use these two products, hidden behind said umbrella term in the app. Mistake #4: We assumed that the functional user of our landing page product would be the same person who needs to use overlays popups and sticky bars.
How do we un-f*** this problem?
The first thing we’re doing is removing any public-facing mentions of the term “Convertables”. This has excited the marketing team because it’s much easier to market something when you know how to describe it.
Beyond that, the approach I’m taking is a combination of four primary tenets:
First, is a concept I call “Productizing Our Technology” or POT for short. This is about discovering new and novel ways that our platform can be used, that people either haven’t imagined or simply didn’t know was possible.
Second, is exploring the entire Unbounce ecosystem, from the app, to the website, our content channels, and our community, to see how we could do a better job of exposing the benefits of our products to those who can benefit from them.
Third, is using the Product Marketing Month blog takeover to create interactive demonstrations right here on the blog – the goal of which is to reduce the Time to Value (TTV) by creating more obvious ah-ha moments.
Fourth, understanding who the various target personas and functional users of the different products are, and adjusting our targeting and marketing communications to find and speak to those potentially different users.
In regards to #3 the blog takeover, if you take a look at the top of the screen, you’ll see a header bar like this:
Or this one, if you have scrolled down the page:
If you look at the hierarchy of information from left to right, you see: 1) Who we are: logo, 2) What we do: value prop, 3) How to take action: the three big orange buttons.
This is hugely different to the rest of the blog, which retains the navigation of the whole site (I’ve thought that was incongruent for a long time).
My hope is that the new header bar helps more people know what we do, and how our products can help. I’ll be tracking engagement with the 3 CTAs and comparing these 30 posts against our other blog content in terms of its ability to get people to sign up.
I had my own ah-ha moment when I started imagining all the ways that I could hack/modify/extend the ways the Unbounce conversion platform can be used. We have 3 core pieces of product technology (not including our AI/Machine Learning efforts that will power our technology in the future): landing pages, popups, and sticky bars.
By taking our core tech, combining the available features, with new jQuery scripts, CSS, and some 3rd-party integrations, it’s possible to create a plethora of new “mini-products” that if embraced by the community, might inform future product direction.
Take a look at the spreadsheet below. This is my POT matrix. The complete sheet currently houses over 120 new product ideas.
(Click image for full-size view)
Across the top (in yellow) are the core products, their features (such as targeting, triggers, display frequency), and the different hacks, data sources, and integrations, that can be combined to produce the new products listed in green in the first column.
Each product is flagged as being in one of three states:
NOW: These products are possible now with our existing feature set. MVP: These products are possible by adding some simple scripts/CSS to extend the core. NEW: These products would require a much deeper level of product or website development to make them possible. These are the examples that came from “blue sky” ideation, and are a useful upper anchor for what could be done.
I’ll be explaining these use cases in greater detail as the month progresses, and I’ll be building some of them directly into these blog posts as I write them. << FTR this will involve me reverting to my long-extinct coding background to hack the shit out of the blog to show you what I’m talking about.
There is also a full calendar at the bottom of every post that will link to all 30 PMM topics as they roll out.
What’s coming on day 2 of PMM?
Tomorrow’s post is called “55 Simple/Hard/Brilliant Things Your Marketing Team Should Be Doing to Improve Product Awareness & Adoption”. It’s based on the results of rapid-fire brainstorms which exposed quick-win tactics all product marketers can use to expose your products in small and simple ways, to build to a critical mass of awareness.
This should be very relevant to anyone in marketing, and doubly so to those working for a SaaS business.
Here’s to kicking off 2018 in a blaze of product marketing glory.
p.s. Please jump into the comments below to let me know what products you’re currently trying to take to market.
Productivity tips always make for a popular topic for an article, as everyone is looking for the silver bullet, that one weird trick that turns you into a productivity machine. However, the tips that work well for one person may not work so well for another.
We asked the community on Twitter and Facebook to share their best productivity tips, and in this article I’m going to round these up alongside some things I’ve learned that work well for me.
The influence of design is expanding beyond the realms of typography and objects and into healthcare, public policy, education, financial services, and more. Designers working in these emerging design fields are responsible for projects that have significant and fundamental impact on the quality of people’s lives with clear ethical implications.
In healthcare, for example, designers are responsible for creating everything from the industrial designer’s medical device that keeps a heart beating to the service designer’s physical layout of an operating room.
We can’t believe it’s actually happening. After 18 months of hard work on the big bang relaunch of this little website, today is the day when everything changes. New design and new technical stack. New personality and new ambitious goals. But most importantly, a new focus on our wonderful web community, with the brand new Smashing Membership.
Rewarding Great People Doing Great Work In times when we fight all the craziness and narrow-mindedness around us, we need to remind ourselves how wonderful a vast majority of the web community actually is.
Five years ago, when, for the first time ever, I was invited to speak at one of the best front-end conferences in Europe, I had quite a mixture of feelings. Obviously, I was incredibly proud and happy: I had never had a chance to do this before for a diverse audience of people with different skillsets. But the other feelings I had were quite destructive.
I sincerely could not understand how I could be interesting to anyone: Even though I had been working in front-end for many years by then, I was very silent in the community.