Tag Archives: content

How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

transform your ecommerce business

Online store owners swim in a sea of fierce competition dominated by Amazon and Best Buy, among others. You can’t always be number one. But with a strong desire and the right tools, you can become a leader in your niche. One of the best ways to get to the top is with a powerful content marketing strategy that blows the opposition out of the water. So, what are the secrets of creating and implementing an unsurpassed content marketing strategy that delivers the results you’re looking for? That’s what I’m about to reveal. Why Should You Prioritize Content Marketing Above…

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How To Transform Your eCommerce Business With 11 Simple Tips

Infographic: How To Create The Perfect Social Media Post

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

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Infographic: How To Create The Perfect Social Media Post

Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors

sup

Back in 2015, Unbounce launched its first ever exit overlay on this very blog.

Did it send our signup rate skyrocketing 4,000%? Nope.

Did it turn our blog into a conversion factory for new leads? Not even close — our initial conversion rate was barely over 1.25%.

But what it did do was start us down the path of exploring the best ways to use this technology; of furthering our goals by finding ways to offer visitors relevant, valuable content through overlays.

Overlays are modal lightboxes that launch within a webpage and focus attention on a single offer. Still fuzzy on what an overlay is? Click here.

In this post, we’ll break down all the wins, losses and “holy smokes!” moments from our first 2,345,864 exit overlay viewers.

Psst: Towards the end of these experiments, Unbounce launched Convertables, and with it a whole toolbox of advanced triggers and targeting options for overlays.

Goals, tools and testing conditions

Our goal for this project was simple: Get more people to consume more Unbounce content — whether it be blog posts, ebooks, videos, you name it.

We invest a lot in our content, and we want it read by as many marketers as possible. All our research — everything we know about that elusive thing called conversion, exists in our content.

Our content also allows readers to find out whether Unbounce is a tool that can help them. We want more customers, but only if they can truly benefit from our product. Those who experience ‘lightbulb’ moments when reading our content definitely fit the bill.

As for tools, the first four experiments were conducted using Rooster (an exit-intent tool purchased by Unbounce in June 2015). It was a far less sophisticated version of what is now Unbounce Convertables, which we used in the final experiment.

Testing conditions were as follows:

  1. All overlays were triggered on exit; meaning they launched only when abandoning visitors were detected.
  1. For the first three experiments, we compared sequential periods to measure results. For the final two, we ran makeshift A/B tests.
  1. When comparing sequential periods, testing conditions were isolated by excluding new blog posts from showing any overlays.
  1. A “conversion” was defined as either a completed form (lead gen overlay) or a click (clickthrough overlay).
  1. All experiments were conducted between January 2015 and November 2016.

Experiment #1: Content Offer vs. Generic Signup

Our first exit overlay had a simple goal: Get more blog subscribers. It looked like this.

blog-subscriber-overlay

It was viewed by 558,488 unique visitors over 170 days, 1.27% of which converted to new blog subscribers. Decent start, but not good enough.

To improve the conversion rate, we posed the following.

HYPOTHESIS
Because online marketing offers typically convert better when a specific, tangible offer is made (versus a generic signup), we expect that by offering a free ebook to abandoning visitors, we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.27% baseline.

Whereas the original overlay asked visitors to subscribe to the blog for “tips”, the challenger overlay offered visitors The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design.

add-overlay

After 96 days and over 260,000 visitors, we had enough conversions to call this experiment a success. The overlay converted at 2.65%, and captured 7,126 new blog subscribers.

overlay-experiment-1-results

Since we didn’t A/B test these overlays, our results were merely observations. Seasonality is one of many factors that can sway the numbers.

We couldn’t take it as gospel, but we were seeing double the subscribers we had previously.

Observations

  • Offering tangible resources (versus non-specific promises, like a blog signup) can positively affect conversion rates.

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

Experiment #2: Four-field vs. Single-field Overlays

Data people always spoil the party.

The early success of our first experiment caught the attention of Judi, our resident marketing automation whiz, who wisely reminded us that collecting only an email address on a large-scale campaign was a missed opportunity.

For us to fully leverage this campaign, we needed to find out more about the individuals (and organizations) who were consuming our content.

Translation: We needed to add three more form fields to the overlay.

overlay-experiment-2

Since filling out forms is a universal bummer, we safely assumed our conversion rate would take a dive.

But something else happened that we didn’t predict. Notice a difference (besides the form fields) between the two overlays above? Yup, the new version was larger: 900x700px vs. 750x450px.

Adding three form fields made our original 750x450px design feel too cramped, so we arbitrarily increased the size — never thinking there may be consequences. More on that later.

Anyways, we launched the new version, and as expected the results sucked.

overlay-experiment-2-results
Things weren’t looking good after 30 days.

For business reasons, we decided to end the test after 30 days, even though we didn’t run the challenger overlay for an equal time period (96 days).

Overall, the conversion rate for the 30-day period was 48% lower than the previous 96-day period. I knew it was for good reason: Building our data warehouse is important. Still, a small part of me died that day.

Then it got worse.

It occurred to us that for a 30-day period, that sample size of viewers for the new overlay (53,460) looked awfully small.

A closer inspection revealed that our previous overlay averaged 2,792 views per day, while this new version was averaging 1,782. So basically our 48% conversion drop was served a la carte with a 36% plunge in overall views. Fun!

But why?

It turns out increasing the size of the overlay wasn’t so harmless. The size was too large for many people’s browser windows, so the overlay only fired two out of every three visits, even when targeting rules matched.

We conceded, and redesigned the overlay in 800x500px format.

overlay-experiment-redesign

Daily views rose back to their normal numbers, and our new baseline conversion rate of 1.25% remained basically unchanged.

loads-vs-views

Large gap between “loads” and “views” on June 4th; narrower gap on June 5th.

Observations

  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).

Experiment #3: One Overlay vs. 10 Overlays

It seemed like such a great idea at the time…

Why not get hyper relevant and build a different exit overlay to each of our blog categories?

With our new baseline conversion rate reduced to 1.25%, we needed an improvement that would help us overcome “form friction” and get us back to that healthy 2%+ range we enjoyed before.

So with little supporting data, we hypothesized that increasing “relevance” was the magic bullet we needed. It works on landing pages why not overlays?

HYPOTHESIS  
Since “relevance” is key to driving conversions, we expect that by running a unique exit overlay on each of our blog categories — whereby the free resource is specific to the category — we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.25% baseline.

blog-categories

We divide our blog into categories according to the marketing topic they cover (e.g., landing pages, copywriting, design, UX, conversion optimization). Each post is tagged by category.

So to increase relevance, we created a total of 10 exit overlays (each offering a different resource) and assigned each overlay to one or two categories, like this:

category-specific-overlays

Creating all the new overlays would take some time (approximately three hours), but since we already had a deep backlog of resources on all things online marketing, finding a relevant ebook, course or video to offer in each category wasn’t difficult.

And since our URLs contain category tags (e.g., all posts on “design” start with root domain unbounce.com/design), making sure the right overlay ran on the right post was easy.

unbounce-targeting

URL Targeting rule for our Design category; the “include” rule automatically excludes the overlay from running in other categories.

But there was a problem: We’d established a strict rule that our readers would only ever see one exit overlay… no matter how many blog categories they browsed. It’s part of our philosophy on using overlays in a way that respects the user experience.

When we were just using one overlay, that was easy — a simple “Frequency” setting was all we needed.

unbounce-frequency

…but not so easy with 10 overlays running on the same blog.

We needed a way to exclude anyone who saw one overlay from seeing any of the other nine.

Cookies were the obvious answer, so we asked our developers to build a temporary solution that could:

  • Pass a cookie from an overlay to the visitor’s browser
  • Exclude that cookie in our targeting settings

They obliged.

unbounce-advanced-targeting

We used “incognito mode” to repeatedly test the functionality, and after that we were go for launch.

Then this happened.

rooster-dashboard
Ignore the layout… the Convertables dashboard is much prettier now :)

After 10 days of data, our conversion rate was a combined 1.36%, 8.8% higher than the baseline. It eventually crept its way to 1.42% after an additional 250,000 views. Still nowhere near what we’d hoped.

So what went wrong?

We surmised that just because an offer is “relevant” doesn’t mean it’s compelling. Admittedly, not all of the 10 resources were on par with The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design, the ebook we originally offered in all categories.

That said, this experiment provided an unexpected benefit: we could now see our conversion rates by category instead of just one big number for the whole blog. This would serve us well on future tests.

Observations

  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between categories.

Experiment #4: Resource vs. Resource

“Just because it’s relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.”

This lesson inspired a simple objective for our next task: Improve the offers in our underperforming categories.

We decided to test new offers across five categories that had low conversion rates and high traffic volume:

  1. A/B Testing and CRO (0.57%)
  2. Email (1.24%)
  3. Lead Gen and Content Marketing (0.55%)
Note: We used the same overlay for the A/B Testing and CRO categories, as well as the Lead Gen and Content Marketing Categories.

Hypothesis
Since we believe the resources we’re offering in the categories of A/B testing, CRO, Email, Lead Gen and Content Marketing are less compelling than resources we offer in other categories, we expect to see increased conversion rates when we test new resources in these categories.

With previous studies mentioned in this post, we compared sequential periods. For this one, we took things a step further and jury-rigged an A/B testing system together using Visual Website Optimizer and two Unbounce accounts.

And after finding what we believed to be more compelling resources to offer, the new test was launched.

topic-experiment

We saw slightly improved results in the A/B Testing and CRO categories, although not significant. For the Email category, we saw a large drop-off.

In the Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories however, there was a dramatic uptick in conversions and the results were statistically significant. Progress!

Observations

  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.

Experiment #5: Clickthrough vs. Lead Gen Overlays

Although progress was made in our previous test, we still hadn’t solved the problem from our second experiment.

While having the four fields made each conversion more valuable to us, it still reduced our conversion rate a relative 48% (from 2.65% to 1.25% back in experiment #2).

We’d now worked our way up to a baseline of 1.75%, but still needed a strategy for reducing form friction.

The answer lay in a new tactic for using overlays that we dubbed traffic shaping.

Traffic Shaping: Using clickthrough overlays to incentivize visitors to move from low-converting to high-converting pages.

Here’s a quick illustration:

traffic-shaping-diagram

Converting to this format would require us to:

  1. Redesign our exit overlays
  2. Build a dedicated landing page for each overlay
  3. Collect leads via the landing pages

Basically, we’d be using the overlays as a bridge to move readers from “ungated” content (a blog post) to “gated” content (a free video that required a form submission to view). Kinda like playing ‘form field hot potato’ in a modern day version of Pipe Dream.

Hypothesis
Because “form friction” reduces conversions, we expect that removing form fields from our overlays will increase engagement (enough to offset the drop off we expect from adding an extra step). To do this, we will redesign our overlays to clickthrough (no fields), create a dedicated landing page for each overlay and add the four-field form to the landing page. We’ll measure results in Unbounce.

By this point, we were using Unbounce to build the entire campaign. The overlays were built in Convertables, and the landing pages were created with the Unbounce landing page builder.

We decided to test this out in our A/B Testing and CRO as well as Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories.

clickthrough-overlays

After filling out the form, visitors would either be given a secure link for download (PDF) or taken to a resource page where their video would play.

Again, for this to be successful the conversion rate on the overlays would need to increase enough to offset the drop off we expected by adding the extra landing page step.

These were our results after 21 days.

clickthrough-overlays-results

Not surprisingly, engagement with the overlays increased significantly. I stress the word “engagement” and not “conversion,” because our goal had changed from a form submission to a clickthrough.

In order to see a conversion increase, we needed to factor in the percentage of visitors who would drop off once they reached the landing page.

A quick check in Unbounce showed us landing page drop-off rates of 57.7% (A/B Testing/CRO) and 25.33% (Lead Gen/Content Marketing). Time for some grade 6 math…

clickthrough-overlays-results-2

Even with significant drop-off in the landing page step, overall net leads still increased.

Our next step would be applying the same format to all blog categories, and then measuring overall results.

Onward!

All observations

  • Offering specific, tangible resources (vs. non-specific promises) can positively affect conversion rates.
  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).
  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between blog categories
  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.
  • “Form friction” can vary significantly depending on where your form fields appear.

Stay tuned…

We’re continuing to test new triggers and targeting options for overlays, and we want to tell you all about it.

So what’s in store for next time?

  1. The Trigger Test — What happens when test our “on exit” trigger against a 15-second time delay?
  2. The Referral Test — What happens when we show different overlays to users from different traffic sources (e.g., social vs. organic)?
  3. New v.s. Returning Visitors — Do returning blog visitors convert better than first-time visitors?

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

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Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors

The Crazy Egg Guide to Facebook Marketing

The Crazy Egg Guide to Facebook Marketing

If you’re only going to use one social media site for marketing, the chances are it’s going to be Facebook. The now-ubiquitous social networking site has come a long way since its Harvard University origins and has been open to the public since September 2006. Over the years, it has added features that have become synonymous with social media as a whole, including photo sharing, video sharing, messaging and live video. It has also become a platform for other apps and games, has acquired other popular social and messaging networks (most notably Instagram and WhatsApp) and includes advertising. Facebook by…

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The Crazy Egg Guide to Facebook Marketing

Let’s All Just Calm Down About Duplicate Content. Here’s Why.

keep-calm-about-duplicate-content

As long as I’ve been working in the digital space, there has been a pervasive idea that all content must be absolutely unique, lest you face the wrath of Google and catch a penalty for duplicate content. I’ve worked as a consultant and an employee for SEO agencies and digital marketing firms. Every so often, I’d have a conversation like this: Junior SEO: “OH NO! Look!” Me: “What?” Junior SEO: “The client has DUPLICATE CONTENT in their website’s footer!” Me: “And?” Junior SEO: “THEY’RE GONNA GET PENALIZED!” Me: I’ve met my share of marketers who are more concerned about duplicate…

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Let’s All Just Calm Down About Duplicate Content. Here’s Why.

How to Write a Case Study That’ll Make People Love Your Business

how-to-write-a-case-study

Marketers often have a love/hate relationship with case studies. Writing case studies can be nothing short of a chore. They are an incredibly time-consuming task and require tons of scheduling. And when you think about it, why would anyone trust your side of a case study story? Despite that, case studies have their place as a top-performing addition to the content marketing strategy and work wonders in your sales funnel. According to data from Content Marketing Institute, case studies rank as one of the most popular content marketing tactics with 65% of marketers perceiving them as effective. They’re so effective,…

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How to Write a Case Study That’ll Make People Love Your Business

The Definitive List of Content Promotion Techniques

without promotion something terrible happens

You may have heard it — that Google Analytics ruined marketing. “Really?” you’re thinking. “But I use GA every day to check metrics, KPIs, and growth!” TechCrunch’s article, “How Google Analytics ruined marketing” is what touched off the firestorm of controversy. In the article, Samuel Scott lays out what he sees as the failure of focusing too much on digital and data metrics at the expense of traditional methods and their ROI. When measuring the success of a content marketing campaign, the ROI is more determined by the reach of the message than the direct numbers. People don’t view a…

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The Definitive List of Content Promotion Techniques

8 Ways To Consistently Create Remarkable Content

remarkable content

If you’re doing any type of content marketing, then you know how difficult it is to consistently produce great content. I’ve faced this issue many times myself. I often feel like there’s a certain amount of creativity in me, and when it‘s gone, then it’s gone. It’s the brick-wall feeling. Sometimes you’re faced with writer’s block while on other occasions you struggle with transforming a mundane subject into something extraordinary. Add to that the fact that you’re faced with deadlines and competing priorities and the challenge becomes a stress point. One that you’d like to see disappear. Fortunately, it’s not…

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8 Ways To Consistently Create Remarkable Content

Should You Be Blogging If Your Target Audience Doesn’t Read Content Online?

The Internet is perhaps the single biggest technological development to affect the world of mass media, making it easier and faster than ever for just about anyone to transmit messages to as many people as possible. The Internet lets audiences provide feedback to whatever content you throw out there, which they can also share with each other. But as a business, what if your audience isn’t online? Let’s say that most people who buy at your store—an arts and crafts shop—are seniors. Naturally, you may think your target audience is composed primarily of people above the age of 50. In…

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Should You Be Blogging If Your Target Audience Doesn’t Read Content Online?

Super Simple Ways To Leverage Your Blog That Will Massively Improve Your Social Strategy

Content marketing is an approach that has basically become omnipresent. You can think of it as an umbrella that encompasses a wide array of mediums, including blog posts, videos, slideshows, eBooks, and so on. However, social media is arguably the most integral medium of all to content marketing. When you think about it, any time you post content on social media, whether it’s original or curated from external sources, you’re essentially performing content marketing. In other words, you’re posting content on social media in order to build your brand equity, generate leads, and make conversions. Due to the outrageously high…

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Super Simple Ways To Leverage Your Blog That Will Massively Improve Your Social Strategy