Tag Archives: early

3 Direct Mail CTA Best Practices that Work for Digital Marketing

Marketing has changed a lot over the past few years. That’s especially true when it comes to the options available to digital marketers. It seems like every week there’s a new feature available in the platforms most of us are already using, and every month there’s a new platform altogether that blogs and other industry publications are calling the next big thing. But some aspects of marketing haven’t changed much over the years. One of those is the way we write calls to action or CTAs. If you’ve spent much time looking for ways to boost your conversion rates, you’ve probably…

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3 Direct Mail CTA Best Practices that Work for Digital Marketing

CSS Grid Layout

Since the early days of the web, designers have been trying to lay out web pages using grid systems. Likewise, almost every CSS framework attempts to implement some kind of grid system, using floats and often leaning on preprocessors. The CSS Grid Layout module brings us a native CSS Grid system for the first time—a grid system that does not rely on document source order, and can create complex layouts which are easily redefined with media queries.

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CSS Grid Layout

Finding Inspiration In The Little Things Around Us

Can you believe it is May already? Time flies! Here in Belgium, spring has arrived and has brought along its bright colors, the delicate odours of blooming flowers, as well as the cheerful chirping of birds. I try to soak it all in as this is my favorite time of the year.
On a related note, if we only looked closer, we would find gems of inspiration in the things around us.

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Finding Inspiration In The Little Things Around Us

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6 Open-Ended Questions That’ll Transform Your Landing Page Copy (And Your Business)

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Image by Dennis Hill via Flickr.

For a long time in our early days, Groove was really bad at learning from our customers.

In one of our first surveys, we asked mostly multiple-choice questions.

Why?

Statistics.

We assumed that the best way to get value from a survey would be to use multiple-choice questions, gather enough responses to make our results statistically valid and then easily sort the responses.

And so we asked questions like:

1-survey-question

Unfortunately, the answers were less than helpful. We assumed that we knew what our customers felt, and so we boxed them into our preconceived notions.

The responses were all over the board, and they never told us anything meaningful that we could act on to change our business.

That is, until we started experimenting with open-ended surveys.

We were hesitant at first; open-ended questions make for messier surveys and more work. How would we easily parse the responses?

As it turns out, it was a little bit harder, but the results were massively more useful and the insights we gleaned were a huge part of what let us reposition our product and go from $30,000 to more than $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue.

Here’s why:

  1. Open-ended questions don’t force your customers into your assumptions. You’ll finally hear what they really think, rather than which of your views they most agree with.
  2. Open-ended questions are a goldmine for landing page copy. We already know that in copywriting, we should be using the words that our customers use. What better way to come up with those words than by collecting hundreds of examples directly from your customers?
  3. Open-ended questions can still be useful with smaller sample sizes. You don’t need to collect thousands of responses. Because of how rich and insight-packed they are, even 40 or 50 responses to thoughtful, strategically crafted questions can give you big, business-changing results.

Now that’s not to say that multiple-choice questions are necessarily bad. In fact, they can be very useful in the right circumstances.

For example, when you’re collecting customer feedback on your product, multiple-choice questions can help focus your customers on the the parts of your product you’re most interested in testing.

But in the initial stages of collecting information on emotional insights like your customers’ needs, hopes, goals, fears and dreams, we’ve found that open-ended questions work much better.

We’ve spent years honing our customer development survey questions, and below I’ll share the ones that we’ve found most useful.

1. Tell me about your experiences with [X]

In this question (and in the next one), “[X]” refers to the function that you want to help your customers perform.

For example, for Groove, [X] is “managing customer support emails.”

For Unbounce, it might be “creating and testing landing pages.”

This question allows the customer to walk you through their thought process in their own words, helping you spot the key terms they use to convey their feelings about it. You’ll be able to capture their tone and sentiment (Is it generally positive? Or filled with seething hatred?), as well as other elements you might miss with multiple choice responses.

Responses to this question have helped us uncover some insights that were completely missing before. For example, we learned that collaboration was just as important, if not more important, to our customers than productivity (the original “big benefit” of Groove). That insight allowed us to address that need in our product and copy:

2-customers-language

The more we addressed collaboration in various channels — our site and landing pages, our onboarding flow, our support emails — the more engagement we saw.

2. What’s the biggest problem for you with [X]?

Businesses are built by solving your customers’ problems. The better you understand their problems, the more effectively you can help to solve them.

And asking open-ended questions about problems lets you get super-specific in your copy.

For example, when Laura Roeder was building the landing page for her Social Brilliant product which helps small business owners with social media marketing, she could have simply assumed that her customers thought that “social media is hard and confusing.”

Instead, she dug deep, talked with her audience, asked open-ended questions and extracted the precise language they used to describe their problem.

Check out the excerpt below from her landing page – how much more compelling does this sound than the generic approach?

3-precise-language

3. What are your biggest frustrations with problem [X]?

Now let’s further break down the customer’s “big problem” into individual frustrations.

The responses to the “what are your biggest frustrations?” question will help you understand your audience’s motivation for buying your product:

  • Are they spending too much time on it?
  • Are they spending too much money on it?
  • What aspects of their current solution suck the most?

Don’t assume. Let them tell you.

Why do you think Amazon, on one of their long Kindle product pages, starts with an image of a kid next to copy about how much more drop-resistant the Kindle is than the iPad mini?

4-engineered-by-amazon

It’s not an accident. Amazon knows that a big frustration of the audience for this page — parents — is how easy it is for an expensive tablet to get broken in a household full of kids. The iPad reviews are full of these concerns:

5-iPad-reviews

By understanding their customers’ frustrations, Amazon can address them in the copy on their product and landing pages.

And while you might not have access to thousands of reviews of your competitors’ products, you can achieve much of the same by asking the right open-ended questions.

4. How are you currently dealing with the problem?

How is your audience dealing with the problem in this exact moment?

Are they ignoring it?

Are they using some clunky, hobbled-together solution that they threw together themselves?

Are they paying for software they hate?

Great copy is relatable, and the only way to be relatable is to know what your audience relates to (duh). By digging into their status quo, you can write copy that they’ll connect with deeply.

Notice how HipChat, a team chat app, specifically calls out how many businesses still clumsily deal with team communication, “losing momentum with reply-to-all wars and buried email messages.”

6-relatable-language

Anyone who’s been bogged down in “reply-to-all wars” — myself included — will know exactly what HipChat is talking about here. It feels like the copy was written just for me.


Great copy paints a picture of where your customers are & how you’ll take them where they wanna…
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5. What else have you already tried to solve the problem? What else are you thinking about trying?

If the problem you’re solving is important enough, then you’re probably not going to be the first solution your customer has tried.

And in fact, often the biggest objection that your customers have — at least in our experience — will be some variation of “but nothing else has worked for me, why would this be any different?”

In order to address that objection, you need to learn exactly what those alternatives have been and what other alternatives they’re considering.

Once you have that insight, you can guide your prospect to the best decision.

Notice how on this ConversionXL landing page, one alternative — working with another agency — is dismantled, point by completely reasonable point.

7-guide-to-best-decision

Face it. Your customers are considering alternatives to doing business with you. Neglecting that is a mistake.

Help them work through the other options along with you and show them why you are the best choice.

6. What would solving that problem allow you to achieve?

You’ve learned where your audience is — now it’s time to learn where they want to be. After all, if you’re going to be the one taking them there, you have to sell them on the ride.

This question will help you learn exactly what your audience desires most so that you can help them achieve that. It’s what your “ultimate promise” will be.

On the Copyblogger Authority program landing page, they could have promised “we’ll teach you content marketing.” It would’ve been an easy and obvious lead.

But how many of their customers want to be “taught” content marketing? No, they’re not going to pay if the promise is simply to be taught. They want to become experts.

And so…

8-ultimate-promise

Notice the powerful messages here:

  • “Become a content marketing expert” is an extraordinarily strong promise that speaks directly to the end result that the reader actually wants. Much stronger than “learn content marketing.”
  • “Around a Dollar a Day” is a subtle way to make the program feel more affordable than saying “Around $30 a Month” or “$360 a Year.” Of course, you’re not actually paying a dollar per day; your credit card will be charged in monthly or annual intervals. The psychology behind this is the same reason that the “just pennies a day” messaging in charity campaigns is so effective.
  • Even the description of the Authority community in the top right corner furthers the point that the page is about the customer (who wants to accelerate their skills and success) and not the company.

Writing landing pages with this type of sophisticated nuance is only possible if you’re asking your audience the right questions.

Why asking the right questions is so important

In the world of doing business online, we have a fascination — an obsession, even — with data. Collecting it, analyzing it, talking about how much of it we have.

And so we often make strategic decisions, like what kind of questions to ask our customers, based on how much data we get. This leads to big surveys full of closed-ended questions.

But when we’re talking about deeply understanding our customers, especially early on, we don’t want data. We want answers.

Answers give you the foundation for product development and landing page copy that resonates with your audience. Once you have that, you can go nuts collecting data and optimizing your conversion rates to grow your business.

But first, get the insight you need to build a strong foundation by asking the right questions to get the best answers.

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6 Open-Ended Questions That’ll Transform Your Landing Page Copy (And Your Business)

Landing Page Copywriting Secrets That the Pros Never Share

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You don’t need to break the bank to write a landing page that converts. Image via 401k Calculator.
PSST: This post was written by Henneke Duistermaat of Enchanting Marketing, Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger, Amy Harrison of HarrisonAmy.com and Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers. You can see all four of them speak on a copywriting panel at the Call to Action Conference in September – so get your early bird tickets now.

If you could hire four top copywriters to write your landing page, what would they do for you?

What are the tricks they’d use to engage more visitors… and get them to convert?

To find out, you could shell out well over $1000/hr and get the likes of Henneke Duistermaat, Demian Farnworth, Amy Harrison and Joanna Wiebe to work on your landing page.

That’d be money well spent, BTW.

Or you could study every word written below… fo’ free.

Sound like a good deal? Read on for a roundup of copywriting formulas, tricks and cheats – courtesy of the pros.

Start by planning your visitor’s journey (Henneke Duistermaat)

Imagine having to drive from Amsterdam to… somewhere.

How do you plan your trip?

You can’t, right?

You need to know your destination first.

Writing landing pages is much the same. Without knowing your goal, you can’t plan your landing page. Options for goals include:

  • Learn more
  • Join now
  • Start a free trial
  • Download a report
  • Buy now

Just like on a trip, visitors travel through your landing page towards a destination (your goal).

And the length of your landing page depends on your conversion goal.

A landing page for a free report is typically shorter than a landing page to buy a complicated or expensive product.


Just as the length of a trip depends on the destination, the length of a page depends on the goal.
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Remove all roadblocks

You’ve left home and connected your phone so you can listen to the latest Call to Action podcasts. You’re on your way. Yay!

…But before you’ve even left the country, you hit a traffic jam. Sigh. You know this will be a long trip, but you have to keep driving.

Your visitors are less patient. When they face too many traffic jams on your landing page journey, they might click away – and you could lose them forever.

So, as you prepare to write, keep this in mind: you must remove all road blocks and make your visitor’s journey smooth to improve conversions.

Think about your potential customers. Which obstacles could prevent them from reaching their destination (clicking your call to action)? How can you help them jump over those hurdles? Here’s how:

  • Answer any objections they might have
  • Put the most important information first
  • Chop redundant information
  • Remove irrelevant links (or links not connected to the page goal)
  • Keep your text to-the-point, remove jargon and slaughter marketing speak
  • Make each testimonial relevant
  • Improve readability with a large font and short paragraphs

To get visitors to your desired destination, ensure they know how sunny that destination is. How will your product or service improve their lives?

Use an Impact Table to cover all your bases (Amy Harrison)

amy-harrison-headshotYou’re a smart marketer, and I’m willing to wager my favorite cowboys boots that you can relate to this:

  • I want to write copy that stands out and gets the attention of my perfect customer
  • I’m pretty insanely busy

If only there were a way to remove just a little of the blood, sweat and tears from writing compelling copy…

Fortunately, there is a tool that provides a shortcut to killer copy.

I call it the Impact Table.

An Impact Table gives you an at-a-glance view of the transformation you provide to customers – while showing how you do it.

The results? Compelling copy that doesn’t sound like hype.

You can build one in three very simple steps…

Step 1: The good ‘ol list of features

Take a sheet of paper and draw up three columns with the headings:

  • Features
  • Results/Impact
  • Emotion

The first column includes any hard facts about your service or product: what it looks like, how you use it and how it’s delivered.

List as many (ideally all) features that relate to your product.

Let’s say you offer a six-month intensive training program to small business owners.

Some features may include:

Feature Results/Impact Emotion
A clear business plan within the first week
1:1 mentoring with an consultant who has 20 years experience and worked with businesses in more than 40 industries.
Developing a marketing strategy that’s easy to implement as one person

Next up, you want to:

Step 2: Write down the results/impact of each feature

As you know, features don’t exist for the sake of it. Every feature of your product or service is working hard in some way to wow your customer.

Now is when we pin down the wow.

So for each feature, think about:

  • How does this help solve their problem?
  • How can this make the service more enjoyable, easy or fun?
  • How can this help them save time or money?

For example:

Feature Results/Impact Emotion
A comprehensive, tailored business plan within the first week A clearer vision of the future: knowing exactly what they should be working on day to day to get results
1:1 mentoring with an consultant who has 20 years experience and worked with businesses in more than 40 industries. Ability to ask questions and get tailored answers – saves time and avoids dead ends from wrong advice
Developing a marketing strategy that’s easy to implement as one person Ability to attract more leads and convert clients on a consistent basis

Finally, we need to…

Step 3: Dig into the emotions

How is your customer feeling after experiencing the impact of what you do for them?

For example:

Feature Results/Impact Emotion
A clear business plan within the first week A clearer vision of the future: knowing exactly what they should be working on day to day to get results More focused, less overwhelmed, more enthusiasm
1:1 mentoring with an consultant who has 20 years experience and worked with businesses in more than 40 industries. Ability to ask questions and get tailored answers – saves time and avoids dead ends from wrong advice More confident, reassured
Developing a marketing strategy that’s easy to implement as one person Ability to attract more leads and convert clients on a consistent basis In control, less stressed, ambitious

Using your Impact Table

Now you have a number of key phrases that you can pretty much plug in directly to your copy.

When you include details from all three columns, you create an attractive promise with credibility.

For example:

You’ll leave the course with a clear business plan within the first week. (Feature) This cuts through the overwhelm (Emotion) and gives you a clearer vision for your business (Results/Impact). You’ll know what you should be working on and when, and what efforts are most likely to generate more sales and increased income (Results/Impact). This alone can help capture the enthusiasm you felt (Emotion) when you first started out.

This combination of features, results and emotion is key.

  • If you only focus on emotion, your writing will sound wishy washy.
  • If you only focus on results, you can draw scepticism from customers who think “sounds great but how can they possibly achieve that?”
  • If you only focus on features, your writing will sound dry and you’ll struggle to make an emotional connection with your customers.

Using the Impact Table lets you combine all three to achieve the Goldilocks level of “just right.”


Check out this simple formula for gut-checking your copy for features, results and emotion.
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Identify a problem, agitate it, then solve it (Demian Farnworth)

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One of my first jobs out of college – with an English Lit degree freshly minted under my belt – was to write descriptions for a world-famous televangelist’s product sleeves.

This was my first real job as a copywriter, so, naturally, I thought I knew it all.

But I knew nothing.

Given that the televangelist covered a lot of material, I needed a way to compress everything into a compelling, sticky little message. I had limited space. I had limited time. (I had poems to write.) So I did what every self-respecting copy cub would do: I dialed into AOL.

Typing in “write copy fast” and “faster copy” didn’t amount to much as I rummaged through the search listings. But as all things happen online, even in the dial-into-AOL days, one thing led to another… and I found myself pillaging some direct-response copywriter’s email newsletter archive.

It was exhausting, fascinating work. But a few hours into it I found the prize:

The problem-agitate-solve (PAS) formula

The formula works like this:

  • Identify a problem
  • Agitate that problem
  • Trot out the solution

Need to write punchy copy, quick? Identify a problem, agitate it, then solve it.
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Once I’d internalized the concept, I decided to experiment with the copy from the televangelist.

Here’s how one of my early attempts looked:

Insecure? (Identify.) You’re not alone. Millions of people admit to being insecure. Yet, remain that way and you’ll live a life in the shadows. A life on the fringe. Always wishing, never doing. (Agitate.) Fortunately, there’s an answer. (Solve.)

Then I’d introduce the televangelist’s teaching for that tape, which was the solution.

Worked like a charm.

Naturally, you’ll figure out ways to add variety. Otherwise the formula will get stale and you’ll get predictable. One way to add variety is to ask a number of questions (instead of just one):

Disappointed with your job? Hate your manager? Coworkers annoy you? Love to work for yourself? You’re not alone.

And so on.

Keep in mind: this formula works equally well for long-form copy. In fact, most successful sales letters use the PAS formula in some ways (even loosely).

So here’s my challenge to you: keep your eyes open for the PAS formula in action.

Make every message better with “So what?” and “Prove it!” (Joanna Wiebe)

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It’s a universally-acknowledged truth that a prospect in want of your solution is going to have a damn hard time believing your copy.

See, the biggest problem with marketing copy is this: it’s written by the very people who want to sell what’s being sold. It’s not objective. So, in your prospects’ eyes, your copy is unlikely to give a balanced view of the product or service under consideration.

The result?

Prospects are always-already in a state of suspended disbelief when they read our words. They’re suspicious. They’re watching for gotchas. They, quite simply, don’t believe you.

Expect that to always be true.

Repeat after me:

My visitor doesn’t believe me.

Once we realize that that’s true, we can improve our copy to make every message far more believable.

Here’s how: whenever we write a message, we assess it using the following two questions.

  1. Is it clear what the value or outcome of this is for my prospect, and
  2. Have I proven it to be true?

Essentially: So what? And prove it.

Let’s say you’re selling at-home teeth whitening kits and you’re writing a lead gen page for a free ebook on DIY tooth whitening. You want to tell prospects that your free ebook will teach prospects the easy path to whiter teeth at home. You need to support that message with:

  1. So what: You won’t have to waste 20 minutes painstakingly brushing on peroxide one tooth at a time.
  2. Prove it: A testimonial that speaks to the promised easy path one will learn about.

You could even merge the two. Use a testimonial (prove it) that is about your outcome (so what):

I used to waste at least 20 mins painting each tooth with peroxide (one by one!) and worrying the whole time that I’d bleach my gums. But this one tip you gave – I think it was on page 7 – showed me what I was doing wrong… and how to fix it fast.
– Tess T. Monial

Let’s look at a real-life example.

So you’re selling insurance and this is your landing page:

kanetix-lp
Yes, that’s the whole thing.

Your lead message is “Compare life insurance quotes.”

That’s what you want people to do. You believe that is what people want to do.

Now let’s see if you’re making that message desirable and believable by assessing it against “So what?” and “Prove it.”

It may seem that “Get quotes fast” addresses the so what… but it’s actually just another layer of messaging that needs support. In fact, in its current state, this copy doesn’t express why the visitor should care or believe you.

So here’s what we do to make this copy work. We fill in a table like so (copywriters love tables):

So what? Prove it.
Compare life insurance quotes. You’ll instantly get the best prices – and waste absolutely no time hunting down great rates. Here’s a preview of the at-a-glance comparisons you can expect to see in less than a minute:
Get quotes from top providers in less than 60 seconds. If you looked for quotes from just 10 providers – a fraction of what we’ll give you – it could cost you more than an hour of your time. Average time to retrieve quotes from 5 providers: 48 seconds.
Now offering quotes from names of top providers.

Add those messages to the page. And now you’ve got copy that your prospects are more likely to believe and an offer that is far more desirable.

Your page gets longer, yes.

But the messages work harder – so the extra words are worth it.


Your prospects are thinking, “So what? Prove it.” Address that on your landing page.
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Every word counts

Don’t underestimate the power of any line of copy on your page.

As you’ve now seen, there’s a lot you can do to optimize your copy.

We’re not promising better copy in 20 minutes or less – this isn’t pizza, after all. It’s your online business.

If you follow the tips outlined above for each page you write, your business is sure to see the kinds of results our clients see.


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Landing Page Copywriting Secrets That the Pros Never Share

Authentic Design

The recently popularized flat interface style is not merely a trend. It is the manifestation of a desire for greater authenticity in design, a desire to curb visual excess and eliminate the fake and the superfluous. [Links checked May/01/2017]
In creating new opportunities, technological progress sometimes leads to areas of excess. In the 19th century, mechanized mass production allowed for ornaments to be stamped out quickly and cheaply, leading to goods overdecorated with ornament.

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Authentic Design

Improving Your Website Usability Tests

In one of the first usability tests I ever did, I met a lovely old lady who could not use a mouse. She kept lifting it in the air and pointing at the screen, speaking words of encouragement to the cursor. At the end of the test I got absolutely nothing, but she did think I was a “lovely boy” who should meet her granddaughter. Very quickly I learned the value of setting very clear criteria for participant recruitment.

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Improving Your Website Usability Tests

Design Patterns: You Already Know How To Use It

In the first television advertisement for the iPad, the narrator intoned, “It’s crazy powerful. It’s magical. You already know how to use it.” This was an astonishing claim. Here was a new, market-defining, revolutionary device, unlike anything we had seen before, and we already knew how to use it. And yet, for the most part, the claim was true. How does a company like Apple make such great new things that people already know how to use?

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Design Patterns: You Already Know How To Use It

Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: September 2012

We always try our best to challenge your artistic abilities and produce some interesting, beautiful and creative artwork. And as designers we usually turn to different sources of inspiration. As a matter of fact, we’ve discovered the best one—desktop wallpapers that are a little more distinctive than the usual crowd. This creativity mission has been going on for over four years now, and we are very thankful to all designers who have contributed and are still diligently contributing each month.

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Desktop Wallpaper Calendars: September 2012

The History Of Usability: From Simplicity To Complexity

The story of usability is a perverse journey from simplicity to complexity. That’s right, from simplicity to complexity—not the other way around.
If you expect a “user-friendly” introduction to usability and that the history of usability is full of well-defined concepts and lean methods, you’re in for a surprise. Usability is a messy, ill-defined, and downright confusing concept. The more you think about it—or practice it—the more confusing it becomes.

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The History Of Usability: From Simplicity To Complexity