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Quick Ways to Make Your Google Ads Stand Out from the Competition

Google Ads amounts to billions of dollars in revenue for the search engine giant, but what about your revenue?

Standing out in this competitive—and, let’s face it, cluttered—environment can be a huge challenge for advertisers, especially if they’re just starting out. There’s only so much space on a search results page to go around, after all.

As we enter the 2018 holiday season, it’s the right time to take a good, hard look at your stale ads. It’s time to breathe some new life into them.

With that in mind, here are the features the pros use to stand out from the competition:

The Latest Expanded Text Ads

Google made their standard text ads larger by introducing expanded text ads (ETAs) in 2016. The increased character count was a boon for advertisers because it enabled messaging to reflect more of the advertiser’s key incentives.

Experts jumped on this new format immediately, even though Google didn’t require they switch until January 2017. Even then, advertisers could continue to run standard (shorter) ads, but they couldn’t edit them or launch new ones.

Some people hesitated, but advertisers who were slow to switch were at a disadvantage compared to those who immediately moved to the new format. The go-getters ended up with a huge head start since ETAs proved to have higher clickthrough rates (CTRs) than standard ads.

(And good CTRs = good quality scores = lower CPCs = better ad positioning.)

Now you have this opportunity again!

In August, Google further expanded their text ad format—expanded expanded text ads?—but taking advantage of these new character limits is still optional (hint: you should use them).

The latest iteration of expanded text ads introduces a second headline and more characters to all text fields, making text ads even more prominent. Here’s what’s new:

  • An additional, optional headline of up to 30 characters
  • An additional, optional description line
  • Both description lines can now be up to 90 characters (increased from 80)

And here’s a comparison of the three ad formats:

Google’s expanded text ads give you more space to connect with prospects.

These longer character counts may not sound like much—oh boy, ten more characters!—but they add up and can have a significant impact on how your ads look (and how they convert). See for yourself how the three types of ads look in a side-by-side comparison:

An example of how these ads appear in the search results.

The new ETAs feature up to 218% more text than the original “standard” format. As expected, search experts are already updating their ads to capitalize on the latest change—and this time you should too!

Even though the extra headline and description won’t show up all the time, they’ll help you stand out when they do by making the ad itself bigger. The third headline also gives you an extra thirty characters of highlighted blue text at the top of your ad.


Ad Extensions

Ad extensions are optional snippets of text that users can append to their ads. Google introduced the first extension—sitelinks—way back in 2009. These short links appear beneath the ad and direct searchers to different pages of the advertiser’s website.

But why stop there? There are now ten different types of manual extensions and six automated extensions that advertisers can use to compel more clicks:

Google ad exensions are free to implement and often improve your ad’s CTR.

On average, an ad’s CTR has the potential to improve by 10-15% per extension. Aside from adding functionality, extensions increase the surface area of your placement and are free to implement, so they’re a no-brainer.

Though every ad extension is potentially useful, there are four (highlighted in yellow above) that you must use (if you’re not already). This is because they’re easy to implement and they allow you to feature critical incentives and information about your business that would otherwise take up valuable ad copy.

1. Sitelinks

Sitelinks are valuable because they allow you to link deeply into your site. The number of sitelinks associated with your ad varies from 2 to 8. A great tip is to create specialty landing pages for each sitelink which are goal oriented and customized to the link. You can customize sitelinks at the ad group level too, making them even more relevant to specific searches.

Expert Tip: The Unbounce Builder is an excellent tool for quickly creating landing pages that match your ads’ sitelinks.

2. Callouts

Callout extensions can be up to 25 characters each and are not clickable. They promote features, benefits, and selling points of your business. They’re also a great way to highlight specific qualities of your business that you don’t have room to showcase in your primary ad copy. For instance, 250 5 star reviews, 5 convenient locations, all credit cards accepted, etc.

3. Call Extensions

Call extensions add a phone number without wasting any of the primary copy. On mobile devices, a callout extension lets people tap a button to call your business directly. Implementing call extensions is quick and easy, so you should include them in all applicable ads.

4. Structured Snippets

This extension gives users the option to include a list of products or services beneath their ad. Structured snippets contain a category header (e.g., services) followed by a list of items (e.g., pet grooming, pet sitting, dog training, de-shedding).

Using all of these snippets is a great way to differentiate your ad from competitors’ ads. You can get creative too. For example, if you’re a B2B database host, you could list the features included in your service (e.g., Cloud Automation, Advanced Security, Easy-To-Use Data Browser).

It’s worth noting, though, that when it comes to the categories you can choose, you’re restricted to Google’s preset list. The full list of snippet categories (headers) is available here. Here are some other structured snippet examples based on different ones:

  • Amenities: Free WiFi, Sauna, Early Check-In, Concierge Service, Continental Breakfast
  • Brands: Urban Decay, bareMinerals, Nyx, Tarte, Too Faced
  • Courses: Financial Training, Investment Banking, Business Economics, Fundraising

Using a few of the available extensions creates more opportunities to capture your prospects’ attention. It can even push your competition further down the page!

Here’s an example of how an ad would appear if all the above extensions showed at once:

An ad with structured snippets, call, callout, and sitelink extensions enabled.
Expert Tip: Not all ad extensions show up all the time, and they appear differently on mobile devices versus desktops. Google’s system tries to match the most appropriate extensions to the most relevant searches.

Geotargeting and other important settings

Implementing ad extensions along with the latest ETA format is sure to get advertisers more clicks. Yet this can be a double-edged sword because (sadly) most of us don’t have an unlimited budget.

Fortunately, there are some settings and features that you can (and should) use to minimize clicks from unqualified traffic. The settings we’re going to focus on are bid modifiers, geotargeting, remarketing for search ads (RSLA), ad scheduling, and negative keyword lists.

Bid Modifiers

Bid modifiers, or adjustments as Google calls them, enable you to increase or decrease bids based on when and how people search. Bid modifiers can apply to devices, locations, ad scheduling, and more. Advertisers bid up or down by percentages.

For example, if you want to bid more aggressively on mobile searches, you can adjust your bids to +30% for mobile devices. Likewise, if you want to appear for desktop searches, but would rather pay less for these types of clicks, you can adjust your bids to -30% for desktop devices.

Expert tip: Use Google’s reporting tools to test how your modified segments are performing and adjust bids regularly. You can review performance by location, audience, device, time of day, and more right from the Google Ads main interface.

An example of locations segment (via Google Ads)

Geotargeting

There’s more to geotargeting than just showing your ads in your desired locations. You can also refine where your ads appear by excluding certain locations and regions. You can get granular with this too by increasing or decreasing bids to your targeted areas using bid modifiers.

Geotargeting improves your ROI by minimizing clicks from unqualified prospects (e.g., people outside of your service area, neighborhoods below a certain income threshold, etc.). So it’s well worth the time it takes to set up and refine.

Ad Scheduling

Maybe you’re not open on weekends. Maybe no one is operating the phones after 8 pm every night. Maybe your strongest return on ad spend occurs between the hours of 10 am and 1 pm every day. Once you figure out the best time of day for your ads to appear, you can use scheduling to choose exactly when they show. This is an especially great feature when you have a limited budget.

Remarketing for Search Ads (RSLA)

Remarketing isn’t just for display ads anymore! This feature allows you to target search ads to people who have already visited your site. Your ads then appear when they search on Google for the keywords you’re bidding on. You can either append RSLA lists to existing ad groups or create groups that only show ads if a searcher is on your remarketing list. Google provides detailed instructions for setting up RSLA campaigns. It’s definitely worth investing the time to read.

Negative Keyword Lists

You can ensure your ad isn’t triggered for undesirable keywords by creating negative keyword lists and applying them at the account, campaign, or ad group level. The new Google Ads interface makes creating and assigning negative keyword lists simple. Create themed lists (e.g., competitors, locations, common terms) and assign them based on account performance or structure.

Expert tip: Check out Google’s search terms report to see exactly what people are searching for when they look at your ads, and then use this info to build your negative lists.

We’ve only scratched the surface…

The good news is that there are things you can (and must) do to make your brand stand out and to ensure it’s reaching the most qualified prospects.

Google gives you some powerful tools to help improve the clickthrough rate of your ads, which contributes to a higher quality score. And, in turn, higher scores help drive down your cost per click, give you a higher impression share, and make your ad more likely to show up than your competitors’. They can even help your ad appear at the top of the search results.

But blindly implementing these tips can only help you so far.

It should go without saying (but we’re saying it anyway) that you should test all ads with different ad copy (and extensions) and then refine them based on actual performance.

Effective ads—even those loaded with ad extensions—are also only part of a good PPC strategy. Landing page optimization, tracking, A/B testing are critical practices for a successful campaign. Setting clear goals is also very important.

It’s also helpful to see what the competition is doing by reviewing competitor ads, landing pages, and incentives. Google’s Auction Insights report allows you to see who is bidding against you and their impression share compared with yours. Make sure you’re reviewing your competitive data monthly or quarterly. It can help you plan and revise your keyword and ad copy strategy.

An example of an auction insights report (via Google Ads)

Industry tools like SEMRush, KeywordSpy, and SpyFu also provide competitive information and enable you to automate monitoring. They’re worth checking out—you can be sure that most experts use them!

Even if you don’t dig deeper into the competitive data, however, implementing the above settings and ad extensions—as well as taking advantage of the latest expanded text specifications—will put you ahead of the competition. So get started today!

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Quick Ways to Make Your Google Ads Stand Out from the Competition

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What is Lean UX? A Beginner’s Guide with Principles, Methods & Tips to Start

lean-ux

Lean UX or lean user experience is the method for creating web offerings that are streamlined and visitor-centric, the very elements visitors today demand. Lean UX design best practices help website visitors enjoy a more streamlined and memorable web experience. Similar to lean manufacturing, which is used by top brands to eliminate waste in production, […]

The post What is Lean UX? A Beginner’s Guide with Principles, Methods & Tips to Start appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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What is Lean UX? A Beginner’s Guide with Principles, Methods & Tips to Start

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Making Market Forces Work for You: A Q&A With Product Positioning Pro April Dunford

There are only a few instances when I wish I could travel back in time. One is when I’m reading the kid’s menu. One is when I stumble upon Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on TBS. And one is after I’ve launched a new product or campaign.

You and I may share that last one.

Though we typically know the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted, it’s the pesky unknowns us marketers wrestle with before a new product launch that keep us up at night. Things like: Is the product’s name right? Is the copy clear, but boring? Clever, but convoluted? Is the value as obvious as it should be?

Beyond messaging, most often, it comes down to whether your product’s positioning is right from the start; whether you set the product up in the right conditions and market category in the first place.

We all know the market is more saturated than ever. But what if, instead of fighting it, we used that momentum to our advantage?

April Dunford is the Founder of Rocket Launch Marketing, the former VP of Marketing for a series of high-growth startups and previous executive at big-wig companies like IBM and Nortel. She’s also a speaker, author and in-demand consultant specializing in product positioning. Advising companies on go-to-market strategy and messaging, she ensures they’re going after the right category and communicating their offering in a way that grabs prospects’ attention and makes its value crystal clear.

Basically, April knows her stuff. And she’ll be bringing her smarts to the CTAConf stage in August! But we have the patience of a toddler waiting for an iPad to charge, so we peppered her with some burning questions in anticipation of her talk. She was the top-rated speaker at last year’s conference, so we know this year’s gonna be good. You can enjoy a little time traveling to 2017 via the clip below:


Check out our Q&A with April below and keep your eyes peeled for the exclusive-to-everyone-who-reads-this-post discount code to see her in person.

First thing’s first: What exactly is product positioning and how does it differ from brand positioning?

April: You might say “Positioning” has its own positioning problem! It’s such a misunderstood concept. For some folks it’s mainly a messaging exercise, while others associate it very closely with branding. But positioning is much, much broader than either of those things.

Product positioning describes the specific market you intend to win and why you are uniquely qualified to win it. It’s the underpinning of your go-to-market strategy and impacts everything from marketing to sales, to customer success and the product itself.

What’s the first thing a client asks when you sit down with them?

April: Most CEOs don’t know it’s a product positioning problem they have. They know their customers have a hard time understanding what their product is all about and why they should care. That confusion results in long sales cycles, low close rates and poor marketing campaign performance.

A lot of the work I do is centered around teaching folks how to create context for their products by focusing on making value obvious to customers. Positioning as a concept isn’t new but, until now, we’ve all been pretty terrible at actually doing the work it requires. I teach companies a process for finding and delivering the best position for their products.

What’s the most common mistake you’ve seen businesses make with their go-to-market strategy?

April: Hands down, the most common mistake I see is companies trying to market to a set of customers that is much too broad. The reasoning is that, by going after a massive market, it will be easier to claim a small piece of it.

In reality, the opposite is true. Broad targeting puts your offering in direct competition with established market leaders that can both out-market and out-sell you. Beyond that, it leads to diluted messaging that waters down your best features and differentiators.

The easier—and far more effective thing to do—is target a smaller slice of customers who are highly suited to your product’s key features and the distinct value they can deliver.

Customers who most acutely feel the pain you address will be the most excited about your solution to that pain. They’ll pay you more, close faster and love your product so much they’ll end up marketing it for you. (Editor’s note: AKA the Holy Grail of marketing.)

Once you’ve established yourself with these highly suitable customers, you can build on your strengths and start to expand your targets to larger markets.

Can you tell us about the most challenging product positioning case you’ve worked on?

April: At IBM, I led the launch of a family of products that demanded an entirely new market category built from scratch. We had to convince customers, experts and analysts that certain market forces existed and would inevitably redraw the lines around existing market categories. On top of that, I had to convince them that IBM was the only company capable of drawing those lines.

There was also a catch: The products we had in that family weren’t particularly innovative on their own, at least not at the beginning. So the story itself hinged on convincing people that all of this revolutionary change was going to be sparked by the innovative combination of some pretty ho-hum products.

We managed to pull it off through sheer guts, a sprinkling of good luck and the deep marketing talent of my team at the time. But mainly, guts.

Your upcoming talk at CTAConf is about how to turn “marketing headwinds into tailwinds.” What do you mean by that?

April: In any market category, you’ll encounter extremely powerful forces that can either work for you or against you.

We often position our products in markets with strong competitors who are already perceived as leaders. Like swimming upstream, or fighting headwinds, we have to work extra hard to win in that environment.

Luckily, most products can be positioned in many different markets that offer greater chances of success. We just have to find ones where that inherent force is pushing us forward, like a tailwind, instead of pushing back on us.

In my talk, I’m going to outline exactly how you can use existing market forces to your advantage and grow revenue faster.

Want to hear this talk at CTAConf 2018? Get 10% off all Early Bird tickets ($80 off for General Attendees) by using the code “AprilCTAConf2018” at checkout.

What should marketers consider, before anything else, when launching a new product?

April: The success of a launch depends on how well you understand three things:

  1. The problem your product solves and the competition it faces.
  2. The true value your product delivers for customers.
  3. Which types of customers care the most about that value and, most importantly, why?

If you’ve got these down, you’ll know exactly who you need to reach, the channels you need to use to reach those people and the value proposition you need to communicate.

What should marketers be doing differently now in terms of product positioning vs. five years ago?

April: We should start doing it! Most companies don’t deliberately position their product. They assume a default positioning based on how they first thought about it.

For example, say you’ve built a new email client. But after you got it into the market, you got some feedback, added or removed features and continued to iterate on it. Now you may have a solution that’s best positioned as a “group chat” or “social network” or “team collaboration tool” instead of focusing on email capabilities.

The market frame of reference you choose will completely change the way customers perceive your product and their expectations around pricing, features, support and your competitors.

Because the markets are more crowded, more competitive and shifting faster than they ever have before, we can’t get away with ignoring product positioning if we want our products to be successful.

Get every actionable detail of April’s positioning framework and go-to-market guide in her upcoming talk at Call to Action Conference, this August 27-29. Use the code “AprilCTAConf2018” at checkout for 10% off single, group and customer rates (that’s on top of the Early Bird discount, ending May 31st)! Want more reasons to go? Click here for a bunch of ‘em.

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Making Market Forces Work for You: A Q&A With Product Positioning Pro April Dunford

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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

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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.

Link: 

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)

demian-farnworth-headshot

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)

joanna-wiebe1

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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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.

Link to original: 

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