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The Future Of Mobile Web Design: Video Game Design And Storytelling

As technologies change and design techniques evolve, it’s inevitable that we’d experience massive growth in terms of design quality. There are similar parallels we can see within video game design as well. For instance:

This was CERN, the very first website back in 1991. Just some basic HTML and ample white space:

CERN was the first website created just with plain text and hyperlinks.


The very first website to appear online back in 1991. (Large preview)

This example from Smashing Magazine is how we design websites and share information online in 2018:

Smashing Magazine demonstrates how much we can do with web design in 2018.


A much more complicated and yet beautiful web design… 27 years after the advent of websites. (Large preview)

Now, if you look at the history of video game design, you’ll note a similar track; one in which early games like Pong were incredibly simplistic and devoid of any real story:

But now there are games like Grand Theft Auto that put players in the actual driver’s seat, allowing them to control the pace, direction, and outcomes of their experience:

As technologies improve and design techniques evolve, improvements in digital design are inevitable. What is truly impressive, however, is how we are now able to use design to tell a story. In other words, we no longer need to use long scrolls to set up plots or describe what a company does. This is especially great when designing for the mobile experience, which already sets pretty strict limits on how much we can “tell” versus “show.”

In this article, I want to look at three ways in which video game designers get the storytelling aspect of design right, and how web designers can use these techniques to provide users with an immersive experience and drive them more quickly and effectively to conversion.

Three Video Game Storytelling Techniques We Need More Of In Web Design

Video games have come a long way since they were introduced in the late ‘70s in terms of graphics, user controls and, of course, story development. With video game design evolving around the same time as web design, there are similar features and trends that can be found between the two. The only thing is, I don’t know if many web designers think to look to video games for design tips.

Granted, the overwhelming use of shocking colors and cheesy dialogue won’t work that well when you’re developing a professional website. However, it’s the way in which video game designers tell a story with design elements — and effectively guide players to the end by using those elements — that we need to pay attention to.

As your visitors’ attention spans shorten and demand grows for more engaging experiences, web designers can greatly benefit from using these storytelling techniques on the web and, more importantly, for mobile.

1. Make Your Visitor the Hero

Ever since the early days of video games, the goal was to put the player in the front seat and to let them be the hero of the story.

Take PAC-MAN, for instance:

The player was always the hero (i.e., PAC-MAN), and his or her mission was to work through the situation (i.e., to fight the ghosts) and get to the end.

The same holds true for modern gaming as well, though many games go the route of giving players the impression they have control over their heroic journey. A good example of this are the Telltale games.

Basically, each of their games is crafted around a well-known story. In the example above, the game is based on the events that unfold in the T.V. show Game of Thrones. Throughout the game, players are called upon to step into the world and make active choices about what happens next. Sometimes this is through dialogue (at 6:00), and sometimes it happens through action (at 11:55).

In the end, every player of the game ends up at the same place regardless of which way they turn or what line they utter. This doesn’t make the experience any less enthralling for the player as they are actively engaged throughout, and there is a reward in the end — even if it’s one they share with every other person who has played this game.

That’s exactly what websites should do for their visitors, right? They allow visitors to take full control over the experience so that they want to get to the end. For the web, this translates to conversion. And the best way to do this, as evidenced by video games, is to give visitors the ability to pick and choose how they traverse through the story.

Here are some ways in which you can do this with web design:

Create User Personas

Develop user personas before you do anything else when strategizing and planning for a website. Your personas should have a key “problem” they face. It’s then your job to establish the user’s journey in a way that helps them discover solutions to that problem.

Enable Avatar Setup

For those of you with websites that allow for users to create profiles, this is a great opportunity to enable them to define their own unique identity. Allow them to upload a photo of themselves and to personalize their profile. You can also give them different access settings which directs what kinds of content they see, what types of offers they receive, and so on.

WordPress membership websites like WPMU DEV are a good example of websites that do this. Users can create their own profiles and earn points and special statuses based on how much work they put into the community.

WPMU DEV enables users to create their own profiles.


A fun community where web design and development professionals can set up individual profiles. (Large preview)

Use Relatable Content

In video game design, there is something known as “ludonarrative dissonance.” Basically, it “is the unpleasant situation where we’re asking players to do something they don’t want to do… or prevent them from doing what they want.”

You’ve likely encountered this sort of resistance as you’ve designed websites in the past.

You review the analytics and discover high bounce rates on certain pages or even right from within the home page. You discover that there’s a visual element or a line of copy that just doesn’t sit right with your audience. That’s because it’s a disruption in what should be an otherwise immersive experience. By using content that resonates with the visitor, that makes them feel like you’re telling their story, they won’t feel disconnected and want to stray from the goal.

Spin a Fantasy

Here’s an interesting fact: people are 22 times more likely to remember data when it’s presented in a narrative form.

Let’s face it; if you’re building a website on behalf of a business or other professional entity, you don’t have some dramatic tale to spin like a video game does. And that’s fine.

Consumers aren’t visiting websites in order to get caught up in hours of epic storytelling. That said, they do still expect to be engaged by what you’re sharing with them.

So, why not depict a fantastic scenario through visual storytelling? The brain digests visual content 60% more quickly than written content, so your web designs and other visuals (like video, animation, and so on) are the keys to doing this.

The Airbnb blog always does a great job of this type of visual storytelling.

Airbnb’s blog uses images that tell a story within themselves.


The Airbnb blog is a master of visual storytelling. (Large preview)

While every story is probably told through 800 to 1,000 words, it’s also accompanied by highly attractive visuals that tell you something about what you’d experience at this specific destination.

2. Minimize Distractions by Using Symbols

Let’s talk specifically about websites viewed from mobile devices for a second, shall we? As of August 2017, 52.64% of all visits to websites were done via a smartphone. And, starting in 2017, the most popular size for a smartphone was between five and six inches and will only continue to grow in popularity as the years go on.

That’s not a lot of space to fill with content for the majority of site visitors, is it? So, how do you effectively tell a story if you have limited real estate? If we’re to take a page out of the video game design handbook, then we should turn to symbols.

Kontra makes a good point about this:

“[O]ne, often overlooked, strong point of game UX is the preference towards symbolism. The ability to transform meaning into symbols was a huge step towards visual decluttering.”

Functional minimalism is already something you’re doing in your own web design efforts, but have you thought about how it can tie into the storytelling aspect as well? When it comes to video games, symbols help clear the way so that players can focus on the story before them. You’ll see this most often in two-dimensional, side-scroller games:

Street Fighter and other fighting games place the health bar at the top:

Sonic the Hedgehog places the life counter at the bottom:

There are even ones like Virtua Racing and other geographic-dependent games that put their navigation off to the side for players to reference:

As you can see, the use of symbols keeps the gamespace clear and easy to follow along with.

Whether you’re designing mostly for desktop or mobile users, your aim is to design a space that encourages users to follow along and not get caught up in distractions. So, while you might think that full-screen, overlay navigation is a creative choice for your website or the ever-present live chat pop-up will get more engagements, you may be doing yourself a great disservice.

By employing the use of easily recognized symbols throughout your site, you can keep the design clean and clear and distraction-free. The story you’re weaving throughout is the most important thing, and you don’t want to stand in the way of visitors being able to get to it.

MSR is a beautiful example of this done well:

MSR minimizes distractions from the main content area by using symbols.


A good example of how to minimize navigation and directional cues so visitors can focus on the main content and story. (Large preview)

The website is for their architecture design firm. Rather than write volumes of text about what they’ve done and how they do it, they allow the images to speak for themselves. They’ve then employed a number of symbols to help visitors continue on to other points of interest in their journey.

Here are some ways in which you might use symbols to declutter your site:

  • Hamburger icon (for the navigation)
  • Profile photo icon (for account details)
  • Pencil icon (for an editing interface)
  • Gear icon (for settings)
  • Shopping cart icon (to checkout)
  • Magnifying glass (to expand the search bar)
  • Connector icon (to open social sharing and RSS feed options)
  • Question mark (to expand live chat, search, or help options)
  • And so on.

One thing to note here is that you don’t want to overdo it with icons. As you can see from the video game examples above, the entire interface isn’t strewn with icons. They’re simply there to hold the place of elements players are already familiar with and will refer to often. That’s the way you should handle icons for your own site. Think about how easy your icons will be to decipher as well as which ones are absolutely necessary. Decluttering doesn’t mean hiding every element under an icon; you simply want to tidy up a bit.

If you’re concerned with the potential for confusion over what your icons mean to users, then use labels, alt text, or tooltips to provide further elaboration to those who need it.

3. Be Smart About How You Use Space

One of the nice things about video games is how they use actual walls and roadblocks to prevent players from navigating into territory where they shouldn’t be. One of my favorite games that does this right now is called LittleBigPlanet. While it is similar to side-scrolling adventures like Super Mario, its design expands beyond the basic two dimensions usually experienced in these kinds of games.

As you can see, the player encounters a number of hard surfaces which then prompt him or her to move back and forth between layers, to climb up various elements, and to find a more ideal route towards the end of the game.

First-person shooter games like Halo also use physical elements to keep players confined to the main gamespace and on track to completing the mission and story.

As a web designer, you don’t have the luxury of crafting walls around the user’s journey on your site. That said, you don’t have to design a website and leave it all to chance. There are ways to steer visitors through a direct path to conversion.

Kill Screen did an interesting write-up about the art of spatial storytelling in video games. In it, writer Sharang Biswas explained the idea that “Spaces can be designed. They can be made to promote certain pathways, encourage specific behaviors, even elicit emotional reactions.”

There are a number of ways in which you can do this with design:

Use a Spotlight

In video games, you can use light and darkness to draw attention to important pathways. On websites, it’s not always easy to employ the use of lightness or darkness as too-dark of a design or too-light of text could lead to a bad user experience. What you want to do instead is create a “spotlight” of sorts. You can do this by infusing a key area of your design with a dramatic color or a boldly stylized font.

In a site that’s otherwise pretty light in color usage, Kappow does a nice job using it to highlight two key areas of the site where it’s clear visitors should visit: its case studies.

Kappow uses bright swatches of color to draw attention.


It’s more than obvious where Kappow wants visitors to focus their attention as they scroll through the home page. (Large preview)

Add Clues

If you’ve ever played a horror video game before, you know how critical the element of sound can be for it. Here’s an example of how Until Dawn uses sound (as well as visual footprints) to try to steer the player in the right direction:

In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of music on websites, even if they’re from auto-play videos that I visited the website for in the first place. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way as there aren’t many websites that employ the use of background music or auto-play audio anymore.

That said, while you might not be able to direct visitors down the page with the sound of something playing down below, you can use other elements to lead them. For one, you can use interactive elements like animation to draw their attention to where it needs to go. Let’s take a game like Angry Birds, for example.

See how the little red birds are hopping up and down while they wait their turn? It’s a subtle gesture, but one that is sure to draw first-time players’ attention to the area of the screen in which they should directly interact if they want to move on to the next level. Animation on a website would work just as effectively if you’re trying to lure visitors’ eyes down to a key element like a contact form or a clickable button.

But it doesn’t just have to be animation. Other video game designers simply plant clues around the landscape to steer players through the journey. I’m not suggesting that your site start hiding Easter eggs all over the place. Instead, you may want to think about using subtle arrows or lines that define the space in which visitors should “play” and then move down through.

Employ a Mascot

For some brands, it might make sense to employ the use of an actual mascot to guide visitors through the story. If it’s an already established mascot and it won’t intrude too heavily on the experience, then why not bring it on the journey to ensure that visitors are checking in at all the right spots?

Or you can do like BarkBox and use a series of related mascots to guide visitors through different parts of the site (especially the signup and subscription process).

Black-and-white illustrated mascots on BarkBox website.


BarkBox uses a series of illustrated black-and-white mascots to guide visitors through the conversion processes. (Large preview)

Summary

As attention spans shorten and visitors just want to get to the good stuff on a website, designers have to get more creative in how they communicate their website’s “story.” Ideally, your web design will do more showing of that story instead of telling, which is how video game design tends to succeed in this matter.

Remember: Storytelling isn’t just relegated to big brands that can weave bright and shiny tales about how consumers’ lives were changed with their products. Nor is it just for video game designers that have hours of gameplay to develop for their audiences. A story simply needs to convey to the end-user how their problem can be fixed by your site’s solution. Through subtle design strategies inspired by video game storytelling techniques, you can effectively share and shape your own story.

Smashing Editorial
(da, ra, yk, il)

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The Future Of Mobile Web Design: Video Game Design And Storytelling

2017 eCommerce Conversion Rate Trends That Are Here to Stay

We have hardly seen through the first month of the year and the internet is already overwhelmed with the advice and trend pieces on eCommerce.

In this post, however, we specifically focus on those trends that can influence eCommerce conversion rates this year. It is important to keep a watch on such trends to keep ahead of the game.

Let’s read through what eCommerce experts are saying.

On-Site Search Optimization

Effective site search is well known for increasing website conversion rates. Weblink’s internal study for 2016 points out that shoppers who use internal site search converted at a 216% higher rate than those who do not.

Internal site search stats
Source

In 2014, Smashing Magazine benchmarked the search experience of the 50 top-grossing US e-commerce websites, revealing a lot of untapped potential:

  • 60% of e-commerce websites do not support searches with symbols and abbreviations.
  • While 82% websites have autocomplete suggestions, 36% of implementations do more harm than good.

According to Paul Rogers, 2017 will see more and more eCommerce businesses fix and optimize their on-site search in order to increase their conversion rates.

Paul Rogers, eCommerce consultant

I think an area of eCommerce that more and more merchants are starting to address, with a view to optimizing conversion metrics, is on-site search. Many of the clients I work with have upped their game in this area this year, making use of things like self-learning capabilities (via a third-party solution, supporting merchandising), natural language processing (to better understand more complex queries), product / category / attribute boosting and also promoting the use of the function.

In my experience, users who complete a search are considerably more likely to convert. I’ve seen positive results from making search boxes more prominent and more of a core navigation focus (through encouraging more complex queries like ‘search for product, SKU, brand or help’ for example). There are some really good, advanced solutions available for eCommerce stores now that can handle far more complex queries and drive more trade — I really like Klevu for the NLP and catalog enrichment side of things, but Algolia is very strong too.

Using a third-party solution is generally the best route for optimizing search, as the majority of the eCommerce platforms on the market (with the exception of enterprise systems like Oracle Commerce Cloud and IBM Websphere) have weak search technology, some of which are unable to process even the most simple queries.

Amazon Rise Continues

A survey conducted by BloomReach 2015 revealed that approximately half of the online consumers conduct their first product search on Amazon. The survey gives some interesting insights into how and why Amazon continues to dominate American e-commerce market year-on-year.

In fact, the percentage of people who search for a product first on Amazon has gone up from 30% in 2012 to 44% in 2015. Check the graph for numbers on first searches made on Amazon vs. search engines vs. retailer websites.

amazon search vs. search engine vs. retailers
Source

Andrew Youderian believes that the same trend will continue well into 2017 unless other players are able to build a brand connection with customers.

Andrew Youderian, eCommerce entrepreneur

I think many merchants in 2017—especially those in the U.S.—will see continued downward pressure on their website conversion rates due to Amazon. As Amazon continues to gobble up market share, they are increasingly becoming the go-to place for consumers looking to purchase online. Unless merchants are selling something unique or have a strong brand connection with their customers, it will be difficult to win this battle, and it’s a transition that many merchants haven’t yet made.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Chris Lake, co-founder of EmpiricalProof

The main trend for 2017 is the widespread maturing of the Conversion Rate Optimization industry. It is reminiscent of the usability and analytics industry a decade or so ago. Budgets are on the rise, companies are adopting a structured approach to optimization, and hiring in-house staff for the same.

Chris backs his statement with an interesting study by eConsultancy, according to which over half of companies plan to increase their conversion optimization budgets in 2017. The whole CRO industry will attract attention from the C-suite, he adds further.

CTA_evolution

Personalization

A survey conducted by eConsultancy in 2013 concluded that 94% of the in-house marketers consider website personalization to be critical to the success of the business. This popularity of personalization in eCommerce has grown over the years. Evergage combines extensive data on personalization in a stats roundup for 2016. The gist of the report is that consumers are likely to buy from a retailer that:

  • Recognizes them by name
  • Makes suggestions based on recent purchases
  • Knows the purchase history of their consumers

While a lot is being discussed on personalization since long, Tracey Wallace opines that 2017 is going to be the year of personalization.

Tracey Wallace, Editor in Chief at Bigcommerce

The eCommerce industry has been talking about personalization for a while, without much data or fruition. In 2017, I think personalization is going to be the key to more sales from your already existing customers –– i.e. driving up AOV and retention. With so many channels for customers to check out on (and most brands being at least multi if not omnichannel), what will make them checkout on *your* webstore? VIP programs, special discounts, and early access will help to foster loyalty and drive up repeat sales. Plus, you can use this same type of segmentation to sell B2B and wholesale without having to take every single call. 2017 will be about efficiency, and there’s nothing more efficient than getting people who have already purchased from you to buy again, and again, and again.

Mobile Optimization

Throughout the day, the one device that consumes most of our time is mobile. comScore reports that digital media time in the U.S. has exploded recently – growing nearly 50 percent in the past two years, with more than three-fourths of that growth directly attributable to the mobile app.

Since mobile plays a critical role in significantly increasing reach, awareness, and engagement, it is time that eCommerce players start giving it the due attention. Look at the following graph to see how mobile and tablet usage has been increasing over time.

mobile optimization
Mobile and tablet usage combined, beat desktop usage for the first time worldwide in 2016

Google has already shown its inclination towards mobile by announcing a “mobile-first” culture. As a result, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is being talked about a lot.

William Harris, Growth Marketer & Entrepreneur

One of the biggest trends in 2017 will be the growth of AMP. I tested this out with a few merchants on Shopify Plus when they were running the beta, and the results were impressive.

We know that stripping pages down to the necessary elements tends to increase conversion rates.  We know that faster load times tend to increase conversion rates.  So when you combine the both, it only makes sense that conversion rates will go up on mobile devices. Since mobile accounts for the majority of website traffic, that’s where the biggest increase in conversions will come in 2017.

Look to see more merchants adopting AMP and pushing the mobile conversion rate even higher (especially when AMP gets better and more flexible).”

Smarter Buy Buttons

The busy consumer is looking for smarter ways to shop. While he browses his mobile to make a mental to-buy list, he compares the best deals on a desktop for making an informed purchase.

For retailers, there lies an opportunity in this challenge. With the help of buy buttons, social commerce has enabled eCommerce players convert the buyer at the first point of contact – mobile, tablet, desktop, email, Facebook, Pinterest, or anywhere else.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded Magazine, says that buy buttons will be one of the major trends driving up conversion rates for eCommerce in 2017.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder, Retail Minded Magazine

The buyer journey will always evolve and as a result, retailers must, as well. Among the ways I believe eCommerce, in particular, will see change in the year ahead is by the introduction of smart buy buttons. Such buy buttons do not need as many steps to purchase as they have in the past. This will undoubtedly help conversion rates, as well as connect consumers to brands more efficiently and more quickly than ever before. Through the introduction of buy buttons via social media, email, video platforms and other digital avenues, I believe that customers will be able to skip steps they have not been able to in the past. And, as a result, retailers will benefit with stronger sales and customer engagement.

To Wrap Up

Personalization, on-site optimization, the continuous rise of Amazon, conversion rate optimization, buy buttons—eCommerce businesses can use these trends to their advantage in 2017.

Have any of the trends listed above had any impact on your business? Tell us and our readers in the comments section below.

The post 2017 eCommerce Conversion Rate Trends That Are Here to Stay appeared first on VWO Blog.

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2017 eCommerce Conversion Rate Trends That Are Here to Stay

How RuneScape Leveled Up Revenue Through Process-Driven CRO

The following is a case study about how RuneScape followed a structured conversion optimization (CRO) program to increase revenue on its website.

About RuneScape

RuneScape is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). It was developed by Jagex and launched in January 2001.

The popularity of the game is enormous. RuneScape has welcomed over 250 million players to its world since its release. More than 2 million users play every month, and millions more watch avidly through social channels.

RuneScape has consistently strived to deliver a great experience to its users—not just limited to the game but also on its website. After all, it’s the website where users find forums and game guides, and buy in-game items.

The CRO Team

Rob Marfleet, UX Specialist at Jagex, takes care of User Experience and CRO across the payment flow on the website (the payment gateway and its preceding pages). Dave Parrott, Payments Services Director at Jagex, and Nastassja Gilmartin, Payments Manager at Jagex, help Rob in identifying testing opportunities and analyzing test results.

Rob Marfleet, UX Specialist at Jagex, takes care of User Experience and CRO across the payment flow on the website.

Rob works with teams of designers and developers that help facilitate implementation of winning test variants on the RuneScape website.

Additionally, Rob takes help from Disha Ahuja, Client Success Manager at VWO, to utilize the VWO platform to its full potential.

About the Case

About 50% of users on the RuneScape website arrive as direct traffic. The other half of the traffic consists of users from referrals, social media, and email marketing campaigns.

Rob adds, “This is mainly down to RuneScape enjoying a very loyal user base, with many players having played for several years.”

The CRO team aims to optimize high-potential pages, that is, pages that are closest to the payment gateway and require minimum effort in optimization. The Treasure Hunter page on the website is one such high-potential page that the team chose to optimize.

The Treasure Hunter page lets users buy keys to unlock treasure chests in the game. The treasure chests contain items that can be used within RuneScape.

Rob explains, “Treasure Hunter activity is an optional mini-game within RuneScapekeys are earned through play, but can also be gathered in bundles that are purchasable on the site.

This is how the original page looked like:

RuneScape Treasure Hunter control page for A/B TestOn clicking Continue on the Treasure Hunter page, users are directed to a Payment page where they can choose from multiple treasure chest packages.

RuneScape payment page
Payment page

The RuneScape CRO team thoroughly analyzed the Treasure Hunter page and identified optimization opportunities. Next, the team used VWO to capitalize on these opportunities.

Optimization Process

The CRO team followed the following process to improve conversions on the RuneScape website:

  • Setting a Goal
  • Finding Opportunities for Optimization
  • Creating Hypothesis
  • Developing Variation
  • Analyzing Test Results

Setting a Goal

The goal of the optimization campaign was to grow revenue by increasing the number of purchases.

Finding Opportunities for Optimization

The team at RuneScape studied a heatmap of the Treasure Hunter page. The heatmap showed that a significant number of users were clicking the Get Keys section on the page—a section which was not clickable. Users perhaps either wanted a direct access to the keys or wanted to search for further information.

Heatmap of RUneScape original page before A/B test
Heatmap of the original page

Next, the team watched visitor recording sessions on the page and observed that a lot of visitors on the Payment page returned to the Treasure Hunter page. The team realized that the Treasure Hunter page probably did not offer sufficient information about the treasure chest packages to users.

Creating Hypothesis

The team hypothesized that providing details about treasure chest packages on the Treasure Hunter page will lead to greater conversions on the Payment page.

Developing Variation

Based on the hypothesis, the team created a variation of the Treasure Hunter page. The variation included a new section highlighting four treasure chest packages. Here’s how it looked:

RuneScape Treasure Hunter variation page

An A/B test was run to find the better performing version between the original page and the variation.

Analyzing Test Results

The test ran for a month from August 15–September 13, 2016. The variation outperformed the control and increased the number of purchases by almost 10 percent.

RuneScape A/B Test analysis - Report
Test result report on VWO

Rob shares his learning from the A/B test:

I think one of the more important aspects to take note of here is that the page variation actually resulted in less traffic to the payment page, but increased the amount of purchases made. Effectively, we can say pretty confidently that by giving the users package information upfront, we created higher quality traffic to the next stage, simply through transparency, and informed the user before going forwardusers who went to the purchase page already knew what they were after.

This is incredibly useful when considering other areas of the payment flowif the effect can be replicated, it can potentially translate to more wins.

Next Steps

The CRO team did not stop after it found success with the A/B test. The team felt that the variation can be optimized even further.

The team realized that the offer of four treasure chest packages can possibly leave the users spoiled for choice. The team hypothesized that recommending one of the packages to users will help them choose better and, consequently, increase conversions.

Based on this hypothesis, the following variation was created:

RuneScape follow-up A/B Test variation

The variation featured a Recommended package. This variation was pitted against the winning page from the first A/B test.

The variation won and further increased the number of purchases by almost 6%.

Experience Using VWO

Rob shares, “As a hands-on user of VWO, I’ve personally experienced how quickly it allows prototyping and testing of new ideas, features and content. The ability to push changes, without having to involve multiple teams to relaunch areas of the site can’t be praised highly enough, and the ability to reverse those same changes instantaneously is equally as useful. It’s allowed me to run a number of campaigns straight away that would normally have to be scheduled further down the line, at a more opportune moment, and that’s pretty invaluable.

Using the actual software is very straightforward and easy to understand—campaigns can be built in a short period of time, and having Disha available any time to help determine the best testing practices has definitely helped me find wins—she’s super friendly and eager to help, and I’ve already implemented several testing campaigns that have been borne out of collaboration between her and myself, one of which, is in the process of being fully implemented on the site.”

What Do You Think?

Do you have any recommendations on how RuneScape can further improve user experience and conversions on its website? Did you get any conversion optimization ideas for your own online enterprise? Tell us using the comments section below.

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How RuneScape Leveled Up Revenue Through Process-Driven CRO

Building “Topple Trump”, An Interactive Web-Based Quiz Game (Case Study)

Editor’s Note: When it comes to elections, we are each given a choice in how to express our opinions and beliefs. Some designers and developers use their skills to further articulate their choice in one person. Here’s a glimpse into how Topple Trump!, an interactive responsive quiz game, was designed and built — combined with some valuable lessons learned along the way. This article is about techniques and strategies, so please avoid political flame in the comments.

Creating an online quiz that is simple to use, looks great and is really fun to play is one thing. Basing it on Donald Trump’s polarizing presidential campaign is another.

Building 'Topple Trump', An Interactive Web-Based Quiz Game (Case Study)

The brainchild of Parallax director and developer Andy Fitch, Topple Trump! has gone on to win numerous awards. But it was a real team effort that brought the game to life. Here’s a glimpse into precisely how that happened, touching on the development process, design considerations and some valuable lessons learned along the way.

The post Building “Topple Trump”, An Interactive Web-Based Quiz Game (Case Study) appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Building “Topple Trump”, An Interactive Web-Based Quiz Game (Case Study)

How Sport Chek is getting more value out of their value proposition

Reading Time: 2 minutes

TL;DR Canada’s largest sporting goods retailer has a multi-faceted optimization program, but two recent tests revealed impactful insights about the company’s ‘Free Shipping’ value proposition. Read the full case study here.

The Company

Sport Chek is Canada’s largest national retailer of sporting goods, footwear and apparel. We partnered with Sport Chek just over a year ago and have been working together to optimize their e-­commerce experiences, with the goal of increasing conversions in the form of transactions.

While Sport Chek’s conversion optimization program is multi-faceted, two different tests recently revealed impactful insights about one of the company’s value propositions.

What is a value proposition?

Value proposition can be thought of as a cost versus benefits equation that shows your prospects’ motivation. But it’s all about perception: if your perceived benefits outweigh the perceived costs, your prospects will be motivated to act.

Motivation = Perceived Benefits - Perceived Costs

Michael St Laurent

All value propositions have varying degrees of value depending on how they’re interpreted and how they’re communicated. Your benefits hold different weight for different people―it’s all about finding out which of your benefits are perceived to be most important to your prospects.

Michael St Laurent, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel

The value of ‘Free Shipping’

Sport Chek offers free shipping on online orders over a certain dollar amount. Of course, offering some degree of free shipping is basically par for the course in today’s e-commerce world. It’s a Point of Parity―these are the features that are important to your prospects that you also share with your competitors (the basic entry requirements to the game).

The question in this case was: How can Sport Chek communicate this offer in a way that provides more value to their customers? How can they make this Point of Parity look like a Point of Difference​―a feature that’s important to the prospect and unique to your business.

Related: For more on Points of Parity, Points of Difference and Points of Irrelevance, check out Chris Goward’s post “U​se these 3 points to create an awesome value proposition​“.

In this case study, you’ll read about:

  • Two experiments, one on the cart page and one on the product page, that led to substantial lift for Sport Chek
  • An unexpected variable that revealed an insight about the company’s ideal ‘Free Shipping’ threshold

The results of these experiments showed that ‘Free Shipping’ is an extremely elastic value proposition point for Sport Chek. At varying “you-qualify-for-free-shipping” price points, there are major swings in user behavior.

In the past, their ‘Free Shipping’ offer was an under-utilized value proposition because it wasn’t being emphasized in the right way. Now, this value proposition point is more visible and being communicated with more clarity.

Read the full case study here

Learn more about how Sport Chek extracted more value from their value proposition. Read the full case study here.

The post How Sport Chek is getting more value out of their value proposition appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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How Sport Chek is getting more value out of their value proposition

How Sport Chek is getting more value out of its value proposition

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TL;DR Canada’s largest sporting goods retailer has a multi-faceted optimization program, but two recent tests revealed impactful insights about the company’s ‘Free Shipping’ value proposition. Read the full case study here.

The Company

Sport Chek is Canada’s largest national retailer of sporting goods, footwear and apparel. We partnered with Sport Chek just over a year ago and have been working together to optimize their e-­commerce experiences, with the goal of increasing conversions in the form of transactions.

While Sport Chek’s conversion optimization program is multi-faceted, two different tests recently revealed impactful insights about one of the company’s value propositions.

What is a value proposition?

Value proposition can be thought of as a cost versus benefits equation that shows your prospects’ motivation. But it’s all about perception: if your perceived benefits outweigh the perceived costs, your prospects will be motivated to act.

Motivation = Perceived Benefits - Perceived Costs

Michael St Laurent

All value propositions have varying degrees of value depending on how they’re interpreted and how they’re communicated. Your benefits hold different weight for different people―it’s all about finding out which of your benefits are perceived to be most important to your prospects.

Michael St Laurent, Optimization Strategist, WiderFunnel

The value of ‘Free Shipping’

Sport Chek offers free shipping on online orders over a certain dollar amount. Of course, offering some degree of free shipping is basically par for the course in today’s e-commerce world. It’s a Point of Parity―these are the features that are important to your prospects that you also share with your competitors (the basic entry requirements to the game).

The question in this case was: How can Sport Chek communicate this offer in a way that provides more value to their customers? How can they make this Point of Parity look like a Point of Difference​―a feature that’s important to the prospect and unique to your business.

Related: For more on Points of Parity, Points of Difference and Points of Irrelevance, check out Chris Goward’s post “U​se these 3 points to create an awesome value proposition​“.

In this case study, you’ll read about:

  • Two experiments, one on the cart page and one on the product page, that led to substantial lift for Sport Chek
  • An unexpected variable that revealed an insight about the company’s ideal ‘Free Shipping’ threshold

The results of these experiments showed that ‘Free Shipping’ is an extremely elastic value proposition point for Sport Chek. At varying “you-qualify-for-free-shipping” price points, there are major swings in user behavior.

In the past, their ‘Free Shipping’ offer was an under-utilized value proposition because it wasn’t being emphasized in the right way. Now, this value proposition point is more visible and being communicated with more clarity.

Read the full case study here

Learn more about how Sport Chek extracted more value from their value proposition. Read the full case study here.

The post How Sport Chek is getting more value out of its value proposition appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

Continue reading: 

How Sport Chek is getting more value out of its value proposition

Julien Smith of Breather: I Was a Thought Leader Before a CEO [PODCAST]

julien-smith-cta-interview-650
One of Breather’s many breath-taking spaces. Image via Breather.com.

A lot of marketers become thought leaders by honing their skills in the trenches of their startup. Only once they’ve done their time and learned from their mistakes do they go on to secure speaking gigs and publish books.

But Julien Smith has had a bit of an unconventional marketing career. He flipped the above trajectory on its head, making a seemingly backwards transition from marketing thought leader to real-world marketer and CEO.

After many years of writing and speaking, Julien decided to stop telling marketers what to do and started showing them by founding a company of his own. Today, he is the CEO of Breather, a company that rents out private (and oh-so-very-zen) spaces.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, you’ll learn:

  • Why Julien initially made his book, The Flinch, available for free.
  • The single word that changed the way Breather was marketed, allowing the company to flourish and raise $1.5 million in funding.
  • What we can all learn from affiliate marketers, even though they’ve got a bit of a bad rap.

Listen to the podcast

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan: You’ve done things a little bit differently than most people or most marketing thought leaders out there. Most people start out by building a company, if it’s successful maybe they start speaking about it, and maybe they write a book. But you did the complete opposite.

Julien: Yeah.

Dan: How did that happen?

Julien: Yeah, what happens is that there was a brief period around 2004, 2005 where I think there were like no internet celebrities of any kind. So there was a vacuum of internet celebrities and because of that…

Dan: Imagine we had that problem right now. What a beautiful problem to have.

Julien: Yeah, it’d be the exact opposite problem. Yeah, because there was a vacuum of internet celebrities you could basically do anything and kind of get an audience. Even if you had an awful blog or an awful podcast it didn’t matter because there was nothing to listen to and nothing to read on the internet. So that helped me get an audience. And the audience actually propelled everything because then you have an audience, so then when you have a blog it just gets read by a lot of people. Then you have an ebook, you have all the audience that you could send it to, and then that got published — sent over to Wiley and then Wiley was like, “Well, there’s no book on social media. We should get someone to write a book on social media.” And we got tapped to do that. So then I realized — started realizing what business was and then eventually I actually started one, yeah.

Dan: You were looking at our studio setup and I actually had forgotten that you had a podcast in the beginning, when we first decided to do this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about that show and what podcasting was like back in, what was it? 2005?

Julien: 2004. I started in November of 2004. It was the first podcast in the world. It’s very strange to say that, but it’s true. And because there were — all the shows were bad on the internet, I was sort of chosen, one of six people, to get my show on Sirius Satellite Radio. So a year in, because everyone else was like a 35-year-old dude from New England talking about beer probably, you know, and I was talking about — I had a completely different voice than most people. So, yeah, and just started propelling itself. It was really about being at the right place at the right time with the right, I guess, idea or something.

Dan: I wanna ask you about your book Trust Agents with Chris Brogan. I think it’s been like more than five years since that was published and that’s been really influential. I remember when I started out in this digital marketing space that was one of the books, along with maybe a couple others, that everybody was talking about. When you look back at that now, would you think it holds up?

Julien: I haven’t read it in a long time so I don’t know. But I could tell you that the things that we take for granted now — like it’s funny. I used to — I would read the book now and probably be like, “Oh, my god. This is so 101 and embarrassing.” But reality is, is that many of the tactics that we talked about in the book, this was the first time that they were ever talking about it. And now social media marketing is done that way, not just that way, but it’s very foundational things that we talked about for the first time are now done everywhere. So I think I would be pretty proud of that. But talking about how to tweet would probably be — I would probably cringe at things that I said that maybe I was very inspired to say back then, but now not so much.

Dan: Yeah, fair enough. Yeah, what seems obvious now actually was pretty mind-blowing at the time that you could build an audience, which you’ve done by creating relationships and leveraging those. I don’t know if that’s the thesis of the book, but I feel like that’s pretty close.

Julien: It’s true and it is something that really tells you a lot about how — when a new channel, or a platform, or a network is starting, you actually have enormous power during that time, right? So I was in the first 10,000 users of Twitter, right? As was Chris Brogan, my co-author on those two books, and…

Dan: Right, that’s why you have your first name as your handle.

Julien: That’s right, yeah. Yeah, @Julien. So then it was like, “Yeah, sure, fuck it. We’ll follow all these people.” And again, it’s a huge vacuum. So the same thing happened on medium, right, and may be probably still happening on medium. And new networks, when you join, if they’re gonna win, those networks, then you get an incredible cumulative advantage by starting early. And so if I was gonna propose that anyone start a business I would say find a place where it is super easy to gather the first 100 people. Another way of saying that is start with a place with low competition.

Dan: And for the networks that don’t pan out, there are some like Google Plus, thought leaders who bet on the wrong horse.

Julien: Yeah, I think it’s not about social media per se, it’s just like any place where you feel like there’s a trend coming, get in front of that trend way before it’s popular, get ridiculed for six months and then laugh your way all the way to the bank maybe.

Dan: I wanna ask you about your first — I think it was the first book that you wrote on your own, The Flinch. And you first made that available for free on Amazon. Thanks for that because that’s when I read it and it was a great book. What was the thinking behind just putting that out there for free and why did you ultimately decide to charge for it?

Julien: Yeah, so what started is — that book was written by basically me and edited by Seth Godin, who’s a pretty well-known marketing writer. And so he said a few things to me which were super pivotal. It was a super short book, it was like 10,000 words, right? And so he said, “1) I want you to know that you’re never gonna be able to write anything this visceral ever again. You’re never gonna have that opportunity.” And so he goes, “I want you to…” — he would send me edits back and those edits, he would be like, “Is this really the best you can do?” And I’d be like, “Fuck, it isn’t, shit.”

Dan: And Seth Godin saying that to you is powerful.

Julien: Yeah, it’s murder, yeah. And I remember screaming at a friend of mine just about, “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know how to make this better!” But the result is a super sharable book. So the natural thing to do then, as Godin said, “I can’t make you a millions bucks but I can probably get you a million people that will look at it.” And so there’s actually no free books on Amazon that are perpetually free. It almost never happens. So he did a deal with some early dude at Amazon and said, “We’d like to make this book perpetually free, like free forever.” So it was free for years. So every year when people would open their Kindle on Christmas they would be like, “Oh, where are the books that we’re gonna get?” And they’d find my free book.

Dan: Right. Next to all of the like Socrates and…

Julien: Yeah, literally. Yeah, and The Bible, you know. And mine is a faster read than that. So again, it was about a unique opportunity to create enormous distribution very quickly. And so when I did that, I mean in the first day it was read by — or downloaded at least, by something like 50,000 to 75,000 people. And eventually it was actually not about us. I would keep it free and it stayed free for years. And if you still “Google Flinch PDF” right now, you can get it in PDF form for free. But at some point, I don’t know, the rules changed at Amazon or something and it ended up being $2.00. So now you pay $2.00 to get it on Kindle. But it definitely — making it free was a tactic to create audience and advantage and get, what I thought to be pretty important work, and certainly the best work that I’d ever written, to be seen by as many people as possible.

Dan: Well, it’s a tactic that’s really familiar to conversion centered marketers and people who are doing lead gen, certainly a lot of our customers that use landing pages to promote free ebooks, you just don’t usually see that at the Amazon like 10,000 word book level. But same principle so it makes sense. And as a discovery tool for you it sounds like.

Julien: For sure. Yeah, and that’s actually what you’re saying is like at the core you’re the product, you the person that’s writing. Or maybe you’re the initial product and then behind you there’s like a company or something. And so you’re — what are you doing? You’re gathering links maybe. And so, okay, so then your game is gathering links, or your game is gathering page views and trying to optimize your front page to get subscribers or whatever the game is, but you need a pretty massive funnel. And for me the massive funnel was being there really early and giving stuff away for free when it was seldom done.

Dan: Well, I do wanna ask you about your company. But first I want to… I guess bring up your past a little bit more, make you flinch so to speak. Rumor has it that you had a stint running affiliate marketing campaigns for clients at some point. And I know affiliate marketing gets a bad rap among marketing circles, but I do recognize that a lot of the techniques that have started, or who have found their way to more mainstream marketers and bigger companies and bigger agencies have started in the affiliate world. What did that experience teach you?

Julien: As I think back on it now, I learnt an important lesson about kind of winner-take-all markets. All internet markets are basically winner take all and as you begin to accumulate attention or capital or whatever, it begins to get more and more powerful over time and it becomes really undefeatable, or very difficult to beat. So I’ve definitely used that to help me at Breather, my current company. But at the time, basically, I just ran giant amounts of SEO plays in different verticals and I became really dominant in a bunch of them. And actually, it’s pretty interesting. Psychologically when you’re an entrepreneur, a big thing that you kind of want to do because you’ve worked so hard is really pat yourself on the back. And I remember patting myself on the back and being like, “I won.” And in actuality, even though I was doing really well, I had not won and I had made a crucial error of thinking that the game was over or something. And so for years I ran really successful, kind of like performance marketing in the background of everything I was doing, podcasting and writing books and other things like that, and it was definitely super influential and it created the initial investment for Breather, actually, before it was ever venture capital backed. But it was amazing experience and way to learn about how to run something and make it work.

Dan: So when you say that you feel like you had won, what do you mean by that?

Julien: I was ranking No. 1 for everything. And when you’re ranking No. 1 for everything the next thing you wanna do is you wanna make another website and rank two for everything as well, right?

Dan: Right.

Julien: And then you’re like, “Okay, well, now I’m gonna rank No. 3.” But it’s actually pretty interesting because you can see your competitors literally coming up in the search rankings as well. And this is true just — you can watch… we watch our competitors at Breather and we’re like, “How many units do they have? Okay.” And it’s kind of a gauge. And in search marketing it would be like, how ranked are they compared to me? And I saw people kind of progressively coming up and I was like, “Oh, they’re never gonna beat me.” I was wrong. And actually it shows you that most of the game, a lot of the game in entrepreneurship, is actually a psychological game that you play with yourself.

Dan: Sounds like you were winning, for a while at least, at SEO game and you were doing really well on the speaker circuit and you had these bestselling books and you were working with Seth Godin as an editor, which actually I wanna ask you a lot more about, but maybe another time. What made you decide to start your own company?

Julien: Yeah, so after you write three books, I was noticing — all your friends become the other guys who write books because we’re all on the road all the time. And so we’d be in the same hotels, maybe in adjacent hotel rooms or something, and being like, “Where are you going now? Oh, Nashville, okay, what’s there?” You know? So I would notice these people that had these careers that were essentially kind of writing the same book over and over and over again. And I think if you look at your marketing library — anyone who’s listening to this can probably do this. They could look over their marketing library, and I hope that you see my books there, but even if not, you’ll notice that the authors tend to produce essentially one idea and then produce an iteration on that idea. And they’ll do that over and over and over again, right? Good to great, great to last, whatever the next one is. Too big to fail, whatever it is. And at some point I was like, “Is this really the best that I can do?” And maybe it’s Godin talking back to me and being really interested in space and in trends of how cities were getting denser and all these things. And at one point I just kind of combined software and physical locations and it occurred to me that I could build something that was really meaningful. And it was kind of a longshot when I started, but it turned out pretty well so far.

Dan: What was the hardest part of that transition from marketing thought leader to real world marketer and CEO?

Julien: The fact that I had never really done anything or gotten my hands dirty at all. And so you actually…

Dan: Had you realized that before you started doing it?

Julien: I knew that there was a chance that I was just a talker and not a doer. And so I was like, “Okay, well, I just wrote a book…” like we just talked about, I wrote a book, i.e. The Flinch which is a book about doing hard things. And I was like, “If I see this opportunity and I’m not willing to do it, then what kind of low level hypocrite am I that I am not willing to take my own advice?” So I knew that what I was doing was hard and there was a high chance that I would fail and that I’d never actually succeeded or be in what they call an operator before. And so that was definitely — it was a very comfortable life to write a book a year and then get flown places and get paid speaking fees to talk for 45 minutes.

Dan: Did that prepare you in any way, though, for the challenges of heading up a fast growing company?

Julien: The part that it prepared me for most is that I became much more experienced at the high level aspects of being a leader. Because you have to say things with authority, you have to lead groups of people, you have to talk to them compellingly, you have to be able to detect trends and be able to talk about trends. The communication aspects of being a CEO take over, over time. And now I have 100 employees, right? So communicating is one of the largest parts of my job. So from fundraising to knowing all the investors because I was on the circuit with them and all these things, it was definitely helpful early on and still continues to be helpful today.

Dan: Right. I guess as the company gets bigger and bigger, you find yourself a little bit going back into that leadership role or big picture thought leader role in the company. And now you have people that do a lot of the doing so it’s back to motivating and…

Julien: Yeah, but at least I proved to myself that I could do.

Dan: Yeah, well, we’ve been talking kind of high level and I wanna get a little more tactical for a moment. Because I read that in the early days of Breather, we’re copyrighting junkies here and thought this was really cool, that one simple word changed the way that Breather was marketed early on. I thought that was actually a huge pivot point in your business. Can you tell us what that word is and why you think it was so effective?

Julien: Yeah, the word was private, right? And so, just to give you a sense of context, for many of you I’m sure that don’t know what my company does, Breather is a network of rooms. The same way that Uber is a network of cars and Airbnb is a network of homes, we’re a network of basically office spaces, or meeting spaces. And it became really clear early on that it’s basically impossible to sell privacy as a service. This room, if it was not in your office, would be as impossible to find, impossible to book, and impossible to get reliably. And so I was like, “Oh, but there’s these electronic locks.” And it was about the technology and the technology enabled people to get in, but what it was really about is a core value and a core need that people have, which is just to get away from people and to be able to get quiet. And it was weird to be able to say that I sell privacy and I sell quiet, but I do. In a really loud world and in really dense cities I sell quiet and private space.

Dan: That is a big risk, taking that bet on privacy though, because I feel like so many other companies are banking on the fact that people don’t care about privacy anymore.

Julien: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, and so sometimes — because it’s a private room, of course, and it’s bookable by the hour, you come to the conclusion which I’ve heard like a million times, “Come on. But what is really happening, wink, wink, in these rooms?” And the reality is, is when you are really behind something and you say, “We’re selling privacy,” you actually have to say that and you have to be like, “The reality is, is it’s none of your business what happens in people’s rooms, just like it’s probably none of your business what happens in people’s phones,” you know? And so selling that is very valuable to us and we really treasure it and it’s something that we think is very important to human beings, you know?

Dan: Yeah, and also you don’t create something out of fear that they’re gonna use it the wrong way.

Julien: Right. You don’t jump — you don’t not create the subway because someone might jump in front of it.

Dan: Right.

Julien: You create the subway and then you deal with the consequences afterwards.

Dan: Right. Just to provide context, what was that switch that — what was the original tagline and how did the word private replace it?

Julien: It actually was the key for us. We didn’t even know how to pitch ourselves up until the day of our launch, which was in — we’d launched the company at a conference in London and then I asked one of my developers at the time, “What is the tagline for this thing?” And he was like, “Dude, it’s just peace and quiet on demand. It’s peace and quiet on demand.” And we’ve been using peace and quiet on demand like it was an accidental phrase. I find…

Dan: You asked one of your developers what your tagline was?

Julien: Yeah, I don’t know why I did that, but it turned out — and it was very plain spoken, which is really important, right?

Dan: Yeah, true.

Julien: So to me the most important thing is that something be memorable and be able to be plain spoken so that anyone can go, “Oh, yeah.” Just like when I write I go, “I want to write the way people talk so that it’s very digestible.” We discovered that privacy was the core value proposition, like literally at the last minute.

Dan: As opposed to…?

Julien: We were just like, “These are great rooms. You should use them.” Before you have the simplicity of an idea, you actually, usually, are gonna say it in a super complex, annoying way. And that’s what we did. We said it in a super complex, annoying way until we discovered that the key value was probably privacy.

Dan: That probably circled back to why you had the idea in the first place and why you thought it was valuable for yourself, right?

Julien: Yeah, exactly.

Dan: And…

Julien: And yet, even though it’s right in front of you, it’s very hard to distill somehow. So then when we got to it, we’ve never gone back since then.

Dan: Right. You have to have this spark of an idea then once you start doing the doing and raising capital and put together a company, it’s easy to get away from that original…

Julien: And the other part of that is actually the name Breather, is actually a flash of insight that I happened to have. Because this name — the company could be going terribly just because the name was different. The name really defines what it is, which is a short breath or a short rest. And the word is really only ever used in that circumstance, right? And so it’s a very unique word that really quite accurately, and yet kind of like obliquely, describes what we do and that is very memorable and easy for people to know and say.

Dan: Right. And becomes a noun, like I’m booking an Uber, I’m booking an Airbnb, I’m booking a Breather.

Julien: That’s right.

Dan: So Breather is hiring like crazy these days and obviously that goes beyond the marketing team, but I’m curious what your vision was for scaling up that marketing team. As a marketer I’m sure it’s something that you’ve thought, particularly about and how’s that going so far?

Julien: Yeah, so we have — we must have 10 people on our marketing team or something, right now. And the vision for it that I said before we ever had any marketing team members was that it should act like an agency. And so because we have different cities and the cities open different units and they have to serve different populations, let’s say therapists use it a lot in New York, but actors use it a lot in L.A. or something like that. Then you’re gonna have segments that you’re speaking to in different demographics. So we created an agency with the purpose of being able to really work as an agency for a number of different clients. And then these clients essentially send briefs into the marketing department and say like, “Okay, so here’s what’s happening. We have this unit, it’s in SoHo. The unit in SoHo is like this. It’s interesting because these things. Build us something around that.” And then they’ll gather together, we get a creative team, we get digital people, we get design people, and they gather together and they do a sprint or they work on the creative to get it right. And we’ve been able to build a good team from great companies based on this principle.

Dan: So your clients in this case would be like city managers and operations people?

Julien: That’s right. Yeah, yeah, so our operations are like Uber. We have operations in every city led by general managers that are really focused on just getting supply and getting demand. And that’s very on the ground, very much like Uber and not at all like Airbnb, right? So then those people have needs and they don’t have the specialization that marketing has. They wouldn’t know how to sell their own space necessarily, they just know how to go out and get it and then make it nice and so on.

Dan: So you’re not necessarily organizing the marketing team geographically, it’s based around these different personas and user types?

Julien: Yeah, personas, user types, and they are helped by the fact that localization is really important. So it’s…you would not wanna confuse Long Island and Long Island City, right? Anyone who’s a New Yorker knows that. Anyone who’s not in New York does not know what the difference is. So the localization and that part of it is super important and the general skill set that you gather by being able to sell, basically 100 times, 100 different units, hopefully 100 cities, is very valuable, too.

Dan: And I guess the personas are informed by geography because you don’t have a lot of surfers in New York and bankers in L.A.

Julien: Right.

Dan: What advice would you have for other fast growing companies looking to scale their marketing teams really, really quickly?

Julien: Yeah, the irony is that in fact you must be extremely slow or you’re probably gonna fuck it up. The hiring is — I think you guys know this. Like at Unbounce you have a great team, talent knows talent and knows when it’s absent, and the gravity of a team produces more and more gravity as more team members come in. This happened with my data science team. It’s like one good guy led to a second amazing guy and then when you have two amazing guys then the third guy is much easier to grab and so on. So ironically, I think my marketing team is actually the slowest hiring of any of them, but the consequence of that is that they have tremendous gravity and respect and they build an amazing camaraderie because they really respect each other and are respected by everyone else and every other department.

Dan: So your advice for growing a marketing team quickly is don’t.

Julien: Well, I mean, you — choose things that scale. And continuously experiment as time goes on, right? And so, yeah, we’re still a series B company. We’re still super early in learning about everything that we do, but we have a very good start and it’s led by people that really are profoundly motivated about working on this problem.

Dan: What do you think your marketing team’s gonna look like a year from now?

Julien: I suspect it’s gonna be way, way larger. So it spans many geos, it…but we’re at the core. I think what you’re gonna do is you’re just gonna have to develop over time a reputation for good work. And if you have a reputation for good work, then people will wanna work with you.

Dan: Well, I think that’s an inspiring note to end on. Thanks so much, Julien, for coming in and chatting.

Julien: Well, thanks for having me.


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Julien Smith of Breather: I Was a Thought Leader Before a CEO [PODCAST]

Rebuilding An HTML5 Game In Unity

When our HTML5 game Numolition was nearly done, we decided to throw it all away and rebuild it in Unity. That turned out to be an exciting and valuable experience, and one that I thought would be worth sharing with other Web developers. Come in, the water’s warm!
Last year, we released a mobile game named Quento. It was written entirely in HTML5, wrapped in our proprietary PhoneGap alternative and launched in many app stores with mild success.

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Rebuilding An HTML5 Game In Unity

Bringing Angry Birds To Facebook

There’s no avoiding those Angry Birds. They are, quite literally, everywhere: toys, snacks, cartoons, plush toys and that wildly addictive game that seemingly everyone has downloaded at some point — 1 billion of us last year alone.
2012 was another landmark year at the Angry Birds aviary, otherwise known as Rovio. The Finnish-based developer not only released a slew of tie-ins — from Green Day to Star Wars — but also went social.

Taken from:

Bringing Angry Birds To Facebook

Gamification And UX: Where Users Win Or Lose

The gaming industry is huge, and it can keep its audience consumed for hours, days and even weeks. Some play the same game over and over again — and occasionally, they even get out their 15-year-old Nintendo 64 to play some Zelda.
Now, I am not a game designer. I actually don’t even play games that often. I am, though, very interested in finding out why a game can keep people occupied for a long period of time, often without their even noticing that they’ve been sitting in front of the screen for hours.

Excerpt from:

Gamification And UX: Where Users Win Or Lose