Tag Archives: jquery

Developing Dependency Awareness

I’m sure you’ve heard the proverb, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” probably many times. Its written origin dates back to the 18th century, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was much, much older. And though the work we do has little to do with actual chains, this proverb is every bit as relevant to us.
Remember when Azer Koçulu unpublished more than 250 of his modules from npm (Node Package Manager)?

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Developing Dependency Awareness

Building A Real-Time Retrospective Board With Video Chat


If you’ve ever worked in an agile environment, chances are you’ve had your share of “retrospectives” — meetings where people write what made them “glad,” “mad” or “sad” onto different-colored notes, post them onto a board, arrange them in groups and — most importantly — talk about them.

How To Build A Real-Time Retrospective Board With Video Chat

These meetings are straightforward, as long as everyone is in the same room. But if you’re working with a locally distributed team, things can get a bit tricky. Let’s address this by creating a virtual version of our board to allow team members in different locations to hold their retrospective just as if they were in the same room.

The post Building A Real-Time Retrospective Board With Video Chat appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Building A Real-Time Retrospective Board With Video Chat

Web Development Reading List #127: jQuery 3, UX Research And XSS In Ads

Working on very different projects, in different teams and with different people can sometimes be a challenge. But one thing that works out remarkably well is doing retrospectives with your team.
In retrospectives, you talk about how a certain project went, and the whole team shares what problems/challenges they faced, what was good and what was annoying people, why people were unhappy. And after each person has written this down on a wall (you can use Post-Its), you try to find useful solutions, small improvements that avoid conflicts, that avoid people feeling bad in a project, and that avoid unnecessary stress situations.

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Web Development Reading List #127: jQuery 3, UX Research And XSS In Ads

Lessons Learned In Big App Development, A Hawaiian Airlines Case Study

Having spent over two years making it, we just pressed the “Ship” button on the new Hawaiian Airlines website. It has been the biggest project of my career, and I’ve worked with the most talented team I’ve ever worked with. Everything was rebuilt from the ground up: hardware, features, back-end APIs, front end, and UX and design. It was a rollercoaster ride like no other, but we have prevailed and built what I believe to be one of the best airline-booking experiences on the web.

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Lessons Learned In Big App Development, A Hawaiian Airlines Case Study

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How to Charge Your Clients for Landing Page Services

Pricing any service at an agency is tough because of all the variables — unexpected delays, crazy review cycles and borderline-silly-and-sometimes-seemingly-impossible client requests.

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“It needs to pop more! Give it some pizzazz!” Image source.

And when it comes to adding landing pages to your list of services, things can get especially tricky. (Still working on convincing your clients of the value of landing pages? Here’s some help.)

Is landing page design a staple service of yours? Will you offer follow up, maintenance and optimization services? Or are landing pages simply an add-on that you’ll teach clients to maintain themselves?

No matter which pricing model you go with, you want to present landing page services to clients in a way that shows their potential for exponential ROI, while leaving the client feeling like they’re getting a good deal… all while turning a profit.

Let’s take a look at a couple of ways that agencies are charging their clients for landing page services, while keeping both their clients and accountants happy.

1. Include landing pages in your retainer fee

A lot of agencies work on a retainer fee model. They get paid upfront to provide specific services over a period of time. For these agencies, a good practice is to build the fees for landing pages into that initial retainer.

Jacob Baadsgaard, the founder and CEO over at Disruptive Advertising in Provo, Utah, uses this pricing model. Says Jacob:

jacob-baadsgaard copyIt’s included in the pricing. That’s just one of the perks that we give them… We just say ‘this is a simple, inexpensive solution that’s included in our pricing anyway, whether you use it or not.’ I’d say 95% of our clients use it.

Clients are often receptive to an agency charging for a third-party marketing tool like Unbounce, as long as it’s clearly outlined in a retainer fee breakdown and they’re aware of the positive impact it will have on their business.

Guidelines for using this pricing structure:

  • Make sure you account for all variables before calculating the fee. Will you offer analytics and optimization services? What level of service is reasonable for your flat rate?
  • Set expectations about the revision process and whether you’ll provide ongoing support. Is your client expecting more advanced functionality, mock-ups, or other things that will be resource-intensive for you? If clients want to go over the bar that you’ve set, work together on additional pricing.

2. Charge your client for landing pages directly

For other agencies, it makes more sense to charge landing pages as a separate line item.

Maybe your campaign requires particularly sophistical landing pages with custom coding and custom design. Or, as Liesl Barrell, CEO at Montreal boutique digital marketing agency Third Wunder has found, different campaigns might require more landing pages than others. Liesl asks:

liesl-barrell-200How many landing pages will they need? Will they require updates to copy or creative? Do they need ongoing support? These are the questions we need to ask to establish pricing and manage expectations.

Based on the answer to this question, Third Wunder establishes a flat fee and then makes additions based on the client’s needs.

Vancouver agency Titan PPC, charges a flat fee of around $500-$700 for a custom landing page. That may sound like a lot, but included in that price are as many variations as the client desires for the lifetime of that page.

Guidelines for using this pricing structure:

  • Start by identifying the scope of your project. How many pages does the campaign call for? Which additional resources (custom functionality, custom design) will be required?
  • Make sure that the client understands what they’re getting and at what price from the very beginning. This will help you manage expectations and keep them happy in the long term.

The best landing page pricing model

It’s worth sitting down with your team and establishing how landing pages fit into your offering. Are they a critical part of the service you provide or are they add-ons? How can you offer continued support without undervaluing any custom work your clients might ask of you?

The best pricing model is the one that works best for your clients and for you — it’s all about finding that sweet spot where clients feel that they’re getting a great deal, and you feel that your expertise is being properly valued. 

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How to Charge Your Clients for Landing Page Services

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The Weird and Wonderful Ways You Never Thought to Use Landing Pages

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There’s more than one way to make a great landing page.

Landing pages are so effective for lead generation because they eliminate all of the distractions of a typical website — navigation, social sharing, and any links that do anything other than convert.

That’s why we never start a marketing campaign without a dedicated landing page. (And neither should you!)

But the unique talents of a landing page aren’t just useful for selling products or generating leads. That they stand alone from a larger website and are designed solely to draw attention to a single goal make them well-suited for all kinds of projects, both personal and professional.

In this post, we’ll go over some unusual landing page use cases along with examples for each. Let’s dig in.

Event marketing

Here at Unbounce, we (of course) use landing pages for all our events, be they for our employees or open to the public. Landing pages are a great fit for events because they let us collect RSVPs on the same page we use to market the event.

Unlike simply adding a page about the event to your website, a landing page has no conversion leaks. Prospective attendees can come to the page, learn about the event, and convert without getting lost.

Click to see the full page.

This page was used to invite employees to the Unbounce 5.0 launch party! This is, crucially, a separate boat party from the one where we crashed a drone into the river.

We used the built-in form to collect RSVPs, along with information on dietary restrictions and additional guests.

Because this page was meant for our own employees, we felt okay with sacrificing a bit of clarity for the sake of surprise and delight. But our pages for public-facing events focus a bit more on the why than the what:

Contrary to what this copy might imply, we actually vacuum at least once every few months.

One notable difference on this page is that rather than collect RSVPs through Unbounce’s built-in forms, we opted to distribute tickets via Eventbrite instead. Eventbrite is a great tool for event ticketing, but the level of customization offered by their event pages is extremely limited.

Thankfully, you don’t have to pick between having a landing page and using Eventbrite’s ticketing: all you need to do is insert Eventbrite’s embed code into your landing page and visitors will be able to book their tickets directly on the page.

It doesn’t have to stop at office parties, either. The Couple’s.co, a wedding design firm run by Unbounce product designer Vivi, custom-crafts wedding landing pages that do more than just tell you when and where to be. They tell a story.

Click to see the full page.

It also tells a lot more, with listings for nearby restaurants, attractions and places to stay. While weddings are all about the lucky couple, it’s nice to see some consideration for those who are traveling from far away!

The biggest advantage of using a landing page for events is their complete flexibility. You can design them how you want, prioritize the content that’s most valuable to prospective attendees, and collect RSVPs and information in whatever way is most valuable to you.

Hiring (and applying)

At Unbounce, we don’t solicit resumes from applicants. Instead, we ask them to build a landing page telling us about themselves and their inspirations.

Asking applicants to throw out their resume and do something new from scratch gives us the opportunity to ask our own kinds of questions and thus determine fit for the role, rather than basing our decision primarily on prior experience.

You could argue that a cover letter accomplishes the exact same goal. But I’ve never seen a cover letter that looks anything like this application from our growth strategist Brian:

Click to see the full page.

Just like with events, the inherently freeform nature of landing pages allows applicants to show the information they feel is important. Most cover letters, for example, don’t include screenshots of Google Analytics, nor do they off-handedly mention an ebook produced about staying fit while sitting inside of a tractor.

Here’s another sweet application landing page: our designer Luis Francisco used his page to show off his design skills:

Click to see the full page.

One applicant even ran a Facebook advertising campaign targeting a list of 20 Unbounce employee email addresses. (And yes, he got an interview.)

Interviews are awarded, then, not on the stature of one’s resume, but by the real-world demonstration of one’s skills and dedication. And we’re not alone: HR and payroll startup PaySavvy is also asking applicants to build an Unbounce landing page for their application.

PaySavvy-Apply-Unbounce

Contest submissions

Job applicants aren’t the only people who’ve used retargeting to get the Unbounce team’s attention. The same thing happened in a contest we ran to give away tickets to Call to Action Conference 2015. And it probably won Andrea Getman the top prize.

Andrea-Getman-Ad

Considering we ran it, you’ve probably already guessed the gist of the contest: create an awesome landing page convincing us that you’re the one to send to the Call to Action Conference. And while Andrea’s clever ad strategy may have sealed the deal, her page was strong enough on its own:

Click to see the full page.

Remember, building these pages is so easy that applicants who’ve never built one before are still able to do a great job of it. Because of the drag-and-drop nature of Unbounce, it’s not much harder than designing a nice slideshow presentation. That makes it a great format for any contest type that combines both writing and visuals.

You can also use landing pages to accept contest entries, like we did for our copywriting contest:

Click to enlarge.

A blog post presented the contest and laid out the full details, but entrants were directed to a landing page that focused on the rules and entry process.

And contests are probably the most fun way to get someone to give you their email address.

Liveblogging

Who hasn’t spent an afternoon feverishly refreshing Twitter for updates on the latest gadget, the newest software, the super-cool conference that’s happening right now? And isn’t that the kind of energy you want to cultivate for your business?

Liveblogging is a powerful content format that can bring you a ton of attention, but where do you liveblog? Of course, you could do your liveblogging on Twitter… where you’re limited to 130 characters per post. Not to mention the opportunities missed by accumulating traffic on a social platform instead of on your own website.

Thankfully, there’s a pretty simple way to set up your own liveblog on your own page, by combining your landing page with Google Docs.

Click to enlarge.

We know it works because we’ve been doing it ourselves for quite a while. We took live notes at MozCon, HeroConf, and CTA Conf; notes were accessible both during and after the talks, written and formatted on the fly so attendees could follow along or use them as a reference later.

It’s easy to embed a Google Doc into a landing page, and it will update live as you edit the document. And because it’s within your own landing page, you can take it as a lead generating opportunity – like we did:

Conf-Notes-CTA

Idea validation

Landing pages offer a distraction-free environment to focus on marketing your product. But what if your product doesn’t exist yet?

Before investing time and money into building a new product or feature, you can actually use landing pages to validate interest in the first place.

That’s exactly what social media monitoring company Mention did to gauge interest in a new kind of mobile interaction, pull to react.

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By pulling downwards and then sliding horizontally, you can toggle between actions and lift your finger to select them. (I wish every app I used had this.)

Mention emailed their list to drive traffic to a landing page to gauge interest:

reactingIOS
The landing page used by Mention to gauge interest in Pull to React.

They ended up receiving conversions from 250 people who were interested in the feature. Not only that, but of those 250, 43 developers volunteered contributions to the project on GitHub.

Ultimately, Mention used landing pages to validate interest in the feature and refine the product, all while engendering a sense of community.

The unexplored frontier of landing pages

A few of these examples were still designed to generate leads, but I hope this post shows you that they don’t have to be just for that. You can run contests, create fully-featured pages for your personal events, see if your next-great-idea is really that great, and so much more.

In a lot of ways, the power and flexibility of building drag-and-drop landing pages in Unbounce reminds me of when I first started designing websites at 12 years old, using Geocities’ terrible-but-seemed-like-magic-back-then WYSIWYG page builder.

Geocities
I spent several hundred hours building websites in this thing.

Whether it’s for your next campaign or for your dog’s bark-tacular birthday party, I hope you’ll take this as inspiration to push the boundaries of what a landing page really is.

Or you could just make the next great Squint Eastwood.

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The Weird and Wonderful Ways You Never Thought to Use Landing Pages

Build a Data-Driven Content Strategy by Yourself, for Free, in 1 Day

Content-Marketing-Dan-McGaw-Cover
You can have a solid content strategy up and running in a day. OR, you could trade it all for what’s in this box.

Content marketing isn’t the next big thing. It’s here, it’s happening now, and if you aren’t using content to grow your audience, you’re losing them to competitors who are.

But building a content strategy is a ton of work, particularly if you’re a small team – perhaps even a team of one. Right?

Dan McGaw doesn’t think so. In his recent Unwebinar, The Facts & Fairytales of Conversion-Driven Content, he outlines a detailed framework for building a content strategy in little more than half an hour.

And he has the results to prove that it works: it’s the same strategy that he and his agency Effin Amazing employed to increase ChupaMobile’s organic traffic by 19%, and revenue by 38%.

It can be done by a single person in just one day, all with free tools from Google and a bit of research.

It all starts with finding out what people are already looking for.

Use Google Keyword Planner to assess demand for content

One of the “fairy tales of content marketing” that Dan described is that producing content is an art that is informed primarily by gut instinct. But as Dan put it:

If no one is looking for your content, no one will read the content you write.

So how do you write the kinds of content that your target audience is looking for?

Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful go-to tool for pay-per-click marketers, who use it to measure search volume for specific keywords and plan their campaigns. But it’s not only useful for PPC. Dan explained that it can be used to learn what kinds of content your prospective audience is demanding in just a few simple steps:

  1. Enter keywords relating to your product and industry. This includes the names of competitors or types of services that might overlap with yours.
  2. Create a list of the highest-volume keywords. Google will let you know the monthly average searches for every term you search. Depending on how niche your subject matter is, what constitutes an acceptable level of traffic will vary, but Dan sets the threshold for content that people care about at 10,000 monthly searches minimum.

    These high-volume keywords form the core of your content direction, since it’s the type of content that your audience is likely to search for.

  3. Generate keyword ideas based on the highest-volume keywords. Take the list of high-volume keywords you created and enter them into the Keyword Planner under Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category. Google will use its omniscient cloudmind to discover related keywords and hand them back to you.

Working these keywords into your content will be critical for generating organic traffic. But the research doesn’t end here; the keywords are just the key.

Generate even more keywords with predictive search results

Now that you have your list of totally-targetable keywords, it’s time to check out the competitive landscape with some good old Googling. But make sure you’re using Incognito mode, or whatever your browser’s private browsing mode is called: Google personalizes search results based on your history, and you don’t want that interfering with your research.

You can then start performing searches of your keyword list, and you’ll realize something wonderful happens: Google will tell you exactly how people are phrasing their searches by displaying the most popular searches as recommendations.

dan-mcgaw

This is the information that will inform you on what specific subjects people are interested in. After all, “analytics” is just a keyword, but “how to add google analytics to WordPress” is nearly a fully-formed post idea.

Plus, knowing exactly what people are searching for will also let you know exactly what they find.

Content audit your competitors

This is one of the most time-consuming aspects of crafting your content strategy, but it’s also one of the most important. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how can you out-do them?

Dan suggests performing searches using your list of keywords and the recommended search phrases, and take note of what pieces of content appear on the first page of results. Then:

  • Read the three most recent articles on the first page. You’re likely to see articles that are anywhere from a few months to many years old. Focus on the most recent ones.
  • Write down three things that suck about each of them. And that doesn’t mean poor formatting or ugly images (though those are important to get right). This is not about being self-congratulatory, but about finding opportunities to capitalize on. If there’s some crucial fact or brilliant revelation missing from your competitors’ content, you want it to be in yours.
  • Then write down three ways your content piece could be better. This can be elaborating on a subject that your competitors glazed over, introducing a new bombshell piece of information, or experimenting with formatting in a way that makes content more engaging.

But you don’t have to stop here. By combining your keyword research with defined goals based on your audience’s needs, you can extrapolate your keyword research into even more content ideas.

Create new content ideas based on your keyword research

These are the tactics that Effin Amazing used when they took on client ChupaMobile, a marketplace for app templates that can be re-skinned and released as new apps. Ultimately, they formed four core blog topics addressing the wants and needs of their audience:

  • Hiring a mobile developer
  • How to launch a mobile app
  • How to make money from apps
  • Building apps with no code

And with the knowledge of both the highest volume keywords and the specific phrases used to search those keywords, they were able to create a series of blog post ideas addressing exactly the questions people were searching for.

Dan-McGaw-Blog-Post-Ideas

And you can do the same.

Combining all of the previous research you’ve done, you’ll now have both a clear list of both which existing pieces of content you need to compete with and what types of new content to create to attract your target audience.

Converting through content, via landing pages

Once you’re growing traffic through smart content production, what do you do with it? Is there a clear pathway from your content to conversion?

Dan recommends an approach we also use here at Unbounce: designating a specific piece of gated content (like an ebook) per post, building a landing page for each, and directing to those landing pages with various calls to action in each post, like at the end of the post or with an exit intent overlay.

Dan-McGaw-CTA

It’s not about exerting pressure, but about creating an opportunity. If you don’t ask, you cannot receive. Create great content, link to relevant “content upgrades” with dedicated landing pages, and nurture the leads you collect from said content. (You can learn more about the nurturing part in the full webinar.)

The white-hat school of growth hacking

Dan ended his webinar with this quote:

Growth hacking isn’t one tactic; it is how you string tactics together and automate them. That’s how you create growth!

“Growth hacking” is a term that has always made me bristle. The word “hack” implies a shortcut or workaround, an easy path to success.

But if the term is to stick around, I feel pretty happy with this interpretation of it. One that views growth not as just a series of quick wins, but of building a sustainable strategy based on data; a definition that benefits our businesses as much as it benefits our readers, prospects and customers.

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Build a Data-Driven Content Strategy by Yourself, for Free, in 1 Day

Get More from Social by Doing Less [PODCAST]

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So many social networks, so little time. Image via Flickr.

Facebook users react to and interact with content differently than Twitter users, and you won’t see results from your social media campaigns if you’re blanket publishing across all networks. But with all the social media platforms out there, it can be a real pain in the booty to tailor every piece of content to each specific network.

But as we learned in the latest episode of the Call to Action podcast, there’s plenty that can be done to streamline the process; Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS, shared some analytics hacks to help you see better results without having to work harder.

You will learn:

  • Why you should use UTM codes to keep track of the performance of your content on social media.
  • How data can help you determine which social media network is right for each piece of content.
  • How Ryan got a marketing post to go viral on Reddit (hint: he started by collecting tons of data).

Listen to the podcast

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS.

Stephanie Saretsky: With all of the different social media platforms out there, it can seem like a pain in the booty to tailor every piece of content to each specific network. But if you’re mass posting links and not seeing great results, then you probably subconsciously know the answer to your problem.

So, how do you figure out where’s the best place to share that awesome post on 9 Marketing Tips From Your Office Dog?

It’s all in your data, my friend. Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy spoke with Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS, about the analytic hacks you can use to beef up your social presence and maximize your time.

Dan: You opened your post by saying that social media is quickly becoming one of the most time-consuming marketing channels, what do you mean by that?

Ryan: You know, I’m very big on native content and native publishing. So what I mean by that is when I publish something to my Instagram, I don’t push it to Facebook because it’s not technically native, right? I mean, the content that shows up on Instagram is significantly different than the content that shows up on Facebook. So the strategy that I’ve developed and what I’ve really seen working really well is creating content specifically for each network, specifically on Facebook. I mean, Facebook right now is on a crusade to keep traffic within Facebook. I mean, you look at what’s happening with pages over the last couple of years. You know, the “organic reach” has gone down. Some people view that as a bad thing and kind of jump ship from Facebook. But if you just play by their rules and just try and keep traffic within Facebook — though you have to ask yourself the question, “What matters, is it traffic to your site or is it people consuming your content?” So taking a different approach and actually creating content that lives within Facebook, especially like native video, native long form posts, images — I mean, this type of content just crushes it on Facebook. But it’s a different type of metric, it’s not traffic to your site. It’s content consumed, it’s views, it’s likes, it’s shares… so in that sense, as a business owner, I don’t have time to do that and it’s become a very, very time consuming process, but a very important process nonetheless.

Dan: That’s really interesting. I guess that speaks to the whole conversation about owned media versus earned media.

Ryan: Yeah. You know, it’s crazy because us as marketers, you know, one little thing changes, we get used to doing something. We finally figure out how to rig the site — that we finally figured out how to get that click the rate up — and next thing you know everything has changed, right? And it’s frustrating as a marketer, but as opposed to taking the time to take to a blog and write about it and complain about it, if you just understand that Facebook doesn’t want you to leave. You know, they don’t want you to man your page, but there’s things that they want you do, and just understanding that… I mean, like I said, video right now — Facebook is making a tremendous push to get YouTube off the planet. Facebook wants to be the video hosting platform because video is the fastest growing content on the planet. So instead of posting a YouTube link and obsessing over YouTube views and obsessing over ranking those YouTube videos, just post it to Facebook. If you upload it natively to Facebook you can get like 10, 20, 30 times the reach of a YouTube link. So again — and this is kind of stealing stuff from what I’ve heard BuzzFeed talk about over the couple of years — when they look at their metrics, they look at combined page views. They look at combined views, so they’re looking at Snapchat’s use. They’re looking at Facebook embed views. They’re looking at YouTube views. They’re not looking at traffic pages per se as part of the metric, but they understand that, you know, our attention spans are fleeting and they’re fleeting quickly. And our attention is where we want it to be: it’s on Twitter, it’s on Instagram, it’s on a blog post. So understand that you’re not gonna reach everybody with blog post and one piece of content. You have to repurpose it across channels and take advantage of what those platforms offer. And it’s a lot of work, but you look at somebody like BuzzFeed who has taken over the world with what they’re doing — it’s really the way of the future, especially for content marketing and social, really.

Dan: Yeah. So your blog post is all about how you can streamline that process. But before you can streamline, you need to make sure that you’re tracking things correctly, right? And you talk about using UTM codes.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dan: I don’t want to get too technical here, but can you explain why these codes are so important? And I’m curious to know how many marketers you think are actually using them correctly?

Ryan: That’s a great question. So a UTM code is just – you know, if you’re not familiar with analytics this is gonna kind of sound like Greek – it’s a URL parameter. And what it does is it literally just injects text into the end of a URL stream, so it tells Google Analytics where that traffic is coming from. Because if you post 100 links to Facebook, they’re all gonna show up in your analytics as Facebook unless you look at a pages report of where you sent that content. But still, it’s not effective. Because if you’re posting three links to the same page from Facebook, you’re not going to be able to tell which one of them at what time is driving traffic. What a UTM code does is it breaks down each link that you post into a separate line in your Google Analytics. So you can actually see every single link that you post across Twitter. Wherever you’re posting a link, it tracks it, including internal links on blog posts and stuff like that. So when you’re looking at stuff like, “When should I be posting? What should I be posting? Where should I be posting?” That’s how you really start digging into those answers because you can really nail down exactly which post is driving what. And in terms of how many marketers are using them, I don’t know. If you have any sort of paid search background or paid advertising background, you use them because they kind of auto append from Google Analytics. But I think if you’re in the social space, very few people use them unless you’re working for a big agency. I run a small agency, but I’ve worked with big agencies before, so I understand the difference, and big agencies understand analytics, and their team understands analytics. I would probably say more than 75 percent don’t use them for sure.

Dan: Yeah, so that’s a huge opportunity.

Ryan: A huge opportunity, yeah.

Dan: We’ve talked about on the podcast before how in many ways the world of social media marketing and content marketing are converging with the world of paid marketing and marketers who are able to bring that paid marketing experience and that data-driven outlook to the table are at a huge advantage.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I’m an organic SEO, “expert by trade.” That’s how I got into this digital industry, that’s where my interests mostly lie. But just because of how dynamic organic search is in the touch points with content, the touch points with social — even understanding how offline advertising plays into organic search — branded search, and increasing the rankings through that, driving demand and stuff like that. I mean, I’ve really learned kind of the full gambit of marketing as a whole, offline and online. But what’s happening right now is really interesting because ads just don’t work anymore. Like, banner ads just don’t work like they used to for a number of reasons. I mean — banner blindness — they’re annoying, they’re obtrusive. You know, we’re at a point where value matters. That’s really why content matters, because it’s about adding value. And when you throw a paid spend in, so like what we’re doing is we’re creating really, really advanced targeting using Facebook. Facebook has just an insane amount of data. I mean, you know where people have shopped. If you think about all the websites that you log into with your Facebook account, Facebook has that data. It’s really valuable data, but like a paid search doesn’t have that type of data. So if you can take a way to combine those two, you know, taking that information from Facebook and retargeting across search — and even across banner if that’s what you want to do — it’s powerful. So what we do is we create like very specific types of content. Very good blog posts. It may be like a gated piece of content, and we take advantage of the paid promotions. I mean, it’s really cheap to promote a post on Facebook, drive a ton of traffic to a landing page and really target a specific audience of people using that Facebook data, get them to a landing page, cookie them, and then retarget across search and social. So we’re building custom audiences using content, if that makes sense, and it’s like ridiculously powerful right now.

Dan: Yeah, we actually just had one guy from an agency in Chicago who is running Facebook ads for New Balance. And they found that once they were able to optimize their ads for Facebook website conversions or landing page conversions, that they were able to get way better ROI out of that than, you know, I guess what you were talking about earlier, which is just keep people in the Facebook ecosystem. So I guess there’s a time where you want to keep people in Facebook and focus on clicks and views. And then when you’re looking at conversions in particular, you want to start looking at pinning them to a landing page, which is actually what I wanted to ask you about next. You know, social media is typically seen, I think, as more of a top-of-the-funnel channel, so are conversions really the right metric to track on social?

Ryan: I think it depends. I mean, in short, yes. I mean, number one, it depends how you’re tracking conversions, right? I mean, if you’re doing last touch attribution, first touch attribution… basically what that means is if, you know, somebody discovered your website through Facebook first and then ended up converting through organic search, or if they came through paid search first and ended up seeing a Facebook post that you didn’t convert to Facebook. So that’s the difference between first touch and last touch, so it depends how you’re tracking it. But just understanding that you can no longer ignore anything if you really want to. You know, you can have success online, or you can have success as a business by just being really good at paid or really good at organic. But if you really want to crush it — like really dominate on the web these days — you can’t ignore anything. Because it’s understanding the customer journey, it’s not just like, “Oh, let me type in, ‘Buy a pair of shoes’ right now and then buy them,” right? That’s just not the way it works anymore, right? I mean, we have so much information available to us. there’s so many different touch points and discovery points of really getting to know a brand and getting to know a product that you can’t just be like – you know, I hear it all the time from clients: “My customer isn’t on Snapchat.” Or like, “I’m not gonna waste my time on Instagram because it doesn’t drive sales.” But you can’t look at it like that. You have to take them all seriously. And I understand if you don’t have the resources to pay somebody full time to post to Snapchat. I get that and I’m not going to force that on you, but I am gonna tell you ahead of time that you can’t ignore it, especially because it’s by far the fastest growing medium on the planet, and whether or not your audience is there right now, you better believe in a couple years that they will be. That’s just the flow of social, right? You know, it’s tough to say. Does social drive an ROI? I’m gonna say yes because for me I source a lot of clients off of Twitter, off of Facebook, Google+, so I’ll say it drives an ROI for me. But again, I also know that they’re not just seeing a Facebook post and calling me up and paying me money to do stuff. That’s just not the way it works.

Dan: And I guess the bottom line is that maybe Snapchat is a top-of-the-funnel channel for people right now. Maybe at some point it will be more at the bottom-of-the-funnel channel. But when it comes down to it, social has a place at all parts of the marketing funnel. You just have to figure out which network makes sense at which stage, I suppose.

Ryan: Yeah.

Dan: So where’s the best place to start when you’re trying to identify whether your social efforts are driving conversions? Should you look at your posts overall and how they’re converting, or really figure out which network is most lucrative for your business?

Ryan: Again, what we’re talking about all lies in your data, right? I mean, I would get active on everything. Tag everything with UTM codes. Even if you don’t have a presence, do what you can and just look at your data. Understand where the value is coming from by looking at black and white data. Is it driving conversions? Is it driving traffic? And again, going back to understanding that while conversions do pay your bills and keep the lights on, they shouldn’t be the only goal. There should be sub-goals, or even separate goals. I mean, branding is kind of a buzzword. It’s’ thrown around, but I think it’s really making a resurgence because of social. I mean, you can create like a mini-BuzzFeed. That just like kind of sprung up over the last couple of years. That’s just a powerhouse right now, and it’s because of social. I mean, they do 80 percent of their traffic from social media. So again, it does lie in your data and understanding just how to dig that out — which obviously I talked about in the post — is incredibly valuable. And it really saves you a lot of time too, so you don’t have to ask these questions. You can just look at a report and you know if it does or not.

Dan: Yeah, and your post goes through lots of really useful reports, which are more interesting to look at and talk about. But I wonder if you could give us an example of how you’ve maybe taken the data that you’ve collected from one of these reports and then used it to optimize your social strategy accordingly?

Ryan: Yeah. I mean, one of the biggest things that I do is optimizing time of day that I post. As an agency owner, that started for me as a consultant and it’s growing really fast. I’m unfortunately still at the point where everything runs through me. I’m building my team, but I’m doing it at a pace that I can keep up with. So my time is absolutely by far, by none, the most valuable asset to my agency right now, because if everything has to run through me, then it’s all dependent on my time. So understanding how to get the most out of social media with the least amount of my time, and even being able to pass that on to a junior person is incredibly valuable. So I really, really, really dig into, you know, not so much conversions, but I look at more front-end data, like engagement on Twitter specifically. You know, what time is my following most active? When are my posts getting the most reach? So that way what I can do is I can just automate it with like a Buffer, or a Hootsuite — whatever suite you wanted to use — and really get the most out of my following. But also understanding that you have to consistently test because if you’re growing your social media following like you should be — you’re getting new followers and they have a different schedule than your existing following when you’ve done analysis. So it’s important to really be mindful of your data and keep a constant eye on it, but it’s really not that difficult. You know, once you understand exactly what to look for, you can get in and out of there in less than three minutes for them, and you’re just setting up one report and looking at it.

Dan: I mean, I guess platforms like Facebook and Twitter make it easier to figure that stuff out, but not all channels have that sort of built in analytics function. I read about an interesting case in your post, where you were able to drive — I think it was like more than 1,600 views or something — from Reddit by just optimizing the timing of when you posted on that channel. Can you tell that story?

Ryan: Yeah, Reddit’s tough. You know, it’s funny, if you look at the amount of times that I’ve failed miserably on Reddit versus that, you probably wouldn’t even look twice at it. But yeah, I mean, I understood the power of Reddit as a platform, in terms of how many people were in it and the traffic that it can drive. It’s all desktop too, which is rare these days. So you’re getting desktop traffic, but also just because I had never had success on it before because it’s a very, very difficult platform in its terms of the users, they’re overly honest at times.

Dan: It’s not a place where people appreciate being marketed to all the time.

Ryan: Exactly. That’s well said. But I understood the value of what it could have in terms of link generation, traffic, exposure, all that stuff. And if you get something to go viral on Reddit, I mean, you’re talking traffic in the millions. But, you know, I looked for a lot of resources on how to growth hack it, but what I found was that there really is no growth hacking Reddit. It’s just one of those things where, number one, you have to abide by the rules of Reddit, like post in the right subreddit, post with the right titles, post the right content. As boring and lame as that advice sounds, if you don’t do that you’re never going to have success. But the other big thing was looking at when people were most active. So really, all I did was I just start to research the subreddits that I wanted to post in. and then, in the subreddit, it tells you how many people are online at that time. And all I did — really lame, but I took data for like a week or two. I checked three times a day every day for like seven or ten days: how many people were online in those subreddits that I was targeting? And then I just charted it out and it was easy to see when the most people were online. And I just kind of got lucky by hitting the right subreddit at the right time with the right content. And 1,600 — actually in the grand scheme of things, it’s the best data that I have on it, but in the grand scheme of Reddit, it’s not that much, but it was very targeted traffic. It was coming from marketing business type subreddit, so the traffic actually had some value to me.

Dan: It’s funny, I guess sometimes the most effective tactics aren’t like the sexy growth hacks, but just the, like you said, the lame boring keep a spreadsheet for a week manually and then you might actually have some pretty good results out of that kind of like old fashion police work.

Ryan: Yeah. And I think people really underestimate the value of – you know, I think growth hacker is kind of buzzword for just a really good marketer, really. But the best growth hackers are the ones that really pay attention to data. I mean, they might not talk about it as much because it’s not really that sexy, but you cannot have success, you cannot have explosive success because if you’re just kind of just pulling things out left and right, you’re never going to be able to growth hack that process, because it is a process. If you want to have success in this world, you’ve got to do things the right way. There are no shortcuts. But understanding how to get there quicker is because you know how to get there, and that comes from understanding what works. And that comes from your data.

Dan: Yeah, so the results might be awesome and explosive, but the process itself is actually usually pretty geeky.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely, not sexy.

Dan: There are sexy geeks, but I guess it’s a different story. So the last tactic for streamlining your social marketing that you share in your posts is to zero in on who else is sharing your content on social? Can you break that one down for us? What’s the opportunity here and where’s the best place to start?

Ryan: Yeah, it’s a big opportunity. And this kind of ties into the non-conversion type stuff. But, you know, I’m very very big on building communities. I don’t think it’s something that as marketers we talk about enough, or even deliver to clients. I mean, everybody does it, you know, like building a Twitter following, building a Facebook following, you know, and email this. We all do it, but it’s not talked about enough. And communities are really built from adding value. And a big way to add value is through communication. You know, especially as you grow and people recognize you for being genuine and people care if you talk back to them if they tweet you. They appreciate if you respond to their tweet. If you reply to a comment on Facebook, comments on your blogs, it makes a big difference. And there are tools out there that can help you do it. You know, Mention – I think Moz might do it now. There’s a lot of tools out there that can do it. And within analytics too, even though it’s not the best admittedly, there are ways to track mentions and it’s incredibly valuable, incredibly valuable. Again, it’s not something that you’re gonna necessarily see a dollar sign ROI from, but to me that’s how brands are built, on a micro level anyways.

Dan: Yep. And I think as we talked about, you need to make time for conversion centered tactics, but also not forget about things like community building and brand building because that stuff in the long term is just as important.

Ryan: It makes a difference.

Dan: All these reports you talk about in your posts and all these tactics sound really great, but they still kind of seem like a lot of work. So I’m wondering where the streamlining, time-saving part comes into all of this?

Ryan: Yeah, it’s a lot of work. I mean, like I said unfortunately I work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, but I’m working on that. You know, there aren’t really many shortcuts. I think if you really want to do things — this I just my opinion obviously — but there are very few shortcuts in this world to getting to where you want to be. But, you know, with that being said, like when you look at that post that I wrote, if you don’t actively access analytics or your data, then it’s daunting. You know, before I really started paying attention to data I had no interest in it. I would look at a post like that and fall asleep. And that’s why it would take so long for me to do anything because I was doing it the wrong way. A lot of people look at analytics like it’s Greek, it’s just they’re not comfortable. That’s the biggest thing I hear is, “I don’t know how to use it,” but if it you just put in some time and understand that the answers to so many of your problems are just a few clicks away. You know, answers to major business questions, you know, like, “Where should I be investing my money? Where should I be investing my time? Do I need to hire more people?” All this stuff, I mean, it really truly lays in your data. It might not be your analytics data, but it’s some form of data that you just – you need to consult. So it’s tough to growth hack that process, but you can shorten the process by just learning the tools and understanding the tools a little bit better, I guess. I mean, it’s creating dashboard. You can just click a dashboard and look at all the reports that you need to within 25 seconds and you’re good, and then just dive in deeper if there’s some issues.

Dan: Yeah, I guess when it comes down to it, if you’re doing things that are informed by data and informed by what’s worked in the past, then that’s going to help you focus on only the things that you know work, and that in itself is more efficient and is going to save you time and energy in the long run from doing the wrong things.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely.

Dan: So what’s one step social media marketers can take right now to make their campaigns more streamlined and data-driven?

Ryan: Use the network for what they’re intended to be used for. I mean, I’ve started seeing tremendous growth – I mean, I don’t want to say tremendous growth. I don’t have like a million followers or anything, but I have seen a lot of growth. I built a Facebook community; it’s got about 3,000 people in it now. My Facebook fan page, my Twitter page, my Google+, all of this stuff really started growing when I started creating stuff of value. So creating content I think is a humongous part. And again, content doesn’t have to be a blog post. Content could be, if you’re a designer, like create cool stuff in Photoshop, I don’t know, I mean, that’s a form of content. So understanding valuable content and creating large amounts and consistently, that’s number one. And number two is using the networks for what they’re intended for. Like it drives me nuts when — I unfollow people on Twitter all the time because it’s like, “Dude, I don’t want to just get blasted with links to everywhere you’re posting. That’s not why I’m on Twitter. I don’t go through Twitter to go to your blog. That’s not why I’m there. I’m there to get short stackable whatever, and it’s really a communication tool for me.” So understanding what these platforms are used for and what they should be used for and just playing kind of by their rules, instead of being like, “God, I don’t want to use my Facebook page anymore because every time I post a link to it it goes nowhere.” Well, then maybe you should stop posting links to it. Using them what they’re really meant for, and this is like the buzzword of the year, it’s like native content. You know, create stuff for those platforms. It’s a lot of work, but if you really want to have success? I mean, you look at anyone who has success on any sort of platform, like the people who get huge on Snapchat or Instagram or Twitter, I mean, they’re not just on Twitter posting links to their blog. Like, no, they’re out there communicating with people. They’re talking to people. They’re posting interesting stuff. So again, it’s not a shortcut by any means, but if you really want to have success on social, I think, you need to be social and create that native type content for that platform.

Dan: Got to respect the platform.

Ryan: Got to.

Dan: Thanks so much Ryan for taking the time to chat, this is great stuff.

Ryan: Yeah, any time.

Stephanie That was Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


See the article here:  

Get More from Social by Doing Less [PODCAST]

Fluff is Thy Foe: 6 Insurance Landing Page Examples + Critiques

Fluff-Featured
Fluff can seem harmless, but it’s a conversion killer. Image source.

Insurance is a complicated thing to market: it’s the only product that people will willingly pay for every month yet hope they never have to use. Of course, this is reasonable when you consider that it’s something used only during times of strife, injury or death.

So it’s no surprise that insurance companies find all sorts of ways to minimize the focus on those more unsavoury aspects of the deal, instead opting to push messages of security, reassurance and convenience — or they just skirt the subject altogether, focusing solely on discounts and savings.

But avoiding specifics rarely goes well, as you’re about to find out. Below, you’ll find my analysis of six insurance landing pages, along with critiques and lessons you can apply to your own campaigns within any industry.

1. Amica Home Insurance: It’s not all about you

autopilot
Click to enlarge.

I’ll defer to copywriting expert Joanna Wiebe on the subject of using the word “we” in your landing page copy:

“We” is a bad, bad word in copywriting. You should reword every line of copy you have that begins with “we”. […] Because your visitors don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about themselves – about their problems, about their needs, about their futures.”

The word we is used four times on this page. But even when that word isn’t being used, Amica seems to find it impossible to not talk solely about themselves:

Amica home insurance: Experience the Amica difference.
Extraordinary customer service that makes you feel right at home.

What does that mean? It does nothing to speak to the prospect’s needs. It does nothing to communicate how this service will improve the customer’s life. And it doesn’t make any effort to capture the reader’s attention nor compel them to continue reading.

If you want to talk about your extraordinary customer service, demonstrate it up front: be honest and transparent. In Amica’s case, they should consider communicating the real-world benefits of their service versus other providers, instead of dedicating so many words to saying so little.

2. StateFarm: Remind me how I got here

StateFarm
Click to enlarge.

Can you guess what this page is about?

That it doesn’t explicitly mention insurance might seem unimportant. Surely the person who clicked the link to this page doesn’t need to be reminded what they came for, right?

But message match — how well the message of a landing page matches the message of its gateway, like an ad on Google or Facebook — is one of the pillars of creating an effective landing page. Essentially, the copy of an ad and the headline of its landing page should mirror each other. Why?

  • It’s a reminder. Admit it: you’ve opened new tabs in your web browser only to immediately forget why you had done so. That’s probably because your attention span is literally worse than that of a goldfish.

    It’s not hard to imagine that someone could lose focus on what brought them to the page in the first place.

  • It’s a reassurance. Even if the user doesn’t forget what brought them there, they could think that you’ve brought them to the wrong place, or pulled a bait-and-switch. When ad copy and page headline match, they send a clear message: “This is exactly what you were looking for.”
Message-Match
An example of strong message match, from Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner’s 2013 post on the subject.

Since State Farm’s page would likely be displayed in results for searches for automobile insurance, it’s crazy that the only place those words are even mentioned is in this itty-bitty footer text.

StateFarm-Footer
Crystal clear!

3. AIG Direct: Specificity is a good thing

AIG Direct
Click to enlarge.

So many of the insurance landing pages I came across in my research asked for extremely little information up front — often just a zip code to begin the quote process. So I was surprised when I saw this monster of a form from AIG Direct.

But I actually think this makes a lot of sense. While it’s true that the number of form fields tends to correlate negatively with conversion rates, this isn’t always the case. Introducing more friction up-front can help pre-qualify leads, and in the case of an insurance broker, having to provide that kind of information is almost reassuring.

If the length of the form alone is enough to make the prospect hesitate, AIG’s headline serves to make the task seem almost effortless:

It takes 2 minutes to request your term life quote.

While one could feel overwhelmed by the number of fields, this one line makes it clear that it’s not really that bad. Plus, two minutes is a pretty small investment when we’re talking about life insurance.

This page excels in some other areas, too. Rather than rely on fluff and wishy-washy philosophizing about the nature of life and family, AIG sets concrete expectations, thereby holding themselves accountable for meeting them.

AIG-Direct-Trust

By solidifying their trustworthiness by linking to reviews and security certifications, and keeping the focus on the customer rather than themselves, AIG comes across as credible and transparent. And a real dollar amount, no matter what it is, is always preferable to nebulous “savings.”

4. AAA Life Insurance: Make your form friendly

AAA Life Insurance
Click to enlarge.

I feel confident in saying that most people probably don’t enjoy shopping for life insurance very much. So it’s in your best interest to make the process of doing so seem as easy as possible.

This page from AAA makes this process seem so much worse than it (likely) actually is. And it all starts with the strange visual decisions made in the form’s design.

AAA-Form

In web design, an affordance refers to a visual indicator of a digital object’s function. The most obvious example is adding bevels, borders, and background colors to links in order to make them resemble physical buttons. These details make it easier for the user to understand what these intangible objects actually do.

This form’s affordances are, frankly, all messed up. Not only are many of the form fields — text fields, in particular — nearly unnoticeable, but form labels and form fields are both contained within identical boxes, making the labels also look like fields.

Not only is this confusing, it has the unintended result of making the form appear twice as long as it actually is.

This, combined with the fact that most of the content on this page is dedicated towards explaining all of the subsequent “steps,” make this entire process seem extremely unapproachable.

Maybe they should’ve written that it only takes two minutes.

5. Farmers Insurance: Show me the way

StateFarm
Click to enlarge.

This page from Farmers Insurance is likely to lead visitors in the wrong direction due to inaccurate visual cues and confusing copy. If you’re on this page to get a quote online, where would you think to click?

Would it be, perhaps, this big button-looking-square that says Get a Quote Online on it?

Get-a-Quote

You’re likely already aware that this isn’t the case: the actual call to action is the green Click & Save Today! button. But I actually completely missed it at first.

FastQuote

Why?

  • It’s framed identically to the stock photo next to it, which I glossed over
  • It’s also shares a colour palette with the photo, making it blend into the page
  • The family is both walking and moving away from the call to action, rather than directing attention towards it
  • The copy — both “Get a FastQuote®” and “Click & Save Today” — were both less related to what I was looking for than “Get a Quote Online”

While there’s lots of talk in the conversion optimization world of color psychology and which colors correlate with which emotions, all of this is secondary to the most basic notion of CTA design: make it contrast with the rest of the page. (Psst — learn more about driving conversions through design in our new Attention-Driven Design ebook!)

And with regards to the button copy, it needs to indicate action and also speak directly to the user’s desire. For a smart formula, I’ll quote this oft-repeated advice from Joanna Wiebe:

Write button / CTA copy that completes this phrase: I want to ________________.

6. Health Insurance Sort: Cheap photos cheapen your page

StateFarm
Click to enlarge.

Insurance is a pretty serious thing, let alone insurance that would, in a time of crisis, allow me to remain alive. So I would expect anyone selling it to me to take it equally as seriously as I do.

But everything about this page screams, “we’re not credible.” And while the copy isn’t great, the most glaring issues relate to its design.

Stock photos such as the ones shown above are often used to add “visual interest” to a page. This, despite the fact that usability testing shows that while photos of people are effective at capturing attention, they subconsciously gloss over images that resemble stock photos.

Many of the examples in this post are clearly using stock imagery, but this page is exceptional. Each photo has a completely different lighting and style, and the hero image is so obviously a poor composite of two different images that I can’t believe anyone would ever enter their zip code into that misaligned text box.

Health-Insurance-Sort-Stock-Photo
Now we can recklessly grapple in the middle of this lovely autumn road, knowing any injuries will be fully covered! Thanks, Health Insurance Sort!

Fluff is thy foe

When crafting landing pages, “fluff” is thy foe. Whether it be pointless stock images that desperately try to jazz things up, or copy that talks its way around the real benefits and value of your offering, attempts at obfuscation via feel-goodery are as exactly as transparent to customers as they are to us.

And landing pages aren’t mere repositories for information; they’re designed to be a response to a specific need or expressed intent. If someone comes to your page and finds it confusing or deceitful, you can kiss that conversion goodbye.

Excerpt from: 

Fluff is Thy Foe: 6 Insurance Landing Page Examples + Critiques

7 Ways Bigshot Companies Delight Customers With Email

There aren’t many canonical examples of great email marketing, but CD Baby founder Derek Sivers is responsible for one.

Years before it was trendy to create kooky transactional emails, Sivers decided that his shipping confirmation email “felt really incongruent with [his] mission to make people smile.”

So he came up with something better:

cd-baby-email

That email triggered a cascade of goodwill and new business. In Derek’s own words:

That one goofy e-mail created thousands of new customers.

When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts, the world-changing massive-action plans.

But it’s often the tiny details that really thrill someone enough to make them tell all their friends about you.

One witty email won’t change your business, but a series of little moments can create a great experience for your customers and keep them coming back. Those moments can pad your bottom line too. Even just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 75%.

This got me thinking — who else is using email to delight their customers?

I went searching through my own inbox for examples and came up with seven great ones. These companies aren’t relying on email to do the heavy lifting, they’re sewing a customer-centric mindset into the fabric of their business.

These examples may seem minute. In some case, they are. But little details — no matter how small — get noticed. These emails all make their recipients life a little easier, better or happier. And that’s something we should all aspire to.

1. Starbucks – Make your customer’s day

You’ve got a free drink waiting!

The Starbucks rewards program delivers good news all the time. The result is happy customers (like me) who are eager to open their emails.

starbucks-email-1

What I love about the email below is that it simply delivers good news. It doesn’t ask the customers to take any action.

starbucks-email-3

This is a good example of an email as a layer in a customer-centric company. The only reason the email is sent at all is because of the rewards program — you can’t send an email like this without a good relationship.

Watsi, a non-profit crowd-funding platform, leads with customer satisfaction in mind. Co-founder Grace Garey summed this strategy up nicely in First Round Review:

You want to have at least one email that’s designed solely to make people’s day.

2. Blue Apron – Over-deliver

The Blue Apron newsletter signup on their website is pretty convincing. A new recipe every week? Sure, I’ll sign up.

blue-aprov-overdeliver

What Blue Apron doesn’t tell you, though, is that subscribers also get free food. Here’s the welcome email they send a few minutes after the new subscriber signs up:

blue-apron-email-2

Blue Apron could use the free food as a hook to get new subscribers, but they don’t because it’s their way of delighting the subscriber. It’s an unexpected surprise.

Death to the Stock Photo does this as well. When I interviewed co-founder David Sherry, he told me they’ve built over-delivering into their business:

A lot of companies will say, “Join our list and get a free e-book.” We don’t say that. But when people sign up, we give them something free. It’s a nice surprise.

And who doesn’t like a nice surprise?

3. Product Hunt – Be helpful

Notifications like this one walk a fine line:

product-hunt-email-1

On one hand, it’s another email in the inbox. But on the other, Product Hunt recognized that eight of my friends are all interested in the same product. They included their names or photos in the email as social proof. It makes sense that I’d be interested too.

I actually really appreciated this email since it was so contextual. It kept me in the loop without begging for my attention.

Be careful with emails like this as it’s easy to annoy people. This one works because it’s triggered as a result of my network’s common interest. You’ll need some smart engineering to pull this off but if you can do it and do it well, you’ll be providing extra value to customers.

4. Hover – Don’t ask for anything in return

I almost never receive emails from Hover. When I do, it’s something useful like this. I’m so used to getting value and utility from their emails that I always open them.

The best part? They don’t ask for anything in return.

hover-email-1

There are so many ways to deliver utility in the inbox and updates like this are one of them. Your customers deserve to be informed about product updates, security issues and changes to their account. Send them emails that deliver value without asking for anything in return.

It feels more like correspondence than marketing, and your customers will appreciate it.

5. Intercom – Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

This is the email Intercom sends when you request one of their books:

intercom-email-1

It might take a minute to realize what is special about it…

Got it? You can download the book in three different formats!

That may not seem like a big deal, but think about how you read long-form content. PDFs are great on a desktop computer but the Kindle format is preferable if you open the email on a tablet or smartphone.

No matter which device or platform customers are using, the emails you send (and their attachments) should create an awesome experience for readers. It’s all about putting yourself in their shoes.

Intercom does just that, which makes receiving this email a pleasure.

6. Evernote – Make customers feel accomplished

When you sign up for a new Evernote account, they send a series of five onboarding emails.

evernote-emails-2

In the subject line of each email, they tell you where you are in the series. It’s a progress bar that sets an expectation for more educational emails in the future. There is quite a bit of science behind this strategy, according to marketer Taige Zhang:

…People want progress bars. But why are they so powerful and effective for engagement?

It’s because, as people, we are driven to:

1. Have goals; and then
2. Accomplish goals.

We inherently feel good about achieving something. Dr. Hugo Liu from MIT and Hunch.com says in his article Need to Complete, “It turns out that when you finish a complex task, your brain releases massive quantities of endorphins.”

Building this into your onboarding helps users feel accomplished. And because Evernote broke down their app into small, digestible chunks, it’s easy to get started. Everyone is happy.

(Psst. I wrote an entire case study on these five emails, which you can read here.)

7. ProFlowers – Make things easy

Replenishment emails are one of the easiest ways to make your customers’ day. It’s surprisingly hard to find good examples, but this one arrived in my inbox recently:

proflowers-email-1

Last year, I bought my mom flowers for her birthday. Eleven months later, they sent this email, reminding me that my mom’s birthday is coming up. The savings is nice but the real value here is that it makes it easy for me to be a good son. :)

This is a good example of contextual marketing. It’s personalized based on my past purchase history and arrives at just the right time.

Over to you

It’s not hard to make your customers smile. If you have 30 minutes to check Facebook and Twitter, then you have time to add personality to your marketing.

Have you received an email that made you smile recently? Let us know in the comments.


Mint retention email-560

Taken from: 

7 Ways Bigshot Companies Delight Customers With Email