Tag Archives: judge

From Cats With Love: Welcome The New Smashing Membership

We can’t believe it’s actually happening. After 18 months of hard work on the big bang relaunch of this little website, today is the day when everything changes. New design and new technical stack. New personality and new ambitious goals. But most importantly, a new focus on our wonderful web community, with the brand new Smashing Membership.
Rewarding Great People Doing Great Work In times when we fight all the craziness and narrow-mindedness around us, we need to remind ourselves how wonderful a vast majority of the web community actually is.

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From Cats With Love: Welcome The New Smashing Membership

10 Simple Tips To Improve User Testing

(This is a sponsored post). Testing is a fundamental part of the UX designer’s job and a core part of the overall UX design process. Testing provides the inspiration, guidance and validation that product teams need in order to design great products. That’s why the most effective teams make testing a habit.
Usability testing involves observing users as they use a product. It helps you find where users struggle and what they like.

Excerpt from: 

10 Simple Tips To Improve User Testing

The State Of Advanced Website Builders

Advanced website builders — the tools provided by Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, The Grid and more — produce websites that look and feel like they were designed and coded by humans. They’re also software as a service, which is a different business model than traditional, custom-developed websites. So, should companies use them? At some point, will they replace custom development?
In short, yes.
Self-serve website-builder platforms are quietly becoming very powerful.

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The State Of Advanced Website Builders

Google Analytics Is Lying to You. Here Are 7 Ways to Force It to Tell the Truth

trust the lies

Being data-driven is good. Unless of course, all that data driving your decisions is wrong. Google Analytics does a lot of good. It might look fine and seem correct when Goals are firing properly. But just because it’s working, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Most analytics programs have to make a few implicit assumptions. They’re taking leaps of faith in some cases. And unless you know where to look, you could fall victim to these little white lies. Here are seven of the most common (along with how to fix them). Lie #1. Growing ‘Dark Traffic’ ‘Dark Traffic’ sounds ominous. And…

The post Google Analytics Is Lying to You. Here Are 7 Ways to Force It to Tell the Truth appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Google Analytics Is Lying to You. Here Are 7 Ways to Force It to Tell the Truth

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Launching That Overlay

peter-parker
Be the Peter Parker of overlays. Image via Shutterstock.

You’ve heard it before: “With great power comes great responsibility.

And while Uncle Ben wasn’t explicitly referring to overlays when he said these iconic words to Peter Parker, the same could be said about these handy little conversion tools.

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

Overlays are powerful marketing tools, not only because they are incredibly effective at snagging conversions, but also because they are so quick to launch.

This combination of power and speed means it’s dangerously easy to launch one without much consideration for user experience. Thus, they’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being effective… and disruptive.

But the disruptive nature of overlays is actually inherent to their effectiveness, because it focuses the visitor’s attention on a single offer. They eliminate the paradox of choice and present the visitor with a simple yes or no question.

However, there are ways to ensure the overlays you launch both achieve your goals and provide value to your visitors.

The first step in accomplishing this is to ask yourself the five Ws:

1. Why are you launching an overlay?

Overlays are most commonly used to accomplish one of three marketing goals: revenue generation, lead generation or traffic shaping.

overlay-goal

Do you want to build your blog subscriber list? Divert traffic to your pricing page? Entice visitors to make a purchase? This is what you need to figure out before you even consider building your overlay.

The marketing team at Hotjar recently implemented an overlay in their lead gen strategy for the first time. But just because it was their first attempt didn’t mean there wasn’t a clear goal. Nick Helm, Director of Inbound Marketing at Hotjar explains:

“We wanted to be able to nurture the new leads coming from different channels and bring them back.”

hotjar-overlay
Hotjar’s premier overlay built with Unbounce Convertables.

If you don’t have a good answer to the “Why” question though, just stop. Overlays, when used irresponsibly, can be intrusive and annoying. So if you don’t have a solid, strategic reason for launching one, hold on until you do.

Nick et al had a clear goal for their overlay and a detailed plan for how to achieve it, and it paid off: “We did get the quantitative results — which for us, measure better than industry standards.”

Your reason for running an overlay might be lead gen, rev gen or traffic shaping (or maybe something completely unique), but just make sure you have one — plain and simple.

Need some inspiration?

Our our latest ebook, 12 Proven Ways to Convert With Overlays, we share a dozen types of use cases you can use today.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

2. Where will you place your overlay?

Overlays offer a reliable way to fill gaps in your funnel, but you need to figure out where those gaps may be.

The easiest way to do this is to visit Google Analytics to determine your highest-traffic pages. Then whittle down the list to only include pages that don’t have a clear call to action — these pages are the low-hanging fruit you can start with to see immediate results.

You should have already determined what the goal of your overlay is; the diagram below will help you decide which of the CTA-free pages pair best with the type of overlay you’d like to launch.

overlay-placement

As you can see, different pages are associated with different levels of buyer intent, and so while a lead gen overlay might perform well on your blog, a rev gen overlay probably won’t.

Now, if you’re a keener and don’t have any high-traffic pages without a CTA then I present you with this anthropomorphic gold star:

giphy-2
Tina star gif via Giphy.

But I also challenge you to consider how you might use overlays on your highest-traffic pages to get even better results (because even though you have a CTA, it doesn’t mean people see it).

Adding an overlay with a complementary offer to your main on-page offer can help bolster the success of your page, because overlays leverage the psychological principle of pattern interruption  to focus the visitor’s attention on a single offer. Your sidebar CTA, on the other hand, can start to blend into the page, so people become blind to it.

Here’s an example from last year’s Digital Agency Day (DAD) signup page:

digital-agency-day

Whereas the signup page’s goal was to get people to attend the digital event, this overlay offered exiting visitors the opportunity to simply get the recordings, even if they couldn’t attend.

The results were some of the best we’ve ever seen: 1,991 full-form conversions on 10,005 views.

3. Who should see your overlay?

The key to high-converting overlays is presenting compelling offers that (1) align with the visitor’s buying intent and (2) are relevant to that visitor’s specific needs or interests. This means targeting, and the more granular you can get the better.

The first thing you want to find out is where your visitors are coming from. If you know that, you can better judge what type of overlay should be presented, because different types of traffic relate to different levels of buyer intent (social traffic, for example, is often less likely to make a purchase than paid traffic).

The following chart further illustrates this.

traffic-sources
Different traffic sources pair better with specific types of overlays.

Another thing you want to think about is whether the traffic consists of first-time or returning visitors, and — if they are a returning visitor — whether or not they’ve already opted in.

Chances are, your page traffic is a mixture of different referral sources and visitor types, so it can be tricky to present an offer that’s relevant to everyone. Fortunately, Unbounce Convertables recently launched referral and cookie targeting, so you can present more relevant offers by customizing the overlays visitors see based on where they’re coming from or what pages they’ve visited before.

4. What is your overlay offer?

By now, you should be seeing a trend — that creating an effective overlay means keeping the visitor experience at the forefront of your mind. And the sweet spot is where your marketing goals align with the goals of the user: you want the sale, they want the bargain; you want the email, they want the ebook; and so on.

So when you consider what your actual offer will be, ask yourself if your overlay is valuable and relevant to your visitor. If it’s not both of these things things, your results will suffer and you risk being obnoxious.

Let’s break this down.

Value

Conveying value means offering your visitor something worth converting for. Here are a few examples:

  1. Offer an exclusive discount, like this lead gen overlay from BustedTees, which offers a generous 40% discount on first orders:
busted-tees
  1. Entice visitors with free shipping, like this rev gen overlay from Diamond Candles:
diamond-candles
  1. Present a free resource visitors can’t resist, like this lead gen overlay from Copy Hackers which offers a free four-part conversion optimization course:
copy-hackers

Relevance

Another thing to consider when deciding on your offer is whether or not it’s relevant to your audience.

Here’s a real-life example: At Unbounce, our analytics showed that a roundup of the 16 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2016 was bringing in a lot of organic traffic. Assuming that people who read about marketing conferences are also interested in attending marketing conferences, we served up this overlay (with a ticket discount to sweeten the pot) that directed people to our Call to Action conference microsite:

cta-conf

And, might I point out, the above overlay is also an incredibly valuable offer — $650 savings? Yes please!

5. When should your visitors see your overlay?

We’ve sorted where your overlays should be seen and by whom, but there’s a final piece in the puzzle: When.

You have a few options around when to trigger your overlay, and depending on the type of offer you’re presenting, different triggers may be more effective than others.

Let’s dig in…

On arrival
On-arrival overlays appear when your page first loads. Use this trigger for offers you want users to immediately see (e.g., a coupon code or an event invitation) or for returning visitors who may no longer notice your onsite calls to action.

On scroll
An overlay using an on-scroll trigger will appear once the user has scrolled through a designated percentage of the page. Use it to present relevant offers to users who have implied interest in a topic after spending time on the page (e.g., a free quote) or to catch the attention of returning visitors who may no longer notice your on-site calls to action.

On exit
Overlays that trigger on exit appear when the user moves to abandon the page. Use them for offers that can “save” a potentially lost conversion (e.g., a coupon code or shipping discount) or for offering free resources or collecting sign-ups that enable you to save a user’s details for future communications.

After delay
Sometimes you’ll want your overlay to appear after a designated time delay, typically between five and 20 seconds. Use this type of overlay to present relevant offers to users who have implied interest in a topic after spending time on the page or for returning visitors who may no longer notice your onsite calls to action.

Psst: Unbounce Convertables include all the above mentioned triggers plus on-click trigger, like this one. Use it to present information or forms on demand without cluttering the page (e.g., “click here to sign up” opening an overlay with a form).

Be a conversion hero

That was a lot of information, I know, but as a marketer it’s your responsibility use your powers for good.

And remember: A thoughtful approach to implementing overlays benefits you and your visitor, because your goals are aligned.

Have you had success with overlays? Tell us about it in the comments!

Excerpt from: 

Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Launching That Overlay

Becoming A Better Facilitator

Facilitation in the broadest sense means helping or enabling people to achieve a positive outcome. It’s an important and often under-appreciated skill for designers and other UX professionals to gain. It’s especially important as more teams embrace lean UX practices, which shift emphasis away from big deliverables toward facilitating outcomes such as continuous discovery and shared understanding.
Any kind of working session or meeting in which design decisions are being shaped needs a facilitator.

Link:  

Becoming A Better Facilitator

Algorithm-Driven Design: How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Design

I’ve been following the idea of algorithm-driven design for several years now and have collected some practical examples. The tools of the approach can help us to construct a UI, prepare assets and content, and personalize the user experience. The information, though, has always been scarce and hasn’t been systematic.
However, in 2016, the technological foundations of these tools became easily accessible, and the design community got interested in algorithms, neural networks and artificial intelligence (AI).

Source:  

Algorithm-Driven Design: How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Design

Web Development Reading List #136: Design Usability, Meaningful CSS And Project Include

The past week showed yet again how fractured opinions in our industry can be and that to some problems there’s definitely more than just one answer, or we still have to figure out what the proper way is in the end. This is why talking about technical problems matters, and this should certainly be done from time to time with your colleagues.
We all know that by sharing and talking to other people, our jobs get more interesting.

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Web Development Reading List #136: Design Usability, Meaningful CSS And Project Include

Product Marketing is the New Content Marketing [PODCAST]

product-marketing-is-the-new-content-marketing-650
Are you serving up yummy, educational content or are you shoving your product down prospects’ throats? Image source.

Your customers don’t care that you think your product is better than the competition.

But they do care about consuming delightful, in-depth content that will make them better at their jobs… which raises the question: is it possible to educate your audience with highly useful content without tiptoeing around what you actually sell?

Gregory Ciotti, Content Strategist at customer support software Help Scout, thinks so.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, our Content Strategist Dan Levy speaks with Gregory about how product marketing is the new content marketing.

You will learn:

  • What the 9x effect is and why it’s stopping your audience from converting.
  • How to integrate your product into content without alienating your audience.
  • How excellent customer success can support your marketing initiatives.

Listen to the podcast

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Gregory: I’m Gregory Ciotti, the Content Strategist at Help Scout.

Dan: You start your post with a great line: “Marketing is not something that you do to people, it’s something that you do for people.” Can you explain what the difference is?

Gregory: Sure. So the simple truth is that it doesn’t really make sense to attract customers who aren’t a fit for your product. It doesn’t really take a marketing saint to kind of want to do that for your own purposes, to do the right thing. But it also doesn’t make business sense to attract people who are just not a right fit. They’re going to add burn to your support team and then they’re going to churn anyway. So I’m not sure in what universe it really makes sense to trick people. It’s really all about truth telling. So doing marketing for people is providing them with the information that they need to make a decision. A big part of marketing is communication. I often think of communication as a mix of vision and conversation. So seeing things – seeing the truth, rather, or seeing real outcomes they might not understand yet, and then communicating those clearly and coherently.

Dan: Interesting. And I guess communicating it in a way that’s empathetic or takes the person you’re communicating with’s own perspective in mind, right?

Gregory: Absolutely. One of the things I’ll tell you is that the inertia that you have to overcome is – they’re just real situations that people deal with. It’s not even necessarily convincing them; it’s kind of just addressing concerns. Especially in B2B. I’ve had so many support managers message us saying that they’re very interested in Help Scout but they need to make the pitch to the rest of their team. There’s a lot of work involved in switching over the software that they’re using. So the job of marketing there is to just give them – actually help them build their own argument. Give clear, coherent reasons that the switch is worth it, that their current solution isn’t as compelling as they think it is, and that they can get real results by taking the effort to try something else.

Dan: That’s interesting. So you’re not just communicating to your customers but you’re also giving your customers the tools to communicate to whatever stakeholders they need to buy into your product, right?

Gregory: Right. And if they’re the decision maker, they’re making their own presentation to themselves anyway, right? They’ve got to build their own pitch for, hey look, I know this might actually take a little bit of work but here are the reasons why it’s worth it. And on top of that, I would add that sometimes they don’t have an accurate representation of what maybe the workload would be like to switch. Or they just don’t necessarily have a full grip on the truth because maybe they had an experience that kind of tinted the way they see things. A quick example to kind of give a reality to this is we’ve improved our ability to import from other help desks. And every time somebody comments on – let’s say there’s a Zendesk import or something like that. They never really say, “That was easy.” I don’t hear that language.

I actually hear, “That was much easier than I expected.” There was a perception in the beginning that didn’t reflect reality. They kind of assumed up front that it was going to be very difficult and there’s a lot of ways that – especially the copy and really everything else that you do to communicate what this process is gonna be like — it’s just about truth telling and kind of getting people back to reality.

Dan: So people often bring lots of baggage to the table by the time they get to to you.

Gregory: Who isn’t, right?

Dan: True that. One of the things that you say customers need to overcome is what you call the 9x effect. Can you talk about what that is and why it’s something marketers need to be aware of?

Gregory: Sure. So the general concept, it’s originally from Harvard Business Review. Customers kind of perceive their current solution as three times better than it really is. And of course as marketers, we kind of end up perceiving our solution as kind of three times better than it is. This is all about perception, of how people perceive it to be.

Dan: Right.

Gregory: So that creates this gap between us, between the business and the buyer that we kind of don’t really realize. Like we’re not understanding as marketers why people don’t see the value. And it’s because of this push and pull. We’re over valuing what we’re positioning and what we’re putting out to the world. And customers are over valuing their current solution. I can’t really say this for certainty but I believe the old 10x product kind of mindset came from it: there’s a 9x product to overcome — it really takes a 10x product to get people to see the value in switching. The big light bulb moment for me with this 9x gap is that most people do not start in a neutral place. They don’t actually start in a reality.

We’re both actually kind of starting a little bit distance from reality. And a funny way I think – I’ve always seen it this way but I’m not sure everyone agrees, but I actually think marketing brings us back to reality. Marketing actually brings us back to the truth that this is how things are going to go down. And I think great marketers really adhere to that because it doesn’t make sense to do otherwise.

Dan: That’s a hell of a perception to overcome, right? I think a lot of people would say the opposite about marketers that were manufacturing reality rather than speaking truth.

Gregory: Right. And then, you know, it’s particularly true for SaaS but really true for all businesses. It doesn’t make sense to burden yourself with customers who aren’t a fit. Especially in SaaS, though, which is where most of my experience lies. All we’re really adding is burden to the entire team, burden to the customer and they’re going to churn anyway. So we’re not helping either ourselves or the customer there… so who are we really helping? Why would we bother to do something like that?

Dan: Okay, so the 9x effect tells us that customers are more likely to want to stick with the status quo and be suspicious of any new product, whereas companies tend to overestimate the value of their own product. As a marketer, how can you bring yourself back down to earth and put yourself into that customer mindset?

Gregory: Sure. I mean I think that comes down to just understanding the objections all along the way. And like I said, the objections aren’t always obvious; hence the over valuing our own product.

Dan: Right.

Gregory: I would like to think that it’s obvious why you should switch to Help Scout from something else but I’m not dealing with a support team of 50 people who have a workflow embedded in something else. So I can’t get to reality either, as a marketer, unless I truly understand the objections that you would have and really give value to those objections, not kind of brush them away, like “That shouldn’t be a problem.” Like, of course it’s a problem! If you perceive it to be a problem, then it is a problem. Perception is reality, right?

So I think it starts on our end really to – the only way we can get back to a neutral place is to just understand objections and give credence to every objection a customer might have, and to structure our language around that. I often think of copywriting as a game of word search where the answer key is what the customer needs to hear. You can’t pick the wrong word ever because if it’s a wrong word, it’s not going to speak to them and in doing so, you’re not really projecting reality.

Dan: I feel like a lot of marketers see those objections as something to overcome, rather than — what you’re saying — as an opportunity to use their words and to craft your copy and your marketing in a way that speaks directly to those objections and those concerns.

Gregory: We work with really everyone on the team — growth is everyone’s job. Words alone won’t always fix the problem. If people feel that the import process is too difficult, then you make it easier. So marketers are not alone in their ability to reduce friction, but we are responsible for communicating things accurately. You should be able to – I keep coming back to the same example but hopefully it makes for a better case. That if you’re going to import something, it needs to be crystal clear on how much effort is expended. And people should have their previous concerns kind of alleviated. If they think it’s going to take a really long time or they think it’s gonna be complex, get them to reality. Tell them how it really is gonna be.

Dan: One thing you suggest for demonstrating the value of your offer is to contrast what people’s life might look like before and then after adopting your product. Can you give an example of what that might look like?

Gregory: Sure. So we have a lot of customers come from Gmail. And it’s no exaggeration to say that your world and support is entirely different when you first use a product like Help Scout or a help desk, right? It’s you’re in a whole new ballpark. I often think of going to a product as switching, no matter what you’re coming from. I kind of say that I switched to a tool like Evernote from a “genius scattered notebooks system.” It wasn’t really switching from an Evernote competitor, per se, but I had something I was using to get the job done, right? So you kind of have to get a sense of what their world is like at the moment and then contrast that with what their world looks like after they make the jump.

And I’ve always kind of believed that contrast gives the best context because it just creates a clear division between two things. It can be awfully muddy when you’re trying to envision what your workflow looks like by adding this thing, this widget, this tool. But when you create this clear contrast, it’s crystal clear. There was a then, there’s a now; I think it’s much easier for people to relate and to kind of understand what their world looks like when they make the jump.

Dan: I wonder if Evernote sees their competitor as like Moleskine notebook?

Gregory: Exactly. I’ve heard a lot of great examples in that space. I can’t remember who said this but one person was saying that newspapers ended up kind of looking at each other as like, “Who’s stealing my readers?” And they didn’t really realize that it ended up being sites like social media – developments, rather, like social media — and everything else that was really the challenger that came in that they didn’t see. They kind of thought it just has to be another newspaper that’s taking these people away.

Dan: True.

Gregory: So for us, we can’t necessarily think that the before and after for people is always another help desk. Sometimes people are coming from this very complex system and outlook and we need to understand what their journey looks like, too.

Dan: All right, well I think a lot of what we’re talking about here can be summed up as really good product marketing. It seems like we’re hearing companies talk about product marketing these days the way they used to talk about content marketing just a few years ago. Why do you think that’s happening?

Gregory: Sure. So the team at Drift released a great SlideShare a few weeks back with the simple title of “What is Product Marketing?” And I think the 40,000 views they later got kind of speaks to this increased interest of people who want to understand the field. I see product marketing as the go-to market strategy, owning the positioning, messaging and it’s really marketing to current customers and creating demand by making sure the word gets out, essentially, to current customers. I think the reason that I would say the popularity, so to speak, has increased is a lot of businesses – and especially online businesses – are moving to a subscription model.

It really makes sense to market to your current customers and to get more customers to use the features you already have, or to use the features they’re already using more frequently. That’s a big part of product development but just because you launch a feature doesn’t mean people will use it. And product marketing ensures that they understand the value, they understand what they would get not only by using the feature for the first time or potentially using it more often, but through that they kind of create demand. By then they’re of course going to tell others, like, “I got this great result with this new Help Scout feature, this new Unbounce feature. You should check it out.” So I do believe that at its core, it’s marketing to current customers but it creates demand by how it echoes out.

Gregory: Right, and then you could leverage that content and those customers who, in a sense, have become evangelists for your product, fire up in the funnel to create awareness and interest in your product.

Dan: Absolutely. And product marketing is really key to enable many parts of the business so I would say product marketers work closely with sales so there’s sales enablement. Product marketers probably understand objections best, which really trickle down to all marketing activities. So they’re a really key component in kind of getting the entire marketing team onboard with how customers see the product and how we could position and package the product better in everything we do when talking to customers.

Dan: It seems like a lot of the most successful companies — online companies — in the last five years have built their reputations and their audiences by creating really successful content marketing. And I’m wondering how you could transition into product marketing without alienating that audience.

Gregory: Sure. So one of the really exciting challenges I think content marketers can contribute to is pulling out the story of a new feature or a new workflow in the product. Some really handsome guy once said that content marketers can learn a lot from journalists. I’m not sure who that was.

Dan: I don’t know about the handsome part.

Gregory: But you know, there is a lot of truth to that. And to give you an example, when we released a feature in Help Scout called satisfaction ratings, which is a quick way to get a kind of happiness report, we brought on Dave Cole from Wistia to talk about the possible downside of using happiness ratings as a way to judge your support team unfairly. Now, it seems kind of strange to launch a feature with a blog post that says basically that there’s danger in looking at happiness ratings the wrong way. But that was the most interesting story to pull and the most honest story to pull from that whole space. This space of happiness ratings and evaluating happiness feedback from every support manager I talked to said that they’re absolutely a good way to get an overall grip on customer satisfaction.

But where I see them being used wrong is teams are essentially graded on their happiness rating. And that causes people to pursue the T-ball ticket questions; you know, they’re going after the easy ones. They’re avoiding anything that’s difficult. And Dave shared some really great experience with that. And that was a super successful post for that feature launch. And it was essentially storytelling and product marketing and content marketing all wrapped up into one. And certainly a much better approach than, “We have this new thing — check it out.” So I think what I see a lot of content marketers doing really well recently is that approach.

They find the story within the product, they tell it really well. They tell it in a use case sort of way so that even if you’re not currently using feature X, if you’re not currently using happiness ratings, you walk away with a much better understanding of how they could be used. So I’m really excited to kind of see that space open up. I don’t think it eliminates the charm of content marketing because again, it was all about advice; it’s all about kind of how people get benefits and it’s all about ideas and instruction. But it also includes the product.

Dan: For sure. We make these distinctions internally between content marketing and product marketing but I think from the customer perspective or from the audience perspective, all they are seeing is good or bad stories that do or don’t resonate and seem relevant to them. And if you could create stories that are speaking to their pain points and find a way to make your product and your customers part of that story, then it really doesn’t matter what you call it.

Gregory: Absolutely. Their distinction is far less severe, maybe, then the ones we create for ourselves. If it’s entertaining and useful, then it hits all the check marks, right? And that’s challenging enough.

Dan: Absolutely. Can you talk a little bit about the role that customer success plays in all of this? We often think of marketing and CS as different departments or different disciplines. But you suggest that they could actually fit into one another.

Gregory: Sure. So I think this really crystallized for me when I was looking at a customer’s site. Docs is our knowledge base product. And they had just read an article I had written on writing great knowledge base articles. And they had a follow up question about organizing your knowledge base. And as I was sitting there in the middle of the workday and looking at someone else’s knowledge base, taking notes to send him this advice-filled email, I was like, “Wait a minute. I do work in the marketing department, right?” And it kind of dawned on me that he had been using – he had been following the article I had written step-by-step. He had been using it for every knowledge base article that he had written so far. And there I was kind of following up with him with further advice over email.

And my point with all that is just that content doesn’t – it’s not necessarily limited to attracting people. It can keep people around. It helps them get more value out of the product when you’re doing it well. It helps them understand the proximity, the kind of like action points of the product. We have knowledge base software but writing a knowledge base article is an entirely different beast. It actually requires writing advice; just having the software is not enough. So I do feel that content is customer success and that a big part of content is planning what topics you can address that will help people after they’re already signed up and happy and have been using your product; how can you kind of take them to the next level.

Dan: Totally agree. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk shop, Greg. Always a pleasure.

Gregory: Yeah, it was great.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


See original article:  

Product Marketing is the New Content Marketing [PODCAST]

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Stock Image or Real Image: A/B Testing Provides an Incredible 161% Increase in Conversions

Stock Image or Real Image – what should you use? The debate has been raging for a while now. That’s unfortunate, because there is no one answer that will work for all businesses alike. Why speculate at all, when we can throw the contenders into an A/B test and sit back while statistics find us a winner? Think of it as WWE, except A/B tests are real, and they get you better business. Let’s get right to it then, shall we?

Background

160 Driving Academy is an Illinois based firm that offers truck-driving classes and even guarantees a job upon graduation. Visitors to the site primarily use the contact form on the homepage, or the prominently displayed phone number, to contact the academy. Looking to improve the conversion rate on the truck-driving classes page,  the academy reached out to SpectrumInc, a lead-generation software and internet marketing company. The rest (as they have not yet begun to say, but soon will) is a future of great conversions!

The Hypothesis

The academy had been using a stock image of a man driving a truck on its homepage. When SpectrumInc came on board, they decided to test the page with the photograph of a real student instead. The hypothesis was that the image of an actual student would outperform the stock image the academy had been using. On being asked about the background of this test, Brian McKenzie from SpectrumInc explains,

… in this case we had a branded photo of an actual 160 Driving Academy student standing in front of a truck available, but we originally opted not to use it for the page out of concern that the student’s ‘University of Florida’ sweatshirt would send the wrong message to consumers trying to obtain an Illinois, Missouri, or Iowa license. (These states are about 2,000 kilometers from the University of Florida).

Better sense prevailed, and they decided to test it anyway.

What Goals Were Tracked?

The primary conversion goal: Number of visits to the ‘Thank You’ page. These are the pages that visitors are taken to after they fill out a conversion form, like the ‘contact us’ form on the main page.

The secondary conversion goal: Number of visits to the ‘Registration’ page. The academy carries a CTA button on its page that says “Register for Classes”. A conversion would be recorded every time a visitor clicked on the button and visited the “Registration” page.

The Test: Stock Image or Real Image

Comparison Image

The Result

An incredible 161% lift in conversions, at 98% confidence level. Or, the possibility for such a massive change in conversions occurring simply due to random chance (and not because the variation actually is better at converting visitors) is just 2%.

Secondary Goal: Registrations, too, saw a 38.4% spike on the variation compared to the control, at 98% confidence level.

Why did the Variation win?

As with any retrospective analysis, the key lies in exploring the data and connecting it to the knowledge that is already out there. First, let’s understand why images are such a big deal, and what part they play in user experience.

Short (and borrowed) answer: An image is worth a thousand words.

What does it say?

Concepts learned in the form of images are more easily and frequently recalled than other ideas learned through text. In fact, Wikipedia explains that this effect is much more pronounced in older people than the younger ones. So if your business targets the age group of 25+, images are a great way to pass on brand-related information for better recall.

Billion Dollar Graphics explain, and I quote, “human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process.” This is further illustrated in the following image.

Illustration - Graphic vs Text

Do you see how much easier it is to understand that the reference is to a square from the image than from its textual description? In fact, if you are in the mood for some serious reading, I strongly recommend this incredibly insightful post on the power of visual communication.

This frequently quoted eye tracking study from NN also confirms that we spend more time dwelling on images on a webpage rather than on the text itself. When they tested an “About Us” page that contained thumbnail portraits of each of the members of the team, this is what was found:

Here, the user spent 10% more time viewing the portrait photos than reading the biographies, even though the bios consumed 316% more space. It’s obvious from the gaze plot that the user was in a hurry and just wanted to get a quick overview of the FreshBooks team, and looking at photos is indeed faster than reading full paragraphs.

Eye-Tracking Study on Images By NN

Evidently, people focus more on images on a page than on the text itself. And they retain it longer. The case for images cannot be overemphasized.

Now that you and I agree upon the need for using images, let’s dive right into analyzing the case. We start with:

The Control, with the Stock Photograph

Why did it convert so poorly?

  • We Love Ignoring Images That Look Stock

Stock images were a rage back in the late 90s, when taking a good picture was best left to professionals with complex, expensive cameras. Naturally, online businesses that were just starting out had to resort to the relatively inexpensive and definitely good-looking stock photos.

Here’s the issue: we have been exposed to banner advertisements for so long that our eyes have gotten trained to ignore any web element that evokes the feel of an advertisement. The adage “familiarity breeds contempt” holds true and banner blindness has been confirmed to be a real phenomenon in numerous studies. More stock images, anyone?

  • Stock Images Are Not Unique

I popped the stock image from the client’s old homepage into TinEye, a reverse image search engine, and this is what it threw up.

TinEye Reverse Search Result

That’s 30 other instances on the webpage where the same stock photo was found.

Just to hammer home the point, I let Google Image Search do its thing. And here’s what Google found for me.

Reverse Image Search - Google Images

That’s 175 results. So much for uniqueness and product differentiation.

So there are more of that image, how’s that a big deal, you might ask.

Where do you suppose the stock image of a man driving a truck would figure on the web?

Same Stock Photo Used By Competitiors

That’s right, on other business websites that are related to trucks; websites your potential customer might have visited already. Google took just 0.45 seconds to find 175 places on the web where the image appeared. Human users would take longer, but they’ll get there eventually. And when a potential customer sees a familiar image on your site, how would they judge your business and its credibility?

Go on, ask me, how would anyone recollect seeing the same image somewhere in a corner of the web?

Because we are super smart and can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. To put that in perspective, the time we take to blink once is about 300-400 milliseconds.

Enough of beating the life out of stock images. Actually, using stock images, in and of itself, is not the real problem. There are ways to use good, relevant stock images without running into the problem of duplicates; like having a Rights Managed Licence. Instead, the real problem is:

  • Using Irrelevant Stock Images

Okay, stop being yourself for a moment. Slip into the user’s shoes, and I promise we shall see better.

You are looking to get a truck licence. Google suggests you check out 160drivingacademy.com

So you do what you always do. You click and reach the site.

Now, remember, you form the first impression of a website in 50 milliseconds. And you’d typically leave a website in 10-20 seconds unless, you find a reason to linger on. What you are looking for is relevance, sort of a validation that you are in the right place.

Let’s get back to you. You scan the page. And you see our man in the truck. But, what do you understand?

  • How established is the place?
  • Does the academy look credible?
  • Wait, why is there a severely cropped image of a man sitting inside a truck?
  • Is he the coach?

Oh wait, no! I’ve seen this image before!

The Verdict?

I can’t trust these guys. Where’s the back button!

And, curtains down!

Now, let’s take a look at the variation and try to understand why it converted visitors so well.

The Variation, with the Real Photo

Would you stay in the user’s shoes for a while longer, while I take you on a visit to the variation?

  • It’s All About Relevance

You know the drill. Google tells you. You listen. You are on the academy’s page; but it has the real image now.

“How does the place look?”

“Don’t really know. But that’s a big truck. Branded and all. Place must be established.”

Student's Image Used in Variation

“Is it credible?”

“Can’t be sure, but it looks real! That guy in the picture looks happy, he must be a student. I might even get to learn on one of those trucks in the picture!”

“Alright, no harm anyway, where do I contact them?”

Enough said.

  • We Love Images That Look Real!

This study shows that users focus their attention on images that look genuine with real people and objects. Consequently, we ignore images that seem to only have decorative (read stock-ish) purposes.

Real images evoke trust. On a business site, users are not looking for emotional gratification. They are looking for hints, information about what they’d get if they decide to buy your product/service. A website that uses real images screams at its users,

This is exactly what you will get if you choose us! It’s great, and we know it!

Get the trust, make the sale.

Over the years, we’ve been so indiscriminately exposed to every kind of scam, sham and spam, that we don’t trust easily. Least of all, on the internet. A website that reveals its offerings, plain and clear, tells us there won’t be any nasty surprises. Hence, we trust.

  • Clever Branding and the Hidden Call To Action

What? Where?

Without the variation image, there was exactly one part of the site that called out “160  Driving Academy”. With the variation, there are three such places.

We’ve already seen how our eyes are drawn to images much quicker than it is to text. The variation image draws attention to itself, and in the few seconds that a visitors’ eyes stay on it, the mind picks up two strong branding signals. The brand name itself, and the color associated with it — yellow — generously splashed across the truck in the image. A deceptively simple way to make sure that even users who bounce off the first time remember the brand. I think I wouldn’t be wrong in assuming that a considerable number of the conversions resulted from users who revisited the page.

No, that’s not all.

A call to action. That little big thing.

“Call Today”

Hidden Call to Action in Image

What better place to have it than in the image itself! That too, right next to the contact form. It gives the user direction on what’s to be done if they are interested in taking things ahead, and it creates urgency using the term “Today!”.

So there, little relevant things really matter.

Room for Further Testing

If you check the academy’s current page, you’ll see that the “Florida Gators” print has been edited out of the student’s sweatshirt. If you remember, Brian had pointed out how the reference to ‘Florida’ might confuse prospects who are primarily from Illinois. Removing the “confusing” text from the image should improve conversions even better. Brian also pointed out that the average age of a student at the academy is close to 40, while the student in the image is closer to 25. From this context, Brian shares his vision for further testing,

..trying to narrow down whether pictures of actual customers, pictures of actual employees, or pictures of actual products/equipment/objects convert best. Then you can do more incremental tests, like whether a 40-year-old student would convert better than a 25-year-old or whether the student should be holding up his license or just standing in front of the truck.

Are Your Images Relevant?

What do you think? Is relevance the most vital criterion in selecting an image?

If you feel so, I would like you to head back to your website and reconsider the relevance of the image(s) used. Are they relevant? Would you like some help figuring out if it’s relevant or not?

And if you feel relevance is not the primary consideration, I would love to know your take on it.

Tell us right here, or, if you are a person of few words (couldn’t help it) let us know on Twitter @VWO or, get to me straight @SharanTheSuresh.

Before I leave, here are two more brilliant ‘Stock Image vs Real Image’ case studies from our archive.

45% Increase in Conversions Using Real Image

How about an 89% increase in conversion?

And as always, we’re listening.

The post Stock Image or Real Image: A/B Testing Provides an Incredible 161% Increase in Conversions appeared first on VWO Blog.

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Stock Image or Real Image: A/B Testing Provides an Incredible 161% Increase in Conversions