The average company used 16 SaaS apps in 2017. That’s a 33 percent increase from the year before. That doesn’t mean your SaaS business will flourish, though. If you want your piece of an industry that’s worth an estimated 116 billion globally, optimizing your SaaS conversion funnel most become a priority. Your conversion funnel describes the steps your prospective customers take to reach a buying decision. Narrowing the conversion funnel and pushing prospects through faster can result in higher profits. Do to so, you must learn how to nurture your leads and prospects. Let’s look at some of the most…
Admittedly, Conversion Rate Optimization is not the most sexy term in the marketing world – but if you’ve ever run an A/B test where the variant won by a landslide, or made a website design change that led to a significant increase in product purchases, you know firsthand how exciting and powerful CRO can be in action. Marketers who specialize in conversion rate optimization are often a rare mix of analytical and creative; tactical, and intuitive. They need to get inside a customer’s head, but they also need to dive deep into data. Often, CRO professionals are tasked with: Reducing…
How excited would you be if you doubled the number of leads your marketing campaign was generating in less than a month? What if you found out that the improvement wasn’t an improvement at all, because as lead quantity went up, lead quality was going down? That’s exactly what happened with a campaign I ran once. I can assure you – it’s not fun! One survey of B2B marketers found that their #1 and #2 challenges were generating high quality leads and converting leads into customers: Your Landing Page Conversion Rate Is Only Half Of The Story Converting visitors to leads…
There are only a few instances when I wish I could travel back in time. One is when I’m reading the kid’s menu. One is when I stumble upon Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on TBS. And one is after I’ve launched a new product or campaign.
You and I may share that last one.
Though we typically know the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted, it’s the pesky unknowns us marketers wrestle with before a new product launch that keep us up at night. Things like: Is the product’s name right? Is the copy clear, but boring? Clever, but convoluted? Is the value as obvious as it should be?
Beyond messaging, most often, it comes down to whether your product’s positioning is right from the start; whether you set the product up in the right conditions and market category in the first place.
We all know the market is more saturated than ever. But what if, instead of fighting it, we used that momentum to our advantage?
April Dunford is the Founder of Rocket Launch Marketing, the former VP of Marketing for a series of high-growth startups and previous executive at big-wig companies like IBM and Nortel. She’s also a speaker, author and in-demand consultant specializing in product positioning. Advising companies on go-to-market strategy and messaging, she ensures they’re going after the right category and communicating their offering in a way that grabs prospects’ attention and makes its value crystal clear.
Basically, April knows her stuff. And she’ll be bringing her smarts to the CTAConf stage in August! But we have the patience of a toddler waiting for an iPad to charge, so we peppered her with some burning questions in anticipation of her talk. She was the top-rated speaker at last year’s conference, so we know this year’s gonna be good. You can enjoy a little time traveling to 2017 via the clip below:
Check out our Q&A with April below and keep your eyes peeled for the exclusive-to-everyone-who-reads-this-post discount code to see her in person.
First thing’s first: What exactly is product positioning and how does it differ from brand positioning?
April: You might say “Positioning” has its own positioning problem! It’s such a misunderstood concept. For some folks it’s mainly a messaging exercise, while others associate it very closely with branding. But positioning is much, much broader than either of those things.
Product positioning describes the specific market you intend to win and why you are uniquely qualified to win it. It’s the underpinning of your go-to-market strategy and impacts everything from marketing to sales, to customer success and the product itself.
What’s the first thing a client asks when you sit down with them?
April: Most CEOs don’t know it’s a product positioning problem they have. They know their customers have a hard time understanding what their product is all about and why they should care. That confusion results in long sales cycles, low close rates and poor marketing campaign performance.
A lot of the work I do is centered around teaching folks how to create context for their products by focusing on making value obvious to customers. Positioning as a concept isn’t new but, until now, we’ve all been pretty terrible at actually doing the work it requires. I teach companies a process for finding and delivering the best position for their products.
What’s the most common mistake you’ve seen businesses make with their go-to-market strategy?
April: Hands down, the most common mistake I see is companies trying to market to a set of customers that is much too broad. The reasoning is that, by going after a massive market, it will be easier to claim a small piece of it.
In reality, the opposite is true. Broad targeting puts your offering in direct competition with established market leaders that can both out-market and out-sell you. Beyond that, it leads to diluted messaging that waters down your best features and differentiators.
The easier—and far more effective thing to do—is target a smaller slice of customers who are highly suited to your product’s key features and the distinct value they can deliver.
Customers who most acutely feel the pain you address will be the most excited about your solution to that pain. They’ll pay you more, close faster and love your product so much they’ll end up marketing it for you. (Editor’s note: AKA the Holy Grail of marketing.)
Once you’ve established yourself with these highly suitable customers, you can build on your strengths and start to expand your targets to larger markets.
Can you tell us about the most challenging product positioning case you’ve worked on?
April: At IBM, I led the launch of a family of products that demanded an entirely new market category built from scratch. We had to convince customers, experts and analysts that certain market forces existed and would inevitably redraw the lines around existing market categories. On top of that, I had to convince them that IBM was the only company capable of drawing those lines.
There was also a catch: The products we had in that family weren’t particularly innovative on their own, at least not at the beginning. So the story itself hinged on convincing people that all of this revolutionary change was going to be sparked by the innovative combination of some pretty ho-hum products.
We managed to pull it off through sheer guts, a sprinkling of good luck and the deep marketing talent of my team at the time. But mainly, guts.
Your upcoming talk at CTAConf is about how to turn “marketing headwinds into tailwinds.” What do you mean by that?
April: In any market category, you’ll encounter extremely powerful forces that can either work for you or against you.
We often position our products in markets with strong competitors who are already perceived as leaders. Like swimming upstream, or fighting headwinds, we have to work extra hard to win in that environment.
Luckily, most products can be positioned in many different markets that offer greater chances of success. We just have to find ones where that inherent force is pushing us forward, like a tailwind, instead of pushing back on us.
In my talk, I’m going to outline exactly how you can use existing market forces to your advantage and grow revenue faster.
Want to hear this talk at CTAConf 2018? Get 10% off all Early Bird tickets ($80 off for General Attendees) by using the code “AprilCTAConf2018” at checkout.
What should marketers consider, before anything else, when launching a new product?
April: The success of a launch depends on how well you understand three things:
The problem your product solves and the competition it faces.
The true value your product delivers for customers.
Which types of customers care the most about that value and, most importantly, why?
If you’ve got these down, you’ll know exactly who you need to reach, the channels you need to use to reach those people and the value proposition you need to communicate.
What should marketers be doing differently now in terms of product positioning vs. five years ago?
April: We should start doing it! Most companies don’t deliberately position their product. They assume a default positioning based on how they first thought about it.
For example, say you’ve built a new email client. But after you got it into the market, you got some feedback, added or removed features and continued to iterate on it. Now you may have a solution that’s best positioned as a “group chat” or “social network” or “team collaboration tool” instead of focusing on email capabilities.
The market frame of reference you choose will completely change the way customers perceive your product and their expectations around pricing, features, support and your competitors.
Because the markets are more crowded, more competitive and shifting faster than they ever have before, we can’t get away with ignoring product positioning if we want our products to be successful.
Get every actionable detail of April’s positioning framework and go-to-market guide in her upcoming talk at Call to Action Conference, this August 27-29. Use the code “AprilCTAConf2018” at checkout for 10% off single, group and customer rates (that’s on top of the Early Bird discount, ending May 31st)! Want more reasons to go? Click here for a bunch of ‘em.
As designers, we know that research should play a pivotal role in any design process. Sadly, however, there are still a lot of organizations that do not see the value of research and would rather jump straight into the visual design stage of the design process.
The excuses given here tend to be:
“We already know what our customers want.”
“We don’t have the time/budget/people.”
“We’ll figure out the flaws in BETA.”
As designers, it is important that we are equipped to be able to have conversations with senior stakeholders to be able to sell and justify the importance of the so-called “Design Discovery” within the design process.
In this article, I’ll demystify what is meant by the term “Design Discovery” to help you better establish the importance of research within the creative process. I’ll also be giving advice on how to handle common pushbacks, along with providing various hints and tips on how to select the best research methods when undertaking user research.
My hope is that by reading this article, you will become comfortable with being able to sell “Design Discovery” as part of the creative process. You will know how to build a “Discovery Plan” of activities that answers all the questions you and your client need to initiate the design process with a clear purpose and direction.
Design With A Purpose
Digital design is not just about opening up Photoshop or Sketch and adding colors, shapes, textures, and animation to make a beautiful looking website or app.
As designers, before putting any pixels on canvas, we should have a solid understanding of:
Who are the users we are designing for?
What are the key tasks those users want to accomplish?
Ask yourself, is the purpose of what you are producing? Is it to help users:
Maintain a healthy lifestyle,
Or something entirely different?
Understanding the answers to these questions should inform your design decisions. But before we design, we need to do some research.
Any design process worth its salt should start with a period of research, which (in agency terms) is often referred to as a “Discovery Phase”. The time and budget designers can allocate to a Discovery phase is determined by many factors such as the amount of the client’s existing project research and documentation as well as the client’s budget. Not to mention your own personal context, which we will come to later.
Business And User Goals
In a Discovery phase, we should ensure adequate time is dedicated to exploring both business and user goals.
Yes, we design experiences for users, but ultimately we produce our designs for clients (be that internal or external), too. Clients are the gatekeepers to what we design. They have the ultimate say over the project and they are the ones that hold the purse strings. Clients will have their own goals they want to achieve from a project and these do not always align with the users’ goals.
In order to ensure what we design throughout our design process hits the sweet spot, we need to make sure that we are spending time exploring both the business and user goals for the project (in the Research/Discovery phase).
Uncovering Business Goals
Typically, the quickest way to establish the business goals for a project is to host a stakeholder workshop with key project stakeholders. Your aim should be to get as many representatives from across different business functions as possible into one room to discuss the vision for the project (Marketing, Finance, Digital, Customer Services, and Sales).
Tip: Large organizations often tend to operate in organizational silos. This allows teams to focus on their core function such as marketing, customer care, etc. It allows staff to be effective without being distracted by activities where they have no knowledge and little or no skills. However, it often becomes a problem when the teams don’t have a singular vision/mission from leadership, and they begin to see their area as the driving force behind the company’s success. Often in these situations, cross-departmental communication can be poor to non-existent. By bringing different members from across the organization together in one room, you get to the source of the truth quicker and can link together internal business processes and ways of working.
The core purpose of the stakeholder workshop should be:
To uncover the Current State (explore what exists today in terms of people, processes, systems, and tools);
To define the Desired Future State (understand where the client wants to get to, i.e. their understandig of what the ideal state should look like);
To align all stakeholders on the Vision for the project.
There are a series of activities that you can employ within your stakeholder workshop. I tend to typically build a full workshop day (7-8 hours) around 4-5 activities allowing 45mins uptil 1 hour for lunch and two 15-min coffee breaks between exercises. Any more that than, and I find energy levels start to dwindle.
I will vary the workshop activities I do around the nature of the project. However, each workshop I lead tends to include the following three core activities:
Explore who the business feels their users are and what are the key user stories we need to deliver against.
Tip:If you’re new to delivering client workshops, I’ve added a list of recommended reading to the references section at the bottom of this article which will give you useful ideas on workshop activities, materials, and group sizes.
Following the workshop, you’ll need to produce a write up of what happened in the workshop itself. It also helps to take lots of photos on the workshop day. The purpose of the write-up should be to not only explain the purpose of the day and key findings, but also recommendations of next steps. Write-ups can be especially helpful for internal communication within the organization and bringing non-attendees up to speed with what happened on the day as well as agreeing on the next steps for the project.
Uncovering User Goals
Of course, Discovery is not just about understanding what the organization wants. We need to validate what users actually want and need.
With the business goals defined, you can then move on to explore the user goals through conducting some user research. There are many different user research methods you can employ throughout the Discovery process from Customer Interviews and Heuristic Evaluations to Usability Tests and Competitor Reviews, and more.
Having a clear idea of the questions you are looking to answer and available budget is the key to helping select the right research methods. It is, for this reason, important that you have a good idea of what these are before you get to this point.
Before you start to select which are the best user research methods to employ, step back and ask yourself the following question:
“What are the questions I/we as a design team need answers to?”
For example, do you want to understand:
How many users are interacting with the current product?
How do users think your product compares to a competitor product?
What are the most common friction points within the current product?
How is the current product’s performance measured?
Do users struggle to find certain key pieces of information?
Grab a pen and write down what you want to achieve from your research in a list.
Tip: If you know you are going to be working on a fixed/tight budget, it is important to get confirmation on what that budget may look like at this point since this will have some bearing on the research methods you choose.
Another tip: User research does not have to happen after organizational research. I always find it helps to do some exploratory research prior to running stakeholder workshops. This ensures you go into the room with a baseline understanding of the organization its users and some common pain points. Some customers may not know what users do on their websites/apps nowadays; I like to go in prepared with some research to hand whether that be User Testing, Analytics Review or Tree Testing outputs.
Selecting Research Methods
The map below from the Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) shows an overview of 20 popular user research methods plotted on a 3-dimensional framework. It can provide a useful guide for helping you narrow down on a set of research methods to use.
The diagram may look complicated, but let us break down some key terms.
Along the x-axis, research methods are separated by the types of data they produce.
Quantitative data involves numbers and figures. It is great for answering questions such as:
Qualitative data involves quote, observations, photos, videos, and notes.
What do users think?
How do users feel?
Why do users behave in a certain way?
What are users like?
What frustrates users?
Along the y-axis, research methods are separated by the user inputs.
This data is based on what users do (outcomes).
This data is based on attitudes and opinions.
Finally, research methods are also classified by their context. Context explains the nature of the research, some research methods such as interviews require no product at all. Meanwhile, usability tests require users to complete scripted tasks and tell us how they think and feel.
Using the Model
Using your question list, firstly identify whether you are looking to understand users opinions (what people say) or actions (what people do) and secondly whether you are looking to understand why they behave in a certain way (why and how to fix) or how many of them are behaving in a certain way (how many and how much).
Now look at this simplified version of the matrix, and you should be able to work out which user research methods to focus in on.
If you’re looking to understand users’ attitudes and beliefs and you don’t have a working product then ‘Focus Groups’ or ‘Interviews’ would be suitable user research methods.
If you want to understand how many users are interacting with the current website or app then an ‘Analytics Review’ would be the right research method to adopt. Meanwhile, if you want to test how many people will be impacted by a change, A/B testing would be a suitable method.
No Silver Bullet
By now you should realize there is no shortcut to the research process; not one single UX research method will provide all the answers you need for a project.
Analytics reviews, for example, are a great low-cost way to explore behavioral, quantitative data about how users interact with an existing website or application.
However, this data falls short of telling you:
Why users visited the site/app in the first place (motivation);
What tasks they were looking to accomplish (intent);
If users were successful in completing their tasks (task completion);
How users found their overall experience (satisfaction).
These types of questions are best answered by other research methods such as ‘Customer Feedback’ surveys (also known as ‘Intercept Surveys’) which are available from tools such as Hotjar, Usabilla, and Qualaroo.
In order to build a holistic view of the user experience, the Research/Discovery process should typically last around 3 to 4 weeks and combine a combination of the different research methods.
Use your list of questions and the NNG matrix to help you decide on the most suitable research methods for your project. Wherever possible, try to use complimentary research methods to build a bigger picture of users motivations, drivers, and behaviors.
Tip: The UX Recipe tool is a great website for helping you pull together the different research methods you feel you need for a project and to calculate the cost of doing so.
Which brings me on to my next point.
Contexts And Budgets
The time and budget which you can allocate to Discovery will vary greatly depending on your role. Are you working in-house, freelance, or in an agency? Some typical scenarios are as follows:
Clients employ agencies to build projects that generate the right results. To get the right results, you firstly need to ensure you understand both the business’ needs and the needs of the users as these are almost always not the same. Agencies almost always start with a detailed Discovery phase often led by the UX Design team. Budgets are generally included in the cost of the total project, as such ample time is available for research.
In-House: Large Company
When working in a large company, you are likely to already have a suite of tools along with a program of activity you’re using to measure the customer experience. Secondly, you are likely to be working alongside colleagues with specialist skills such as Data Analysts, Market Researchers, and even a Content Team. Do not be afraid to say hello to these people and see if they will be willing to help you conduct some research. Customer service teams are also worth befriending. Customer service teams are the front line of a business where customer problems are aired for all to see. They can be a goldmine of useful information. Go spend some time with the team, listen to customer service calls, and review call/chat logs.
In-House: Smaller Company
When working as part of an in-house team in a smaller company, you are likely to be working on a tight budget and are spread across a lot of activities. Nevertheless, with some creative thinking, you can still undertake some low-cost research tasks such as Site Intercept surveys, Analytics reviews, and Guerilla testing, or simply review applied research.
When working freelance, your client often seeks you out with a very fixed budget, timeline and set of deliverables in mind, i.e. “We need a new Logo” or “We need a landing page design.” Selling Discovery as part of the process can often be a challenge freelancers typically undertake since they mostly end up using their own time and even working overtime. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Clients can be willing to spend their time in the Discovery pre-project phase. However, you need to be confident to be able to sell yourself and defend your process. This video has some excellent tips on how to sell Discovery to clients as a freelancer.
Selling Design Discovery
As you can see from the above, selling Design Discovery can be a challenge depending on your context. It’s much harder to sell Design Discovery when working as a freelancer than it is working within an agency.
Some of the most commons excuses organizations put forward for discounting the research process are:
“We don’t have the budget.”
“We’ll find it out in BETA.”
“We don’t have time.”
“We already know what users want.”
When selling Design Discovery and combating these points of view, remember these key things:
It doesn’t have to be expensive.
Research does not have to be costly especially with all of the tools and resources we have available today. You can conduct a Guerilla User Testing session for the price of a basic coffee. Furthermore, you can often source willing participants from website intercepts, forums or social media groups who are more than willing to help.
It’s much harder to fix later.
The findings that come as an output from research can be invaluable. It is much more cost and time effective to spend some of the project budgets up front to ensure there are no assumptions and blind spots than it is to course correct later on if the project has shifted off tangent. Uncovering blockers or significant pain points later into the project can be a huge drain on time as well as monetary resources.
Organizational views can often be biased.
Within large organizations especially, a view of ‘what users want’ is often shaped by senior managers’ thoughts and opinions rather than any applied user research. These viewpoints then cascade down to more junior members of the team who start to adopt the same viewpoints. Validating these opinions are actually correct viewpoints is essential.
There are other cross-company benefits.
Furthermore, a Discovery process also brings with it internal benefits. By bringing members from other business functions together and setting a clear direction for the project, you should win advocates for the project across many business functions. Everyone should leave the room with a clear understanding of what the project is, its vision, and the problems you are trying to fix. This helps to alleviate an enormous amount of uncertainty within the organization.
I like to best explain the purpose of the discovery phase by using my adaptation of the Design Squiggle by Damien Newman:
See how the Discovery phase allows us time to tackle the most uncertainty?
Waterfall And Agile
A Discovery phase can be integrated into both Waterfall and Agile project management methodologies.
In Waterfall projects, the Discovery phase happens at the very start of the project and can typically run for 4 to 12 weeks depending on the size of the project, the number of interdependent systems, and the areas which need to be explored.
In Agile projects, you may run a Discovery phase upfront to outline the purpose for the project and interconnect systems along with mini 1 to 2-week discovery process at the start of each sprint to gather the information you need to build out a feature.
The next time you start on any digital project:
Make sure you allow time for a Discovery phase at the start of your project to define both business and user goals, and to set a clear vision that sets a clear purpose and direction for the project to all stakeholders.
Be sure to run a Stakeholder workshop with representatives from a variety of different business functions across the business (Marketing, Finance, Digital, Customer Services, Sales).
Before selecting which user research methods to use on your project, write down a list of questions you wish to understand and get a budget defined. From there, you can use the NNG matrix to help you understand what the best tool to use is.
If you found this article interesting, here is some recommended further reading:
If you are interested in running Stakeholder workshops, I’d highly recommend reading the following books. Not only will they give you useful hints and tips on how to run workshops, they’re packed full of different workshop exercises to help you get answers to specific questions.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a ‘conference’ as, “An event at which industry professionals talk at other industry professionals who’ve stockpiled seven complimentary croissants in their bag to eat later. See also:Room temperature orange juice.”
Whether it’s to learn some new tricks, make some new connections or drum up some new business, conferences are a necessary (and sometimes cool) part of being a marketer—but not all of them are worth your time. While your typical marketing conference has morphed from weak coffee and dry PowerPoints to free t-shirts and celebrity thought leaders, it can be tough to leave feeling like you’ve really gotten something out of the event.
We saw a need to change the conference experience. Because the experience of being a marketer has changed.
Marketing now is harder than ever— it’s hyper-competitive, oversaturated and comprised of tired tactics that used to work. We need new solutions to old problems and actionable solutions to new problems. Especially when we’re forking out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on a conference ticket (money we could’ve sacrificed to the AdWords gods).
“CTAConf has set the bar for what a marketing event should be: fun, engaging and insightful. No matter the experience level or skill set, every attendee left with a new set of philosophies and tactics to apply in their marketing practice”
— Ray Silva, Strategy Lead at Apply Digital and CTAConf 2017 attendee.
Now in its fifth year (only 55 more ’til we get that diamond!), CTAConf 2018 is going to be more exciting, more targeted and more committed to your future success than ever.
Already sold on joining us? Get 10% off Early Bird tickets by using the promo code “CTAConfRevolution” at checkout.
Why this conference is different (we promise)
CTAConf merges carefully curated, usable content with…well, having a great time. It’s single track, allergic to fluff and ensures you’ll walk away with leading-edge tactics, all wrapped up in an amazing experience you’ll truly enjoy.
We’re talking hands-on workshops, a concert atmosphere, all-you-can-eat snacks and gourmet food trucks, organic networking, a genuinely friendly team and fun parties in the beautiful setting of Vancouver, B.C. (Credit to Mother Nature for that one.)
Even the sessions themselves, held in the historic and fully immersive Queen Elizabeth Theatre, will make you feel less like you’re at a “work event” and more like you’re at a Broadway show about email marketing called Don’t Spamalot.
Most importantly, it’s designed to deliver practical know-how and future-proofing strategies from true experts covering every facet of digital marketing.
A glimpse at who’s talking and what you’ll learn
April Dunford, Wind at Your Back: Making your Market Category Work for You
April has spent her career launching innovative tech products and is a seasoned expert at getting traction in increasingly noisy markets. Prior to founding Rocket Launch Marketing, where she works with companies on market strategy and positioning, she was VP of Marketing at a series of successful high-growth startups and an executive at global companies including IBM, Nortel and Siebel Systems. She was also the top-rated speaker at last year’s CTAConf (she happens to be equal parts genius and hilarious).
In her talk, you’ll learn :
How to shift to a favourable market category to give your marketing programs added velocity
How to completely change the way customers think about your offering to remove friction in your funnel
The three steps for shifting market categories, from isolating your differentiators to finding your downstream customers and picking the best market current to ride
Rob Bucci, What Google Serves Up For Local Searches
Rob is the founder and CEO of STAT Search Analytics, a rank tracking and SERP analytics service for SEO experts. A developer and entrepreneur in the SEO space since 2005, Rob especially loves tackling big-data challenges in data mining and analytics.
He’ll be bringing his SEO expertise to the stage to teach us:
How Google interprets different levels of local intent and what searchers are seeing most often
How to refine your SEO keyword lists by comparing SERPs
How to better tailor your content to build more targeted ad campaigns that achieve better results
Hana Abaza, Product Marketing: Inside and Out
Hana is the Head of Marketing for Shopify Plus, a division of Shopify that powers some of the world’s fastest growing and most iconic brands (Rebecca Minkoff, Nestle, The New York Times and FAO Schwartz, to name a few). Prior to joining Shopify, Hana led marketing and growth in a variety of industries and has a proven track record for scaling teams, revenue and customers.
You’ll leave her talk knowing:
The guidelines for how and when to invest in product marketing
How to develop a go-to-market framework for your company
How to set up product marketing as a cross-functional powerhouse
Ross Simmonds, Beyond Google: How To Attract Relevant Traffic Through Diverse Channels
Ross is the founder of Foundation Marketing and creator and co-founder of content curation tool, Crate, and Hustle & Grind, an online store for entrepreneurs.
Over the last several years, he’s worked to help some of the fastest-growing startups and a variety of Fortune 500 brands succeed in their digital marketing efforts. His talk focuses on typically under-used and ignored channels as missed opportunities for quality traffic.
During his talk, you’ll learn:
What brands can do to spread their story beyond SEO & SEM
How brands can leverage communities and other networks to drive consistent traffic
Research and data on the importance of diverse channels
Examples of what happens when you embrace a more diverse content approach
Krista Seiden, Measurement for Growth
Currently a Product Manager and Analytics Evangelist for the Google Analytics team, Krista is a leader in the digital analytics industry and co-chair for the San Francisco chapter of the Digital Analytics Association. She has nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing, analytics, and product management, having led analytics and optimization at Adobe and The Apollo Group prior to joining Google.
Her talk will cover:
What growth marketing really is, beyond the buzzwords
How effective growth marketing is rooted in analytics, experimentation, and product development
How to strategically measure and use data for targeted growth
Cyrus Shepard, SEO Success: The One Engagement Metric to Rule Them All
Former Head of SEO and Content Development at Moz, Cyrus now runs Zyppy, a fast-growing SEO company. When he’s not consulting with companies big and small on how to improve their rankings, traffic and profits, he travels the world as a speaker, making complex SEO equations easy to understand.
This August Cyrus will take the stage to teach us:
How much speed and rankings matter and steps to improve the right areas
What “fuzzy” engagement metrics like bounce rate, time on site, pages per visit really mean and what you need to focus on
How to use SEO data to improve conversions
Oli Gardner, Content Marketing is Broken and Only Your M.O.M. Can Save You
Oli is not only an Unbounce co-founder, he’s an expert and international speaker on conversion optimization, data-driven design and landing pages (he claims to have seen more landing pages than anyone on the planet).
He’s often the highest-rated speaker at events around the world, including previous Call to Action Conferences. This year, he’ll be talking:
Data and lessons learned from his biggest ever content marketing experiment, and how those lessons have changed his approach to content
A context-to-content-to-conversion strategy for big content that converts, based on designing for your customer’s “aha!” moments
Advanced methods for creating “choose your own adventure” navigational experiences to build event-based behavioural profiles of your visitors
Innovative ways to productize and market the technology you already have, with use cases your customers had never considered
What’s happening off stage
Learn by doing with Unbounce workshops
Get your hands proverbially dirty with interactive workshops on A/B testing, landing page optimization, PPC, analytics and mastering Unbounce for more conversions across every type of digital campaign. A full-day event prior to the conference, the workshops are a chance to work directly with seasoned pros on solutions to real marketing problems. Workshops have been so popular in previous years they were standing room only.
Make your first (or hundredth!) landing page, popup or sticky bar with us at the workshops, and learn all the insider tips you can take home to your team.
Eat to your stomach’s content, on us
When we say free food, we don’t mean “Enjoy these sweaty muffins! If you want lunch, there’s a Chipotle two blocks away.” We mean constantly replenished drinks, foodie-approved snacks and a lunchtime convoy of the city’s finest food trucks delivering everything from truly tasty salads to life-changing mac ‘n’ cheese. All included.
Meet, connect and party with great people
Call to Action Conference hovers around 1,200 attendees for a refreshingly intimate experience with the buzzing energy of a big-time event. Meet fellow passionate marketers from cities all over the world, mingle with industry leaders and see just how stereotypically Canadian the friendly Unbounce crew is.
“CTAConf was amazing! My favourite part? The caliber of attendees and the energy they brought. Met so many remarkable marketers!”
—Jes Kirkwood, Head of Content Marketing at ProsperWorks and 2017 attendee.
Soak up Vancouver at the best time of year
Business and pleasure do mix! Especially in summer. CTAConf 2018 is happening August 27-29, smack dab in the middle of Vancouver’s sunshine season. Take a seawall stroll between sessions, taste-test your way through a diverse food scene, hone your craft beer palate at one of many world-renowned breweries or tack on an extra day and get outside the city to those calling mountains. We turn into human prunes waiting out months of rain for a Vancouver summer and it’s totally worth it. Come see for yourself.
Enjoy champagne hotels at boxed-wine prices
We’ve secured 40-50% discounts on rooms at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Delta Hotels Vancouver Downtown Suites, exclusive to CTAConf 2018 attendees and just steps away from the conference venue. Rooms are at first come, first serve and book up fast so grab yours ASAP and prepare your senses for the fluffiest of robes.
Join the revolution
Call to Action Conference 2018 is coming up fast and early bird prices are ending soon. Get your single, group or customer ticket before May 31, 2018 and come hold us to our promise. You’ll leave feeling inspired, energized and ready for marketing victory with tactics and strategies you can put into action the very next day. In other words, you’ll really get something out of this.
Don’t forget to sweeten that Early Bird deal. Use the promo code “CTAConfRevolution” at checkout to get 10% off all ticket rates. See you in August!
P.S. If you’re joining us from the United States, you’re in luck. Ticket prices are in Canadian dollars. Your boss basically can’t say no (and if you happen to be the boss, you can take your whole team). You’re welcome, eh.
You might not wake up each morning thinking about data privacy and security but, like it or not, Facebook’s recent move makes it an issue you can’t dismiss. Long before Mark Zuckerberg sat before congress in the face of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, explaining how Facebook uses personal data, the European Union started getting especially serious about data protection and privacy.
And so, on May 25 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect.
In a nutshell, the GDPR legislation gives everyone in the EU greater privacy rights, and introduces new rules for marketers and software providers to follow when it comes to collecting, tracking, or handling EU-based prospects’ and customers’ personal data.
Moreover, the GDPR applies to anyone who processes or stores data of those in the EU (i.e. you don’t need to be physically located in Europe for this to apply to your business and can incur fines up to 4% of your annual global turnover or €20 million [whichever is greater] for non-compliance).
But Beyond Potential Fines, Here’s Why You Need to Care
On Tuesday April 3rd, Zuckerberg said that Facebook had no plans to extend the GDPR regulations globally to all Facebook users. But, fast-forward a few weeks later and Facebook completely changed its tune, now planning to extend Europe’s GDPR standards worldwide.
This move sets a precedent, showing all of us that no matter where we are in the world, personal data and privacy laws aren’t optional. Compliance is table stakes.
If you’re located in Europe, process lead and customer data from Europe — or just happen to believe in high standards for data privacy and security, this post will help you navigate:
What Unbounce has done to become GDPR compliant, and
Some of what you need to do to make sure your landing pages, sticky bars, and popups adhere to the new rules.
Note: This post isn’t the be-all-and-end-all on EU data privacy, nor is it legal advice. It’s meant to provide background information and help you better understand how you can use Unbounce in a GDPR compliant way.
Data Protection by Default for You and Your Customers
For several months now, Unbounce has been investing heavily in the necessary changes to be GDPR compliant as a conversion platform. We believe that to build trust and confidence with your customers, you need to make their privacy your priority.
As of the day of GDPR enforcement, you can be sure we’ve got your back when it comes to processing and storing your data within Unbounce, and giving you the tools you need to run compliant campaigns.
To see exactly what Unbounce has been doing, why it matters and where we’re at in development, check out our GDPR FAQ page.
But while we’re a GDPR compliant platform with privacy and security safeguards built into our business practices and throughout our platform, this is only part of the equation. There are still a few things you are responsible for to use Unbounce in a compliant way, including:
Obtaining consent from your visitors (lawful basis of processing)
Deleting personal data if requested (right to erasure)
Encrypting lead data at transit and in rest (using SSL) and
Signing a data processing addendum (DPA) with Unbounce
Here’s what you’re gonna want to watch for as you build landing pages, popups, and sticky bars.
Obtaining Consent From Your Visitors
Before collecting someone’s data the GDPR states you must first have a legal basis to do so. There are six lawful bases of processing under the GDPR, but if you’re a digital marketer, your use case will most likely fall into one of the following three:
Consent (i.e. opt-in)
Performance of a contract (eg. sending an invoice to a customer)
“Legitimate interest” (eg. Someone is an existing customer and you want to send them information related to a product or service they already have.)
If you are using Unbounce for lead gen, then you must gather consent via opt-in to collect, use, or store someone’s data. When building your landing pages in Unbounce, you can easily add an opt-in field to your forms with the Unbounce form builder:
Keep in mind: Your visitors must actively check your opt-in box to give consent. Pre-checked checkboxes are not a valid form of consent.
Related But Different: Cookies And The ePrivacy Regulation
In many posts you’ll see Europe’s ePrivacy regulations tied in with GDPR, but they are, in fact, two separate things. While the GDPR regulates the general use and management of personal data, cookie use is core to the ePrivacy regulation (which is why you’ll sometimes see it called the “cookie law”). ePrivacy regulations are still in the works, but it’s certain they will be about visitor consent to cookies on your site.
Last year Unbounce launched sticky bars (a discreet, mobile-friendly way to get more conversions), but they do double duty as a cookie bar, notifying your visitors about cookies.
You can design and publish a cookie bar using Unbounce’s built-in template, as shown below, embed the code across all of your landing pages using script manager, then promptly publish to every landing page you build in Unbounce. You can even have it appear all across your website.
Informing Visitors of Your Data Protection Policies
It’s not enough to just obtain consent, the GDPR also requires you to inform your customers and prospects what they are consenting to. This means that you need to provide easy access to your privacy and data protection policies (something Google AdWords has required for ages).
Sharing your privacy and data protection policies easily and transparently can help you earn the trust and confidence of your web visitors. Every visitor may not read through it with a fine tooth comb, but in a web littered with sketchy marketing practices, sharing your policies shows that you’re legit and that you have nothing to hide.
This is a great example of how doing right by your customers can also help you achieve your business goals.
The Right To Be Forgotten
At any point in time a customer or lead whose data you have collected can request that you erase any of their personal data you have stored. There are several grounds under which someone can make this request and the GDPR requires that you do so without “undue delay”.
As an Unbounce customer, simply submit an email request to our support team who will ensure that all information for a specific lead or a group of leads are deleted from our database.
As part of our ongoing commitment to supporting data privacy and security, we are inspecting alternate solutions to deletion requests, but you can rest assured that even as of today, we will fulfill deletion requests within the time limit enforced by the GDPR.
Preventing Unauthorized Access to Data
Unbounce has supported SSL encryption on landing pages for years, and we’re proud that we made this a priority for our customers before Google started calling out non-https pages as not secure and giving preferential treatment to secure pages.
Presently Unbounce customers can already adhere to the GDPR requirement to process all data securely.
When you build and publish your landing pages with Unbounce, you can force your web visitors to the secure (https) version of your pages, even if they accidentally navigate to the unsecure (http) version.
In the upper right corner you can toggle to force visitors to the secure HTTPS version of your page.
This forced redirect will ensure proper encryption of your visitor lead data in transit and at rest. And as an added bonus, it’ll keep you in Google’s good books and prevent ‘not secure’ warnings in Google Chrome.
Signing a Data Protection Addendum (DPA) With Unbounce
According to the GDPR, when you collect lead information with Unbounce, you are the data controller while Unbounce serves as your data processor. To comply with GDPR regulation when using a tool like a landing page builder or conversion platform, you need a signed DPA between you (the data controller) and the service provider (your data processor).
Without getting too deep into the weeds on this one, let me just say that if you’re using Unbounce, we’ve got you covered and that you can complete a form on our GDPR overview page to get your DPA by email.
Privacy = Trust = Great Marketing
At Unbounce we view data privacy and security as two cornerstones of great marketing. At their core they are about a positive user experience and can help make the internet a better place.
The GDPR puts more control in the hands of users to determine how their information is used. No one wants their personal data falling into the wrong hands or being used in malicious or intrusive ways. Confidence and trust in your brand is at stake when it comes to privacy, so we aren’t taking any chances. Using Unbounce as your conversion platform, you can assure your customers that you take their privacy and data security seriously.
Increased regulation around data privacy may provide short term challenges for marketers as we establish new norms, but long term they can provide a more positive experience for users — something we should always strive for as marketers.
Imagine this: As the Chief Marketing Officer of your company, you are tasked to report on the annual marketing results by your CEO – and you have to be quick, direct, and efficient in communicating the whole to every stakeholder sitting at the meeting. How do you do it? This might not be a situation you’re too unfamiliar with. There might not be stakeholders, you might not be a CMO – but you often find yourself in a position where you need to convey effectively the story behind your online marketing data. And we know that online marketing data is…
Pictured above: Rolf Inge Holden (Finge), founder of ConversionLab.
Whether your best ideas come to you in the shower, at the gym, or have you bolting awake in the middle of the night, sometimes you want to quickly A/B test to see if a given idea will help you hit your marketing targets.
This want to split test is real for many Unbounce customers, including Norway-based digital agency ConversionLab, who works with client Campaign Monitor.
Typically this agency’s founder, Rolf Inge Holden (Finge), delivers awesome results with high-performing landing pages and popups for major brands. But recently his agency tried an experiment we wanted to share because of the potential it could have for your paid search campaigns, too.
The Test Hypothesis
If you haven’t already heard of San-Francisco based Campaign Monitor, they make it easy to create, send, and optimize email marketing campaigns. Tasked with running especially effective PPC landing pages for the brand, Finge had a hypothesis:
If we match copy on a landing page dynamically with the exact verb used as a keyword in someone’s original search query, we imagine we’ll achieve higher perceived relevance for a visitor and (thereby) a greater chance of conversion.
In other words, the agency wondered whether the precise verb someone uses in their Google search has an effect on how they perceive doing something with a product, and—if they were to see this exact same verb on the landing page— whether this would increase conversions.
In the case of email marketing, for example, if a prospect typed: “design on-brand emails” into Google, ‘design’ is the exact verb they’d see in the headline and CTAs on the resulting landing page (vs. ‘build’ or ‘create’, or another alternative). The agency wanted to carry through the exact verb no matter what the prospect typed into the search bar for relevance, but outside the verb the rest of the headline would stay the same.
The question is, would a dynamic copy swap actually increase conversions?
Setting up a valid test
To run this test properly, ConversionLab had to consider a few table-stakes factors. Namely, the required sample size and duration (to understand if the results they’d achieve were significant).
In terms of sample size, the agency confirmed the brand could get the traffic needed to the landing page variations to ensure a meaningful test. Combined traffic to variant A and B was 1,274 visitors total and—in terms of duration—they would run the variants for a full 77 days for the data to properly cook.
To determine the amount of traffic and duration you need for your own tests to be statistically significant, check out this A/B test duration calculator.
Next, it was time to determine how the experiment would play out on the landing page. To accomplish the dynamic aspect of the idea, the agency used Unbounce’s Dynamic Text Replacement feature on Campaign Monitor’s landing page. DTR helps you swap out the text on your landing page with whatever keyword a prospect actually used in their search.
Below you can see a few samples of what the variants could have looked like once the keywords from search were pulled in (“create” was the default verb if a parameter wasn’t able to be pulled in):
What were the results?
When the test concluded at 77 days (Oct 31, 2017 —Jan 16, 2018), Campaign Monitor saw a 31.4% lift in conversions using the variant in which the verb changed dynamically. In this case, a conversion was a signup for a trial of their software, and the test achieved 100% statistical significance with more than 100 conversions per variant.
The variant that made use of DTR to send prospects through to signup helped lift conversions to trial by 31.4%
What these A/B test results mean
In the case of this campaign, the landing page variations (samples shown above) prompt visitors to click through to a second page where someone starts their trial of Campaign Monitor. The tracked conversion goal in this case (measured outside of Unbounce reporting) was increases to signups on this page after clicking through from the landing page prior.
This experiment ultimately helped Campaign Monitor understand the verb someone uses in search can indeed help increase signups.
The result of this test tell us that when a brand mirrors an initial search query as precisely as possible from ad to landing page, we can infer the visitor understands the page is relevant to their needs and are thereby more primed to click through onto the next phase of the journey and ultimately, convert.
Message match for the win!
Here’s Finge on the impact the test had on the future of their agency’s approach:
“Our hypothesis was that a verb defines HOW you solve a challenge; i.e. do you design an email campaign or do you create it? And if we could meet the visitor’s definition of solving their problem we would have a greater chance of converting a visit to a signup. The uplift was higher than we had anticipated! When you consider that this relevance also improves Quality Score in AdWords due to closer message match, it’s fair to say that we will be using DTR in every possible way forwards.”
Interested in A/B testing your own campaigns?
Whether you work in a SaaS company like Campaign Monitor, or have a product for which there are multiple verbs someone could use to make queries about your business, swapping out copy in your headlines could be an A/B test you want to try for yourself.
Using the same type of hypothesis format we shared above, and the help of the A/B testing calculator (for determining your duration and sample size), you can set up some variants of your landing pages to pair with your ads to see whether you can convert more.
ConversionLab’s test isn’t a catch all or best practice to be applied blindly to your campaigns across the board, but it could inspire you to try out Dynamic Text Replacement on your landing pages to see if carrying through search terms and intent could make a difference for you.
It’s dangerous territory to make assumptions, over-generalize, or depend on logic or even so called “best practices” to make decisions about site changes. My team and I launched an e-commerce website a few years ago, and here are four ways we tried to break through common conversion pitfalls in order to ensure we increased our own conversions: Assumption #1 – All Of Your Ideas Are Great Ideas You’ve had these experiences countless times… you had a great idea for the site that was informed and re-enforced by “best practices.” You sold it to the team by explaining how your idea…