Tag Archives: opost

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[AMA] I’m Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce. Ask Me Anything

If you’re serious about conversion rate optimization, then you’ve likely heard of Michael Aagaard: founder of ContentVerve.com, international speaker and, as of this year, the Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce.

His pragmatic approach to conversion rate optimization, focusing more on research and real results rather than mere “conversion lifts,” has made him a respected authority in the field. (Oh, and he’s a handsome and a super friendly guy to boot. He’s been described by his colleagues as a “norse god” and a “lightening bolt in human form.”)

Simply put: he’s the guy you want in your corner when you’re prepping your next A/B test hypothesis.

Well, we’re making that happen.

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Unbounce’s Senior Conversion Optimizer Michael Aagaard.

Now’s your chance to get answers to those burning conversion queries that disturb your slumber (to make sense of the marketing mayhem that fills your waking hours).

All from the comfort of wherever you are right now.

Seriously — now! Scroll down to the comments section and ask your question! Whether you’re wondering about conversion research, formulating a hypothesis or what it’s like to transition from being a consultant to working in-house, Michael will be answering live on the blog on Monday, November 30th at 1 – 4 PM EST (10 AM – 1 PM PST).

OK, so you actually have a few days to ask your question, but seize the day! Carpe diem! (At the very least, set a Google Calendar reminder.)

Source article – 

[AMA] I’m Michael Aagaard, Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce. Ask Me Anything

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Joanna Wiebe on What Happens When Copywriters Get Lazy [PODCAST]

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If you want to write copy that converts, you can’t afford to be lazy. Image by Martie Swart via Flickr.

Copywriters walk a fine line between adhering to best practices and thinking outside the box.

On the one hand, you don’t want to mess with what works. On the other, you need to get adventurous if you’re going to stand out from the crowd — nothing kills conversions like lazy copywriting.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Copy Hackers co-founder Joanna Wiebe challenges marketers to take chances with their copywriting, and pinpoints three common mistakes that result in lazy copy that just doesn’t convert.

You will learn:

  • Whether you should build your landing pages starting with the copy or the design.
  • Why discounts and promos won’t always help your copy convert better.
  • How to pitch your bold, adventurous copy to your boss so it doesn’t get rejected.

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
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Mentioned in the podcast

Transcript coming soon.


Link: 

Joanna Wiebe on What Happens When Copywriters Get Lazy [PODCAST]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Event marketing

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

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

Click to see the full page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to see the full page.

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

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

Hiring (and applying)

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

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

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

Click to see the full page.

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

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

Click to see the full page.

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

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

PaySavvy-Apply-Unbounce

Contest submissions

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

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

Click to see the full page.

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

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

Click to enlarge.

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

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

Liveblogging

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

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

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

Click to enlarge.

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

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

Conf-Notes-CTA

Idea validation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The unexplored frontier of landing pages

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

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

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I spent several hundred hours building websites in this thing.

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

Or you could just make the next great Squint Eastwood.

Original link:  

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

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The Power of Vulnerability in Copywriting [PODCAST]

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Embrace your vulnerability.

Good copywriters aren’t afraid to put themselves out there. They write from the heart and let their true voice shine through in their work.

But being authentic shouldn’t come at the expense of writing clear, helpful copy. So how do you make your boss and clients happy without sacrificing your voice?

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, we chat with Unbounce writer Brad Tiller about reconciling your company’s (or client’s) voice and your own. Then, we speak to Brian Lenney, copywriter at Inbound.org, about how you can use the power vulnerability in your copy to connect with prospects and push them toward conversion.

You will learn:

  • How a man with a gun taught Brian a priceless marketing lesson.
  • Why you should take more risks with your copywriting when seeking employment or contracts.
  • Why saying “no” to certain contracts is okay — especially when it’s a question of honoring your integrity.

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
Prefer Stitcher? We got your back.

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Brian Lenney, copywriter at Inbound.org.

Dan Levy: You start your post off with a story about something kinda traumatic that happened to you on your way back from a wrestling tournament back in high school. Can you set up that scene for us?

Brian Lenney: Yeah. So when I was a teenager I was a pretty wild kid, always getting into trouble, kind of like a Bart Simpson-type kid, causing problems, stuff like that. And it usually had to do almost every time with opening my mouth. So I was always that kid. So I was in wrestling in high school. One night we got back from a tournament and on the way home, driving home with buddies, we saw two cars getting into an accident. So my natural inclination in the backseat was to yell out the window at these guys, “Learn how to drive a-holes.” You know? I don’t know, 16 years old, right?

So it just entered my mind. I said it no filter, just yelled at them with no thought about what that might lead to. And what it did lead to was both of the guys getting back into their car, because apparently it looks like they knew each other, and chasing us, cutting us off, boxing us in. You know, this is after about a ten minute chase, if you want to call it that, of them trying to run us off the road, stuff like that. So they ended up cutting us off, blocking us so we couldn’t go forward. We couldn’t go backwards.

And one guy got out with a huge ass gun, I believe it was a 357 Magnum. It was a big revolver like Dirty Harry type thing, started walking towards me. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, Tombstone, when Kurt Russell walks across the river and he’s just pointing the gun at people walking – but started walking looking right at me. And he said, “You want to open your big mouth again?” Which I didn’t.

Before the guy got too close, my buddy slammed the truck into reverse, drove through – literally reversed through three to four people’s lawns who, thankfully, didn’t have their cars in their driveway. And we got out alive, obviously. So it was pretty intense. Glad he didn’t shoot.

Dan Levy: Whoa. Yeah. That’s something straight out of Compton stuff right there.

Brian Lenney: Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Dan Levy: That’s – yeah, that’s a really intense story. Listeners are probably wondering though what it has to do with marketing. You say that you learned a priceless marketing lesson that day. What was that?

Brian Lenney: Yeah. Well, you know, to be honest, I didn’t learn the lesson that day. I had a series of events like that going forward, but I did learn the lesson years later as I grew up and kinda matured a little bit, looking back at that day. So my entire life I’ve been told that I can’t do this or you can’t say that or that’s crossing the line, stuff like that. So I always got an A in the classroom and like a F in the playground. That’s how my elementary school teachers graded me.

So always in trouble because of my mouth, but at the same time, always excelling in the classroom because of it, too. So it’s kind of like a double-edged sword. So I think the lesson I learned kind of looking back at that and over and over again is when you open your mouth you take a risk. Now, typically, ideas have consequences, right, when we say something.

A lot of people, though, look at risk taking as negative but it doesn’t have to be negative like getting a gun pulled on you. It can be good. I’m on the team at Inbound.org and that’s one of the products of HubSpot Labs. So I got that job when I literally applied for the job with a quote from Anchorman. And –

Dan Levy: What was the quote?

Brian Lenney: So they had the job posting up for a copywriter and one of the sentences they had in the job description was how much awesome can you pack into one sentence? So literally I emailed them and I applied. I said, “This job description stings the nostrils. If you want to know more, email me back.” And Sam, who’s the team lead over at HubSpot labs, he sent me a email back. And he said, “I love lamp. Let me see some of your writing.”

So it was a risk they were gonna think I was an idiot and tell me to pound sand. Or they would say, “Oh, this guy’s kinda different. Let’s see if we can bring him on.” So opening your mouth literally, verbally or when you do it online, it’s risky. But the risks can be good and they can be worth if it you get to go to bed at night knowing that you got to be yourself. But also I have that issue of crossing the line sometimes.

Dan Levy: Right. It’s a double-edged sword, I guess.

Brian Lenney: Definitely.

Dan Levy: I want to ask you a little bit about your copywriting prowess later on. But first, you cite in your post that famous Ted Talk by Brené Brown on vulnerability. What doe being vulnerable as a marketer look like to you?

Brian Lenney: For me, her Ted Talk really – I saw that when it first came out when I was working at an agency actually. And that really connected like a final dot for me of like, “Oh, okay. This is what we’re missing in marketing.” So in my experience, a lot of people in marketing pretend like they’re not real people, you know, just because you’re a marketer doesn’t mean you don’t have opinions, views, quirks. It doesn’t mean you don’t have something to say about politics and religion. Obviously, you want to do that wisely, but being vulnerable as a marketer just means that you get to be you. And that’s okay if you get to be you.

Or as Brené Brown puts it in her Ted Talk and in her books, she talks about being vulnerable — when you’re letting yourself be seen, the real you. That doesn’t mean it has to be all of you or complete you, but it’s letting people kind of look into your life and letting yourself be seen.

So as far as vulnerability goes, we all struggle, we all have issues. And when you can incorporate that into your marketing — kind of letting the struggle show a little bit, stuff like that, letting the issues maybe peak through, quirkiness, weirdness — people identify with that because, like I said, we all have stories. We all struggle.

So when you talk about it or you write about it or you can even – sometimes it’s difficult, though. When you can incorporate that into your marketing you kind of earn the right to be heard because you’re building trust, you’re building relational capital and people appreciate that. And when they trust you, they’ll do business with you.

Dan Levy: Can you think of an example of a particular company or a marketing campaign that you’ve either been involved with or come across recently, in which being vulnerable led to surprising results?

Brian Lenney: Yeah. The last job I had before I jumped ship from the corporate world and started freelancing was at a hospice agency, which is really weird marketing hospice because it’s end of life and you’re meeting with families who have a dying loved one, stuff like that. So my –

Dan Levy: Talk about being vulnerable, wow.

Brian Lenney: Yeah. Yeah. It’s – and you wouldn’t think there’s competition in hospice, which is end of life care. Typically, someone who has a terminal illness whose – a doctor has given them six months or less to live. But my step dad died four years ago and we got to experience that as a family. So when just by pure chance a friend of a friend type thing got a job at a hospice agency in a marketing – which I thought was odd, but I did that.

So one of the campaigns we did, we called it, “Have you had the talk?” And what we did is – the only thing we did is we went out to the community, doctors, offices, hospitals, literally inbound, outbound, door-to-door, online and we just shared stories about our own families, the actual marketing team, and experiences we had caring for loved ones while they were dying, me getting to say goodbye to my stepdad while he was on his death bed and how I wish we would have called hospice sooner, stuff like that. We had family members of our patients who had died already, passed away, we had them come back and say, “Wow, hospice did this for us.”

But it was really intense, really intense, stories, lots of tears, lots of crying. But we did video, copy, everything. And the result was we had a lot of people sign up for Hospice. We had a lot of inbound calls. We had a lot of referrals because people identified with our stories. When people are facing struggle, a lot of times they feel like they’re alone.

But when you’re coming to them sharing your story, saying, “Hey, I’ve been there, too, and I’ve struggled with this, too. And I know what it’s like,” and you’re just kinda sharing your story, they trust you. And that’s when you’re being authentic and you’re essentially giving them a piece of your life. And when you do that people tend to give back.

So we – it’s an awful way to look at it as business, but it really is. I mean, we got a lot of business. We had a lot of people sign up for hospice after that because of our stories.

Dan Levy: Wow. What a powerful example. What do you think the consequences are of not being vulnerable as a marketer?

Brian Lenney: That’s a really good question. I’m actually reading Brené Brown’s newest book right now called Rising Strong, which is about bouncing back after failure. So she has three books. This is kind of like the capstone, like, “Hey you failed. You’ve fallen down, time to get back up,” type thing.

And in that book she talks about people who are always compartmentalizing their lives or hiding parts of themselves or editing their stories in an attempt to look better or not let people see them. But I think the consequences of not being vulnerable as a marketer is you’re being fake. You’re not being genuine, I think. Part of that is – I think it’s an integrity issue because people want to see and get to know you. They want to know who you are. They want to hear your stories, your struggles, your flaws.

One of my favorite copywriters – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her. Her name’s Ash Ambirge. She runs the copywriting gig, I guess you could call it, called the Middle Finger Project, which is a great name. But she’s a master storyteller. The stuff she writes about, she talks openly, writes openly about the good, the bad, the ugly, her struggles, her failures, when she’s blown it as a marketer, as a copywriter. She’s just a really, really vulnerable, amazing storyteller.

But because of that, she’s built a tribe around herself and she’s letting people see her. And people love her for it. She’s killing it business-wise. She’s just – she’s doing really great. And I think that’s because she’s a great storyteller. She lets herself be seen and people appreciate that. But if we’re not vulnerable, if we don’t let ourselves be seen, I think we’re just – we’re kind of selling ourselves short, I think.

Dan Levy: Well, you’re a copywriter, and conversion-centered copywriter at that. I’m wondering if you could think of an instance where you’ve used vulnerability – and not to make it sound crass, but you’ve used vulnerability as a persuasion principle either on a landing page or other form of marketing copy, put it another way, can vulnerability and conversion work together?

Brian Lenney: Yeah, I think they can. This one kind of happened on accident so I wasn’t trying to be vulnerable but I think part of being vulnerable is you’re not technically trying. You’re just being you, letting the chips kinda fall where they may. So I’ve gotten a lot of – on my website I have – it’s pretty minimal. I just redid it with Unbounce landing pages, by the way, so good product there.

Dan Levy: Good to know. Thanks.

Brian Lenney: My About page is just – it’s not a typical About page. It’s not just like, “Here’s who I am, here’s how long I’ve been writing, here’s how you get ahold of me.” It’s just kind of my story, so on the top of my About page it’s my story of how I became a freelance copywriter, kinda short version. And I just tell my story about frustration in the corporate world and I know it’s not – freelancing, obviously, it’s not for everyone. But for me I felt like the 9:00 to 5:00 kind of office job at a typical agency or marketing firm, it almost drove me crazy.

So I have had a lot of clients contact me. Unsolicited, they’ve said, “Hey, I read your About page. I love your story. I want you to write like that for us.” And on my About page, it’s just me saying I hated the corporate world. It wasn’t for me. I wanted to be my own boss type thing. And it’s gotten me a lot of clients. I’ve had one-time gigs off of that. I’ve had a couple retainer clients that were really long-term retainer kind of projects.

So it was vulnerable. It was being me. It was kind of like — I’m just gonna tell my story about, like, “Who is this guy? How did he become a writer? What’s his deal?” And it was a bit of being vulnerable, but people appreciate it. And I’ve had more comments on my About page than anything else on my site, so.

Dan Levy: Yeah. It seems a bit counterintuitive, I guess, to reduce things like vulnerability and being yourself into persuasion tactics or like actionable tips because I think once you do that you get away from the genuineness of it. But that being said, being human marketing to other humans, people tend to recognize that and actually gravitate towards that, so.

Brian Lenney: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Hubspot is team-based but one thing we say on our team, I’m pretty sure it’s kind of a team-wide thing we say at Hubspot is: “We’re marketers marketing to marketers about marketing,” you know, with Inbound.org specifically.

Dan Levy: Yeah. We can relate to that at Unbounce.

Brian Lenney: Yeah, definitely, so I mean, kind of what you said — if you take out marketer and put human in there, we’re humans marketing to other humans and when we can really, truly be ourselves and act human and share ourselves with other people, people appreciate it. And I think it’s especially with this millennial younger generation coming up, the 18 to 34 kind of category, they’ve grown up with the internet. They’ve grown up with technology, marketing, sales, buy this, click here, do that. And I think they’re sick of it.

I mean, all the data and things I’ve read on it, people just want – you know what I mean? People just want to have a human connection. They’re sick of being sold to and marketed at. And I think when they come across something that’s human and is real, that’s – it really speaks to people.

Dan Levy: I want to shift gears just a little bit because I’d like to get into some of the copywriting that you’ve done. You’ve taken part in a couple different copywriting contests that we’ve held here at Unbounce in the last few months, I guess. And one of them ended up actually winning you a free trip to Vancouver for our Call to Action conference last month. Can you tell us a little bit about the landing page copy that you wrote for that contest that won you the grand prize and how you went about it?

Brian Lenney: Yeah. That was – the Unbounce CTA conference was just amazing. I had a great trip up there. You guys are amazing hosts. I’ll just – short version.

Dan Levy: Thank you.

Brian Lenney: So yeah, that one, it was the DJ Roomba. For people who weren’t familiar with the contest, it was writing a landing page copy for a product from Parks and Rec that doesn’t actually exist, a robotic music playing vacuum cleaner.

Dan Levy: This is like the second or third Parks & Rec reference on this podcast.

Brian Lenney: Yes. Yeah, true. I’m a huge fan. I was sad when it ended. So yeah, with that one, that was tough. So I mean, looking back, I think was a little bit verbose as far as the length of it. But what I was going for there was quirky, funny, trying to get people to identify with humor. I think reading through all the other contestants, there was a lot of really great stuff. It’s tough. It was actually really tough writing copy for something that doesn’t exist.

But I think my style, my natural voice, I like to write like I talk. So I’ve had several people say, “I read your copy for — I felt like we were just having coffee and you were just sharing with me.” So on that one I used humor to kind of break down barriers to make it sound like a real conversation. And I used, of course, I used a Ron Swanson testimony, which Demian Farnworth thought was great. So I scored some points with the judges there.

And I think using humor and writing like you talk, that also connects with people. That was a tough contest, though. I mean, the judges were ruthless. I think you were one of the judges weren’t you?

Dan Levy: I think I was one of them, yeah.

Brian Lenney: Yeah. So I mean –

Dan Levy: We didn’t pull our punches there.

Brian Lenney: But it was helpful. People learned a lot. The thing I learned from that and from Joanna from Copy Hackers and a lot of the people in the Unbounce kind of posse is that I need to be clear. I need to focus on clarity more than cleverness. When I first started copywriting, I tried to be too clever, which is obviously you know what means, but tried to be too witty or too clever. But all that does is end up confusing people.

Dan Levy: Do you remember what your headline was for the fictional DJ Roomba product on the landing page?

Brian Lenney: Yeah. It was – what was it? It was, “No More Dirty Floors, Way More Dirty Dancing.” You know? And the subhead said – I pulled it up right here – the subhead says, “Do you dream of dancing around your house naked to an endless loop of the Black Eyed Peas while someone else cleans your house? Meet DJ Roomba.”

Obviously, it’s a little click baity kind of funny humorous, but if it gets people to keep reading that’s the goal of good – the goal of a headline is to get people to read the first sentence. The goal of the first sentence to get them to read the second, third, fourth and so on until you hit the button.

Dan Levy: And yeah, maybe it’s more humorous than vulnerable in this case, but it’s still taking a risk, which I think is the main takeaway of your post there.

Brian Lenney: Yeah. I mean, there’s a client I have right now and I have someone I’m working for right now who happens to be in Canada also. And I’m about to submit some stuff. And some of it is really – it’s taking a risk because some of the headlines are like, “Oh, we can’t say that.” But I’m like, “We kinda can, like let’s test it.” So it’s taking a risk, especially in B2B copy when you’re business to business.

A lot of people are afraid of taking risks but I think the people who have I immediately think of MailChimp. They do some really funny stuff and it’s B2B stuff mostly, but they’re killing it. And they’re doing really well because they take a risk and they kind of inject humor and personality all throughout their site that’s conversational and funny. And people love them.

Dan Levy: So you’re obviously a copywriter who knows how to convince people to convert, but you’re also someone who prides himself on being a marketer with integrity. How do you make sure your copy remains conversion-centered without selling your soul in the process?

Brian Lenney: Weirdly enough, I’ve had a few people ask that question. And it is – it’s a great question because people – when you say “copywriter” to people who aren’t familiar with marketing or digital marketing, a lot of people think of, oh, Mad Men and Don Draper and these guys who would just do anything to sell anything. But weirdly enough for me, personally, it’s not tough.

And what it ends up being is I end up saying no to a lot of people. I choose who I work with very carefully because for me it really is about integrity. I want to go to sleep at the end of the day knowing, “Hey, I did this for this client and that’s valuable and it’s gonna help people.” But I just can’t put myself into a situation that’s gonna force me to compromise my values or my beliefs or my integrity. And I just take a very hard stand on that.

Obviously, if a client or someone who might want to work with me contacts me, I’m not gonna say, “Well, no, I don’t believe in what you’re doing. Sorry.” I’ll just tell them, “You know, I don’t think we’re a good fit. I just – I kind of draw a line in the sand with a lot of the internet marketing niche, like Make a Million Dollars from Your Kitchen Table in Your Pajamas. I don’t write for those types of niches — the guru type people who are trying to make everyone millionaires in a week.

So for me I just – I know the types of people I want to work with and I only work with those people. Because if you say yes to a shady client or someone who might be kind of like, oh, I don’t know if what they’re doing is really great. It just doesn’t sit well with me. You know?

Dan Levy: Yeah. I guess if you really believe in the product and you really believe that people clicking that button on the landing page that this is something that’s going to make their life better or this is a product or service that they really need, then those two things aren’t really mutually exclusive. Right? Like you’re persuading them to do something that you actually believe in.

Brian Lenney: I mean, I couldn’t – yeah, I couldn’t say it better. So I mean, you can use persuasion and like you guys and Oli at Unbounce talk about a lot. You can use psychology and persuasion to convince people to do something, but if what you’re convincing them to do is going to make them a better person and like we say in marketing a lot, make them a better version of themselves, then I don’t mind doing it.

Dan Levy: Can you leave us with one actionable tip for writing copy that’s both persuasive and perhaps a little bit vulnerable?

Brian Lenney: Yeah. So what I do when I write most of my posts, the ones that are particularly vulnerable and where I really, really let myself be seen, what I do is I write as fast as I can, not necessarily speed, like I’m not sitting there like the keyboard’s burning up, but I just write as fast as I can without editing. And I don’t hold back on anything.

What I do is I pretend that the only people who are gonna see this is me and god and I’m writing in a journal. So I treat it like a diary entry, like this is what happened, this is what I did, this is how I felt. I do start to finish without stopping. I leave nothing out. I write from the heart. And then when I’m done, I’ll walk away sometimes for a day, maybe two, sometimes depending on what it is maybe for a few hours.

And then I’ll come back and I’ll correct the typos, edit the grammar, make sure that – check for clarity, make sure it flows well, but I usually end up keeping about probably – I don’t know, probably about 90 percent of what I write. And I think when you write like that, if you’re treating it like a journal or diary, you’re being authentic and you’re being raw. And people don’t typically edit their journals or their diaries.

But I think the flip side of that is if you try too hard, then you’re not really being you. You know what I mean? Like if I’m sitting there I want to try to be vulnerable. And I’m just sitting there like what can I say? What can I do? Then it’s coming from the head, but when you let it come from the heart and just let it flow, it usually ends up being pretty powerful.

Dan Levy: Well, I think that’s really good advice and I really appreciate you putting yourself out there on behalf of the rest of us. So thank you so much, Brian.

Brian Lenney: Yeah. No problem.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


More here:  

The Power of Vulnerability in Copywriting [PODCAST]

Bring Your AdWords Campaigns Back from the Dead with Keyword Insertion

If you want to be successful with PPC ads, you need to demonstrate that you understand what prospects are looking for and serve up a relevant ad experience to match.

If you fail to communicate a cohesive message or fulfill the promise you make with your ad, you could face some nightmarish consequences. (Even scarier than that time you accidentally sent out a marketing email with the intro “Hey <FIRST_NAME>.”)

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*Screams of terror.* Image by d.loop via Flickr.

We’re talkin’ consequences including:

To avoid an ad spend disaster, you want your PPC ads to be hyper relevant.

Relevance ensures you get the clicks you deserve, people find what they need, Google trusts your page (because you deliver what you say you do), and you earn a high Quality Score. Your ads could also cost less and  earn better placement.

Fortunately – as we learned in a recent Unwebinar with Bloom Search Marketing’s Martin Perron and Andrew Alkhouri – you can convey relevance from ad to landing page by using AdWords Keyword Insertion. Even better? You can use this AdWords feature in combination with Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) in Unbounce to extend the same relevance through to your landing page.

Brush up on Bloom Search Marketing’s PPC takeaways by watching the webinar recording here, or read on for some distilled wisdom.

First thing’s first…

Keyword Insertion: Serving up relevant ads

Keyword Insertion (the feature formerly known as Dynamic Keyword Insertion) is an advanced AdWords feature that allows you to create an ad that responds to search queries and updates based on Keywords in a specific ad group.

keyword-insertion-img

In other words, you can swap out your ads’ headline or description text based on the keywords prospects actually search for.

This feature is helpful because it takes less time to set up than creating separate ads for each possible query, but also because everyone searches Google differently. While one person might search for “Halloween house,” another might search for “Halloween castle”; still another might look for “ Halloween activities.

If you set up Keyword Insertion correctly, you can appear as an exact match for each of these terms (your headline or description text keywords will swap) and more searchers will see your offer as especially relevant to their needs.

Selecting especially relevant keywords

As Martin pointed out in the webinar, the first step in setting up Keyword Insertion correctly is to decide on the most worthwhile keywords for your business, with the help of Google’s Keyword Planner.

As an example, let’s say you just published a landing page offering 15% off tickets to your annual Halloween attraction, the “ACME Haunted Castle,” and now you need to drive some traffic to your new page.

Ideally, you want some PPC ads to appear when someone searches Google for keywords like “Halloween House,” “Haunted Mansion,” and “ACME Castle,” for example, because people actively searching for these terms are demonstrating high purchase intent (they already know what they’re looking for), and are far more likely to click through from your ad to landing page and convert.

To get started, you’d navigate to the planner from the tools menu in your AdWords account:

all-campaigns-tacktik

Then, type in search terms relevant to your campaign.

keyword-planner

Here Google will indicate the popularity of the suggested keywords. You’ll see the average monthly search numbers, how competitive a keyword is, and even suggested bids.

As Martin warns, not all of the suggested keywords will be a perfect match for what you offer, so be selective and ask yourself if each term is truly connected to your business.

Select the type of keywords that’ll work for Keyword Insertion

When setting up your ad, you can choose from four different types of keywords: exact match, phrase match, broad match, and modified broad match. In the webinar, Martin focused on exact and phrase match (but you can read about all four types here):

  • Exact match, as it sounds, ensures that your ad is only displayed when the user’s query matches your keyword exactly (i.e. “Haunted Castle”)
  • Phrase match applies to search queries with extra words either before or after the keyword. Phrase match would allow your ad to appear when someone searches “Best Haunted Castle,” or “Haunted Castle in Montreal,” for example.

When using Keyword Insertion, it’s best to stick with exact and phrase match as these types of keywords provide precise targeting and can help you attract those with a clearer idea of what they are searching for (i.e. quality leads more likely to convert). These types of keywords also prevent you from having misspelled or misplaced words in your ads.

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Using broad or modified broad match can make your keywords appear out of intended order in your final ads, leading to some wonky headlines like this.

Once you’ve selected some exact and phrase match keywords to use, you’ll add the keywords to your ad group. At Bloom Search Marketing, Martin noted that he tends to use ad groups containing about 15-20 keywords per group.

As a rule of thumb, if you can swap out one keyword for another in the same ad and still have it make sense, then you’ve got a good group of keywords for a single ad group.

Bonus tip:

Pay close attention to the search terms used in conjunction with keywords related to your business, because they can say a lot about the searcher’s intent.

For example, someone searching for “Halloween costume ideas” is likely to be in the research phase, whereas someone searching for, “Halloween vampire costume” could be ready to buy.

Different sets of keywords with different intent will require their own ad group, ad, landing page and offer to match.

Adding Keyword Insertion to your text ad

Once you’ve selected the keywords you want to target and have added them to an ad group, it’s time to build your ads.

In your ad group, click the big red “+AD” button to get started writing a new text ad.

ad-group-haunted-castle

From there, you can enter your copy.

Add the Keyword Insertion feature by adjusting the headline using the syntax Google recognizes: “KeyWord: Default Text.” (Make sure to replace “Default Text” with something generic that will appear if none of the other keywords do).

keyword-haunted-house

Dynamic Text Replacement: Serve up a relevant landing page

Finally, you’ll add the URL for the landing page your ad will direct to.

This is where the second indispensable PPC tool comes in: an Unbounce feature called Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR).

DTR allows you to swap out the text on your landing page – so that your ads and landing page will present exactly what visitors searched for.

Clicked an ad about a Haunted House? That’s what you’ll find in the landing page headline! This allows you to ensure that your prospect is seeing an exact match to their query, from the ad all the way to the landing page headline.

Maintaining this sort of message match increases conversions because it reassures people they’ve come to the right place.

If you’re using a landing page with DTR, make sure you update with the URL containing the DTR parameter, like this:

url-haunted-house
In this screenshot, “Haunted+Castle” corresponds to the name of the list of keywords in that ad group. “Haunted House” corresponds to the default text that would be swapped out if none of the other keywords in that ad group appear.

From there, you’ll simply set up a dynamic piece of text on your Unbounce landing page (for where you’d like the keyword swap to take effect). Your headline, metadata title, page description and call to action are all great options for this.

Relevance is key

Great marketing is about creating seamless experiences for prospects.

When you match your ad and landing page headline to the keyword that your prospect is searching for, you demonstrate that you understand what they want and are ready to offer it to them.

But you also demonstrate to Google that you’re putting your money where your mouth is — which ultimately increases your Quality Score and CTR, while lowering your CPC.

How’s that for a win-win?

Link:

Bring Your AdWords Campaigns Back from the Dead with Keyword Insertion

Get More from Social by Doing Less [PODCAST]

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

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

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

You will learn:

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

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan: Yeah.

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

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

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

Ryan: A huge opportunity, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely, not sexy.

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

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

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

Ryan: It makes a difference.

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

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

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

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely.

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

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

Dan: Got to respect the platform.

Ryan: Got to.

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

Ryan: Yeah, any time.

Stephanie That was Ryan Stewart, founder of WEBRIS.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


See the article here:  

Get More from Social by Doing Less [PODCAST]

Can SSL, Trust Seals and Other Security Indicators Increase Conversions?

Imagine you’re in the waiting room at the “Smiles 4 Dayz” dental office. There’s some standard elevator music playing, and everything seems pretty average.

Except that, as you’re filling out the new patient form, you notice there aren’t any dental school diplomas lining the walls of the office (not one…). Even more curious, the form lists the dentist as simply “Mrs. Liza Hoover,” not “Dr. Hoover, PhD, M.Sc.” Finally, when your name is called, the receptionist asks loudly for your social security number while others look on.

Visitor anxiety

Now, this is an exaggerated example, but these subtle (and not-so-subtle) red flags would likely have you questioning this dentist’s credibility.

Point being? You could be evoking the same type of visitor anxiety on your landing pages unwittingly, and losing out on conversions from visitors who can’t decide whether or not to trust you.

These days, 77% of website visitors worry that their personal data could be intercepted or misused online, so that lead gen form on your landing page could be causing more anxiety (and bounces!) than you realize.

Luckily, there are simple measures you can take to reassure visitors that your pages are secure — thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.

SSL to the rescue!

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an industry standard security measure that creates an encrypted link between your landing pages and your visitor’s browser. It encrypts data in transmission and ensures that contact info sent through your landing page forms is secure.

Visitors to your landing pages can see whether you’re serving up secure page based on the ‘HTTPS’ and the small green padlock icon that’ll appear in the address bar:

Picture1

These two, small visual cues reassure visitors their contact info is safe when submitted through your landing page, and it’s been found that close to half of website visitors check for security indicators like these before they’ll hand over personal information in a form.

Does SSL impact the way visitors perceive your page?

Depending on the importance of perceived security in your industry, you could be leaving conversions on the table if you don’t serve up your pages securely. As GlobalSign, a web-trust certificate provider discovered, 84% of website visitors surveyed said they would abandon a purchase if they knew the data was going to be sent over an insecure connection.

Moreover, because Google prioritizes making the web a safer place for everyone, in 2014 they announced they were using HTTPS as a ranking signal in their search ranking algorithm. Although HTTPS was more of a lightweight signal than high-quality content, Google did say that they might strengthen the signal over time, and ultimately encouraged everyone to swap from HTTP to HTTPS.

As far as your landing pages are concerned, it can’t hurt to take security more seriously, especially in industries like healthcare, finance, security-related tech, and ecommerce (where faulty security can have much higher consequences than in other industries).

After all, your landing page for a finance product might not convert so well if visitors notice you didn’t care to serve it up securely to protect their personal information in transit. A quick swap over to HTTPS is a simple thing you can do today to improve your landing page visitor’s trust.

PRO TIP: SSL is enabled on Unbounce pages on Pro Accounts. Simply update all your current links directing to your landing page to begin with HTTPS, and you’re set!

What about trust seals?

Beyond changing your links to HTTPS, third-party security vendors often offer a security seal, or SSL badge, for you to feature on your ecommerce sites or landing pages with a bit of Javascript. These seals are often cited to correlate with higher conversion rates, but – depending on your use case – your mileage may vary.

Here’s a trust seal from GlobalSign as an example:

Picture2

The effectiveness of these trust seals seems dependent on whether they’re recognized (some are more recognizable than others), but also on their prominence and usefulness to your audience at a particular time in the buying cycle.

A seal accompanying a final purchase confirmation page may fare well, but could hypothetically decrease trust and conversions if you include it too prominently across a multi-step ecommerce experience. Displaying the trust seal repeatedly may make visitors curious as to why you need to repeat that you’re secure (rather than simply state it once during initial checkout).

Blue Fountain Media cited a 42% increase in conversions with their A/B test of a VeriSign seal (see their A/B test variations below), and US Cutter have reported conversion lifts of 11% with the use of a Norton trust seal.

Picture3Picture4

As with all things, however, running your own A/B test is the only way to determine whether security seals are a win for your landing pages.

Placement matters

As everyone will experience different results with a trust seal, it’s difficult to be prescriptive about their use. Chris Goward of WiderFunnel found, for example, that with one of their clients, a McAfee badge decreased conversions by 1.6%. However, as savvy commenters have noted, this could be due to the seal’s placement in the test.

You could choose to include a trust seal on a checkout or shopping cart confirmation page in the case of an ecommerce page, or you could simply swap all of your landing pages to HTTPS, skip the trust seal entirely, and see if you experience a difference in conversions. A simple swap to HTTPS might be enough for your audience to know you’re secure.

Note that if you do swap over to SSL, you’ll want to ensure all elements on your landing pages are secure (including videos, privacy policies, etc.) as the trust seal can’t be verified by a third-party security vendor if there are insecure items on the page.

Put your prospects at ease

When it comes down to it, security is becoming an increasingly important issue for people and marketers have to work to build their trust.

While design, copy and testimonials play a large part in conveying your company’s credibility, there are other factors to consider. Whether you’re creating a click-through ecommerce page, or simply collecting contact information through a lead gen form, you need to do everything you can to reinforce your trustworthiness and convey to customer that you care about their privacy and security.

SSL is just one way you can reassure your potential customers their info is safe with you.


Original article – 

Can SSL, Trust Seals and Other Security Indicators Increase Conversions?

What Happened When Buffer Stopped Publishing for 30 Days? [PODCAST]

buffer
30 days without any new posts? Egads!

Marketers are constantly wondering about the how often they should post to their blog. But when the content marketers at Buffer got tired of the same old “How often should we publish?” question, they decided to ask something much more controversial:

What would happen if we were to stop posting altogether?

That question lead to a somewhat nerve-wracking 30-day publishing experiment. In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Buffer’s Content Crafter Kevan Lee gives us all the gory details.

You’ll learn:

  • Just how much traffic Buffer lost during the experiment.
  • The ways Buffer repurposed their blog content, and what brought them the biggest wins.
  • Some good one-liners to feed family and friends when they ask you what you actually do at work all day.

Listen to the podcast

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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Kevan Lee, Buffer’s Content Crafter.

Stephanie Saretsky:Hey everyone, it’s Stephanie Saretsky here from Unbounce and you’re listening to Call to Action, the podcast about creating better marketing experiences. Last week, we talked to Ginny Soskey at Hubspot about their quality vs quantity experiment, which got us thinking… what other things are other marketers testing? Then, we came across a blog post that posed a question we didn’t think anyone would ever dare answer: what if a company decided to stop posting all together? Buffer decided that they were the company for the job, and embarked on a somewhat nerve-wracking 30-day blog publishing experiment. So naturally, we had to get the story out of them.

Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy spoke with Kevan Lee, Content Crafter at Buffer about how a conversation between Kevan and his fellow Content Crafter inspired this daring experiment, and how their findings have changed the way that Buffer views their older content. Plus, you’ll never believe how much traffic Buffer lost to their blog.

Dan Levy: So not publishing any new blog post for a month is a really scary-sounding experiment to anyone who runs a popular blog. But before we go into the details, can you tell us a little bit about the story behind it? Where did that idea come from and what were you hoping to get out of it?

Kevan Lee: Yeah, I think there’s kind of a funny story just in that… Courtney and I… Courtney is my co-crafter here at Buffer. We often just spew ideas. Sometimes the stuff may start out as a silly idea where we just kinda mention, “I wonder if we could not publish content for a while and be okay with it?” I think it maybe came from a place where we were excited to do lot of other projects and we wanted to kinda challenge the notion of our blog – is it something we need to constantly be doing or is it something that we can kinda think a little bit deeper on and be really mindful of our approach there?

And that makes it sound like a much more scientific process than it was. It was mostly just, “This could be cool to try…” and then we kinda reflected on it and let it simmer for a while and then the timing with the summer and our retreat was around the same time. The timing just seems like it fit really well to go for it, so we did.

Dan Levy: Yeah, and it almost sounds like something that gets brought up half-jokingly and then it’s like nah…

Kevan Lee: Exactly.

Dan Levy: But I really admire your bravery for feeling it, and for taking the chance.

Kevan Lee: Oh, thank you, yeah.

Dan Levy: And you reported that after the experiment you only saw a four percent dip in traffic. Was that surprising to you?

Kevan Lee: Yeah, that’s a great one. I think throughout the experiment I did not look at numbers at all. And the reason why I did that was because I felt that if I saw numbers, I would be motivated to toss the experiment out the window or just kinda give up on things, even though it was probably a very negative mindset for me to have been in. But I think it was just something where I wanted to be really disciplined about the experiment. So I didn’t look at any stats throughout and when it got to the end I was a bit relieved to see that it was a four percent drop.

And there’s probably some seasonality at play also, so it didn’t feel like a significant portion of traffic was really lost. I think in terms of the numbers that we get on the blog, four percent is still a decent chunk of people. So it didn’t feel great to lose any momentum from that side but the goal that we had set was a bigger number – around 10 percent maybe – as a sign that we were definitely not successful in the experiment. So four percent felt pretty good on my end.

Dan Levy: I think there’s actually something to that whole “set it and then don’t look at the numbers for a while” thing. We see that with A/B testing a lot – where if you’re watching the numbers too closely, then maybe you’re apt to call a test before it has actually reached any sort of validity.

Kevan Lee: It was all about trusting the process for us. I think I had some chats with Courtney throughout where I was like, “Oh, I’m just really tempted to write something!” or even write that I missed writing. Like I guess not writing for 30 days is a very foreign concept for me too. And so I was really grateful for her advice and encouragement throughout the process. And I think process is maybe the word that I kept coming back to throughout – just to trust the process that we had in place and to know that there is a purpose and a reason for the experiment and we’ll learn from that – which is success enough I think in the long run.

Dan Levy: And it’s not like you didn’t publish anything at all, right? You didn’t publish any brand new content, but you did breathe some new life into some older content?

Kevan Lee: I kinda cheated a little bit by putting some stuff in it that maybe was somewhat original but it was based off of past content that we had refreshed or we had livened up a little bit. So I think we did an article on Slideshares and it was a collection of some Slideshares that I had made during the month and then also just some other ones that had come to mind. So we did about three or four posts a week still. But none of it was brand new, original, big stuff we’ve done in the past. So it felt good to still publish but was still a bit interesting from the nature of the posts that we did publish.

Dan Levy: And I think that’s the sort of thing that I know over here as well – we’re always talking about how to breathe new life into older content and republish older content – but the new stuff often gets priority so it’s nice that you gave yourself the time to actually prioritize that stuff.

In your post you actually take us through a good amount of detail about all the different strategies that you tried. Can you maybe talk about a few of them? Like the ones that worked the best?

Kevan Lee: Definitely, yeah, I think email courses was one that was really great for us. Email courses are kinda like a drip campaign in a lot of ways. So we would take some existing content and turn it into a series of emails and then invite people to sign up and then send them an email a day. So in particular during our month, I created a 25-day email course about social media strategies. And that was based on maybe three or four old blog posts that talked about social media strategies.

So I was able to repurpose that content pretty easily in that way which felt really great. In the past we’ve also done courses based on particular blog posts. We had one that was quite successful about a social media marketing plan and that ended up working into a quick seven-day email course. So that was super fun to get to kinda experiment with that to see what we could do. A couple of others that come to mind are Slideshares, and that one was just mind blowing for me with how many views are achievable in Slideshare. I tend to forget about it as a source of traffic and engagement and it just seems like every time we post something there, it does a lot better than I thought it would. So spending the time purposely investing in creating more Sideshare content was a great reminder that there’s lots of value there. And once we kind of have a template set up for those Slideshares, it doesn’t take as much time as I think it will either. So it was a really good lesson for me and a great takeaway from the month that we can kinda work Slideshare into our weekly, daily content a bit more than we have already.

There’s good validation behind that and the other one is Medium. Medium worked out quite well also and our approach there was quite basic and something that I’d love to improve on moving forward. Medium makes it really easy to republish old content. They have a feature where you can just paste in an URL to a blog post and Medium will pull it all in and you’re kinda good to go from there. So it’s super, super easy and I’m very grateful that they made it so easy. And we did that with a few of our highly validated blog posts, the ones that had received lots of social shares and things.

And the couple of times that we did it – we didn’t do it too often – but a few times that we did it we would receive a lot of “recommends” and engagement within the post. It would climb into the most highly recommended post of the day, which is a good signal for us also. So yeah, I think maybe the email courses, the Slideshares and the Medium updates were probably our big winners in terms of strategies that we tried throughout the month.

Dan Levy: Yeah, you mentioned that even though your Slideshares and I think your Medium post got lots of fuse on those platforms, the referral traffic back to your blog was actually kind of minimal – and we have a similar experience over here, where it’s almost made the value of republishing content on those sort of sites hard to measure because of it. Do you think that referral traffic matters?

Kevan Lee: Yeah, that’s a good one. I think for us it doesn’t quite matter as much as maybe it could or should. I’m always curious to kinda learn more and to grow in that direction. I think a lot of the value that we take from those places is about sentiment and helpfulness and so we are really excited about the chance to offer content in unique ways that might speak to people who are more aligned with visual media in some ways. So we have a 3000-word blog post, but for some people that’s not the way they learn best.

So maybe they learn better in a really nicely formatted Medium article that is a bit shorter or maybe in a very visual type of Slideshare. And we have this idea of our North Star metrics, so to speak: be helping people, and the number of people we can help is our guiding principle. So if we have a Slideshare that gets 100,000 reviews and Medium post that gets 15,000 views and maybe none of those end up truly converting to Buffer users, or the measurement of conversion is a bit too difficult to really nail down – but I think we are okay with that.

As long as we feel like people are getting value out of it – and numbers like what we saw have us think that people were finding lots of use in those.

Dan Levy: Yeah. When it comes down to it, whether they’re engaging with your content on your own blog or on Medium it doesn’t really matter that much. In some ways I think that’s a vanity metric or we just have to be a little bit more open with how we measure things like views and sessions.

Kevan Lee: Yeah.

Dan Levy: Even if it happen on our platform or not.

Kevan Lee: Yeah, exactly. I think there’s that distinction where if it is on the blog, yeah, we can have some control over that page, and that experience. And on Medium or Slideshare we don’t quite have that control. So a lot of it is about, again, trusting the process — that being there is a good thing and helping people in that kind of way is a good thing — and I think a lot of time too it just expands the awareness of Buffer and awareness of our content. If we can help someone with something that we have written and that kind of their first interaction with us, that feels really great to me. And I think we have a great chance of finding more folks who are in that kind of bucket, so to speak, of not having much interaction with us before, especially in places where we haven’t spent much time, like Medium and Slideshare and the other places that we tried. So… yeah, overall the feeling that we got from it was really great even though maybe the specific conversions were a bit tough to nail down.

Dan Levy: I want to go back to the email stuff for a bit, if you don’t mind.

Kevan Lee: Sure.

Dan Levy: Because you rank that as the number one strategy that came out of the experiment. Can you tell me a little bit about those email drip campaigns? What was your goal with those? Was it a lead generation thing or was it really about engaging and nurturing the people who had already signed up for your list?

Kevan Lee: My main goal with it was we feel like we might be moving into a really neat space in terms of education and training, so to speak. And then offering resources to people to help them share to social media better. I believe the course sprung out of this desire to help and educate people. And to do it in a way that was very actionable. So what that means for us is that the course itself was a lot about offering lots of value to people in a way that we thought might be kind of cool for them.

Like I think content within your inbox from me with my name on it and then video content at that and well formatted at that is just a really powerful way of connecting with someone. And that was the feedback that we received from the course so far too – that it that very personal to a lot of people, which was not something that I meant to do or intended to do, but it is an amazing side effect. It felt like a certain type of product/market fit that is quite unique and highly validated from us.

So it’s been super exciting. I think my approach to it was more… I guess maybe even somewhat exploratory at the time, where it felt like the right thing to do and it felt like a good thing to try. So the way that we set it up was we invited people to just sign up ad hoc to it. So it’s not tied to any existing list of ours.

Dan Levy: It wasn’t like they were signing up for the blog and then they got this email drip campaign… they were signing up for the course itself?

Kevan Lee: It was just the course. Yeah and to be completely transparent and honest I don’t know how it might go from there. Like whether we will kinda loop them into the newsletter and our access list after that or if we’ll message every few times after. I think a lot of it was just about providing value, seeing if it was something people enjoyed and then kind of building from there. So maybe like a lean way of approaching it. I’m not sure, I think I probably could have thought it through a little bit more beforehand. But the nice thing is it’s a 25-day course. So I had a few days to kinda think about where to go next from here.

Dan Levy: Right. And you have validated something that people actually want in the process.

Kevan Lee: I think in terms of lead gen, I’m quite curious to learn more about what feels best for folks in email. In terms of getting you from a course, to signing up to Buffer, to further explain Buffer. And I don’t want it to feel like I have been gaming folks the whole time by saying yes, I signed up for this course, we are excited to share some stuff with you and then overtime it feels a lot like a pitch or a bait and switch. And I think I’m trying to be mindful of that.

So I could probably get lots of tips from you on maybe what the best approach there would be, but I think that’s something we’re still a bit still curious to find out. And it was not necessarily baked into the format from the beginning.

Dan Levy: And to be honest, I feel like… I don’t want to say the dirty secret… but it is a secret of marketers that sometimes we don’t do things that are completely strategic or tactical. We do things because they feel right and that we see that our audience is interested in it, and has a need for it. And then we figure out the strategy later. Like I think that is totally fine and legit and a good way of doing things as well.

Kevan Lee: Yeah, it doesn’t sound very marketer-y. I guess, but it’s a definitely been something that we do a lot.

Dan Levy: Isn’t the best marketing the least marketer-y – marketing?

Kevan Lee: I think so yes.

Dan Levy: And the marketing kinda happens along the way, I guess.

Kevan Lee: Yeah. When someone ask you what you do. What do you say?

Dan Levy: Oh, man, it depends who it is. Actually, much like you, I come from a background in journalism, so you know – I tell them that I’m an editor, I’m a writer, I create content for marketers that helps them do their jobs better. And usually they look at me with a blank stare, but…

Kevan Lee: I like the sound of that. That sounds pretty good. I like that. Can I borrow that if that’s okay?

Dan Levy: Yes, sure. What do you usually tell people?

Kevan Lee: Oh, man. It’s probably lots of different things. Sometimes I just say I do content and that’s kind of if I think people might know what means. I think sometimes I say I write stuff that helps people in the hopes that they will connect my helpful content to the service that we provide. And yes, sometimes I just mention I’m a writer and leave it at that, unless there are follow up questions. But sometimes there are, sometimes there aren’t.

Dan Levy: I think it helps a lot when your product is aligned with the content that you are producing. In our case, like I said, we are creating content resources for marketers to do their job better. That’s something that we feel our product does as well. And I suspect that you guys are in a similar situation when it comes to social media, right?

Kevan Lee: Yeah, exactly. And I think that dovetails nicely with the helpful educational content. It’s a social media course which makes a lot of sense given that we feel Buffer is helpful in terms of assisting folks with their social media. So yeah it all makes sense in the big picture.

Dan Levy: Ah, this is like content marketers’ therapy. This is like super helpful.

Kevan Lee: Yeah, tell me about it. Yeah it’s always great to chat with a fellow writer, and thank you for validating some of my thoughts and feelings.

Dan Levy: So now that you’re back to publishing original posts, how do you plan to work some of these strategies into your editorial calendar? Has the experiment made you approach your content strategy differently?

Kevan Lee: It has. I think we are really excited to do the things that we feel were validating during that month and what that looks like specifically is including a Slideshare in one of our four posts each week that we publish. It would be great to do all four. I think I personally failed on my account this last week to do any Slideshares – so it’s easier said than done, which I think is kinda how I fell out of the habit in the first place.

We’d love to do that. We’d love to double down on our Medium efforts. So we are doing a lot there currently in terms of republishing a couple times a week and exploring further ways to engage in terms of publications or collections. I forget exactly what it is being called now. Kind of groupings to a certain category or theme. And then also maybe some short-form content, which we don’t typically do on the blog but I think might be a good option for Medium.

And then the email courses are great and wonderful and like I mentioned, there is a 25-day course and when the 25 days are up, I’d love to have another one ready to go for folks who want to kinda keep learning with us. So I’m in the process of thinking about what that might be and then creating it super fast – and I’d kinda love to get on a pace where maybe we are doing a course a month and then eventually have enough to kinda roll it into more of a learning center type of hub where people can come and choose what they want to learn and keep going from there. So yeah, lots of exciting things to be trying out.

Dan Levy: You know, one thing I love about your post is that among the list of strategies you tried in this experiment and that worked out really well are a bunch that you didn’t end up trying or just didn’t work very well. I love that you shared some in the post. Can you maybe talk about one of those and what you learned from them?

Kevan Lee: Yeah, absolutely! It’s interesting being in the social media/content marketing space because I feel like I’ve learned a lot about best practices and things to try. And then I’m always eager to do them and figure them out and make them work. And I don’t know if maybe just this month there kind of – history has taught me that it’s not always the case that everything will work out the way that best practices go and that there are definitely individual recommendations that are quite specific to you and your audience and your industry and things.

So yeah, I was really excited to kind of put those to the test again and see which ones worked. Something that we have been thinking about a lot is infographics and how those might best fit with our content. I think that might have been kind of a medium performer for us during the month and my senses are that they are super powerful and can always be amazing sources of traffic and things.

And for whatever reason, it seems like maybe we’re losing a bit of momentum in terms of infographics and we have gone with a lot of different freelance folks and partners and collaborators with those in the past. And my hunch is maybe having a consistent theme or consistent style or consistent schedule of infographics could be a bit more helpful there. But it is one that we are focusing less on in the future, given the momentum of that compared to some of the other stuff that we tried.

I believe the Quora was one that I was quite excited to kind of experiment with, and my takeaway from Quora is that it’s an amazing place and such a cool network. And I love the ease and intuitiveness of using it. The results for us were not quite validated in the way that I might spend some more time on it in the near future. It’s very much a user-driven network where I will be posting things from me, myself – versus hosting it from Buffer.

Dan Levy: Right.

Kevan Lee: And I think we discovered the same with LinkedIn posts where it comes from an individual versus it coming from a company. And I haven’t quite figured out how to get that working yet. So that’s one that I plan to kinda keep learning on and thinking on, but not something we might focus on for the time being.

Dan Levy: I really liked the learning hub that you set up. I thought it was really cool how you set that up like a landing page. That definitely got my attention.

Kevan Lee: Awesome. That was a great one. I think that was a very lean one. Also, if I remember the story right, I was thinking this could be kind of a cool thing to do and I mocked something up really fast. We have some really cool tools internally here that we can do that with. And what I did it was by no means complete. But I think I forgot to leave it as a draft so it like went out live and then it got linked to from some other pages and I was oh, I guess I should finish that. And so I just quickly finished it up and that’s kind of another maybe little dirty secret of content marketing – sometimes we don’t always mean to have things out when they do.

Dan Levy: Sometimes we make mistakes and people don’t notice and it’s like all right, I guess we will just run with it.

Kevan Lee: Let’s go fix it, yeah. So I went and kinda tidied it up. Like long story short, that’s one that I probably didn’t give the effort or attention that I could have and I think that in itself was encouraging in that there was some positive response. I’m excited to see what the response might be if we put a little more energy and resources towards that. So yeah, it’s super fun when I think it’s come back to like, a blog where we want to make the blog easy for people to navigate and find the stuff they want to know about. And that’s kind of one possible route where we are thinking about it at this point.

Dan Levy: Well, this is the Call to Action podcast. So we like to ask our guest to leave us with a little bit of a CTA of sorts. What advice would you give to other content marketers or whatever you want to call us, who would like to shake up our content strategies but might be scared of sacrificing traffic in the process?

Kevan Lee: Is it cheating to choose two calls to action? I don’t know, that’s probably bad practice to have two.

Dan Levy: Not advised on a landing page but for a podcast I think we’ll let it slip.

Kevan Lee: Awesome – maybe like a high-level one and then a detailed one. So, like, from the high-level, I think what was really meaningful to us was this freedom and flexibility to have an experiment and to just go out and do it. So if there is something that you are thinking of and have been wanting to try – I know this might sound a bit cliché – but there’s no time like the present to try it and just to do it. And from my experience, I think even if you are not sure what kind of results you will see from it, the big result is that you will learn something and often times that is maybe the biggest result of all, like bigger than traffic and conversions and all the other stuff that you might measure. It’s just a chance to learn from doing that.

Dan Levy: We learn more from failed experiments often than we do from ones that succeed.

Kevan Lee: Exactly, yeah. Was it Michael Jordan said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take?” Or something like that?

Dan Levy: Gretzky.

Kevan Lee: No that was Wayne Gretzky or something but.

Dan Levy: Yeah, was one of those guys.

Kevan Lee: One of those guys. Yeah, and we think about that a lot at Buffer in terms of just doing things.

The second one would be – and I feel like it is a practical one – if you can find a piece of content that is really popular on your site and being highly validated data in terms of social shares or traffic, go ahead and spend 15 minutes and turn it into a Slideshare. And share it on Slideshare and stick it to the top of the post and just kinda see what happens. So that might be a quick win if anyone is curious in trying that out.

Dan Levy: Awesome, that’s such great advice and there’s so many other super smart tactics embedded in that post. So I encourage people to check it out. But I thank you so much Kevan for taking the time to chat today. I really appreciate it.

Kevan Lee: Yeah this has been so great, thanks for the invitation and the chance to share from our side.

Stephanie Saretsky: That was Kevan Lee, Content Crafter at Buffer. To read more details about Buffer’s publishing experiment, visit the show notes at unbounce.com/podcast. Have you tried any wild experiments recently that you think we should know about? If so, email us at podcast@unbounce.com, we’d love to hear about what you’re testing.

That’s your Call to Action, thanks for listening!

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


Original article:  

What Happened When Buffer Stopped Publishing for 30 Days? [PODCAST]

The Landing Page That Won Our Hearts (And Won Its Creator a Trip to CTA Conf)

A couple weeks ago we announced a contest on our blog. It wasn’t the type of contest where the winner just gets an iPad. Nope, not here.

The winner would be sent to Unbounce’s Call To Action Conference in Vancouver this September 13th – 15th. The grand prize was a trip to Vancouver: including the flight, hotel and two conference tickets. The whole shebang!

cta-conf-contest-featured-650

The challenge was simple. Build a landing page in Unbounce (for free) that answers one question:

Why should we send you to the Call to Action Conference?

We were blown away by the amount of thought, creativity, effort, love and landing page expertise that went into these pages. Unbounce’s Senior Conversion Optimizer Michael Aagaard spoke for all the judges when he said, “Wow – it’s difficult to pick a winner!”

Indeed, it was. But the tribe has spoken.

In this post we’ll recognize the winners, their pages, their chops — along with some insights from the judges. We hope you’ll be as inspired as we were.

Gold Medal Winner – Andrea Getman

Andrea - Gold
Click on the image to see Andrea’s landing page in all its glory.

Mission possible! Andrea’s spy-themed landing page has it all.

On top of an action movie trailer that grabs your attention right off the bat, Andrea’s page has a strong headline, clever call to action and strong testimonials to really seal the deal.

Here’s what Kyrie Melnyck, Event Marketing Coordinator at Unbounce, had to say about the page:

We’e putting a ton of effort into this year’s Call to Action Conference, but Andrea looks like she’s putting even more effort into attending! Loved her page, video, testimonials and retargeting (she Facebook stalked me for days…).

What’s Kyrie referring to?

In a stroke of marketing genius, Andrea ran a delightful retargeting campaign that hit up almost everyone who works at Unbounce:

Andrea - Retargeting

Tia Kelly, Customer Success Manager at Unbounce, also thought this idea was neat:

Knowing how much work goes into launching even a simple marketing campaign, I can appreciate the effort Andrea put into her submission. She managed to stay clear about her goal while mixing in some personality. Driving paid social to the landing page was a nice little touch!

There’s more, too. As a landing page optimization veteran, Andrea also conducted an A/B test to see if more explicit directional cues would result in a conversion lift.

Andrea Directional Cues 2
See that little arrow pointing to the CTA button? That’s a directional cue if we ever saw one.

The result?

The variant with the directional cues resulted in a 5.2% conversion lift over her original page without them. Boss.

Congrats Andrea, you’re coming to the Call To Action Conference!

Silver Medal Winner – Syed Raza

Syed - Landing page
Click on the image to see Syed’s landing page and watch his rendition of “People Say I Eat Too Many Chocolate Bars.”

At first glance, Syed’s page had a clean visual aesthetic – but it was his video parody of “People Say I Eat Too Many Chocolate Bars” that really got us. Cody Campbell, Unbounce’s SEO Manager, couldn’t get enough:

Do you remember that acne commercial? I used to imitate it all the time. His video was perfect.

The judges also loved how he used an attention-grabbing picture of himself as a directional cue that focuses the eye on the call to action button.

In the words of Stephanie Saretsky, Multimedia Content Producer at Unbounce:

Syed’s landing page is pure humor. With little images of himself pointing to every call to action, he makes himself the directional cue and makes the CTA hard to avoid.

Syed was another clever contest who retargeted us on Facebook – but he took things a step further by including additional incentive to fill out the lead gen form.

Further down the page prompted people to submit their name and email to receive “The Top 10 Reasons Why Syed Should Be At CTA 2015.”

The email you received after filling out the form was quite simply hilarious:

Syed Email

But it wasn’t all just fun and games – his landing page did its job by converting at a healthy 16.96%. Congrats Syed!

Bronze Medal Winner – Thomas Lerch

Thomas Landing Page
Click on the image to see Thomas’ landing page and watch a true conversion hero.

In a Reddit thread, Thomas said his took almost 50 hours of work. If you watch his hilarious video, you’ll understand why. His video goes over everything he’ll do to make sure the conference is amazing for attendees. As judge Talia Wolf, CEO of Conversioner and CTA Conf speaker put it:

I really like the way Thomas directed his pitch to you. He really kept people engaged and answered the question: what’s in it for Unbounce to have him at the conference versus why it’s good for him. #winner!

But Thomas did a ton to show off his landing page optimization chops, too. As Dan Levy, Content Strategist at Unbounce, pointed out:

Thomas employs a bunch of neat persuasion tactics like urgency/scarcity, social proof and directional cues. It’s clear that Thomas knows his conversion stuff and would add as much to CTA Conf as he’ll get out of it.

Indeed, Dan. We can’t wait to meet you, Thomas!

Honourable mentions

Part of the reason choosing a winner was so difficult was that we had so many awesome submissions. We would be remiss to not highlight some of the other beautiful landing pages and creative ideas.

Tim Ruof

Tim Landing Page
Click the image to see Tim’s entire landing page.

Tim’s call to action went right to Google flights, searching Buffalo to Vancouver. Very clever.

Bethany Bauer

Bethany Landing Page
Check out Bethany’s landing page and you’ll want to go to CTA Conf too.

Bethany, last year’s landing page champion, is already going to this years conference, but she submitted a landing page just for fun? #amazing. As Bethany explained in her submission,  “I wasn’t really trying to win. I just wanted to make something for you since I enjoyed last year’s conference so much.”

Ben Nesvig

Ben Landing Page
Click the image and check out Ben’s landing page in full.

Knowing that not everyone will watch a landing page video, Ben put his video splash image to work – look at the way he points to the call to action button above. #directionalcues

Allison Otting

allison-otting-lp
Click the image to check out Allison’s awesome landing page.

The real star of Allison’s landing page is the awesome copywriting. From her headlines and subheads to her call to action button, her page had us all nodding our heads “yes!”

Clay Coomer

clay-coomer-full
Click the image to see Clay’s landing page in full.

Clay’s landing page included a ton of personality, memes and dancing. And his kids are so cute! We especially loved the “data doesn’t lie” section.

Meagan Smith

meagan-smith-full
Click the image to see Meagan’s landing page.

Meagan’s landing page is hilarious and full of personality! If you choose to accept the mission she puts forth, you’ll see what we mean.

Ian Chapman

ian-chapman-full
Click the image to see Ian’s landing page in its full glory.

Ian’s landing page is well-rounded and persuasive, and if you skip down to his “About me” section, you’ll see a pretty adorable testimonial from his wife. Priceless.

Ian Testimonial

See you at the Call to Action Conference!

Cheers to a seriously badass group of landing page builders – we were blown away by your expertise and creativity.

And congrats to our top three winners: Andrea, Syed and Thomas. We can’t wait to spoil y’all with knowledge, food, beer, adventure and Unbounce hugs. Congratulations!

We hope to see you all at the Call to Action Conference from September 13th – 15th.

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The Landing Page That Won Our Hearts (And Won Its Creator a Trip to CTA Conf)

So Bad They’re Good: Use the 7 Deadly Sins for More Persuasive Copy

I stood on my building’s front steps, freezing, digging through my purse. I don’t know why. I didn’t know where my keys were, but I knew they weren’t in there.

Eventually I gave up and sat on the freezing stoop, angry at myself and whoever made me lose my keys. While I waited for the locksmith to arrive, I searched for and ordered a tracker to attach to my keys to avoid this annoyance in the future.

Why am I telling you this? To illustrate that emotions drive action. That’s why those Sarah McLachlan commercials strive to make us all teary-eyed before she even starts in on her pitch.

Did I really need that tracker? No. A cheaper (and smarter) solution would be to figure out how the rest of the world gets by without losing their keys. But I was angry and ticked off, and I wanted to do something about it.

mad-as-hell

Since emotions drive us so strongly, your landing page copy needs to evoke them.

You want more of your audience to take action? You could try changing the color of your CTA button. But you could also try making your copy more emotional, or rewriting it to appeal to an entirely new emotion. For example, excitement instead of fear.

If you’re not sure how to get started, just think about the seven deadly sins. They’re easy to remember, and they each correspond with an emotion you can draw on in your marketing copy.

Sin #1: Lust
Appeal to: Desire

Desire is an emotion most marketers are comfortable conjuring up. We know how to make people want our products – after all, that’s kind of what marketing is all about.

But you don’t want to conjure up a little desire – you want your audience dreaming dreams of excess. Instead of mentioning “more revenue,” give your reader something they can really picture. Something that they’ll point to and say, “want.”

For example, look at this landing page from Demandforce.

demand-force-lp copy

Pay close attention to their testimonial: “Responsible for an additional $30,000 in revenue in its first six months.”

Who doesn’t want and desire $30,000? It’s a concrete object to lust after, rather than an idea (more money) that just seems appealing.

When you’re writing your landing page copy, translate your unique selling proposition into what your audience really wants. Focus on features, not benefits. Your audience doesn’t really want or desire the features you offer. They’re a middleman, a means to an end. What your audience really wants is the results those features make possible.

Sin #2: Gluttony
Appeal to: Self-interest

We’re all selfish in one way or another. And there’s nothing wrong with caring about yourself – to an extent. We’re all seeking something, whether it’s prestige, money or respect from those we admire.

How can you use this in your landing page copy?

Have your customer’s back. Look out for them – they’ll appreciate a break from looking out for themselves. Make your customers and prospects feel taken care of, safe, and like you always have their best interest in mind (since it should be true anyway).

A great way to do this is with trust indicators, testimonials and social proof. Consider testing items like ratings or accreditations, quotes from happy customers, and cold hard numbers on your landing pages to make your audience feel safer choosing you.

azue-landing-page

For example, look at how Azure highlights its accreditations to the left of its main landing page copy.

320 TripAdvisor uses rated their properties as “excellent” and they received an excellence award… although highlighting an outdated award makes me wonder why there aren’t new awards to boast receiving.

Sin #3: Greed
Appeal to: Possessiveness

Our consumeristic society means that people really care about things. Objects. Possessions.

There are some things we really need: a certain amount of food and drink, enough wealth to pay the bills, etc. And other things we want: good food and drink, enough wealth to also have some fun and “treat yo self.”

tumblr_niwf9lBNff1qjshvjo1_400

So when it comes time to translate your features into benefits, focus on framing those benefits as tangible objects or possessions.

Not only does this really put the benefits in perspective, it also makes them easier to process.

To move that over into copywriting, this is especially applicable when talking about discounts or saving money. Instead of saying, “20% off,” you can translate that into a specific amount, or something customer could buy with the savings.

For example, look at this Chili’s landing page.

chillis-landing-page

Let’s say a kid’s meal is $5. This could just as easily have promoted “$5 off your meal.” But Chili’s knows that its customers are families, so it translated the offer into something relatable and concrete: a free meal for one of the kids at the table.

Sin #4: Sloth
Appeal to: Laziness

I’ve always said there’s nothing wrong with being lazy (mostly to justify being lazy). But a lot of it makes sense. Sure, I could do that thing, but if I don’t need to, why should I?

People want their lives to be made simpler. They want as many things as possible to be done for them. And for the things they actually do to be clear cut and manageable.

So highlight how you’ll make the visitor’s life easier — how much time they’ll save, what tasks they’ll no longer have to do, which processes will be easier.

Unbounce is all about making lives easy on this landing page I found through a PPC ad.

unbounce-landing-page-laziness

Look at those phrases like “without I.T.” and “quickly & easily.” They’re clear on the fact that using Unbounce means less work for you: no sitting in long meetings with developers, and no learning the complicated coding languages yourself.

The landing page is very specific about exactly how it will make your life easier. As I was reading the copy, I sat and imagined all the items that would no longer be on my to-do list. If they had used vague copy about saving time, I still wouldn’t know how Unbounce would save me time.

Don’t make your reader try to figure it out for themselves. That takes more work that could stand in the way of you and a conversion.

Sin #5: Wrath
Appeal to: Anger and annoyance

Emotions drive action – especially heated emotions like anger and annoyance. Remember the gif at the top of the post?

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”

Luckily, you’re probably appealing to anger and annoyance already – I bet you’re already working to highlight your prospect’s’ pain points and problems in your copy. Just think about what annoys and angers your audience.

Have a look at this example by Vonage:

vonage-landing-page

Would you look at that? Phone service “without contracts!” I think those are rarer than glitter unicorns. But Vonage has them, and wants you to know it.

They clearly know their customers well – pretty much everyone hates phone contracts. With a fiery passion. They speak directly to that pain point by placing “Without Contracts!” in their big, bold headline.

Sin #6: Envy
Appeal to: Jealousy

We can all relate to the feeling of not getting what we want. It sucks when we can’t have something.

“I have something you don’t have!”

Doesn’t that grate on your nerves? Or have you ever passed over buying something, only to find yourself second-guessing your decision once you see someone else with it?

If you want more landing page visitors to convert, make visitors jealous of converters. Highlight what people won’t get by converting on your offer – milk the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) for all that it’s worth.

Don’t let the visitor forget that they’re missing out on an exclusive offer or limited time savings. Or combine this tactic with trust indicators by mentioning how many other webinar attendees will walk away with your secrets to success.

A niche you’ll see this a lot in is fitness: brands use super buff models in marketing campaigns. People see those idealized photos, get jealous and go, “I want to look like that and this product will help make it happen? Take my money!”

Take a look at how IdealShape is marketing IdealShake:

idealshake-landing-page

See? Jenna lost 67 pounds and looks so happy! Don’t you want those results?

Write copy to frame visitors who convert as an exclusive “in-crowd” of people who are somehow better off now. Make non-converters jealous – their desire to be part of the club will have them clicking your CTA.

Sin #7: Pride
Appeal to: Confidence

Flattery will get you everywhere, right?

One of the easiest copywriting strategies is to appeal to your audience’s ego – up their confidence, make them feel good about themselves.

This will put prospects in a good mood, but also make them more likely to be persuaded.

When someone’s in a bad mood, they’re more likely to see the negatives of something, as well as to delay making a decision. Happy people are in the better mindset to make decisions and are more open to seeing the positives in your product, making them ripe for conversions.

Have a look at this page by AroundMe:

around-me-landing-page

Right under the app’s name is a big, encouraging statement: “Because you’re going places.”

I love this sentence for two reasons. It’s a clever pun – the app helps you locate a variety of things around you – but it also compliments the visitor.

It’s saying, “Hey, you’re going to be successful, and that’s the kind of user we want. You’re special.” That’ll give their visitors enough warm, fuzzy feelings to try the app.

So emotional

Making someone feel “more” is a quick way to get more conversions. Sometimes it’s as simple as replacing one verb with another. Other times, the key lies in the overall tone of how you speak to your visitor.

When writing, think of the ideal emotions your offer will evoke and how you want your customers to feel. Do you want them to be proud to be your customer? More confident in themselves? Part of an “in-crowd” of other important customers?

Picturing the desired outcome will help you determine which emotions you should play up in your landing page copy.

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So Bad They’re Good: Use the 7 Deadly Sins for More Persuasive Copy