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Where to Place Customer Testimonials On a Website

customer-testimonials

Consumers have become increasingly blind to marketing and advertising company. The buyer’s journey gets longer and longer, and people are slower to trust companies. What’s a business to do? Build credibility. And it starts with customer testimonials. Imagine that someone is looking for a product you sell. He calls a friend and asks for a recommendation. The friend suggests your product. That person buys from you based on the referral. Customer testimonials work the same way. Instead of communication between friends, it’s communication from one customer to the masses. There are two types of customer testimonials. One is user-generated content….

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Where to Place Customer Testimonials On a Website

How to Generate Email Signups Using Instagram

instagram email

An email list is one of the best assets that you can build for your business. No change in the Google Algorithm or advertising account ban can take your email list away from you. Whatever happens in the online marketing world, your email list will always be able to give you a direct line of communication with people who want to hear from you — and will be interested in buying from you. 80% of retail professionals suggest that email is their greatest driver of customer retention, and 59% of B2B marketers say that email is their most effective revenue…

The post How to Generate Email Signups Using Instagram appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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How to Generate Email Signups Using Instagram

CSS Grid Challenge: Winners and Templates

CSS Grid is the new layout standard for the web, but we still are just getting started with new layout ideas. Many assume that CSS Grid is just a replacement for table layouts, but that’s simply not true. Others might think that we can use CSS Grid to replicate more advanced print layouts, which brings us closer to what’s possible.
One of the main reasons behind the idea of the CSS Grid Challenge was to have some starting points for layouts, and show what can be achieved with CSS Grids today.

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CSS Grid Challenge: Winners and Templates

Icons As Part Of A Great User Experience

Icons are an essential part of many user interfaces, visually expressing objects, actions and ideas. When done correctly, they communicate the core idea and intent of a product or action, and they bring a lot of nice benefits to user interfaces, such as saving screen real estate and enhancing aesthetic appeal. Last but not least, most apps and websites have icons. It’s a design pattern that is familiar to users.

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Icons As Part Of A Great User Experience

What to expect at B2B Marketing Forum 2016: An interview with Ann Handley

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In two weeks, Chris Goward will be teaching a workshop and speaking at B2B Marketing Forum 2016 in Boston. Put on by the good folks at MarketingProfs, the Forum is one of the best annual events for business-to-business marketers.

I sat down with MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley, to talk about what attendees can expect at this year’s conference and what B2B marketers can expect going into 2017. Here’s what she had to say.

Attending Chris Goward’s workshop or session at #MPB2B Forum 2016?

Get prepared with a free chapter from his best-selling book, You Should Test That! Ann Handley says, “You can use this book to ensure your website isn’t a slacker. On the other, you can also use it on a broader level, to guide decisions based less on gut, and more on real insight.”



By entering your email, you’ll receive bi-weekly WiderFunnel Blog updates and other resources to help you become an optimization champion.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, MarketingProfs, and the MPB2B Forum?

Ann: I’m an actress, supermodel, fashion icon, and magician.

Kidding. I’m a marketer, author, speaker, and the world’s first Chief Content Officer.

MarketingProfs is a training and education company with more than 600,000 marketer-members. We’ve been around since 2002, and we’re a fun crowd.

The B2B Marketing Forum is the highlight of the B2B marketer’s year.

It’s their Chrisma-kwazaa-kah-ly! It’s the place where B2B marketers can go to be understood – because no B2B marketer wants to see another marketing case study about Zappos. And it’s the place to build a squad of like-minded marketers that you can rely on all year long.

Q: This is the 10th B2B Marketing Forum! What can attendees to this year’s event expect compared to previous years?

Ann: Here’s what we try to do every year:

  • Create a sense of community–a kind of foxhole mentality, that we’re all in this together.
  • Create moments worth sharing.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Get out of the hotel and find the gems in the city.
  • Add shenanigans.
  • Create friction-free online and on-site processes.
  • Understand that ridiculously good content is table stakes. Great education, top-notch sessions, and access to speakers, sponsors, partners and networking are givens.

The 10th anniversary year is affectionately nicknamed the B2B Marketing Forum the “Marketing Muffin Top.”

Much like an actual muffin top in an actual muffin tin, it overflows in appealing ways with a ton of education and networking. But also lots of heart, soul, warmth, humor, fun, swag, surprises, and shenanigans.

Q: Why should a B2B marketer attend this particular event (versus the myriad other marketing conferences)?

Ann: Because you won’t see the same-old case studies from other big B2C brands that I see at every other event. Because you’ll find your people. Because it’ll feel like coming home.

But here’s the biggest reason: Because we have a track dedicated to “Teach Me How” that’s all about real-world tactics and things you need to know to advance in your career.

This is a conference for marketers who want to embrace the opportunity of digital marketing, and who want to stretch and grow.

This is an event for the aspirational: The aspirational CMO, CEO, or business owner who wants to tee themselves up for success.

Q: When you were planning the B2B Forum agenda, what were your goals for takeaways from the event?

Ann: I want the audience to leave Boston with three things:

  1. Real tools and tactics they can put into use immediately.
  2. A squad of like-minded marketers they can count on as friends and colleagues.
  3. Inspirationa to build something that lasts – whether that’s a marketing program, or a career.

Q: What do you think the biggest trends in B2B marketing will be going into 2017?

Ann: I could talk about the expansion and evolution of social media here (“Facebook at Work” is a good example of that, so is the expansion of Snapchat aka Snap).

But I think the biggest, broader trend is that marketers are becoming a little more patient.

They are recognizing the value of “slow marketing” in our fast-paced, always-on, agile, want-it-yesterday, mile-a-minute world. They see critical need to slow down in some areas. Why? Because doing so allows us to achieve real results—faster.

What do you believe are the most important marketing strategies that today’s B2B marketer should invest in?

Ann: Marketers need to invest in themselves: They need to hone customer empathy.

They need to uncover the why of their marketing programs.

They need to align the customer experience and journey.

And they need to get the necessary tools and training to thrive in 2017 and beyond.

Q: What do you believe the role of conversion optimization should be in content marketing and marketing as a whole?

Ann: If you are asking me about the value of conversion optimization in content, I think it’s hugely important. That’s why I’m a huge fan of customer empathy, buff writing, killer headlines, audience-centric tone of voice, and the rest – all of which I wrote about in Everybody Writes.

The point of better, more customer-centric content is ultimately to get them involved in your point of view and story… so that those individuals convert into fans and customers.

Q: What is one piece of wisdom or advice you would share with today’s B2B marketer?

I think Tina Fey said it best: “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

Tina wasn’t talking about B2B marketing. But she could have been, when you think about it.

The post What to expect at B2B Marketing Forum 2016: An interview with Ann Handley appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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What to expect at B2B Marketing Forum 2016: An interview with Ann Handley

Simple Recipes for No-Fail Landing Page Copy [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

cake ingredients
Who knew landing pages and cake had so much in common? Image via Shutterstock.

In some ways, building a landing page is like baking a cake. Certain people prefer chocolate, and others like cream fillings, but there are some fundamental formulas (for both cakes and landing pages) that are tried and tested, and proven to produce positive results.

This post is a recipe for a solid vanilla sponge landing page. For advice on design (a.k.a. the buttercream frosting), check out these posts on user experience and essential design principles.

Here are the formulas we’ll cover in this post, using examples from great landing pages:

  • Action words + Product reference = Winning headline
  • Your exact offering + Promise of ease = Winning subheader
  • Your best offerings + Worded in the form of benefit statements + Appropriate sectioning = Winning body content
  • Active words + ‘I want to…’ + A/B testing = Winning call to action

Want to test the formulas out for yourself?

Download our FREE worksheet for creating no-fail landing page copy.
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The header is always active — it wants you to do something. The header almost always directly references the product or service, as well. As Kurt Vonnegut said,

To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

What are active words?

In the same way that active voice makes a sentence stronger by shifting focus onto the subject, active words help to promote action and create urgency. Active words in headers are usually verbs like build, get, launch, unlock, pledge, invest and give.

Here are a few examples of effective, action-led landing page headlines.

Codecademy winning headline
Codecademy’s headline is about as close to perfect as it gets.
Lyft winning headline
Lyft doesn’t use the “Get started” CTA we’ll talk about, but that headline is a winner.
Pro tip: To maximize your conversion efforts, ensure there’s message match between your click-through ad and headline.

Your exact offering + Promise of ease = Winning subheader

Your header is an active statement, introducing your product. Your subheader is the second wave, there to support the header and give visitors a reason to continue reading. In the subheader, you tell your audience exactly what you have to offer, and highlight how incredibly easy the whole process will be.

Easy as pie

Online, all it takes is a few taps and a few clicks to make a potentially big decision, but if it’s not easy, a lot of us won’t bother doing it. That’s especially true of a landing page, which is essentially a 24/7 elevator pitch for your business.

As a visitor to your landing page, I need to know if what you’re offering is going to benefit me, and that by handing over my details, you’re going to do most of the heavy lifting for me (at least to begin with.)

In our model for the no-fail landing page copy, the relationship between header and subheader looks like this:

Header: Introduces the idea or service in an active way (inspire your audience to do something).

Subheader: Backs up the header by giving a reason for your visitor to read on.

Outbrain winning subheader
Ooo, easy setup — just what we all love to see.

This example from Outbrain might not have the prettiest header or subheader, but both illustrate exactly what we’ve been talking about. The header is active, and so is the subheader, which tells you exactly what the main benefits of using Outbrain are, along with the promise of an easy setup.

Your best offerings + worded in the form of benefit statements + appropriate sectioning = Winning body content

The bulk of your landing page copy does the same job as the header and the subheader: it presents the benefits of your product to the user, and encourages them to act.

It’s tempting to go off-piste in the body content, to talk about your values and how you donate half of your profits to charity, but hold off. You need to make sure that your product is one your audience wants first. Stick to the benefits, and expand on those.

Break up your content

You’ll probably have more than one point to make on your landing page, but even if you don’t, breaking content up with headers and bullet points increases the chances of something catching your reader’s eye. It’s the equivalent of a supermarket arranging its products into categories and shelves, rather than bundling everything together in a big bargain bin.

With your body content, just like with your subheader, focus on what you have to offer, why it’s better than the competition’s and how you’ll do most of the heavy lifting should your prospect hand over their valuable email address. Let’s take a look at how MuleSoft connects header, subheader and body content.

Mulesoft body copy

The header: In this case, the header is just what the product is, which is likely the most appropriate approach for this audience.

The subheader: The subheader — or supporting header — focuses on the main benefit of the handbook. Clearly, MuleSoft knows its audience, and is giving it to them straight.

The body: It’s still laser-focused on those main benefits, giving visitors ample opportunity to become engaged.

Pro tip: A landing page is a pitch, and like any pitch, your job is to put forward your best offerings and do your best to secure a follow-up. If you’re struggling to prioritize your offerings, consider the following:

  • What does your product do, and how does it make your prospect’s life easier?
  • What are your product’s most ground-breaking or useful features?
  • Who does your product help?
  • How easy it is to get started?
  • Who else uses your product?

Here’s a great example from Startup Weekend. The body content answers all of the main questions, with no BS:

Startup Weekend landing page copy

Active words + “I want to…” + A/B testing = Winning CTA

Since we’re talking about no-fail copy, like blueprints for you to riff from, we’ll tell you straight up that the most common call to action phrase that makes it to live landing pages, is “Get started”. That’s followed closely by anything with the word “get” in it.

Why does ‘Get started’ work?

It needs to be clear that your call to action is where the next step happens. If you want serious leads, then the call to action button is not the place to test out your funniest one-liners. Just like the header and subheader, the call to action is active, it’s job is to create momentum.

“Get started” suggests a journey, it suggests self-improvement, which is probably why it works better than “Submit” or “Subscribe.” It could also be that “Get started” works because it finishes the sentence we’re thinking when a sign-up is close: “I want to… get started.”

Pro-tip: Best practices are best practices for a reason, but don’t use a “Get” CTA just because I suggested it. Do some research, craft a sound hypothesis and A/B test your button copy for maximum conversions.
Fluidsurveys CTA copy
FluidSurveys‘s button copy is active and timely.
Cheez burger CTA copy
Cheezburger pairs tried and true button copy with another one of our favorite words: free.
blab cake CTA copy
BlabCake uses a slightly different version of the “Get” formula for their coming soon page.

Conclusion

Let’s look at all of the formulas together:

  • Action words + Product reference = Winning headline
  • Your exact offering + Promise of ease = Winning subheader
  • Your best offerings + Worded in the form of benefit statements + Appropriate sectioning = Winning body content
  • Active words + ‘I want to…’ + A/B testing = Winning call to action

What you’ve got in these formulas, is the recipe for a basic vanilla sponge — the foundations of a successful landing page. Put them together and then — like any good marketer — your job becomes testing that landing page to see what works best for your audience.

What are your favorite copywriting formulas? Share ’em in the comments!

Original article – 

Simple Recipes for No-Fail Landing Page Copy [+ Free Downloadable Worksheet]

Breaking Out Of The Box: Design Inspiration (June 2016)

There’s no doubt that simple design is hard, since it requires much more thought and inspiration. It’s about understanding exactly what your users need. Colors play a major role, and today I’d like to show you a couple of illustrations that may motivate you to try out some new color combinations and techniques.
Take a look at the following photographs, posters and book covers that have been created with some really inspiring shades and color palettes, and some even show how to cleverly use negative space.

Read this article – 

Breaking Out Of The Box: Design Inspiration (June 2016)

A 34-Point Checklist for Creating a Case Study that Converts

Customer being interviewed
Getting your customer to sing your praises is social proof at its best. (Image by Fairphone via flickr.)

Does the following scenario sound familiar?

You go the extra mile for your customer, recruit her to sing your praises, write a striking case study and send it off to your email list to do its magic. Then you do a little dance… and you wait. And wait…

Crickets.

Case studies of customer success let you touch pain points and counter objections in story form, in a way that doesn’t feel too salesy. By reading how their peer overcame challenges and reached the place they’d like to reach themselves, prospects develop an emotional connection with your satisfied customer and, through them, with your company.

Plus, once your case study is ready, you can use this one story across the funnel for maximum impact — from marketing copy to webinars to landing pages.

According to Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs’ 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report, 77% of B2B and 35% of B2C marketers use case studies. And almost 60% of the B2B marketers who participated in the study said case studies were effective for them.

But not every case study converts, or even makes it from idea to publication. That’s why we created this checklist for you. Follow it to avoid potential roadblocks and create a case study that actually helps you move the needle.

Set a goal for your case study and choose the right customer to feature

1. Decide which product, service or feature is most important for you to promote

It can be your hardest product to sell, one that goes against industry conventions or a new feature that could take your company in a new direction.

Go down your list of products and features and pinpoint the ones that differentiate you from the competition. What do you offer that your competitors just can’t?

Eventually, you’ll be able to follow in New Relic’s steps and present a case study library for each of your key features or offerings. When you do that, prospective customers will find it easy to learn about the solution that fits them best.

New Relic case study library

New Relic’s case study game is strong.

2. Go beyond features and think about benefits, too

When planning for your case study, also consider the benefits you want to promote — how will your product or feature affect customers on a deeper level?

Take Ringadoc for example, who wanted to develop case studies to show how its app helps clinics easily triage after-hour calls. They wanted to talk about the monetary benefits they bring their customers like Dentologie, a dental clinic in downtown Chicago:

dental clinic case study

Ringadoc highlights their client’s monetary benefits, but not at the expense of customer service.

The headline of this case study speaks to the monetary benefits that Ringadoc brings its clients. But the company also wanted to make sure clinics know they’ll get outstanding customer service and that their older patients will be able to handle speaking to a recording — so they were sure to highlight these deeper, more emotional benefits in the case study. Check out this excerpt, for example:

“No note gets lost and no patient finds her or himself explaining the problem five times, saving time and discomfort for everyone involved.”


Case studies should highlight features *and* benefits — from monetary to emotional.
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3. Choose an audience sector to prioritize

This is your opportunity to defy stereotypes by proving that elders can use your app too, or show how you can drive results for both solopreneurs and enterprises.

Job search service Simply Hired understands that small businesses looking to hire employees don’t operate the same as the world’s premier staffing firms. By developing sector-specific case studies, Simply Hired is able to send different prospects down different funnels focused on their specific needs:

Simply hired case studies

Project management tool Clarizen offers another way to choose audience sectors for your case studies. Understanding that project managers and IT teams are looking for different types of customer stories, Clarizen lets you filter the case study list by your position.

clarizen customer stories

4. Be strategic in your efforts to attract more local or international customers

If you want to get local press or convince prospects from around the world that you could be a good fit, take location into consideration.

Freelance writing mentors Carol Tice and Linda Formichelli offer a course called Pitch Clinic to help writers improve their pitches. The course gets mostly American students, but Carol and Linda wanted to show international subscribers that their strategies work for writers around the world.

In a case study ebook they developed, they feature this success story of a writer from India:

case study ebook
The added benefit here? Carol and Linda’s prospects in the US have extra proof that their strategies work — regardless of physical location.

5. Choose a customer industry you want to grow in

A very common question prospects ask is, “Does this solution work for my industry?” If you help multiple industries, creating a case study for each of them could help answer this question.

Check out how finance management software Intacct makes it easy for its prospects to hear from their industry-specific peers:

Hear from your peers

6. Start with the most challenging sector, or the most universal

If you’re stuck and unsure where to start, go with the most challenging industry or sector to sell to, or feature customers that saw the greatest results and can impress the largest part of your target audience.

Get customer collaboration

7. Find the low-hanging fruit

Getting customer collaboration might be the most challenging part of this process, so do your best to find the low-hanging fruit. If customers have already expressed gratitude, they’ll be easier to recruit.

Where do you find this gratitude? Check your inbox for thank you emails, look for Twitter shoutouts, search review sites and forums for praise and pay attention to who sends you the most referrals.

Customer data management software InsideView doesn’t only follow this tip — it features the shoutouts on its website:

InsideView twitter

8. Decide whether featuring big names or everyday peers will serve your audience better

If you have a satisfied celebrity customer, you may want to feature her for the immediate social proof, but weigh the pros and cons. Could prospective customers worry that it worked for the celebrity because of her unique status?

For example, if you’re an interior designer, prospects might worry that they won’t be able to achieve the same impressive results without the same budget. It might be best to feature a peer with a budget similar to that of your target audience.

However, if the celebrity won the race using your brand’s bicycle or nutrition plan, it could be the inspiration your audience needs to get more ambitious… and try your products while they’re at it.

9. Clarify who needs to approve participation and how long it’ll take

This is a big deal. Your contact might not be the one with the authority to approve the finished case study, and you want to know that before you start investing time, money and energy.

If you’re a B2C company, one family member might need to convince the rest, who could feel uncomfortable with public exposure.

If you’re in B2B, top management and legal departments could have concerns you’ll need to address. They could also have other priorities, putting your case study contract at the bottom of their to-do list and getting you stuck for months.

If you’re counting on the case study for a marketing campaign, consider how long you’re willing to wait.

Clarify a timetable. If you expect delays, consider moving forward with another option. Sometimes it’s better to go with a non-brand name and get your case study published than hold your marketing plans for months waiting for the big names to get back to you.

10. How much incentive are you willing to give?

Yes, some will participate in your case studies out of sheer gratitude, but remember that you’re asking a lot.

You’re asking them to open up about a personal or business process in front of the entire world, and to top it off, they need to make time for you. Maybe they even need to recruit others for the case study to actually happen.

There’s nothing wrong with a little incentive to make it a win-win situation.

Remember Pitch Clinic for freelance writers? I got this email from Linda Formichelli this fall. She and Carol Tice were offering a full refund to students who signed up for their course, did all their homework and… allowed Linda and Carol to feature them in a case study ebook.

Yes, they asked for case study participation before you even bought their product.

Pitch Clinic request for participation

11. Identify customers who share your target audience?

Another low hanging fruit is a customer who shares your target audience, such as a veterinarian with a dog food manufacturer as a customer. Getting buy-in and participation will be easier because the case study can promote you both… and that might be the only incentive your customer needs.

Video software company Animoto did just that by featuring a marketing agency on its success stories page.

Animato success stories

12. Get written permission to use the customer’s story in your marketing efforts

A “yes” in a post-conference party or an excited phone call will only get you so far. True, getting it in writing might prolong the process, but you’ll be covered in case your contact leaves the company or the CEO changes policies.

Otherwise, you might find yourself investing time and money in a case study that will never see the light of day.

Prepare for a successful case study interview

13. Research your own company

Leading a successful interview requires quality preparation.

If you conduct the interview yourself, take some time to familiarize yourself with departments your customer has interacted with, or departments you want to feature in your case study. These could be your customer service department, your software developers or any other relevant part of the company you don’t usually engage with professionally.

Understanding your customer’s touch points with your company will help you ask the right type of questions.

14. Research your customer’s company and industry

Researching your customers helps you understand their point of view and challenges so you can better brainstorm questions that’ll get you the data and quotes you need.

Consider this case study by enterprise data management software company Acxiom about its customer Hearst Magazines. It demonstrates that Acxiom has an intimate understanding of Hearst’s goals and challenges as the magazine landscape changes:

Acxiom on Hearst Magazine

By showing you really get the featured customer, you consequently show the case study’s target audience that you get their needs too.

15. Research the customer’s journey with your company

Learning about the satisfied customer’s background isn’t enough. Before conducting the interview, collect information about the journey the customer has gone through with your company.

Was there hesitation at first? What concerns, challenges and setbacks were experienced along the way? What ultimately led to your customer meeting or exceeding their goal?

It’s important to get this information from the customer’s perspective as well, but hearing both sides of the story will allow you to lead the interview in the direction that helps you meet your own goals.

16. Research the language the case study’s target audience uses

Every audience has different challenges and uses different terminology. Can you imagine using ROI, CRO and CRM in the same paragraph… in a case study targeted at people considering starting their first business?

Check out this case study section intro from Freelance Mom:

Freelance Mom

The company targets mompreneurs who’ve undoubtedly said at least once that they need an extra day a week. Freelance Mom is a B2B business, but it targets women raising kids and running a business. You can bet they feel alone sometimes, and here comes Lisa Stein, the Freelance Mom, to tell them they’re not alone, in terms they relate to.

17. Review your goals for the case study and adjust them accordingly

Unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want in life. As much as I want to, I can’t adopt a penguin, for example. But life isn’t about what you can’t have — it’s about making the most of what you do have.

Didn’t get the customer you wanted to feature? Make the most of the customer you did. Be grateful. And adjust your goals before brainstorming interview questions.

You might not be able to reach the target audience you wanted, but you’ll reach another sector that might surprise you.

18. Decide on a case study format

Most companies go with written case studies, but if you have the necessary resources and you manage to convince a customer to go on camera, a video case study can introduce an element of fun to sometimes dry subject matter.

Otherwise, consider bringing your customer on your podcast or webinar — you may even want to specifically seek out customers who have experience appearing on video or podcasts.

When deciding on a format, account for what works best for:

  • You and your team: Which resources are available?
  • Your customer: Which format are they most comfortable with?
  • Your target audience for the case study: Which format will resonate most with them?

19. Schedule an interview

Find out when your customer is available to talk. Make sure your interviewer understands the importance of accommodating your customer’s needs, especially across time zones.

You don’t have to talk to someone at 4 a.m. if that doesn’t work for you (though I’ve totally done that), but make an effort to put your customer’s needs first.

20. Include visuals in your case study

Photos add a great visual impact, as you can see in website builder Wix’s customer stories section:

Wix customer stories page

But don’t assume you can use these visuals.

Some people won’t feel comfortable with you using their photo, even if said photo is available publicly on social media. Others might find it to be uncomfortable enough to share their story, and won’t want the added vulnerability of their photo in your marketing materials. Further, some companies might require management or legal approval.

So get permission first, and get it in writing.

Conduct a successful case study interview

21. Start with the basics

Confirm basic information and correct spelling, and let the customer give you a little background in their own words. This is information you’re supposed to have by now, but you want to verify that it’s accurate. It’s also your way to gain some insight into the customer’s mind, values and the language they use. Pay attention, because it could help you throughout the interview.

Quoted or not, you’ll need to incorporate some basic information in your case study to give readers some context.

22. Ask the customer what the situation was like before using your product

Your customer probably dealt with many challenges your prospective customers are encountering right now.

Showing your audience you get where they are now helps them trust you to lead them to where they want to go. At the very least, you’ll give them a reason to keep reading the case study — they’ll want to find out how someone else got from where they are now to accomplishing their goals.

23. Ask the customer why they decided to change the situation

This is a great way to set the stage for the solution your company offers.

And again, people reading your case study are probably struggling with the same challenges. Showing them someone just like them put a stop to the same struggle gives them courage to do the same.

24. Don’t be afraid to talk about the concerns the customer had about working with you

Did your customer have concerns about working with your company, onboarding challenges or growing pains throughout the process?

Don’t be afraid to ask about these roadblocks and include them in your case study — this is your chance to touch on customer pain points and help prospects overcome objections in a non-salesy way.

Marie Forleo does this beautifully with her course, B-School. Check out the right sidebar in the image below. She has an answer for every objection you could possibly have about joining B-School, and it’s especially effective because it comes from customers who had the same objections, overcame them and achieved great results with B-School.

B-School customer concerns

25. Showcase the customer’s journey with your company

Another benefit to talking about product challenges that prospects fear they’ll face? You get to show the process your company led to help real customers overcome these challenges.

This case study I wrote for Set Her Free, for example, doesn’t claim that life is now perfect for Florence, a young woman Set Her Free rescued from the sex industry in Uganda. But it does show the process Florence went through and how Set Her Free helped her reach a point where hope is a reality.

Set her free customer journey

26. Ask your customer how life or business is different now

This is the best part: Get your customer to paint a picture of how life or business is different now. Try to get as accurate data as you can, but, depending on your goals, don’t forget to focus on feelings too.

BONUS TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions, because you never know what you’re going to learn.

Write a customer-centric, goal-oriented case study

27. Choose your case study structure

Decide whether you use the good ol’ structure of “challenge, solution, results” (to make it easy for readers to navigate), or benefit-driven headlines that tell a story and evoke curiosity.

Athlete endorsement matchmaking service Opendorse, for example, used the classic structure in its Girl Scouts of Nebraska case study.

Opendorse Girl Scouts
Opendorse-Girl Scouts 2

Unbounce, on the other hand, combined both methods when it came time to share how the company helped Chair 10 Marketing save $400 per client. Unbounce featured a classic structure in a sidebar, and benefit-driven headlines in the body of the case study.

Chair 10 case study
Chair 10 case study benefits

28. Make your customer the hero of the case study

Clearly, your solution helped your featured customer, otherwise you wouldn’t have a great case study to market. But be careful not to make your customer look bad because of poor past choices.

On the contrary, make your customer the classic Hollywood hero, weathering many storms until finally finding the right tool or service to reach their goals. That’s the kind of story your prospects can relate to, and the kind that will convince more customers to participate in case studies down the line.

29. Give your customer a chance to ask for edits

Finally, before hitting publish, let your customer read the case study and ask for edits.

Not only is it fair, but it’ll help you avoid possible friction later (after you’ve already promoted the case study) with one of your most valuable customers.

Get the most mileage out of your case study by marketing it both externally and internally

30. Get the necessary approvals before spreading the news

If there’s anyone who still need to greenlight the publication inside your company or on the customer’s end, get that approval before you share the case study with the world.

31. Let your audience know about your case study in every possible way

Incorporate your case study in your site copy, blog, email newsletter and social media, plus create a designated page or section just for case studies.

Want some inspiration?

HubSpot created a designated case study section, with a quick overview of results and clickable boxes, which lead you to the full case studies:

Hubspot case study section

Unbounce added a case study video to its home page. You see a results-focused quote next to the customer’s photo, then have the option to click a button and watch the case study video… right on the home page:

Unbounce case study video

Danny Iny of Mirasee (previously Firepole Marketing) incorporated a case study in the landing page for one of his courses, Write Like Freddy:

Write Like Freddy

Bryan Harris is known for his formulas, which are based on case studies of successful customers. Here’s one of the case studies he published as a post on his blog, Videofruit:

Video fruit case study

32. Let other people’s audiences know about your case study, too

Pitch to get interviewed, write guest posts and have related press releases published.

Before Michael Aagaard joined the Unbounce team, he wrote guest posts for the blog and featured case studies of his own company, ContentVerve:

ContentVerve case study

33. Market the case study to your own team

Just as importantly, market the case study inside your company to let team members know their work makes a difference, and recruit them to help you take the company to the next level.

To do that, email everybody when the case study is ready, share it in team meetings and trainings and hang it around the office.

Diane Autey, sales support content manager at RedBrick Health, did just that — she hung case studies on office walls and put them in a binder, which she placed in the lunchroom, so all employees can have access to them.

34. Document the publicity’s impact on your customer

When marketing your case study, keep tabs on how this publicity helps your customer grow, too.

This works especially if you share a target audience, like in the example of video software Animoto featuring a marketing agency on its success stories page.

But even if you don’t, consider making an effort to get in front of audiences that could help your customer shine. If you’re a video software company with a bakery customer, don’t just seek publicity on marketing sites. Look for websites and magazines that serve the bakery industry, or try to get your case study featured on the local news, where this bakery’s customers are the target audience.

It’ll make it easier to convince the next satisfied customer to participate.

Which case study step will you take next?

Creating case studies may seem complex at first glance, but following this checklist will simplify your journey to conversions you can dance to.

Need someone to cheer you on? Share your next step with us in the comments and we’ll do just that.

Credit: 

A 34-Point Checklist for Creating a Case Study that Converts

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

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

Background

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

The Hypothesis

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

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

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

What Goals Were Tracked?

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

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

The Test: Stock Image or Real Image

Comparison Image

The Result

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

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

Why did the Variation win?

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

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

What does it say?

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

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

Illustration - Graphic vs Text

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

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

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

Eye-Tracking Study on Images By NN

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

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

The Control, with the Stock Photograph

Why did it convert so poorly?

  • We Love Ignoring Images That Look Stock

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

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

  • Stock Images Are Not Unique

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

TinEye Reverse Search Result

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

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

Reverse Image Search - Google Images

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

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

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

Same Stock Photo Used By Competitiors

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

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

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

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

  • Using Irrelevant Stock Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Verdict?

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

And, curtains down!

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

The Variation, with the Real Photo

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

  • It’s All About Relevance

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

“How does the place look?”

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

Student's Image Used in Variation

“Is it credible?”

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

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

Enough said.

  • We Love Images That Look Real!

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

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

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

Get the trust, make the sale.

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

  • Clever Branding and the Hidden Call To Action

What? Where?

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

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

No, that’s not all.

A call to action. That little big thing.

“Call Today”

Hidden Call to Action in Image

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

So there, little relevant things really matter.

Room for Further Testing

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

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

Are Your Images Relevant?

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

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

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

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

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

45% Increase in Conversions Using Real Image

How about an 89% increase in conversion?

And as always, we’re listening.

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

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

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When Do You Need a Long-Form Sales Page?

Long Jump
How long does your landing page have to be to get prospects to take the long jump toward conversion? Image by Hermitianta Prasetya Putra via Flickr.

The best landing pages are concise and include just enough copy to make the sale – and not a word more.

That’s not to say that, “shorter is better.” Long landing pages definitely have their place.

For example, maybe prospects have never heard of you and need to be educated about your solution. Maybe they’re not even entirely aware of their own pain. Or maybe your offer is particularly complex or super expensive.

In those cases, a long-form sales page could be exactly what you need to tell your story and set the stage for conversion.

So how do you know whether you should be testing a longer-form sales page? And how can you be sure that you’re not falling victim to some of the biggest long-form sales page pitfalls?

Keep reading to get the skinny (and – spoiler alert – to download a free sales page template).

Part I: When your landing page needs long-form copy to make the sale

Before we jump into where long-form sales pages can go wrong, let’s go over some signs that you should be testing a longer sales page.

Your product/service costs a pretty penny

When people are asked to part with larger sums of money, they’re more likely to scrutinize an offer.

A higher price tag leads to an increased sense of commitment and anxiety – and it’s your job to include as much copy as you need to soothe your prospect’s fears.

They want to know where their money is going and if they’ll be getting enough value for how much they’re shelling out. Take the space you need to be crystal-clear about the benefits of your offer and exactly what they’ll get.


A bigger price tag = more objections. Take the time to counter each one on your landing page.
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Your product/service has a lot of moving parts

How easy is it to explain how your product or service works? The more features to your product or pieces to your offer, the more copy you’ll have to go along with it.

Michael Aagaard of Content Verve showed this correlation between cost/complexity of an offering and the length of a landing page.

contentverve-long-sales-pages
Long-form vs. short-form treatment via Content Verve.

In the above example, he found that the shorter landing page converted better. Why? The gym membership is relatively inexpensive, the offering is simple, and the perceived level of risk is low. An A/B test revealed that giving people more information isn’t necessary.

However, when he tested a longer version of a landing page for an insulation company where the offer was more complex and with a much higher price tag, the shorter version lost.

contentverve2-long-sales-pages
For an insulation company with a complicated and expensive offer, more information was necessary to make the sale. Image via Content Verve.

The offer represents a larger investment and directly concerns the prospect’s home and comfort. The thought of making the wrong choice about an insulation company is one that causes anxiety – which in turn requires more explanation about the offer.

As Michael put it, “It’s a complex offer that could result in a large investment in insulation. So there’s a high level of commitment and perceived risk involved.”

Your prospects aren’t yet aware of the solution to their problem

Your prospects may not yet be aware of your offer and how it’ll fix their problem – in fact, they might not even be entirely aware of their problem.

Depending on your prospect’s level of awareness, they’ll need varying degrees of information to get them to hit that buy button.

Joanna Wiebe at CopyHackers does a fantastic job of explaining just that with her post How Long Should Your Pages Be?:

Your page needs to be as long as is necessary to make the argument that will address the prospect in their state of awareness. If you don’t know how aware they are, you need to find out in order to shape your argument…

Basically, the less aware people are of their pain and that a solution exists to relieve it, the more copy is required to make them feel comfortable with the offer.

copyhackers-awareness-graphic-650
From the CopyHackers post, How Long Should Your Pages Be?

If your prospect has low awareness, then you need to paint a vivid picture of the pain they’re experiencing before you even mention your offer.

Once you’ve painted that picture, then you’re in a great position to educate them about your solution by showing how their life could be better with it.


The length of a sales page should depend on the state of awareness of visitors.
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Part II: Avoiding long-form sales page pitfalls

Now that you’ve got a better idea of when it’s necessary to test a longer-form sales page, it’s time to look at a few easily fixable mistakes that can make your pages really shine (and convert).

Problem: You’re letting design overpower the message

Let’s just get one thing straight. I do believe you can have gorgeous design on your long-form sales pages. You don’t have to go the ugly or plain Jane route to get conversions.

But if cool graphics and eye-popping photos are getting in the way of quickly getting to the message, there’s a problem.

Take a look at this sales page for a design and copywriting course:

brandgasm101-650
From the Brandgasm 101 long-form sales page.

There’s way too much going on above the fold. Between the multiple font colors, handwritten notes up top and multiple big blocks of text, its easy to go on cognitive overload. Where should my eye go?

This design forces the reader to think way harder than they should have to.

Fix: Make your design support your message

Your priority when designing your long-form sales page should be to give prospects the information they need to make a decision. Any design elements you add to the page they should serve the one goal of the page.

Take a look at this screenshot from just below the fold on the same page:

brandgasm101-2-650
From the Brandgasm 101 long-form sales page.

The elements are no longer competing for attention – the design, typography and formatting enhance the message without making it take a backseat.

And the most important things are emphasized.

Problem: Your story isn’t compelling your visitors

If you’re selling a $2,000 coaching course and you’re not a household name, simply explaining your offer and providing a few benefit bullet points isn’t going to cut it.

If your prospects need a lot of information in order to convert, your landing page copy had better tell a compelling story.

You need to immediately hook prospects in by keying into their pain and reflecting it back to them with the promise of a solution as they move down the page.

Fix: Take your prospects by the hand and walk them through your why

Especially on long-form sales pages, storytelling is one of the best tactics for persuading your audience.

Every single piece of copy should keep the eyes moving down the page and build on the narrative you’re weaving.

For example, the flow of your argument on the page may be:

  • Setting up the problem
  • Explaining why you’re uniquely qualified to understand (and solve) that problem
  • Explaining how your course will fix the problem
  • Giving the benefits buyers will gain from the course
  • Anticipating any objections your prospects might have
  • Telling your buyers what kind of results they will see after taking the course
  • Laying out exactly what they will get (lessons, tutorials, etc.) after purchase

The screenshot below shows a sub-headline and text from Tara Gentile’s Quiet Power Strategy sales page. Here she begins the process of setting up the problem that many entrepreneurs have: not knowing how to grow their businesses or find the support they need.

taragentile-650
From the Quiet Power Strategy long-form sales page.

If you move down the page, you’ll see where each sub-head picks up the thread of her argument as to why her coaching is ideal for her prospects. She does all this while making sure to address their most pressing concerns with FAQs and testimonials peppered throughout.

From the Quiet Power Strategy long-form sales page.

On your sales page, explain the why of your business. Show that you care and understand before you ask prospects to whip out their wallets.

Problem: You don’t adequately convey the value of your offering

This is a biggie. Time and time again, I read survey responses from recent client customers saying they almost didn’t purchase from the landing page because they weren’t convinced of the value.

More often than not, the question of value revolves around price. But time can play a role as well. Everyone’s time is worth something – and your visitors will weigh the amount of time necessary to complete your course or get up to speed using your new product with all the other commitments on their plates.

In their minds, they will be asking themselves questions like:

Will I really have enough time to complete the course?
Will this just be another thing I buy and never use?
Will I gain enough skills to raise my rates and pay for the course?

So how can you address these concerns before they even come up?

Fix: Reframe the cost by breaking it down into a more manageable sum or comparing it to something tangible

One of the most effective ways to convey value is to frame the expense in terms of something else the person can relate to in their everyday life, or to simply break it down into smaller bite-sized pieces.

Have a look at this sales page that I wrote for Girls Gone Strong:

price anchoring-650
From the Girls Gone Strong – Strongest You Coaching long-form sales page.

We addressed the time and cost commitment issue by turning it on its head.

The first two bullet points talk about what value previous coaching clients got out of the program. The third breaks down the cost by the day. Spending $12 a day suddenly seems like a no brainer for everything you get.

Is your sales page ready for primetime?

Take a look at your sales page and take some time to:

  1. Determine if going long-form is the right call. Depending on the particulars of your offer and how aware your prospects are of their problem and the solution, keeping it concise may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
  2. See if your page is suffering from any of the common mistakes cited above. If it is, take the time to rework your design or copy.
  3. A/B test a longer version against a shorter version. No matter how much we’d all love for there to be tried and true best practices, there simply aren’t any. You’ve got to test for yourself.

It may seem like a lot of work. But if it’ll help you bring in more conversions, it’s definitely worth it.


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When Do You Need a Long-Form Sales Page?