Tag Archives: private

Real Estate Landing Pages (Our Customer Favorites + Why We Think They’re Great)

Whether you’re an independent realtor or work at a real estate agency, you can gain a competitive advantage if you have owned digital properties to drive your paid and social traffic to.

Owned properties — like landing pages — provide you more control in real estate versus relying on popular listing sites where the journey isn’t always clear, you can’t customize your call to action or match your branding.

In short, real estate marketing can really benefit from lead capture landing pages because they allow you to:

  • Establish and grow your mailing list, ensuring you can follow up with and remarket to interested prospects later.
  • Showcase properties especially well, creating urgency and delivering especially compelling offers (like granting early access to listings, for example).
  • Track social and paid campaigns better. With a listing site you don’t have access to metrics and can’t determine ROI as quickly as you can with a landing page.

Ultimately, you can use landing pages to understand exactly who is interested in a property, entice prospects to book appointments (or other offers) and wow new clients with on-brand design.

In this post I’ll break down some of the best ways to start using real estate landing pages with a few examples from Unbounce customers.

1. Showcase your listings (and grow your mailing list)

At minimum, every real estate broker needs a place to share listings online. But ideally, you’ll want to own the experience.

RE/MAX agents Matthew Davidson and Kimbe MacMaster know this first-hand.

These independent agents use Unbounce landing pages to showcase an overview of a property: quick stats, a photo gallery, a video and details on the community. And while a property is available, prospects can book a showing as the call to action:

Featuring trendy parallax scroll, this page converts at 0.38%. Click to view full-length landing page.

Once the listing is sold (nice work Matthew and Kimbe!), the CTA changes to allow interested parties to sign up for early notice for similar listings in the future:

This post-sale CTA swap is a terrific way to build your email list for advertising similar properties in the future.

Having used the Unbounce Loft template, Matthew and Kimbe can simply duplicate this page each time they need a dedicated place to feature a listing. This allows the duo to be listing-specific when they link from a Facebook or search ad, ensuring a seamless ad-to-landing-page experience for potential buyers.

According to the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report, 41.6% of marketers in real estate have at least one page that converts under 1.3%, so Matthew and Kimbe’s conversion rate above is in line with what we see for many real estate marketers.

See how your conversion rates stack up in real estate (and nine other popular industries)

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report to see how your landing page performance compares to your competitors.

By entering your email you’ll receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

2. Entice buyers with exclusive pre-sale info, floor plans, price lists and more

Booking viewings of individual properties is great, but what if the real estate you’re selling is still in development?

Working with large and small-scale real estate developers, Rennie helps their developer clients plan and execute all aspects of their marketing and sales strategy, including online advertising. As part of their online strategy, they create project-specific landing pages and direct all paid traffic to those pages to gather leads.

Here’s an example created for The Pacific by Grosvenor:

This real estate landing page currently converts at 7.92%. Click to view full-length page.

Jennie Sebastian, Rennie’s Digital Marketing & CRM Manager, shared that the marketing team typically has a kick-off meeting five to six weeks before a campaign. Once they determine targeting and put together a media schedule, creative — including development of the landing page — can begin.

The campaigns typically employ search ads, display, Facebook, Instagram and WeChat, but the team is always looking for new ways to reach their target audiences.

As many real estate marketers can likely empathize with, Jennie shared:

One of the biggest challenges in online marketing is coming up with a strong call to action that entices users to provide us with their personal information.

Depending on the phase of the project and assets available, CTAs range from, “Sign up now for early access” and “Download all floorplans now,” to “Book a private appointment now.”

Through numerous A/B tests the Rennie team has found that more specific CTAs convert significantly better than more generic ones, as they clearly articulate to a prospect what they are receiving in exchange for their information.

Which brings us to landing page idea number three…

3. Get prospects to picture themselves in their dream home with a virtual tour

Just as Jennie from Rennie told us above, compelling CTAs are very important in real estate marketing, and offering a virtual tour has proven to be very effective for their team:

We recently offered a virtual tour using special 360 degree photography for one of our projects in Calgary. After updating the CTA to “Take a virtual tour now,” we saw a significant increase in the conversion rate.

Here’s an example page of theirs, which converts at 4.15%:

Click to view the full-length landing page.

Clicking the CTA button triggers a form gating the tour:

Even if you can’t wrangle 360 photography, you can still get prospects to picture themselves in their dream home.

Simple videos, photo galleries, or even the hero image on your landing page can do the trick. But be sure to test.

Example test of hero image variants

Here’s an example from Coronation Properties via digital agency Rocket. They test variations of their pages with different key elements of a property featured in the hero image.

Here’s a variant wherein the bedroom is the hero shot:

And another where the kitchen takes the spotlight:

The takeaway here?

Get creative with videos, 360 tours, or even experimenting with your hero shot, to give clients a glimpse into the property that’s right for them.

4. Offer up relevant listings to abandoning visitors

While landing pages clearly offer a competitive advantage in real estate, you also want to ensure you’ve optimized your website for conversions.

As our customers at Brixio know, you can try out an Unbounce overlay to ensure you’re not missing out on conversion opportunities. Overlays allow you to show relevant offers to specific users at the perfect time, making them less likely to leave your website without converting

Unbounce Convertables

We love their idea for an overlay triggered to appear on exit to those leaving a website, tempting potential real estate buyers with off-market or exclusive listings.

Here’s a preview of what they had in mind:

With Unbounce, you can launch your overlay at any point during someone’s visit on your website: on exit, on arrival, after delay, on scroll and on click. Find out how Unbounce overlays work here.

5. Test a simple value prop to prompt more commitment-heavy offers

For marketers in the business of custom real estate, your offer of a tailor-made home is much more commitment-heavy than simply moving into an existing place.

This poses an interesting challenge: interested prospects likely have many questions, may be exploring many options and need a reason to trust you immediately.

Here’s agency Rocket’s solution: an on-brand, clear landing page (where prospects can “enquire today”):

This page converts at 1.84%. Click to view full-length landing page.

This small offer accompanied by all the fine details serves as a type of micro conversion, ensuring Manor Homes’ prospects have the chance to reach out and get the conversation started about a custom home.

Get creative with your own micro conversion incentives! For example, you may want to consider inviting prospects to download a collection of your custom homes to preview at their leisure.

6. Offer up relevant content marketing (so you can nurture leads later)

Plenty of businesses use content marketing to reach their target audience, and as Edina Realty knows, this applies to the real estate industry too.

As a subsidiary of Home Services of America, Edina Realty’s licensed pros guide customers through home buying and selling. To provide the most value to their clients, they deliver unique and useful content via custom landing pages.

Check out this Unbounce landing page they created to distribute their Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home – it converts at a whopping 18%:

Click to view full-length landing page.

By combining content strategy with retargeting, Edina Realty is able to reach prospective leads throughout the funnel and deliver quality leads to their agents.

Hannah Kaeter, Digital Marketing Manager at Edina Realty, told us about the importance of educating leads:

One of the key challenges in our market is a low inventory of homes for sale at lower price points. With this challenge comes an opportunity to educate potential sellers — many of them first-time sellers — about the process so they can evaluate and make informed decisions about their own property and situation.

Ready to build your digital property?

Overall, the above examples illustrate the importance of having a dedicated place to send your paid and social traffic, which can make all the difference in whether you can track the ROI of your real estate marketing. This beats relying on common listing sites — especially in the case of condo developments or offers that require sophisticated branding or high commitment, like custom homes.

Replicate the success of these realtors with Unbounce’s real estate templates, and be sure to download our Conversion Benchmark Report for a breakdown of where you stand in this industry.

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Real Estate Landing Pages (Our Customer Favorites + Why We Think They’re Great)

Infographic: The Evolution of Web Design

26 Years. Over a quarter century. That’s how long it’s been since the publication of the first website in 1991, info.cern.ch. That’s right. That right there is a link to the very first website ever published. Since then we’ve created banner ads, pop-ups, CAPTCHAs, social media, and countless layers of the front end tech stack we enjoy today with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Let’s also ponder what trends web design will follow during the next quarter century. We are definitely getting a VR enabled web. Check out the VRVCA, a consortium of venture capital funds, including HTC and NVIDIA, who…

The post Infographic: The Evolution of Web Design appeared first on The Daily Egg.


Infographic: The Evolution of Web Design

Making A WordPress Plugin That Uses Service APIs, “From Soup To Nuts”

An increasingly large number of publicly available APIs provide powerful services to expand the functionality of our applications. WordPress is an incredibly dynamic and flexible CMS that powers everything from small personal blogs to major e-commerce websites and everything in between. Part of what makes WordPress so versatile is its powerful plugin system, which makes it incredibly easy to add functionality.

Making A WordPress Plugin That Uses Service APIs, “From Soup To Nuts”

We will walk through how I made GitHub Pipeline, a plugin that allows you to display data from the GitHub API on WordPress pages using shortcodes. I’ll give specific examples and code snippets, but consider the technique described here a blueprint for how to consume any service API with a plugin. We’ll start from the beginning, but a degree of familiarity with WordPress and plugin development is assumed, and we won’t spend time on beginner topics, like installing WordPress or Composer.

The post Making A WordPress Plugin That Uses Service APIs, “From Soup To Nuts” appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Making A WordPress Plugin That Uses Service APIs, “From Soup To Nuts”

Julien Smith of Breather: I Was a Thought Leader Before a CEO [PODCAST]

One of Breather’s many breath-taking spaces. Image via Breather.com.

A lot of marketers become thought leaders by honing their skills in the trenches of their startup. Only once they’ve done their time and learned from their mistakes do they go on to secure speaking gigs and publish books.

But Julien Smith has had a bit of an unconventional marketing career. He flipped the above trajectory on its head, making a seemingly backwards transition from marketing thought leader to real-world marketer and CEO.

After many years of writing and speaking, Julien decided to stop telling marketers what to do and started showing them by founding a company of his own. Today, he is the CEO of Breather, a company that rents out private (and oh-so-very-zen) spaces.

In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, you’ll learn:

  • Why Julien initially made his book, The Flinch, available for free.
  • The single word that changed the way Breather was marketed, allowing the company to flourish and raise $1.5 million in funding.
  • What we can all learn from affiliate marketers, even though they’ve got a bit of a bad rap.

Listen to the podcast

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Dan: You’ve done things a little bit differently than most people or most marketing thought leaders out there. Most people start out by building a company, if it’s successful maybe they start speaking about it, and maybe they write a book. But you did the complete opposite.

Julien: Yeah.

Dan: How did that happen?

Julien: Yeah, what happens is that there was a brief period around 2004, 2005 where I think there were like no internet celebrities of any kind. So there was a vacuum of internet celebrities and because of that…

Dan: Imagine we had that problem right now. What a beautiful problem to have.

Julien: Yeah, it’d be the exact opposite problem. Yeah, because there was a vacuum of internet celebrities you could basically do anything and kind of get an audience. Even if you had an awful blog or an awful podcast it didn’t matter because there was nothing to listen to and nothing to read on the internet. So that helped me get an audience. And the audience actually propelled everything because then you have an audience, so then when you have a blog it just gets read by a lot of people. Then you have an ebook, you have all the audience that you could send it to, and then that got published — sent over to Wiley and then Wiley was like, “Well, there’s no book on social media. We should get someone to write a book on social media.” And we got tapped to do that. So then I realized — started realizing what business was and then eventually I actually started one, yeah.

Dan: You were looking at our studio setup and I actually had forgotten that you had a podcast in the beginning, when we first decided to do this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about that show and what podcasting was like back in, what was it? 2005?

Julien: 2004. I started in November of 2004. It was the first podcast in the world. It’s very strange to say that, but it’s true. And because there were — all the shows were bad on the internet, I was sort of chosen, one of six people, to get my show on Sirius Satellite Radio. So a year in, because everyone else was like a 35-year-old dude from New England talking about beer probably, you know, and I was talking about — I had a completely different voice than most people. So, yeah, and just started propelling itself. It was really about being at the right place at the right time with the right, I guess, idea or something.

Dan: I wanna ask you about your book Trust Agents with Chris Brogan. I think it’s been like more than five years since that was published and that’s been really influential. I remember when I started out in this digital marketing space that was one of the books, along with maybe a couple others, that everybody was talking about. When you look back at that now, would you think it holds up?

Julien: I haven’t read it in a long time so I don’t know. But I could tell you that the things that we take for granted now — like it’s funny. I used to — I would read the book now and probably be like, “Oh, my god. This is so 101 and embarrassing.” But reality is, is that many of the tactics that we talked about in the book, this was the first time that they were ever talking about it. And now social media marketing is done that way, not just that way, but it’s very foundational things that we talked about for the first time are now done everywhere. So I think I would be pretty proud of that. But talking about how to tweet would probably be — I would probably cringe at things that I said that maybe I was very inspired to say back then, but now not so much.

Dan: Yeah, fair enough. Yeah, what seems obvious now actually was pretty mind-blowing at the time that you could build an audience, which you’ve done by creating relationships and leveraging those. I don’t know if that’s the thesis of the book, but I feel like that’s pretty close.

Julien: It’s true and it is something that really tells you a lot about how — when a new channel, or a platform, or a network is starting, you actually have enormous power during that time, right? So I was in the first 10,000 users of Twitter, right? As was Chris Brogan, my co-author on those two books, and…

Dan: Right, that’s why you have your first name as your handle.

Julien: That’s right, yeah. Yeah, @Julien. So then it was like, “Yeah, sure, fuck it. We’ll follow all these people.” And again, it’s a huge vacuum. So the same thing happened on medium, right, and may be probably still happening on medium. And new networks, when you join, if they’re gonna win, those networks, then you get an incredible cumulative advantage by starting early. And so if I was gonna propose that anyone start a business I would say find a place where it is super easy to gather the first 100 people. Another way of saying that is start with a place with low competition.

Dan: And for the networks that don’t pan out, there are some like Google Plus, thought leaders who bet on the wrong horse.

Julien: Yeah, I think it’s not about social media per se, it’s just like any place where you feel like there’s a trend coming, get in front of that trend way before it’s popular, get ridiculed for six months and then laugh your way all the way to the bank maybe.

Dan: I wanna ask you about your first — I think it was the first book that you wrote on your own, The Flinch. And you first made that available for free on Amazon. Thanks for that because that’s when I read it and it was a great book. What was the thinking behind just putting that out there for free and why did you ultimately decide to charge for it?

Julien: Yeah, so what started is — that book was written by basically me and edited by Seth Godin, who’s a pretty well-known marketing writer. And so he said a few things to me which were super pivotal. It was a super short book, it was like 10,000 words, right? And so he said, “1) I want you to know that you’re never gonna be able to write anything this visceral ever again. You’re never gonna have that opportunity.” And so he goes, “I want you to…” — he would send me edits back and those edits, he would be like, “Is this really the best you can do?” And I’d be like, “Fuck, it isn’t, shit.”

Dan: And Seth Godin saying that to you is powerful.

Julien: Yeah, it’s murder, yeah. And I remember screaming at a friend of mine just about, “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know how to make this better!” But the result is a super sharable book. So the natural thing to do then, as Godin said, “I can’t make you a millions bucks but I can probably get you a million people that will look at it.” And so there’s actually no free books on Amazon that are perpetually free. It almost never happens. So he did a deal with some early dude at Amazon and said, “We’d like to make this book perpetually free, like free forever.” So it was free for years. So every year when people would open their Kindle on Christmas they would be like, “Oh, where are the books that we’re gonna get?” And they’d find my free book.

Dan: Right. Next to all of the like Socrates and…

Julien: Yeah, literally. Yeah, and The Bible, you know. And mine is a faster read than that. So again, it was about a unique opportunity to create enormous distribution very quickly. And so when I did that, I mean in the first day it was read by — or downloaded at least, by something like 50,000 to 75,000 people. And eventually it was actually not about us. I would keep it free and it stayed free for years. And if you still “Google Flinch PDF” right now, you can get it in PDF form for free. But at some point, I don’t know, the rules changed at Amazon or something and it ended up being $2.00. So now you pay $2.00 to get it on Kindle. But it definitely — making it free was a tactic to create audience and advantage and get, what I thought to be pretty important work, and certainly the best work that I’d ever written, to be seen by as many people as possible.

Dan: Well, it’s a tactic that’s really familiar to conversion centered marketers and people who are doing lead gen, certainly a lot of our customers that use landing pages to promote free ebooks, you just don’t usually see that at the Amazon like 10,000 word book level. But same principle so it makes sense. And as a discovery tool for you it sounds like.

Julien: For sure. Yeah, and that’s actually what you’re saying is like at the core you’re the product, you the person that’s writing. Or maybe you’re the initial product and then behind you there’s like a company or something. And so you’re — what are you doing? You’re gathering links maybe. And so, okay, so then your game is gathering links, or your game is gathering page views and trying to optimize your front page to get subscribers or whatever the game is, but you need a pretty massive funnel. And for me the massive funnel was being there really early and giving stuff away for free when it was seldom done.

Dan: Well, I do wanna ask you about your company. But first I want to… I guess bring up your past a little bit more, make you flinch so to speak. Rumor has it that you had a stint running affiliate marketing campaigns for clients at some point. And I know affiliate marketing gets a bad rap among marketing circles, but I do recognize that a lot of the techniques that have started, or who have found their way to more mainstream marketers and bigger companies and bigger agencies have started in the affiliate world. What did that experience teach you?

Julien: As I think back on it now, I learnt an important lesson about kind of winner-take-all markets. All internet markets are basically winner take all and as you begin to accumulate attention or capital or whatever, it begins to get more and more powerful over time and it becomes really undefeatable, or very difficult to beat. So I’ve definitely used that to help me at Breather, my current company. But at the time, basically, I just ran giant amounts of SEO plays in different verticals and I became really dominant in a bunch of them. And actually, it’s pretty interesting. Psychologically when you’re an entrepreneur, a big thing that you kind of want to do because you’ve worked so hard is really pat yourself on the back. And I remember patting myself on the back and being like, “I won.” And in actuality, even though I was doing really well, I had not won and I had made a crucial error of thinking that the game was over or something. And so for years I ran really successful, kind of like performance marketing in the background of everything I was doing, podcasting and writing books and other things like that, and it was definitely super influential and it created the initial investment for Breather, actually, before it was ever venture capital backed. But it was amazing experience and way to learn about how to run something and make it work.

Dan: So when you say that you feel like you had won, what do you mean by that?

Julien: I was ranking No. 1 for everything. And when you’re ranking No. 1 for everything the next thing you wanna do is you wanna make another website and rank two for everything as well, right?

Dan: Right.

Julien: And then you’re like, “Okay, well, now I’m gonna rank No. 3.” But it’s actually pretty interesting because you can see your competitors literally coming up in the search rankings as well. And this is true just — you can watch… we watch our competitors at Breather and we’re like, “How many units do they have? Okay.” And it’s kind of a gauge. And in search marketing it would be like, how ranked are they compared to me? And I saw people kind of progressively coming up and I was like, “Oh, they’re never gonna beat me.” I was wrong. And actually it shows you that most of the game, a lot of the game in entrepreneurship, is actually a psychological game that you play with yourself.

Dan: Sounds like you were winning, for a while at least, at SEO game and you were doing really well on the speaker circuit and you had these bestselling books and you were working with Seth Godin as an editor, which actually I wanna ask you a lot more about, but maybe another time. What made you decide to start your own company?

Julien: Yeah, so after you write three books, I was noticing — all your friends become the other guys who write books because we’re all on the road all the time. And so we’d be in the same hotels, maybe in adjacent hotel rooms or something, and being like, “Where are you going now? Oh, Nashville, okay, what’s there?” You know? So I would notice these people that had these careers that were essentially kind of writing the same book over and over and over again. And I think if you look at your marketing library — anyone who’s listening to this can probably do this. They could look over their marketing library, and I hope that you see my books there, but even if not, you’ll notice that the authors tend to produce essentially one idea and then produce an iteration on that idea. And they’ll do that over and over and over again, right? Good to great, great to last, whatever the next one is. Too big to fail, whatever it is. And at some point I was like, “Is this really the best that I can do?” And maybe it’s Godin talking back to me and being really interested in space and in trends of how cities were getting denser and all these things. And at one point I just kind of combined software and physical locations and it occurred to me that I could build something that was really meaningful. And it was kind of a longshot when I started, but it turned out pretty well so far.

Dan: What was the hardest part of that transition from marketing thought leader to real world marketer and CEO?

Julien: The fact that I had never really done anything or gotten my hands dirty at all. And so you actually…

Dan: Had you realized that before you started doing it?

Julien: I knew that there was a chance that I was just a talker and not a doer. And so I was like, “Okay, well, I just wrote a book…” like we just talked about, I wrote a book, i.e. The Flinch which is a book about doing hard things. And I was like, “If I see this opportunity and I’m not willing to do it, then what kind of low level hypocrite am I that I am not willing to take my own advice?” So I knew that what I was doing was hard and there was a high chance that I would fail and that I’d never actually succeeded or be in what they call an operator before. And so that was definitely — it was a very comfortable life to write a book a year and then get flown places and get paid speaking fees to talk for 45 minutes.

Dan: Did that prepare you in any way, though, for the challenges of heading up a fast growing company?

Julien: The part that it prepared me for most is that I became much more experienced at the high level aspects of being a leader. Because you have to say things with authority, you have to lead groups of people, you have to talk to them compellingly, you have to be able to detect trends and be able to talk about trends. The communication aspects of being a CEO take over, over time. And now I have 100 employees, right? So communicating is one of the largest parts of my job. So from fundraising to knowing all the investors because I was on the circuit with them and all these things, it was definitely helpful early on and still continues to be helpful today.

Dan: Right. I guess as the company gets bigger and bigger, you find yourself a little bit going back into that leadership role or big picture thought leader role in the company. And now you have people that do a lot of the doing so it’s back to motivating and…

Julien: Yeah, but at least I proved to myself that I could do.

Dan: Yeah, well, we’ve been talking kind of high level and I wanna get a little more tactical for a moment. Because I read that in the early days of Breather, we’re copyrighting junkies here and thought this was really cool, that one simple word changed the way that Breather was marketed early on. I thought that was actually a huge pivot point in your business. Can you tell us what that word is and why you think it was so effective?

Julien: Yeah, the word was private, right? And so, just to give you a sense of context, for many of you I’m sure that don’t know what my company does, Breather is a network of rooms. The same way that Uber is a network of cars and Airbnb is a network of homes, we’re a network of basically office spaces, or meeting spaces. And it became really clear early on that it’s basically impossible to sell privacy as a service. This room, if it was not in your office, would be as impossible to find, impossible to book, and impossible to get reliably. And so I was like, “Oh, but there’s these electronic locks.” And it was about the technology and the technology enabled people to get in, but what it was really about is a core value and a core need that people have, which is just to get away from people and to be able to get quiet. And it was weird to be able to say that I sell privacy and I sell quiet, but I do. In a really loud world and in really dense cities I sell quiet and private space.

Dan: That is a big risk, taking that bet on privacy though, because I feel like so many other companies are banking on the fact that people don’t care about privacy anymore.

Julien: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, and so sometimes — because it’s a private room, of course, and it’s bookable by the hour, you come to the conclusion which I’ve heard like a million times, “Come on. But what is really happening, wink, wink, in these rooms?” And the reality is, is when you are really behind something and you say, “We’re selling privacy,” you actually have to say that and you have to be like, “The reality is, is it’s none of your business what happens in people’s rooms, just like it’s probably none of your business what happens in people’s phones,” you know? And so selling that is very valuable to us and we really treasure it and it’s something that we think is very important to human beings, you know?

Dan: Yeah, and also you don’t create something out of fear that they’re gonna use it the wrong way.

Julien: Right. You don’t jump — you don’t not create the subway because someone might jump in front of it.

Dan: Right.

Julien: You create the subway and then you deal with the consequences afterwards.

Dan: Right. Just to provide context, what was that switch that — what was the original tagline and how did the word private replace it?

Julien: It actually was the key for us. We didn’t even know how to pitch ourselves up until the day of our launch, which was in — we’d launched the company at a conference in London and then I asked one of my developers at the time, “What is the tagline for this thing?” And he was like, “Dude, it’s just peace and quiet on demand. It’s peace and quiet on demand.” And we’ve been using peace and quiet on demand like it was an accidental phrase. I find…

Dan: You asked one of your developers what your tagline was?

Julien: Yeah, I don’t know why I did that, but it turned out — and it was very plain spoken, which is really important, right?

Dan: Yeah, true.

Julien: So to me the most important thing is that something be memorable and be able to be plain spoken so that anyone can go, “Oh, yeah.” Just like when I write I go, “I want to write the way people talk so that it’s very digestible.” We discovered that privacy was the core value proposition, like literally at the last minute.

Dan: As opposed to…?

Julien: We were just like, “These are great rooms. You should use them.” Before you have the simplicity of an idea, you actually, usually, are gonna say it in a super complex, annoying way. And that’s what we did. We said it in a super complex, annoying way until we discovered that the key value was probably privacy.

Dan: That probably circled back to why you had the idea in the first place and why you thought it was valuable for yourself, right?

Julien: Yeah, exactly.

Dan: And…

Julien: And yet, even though it’s right in front of you, it’s very hard to distill somehow. So then when we got to it, we’ve never gone back since then.

Dan: Right. You have to have this spark of an idea then once you start doing the doing and raising capital and put together a company, it’s easy to get away from that original…

Julien: And the other part of that is actually the name Breather, is actually a flash of insight that I happened to have. Because this name — the company could be going terribly just because the name was different. The name really defines what it is, which is a short breath or a short rest. And the word is really only ever used in that circumstance, right? And so it’s a very unique word that really quite accurately, and yet kind of like obliquely, describes what we do and that is very memorable and easy for people to know and say.

Dan: Right. And becomes a noun, like I’m booking an Uber, I’m booking an Airbnb, I’m booking a Breather.

Julien: That’s right.

Dan: So Breather is hiring like crazy these days and obviously that goes beyond the marketing team, but I’m curious what your vision was for scaling up that marketing team. As a marketer I’m sure it’s something that you’ve thought, particularly about and how’s that going so far?

Julien: Yeah, so we have — we must have 10 people on our marketing team or something, right now. And the vision for it that I said before we ever had any marketing team members was that it should act like an agency. And so because we have different cities and the cities open different units and they have to serve different populations, let’s say therapists use it a lot in New York, but actors use it a lot in L.A. or something like that. Then you’re gonna have segments that you’re speaking to in different demographics. So we created an agency with the purpose of being able to really work as an agency for a number of different clients. And then these clients essentially send briefs into the marketing department and say like, “Okay, so here’s what’s happening. We have this unit, it’s in SoHo. The unit in SoHo is like this. It’s interesting because these things. Build us something around that.” And then they’ll gather together, we get a creative team, we get digital people, we get design people, and they gather together and they do a sprint or they work on the creative to get it right. And we’ve been able to build a good team from great companies based on this principle.

Dan: So your clients in this case would be like city managers and operations people?

Julien: That’s right. Yeah, yeah, so our operations are like Uber. We have operations in every city led by general managers that are really focused on just getting supply and getting demand. And that’s very on the ground, very much like Uber and not at all like Airbnb, right? So then those people have needs and they don’t have the specialization that marketing has. They wouldn’t know how to sell their own space necessarily, they just know how to go out and get it and then make it nice and so on.

Dan: So you’re not necessarily organizing the marketing team geographically, it’s based around these different personas and user types?

Julien: Yeah, personas, user types, and they are helped by the fact that localization is really important. So it’s…you would not wanna confuse Long Island and Long Island City, right? Anyone who’s a New Yorker knows that. Anyone who’s not in New York does not know what the difference is. So the localization and that part of it is super important and the general skill set that you gather by being able to sell, basically 100 times, 100 different units, hopefully 100 cities, is very valuable, too.

Dan: And I guess the personas are informed by geography because you don’t have a lot of surfers in New York and bankers in L.A.

Julien: Right.

Dan: What advice would you have for other fast growing companies looking to scale their marketing teams really, really quickly?

Julien: Yeah, the irony is that in fact you must be extremely slow or you’re probably gonna fuck it up. The hiring is — I think you guys know this. Like at Unbounce you have a great team, talent knows talent and knows when it’s absent, and the gravity of a team produces more and more gravity as more team members come in. This happened with my data science team. It’s like one good guy led to a second amazing guy and then when you have two amazing guys then the third guy is much easier to grab and so on. So ironically, I think my marketing team is actually the slowest hiring of any of them, but the consequence of that is that they have tremendous gravity and respect and they build an amazing camaraderie because they really respect each other and are respected by everyone else and every other department.

Dan: So your advice for growing a marketing team quickly is don’t.

Julien: Well, I mean, you — choose things that scale. And continuously experiment as time goes on, right? And so, yeah, we’re still a series B company. We’re still super early in learning about everything that we do, but we have a very good start and it’s led by people that really are profoundly motivated about working on this problem.

Dan: What do you think your marketing team’s gonna look like a year from now?

Julien: I suspect it’s gonna be way, way larger. So it spans many geos, it…but we’re at the core. I think what you’re gonna do is you’re just gonna have to develop over time a reputation for good work. And if you have a reputation for good work, then people will wanna work with you.

Dan: Well, I think that’s an inspiring note to end on. Thanks so much, Julien, for coming in and chatting.

Julien: Well, thanks for having me.

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Julien Smith of Breather: I Was a Thought Leader Before a CEO [PODCAST]

Aristotle: The OG of Landing Page Optimization

Aristotle speech
Typical Aristotle, amirite?”

He’s deep, he’s Greek and his beard is on fleek. Who are we talking about, folks? Aristotle — duh. And he’s the original gangster of landing page optimization (sorry, Oli Gardner!).

Philosophy buffs are all too familiar with Aristotle. But what about marketers? Sure, he’s, like, really dead, but Aristotle and his teachings are still relevant for marketers today. Because amidst all his contributions to topics such as physics, biology and poetry, Aristotle was also a man of persuasion.

A long, long, long-long time ago (4th-century BC, to be more specific), Aristotle penned a two-part treatise called Rhetoric, in which he detailed the three modes of persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos:

  • Ethos relates to conveying credibility
  • Logos to explaining your argument through logic and
  • Pathos to evoking emotion.

Aristotle believed that effectively leveraging all three modes of persuasion was the key to, well, persuading. In marketing campaigns, you can leverage his strategies to create high-converting landing pages.

So how do you apply these high-level persuasion strategies to your landing pages, thus getting you more qualified leads? It’s quite simple actually, and I’ll show you how.

Ethos: Make them trust you

Ethos comes from the Greek word for “moral character, nature, disposition, habit, custom.” Aristotle explains ethos in terms of persuasion strategies:

The orator persuades by moral character when his speech is delivered in such a manner as to render him worthy of confidence.

Although Aristotle insists that, “…this confidence must be due to the speech itself, not to any preconceived idea of the speaker’s character,” in today’s world of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and — dare I say — Snapchat, it’s impossible not to consider the person’s (or brand’s) reputation.

When discussing landing page optimization, we can relate ethos to credibility and trust. Without it, who’s going to fill out your lead gen form?

Here are some strategies for boosting the ethos of your landing pages.

Social proof

A TechValidate survey of B2B marketing and sales professionals revealed that 94% of respondents found customer-sourced content as either very effective or extremely effective in convincing prospects of their value proposition,” illustrating the importance of including your customer’s voice in your marketing strategies.

social proof graph

You can inject social proof into your landing pages using case studies or testimonials, either in written or video format. Beware, though: not all testimonials are created equal, so do your homework before hitting publish.

Aristotle’s social proof: Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.
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For those unaware of what SSL is (don’t worry, I would be if it wasn’t relevant to my job), it’s the industry standard for web page security and encryption. It’s indicated with a little green padlock in the corner of your browser address bar and the HTTPS in the URL.

SSL seal

According to a recent report from GlobalSign, 77% of people are concerned about their personal data being intercepted or misused online. That’s a huge piece of your customer pie, so you want to do everything possible to ease that anxiety.

Enter SSL; it’s a simple way to increase your landing page visitors’ trust (a key component in establishing ethos). And for Unbounce customers on Pro99 plans and higher, custom domains come with SSL automatically included. Convenient? I think so.

Logos: Woo them with logic

The second leg of the persuasion strategy trifecta is logos, which relies on facts, figures, quotes and stats to appeal to logic and reason.

Aristotle stresses the importance of establishing truth (or apparent truth) in order to effectively persuade. Fortunately, it’s easy to appeal to logos on your landing pages—lemme show you how.

Repetition breeds familiarity

According to Joanna Wiebe, persuasive copywriting maven of Copy Hackers, the more you hear a message, the more likely you are to believe it’s true; it’s referred to as the Illusion of Truth Effect.

In a 2013 Microconf presentation, Wiebe referred to another repetition strategy called the 3D strategy, whereby you repeat a different variation of the same message three times in sequence.

Apple does a great job of implementing both of these strategies in their Apple Watch landing page seen below.

Apple watch
Think the Apple Watch might be light? And made of aluminum? Yeah, me, too.
Apple watch
Did we mention it’s made with Ion-X glass? Sounds legit.

Features (but don’t forget benefits)

Features are “factual statement[s] about a product or service” — basically all its bells and whistles.  You’ll often see features highlighted when shopping for a new cellphone: up to 26 hours of battery time, 64GB internal memory, wireless charging… the list goes on. In this case, features are important because they allow you to easily compare products to ensure you end up with the one that ticks off the most wants on your list.

But in most cases, landing pages need to go beyond just features, since most people generally don’t respond to only a laundry list of specs. Instead, we recommend focusing on the benefits your product or service will offer, and how it will make your prospect’s life better/easier/happier.

Los Angeles-based meal delivery service Kooshi does a great job of highlighting features and benefits. The features? Organic meals, delivered to your home or office everyday. The benefits? You skip the mess, shopping and food prep. Count me in!


In short, features and benefits are a hybrid of the logos and pathos strategies, and are especially effective on landing pages when presented together.

However, presenting facts is just as important as appealing to emotions, which brings us to our next persuasion strategy…

Pathos: Hit them in the feels

The final mode of persuasion is pathos, which is the appeal to emotions. In other words: hitting your prospects right in the feels!
Hit in the feels
Here’s what our good friend Aristotle says about pathos:

The orator persuades by means of his hearers, when they are roused to emotion by his speech; for the judgements we deliver are not the same when we are influenced by joy or sorrow, love or hate.

There are a few ways in which you can pump up the pathos on your landing page to boost those conversions. Here are a few key ones to keep in mind:


Have you ever landed on a company’s webpage and had such a visceral reaction you couldn’t hit the back button fast enough? Yeah, me, too — and immediately my perception of the company is sullied. On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve landed on such beautifully designed pages that I could cry.

Visuals can evoke strong emotions, and it happens quickly.

In a 2012 study by the Missouri University of Science and Technology, researchers found that it takes less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression. That’s less time that it takes me to chow down a slice of spicy pepperoni pizza (which takes about three-tenths, if you’re wondering).

Google also found that pages with low visual complexity (having fewer elements on the page) are perceived as highly appealing. And although the study doesn’t mention whether this impacts conversions, it’s no secret that simplicity is key when designing high-converting landing pages.

Website builder Wix does a great job of reducing visual complexity in favor of appeal. Notice the single call to action and the great use of whitespace.

Wix landing page example

The moral of the story? Make a great first impression, and only include the bare minimum you need on your landing page to convert — seems simple, right?

Scarcity and urgency

You know when you and your friends order an appy to share, and then when it comes it’s, like, pathetically small and you all of a sudden realize how ravenous you are? That’s scarcity. And I don’t know about you, but I act rash when I’m faced with it. (That’s my piece of agedashi tofu!)

Scarcity is a really powerful state that can illicit strong emotions. It taps into our survival instincts, and it drives us to take action — which is the primary goal of a landing page.

And while I don’t recommend totally freaking out your prospective customers, you can leverage scarcity to your benefit to build high-converting landing pages. Vintage-inspired online clothing company Modcloth does a good job of this:

Modcloth scarcity

I swear, I almost bought it.

Urgency is another emotional trigger you can use to boost conversions. Order now and get it by Christmas! Don’t miss out! Only 4 days left! You get the picture.


Few qualities are as important as empathy when trying to get your visitors to convert. Knowing what your customers’ pain points are and showing them how you can help is not only smart, it’s necessary. People can tell when you’re just trying to sell them something. But when you’re trying to help them, their perception shifts.

For example, below is a landing page from Sitter, an app for finding and booking babysitters. Sitter recognizes that hiring a stranger for childcare can be stressful — and scary — for a parent. Sitter alleviates that fear by allowing parents to “build a private network of the parents you know and the sitters you all trust.” Sitter shows visitors that now finding a sitter is easy — and enjoying your time while the kids are at home is easy, too.

Sitter landing page
Sitter uses empathy to appeal to busy parents looking for reliable babysitters.

If you aren’t exactly sure what your customers’ pain points are, put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what issues they might be facing. Ask current customers what their experience was like. Tap into your social media pool by asking via Twitter or Facebook. It’s not hard, just get on the customer’s level and give them what they need.

Aristotle’s empathy:To write well express yourself like the common people but think like a wise man.
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Wrap it up, like a toga

Take a look at your landing pages and ask yourself:

Am I effectively leveraging ethos, logos and pathos or maximum conversions? Does my audience trust me? Do they believe me?

And perhaps most importantly, did I make them feel like they need my product or service?

Because although we can’t all grow a beard as epic as Aristotle, we can certainly influence like him using the three modes of persuasion. And if you’re still thinking, “It’s all Greek to me!” I hear wine helps get the creative juices flowing.


Originally posted here: 

Aristotle: The OG of Landing Page Optimization

How One Bank Doubled ROI by Being Creative in a Conservative Industry

Artistic man paints
Even if you work in a conservative industry, there are creative ways to increase conversions. Image by Death To Stock Photo.

Marketers are often constrained by the demands placed on us by our boss and clients. But external pressure can also come from the industry we work in — especially when it comes to conservative industries like banking, healthcare or government.

With these industries comes a certain degree of pressure to conform to specific aesthetics, brand guidelines and previously established marketing practices. This restrictive environment can make it difficult to test and develop new methodologies (read: increase conversions).

And it doesn’t help that these industries typically require more personal information from customers, introducing more friction into the signup process and making building trust more important than ever.

But in spite of all these hurdles, there are ways to be creative in a conservative industry — as we saw in our recent webinar with First Midwest Bank. Their creative approach allowed them to stand out from their competitors all while building trust with their prospects, ultimately leading to a 195% conversion increase.

How did they do it (and how can you do it too)? You can watch the recording here, or read on for the distilled wisdom.

Push best practices to their limit

Everyone knows photographs of people are a powerful way to draw the eye on landing pages. This best practice is repeated in so many blogs that it has in some ways become a cliché.

And when First Midwest Bank tested this best practice, they found (predictably) that images of people did help increase conversions on their landing pages.

conservative industry landing page example female face
This landing page brought First Midwest Bank a 150% conversion increase over a variant with a suitcase as a hero shot.

But they also uncovered something interesting: the “ideal” person represented on the page differed depending on where the lead was from.

While a landing page with a smiling man increased conversions by 47% in Illinois, it performed poorly in Indiana, with a 42% conversion decrease:

conservative industry landing pag example
This photo increased conversions by 47% in Illinois but decreased them by 42% in Indiana.

This insight led to more A/B tests, resulting in 26 different landing pages depending on the state.

In other words, adding a smiling person to First Midwest Bank’s landing page wasn’t enough. They had to find the best possible smiling person for each state.

The takeaway here?

Best practices are a great jumping off point for A/B tests, but don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable. Get creative and push best practices to their limit. As fitness celebrity Jillian Michaels says, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

jillian-michaels gif

Test best practices ’til you break them

Getting creative with your A/B tests means pushing best practices, but it also means questioning their validity.

We’ve all heard about the importance of placing important information “above the fold” — that the majority of visitors can’t be bothered to scroll below it. This advice has been shared so much that many marketers wouldn’t be caught dead putting a form or call to action below the fold.

But A/B testing revealed something interesting for the First Midwest Bank team, who kept testing even though they had a high-performing champion landing page. They decided to stick their form below the fold. And boy, were they glad they did:

Midwest Bank Champion Landing Page with From
Below The Fold Landing Page
The landing page variant with the form below the fold (bottom) outperformed by the variant with the form to the right (top) by a whopping 52%.

The challenger, with the form below the fold, increased conversions by 52%.  

Perhaps the variant with the form above the fold came on a little too strong; maybe prospects needed to be sold on the offer a little more before forking over their personal information. No matter the reason, this so-called “best practice” just wasn’t right for First Midwest Bank’s leads.

But this isn’t the only “best practice” they debunked through A/B testing.

If you’re an established brand, you’ve likely got a set number of colors that you incorporate into your designs — they’re part of your corporate identity. And in those brand guidelines, you’ll often have a contrasting color or two to draw attention to specific elements.

For example, it’s a best practice to use a contrasting color so that your CTA button stands out and makes a prospect’s next choice obvious: click the button.

So when First Midwest Bank began testing their landing pages, they decided it made sense to complement their signature purple with a colorful CTA:

Orange CTA Button Form Landing Page
Purple CTA Button Landing Page
Using a contrasting color for their CTA button seemed logical for First Midwest Bank, but they still decided to test it.

But the results surprised them: First Midwest Bank saw a conversion rate decrease of 20% when they used a red contrasting button instead of a purple one.

The takeaway?

Best practices are guidelines, not gospel.

Be creative with what you test, even if that means that you’re deliberately being a rebel and breaking the rules.

Use SSL to reduce anxiety and establish trust

As much as you want to be daring and think outside of the box, there are still basic things that your prospects need from you to feel at ease. Especially in conservative industries, if you don’t want to cause prospects anxiety, you need to reassure them that their personal information will remain private.

So how can you demonstrate that you know their personal information is important and that you don’t take their trust lightly?

SSL or Secure Sockets Layer, is an industry standard security measure that uses encryption to ensure that any data sent through your landing page forms is secure.

A secure SSL landing page shows a client that you’re as serious about their business as they are about their private information. It subtle, but effective.

Notice how the URL for this First Midwest Bank landing page contains that little lock and https:// at the beginning?

SSL Landing Page Example
Using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) shows your clients that you’re serious about their privacy.

First Midwest Bank understands the importance of being creative, but they also understand the importance of credibility and security — so they used SSL landing pages to connect with security-conscious customers.

This keeps the path toward conversion as seamless as possible — squashing anxiety and providing leads with the confidence they need to become customers.

The result for First Midwest Bank? Over one million dollars in loans in 5 months.

Get down with your creative self

Brace Yourself Meme Leads Are Coming

Your industry shouldn’t introduce constraints; it should be an opportunity for you to stand out.

Especially in conservative industries where competitors aren’t likely to be pushing the envelope, there’s a lot of room to get creative and push beyond the status quo.

Because at the end of the day, creative campaigns and fun A/B tests aren’t only for cool lifestyle companies. Even bankers, insurance brokers, health professionals and government workers can get down with their creative selves.

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How One Bank Doubled ROI by Being Creative in a Conservative Industry

Why Static Website Generators Are The Next Big Thing

At StaticGen, our open-source directory of static website generators, we’ve kept track of more than a hundred generators for more than a year now, and we’ve seen both the volume and popularity of these projects take off incredibly on GitHub during that time, going from just 50 to more than 100 generators and a total of more than 100,000 stars for static website generator repositories.

Why Static Website Generators Are The Next Big Thing

Influential design-focused companies such as Nest and MailChimp now use static website generators for their primary websites. Vox Media has built a whole publishing system around Middleman. Carrot, a large New York agency and part of the Vice empire, builds websites for some of the world’s largest brands with its own open-source generator, Roots. And several of Google’s properties, such as “A Year In Search” and Web Fundamentals, are static.

The post Why Static Website Generators Are The Next Big Thing appeared first on Smashing Magazine.


Why Static Website Generators Are The Next Big Thing

Freebie: Halloween Icon Set (19 Icons, AI, EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG)

Halloween is just around the corner, and it’s time to add a few scary and fun icons to your projects. Today, we’re happy to release the Halloween Icon Set, a set of 19 icons that are all available in AI, EPS, PDF, SVG and PNG formats. This icon set was designed and created by Manuela Langella and is free to be used in private as well as commercial projects.

Freebie: Halloween Icon Set (19 Icons, AI, EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG)

You may modify the size, color or shape of the icons. No attribution is required, however, reselling of bundles or individual pictograms isn’t cool. Please note that this icon set is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. We’d kindly like to ask you to provide credits to the creator and link to this article if you would like to spread the word about the freebie.

The post Freebie: Halloween Icon Set (19 Icons, AI, EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG) appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Freebie: Halloween Icon Set (19 Icons, AI, EPS, PDF, SVG, PNG)