Ah, the keyword game. One of the greatest achievements for a search engine optimizer is to get their web pages to appear on the first page of Google search results for their desired keywords. As Google ages, more and more of the optimal slots for these prized keywords are taken. And the more a web page ages, the more links from around the web will point to it and the harder it becomes to unseat. For instance, when someone wants to reference or link to a certain topic, it’s a typical habit for someone to do a quick Google search…
Word association: Content marketing. You’re thinking ‘blog post,’ ‘infographic,’ maybe ‘video,’ ‘white paper.’ That kind of thing. Right? Not FAQs, 404 pages, About Us… The thing is, those pages are content too. Visitors read them to learn, understand and make decisions. FAQs are one of the most underused content marketing opportunities out there. About Us pages? They’re an incredible opportunity to tell your brand’s story. Put like that, it seems obvious – yet they’re often a lifeless formality. It’s the same with 404s, out of stock pages and thank you pages: in each case, you have a visitor’s attention when…
Many companies invest a lot of time and money in content marketing. But very few are ever really successful with it. That’s because a lot of companies approach to content marketing as some sort of hands-off sorcery. They write blog post after blog post and then sit around and wait for something to happen (hint: nothing will happen). Instead, you should think of content as a type of currency – a strategic asset that you can use within a framework to drive business results. This requires a plan and a strategy for how you will use content and then which…
If you want your visitors to buy, instead of bouncing off your site like a basketball… Ask yourself: What’s missing from my funnel? What’s missing might be a deep understanding of how copywriting should be used to convert readers. And there are few better people to learn from than the “Admen”: the original rockstar creators of the classic twentieth century magazine and newspaper ads. We have weeks, websites, and embedded video to make a sale. They had only moments and one printed page. For this article, I’ve sifted through the reams of great copywriting and distilled things down to just…
Who would ever think that a B2B team chat app would stir up so much enthusiasm that it would turn into a cult following? Yep. People really love Slack. Here’s why: Amazingly designed, easy to understand interface It lets you instantly communicate with your team, from wherever you are It lets you share files of all types All of your communication is housed in-app, so you can look back at it for reference Excellent in-app search functionality You can customize your notifications Every business department has its own unique function, and should ideally have a custom communication solution that streamlines…
It’s true. Spending a little extra time (and a little extra elbow grease) on your copy can boost search engine traffic – and ultimately your conversions. The problem is that most of us are too busy to go back and pay attention to content we’ve written in the past. You can reap considerable returns just by spending a little extra time on improving the key pages of your website. It’s worth it. A 30-minute improvement session on one page can increase the sales generated by that page every day thereafter. This infographic does a great job at highlighting the key…
Those email metrics may provide you with more insight than you thought. Image via Shutterstock.
The components of an A/B test are pretty straightforward: change some stuff, compare key metrics, deploy winner, repeat.
So when you start an A/B test on your email, this is the sort of process you fall back on. You brainstorm a couple of alternate subject lines, test them on a small segment and send the winner to everyone else. This is a great way of making sure you’re sending the better of two ideas, but does it really mean you’re sending better email?
Instead, today we’re going to focus on the benefits of A/B testing for the future. That means turning your results into actionable guidance for feature planning, branding, sales and retention strategies.
Maximizing is not always optimizing.
It can be really tough figuring out which features need the most attention, not to mention prioritizing improvements your top users would be most excited for. Email can help!
A simple email teasing upcoming improvements to X or Y feature can give you valuable insights for your next product planning session on what changes actually pique a user’s interest.
Similarly, you can test something like, “What would you like to see added to feature X” vs “…feature Y.” Even if you get little to no feedback, the comparative open rates can tell you a lot about which features people want to see updated.
This can be especially insightful for startups, because setting the wrong priorities for your development team can hamstring your growth. In cases like this where the stakes are higher, it may be more powerful to subtly present options and observe responses than to straight up ask.
The problem with asking users what they want directly. Image via Frankiac.
What if you’re getting ready to launch a new feature or plan an event, but you’re torn on what to call it. Simply run a test with a sneak peak email to your most engaged users and see what gets their attention.
This one may feel a bit weird, because branding of your product and features can feel really personal, but it’s also really important, so why leave it to your gut when you can test?
You don’t even have to build out a fancy announcement email, because you’re just looking for opens, indicating that initial spark of interest. The body can be a simple, plain text save the date or a link to a survey or something.
For the rest of your emails…
Write a click-worthy subject line every time with our Subject Line Cheat Sheet.
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Sales materials development
Good email testing can also translate to benefits for your sales team. Imagine their eyes lighting up when you pass them a document illustrating how your highest value customers engage with different phrasings of your core features.
There are a couple of interesting ways to execute on this, but I think the most practical is to build an onboarding email with links to your features, and then test headlines for each section (bonus points if you randomize the order to satisfy the statisticians in the house).
You could also stretch this across multiple emails in your onboarding drip campaign, or send a one-off “What’s new” update.
Now that you’ve figured out which features resonate most with your high-touch users, it’s time to figure out what gets people hooked on your product or service in the first place.
There are a ton of ways to accomplish this in the traditional on-site manner, but how does email fit into the picture?
The most obvious option here is to use the information you gleaned to craft a killer onboarding campaign that introduces new users to the most beloved features first. That strategy, however, is really focused on top-of-funnel retention. Today, I want to take a look at the other end: churn prevention.
There are, of course, some users that were never a good fit to begin with and will churn regardless. But for those that just never got the hang of things, the most common move is to hit them with a “Hail Mary email” — one last-ditch effort to win them back.
A lot of times this comes in the form of a direct note from someone asking what they could have done better, but why not use that space to run some tests? Not just to squeeze out a few more opens on a low-converting email, but to see what actually gets people’s attention. Then you can take the stuff that works, and work it into your onboarding campaign to keep people from ever getting to the Hail Mary state.
These are, of course, not the only ways that you can incorporate your learnings from tests into other aspects of your marketing, but it’s a great start if you don’t have a process like this in place.
The structure you build out to track and share the results from tests like these can be tremendously helpful for the whole team — not just in the ways I’ve outlined above, but also in just keeping everyone on the same page and in line with what your customers want to hear.
Have anything to add? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
“What are the best marketing channels to invest in for my business?”
As a marketer, this is a question you’ve probably mulled over, over and over again.
And it all comes down to Return on Investment (ROI). You should spend your marketing dollars on the strategy or strategies that you can prove will get you the biggest bang for your buck.
Yes, yesterday’s CMO was about communications, branding, and advertising. Today, the CMO is a strategic partner to the CEO, someone expected to understand the business landscape well enough to articulate and predict which markets, products, services, or execution strategies will deliver the most profitable growth.
The days of gut-feeling marketing are long past; today, being able to track and prove the validity of your efforts is vital.
But determining the ROI of a particular marketing strategy can be difficult.
Your customer experiences your brand and your website in numerous ways―they are coming in from so many varied touchpoints, from email, to Snapchat, to Bing Ads, to whatever the shiny, new marketing tactic is this week.
It’s unlikely that one interaction is responsible for capturing them, making it difficult to untangle and measure one marketing channel against another. While there are many different strategies and workarounds for attributing marketing ROI, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
In a sea of murky ROI estimations, how can you best determine where to invest your marketing dollars?
First things first: How do I measure ROI?
The simplest way to calculate ROI from a marketing strategy is to take the sales growth from your product or business, subtract the marketing cost, and divide by the marketing cost:
Simple Marketing ROI:
This is an oversimplified equation, of course, as it is rare that a single factor is influencing your sales growth at any given time. However, you can use it to get a general idea of ROI for a particular strategy.
For example, let’s say you invest $1,000 in an ad campaign that runs for one month, and you see sales growth of $2,000. Your simple ROI is 100%: (($2,000-$1,000) / $1000). That’s pretty great!
But this equation assumes that none of that observed sales growth is organic…which most likely isn’t the case.
Note: In the aforementioned equation, I use “sales growth”, but there are other values you can use that may make more sense for your business. Read more here.
Ok, so how do I account for organic growth?
To predict organic sales growth, examine your monthly sales from the previous year and calculate the average organic growth per month. You can use this average organic growth rate to estimate where your sales might have been without your marketing campaign activity, and adjust your original ROI calculation accordingly.
If your business has an average organic growth of 5% over the period of a year, your calculation would look like: (($2,000 – $1,000)/$1,000) – 5 = 95%
This slightly more sophisticated equation indicates that ROI for this campaign is actually 95%, a substantial difference.
How can I predict what strategy will have the biggest ROI for my business?
Your industry, location, pricing, and even brand equity can dramatically affect ROI, which is why relying on average benchmarks can be dangerous. However, you can leverage information like the following studies (published by Nielsen) to get an idea of where other companies are spending their marketing dollars:
According to this research, Online Ads/Digital Marketing Investments have a higher ROI across all industries, but “online ads/digital marketing investments” is a pretty big bucket.
With Instagram’s algorithm-based feed, Snapchat’s in-app ad growth, and even Reddit getting in on the “promoted post” action recently, there are tons of options for advertising online. You must take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each channel when you’re thinking about where to invest. Banner ads, for example, are a popular channel but 54% of online banner ads are never seen!
Using the aforementioned formulas, you can measure the ROI of your social media and email marketing campaigns using conversions from specific landing pages. (Simply replace “sales growth” with “funnel conversions”). You can also track conversions with UTM parameters in Google Analytics. This allows you to track your visitors from the source through your funnel to prove the results you’re driving.
For a strategy like SEO, you can track ROI using your Google Analytics: segment by organic, non-branded traffic (to gauge how you’re ranking for non-branded keywords) and track conversions. Because GA tracks multi-channel attribution, you should be able to determine whether or not a customer clicked on an ad, then came to your site through search, or vice versa. It’s not always black and white, but you can get a good idea of ROI on your SEO.
Each marketing strategy you invest in will take a certain amount of time to reach your target market and begin generating ROI, so it’s important to prioritize for maximize impact. Vanity metrics ― like number of social media followers ― can be helpful in terms of gauging your brand awareness, but they shouldn’t be your main concern. You want to keep track of which strategies are actually generating sales and revenue, now and in the long run.
When you’re thinking about average ROI benchmarks for digital marketing strategies, be wary of conversions versus revenue. For example, a Fortune 500 company might be able to generate the same sort of revenue with a less than 2% increase in conversions as a smaller company with low traffic might be able to generate with a 40% increase in conversions.
Calculating the ROI of conversion optimization
Conversion rate optimization (CRO), more simply known as conversion optimization, is the science and art of getting a higher percentage of your web visitors to take action to become a lead or customer through testing.
Testing, measuring, and proving are built into conversion optimization, making ROI refreshingly easy to calculate: it’s unique in that you can see the return with each test that you run. CRO has become a de facto strategy because each of your marketing channels becomes more effective when your site is optimized.
Conversion optimization gives immediate results and that’s a great feeling. Particularly with e-commerce, if you have an idea, you test it, and you know you’re about to see what that idea is worth in monetary value.
– Jose Uzcategui, Global Analytics and Ecommerce Conversion Lead, ASICS
In an optimization experiment, your original page serves as the experimental control and benchmark for ROI. The challenger page (variation A) is tested against the original, showing the difference in conversion rates and projected revenue between the two. Marketing, promotions, and seasonality are all constant between the two pages, because they exist simultaneously.
The formula for calculating the ROI of CRO looks like this:
Revenue from the Challenger or Original can be calculated from: (number of visitors x conversion rate x goal value).
For example, let’s say you run a test for one month. You spend $2,000 on designing the challenger page and it generates $5,000 in revenue from conversions. Meanwhile, your original page generates $2,000 in revenue from conversions.
The calculation would look like this:
Related: Try our free ROI calculator to discover your company’s potential return on testing.
50% ROI! Not bad for a month-long test. However, unlike “pay once, benefit once” marketing tactics, the benefits of optimization are compounded and long-term. If this variation continues to perform at the new (increased) conversion rate for 12 months, the ROI is actually 600%: 12*(($5,000-$2,000-$2,000)/$2,000).
Additionally, as your other marketing streams (SEO, PPC, Content) funnel visitors to your website, the increased conversion rate from your conversion optimization efforts will help increase the ROI for those marketing streams as well.
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WiderFunnel delivers a cadence and quality of A/B testing that is game-changing for our brand. Direct sales increases are enabling us to increase our spend on other advertising because of the known performance return. That in turn is driving our overall brand awareness. Put simply, WiderFunnel does not just help us sell directly; it is rocket fuel for our entire cross-channel marketing program.
What does the return on testing look like over the long term?
It’s important to re-validate the results of your conversion optimization strategy every few months, to ensure that that 600% ROI prediction is actually something you can take to the bank.
Here’s an example of a re-validation test we ran for one WiderFunnel client. After two years of optimization, we had seen a calculated conversion rate lift of 259.8% compared to their original page, as shown by the dark blue vertical bars:
This calculated, cumulative conversion rate lift had resulted in solid revenue increases. But we wanted to make sure that the calculated lift reflected the actual lift.
To do this, we ran a simple A/B test, pitting the client’s original page against the most recent variation. Not only did we validate the calculated conversion rate lift, we found that the actual lift was 282.2%!
This rigorous verification proves that the results from conversion optimization are not temporary. In fact, the results are, so far, permanent.
Find out your potential optimization ROI:
The ROI of conversion optimization is tangible and easy to prove because it’s baked into the strategy itself. With most other marketing strategies, you’re left guesstimating ROI; with optimization, each experiment paints a clear picture of your return on testing.
If you’re curious about your potential ROI from CRO, you should try out our ROI Calculator!
These days it’s hard going even a single day without hearing something about sales funnels. For the past year or so they’ve been a huge buzzword in the online marketing space, and for good reason! They work. Except… when they don’t. Many people understand the value of funnels and why they should work, but still struggle putting together a funnel that actually maximizes their conversions. Today we’re going to fix that. Over the past several years I’ve generated about $50 million in revenue from sales funnels in more industries you could imagine, in companies ranging from startups to multiple 8-figure…
The call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most important aspects of your marketing strategy – it hooks the prospect and directs their attention, telling them specifically what you want them to do next. Every point in which a prospect engages with your brand should feature a CTA. You’ve put in all the work to get them there. You don’t want the choice of what to do next to be left up to your prospects. There’s more science involved then sticking a random CTA on your site content or within your articles. Any CTA is better than no CTA, but it…