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The Hip Hop Guide to Landing Page Domination

I was eleven when I first heard Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and — despite being a prepubescent, white kid from the less-than-hard-knock streets of Pueblo, Colorado — my life was never the same.

Hip hop struck a chord in me: a rebellious, artistic and just-go-out-there-and-get-it chord.

However, it wasn’t until last month that hip hop struck a new chord… one that I never saw coming. Growling through my $20 earbuds at the gym, DMX put it like this:

X gon give it to ya. [Forget] waitin’ for you to get it on your own. X gon deliver to ya.

Suddenly, it all clicked. What does hip hop have to do with landing pages?

Everything.

That’s why I’ve put together these five data-driven lessons (and oh-so-sharable memes) straight outta hip hop’s most iconic lyrics to prove to you that everything we both know about landing pages, we learned from hip hop.

1. Bring qualified visitors to you with high-intent ads

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Paid advertising gets a bad rap… pun intended.

There’s myth running around that free traffic (i.e., SEO, email marketing, social media marketing) is the “smart” conversion rate expert’s go-to strategy. Why pay for leads when you can get ‘em for free?

Because paid advertising can buy you higher-converting leads… when you know how to use them right.

The key is understanding the searcher’s intent.

What is the best way to [specific product feature]?” and “How much is [specific product or service]?” are two very different searches and require different ads. The first is a research question and your ads should be offer educational content. The second reveals a person who is ready to buy, but is concerned about price, which is where guarantees and comparisons shine.

Using specific products as keywords — rather than a general category — targets people who are already close to purchase. As SparkPay’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to PPC explains:

Think about what people are searching for when they are going to buy your product. Don’t come up with keywords like “best online golf store.” Nobody searches for that. They are searching for a product, and we want to bid on product-based keywords.

To create successful high-intent paid ads:

2. Focus on your buyer’s real-life journey

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Optimizing your landing pages isn’t just about optimizing your landing page.

It’s about stepping into the shoes of your leads and guiding them through a journey (i.e., your funnel): moving someone from your paid ad, to your landing page, to your follow up, to your offer.

Two principles are paramount:

  1. Craft this real-life journey like a human and
  2. Track it like a robot.

On the human side, think of your funnel like a conversation

Your paid ad is the opening gambit. This means it all starts with them — high-intent keywords — rather than you. Your landing page — especially, its headline, subheads, and CTA — must all build on that opener.

That singular thread is what Unbounce’s Oli Gardner calls conversation momentum: maintaining the same conversational style and tone across all campaign channels.

This means matching the phrasing of your ad with that of your landing page copy (message match), and maintaining the same tone and design.

And as obvious as it might sound, your messages themselves have to be authentic. Real-life journeys are full of emotions. Avoid jargon, and, above all, tell a story.

On the robot side, get analytical

Start by tracking your entire funnel with Google Analytics Goals. In a previous post, I wrote about the “fatal mistake” marketers make when it comes to funnel focus: namely, losing themselves in the “wide end.”

Setting GA Goals allow you to create easy-to-use visualization to measure each step in the journey:

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At a glance, GA funnels allow you to see where people are dropping off. In this example, CTR is being tracked from an initial page, to a second goal (such as a pricing page), to the final goal: the checkout.

This allows you to determine which parts in the journey have the highest drop off rate, and give you the information you need to optimize areas with the biggest potential for improvement.

3. Only have one call to action

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A powerful CTA button is the acme of CRO. Knowing that, the temptation is to overdo it. If you’ve created multiple CTAs but struggle with conversions… I feel bad for you son.

The truth is more buttons do not mean more conversions.

In fact, when Unbounce reduced the number of registration options for their Master Unbounce in 30 Minutes webinar by eliminating just one excess CTA, conversions increased by 16.93% with 100% confidence.

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What does this mean for your landing pages?

If you’re drowning viewers in buttons, one of two things is happening:

  1. You’re not being clear about what the exact next step is.
  2. You’re paralyzing them with too many choices. Barry Schwartz, the master of choice, revealed the counter-intuitive truth of too many options in his TEDx Talk:

With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all… even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.

When it comes to landing pages, Oli Gardner calls this “attention ratio:” the ratio of links on a landing page to the number of page goals. And Oli explains that it should always be 1 to 1. Why?

Because every campaign has one goal, every corresponding landing page should have only one call to action – one place to click.

On top of selecting a single, clear, and driving CTA, high-converting buttons also follow these two basic rules:

  1. They look like buttons that can be clicked, with contrasting colors and other affordances.
  2. They answer the question, “Why should I click?” Use the “I want” formula presented by Joanna Wiebe: have your buttons complete the sentence “I want to ____.”

4. Don’t neglect the backend

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What makes a landing page convert over the long term?

The secret is mixing in a lot (wink wink) of targeted follow-up, based directly on the information you gathered from your leads.

In a word: the backend. Backend is a sales and marketing term that refers to what happens after your customer’s initial opt-in or first purchase. This includes lead nurturing, customer retention and upselling.

A tight backend includes at least four parts:

  1. The initial opt in and follow up: When a visitor opts in, any information they submit needs an immediate response. More than that, because selling is a process, not an event, you’ll also need a multi-step follow-up. Why? As Oktopost recently pointed out, “nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads.”
  2. Cart abandonment: The average ecommerce site can expect cart abandonment rates of around 55% to 75%… so why not send personalized emails to give prospects a friendly reminder? In a classic case study by Marketing Experiments, Smiley Cookie was able to regain 29% of its abandoned carts by reaching out within 24 hours.
  3. First purchases and upselling: Crossing the threshold from lead to customer is huge. And in the excitement of that moment, many business fail to keep the purchase-ball rolling. Immediately follow up with customers, guide through the onboarding process, and think of ways you can upsell them with items that supplement their purchase.
  4. Reviving the “dead” lead: Dead leads — visitors who opt in but never actually purchase — can give marketers anxiety. But there are simple thing you can do to rekindle your relationship (it could be as simple as a magic nine word email).

5. “One shot” isn’t enough

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While designing your landing page with a “one shot, one opportunity” mindset might sound inspirational… it’s decidedly bad business.

Enter remarketing.

Remarketing is a form of advertising that uses pixel or cookie-based technology to “tag” specific visitors and present ads to them based on their previous visit. Essentially, these ads “follow” your visitors when they leave your site and are displayed to them on other sites, most notably, on YouTube, Google Display Network and Facebook.

As Johnathan Dane of KlientBoost points out:

Retargeting ads have a 10x higher click-through rate than display ads – and visitors subject to retargeting are 70% more likely to complete a conversion compared to non-retargeted visitors.

If you’re just getting started with retargeting, check out this post by Johnathan or grab HubSpot’s A Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting Ads.

A couple quick pointers

  • Create remarketing ads with as much specification as you do PPC ads: focus on retargeting ads that highlight specific products based on specific pages. In other words, don’t retarget your brand or site… retarget exactly what your visitor showed interest in.
  • Use psychological tactics like social proof and urgency to draw clicks from pre-exposed leads.
  • Select your channels strategically. Place remarketed ads where your audience is most likely to be thinking about your product.
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid to retarget converted leads with upsells.

Applying hip hop to your landing pages

Fun, games and punning aside, hip hop is an amazing resource for learning how to dominate your landing pages and entire online sales process.

I’d love to hear your own favorite lyrics and lesson in the comments.

Oh, and don’t forget to add a meme.

Continue reading: 

The Hip Hop Guide to Landing Page Domination

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

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

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

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

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

You will learn:

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

Listen to the podcast

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

Mentioned in the podcast

Transcript coming soon.


Link: 

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

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Kick-Start Your International Marketing Strategy by Leveraging Your Content

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Global marketing. Localization. International marketing. Entering emerging markets. Basically, world domination.

These are large, terrifying words because they represent an even bigger, intimidating marketing strategy. And when you think of putting that strategy into action, the reasons (excuses) start to pile against it:

  • “Global marketing is for deep-pocketed Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola or Salesforce.”
  • “It’s just too large of a project to take on right now.”
  • “We really don’t have the bandwidth or time or budget.”

So you shy away from the thought of expanding beyond the borders of where you set up shop. Until eventually, you hit a ceiling and your company stops growing…

But the fact is that doing the same ol’, same ol’ won’t allow you to continue to grow (how do you think you become a Fortune 500 company, anyway?). There are massive opportunities to be explored in different markets — opportunities that others may see as obstacles or risk.

And investing in a global marketing strategy isn’t as daunting as you might think.

There are small steps you can take to develop a global digital marketing strategy — starting with your content marketing — and they’re all pretty digestible and straightforward.

Start with what has worked in local markets

At its core, international marketing strategy isn’t rocket science. It’s about taking what works and doing more of it.

Think about how you grew your current marketing channels, drove leads and ultimately got more customers. Then replicate that strategy and localize it in other markets.

From the beginning, at Unbounce, we’ve focused on growing our content channels and distributing that content through an engaged online social community. As co-founder Oli Gardner puts it:

Unbounce has been a content-driven company since day one.

So when we set out to tackle international marketing, looking beyond our North American customer base, we knew that focusing on the content strategies that brought us growth over the last six years was a great place to start — from writing epic blog posts to comprehensive ebooks and revenue-generating webinars.

Knowing that these content marketing campaigns brought us growth in North America, we set out to replicate them for the German market.


An international marketing strategy ≠ starting from square one. What has worked locally?
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Leverage content that has performed well

A study of Fortune 500 companies showed that those that localized their content were two times more likely to increase profit and 1.25 times more likely to grow earnings per share year over year.

As Heidi Lorenzen, Chief Marketing Officer at Cloudwords puts it:

Localization of content is critical for engaging audiences outside company headquarters because it represents marketing personalization in its purest form.

You can’t just translate all your landing pages and pricing pages and call it a day. Like any other leads, leads in other markets expect you to deliver value.

So how do you get started on localizing content and driving leads?

1. Prioritize and identify opportunities

If you think of about creating localized marketing campaigns for the world, you’ll easily get overwhelmed and it will seem like a massive undertaking. Take it country by country, step by step, and you’ll see results faster.

Which markets represent the biggest opportunity for you? To determine the potential of various countries, you should ask questions like:

  • How many customers do you currently have in specific regions and how much success have you had in that market?
  • How much revenue do you pull in from that country? How much revenue per user?
  • What’s churn like in that region?
  • How easy it will be for your company to do business in that market? What are your emerging markets?
  • How mature is the market? Will you have to educate the market about your product/service and create more top-of-the-funnel activities?
  • How easy will it be for people to pay you? Do they readily use credit cards? This article about selling through a subscription model in Brazil shows how laws, politics, taxes and bank rules can all represent hurdles for SaaS companies looking to expand their reach.

Make it a goal to identify your top three growth markets. Once you have a clearer picture and a deeper understanding of where you should go… well, go there.

2. Hire a unicorn

Once you’ve chosen a country, you’ll want to hire a local marketer.

Ideally, this person will be a full stack marketer who has a deep understanding of that specific region (whether they’re originally from there or physically living there).

You’ll want a marketing ambassador who can communicate effectively with that regional market while simultaneously driving results for your business. In short, you’ll want someone who gets sh*t done.

Meet Ben Harmanus, our Community and Content Marketing Manager for the DACH region
Meet Ben Harmanus, our Community and Content Marketing Manager for the DACH region

Fabian Liebig has quickly become the face of Optimizely in Germany, just as Inken Kuhlmann has become the face of HubSpot in the German, Austrian and Swiss region (DACH). At Unbounce, we’ve got our very own DACH marketer too: Ben Harmanus.

Locals value being able to interact with an ambassador for your company — whether via email, Skype, webinars or live events — in the language of their choice.

The day a brand gets a local ambassador is the day they truly become a local player.

(Psst. We are hiring a Content and Community Marketing Manager for Brazil right now).

3. Look at your data and identify popular content

Once you’ve got your country and your marketer, it’s time to start marketing. But where to start?

When it comes to content marketing in these new markets, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Think of the the current content that attracts new visitors to your website and converts them into leads and customers:

  • Dig into your traffic data to see which evergreen blog posts are performing well. Translate those posts or write original content on a similar subject.
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  • Evaluate which of your ebooks has brought you the most leads. Don’t forget to ask yourself if the content is still relevant to the market you’re expanding to.
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HubSpot, the masters of lead gen, translated and localized an ebook to grow their Latin American leads and customers.
  • Instead of subtitling webinars, get local experts to hold webinars in the language of the market you’re expanding into.

4. Translate and localize content pieces

Equipped with a list of content validated by your original market, it’s time to start preparing content for your new market by translating it. But translating your content word-for-word isn’t enough for it to resonate with new markets. You’ve also got to localize it.

What exactly does this mean? You need to be flexible and react to trends in the particular region. For example, while North Americans love football, baseball and ice hockey, everyone in Europe is talking about soccer (or football – you need to localize language as well!).

This will determine which pop culture references you make in your content, but also which tactics and strategies you should write about. In the words of our DACH marketing manager Ben:

The knowledge level in Europe or Germany is very different. All the marketing trends from North America take 2-3 years or even longer to become some kind of trend over here; 4-5 years to become a best practice.

I have to be careful what topics I pick to position the brand. You need to adapt. Choose your topic and combine your content with trending topics in your local market.

From there, create a new category or WordPress install for your new, translated blog content and get to posting.

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Unbounce’s German blog homepage.

Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you’ll also want to email your current customers from that region and invite them to read your blog content, subscribe to a webinar or download an ebook in their native language.

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This is the email we sent to our German customers, telling them about the launch of our blog and inviting them to subscribe.

Chances are they will be delighted to find content in their native language, which could potentially lower churn and increase customer lifetime value. They might even share the piece with their friends.

You know what that means, right? Leads on leads on leads!

5. Create localized landing pages to generate leads

It’s nice to think that if you create content, people will come, but you need to give people opportunities to convert.

To get started, you’ll want to translate a number of your landing pages:

  • Blog subscription landing page: Don’t forget to give people an opportunity to subscribe to regular blog updates, whether in the blog sidebar or on a dedicated blog subscription landing page.
german-blog-newsletter-unbounce
The email prospects receive upon signing up for our German Newsletter.
  • Lead gen pages for ebooks and webinars: Just as you would on your current blog, be sure to optimize posts for lead gen. For example, have a look at this CTA our German community manager Ben placed at the end of a German blog post:
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A CTA on the bottom of our blog post promoting a German webinar.
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The corresponding landing page, localized for the DACH market and in German.
  • Pricing page/trial sign up page: Building out an entire localized website can take some time. If you don’t have the development time (who does?) or budget to fully translate your website site at first, get your local marketing manager to build and localize a simple landing page that they can send traffic to in the meantime.
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This is our product page for the DACH region. While we localize our website to give our DACH region a dedicated web experience, we send traffic to this. Click for full-length landing page.

6. Build localized communities around your content

Once you’ve got your content and lead gen landing pages in place, you want to drive as much traffic as possible.

Ideally, you’ve hired a local marketer who can now begin to help you build a community and audience around a specific region.

localized-social-media-communities
Eventbrite, HubSpot and Hootsuite have individual, region-specific social accounts to target a localized audience.

Have your unicorn run these accounts — their deep understanding of the market will help them speak to audience members in language they can really relate to.

Are you ready to take on the world?

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Moving into different markets can feel daunting and intimidating.

But if you take it one step at a time, leveraging past content marketing campaigns that you’ve run, it starts to feel much more manageable.

And then you no longer feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Want to know more about how to approach global expansion? HubSpot has an amazing ebook titled The Global Marketing Playbook that dives into Global Marketing even further. Be sure to check it out.

More:  

Kick-Start Your International Marketing Strategy by Leveraging Your Content

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How Do I Optimize My Landing Page When I Don’t Have Enough Traffic to A/B Test?

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How do I optimize my landing page when I don’t have enough traffic to A/B test?

It’s a question that Unbounce customers ask regularly, and one that plagues any marketer who wants to optimize their landing pages but just isn’t blessed with the traffic of a Fortune 500 company.

So it was no surprise when the question came up during the A/B testing panel discussion at the 2015 Call to Action Conference.

Luckily, conversion experts Ton Wesseling, Peep Laja and Michael Aagaard had all the answers. And it turns out that marketers with more humbly-sized traffic streams are going to be okay.. We can all breathe easy, because as Peep put it:

You can still optimize even if you can’t A/B test.

Even if you don’t have the 1,000 conversions per month recommended by our panel experts, you still have options for optimizing your campaigns. Read on to find out how.

Figure out where and why you’re losing conversions

A/B testing isn’t just about figuring out how you can get more conversions. It’s about learning why you aren’t getting more conversions in the first place.

That’s where conversion research comes in: digging into analytics and crunching numbers to determine where your biggest conversion lift opportunities lie. Regardless of whether or not you have enough traffic or plan to A/B test, Michael underlined the importance of this step:

“If you don’t have enough traffic to get proper data out of it, then [A/B testing] isn’t really helpful. But one thing that’s always helpful is doing the research – because you need that anyway.”

Michael related a story about some research that we did on our free trial landing page. When someone arrives at the page, it looks like all they need to do is enter four pieces of information to get a free trial:

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But when someone clicks the CTA button, a whole new set of form fields is displayed:

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When Michael looked at the data, he discovered that a significant number of people were abandoning the process at this step, where the actual signup process is revealed to be more complicated than the first stage of the form implies.

That discovery led to us taking a good, hard look at the process, and Michael is now working on optimizing that page to make it a more delightful, streamlined experience for marketers looking to try out Unbounce.

None of that would have been possible without researching where people were abandoning the process. But by learning the exact point of friction, Michael can continue testing and iterating towards new designs that aren’t burdened by similar issues.

Peep summed this up nicely:

If you don’t know what people are doing on the page, you’re in the dark. You need to record what’s happening on your page in order to identify connections between certain behaviors and conversion rate.

Conduct qualitative research by asking questions

Your landing page has one purpose: to convert visitors to leads or customers. We do that by appealing to our visitor’s needs. But, as Peep says:

If you don’t know what matters to your customers, you have to figure it out, or you can’t  optimize.

If you don’t have enough traffic to get quantitative feedback through A/B testing, you need to spend time gathering qualitative feedback. That means actually speaking with your customers to get to know them and their needs.

Ton agreed:

Talk to your customers. They’ll give you great answers on what they’re looking for that can help you a lot.

During the CTAConf copywriting panel, expert copywriter Amy Harrison of Write With Influence discussed getting to know your customers in order to address their needs.

Amy believes that too many marketers start by presenting the solution, because we know what the solution is – our product – and we know how we want it to be perceived. The problem is that if someone comes to your landing page and you’re not speaking specifically to their needs, they’re won’t relate to your solution.

What Amy does is take a few steps back and start with identifying the symptoms that a person might experience that would lead them to need your product. What problems are they experiencing, and how can you relate to them?

That’s what AppSumo founder Noah Kagan was forced to ask himself when he emailed 30,000 people about his new entrepreneurship course, How To Make A $1,000 A Month Business, and only 30 people purchased it. What went wrong?

ConversionXL reported that he sent a survey to everyone who clicked through but didn’t convert and asked them, among other questions, “Why not?” And then he rewrote and redesigned the page to address the most popular doubts.

Unsure if it works in your country?

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Worried it’s not for you?

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Failed before and not sure what will be different now?

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Images sourced from ConversionXL

Noah adjusted the copy to address all of his prospects’ biggest fears, and used their own language to inspire himself. That strategy echoes back to advice that Joanna Wiebe, the copywriting mastermind behind Copyhackers, wrote on this very blog back in 2012:

If you want to write great copy, swipe it from your visitors, customers and prospects.”

Don’t be afraid to take big risks

When you can test the impact of every change on a page, iterating individual elements for small wins is one way to grow your conversion rate over time. But when you don’t have the luxury of testing against tons of traffic, you’re unlikely to move the needle with mere iteration. As Ton advised:

Most small things make a small impact. You have to take bigger risks to get bigger rewards.

This is actually one of the things that Joanna herself addressed during her Call to Action Conference talk, Death to Fear And Laziness! How to Push Yourself to Write Sticky Landing Page Copy.

In her talk, she presented an A/B test she ran on two sets of ad copy. The one on the left is the control, and the one on the right is the (rather bold) variant. Or as Joanna referred to it, not trying vs. trying.

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The message on the left is what Joanna refers to as “word-shaped air”. There’s words there, sure, but what does it really say? The variant takes a huge risk by using words that might be stereotypically perceived as “negative,” avoiding the empty pleasantries of the control.

But this language is how their real audience actually talks and thinks. And the gamble paid off, with a 124% increase in clicks.

Whether you’re actually running an A/B test or simply changing something on a page and waiting to see the results, there’s one unwavering truth:

You never know until you try.

Stop stressing and start testing

There’s no arguing that testing and experimentation are the heart of conversion rate optimization.

But A/B testing is just one kind of test; you can still make huge conversion gains without it, simply by researching your weaknesses, talking to your customers, and taking real risks. Rarely is there such a thing as a bad test, or a useless result.

If you’re still not convinced, or just want to learn a lot about testing in not-a-lot of time, check out the full Actionable, Practical A/B Testing panel. If every good test starts with research, I can’t think of a better place to start learning.

See original article: 

How Do I Optimize My Landing Page When I Don’t Have Enough Traffic to A/B Test?

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Ask a CRO: How Do I Optimize My Landing Page When I Don’t Have Enough Traffic to A/B Test?

cta-conf-ab-testing-cover

How do I optimize my landing page when I don’t have enough traffic to A/B test?

It’s a question that Unbounce customers ask regularly, and one that plagues any marketer who wants to optimize their landing pages but just isn’t blessed with the traffic of a Fortune 500 company.

So it was no surprise when the question came up during the A/B testing panel discussion at the 2015 Call to Action Conference.

Luckily, conversion experts Ton Wesseling, Peep Laja and Michael Aagaard had all the answers. And it turns out that marketers with more humbly-sized traffic streams are going to be okay.. We can all breathe easy, because as Peep put it:

You can still optimize even if you can’t A/B test.

Even if you don’t have the 1,000 conversions per month recommended by our panel experts, you still have options for optimizing your campaigns. Read on to find out how.

Figure out where and why you’re losing conversions

A/B testing isn’t just about figuring out how you can get more conversions. It’s about learning why you aren’t getting more conversions in the first place.

That’s where conversion research comes in: digging into analytics and crunching numbers to determine where your biggest conversion lift opportunities lie. Regardless of whether or not you have enough traffic or plan to A/B test, Michael underlined the importance of this step:

“If you don’t have enough traffic to get proper data out of it, then [A/B testing] isn’t really helpful. But one thing that’s always helpful is doing the research – because you need that anyway.”

Michael related a story about some research that we did on our free trial landing page. When someone arrives at the page, it looks like all they need to do is enter four pieces of information to get a free trial:

image00

But when someone clicks the CTA button, a whole new set of form fields is displayed:

image02

When Michael looked at the data, he discovered that a significant number of people were abandoning the process at this step, where the actual signup process is revealed to be more complicated than the first stage of the form implies.

That discovery led to us taking a good, hard look at the process, and Michael is now working on optimizing that page to make it a more delightful, streamlined experience for marketers looking to try out Unbounce.

None of that would have been possible without researching where people were abandoning the process. But by learning the exact point of friction, Michael can continue testing and iterating towards new designs that aren’t burdened by similar issues.

Peep summed this up nicely:

If you don’t know what people are doing on the page, you’re in the dark. You need to record what’s happening on your page in order to identify connections between certain behaviors and conversion rate.

Conduct qualitative research by asking questions

Your landing page has one purpose: to convert visitors to leads or customers. We do that by appealing to our visitor’s needs. But, as Peep says:

If you don’t know what matters to your customers, you have to figure it out, or you can’t  optimize.

If you don’t have enough traffic to get quantitative feedback through A/B testing, you need to spend time gathering qualitative feedback. That means actually speaking with your customers to get to know them and their needs.

Ton agreed:

Talk to your customers. They’ll give you great answers on what they’re looking for that can help you a lot.

During the CTAConf copywriting panel, expert copywriter Amy Harrison of Write With Influence discussed getting to know your customers in order to address their needs.

Amy believes that too many marketers start by presenting the solution, because we know what the solution is – our product – and we know how we want it to be perceived. The problem is that if someone comes to your landing page and you’re not speaking specifically to their needs, they’re won’t relate to your solution.

What Amy does is take a few steps back and start with identifying the symptoms that a person might experience that would lead them to need your product. What problems are they experiencing, and how can you relate to them?

That’s what AppSumo founder Noah Kagan was forced to ask himself when he emailed 30,000 people about his new entrepreneurship course, How To Make A $1,000 A Month Business, and only 30 people purchased it. What went wrong?

ConversionXL reported that he sent a survey to everyone who clicked through but didn’t convert and asked them, among other questions, “Why not?” And then he rewrote and redesigned the page to address the most popular doubts.

Unsure if it works in your country?

image01

Worried it’s not for you?

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Failed before and not sure what will be different now?

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Images sourced from ConversionXL

Noah adjusted the copy to address all of his prospects’ biggest fears, and used their own language to inspire himself. That strategy echoes back to advice that Joanna Wiebe, the copywriting mastermind behind Copyhackers, wrote on this very blog back in 2012:

If you want to write great copy, swipe it from your visitors, customers and prospects.”

Don’t be afraid to take big risks

When you can test the impact of every change on a page, iterating individual elements for small wins is one way to grow your conversion rate over time. But when you don’t have the luxury of testing against tons of traffic, you’re unlikely to move the needle with mere iteration. As Ton advised:

Most small things make a small impact. You have to take bigger risks to get bigger rewards.

This is actually one of the things that Joanna herself addressed during her Call to Action Conference talk, Death to Fear And Laziness! How to Push Yourself to Write Sticky Landing Page Copy.

In her talk, she presented an A/B test she ran on two sets of ad copy. The one on the left is the control, and the one on the right is the (rather bold) variant. Or as Joanna referred to it, not trying vs. trying.

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The message on the left is what Joanna refers to as “word-shaped air”. There’s words there, sure, but what does it really say? The variant takes a huge risk by using words that might be stereotypically perceived as “negative,” avoiding the empty pleasantries of the control.

But this language is how their real audience actually talks and thinks. And the gamble paid off, with a 124% increase in clicks.

Whether you’re actually running an A/B test or simply changing something on a page and waiting to see the results, there’s one unwavering truth:

You never know until you try.

Stop stressing and start testing

There’s no arguing that testing and experimentation are the heart of conversion rate optimization.

But A/B testing is just one kind of test; you can still make huge conversion gains without it, simply by researching your weaknesses, talking to your customers, and taking real risks. Rarely is there such a thing as a bad test, or a useless result.

If you’re still not convinced, or just want to learn a lot about testing in not-a-lot of time, check out the full Actionable, Practical A/B Testing panel. If every good test starts with research, I can’t think of a better place to start learning.

From – 

Ask a CRO: How Do I Optimize My Landing Page When I Don’t Have Enough Traffic to A/B Test?

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The Power of Vulnerability in Copywriting [PODCAST]

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Embrace your vulnerability.

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

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

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

You will learn:

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

Listen to the podcast

Listen on iTunes.
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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Lenney: Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

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

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

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

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

Dan Levy: What was the quote?

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

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

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

Brian Lenney: Definitely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Levy: Talk about being vulnerable, wow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Levy: Good to know. Thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Levy: Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Lenney: Yeah. So I mean –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brian Lenney: Yeah. No problem.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


More here:  

The Power of Vulnerability in Copywriting [PODCAST]

Bring Your AdWords Campaigns Back from the Dead with Keyword Insertion

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

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

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

We’re talkin’ consequences including:

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

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

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

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

First thing’s first…

Keyword Insertion: Serving up relevant ads

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

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

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

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

Selecting especially relevant keywords

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

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

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

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

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Then, type in search terms relevant to your campaign.

keyword-planner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus tip:

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

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

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

Adding Keyword Insertion to your text ad

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

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

ad-group-haunted-castle

From there, you can enter your copy.

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

keyword-haunted-house

Dynamic Text Replacement: Serve up a relevant landing page

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevance is key

Great marketing is about creating seamless experiences for prospects.

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

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

How’s that for a win-win?

Link:

Bring Your AdWords Campaigns Back from the Dead with Keyword Insertion

Build a Data-Driven Content Strategy by Yourself, for Free, in 1 Day

Content-Marketing-Dan-McGaw-Cover
You can have a solid content strategy up and running in a day. OR, you could trade it all for what’s in this box.

Content marketing isn’t the next big thing. It’s here, it’s happening now, and if you aren’t using content to grow your audience, you’re losing them to competitors who are.

But building a content strategy is a ton of work, particularly if you’re a small team – perhaps even a team of one. Right?

Dan McGaw doesn’t think so. In his recent Unwebinar, The Facts & Fairytales of Conversion-Driven Content, he outlines a detailed framework for building a content strategy in little more than half an hour.

And he has the results to prove that it works: it’s the same strategy that he and his agency Effin Amazing employed to increase ChupaMobile’s organic traffic by 19%, and revenue by 38%.

It can be done by a single person in just one day, all with free tools from Google and a bit of research.

It all starts with finding out what people are already looking for.

Use Google Keyword Planner to assess demand for content

One of the “fairy tales of content marketing” that Dan described is that producing content is an art that is informed primarily by gut instinct. But as Dan put it:

If no one is looking for your content, no one will read the content you write.

So how do you write the kinds of content that your target audience is looking for?

Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful go-to tool for pay-per-click marketers, who use it to measure search volume for specific keywords and plan their campaigns. But it’s not only useful for PPC. Dan explained that it can be used to learn what kinds of content your prospective audience is demanding in just a few simple steps:

  1. Enter keywords relating to your product and industry. This includes the names of competitors or types of services that might overlap with yours.
  2. Create a list of the highest-volume keywords. Google will let you know the monthly average searches for every term you search. Depending on how niche your subject matter is, what constitutes an acceptable level of traffic will vary, but Dan sets the threshold for content that people care about at 10,000 monthly searches minimum.

    These high-volume keywords form the core of your content direction, since it’s the type of content that your audience is likely to search for.

  3. Generate keyword ideas based on the highest-volume keywords. Take the list of high-volume keywords you created and enter them into the Keyword Planner under Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category. Google will use its omniscient cloudmind to discover related keywords and hand them back to you.

Working these keywords into your content will be critical for generating organic traffic. But the research doesn’t end here; the keywords are just the key.

Generate even more keywords with predictive search results

Now that you have your list of totally-targetable keywords, it’s time to check out the competitive landscape with some good old Googling. But make sure you’re using Incognito mode, or whatever your browser’s private browsing mode is called: Google personalizes search results based on your history, and you don’t want that interfering with your research.

You can then start performing searches of your keyword list, and you’ll realize something wonderful happens: Google will tell you exactly how people are phrasing their searches by displaying the most popular searches as recommendations.

dan-mcgaw

This is the information that will inform you on what specific subjects people are interested in. After all, “analytics” is just a keyword, but “how to add google analytics to WordPress” is nearly a fully-formed post idea.

Plus, knowing exactly what people are searching for will also let you know exactly what they find.

Content audit your competitors

This is one of the most time-consuming aspects of crafting your content strategy, but it’s also one of the most important. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how can you out-do them?

Dan suggests performing searches using your list of keywords and the recommended search phrases, and take note of what pieces of content appear on the first page of results. Then:

  • Read the three most recent articles on the first page. You’re likely to see articles that are anywhere from a few months to many years old. Focus on the most recent ones.
  • Write down three things that suck about each of them. And that doesn’t mean poor formatting or ugly images (though those are important to get right). This is not about being self-congratulatory, but about finding opportunities to capitalize on. If there’s some crucial fact or brilliant revelation missing from your competitors’ content, you want it to be in yours.
  • Then write down three ways your content piece could be better. This can be elaborating on a subject that your competitors glazed over, introducing a new bombshell piece of information, or experimenting with formatting in a way that makes content more engaging.

But you don’t have to stop here. By combining your keyword research with defined goals based on your audience’s needs, you can extrapolate your keyword research into even more content ideas.

Create new content ideas based on your keyword research

These are the tactics that Effin Amazing used when they took on client ChupaMobile, a marketplace for app templates that can be re-skinned and released as new apps. Ultimately, they formed four core blog topics addressing the wants and needs of their audience:

  • Hiring a mobile developer
  • How to launch a mobile app
  • How to make money from apps
  • Building apps with no code

And with the knowledge of both the highest volume keywords and the specific phrases used to search those keywords, they were able to create a series of blog post ideas addressing exactly the questions people were searching for.

Dan-McGaw-Blog-Post-Ideas

And you can do the same.

Combining all of the previous research you’ve done, you’ll now have both a clear list of both which existing pieces of content you need to compete with and what types of new content to create to attract your target audience.

Converting through content, via landing pages

Once you’re growing traffic through smart content production, what do you do with it? Is there a clear pathway from your content to conversion?

Dan recommends an approach we also use here at Unbounce: designating a specific piece of gated content (like an ebook) per post, building a landing page for each, and directing to those landing pages with various calls to action in each post, like at the end of the post or with an exit intent overlay.

Dan-McGaw-CTA

It’s not about exerting pressure, but about creating an opportunity. If you don’t ask, you cannot receive. Create great content, link to relevant “content upgrades” with dedicated landing pages, and nurture the leads you collect from said content. (You can learn more about the nurturing part in the full webinar.)

The white-hat school of growth hacking

Dan ended his webinar with this quote:

Growth hacking isn’t one tactic; it is how you string tactics together and automate them. That’s how you create growth!

“Growth hacking” is a term that has always made me bristle. The word “hack” implies a shortcut or workaround, an easy path to success.

But if the term is to stick around, I feel pretty happy with this interpretation of it. One that views growth not as just a series of quick wins, but of building a sustainable strategy based on data; a definition that benefits our businesses as much as it benefits our readers, prospects and customers.

This article is from: 

Build a Data-Driven Content Strategy by Yourself, for Free, in 1 Day

Fluff is Thy Foe: 6 Insurance Landing Page Examples + Critiques

Fluff-Featured
Fluff can seem harmless, but it’s a conversion killer. Image source.

Insurance is a complicated thing to market: it’s the only product that people will willingly pay for every month yet hope they never have to use. Of course, this is reasonable when you consider that it’s something used only during times of strife, injury or death.

So it’s no surprise that insurance companies find all sorts of ways to minimize the focus on those more unsavoury aspects of the deal, instead opting to push messages of security, reassurance and convenience — or they just skirt the subject altogether, focusing solely on discounts and savings.

But avoiding specifics rarely goes well, as you’re about to find out. Below, you’ll find my analysis of six insurance landing pages, along with critiques and lessons you can apply to your own campaigns within any industry.

1. Amica Home Insurance: It’s not all about you

autopilot
Click to enlarge.

I’ll defer to copywriting expert Joanna Wiebe on the subject of using the word “we” in your landing page copy:

“We” is a bad, bad word in copywriting. You should reword every line of copy you have that begins with “we”. […] Because your visitors don’t want to hear about you. They want to hear about themselves – about their problems, about their needs, about their futures.”

The word we is used four times on this page. But even when that word isn’t being used, Amica seems to find it impossible to not talk solely about themselves:

Amica home insurance: Experience the Amica difference.
Extraordinary customer service that makes you feel right at home.

What does that mean? It does nothing to speak to the prospect’s needs. It does nothing to communicate how this service will improve the customer’s life. And it doesn’t make any effort to capture the reader’s attention nor compel them to continue reading.

If you want to talk about your extraordinary customer service, demonstrate it up front: be honest and transparent. In Amica’s case, they should consider communicating the real-world benefits of their service versus other providers, instead of dedicating so many words to saying so little.

2. StateFarm: Remind me how I got here

StateFarm
Click to enlarge.

Can you guess what this page is about?

That it doesn’t explicitly mention insurance might seem unimportant. Surely the person who clicked the link to this page doesn’t need to be reminded what they came for, right?

But message match — how well the message of a landing page matches the message of its gateway, like an ad on Google or Facebook — is one of the pillars of creating an effective landing page. Essentially, the copy of an ad and the headline of its landing page should mirror each other. Why?

  • It’s a reminder. Admit it: you’ve opened new tabs in your web browser only to immediately forget why you had done so. That’s probably because your attention span is literally worse than that of a goldfish.

    It’s not hard to imagine that someone could lose focus on what brought them to the page in the first place.

  • It’s a reassurance. Even if the user doesn’t forget what brought them there, they could think that you’ve brought them to the wrong place, or pulled a bait-and-switch. When ad copy and page headline match, they send a clear message: “This is exactly what you were looking for.”
Message-Match
An example of strong message match, from Unbounce co-founder Oli Gardner’s 2013 post on the subject.

Since State Farm’s page would likely be displayed in results for searches for automobile insurance, it’s crazy that the only place those words are even mentioned is in this itty-bitty footer text.

StateFarm-Footer
Crystal clear!

3. AIG Direct: Specificity is a good thing

AIG Direct
Click to enlarge.

So many of the insurance landing pages I came across in my research asked for extremely little information up front — often just a zip code to begin the quote process. So I was surprised when I saw this monster of a form from AIG Direct.

But I actually think this makes a lot of sense. While it’s true that the number of form fields tends to correlate negatively with conversion rates, this isn’t always the case. Introducing more friction up-front can help pre-qualify leads, and in the case of an insurance broker, having to provide that kind of information is almost reassuring.

If the length of the form alone is enough to make the prospect hesitate, AIG’s headline serves to make the task seem almost effortless:

It takes 2 minutes to request your term life quote.

While one could feel overwhelmed by the number of fields, this one line makes it clear that it’s not really that bad. Plus, two minutes is a pretty small investment when we’re talking about life insurance.

This page excels in some other areas, too. Rather than rely on fluff and wishy-washy philosophizing about the nature of life and family, AIG sets concrete expectations, thereby holding themselves accountable for meeting them.

AIG-Direct-Trust

By solidifying their trustworthiness by linking to reviews and security certifications, and keeping the focus on the customer rather than themselves, AIG comes across as credible and transparent. And a real dollar amount, no matter what it is, is always preferable to nebulous “savings.”

4. AAA Life Insurance: Make your form friendly

AAA Life Insurance
Click to enlarge.

I feel confident in saying that most people probably don’t enjoy shopping for life insurance very much. So it’s in your best interest to make the process of doing so seem as easy as possible.

This page from AAA makes this process seem so much worse than it (likely) actually is. And it all starts with the strange visual decisions made in the form’s design.

AAA-Form

In web design, an affordance refers to a visual indicator of a digital object’s function. The most obvious example is adding bevels, borders, and background colors to links in order to make them resemble physical buttons. These details make it easier for the user to understand what these intangible objects actually do.

This form’s affordances are, frankly, all messed up. Not only are many of the form fields — text fields, in particular — nearly unnoticeable, but form labels and form fields are both contained within identical boxes, making the labels also look like fields.

Not only is this confusing, it has the unintended result of making the form appear twice as long as it actually is.

This, combined with the fact that most of the content on this page is dedicated towards explaining all of the subsequent “steps,” make this entire process seem extremely unapproachable.

Maybe they should’ve written that it only takes two minutes.

5. Farmers Insurance: Show me the way

StateFarm
Click to enlarge.

This page from Farmers Insurance is likely to lead visitors in the wrong direction due to inaccurate visual cues and confusing copy. If you’re on this page to get a quote online, where would you think to click?

Would it be, perhaps, this big button-looking-square that says Get a Quote Online on it?

Get-a-Quote

You’re likely already aware that this isn’t the case: the actual call to action is the green Click & Save Today! button. But I actually completely missed it at first.

FastQuote

Why?

  • It’s framed identically to the stock photo next to it, which I glossed over
  • It’s also shares a colour palette with the photo, making it blend into the page
  • The family is both walking and moving away from the call to action, rather than directing attention towards it
  • The copy — both “Get a FastQuote®” and “Click & Save Today” — were both less related to what I was looking for than “Get a Quote Online”

While there’s lots of talk in the conversion optimization world of color psychology and which colors correlate with which emotions, all of this is secondary to the most basic notion of CTA design: make it contrast with the rest of the page. (Psst — learn more about driving conversions through design in our new Attention-Driven Design ebook!)

And with regards to the button copy, it needs to indicate action and also speak directly to the user’s desire. For a smart formula, I’ll quote this oft-repeated advice from Joanna Wiebe:

Write button / CTA copy that completes this phrase: I want to ________________.

6. Health Insurance Sort: Cheap photos cheapen your page

StateFarm
Click to enlarge.

Insurance is a pretty serious thing, let alone insurance that would, in a time of crisis, allow me to remain alive. So I would expect anyone selling it to me to take it equally as seriously as I do.

But everything about this page screams, “we’re not credible.” And while the copy isn’t great, the most glaring issues relate to its design.

Stock photos such as the ones shown above are often used to add “visual interest” to a page. This, despite the fact that usability testing shows that while photos of people are effective at capturing attention, they subconsciously gloss over images that resemble stock photos.

Many of the examples in this post are clearly using stock imagery, but this page is exceptional. Each photo has a completely different lighting and style, and the hero image is so obviously a poor composite of two different images that I can’t believe anyone would ever enter their zip code into that misaligned text box.

Health-Insurance-Sort-Stock-Photo
Now we can recklessly grapple in the middle of this lovely autumn road, knowing any injuries will be fully covered! Thanks, Health Insurance Sort!

Fluff is thy foe

When crafting landing pages, “fluff” is thy foe. Whether it be pointless stock images that desperately try to jazz things up, or copy that talks its way around the real benefits and value of your offering, attempts at obfuscation via feel-goodery are as exactly as transparent to customers as they are to us.

And landing pages aren’t mere repositories for information; they’re designed to be a response to a specific need or expressed intent. If someone comes to your page and finds it confusing or deceitful, you can kiss that conversion goodbye.

Excerpt from: 

Fluff is Thy Foe: 6 Insurance Landing Page Examples + Critiques

The Dreaded AdWords Plateau and What You Can Do About It [PODCAST]

inpost
Are your AdWords campaigns plateauing? Image via Flickr.

Have you ever run a PPC campaign that was working pretty well, but never seemed to get to the next level?

You may have experienced what PPC insiders call the “AdWords Plateau,” the point where your campaigns are maintaining their value, but are no longer driving the kind of growth you need.

So, do you just sit back and rest on your laurels? Heck no! We want your campaigns to always be converting better. That’s why in this episode of the Call to Action podcast, we talk to Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo, about advanced AdWords tactics that can push your campaigns up and off the plateau.

You will learn:

  • Why categorizing your campaigns based on product can be holding you back.
  • The importance of geography in AdWords.
  • How one company added a call extension and increased mobile leads by 110%.

Listen to the podcast

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

Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

In this episode: Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo.

Stephanie Saretsky: Hey podcast listeners, I’m Stephanie Saretsky and you’re listing to Call to Action, a podcast about creating better marketing experiences — powered by Unbounce.

Are you running PPC campaigns? Are your results pretty good but you never seemed to be able to get them to be even better? You may have experienced what PPC insiders call the “AdWords Plateau,” the point when your campaigns are maintaining their value, but aren’t doing any better and aren’t doing any worse. So, do you just sit back on your laurels? Heck no! We want your campaigns to always be converting better. That’s why our Content Strategist Dan Levy got in touch with Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo, about advanced AdWords hacks that can push your campaigns up and off the plateau. Take a listen to this.

Dan: Before we get into brass tacks, let’s talk about the infamous AdWords performance plateau. What is it, and how do I know if I’ve reached it?

Igor: You know, if you’ve been advertising on AdWords for a long time and have been trying different tweaks in your campaign, and you come across that moment where you’re sort of like, “Hmm, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get the number of conversions up from week to week, can’t seem to get this CPA down any further.” That’s kind of what I think of as the plateau. And if you’ve optimized AdWords campaigns for a while, it happens and it comes pretty quickly if you’re good at this.

Dan: So what are some signs that you’ve reached a plateau and it’s time to try something new?

Igor: Honestly, I think the biggest thing is that those metrics are staying steady. Can’t seem to get over a certain number of weekly conversions, can’t seem to get under a certain CPA. If other metrics are staying unchanged or you can’t get them higher or better than they were last week, that’s definitely a sign. Especially if you’re doing rigorous testing in the account. If you’ve got an A/B test on your ads live at all times and still, no matter what, you’ve got incumbent ads always beating the new variants, that’s an indicator that the account’s in pretty good shape. It means that things might have plateaued.

Dan: And of course, things are in good shape, then – it’s a good problem to have, but you always want to be optimizing and doing better, of course. So, one of the more common challenges that I think performance marketers find themselves butting up against has to do with the volume. Can you explain why I might want to get more campaign traffic and what I can do to get that?

Igor: So everybody’s looking for more traffic if it’s qualified. It’s easy to spend money on AdWords on traffic that isn’t qualified, so put that asterisk next to the idea of more traffic and why you would want it. But let’s say that you’re getting good traffic through AdWords and you want to get more of it. Basically, there’s two ways that you can get more traffic through AdWords. #1 is expanding your keyword approach and different topics that you want to capture searchers on. #2 is actually creating better performing campaigns. So you might only be able to get a certain percentage of the impression share available on your terms if your ads are not kind of very historically vetted and have been shown to Google to perform really well. Once you pass that test — once you kind of show Google that you can drive consistent performance and you’re going to keep spending in that area and you’re going to outperform in a consistent way the other competitors in that space — you’re going to be able to get more volume. Because Google will trust your ad. Google will know if they serve it a certain number of times a day, they’ll make a certain amount of money from people clicking that ad and you’ll be happy from the results from a conversion standpoint and ROI standpoint. So it’s not a risk for Google. So those are the two main ways to increase traffic.

Dan: And of course, getting more traffic, though, usually means spending more money. How do you know if it’s worth cranking up the budget for that?

Igor: Well, like any performance marketer, I would tell you that if you’re making more money than you’re spending, you’re in good shape. But that’s where people start talking about the concept of lifetime value. You know, sometimes the conversion that you’re tracking in AdWords doesn’t trace all the way back to the credit card or the revenue that comes back to your business. So when you’ve got a sophisticated enough model, when you can take into account lifetime value, if you can feed that back into AdWords through their offline conversions import feature, you can really be in good shape to understand your overall ROI.

Dan: Well, the next tactic, now that we’ve got the basics down, the next one that you look at in your post has to do with lowering cost per acquisition. Most marketers manage CPA by campaign or keyword and ad group. But you’re right that this means that you’re prioritizing search topics over the searcher herself or himself. What do you mean by that?

Igor: So if you’re just adjusting bids based on a specific keyword, basically what you’re telling Google is red shoes are converting better than blue shoes. What you’re ignoring, potentially, is the person that’s typing that in and what experience they’re going to have when they click through to your site. So in the case of an ecommerce site, where maybe you’ve got a high-ticket item and a very considered purchase, maybe the desktop version of the site converts better than mobile, because sometimes it’s tougher to make an ecommerce buy on your mobile device. It’s small and there’s a lot of different options. And so if you’re not optimizing bids at the device level, for example – and there are other dimensions too like geography and we’ll talk about that later – then you’re really doing yourself a disservice to just focus on the thing being searched and not also the searcher and what experience they’re having coming to your site.

Dan: Ultimately, you’re trying to reach a person, so user intent is something that I think maybe some marketers forget about but really should be driving your campaign for the most part, right?

Igor: Absolutely.

Dan: I’d like to dive into device type. Can you take us through what making bid adjustments looks like in the context of a mobile campaign?

Igor: So we just talked about the example of an ecommerce site where you might have a better desktop experience than mobile, and thus your mobile CPA might be higher so you might want to adjust your bids down on mobile to account for that. There’s also the possibility that your mobile experience is the primary experience and you want to bid up on the mobile ads. So an example of that might be that you’re advertising for your restaurant and you want somebody to set up a reservation on OpenTable. That’s something that people often do on their mobile device and they want to have a map handy of the restaurant. They’re not going to be doing that as often from their desktop. So in that scenario, you might bid up by 50 percent on mobile devices and not so much on desktop.

Dan: Another way to adjust bids is by geography, since some products and services convert differently in different places. I get how someone selling raincoats would want to focus on Seattle rather than Phoenix, for example. But could you explain why a marketer in a less tangible place-based industry like SaaS or healthcare or education would want to adjust their bids geographically?

Igor: Yeah, it’s a really good question. But you’d be surprised when you go into the dimensions tab in AdWords. Sometimes it’ll go into a campaign and California has a $40.00 CPA and in Illinois, we’re looking at a $150.00 CPA. Like why would that be? But it happens. The raincoat example is the one that Google kind of gives and that makes sense to everybody. In software as a service, it might be something more subtle. For example, we have a client that’s in usability testing software. And they get a lot of university students going and searching for their software to go and play around with the idea of usability testing and what it means. And those university students aren’t going to be great converters. But you know, in the name of education, they’ll go and click through and look around. And so you might have, in a university town like Berkeley, California, a lot of people kind of going that route and so not converting as often. Whereas across the bay in San Francisco where you have lots of tech startups, there might actually be buyers of the usability testing software. For them, you might have a lower CPA and better converting numbers. So that’s just a scenario where in micro geography, you might have higher bids for San Francisco where you have the tech startups and lower bids for Berkeley, which is a college town.

Dan: That makes sense. Google suggests that you make bid adjustments in the 15 percent range. Why – what’s so magical about that particular number? Do you know?

Igor: That’s a good question. Google usually suggests this; the reps often talk about the 10 to 15 percent range. And I think the reason really is that Google AdWords is a sensitive machine. And if you go in and start tweaking levers at 30 or 50 percent bid increases, there’s not as much stability to that and it can take longer to learn. Whereas if you go gradually, you can learn more and I think you can learn more quickly. I think gradual is the key to a lot of things in AdWords, not just the adjustments.

Dan: So it’s sort of Google giving a hint a little bit about how their algorithm works there?

Igor: I think so.

Dan: Yeah, a lot of AdWords is reading the Google tea leaves, isn’t it?

Igor: I think so.

Dan: The last conversion that you suggest optimizing your AdWords campaign for is click-through rates. Before we get into some of the techs about how to do that, when might you find yourself in a situation where it makes sense to optimize for clicks?

Igor: Yeah. So I think the main caveat here is of course, clicks are good but conversions are better, right? So it’s not that I’m saying you want to go out and get as many clicks as possible, because that can be expensive. But click-through rate has long been known to be the main determinant of Quality Score, which is Google’s 1 to 10 scale of how good of a search result your ad is, in the end, as an experience for the visitor. And the better experience that your ad provides, the more often Google is going to serve that ad, and also the less Google is going to charge you to put that ad in the top three spots because they know that it’s going to get clicked because it’s just such a good quality ad. And so by getting your click-through up and optimizing for clicks, you’re actually going to improve that Quality Score and hopefully take it to the 7, 8, 9, 10 out of 10 range. And that’s really going to help you from a cost perspective and from an impression share perspective. I would say the other reason to optimize for clicks is just if you’re in a very competitive SEM landscape. So if you’re in real estate, if you’re in legal, every qualified click counts. And so getting that impression share optimizing for clicks can be the life blood of your account.

Dan: Yeah, Quality Score I guess is another one of those things that’s a little bit mysterious and Google doesn’t give a whole lot of advice about how to get that up. So I suppose anything counts.

Igor: Exactly.

Dan: So let’s talk about ad extensions, which are one of the key ways that you can set up your PPC campaigns and set them apart from noobs and competitors. So what are ad extensions? What do they look like and why should marketers get really excited about them?

Igor: There’s a couple of different types of ad extensions. I’ll just call out a few. There’s site links, which are up to four different links that will show up underneath your ad headline and will point to specific content on your site; so not just to the landing page that your main ad headline links to, but to an “about us” page, or a partnership integrations page or testimonials page or something like that. The other exciting thing about the site links extension, though, is that it really gives you more real estate on the page. So if you are fortunate enough to have your ads show up in those top three spots in Google, you’re going to take up more room when they show those four site link extensions and so you kind of get more billboard real estate out of that.

Dan: Is there a tradeoff there, though? Because you’re also distracting people from getting to that landing page where the conversion actually takes place, no?

Igor: That’s a really good point and something I’ve had to attack with a client this week — you might have people going to another place on the site that’s less of a direct path to conversion. And so what that tells me is: man, every page on this site has got to have a strong call to action. Even if you’re telling people about your great quality of work and where your product is made and all that type of more informational stuff, you’ve got to have a call to action on the page and be able to point people toward the conversion that way. Otherwise, the site links could well distract more than they add.

Dan: Wouldn’t it depend, then, on where the user that you’re targeting is in your customer lifecycle? Like if it’s a little bit more of a lead gen or brand awareness play, then those site links getting that attention might be worth it. But if you’re looking for that conversion, then maybe not?

Igor: Yeah, that can absolutely make a difference. Another way the companies will use it is that a player like Zappos might have a site link that’s all about their free returns and how you can return something for 365 days out of the year. They might think that if they work that into their 35 character description one line, that’s okay. But having a whole site link and page and description of that policy can be really beneficial for them because that’s one of the big reasons that people buy from Zappos.

Dan: Interesting. So in a way, it’s just a way – well, I guess that’s why it’s called an extension, right? It’s a way to extend your ad and your messaging without –

Igor: Absolutely.

Dan: – messing up your peppy headline, I guess.

Igor: That’s right. And there’s a couple other versions of the extension, also. There’s location extensions for brick and mortar business to show the location of it, there’s call extensions which will bring in a phone number right there into your ad. And there’s a callout extension, which is not a clickable piece of text but it allows you to put a couple of dinger benefits right below your ad about your service.

Dan: I wanted to ask you about the call extension. Can you talk about how an organization called A Place for Mom added a call extension and increased their mobile leads by 110 percent in the process?

Igor: Yeah, absolutely. So A Place for Mom is one of Google’s case studies and they’re in elder care. And you know, at the end of the day, it’s pretty obvious. You add a call extension, you allow people who are searching for information about your service on mobile to call in rather than using the form on your site. And of course they’re going to call so it makes sense that they were able to increase calls. But I think that the real takeaway from this one is that calls can be a much more qualified lead than somebody who just fills out a form on your website. Because what ends up happening is sales teams that call on leads that submit through a landing page form, they’ll usually find that at least half of the submissions are not good leads for whatever reason; either they can’t reach them on the phone number, or by the time they get a call from the sales rep, they’ve filled out three other forms of competitors and so they’re going with a different option. Somebody who’s calling you right there on the spot, they’ve made a lot more effort to pick up the phone and get in touch with you. And something like eldercare in this example — there are lots of other businesses like this. It can be something that people want to talk through on the phone and not just read a couple of bullet points on a landing page and submit a form. And so these people that are calling are treasured leads. They should be viewed as a lead that maybe would be willing to pay three or four times as much to Google to get that lead.

Dan: Yeah. Again, it goes back to that user’s intent and where they are in your funnel, and whether it makes more sense to get them on the phone right away, or what you really want to be doing is getting their email address so you could continue to nurture them through the funnel until it’s time to maybe ask for that big conversion. So yeah, in most cases, the conversion doesn’t happen over the phone but it does happen on that landing page. Can you leave us with one tip for optimizing your PPC landing pages for more conversions?

Igor: Yeah. You know, I think that the last couple years, the trend has really been minimalist text: the idea that people don’t read so much on a landing page and really having a bare bones form where we don’t ask for a lot of fields. So the trend has been don’t ask too much of the consumer. But there’s a flip side to that. I think trustworthiness is one of the main reasons that people do choose to give their information on a landing page. And so sometimes it can take a little bit of content to build that trust. So I guess maybe the tip is this: if I see a great testimonial with a picture of the person that it’s coming from, and it’s from somebody who is just right in my demographic. So I’m a cofounder of a marketing firm. If I see this tool that – I’m looking at their landing page – is used by an executive at a marketing agency and he’s saying, “Man, this tool saved us a bunch of money and you’ve got to try it,” coupled with a lot of other landing page elements that kind of build out the case for that tool, I’m much more likely to convert than if somebody is just using a snappy headline, a really short form, and really bare bones content.

Dan: Yeah, it’s amazing how many marketers still don’t include that sort of social proof on their landing page. That said, our cofounder Oli used to say that 99 percent of marketers still aren’t even sending their AdWords traffic to a dedicated landing page. I think recently he said it’s gotten a little bit better so it’s more like 98 percent. I don’t know what you’re seeing, but where do you think we are, actually, with the state of AdWords and using dedicated landing pages for PPC campaigns, and why do you think most – or why do you think more marketers still aren’t doing it?

Igor: It’s something that’s been changing a lot and certainly there’s really sophisticated companies out there that are building out highly specific landing pages for every search term. I think that, at the end of the day, it takes resources to build these dedicated pages. And so in the spirit of minimum viable product and kind of straw manning something together to get proof out of AdWords before you go and put a lot of technical resources behind it, a lot of companies and a lot of our clients will build kind of the minimum viable landing page approach, which will not necessarily be super specific, keyword by keyword and ad group by ad group. And once they see that work well, one of the optimization steps that we recommend, months down the road after that, is to build out a very specific approach. But it can be really tough to get technical resources devoted to that type of thing and you have to believe in Google AdWords, you have to believe in landing pages that are highly tailored and really put the money there and make it happen and make it beautiful.

Dan: If only there were a tool to help you easily build landing pages.

Igor: Wild idea.

Dan: Shameless plug. Cool. Well, thanks for sharing all these really insightful tips and for the great post, Igor. It was great to chat.

Igor: Dan, thank you.

Stephanie: That was Igor Belogolovsky, co-founder of Clever Zebo.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


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The Dreaded AdWords Plateau and What You Can Do About It [PODCAST]