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How To Deliver A Successful UX Project In The Healthcare Sector




How To Deliver A Successful UX Project In The Healthcare Sector

Sven Jungmann & Karolin Neubauer



A mid-career UX researcher was hired to understand the everyday needs, perceptions, and concerns of patients in a hospital in Berlin, Germany. She used rigorous observation and interviewing methods just like she teaches them to design thinking students at a nearby university. She returned with a handful of actionable insights that our product team found useful, somewhat at least.

However, we were surprised that her recommendations gravitated towards convenience issues such as “Patients want to know the food menu” or “Users struggle to remember who their doctors are.” Entirely missing were reports of physical and psychological complaints. We would at least have expected sleeping problems: Given that 80% of working Germans don’t sleep well and nearly 10% even appear to have severe sleeping disorders (link in German), why did no one mention it?

“We only see what we know.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

If you are a UX researcher about to embark on a project with hospitalized patients and you want to avoid missing out on deep concerns and problems of users, then maybe this article can help you strengthen your awareness for particular challenges of clinical UX.

It is difficult to get in touch with real patients and get permission from clinical staff to access the right people. We are fortunate to have access to a network of more than 100 hospitals in Germany thanks to our sister Helios Kliniken GmbH, which is Europe’s largest private hospital provider. Our experience with clinical UX research taught us the importance of stressing that we cannot assume that patients bring up relevant concerns by themselves.

We describe three reasons we think are important to improve the quality and quantity of your findings. Generally speaking, this article emphasizes the need for UX practitioners to be mindful of their participants’ emotional and physical state. But we also discuss how we think UX researchers should prepare for and conduct a research project in the healthcare sector.

The Three B’s That Complicate UX Research In Hospitals

We’ve been thinking much about user research in hospital settings recently. Our new company, smart Helios, a digital health development firm, is a spin-off of Helios Kliniken, Europe’s largest private hospital chain. To inform our lean software development, we thoroughly embrace iterative empathetic observation and end-user interviews at each step of a development cycle (i.e., ideation, prototyping, and testing).

We learned that qualitative research in a hospital setting brings its challenges. We think it is worth considering them, especially those we discuss here, called the three B’s: Biases, Barriers, and Background.

Here’s an overview:

  1. Biases
    Psychological mechanisms can affect our patients’ thinking and hence diminish the results of our findings.
  2. Barriers to trust
    Patients rarely share intimate needs with a non-medical interviewer easily. This can create blind spots in our research.
  3. Background
    Internal and external factors such as wealth, socio-economic status, sanitation, education, and access to healthcare can influence our health as well as the care patients receive. The quality of care also depends on the hospital’s infrastructure and staff experience with a particular disease or procedure. These differences make it challenging to generalize findings.

We also discuss remedies that can help overcome these challenges and distill more valuable insights. They include:

  • Conducting a thorough and well-prepared interview.
  • Including healthcare providers in the process.
  • Drawing on quantitative data to guide some of the qualitative user research.

Biases: We Are Fantastic At Lying To Ourselves, Whether Or Not We’re Patients

Psychologists call them cognitive biases: they negatively affect how accurately we perceive and remember events or feelings, and we possess impressive amounts of them.

For example, people remember information better if it is more recent or salient. If you ask a patient about the initial appointment with her oncologist (this is rarely good news), don’t be surprised if she remembers only a quarter of it. Hospitalized patients are typically overwhelmed by the unfamiliar situation they’re in and often under stress and that influences their memory.

Hence it makes a difference when you ask them in their patient journey. Even in one day, patients face different problems that affect what’s top of mind at the moment you observe or interview them:

  • In the morning, when the painkillers have worn off during sleep, regaining control over physical pain is all that matters.
  • During the day, worries about upcoming procedures might dominate their thoughts or they could be focused on their hunger while they’re not allowed to eat or drink ahead of a diagnostic test.
  • In the evening, they might be afraid that they won’t be able to update their relatives appropriately.
  • At night, some struggle to sleep because of the hospital noise or their worries.

Takeaways:

  • Try interviewing users at different times of the day and different moments of their journey and take note of how findings vary.
  • Always get an orientation about where your users stand within their patient journey. Explore what happened in the previous hours or days and what diagnostics or treatments lie ahead of them.
  • Beware that our psyches possess a plethora of mechanisms to limit rationality and prevent past events from entering our conscious mind. You cannot control them all, but it improves your research if you notice them.

Barriers To Trust: Who Is Asking Matters, Too

It’s not just about how and when; it also matters who is asking. Even if a patient agrees to speak with us, what she shares will highly depend on how much she trusts us. One of us observed as a clinician how often his patients need to build up trust, sometimes over days until they ‘confess’ certain concerns. That’s especially true when problems have a psychological component (e.g., sleeping disorders) or are stigmatized (e.g., certain infectious diseases).

The more knowledgeable you are about health problems, the better you can steer interviews towards relevant issues. If you do this empathetically, your interviewees might find it easier to speak about them. Don’t get frustrated, however, if they don’t. Some people need a lot of trust, and there’s rarely a shortcut to earning it. In these cases, there’s something else you can do: include subjects who are not your target users but still have crucial insights in your interviews.

Take the nurse, for example. She might know from her previous night shift how many patients had trouble sleeping and who might agree to talk about it. The doctors will know which crucial questions they get asked frequently. And the housekeeping staff can share stories about the patients’ hygiene concerns. Listen closely to them: many of the staffs’ pain points likely hint to patients’ pain points, too. The more observers you allow to shed light on one subject, the better your chances to understand your patients’ experiences and the broader your perception of the system will be.

Takeaways:

  • Try to interview people involved in your users’ care.
  • Ask the clinical staff for guidance on which patients to ask about specific problems.
  • Even if patients are your primary users, make sure to ask health care providers, such as doctors, nurses, or therapists about common patient needs.
  • Schedule repeated interviews with patients if possible to build the trust necessary for sharing critical concerns.

The ‘living’ patient journey map.


A large, printed and ‘living’ patient journey helps to constantly challenge and refine assumptions. (Large preview)

Background: Mind The Worlds In And Around The Patients

Different patients have different needs. This is obvious, and part of the reason why UX researchers develop personas, conduct semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and observe subjects to explore the multiple realities of our participants. But there’s still a problem we can’t dismiss. Even within our hospitals inside Germany, people’s realities can differ greatly depending on their income, education, insurance, place of residence, etc.

What you discover in one hospital or region might not apply elsewhere. This can be a problem if you want to deploy your products at scale. If you have the opportunity, you should go the extra mile to conduct UX research in different hospitals to understand the needs and what drives adoption.

If some regions show poor sales, conduct field research in these regions to revisit your personas. In fact, don’t just challenge the personas, also explore the environment.

Here’s an example of why that matters: We developed a tool that relies on data from a hospital information system. This worked well in one clinic were staff was spread over different parts of the building, turning digital communication into an effective medium. In another hospital, however, the relevant people sat in the same room, making face-to-face communication significantly better than typing information into electronic records.

Takeaways:

  • Go beyond personas or archetypes and seek to understand the different realities between hospitals, wards, and regions.
  • Develop and constantly improve a rollout-playbook that lists local challenges and how you solved them to inform future expansions.

Sorry, Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Some UX researchers seem to believe that it is beneficial to enter an interview unprepared to avoid bias. Some shy away from acquiring relevant medical knowledge, thinking that (since they are not trained medical professionals) they won’t grasp the concepts anyway. Some feel that understanding the medical context of their interviewees’ situation will not add value to their research since they solely focus on the subjective experience of the disease.

But in evidence-based healthcare, conducting research on patients without previous peer-reviewed literature and guideline research is not only unprofessional but often even considered unethical. We should not fall prey to the illusion that ignorance frees us from bias.

The good news is that in healthcare, we are privileged to have a large body of well-conducted studies and systematic reviews available online, many of them free to access. PubMed is an excellent and open source, tutorials on how to use are abundantly available online (we think this is a good primer). Or if you have the budget, paid sites like UpToDate provide comprehensive disease reviews written both for professionals and for laypeople.

We know that UX researchers who are rightfully focused on ‘getting out of the building’ might not enjoy spending many hours on literature research but we are convinced that this will help you form better hypotheses and questions.

Moreover, if you start with clearly predefined research questions and seek answers in the scientific medical literature, you might save time and discover questions that you wouldn’t have thought of. For example, it is advised that individuals undergoing hip surgery should practice using crutches before the operation because it is already difficult enough even without the postoperative pain and swelling. This knowledge, obtained from literature research, could help move from more open questions, such as:

  • “How do patients prepare for a hip replacement surgery?” or
  • “What perceived needs to patients have ahead of hip surgery?”

To more concrete questions such as:

  • “What are the most important preparatory measures that many patients are currently unaware of?”

Takeaway:

  • Do a systematic literature review to inform your research.

Let The Data Guide You And You Guide The Data

To take this further, we’re also developing methods to use quantitative analytics and Deep Learning to guide our qualitative research. Our machine learning engineer just deployed AI to crawl the web for colon cancer blogs to identify hot topics that remained unmentioned in qualitative reviews. We defined “hot” as having many views, many comments, and many likes.

Or you can uncover semantic structures (see picture). These findings can then guide the UX researchers. Similarly, qualitative research can yield hypotheses that we can try to validate with passively collected data. For example, if you think that sleeping problems are common, you could (user consent provided) use your app to measure phone use at night as a proxy for sleeplessness.


Informing our researchers about hot topics in colon cancer using machine learning (topic modeling, credits Yuki Katoh and Ellen Hoeven)


Deploying topic modeling to find semantic structures in texts on colon cancer to inform our qualitative researchers. (Large preview)

Conclusion

Many of our suggestions are not new to well-trained UX researchers. We are aware of that. But in our experience, it is worth stressing the importance of mindfulness towards the three Bs: Biases, Barriers to trust, and Background. Here’s a summary of some of the recommendations to overcome the 3 Bs:

  • Prepare interviews with literature research on the topic (e.g., on Pubmed.gov).
  • Ask doctors which patients are suitable for interview.
  • Include those who care for your users, including nurses, therapists, and relatives.
  • Cooperate with the data scientists or web analysts in your team, if you have them.
  • Understand that it takes users time to build trust to tell you about some needs.
  • Explore how realities differ not only by personas, but also by regions and hospitals.
  • Stay aware that, no matter how much you try, the influence of the 3Bs can only be reduced, and not entirely removed.

We wish you well and thank you for making the world a healthier place.


The authors would like to thank their former colleague, Tim Leinert, for his thoughtful input to this piece.

Smashing Editorial
(cc, ra, yk, il)


See original article here: 

How To Deliver A Successful UX Project In The Healthcare Sector

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Psychology and The Perfect Design

In this talk, Joe will take you on a journey to find the holy grail we are all looking for: the “perfect” design. We’ll look at a practical strategy that uses psychology to produce the ideal design for those tricky user experience design problems we face everyday.
What exactly is the perfect design? Well, that’s what you will find out in the session. We’ll look at the three aspects that define the perfect design and how you can make it work in your projects.

More here:  

Psychology and The Perfect Design

Free Adobe XD Icon Sets Made By Legendary Designers

(This is a sponsored article.) Our friends at Adobe unveiled a very special goodie at the Awwwards Conference in Berlin today. A goodie which is too good to miss: They asked three renowned designers to create exclusive free icon sets to use in Adobe XD. And, well, we are very happy to feature them here on Smashing Magazine, too.
The icon kits were created by design legend Lance Wyman, award-winning design studio Anton & Irene, and the Swiss design group Büro Destruct.

See original article: 

Free Adobe XD Icon Sets Made By Legendary Designers

Naming Things In CSS Grid Layout

When first learning how to use Grid Layout, you might begin by addressing positions on the grid by their line number. This requires that you keep track of where various lines are on the grid, and also be aware of the fact the line numbers reverse if your site is displayed for a right-to-left language.

Naming Things In CSS Grid Layout

Built on top of this system of lines, however, are methods that enable the naming of lines and even grid areas. Using these methods enables easier placement of items by name rather than number, but also brings additional possibilities when creating systems for layout. In this article, I’ll take an in-depth look at the various ways to name lines and areas in CSS Grid Layout, and some of the interesting possibilities this creates.

The post Naming Things In CSS Grid Layout appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

Taken from – 

Naming Things In CSS Grid Layout

Don’t Ever Launch an Overlay Without This Checklist [FREE DOWNLOAD]

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Did you know I’m psychic? It’s true. Your favourite color is orange. You once lived on Chestnut Lane. You’ve googled “email best practices” at some point in your marketing career.

Okay, so one out of three ain’t bad — amirite?

The point is, best practices are important to marketers. Whether it’s email, landing pages or social media, best practices provide a jumping off point for a lot of what we do. And guess what, overlays — whether you’re already using them or thinking about using them — are no exception.

Overlays can sometimes get a bad rap for being intrusive or irrelevant. Often, though, these UX offenders are simply not designed or targeted with best practices in mind.

So, before you launch a new overlay…

Download the 24-Point Overlay Checklist

Never launch another mediocre overlay.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

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Don’t Ever Launch an Overlay Without This Checklist [FREE DOWNLOAD]

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

How about trying a very different drawing technique or illustration style for your next project? Maybe a weird geometric shape? Or a more abstract form? Or a retro-futuristic color scheme? Not sure about you, but holiday or no holiday, my need for some fresh inspiration never stops.
This month, I’ve continued my journey in search for some inspiring and beautiful artwork — and I’ve found some real treasures! As a designer, I feel that there is so much that I can learn from the techniques and color combinations in these little gems.

Original source: 

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

The Silent Landing Page Conversion Killer (And How to Stop It)

When creating a landing page, you’ve likely wondered, “How much copy should I include?” — a question to which copywriters usually reply, “Well, that depends…”

And it really does depend on the complexity of your offer and about a billion other factors.

Crafting concise copy is tough, so it’s only natural that many landing pages contain too many details.

You might be thinking, “Don’t added details help build a persuasive case for your landing page offer?” (Hey, sometimes you have a high-commitment offer on the table and y’gotta include what’cha gotta include.)

Well, yes… and no.

Including too much irrelevant info on your landing pages is dangerous because it dilutes your message, overwhelms visitors and hurts your conversion rate. If your visitors are slammed with excess copy, they can’t quickly determine what you’re offering, identify whether they want your offer or convert with your (buried) CTA.

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Don’t stand by and watch your landing page conversions get murdered by excess copy. Image via Shutterstock.

You can often recognize a page suffering from information overload because it’ll use external links to direct visitors to even more info (oof!). Using links this way directs your visitors away from your page and, once visitors navigate elsewhere, you’ve lost a conversion opportunity.

Because excess copy is such a common problem, in this post we’ll explore:

  • How to tell if your landing page suffers from info overload
  • How to distinguish between need-to-know and nice-to-know information, and
  • How to start including nice-to-know info on your landing pages without the visual clutter that hurts conversion rates

But first…

Why your pages might suffer from information overload

Typically, people err on the side of too much copy on their landing pages for the following reasons:

  • The page is trying to be everything to everybody. Imagine if Adobe made a landing page for Photoshop and used just one page to appeal to designers, publishing houses, design schools and potential employees. This would result in including too many benefits. If you want your page to convert, you need to be clear on your persona and their specific needs.
  • You’re not clear on your target audience’s stage in the buyer journey. Is your copy trying to appeal to customers in the discovery phase (those who are encountering your product or service for the very first time), or leads in the evaluation stage (determining if they want to purchase from you or a competitor)? Your audience’s level of familiarity with you will inform the amount of detail you should include.
  • There’s confusion around how much info visitors need to convert. Sometimes offers are complex or high-commitment (like a conference ticket purchase) and you need to include fine details. Ask yourself (and test) which details are absolutely essential to persuade prospects to convert.
  • You’re disregarding web writing best practices. Large paragraphs of text are overwhelming and people don’t read web pages like they do books. Everybody scans text online, so break up your copy into easily digestible pieces.
  • The page contains more than one offer — meaning it’s not really operating as a true landing page with only one CTA). Stick to one single landing page (and a singular goal) for each offer you pitch.

An example of info overload in real life

To help illustrate how a good page and good intentions can become a victim to excess copy, let’s take a look at a real example. Art & Victus, an online monthly food subscription box, set up an Unbounce lead gen landing page to collect subscribers for their service:

Art&Victuswithoughtlightbox

The page’s CTA prompts visitors for their email address in exchange for an access code to the invite-only food service.

Great, right?

But this page has limited conversion potential because it includes so much unnecessary info. Just look at those two massive paragraphs!

Moreover, the curators of the service are featured on the page using external links to their social profiles. If visitors click these links, they leave the page and the opportunity to convert is gone. We’re lookin’ at a classic case of info overload, folks.

The large paragraphs of text are signs that Art & Victus haven’t clearly defined need-to-know info versus nice-to-know info for the target audience of this landing page. Decluttering the page to display absolutely needed info more prominently would help this brand prompt a desire for their subscription service and hopefully increase this page’s conversion rate.

Pro tip: Info overload is often a result of skipping the copy development phase in a rush to build a page. Always write your copy first, then start your design in the your page builder.

Introducing a helpful hierarchy

High-converting landing pages often follow a logical sequence of info that’s designed to persuade. The hierarchy is based on answers your target audience need to know to evaluate the offer on a base level, and these answers are provided in order of their importance (or relevance to the call to action).

While the Art & Victus’ example landing page is packed with seemingly random details on the monthly food themes, their food charity and even their reward points, these details don’t directly contribute to a visitor’s decision to want to sign up to receive a subscription box. The audience of the page needs to see other info first.

When creating copy for your pages, consider the questions your potential customers will ask and the order they might ask those questions in.

If a piece of info is directly relevant to your CTA – explaining the offer, or how to claim your offer – it’s need-to-know info. If it’s info describing an extra of any kind (like Art & Victus’ food themes, a charity your company takes part in, or your loyalty points), it’s likely nice-to-know info that you’ll want to include after your key points are covered.

It’s helpful to rank each piece of copy’s direct relevance to your CTA (like we’ve done below) as a means of deciding where it should be placed in the visual design of your page.

The more relevant something is to your CTA, the closer it should appear to the top of the linear design of your landing page.

For Art & Victus’ offer, the hierarchy might look something like this:

information hierarchy
* Including price is tricky and at your discretion for your industry/offer. You can choose to include it on your pages if you believe visitors need pricing information to convert.

But what about all those nice-to-know details?

On the example page shown above, Art & Victus had a lot of nice-to-know info they wanted to convey, like their reward points, the custom guide included in the box to help you learn about the food, profiles of the individuals preparing the boxes and more.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to strategically sprinkle in nice-to-know info on your landing pages without the visual clutter associated with information overload…

Lightboxes: A remedy for excess copy

Lightboxes are modal windows that open over a landing page, filling the screen and dimming the content behind. They allow you to prominently display content requested by your page visitor (your visitors click a button to prompt them). You can see an example lightbox for a speaker bio below:

lightbox bio

Lightboxes help you add nice-to-know details onto your landing pages (like speaker bios, featured products, your privacy policy or terms of service), all the while keeping your audience’s focus on your CTA. By designing your page with these in mind, you can include information a visitor would otherwise have to navigate away from your page to find.

Art & Victus could make their landing page offer more clear by using lightboxes to feature their nice-to-know information. After addressing all of their must-have info prominently, they could add lightboxes like:

  • “Reward Points”
  • “Also included in your box”
  • “Who curates our boxes?”

They could also use lightboxes to:

  • Outline the three different types of boxes available in their service (i.e. “Intro box,” “Amateur box” and “Expert Box”)
  • Feature the curators’ profiles for those interested (instead of linking out to external profiles and losing potential subscribers).

Each lightbox would be triggered by visitors who want or need extra info before they convert (some will, some won’t), and would help to break up the massive paragraphs on the page.

Start using lightboxes to unclutter your pages

You too can use lightboxes to combat info overload and tidy up your copy.

Here are some examples of nice-to-have content that fits nicely in lightboxes:

  • Speaker bios: Include details about your keynotes or location in a lightbox so visitors don’t navigate away from a potential ticket purchase.
  • Extras and fine details: Extra product features, limitations, terms and contest rules
  • Privacy policies: Every landing page collecting lead info should link to a privacy policy, but you don’t want to link away from your page. Include your policy in a lightbox so visitors don’t veer off-course.
  • leadgenform
  • Lead gen forms – It’s a fairly popular marketing trend to include your contact form for a call to action in a lightbox. This tactic takes advantage of buyer psychology by empowering your visitor to decide when they’re ready to fill out your form. Check out this post to learn more about why you’d want to include a form in a lightbox.

Examine your own pages for potential lightbox opportunities

Start by reviewing your existing landing pages to see where they might be suffering from info overload.

Remember to check if you’re linking out to external pages — this is a sure sign that you’re confusing need-to-know and nice-to-know information.

Start making the distinction between these two info types for your audience, organizing your page with a better information hierarchy, and you’ll have a more streamlined message and more conversions in no time.

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The Silent Landing Page Conversion Killer (And How to Stop It)

How To Get A Logo Accepted: 8 Steps To A Better Design Workflow

On Dribbble, brand designers are in the minority. The greater part of the Dribbble community comprises those who deal with interfaces, UX and animations. So when traveling to Gdańsk, Poland last July to their first Dribbble Meetup, I expected to meet a similar audience. Indeed, there were mostly freelance web designers and multidisciplinary folks who have been asked to design a logo at least once.
However, I decided not to talk about how to create a good logo.

Excerpt from: 

How To Get A Logo Accepted: 8 Steps To A Better Design Workflow

3 Brilliant Copywriting Formulas for Crafting More Persuasive Landing Pages

You know that telling a story is a great way to write high-converting landing page copy. Thing is, you might not fancy yourself much of a storyteller. As much as you appreciate a good tale, when you go to spin one yourself, your words fall flat (and so do your conversions).

But what if there was a formula you could follow to piece together a compelling narrative that’s sure to resonate with your ideal customer?

Better yet, what if there was an entire toolbox of formulas you could use?

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In our latest Unwebinar, expert copywriter and Write With Influence founder Amy Harrison shared three easy-to-follow-but-super-effective formulas for piecing together a captivating story on your landing page.

Watch the webinar recording here, or keep reading for a summary of three new formulas for your landing page copywriting toolbox.

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Tell a story no one’s heard before

The story you tell on your landing page should be compelling, but Amy explained that it also has to be unique:

You want to show that what you have is valuable, but also different from the competition.

Even for verticals like real estate where offerings are similar across competitors, you can still stand out by telling a different story.

Easier said than done, though, right? But Amy’s got a tool to help.

Tool: Combination Uniqueness, AKA The Headline Shaker Maker

combination-uniqueness-shaker-maker
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

The table above allows you to break down each of your product or service’s features, along with all the ways it impacts your customers: results, opportunities, problems solved and emotional benefits. And then there’s a column for adding a smidgen of urgency to your offer.

Here’s a table she filled out for a client who offers English courses for international businesses:

combination-uniqueness-shaker-maker-example
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

Amy explained that while you might have similar features to your competitors, laying out all the key elements of your product or service like this allows you to reveal unique elements that you can highlight in your landing page copy.

These were the elements she identified as being most important to her client’s prospects:

combination-uniqueness-shaker-maker-example-highlight
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

With that, Amy was able to put together a strong unique value proposition statement — which she explained is an important building block for writing strong landing page headlines in particular:

Instead of coming up with a headline out of thin air, we’re taking a couple of steps to highlight things that you know are important to your customer.

In other words, instead of having to write headlines based on everything you know about your product, you can craft it out of a few key pieces. The result? Super-targeted, unique headlines that are sure to woo prospects.

Here are some of the headlines she wrote for her client, based on the highlighted elements above:

  • Compete for (and Win) New Business Internationally with Workforce Fluent in English
  • ABC English for Employees: Helping your Business Expand into New Markets
  • See Employees Using English Accurately and Confidently in Just 6 Weeks

Amy explained that these headlines will help her client stand out from competitors offering this service, who might have plain headlines like, “English Classes for Employees.”

Her headlines are targeted to a customer’s interest, which helps the headline sound unique by striking to the heart of what the customer wants.

Or as Amy puts it:


Make your customer feel like your headline is written just for them & you’ll stand out. @HarrisonAmy
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Tell a story that cuts deep with prospects

If you want prospects to believe that you have the solution to their problem, then you need to show them that you understand that problem to begin with.

And as Amy explained, this can be achieved by speaking to your visitor’s symptoms.

Tool: Use symptoms in your copy

Symptoms, Amy explained, are “vivid situations that occur in your customer’s life as a result of the problem that you solve.” While a doctor may know that a flu is the problem, a patient uses different, symptom-based language: they describe their fever, lethargy and aching bones.

Incorporating symptoms into your copy is an effective strategy because they:

  • Get prospects nodding along with you.
  • Show prospects that you have a super intimate understanding of their problem, which makes them more likely to be receptive of your solution.

Amy illustrated with a poor example from another one of her clients, an analytics firm:

analytics-firm-problem-copywriting
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

The issue with the excerpt above is that it leads with the solution without first identifying with the visitor’s symptoms. This is problematic because the company’s competitors offer that same solution. There’s nothing to distinguish the two competitors in the mind of the visitor.

But here’s a rewrite of the above, instead leading with the symptoms of the prospect’s problem:

analytics-firm-symptoms-copywriting
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

This copy highlights a specific symptom that will get prospects nodding their head “yes” and feeling like this firm understands their problem and is uniquely qualified to offer a solution.

Amy also shared a formula for incorporating symptoms naturally into your landing page narrative:

  1. Here’s what you may have recognized (symptoms)
  2. Here’s what causing them (problem)
  3. Here’s what you need to do (cure)
  4. Here’s what’s possible if you do (results)

What does this look like in practice?

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Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

Showing this depth of understanding demonstrates to prospects that you understand where you’re coming from — and it paints you as an expert.


Use symptoms in your copy to show that you feel prospects’ pain and are uniquely qualified to help.
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Tell a story with a happy ending

As much as you want to show prospects that you understand how their problem impacts their life now, you also want to paint a picture of how things could be with the help of your solution.

Aaaand you may have guessed it, but Amy’s got a tool for that, too.

Tool: The Impact Table

The Impact Table is a tool that Amy uses to take each feature and clearly articulate what the impact will be on prospects’ lives — on both a practical and emotional level:

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Features are hard facts about your service of product, whereas Results and Emotion are the benefits it brings prospects. Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

As Amy puts it:

An Impact Table gives you an at-a-glance view of the transformation you provide to customers – while showing how you do it.

Here’s the Impact Table in action, using an example of a conference company that holds many conferences each year. Note that Amy filled the table out for a single feature:

the-impact-table-amy-harrison-example
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

Amy explained that looking at these individual elements makes it easier for you to then build out sentences for your landing page:

impact-table-build-sentences
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

Here’s an example of copy that she put together for the conference company, based on their Impact Table above:

impact-table-build-sentences-example
Image via Amy Harrison’s recent Unwebinar.

Using the Impact Table ensures that you write landing page copy that speaks to the things that customers are truly interested in. And Amy encouraged attendees to be as specific as possible:

The more specific you are, the more persuasive your landing page copy will be.

Will your landing pages have a happy ending?

Most authors won’t sit down to write a story without having some vision of the beginning, middle and end.

Similarly, before you can tell a unique and compelling story on your landing page, you need to know all your plot points: the things prospects need to hear in order to convert — which is exactly what Amy’s copywriting formulas will help you uncover.

Happy writing!

Read the article: 

3 Brilliant Copywriting Formulas for Crafting More Persuasive Landing Pages

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Behind Every Click, There’s a Person [PODCAST]

clicks-are-people-podcast-th
Image via thestoacks.im.

Every marketer (and their mom) knows the importance of running campaigns that are data-driven.

But if you’ve got your head down optimizing for conversions, you can become blinded by that data — and forget that behind every click, there’s a person.

Creating better marketing experiences for the person behind the click was a recurring theme at MozCon 2015 — and it’s what Chelsea Scholz, Campaign Strategist at Unbounce, discusses passionately in this week’s episode of the Call to Action podcast.

You will learn:

  • The three key ingredients that make up a solid brand strategy.
  • Why content written for everyone really winds up being for no one.
  • Unbounce’s recent outside-the-box marketing campaign idea which has been effective at providing value to people and collecting leads.

Listen to the podcast

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Download via iTunes.
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Mentioned in the podcast

Read the transcript

Unbounce’s Content Strategist Dan Levy, interviews Chelsea Scholz, Jr. Campaign Strategist at Unbounce.

Dan Levy: All right. You wrote in your post that if you’re feeling frustrated by the results that you’re seeing from your campaigns, it might actually be because you’re focusing too much on the medium that you’re using to reach people and not the people themselves. What do you mean by that?

Chelsea Scholz: So we get really focused on doing things like writing emails to see click-throughs or optimizing a landing page so that Google recognizes it. And that really ends up making us forget the who that we’re actually sending these marketing initiatives to. We’re sending emails to our customers and we’re creating customers for our leads. Those are people back there. And they’re ultimately what drives our bottom line; not the metric. So I find it to be kind of like one of those things that seems so obvious. It’s not obvious. We focus on the analytics when there’s a person back there who’s making that happen for us. And the more we understand that person, I think we’d see a better lift. And we do, in fact, see a better lift in our conversions than our click-throughs, what have you, because we’re focusing on the person.

Dan: Right. And you take us through different strategies that you could use to make sure you’re creating more person-centered marketing experiences. The first one was kind of surprising, though. It was developing a solid brand strategy. And I feel like the word “brand” is a bit controversial, maybe; like some use it way too loosely and vaguely while others tend to dismiss it as, like, fluff and not a tactical word. So I was wondering, what does the term “brand strategy” mean to you?

Chelsea: Brand strategy to me means that you’ve developed a solid core reasoning behind why your business does what it does. And you’ve clearly developed the story around that. It’s a bit like building a snowman. Your business is the snow but you present it to the world in a way that’s delightful, recognizable and interactive by creating snowballs. And then you decorate the snowman with a hat and buttons so that it’s uniquely your own. And this is something that I’ve heard from a lot of different people, that you should envision your brand as a person. In my case, it’s a snowman but same dif, you know?

Dan: How about the carrot nose? What does that represent?

Chelsea: The conversion carrot, Dan.

Dan: Oh, of course.

Chelsea: Ho, ho, ho. There are layers, right, like to your brand and it has to be organized in such a way that everyone can buy into it and believe in it, both internally and externally. Otherwise, you just end up with a pile of snow in your front yard that looks like anybody else’s yard, you know?

Dan: Yeah, so at MozCon, Dana DiTomaso said that the idea of a strong brand strategy needs to go beyond what most people think about it, which is like logos and colors and just dressing, and that it involves three key ingredients. Can you take us through what those were?

Chelsea: Sure. So for the record, Dana is one of my favorite marketers on the planet. She is incredible and I loved hearing her talk –

Dan: She’s great.

Chelsea: – at both MozCon and our own CTA conference this year. So her three key ingredients to a strong brand strategy are keeping it as simple as possible, which again seems so obvious. It’s not obvious. It’s not rocket science. Just lay it out there in really clear, simple language. So the second is keeping it consistent across all channels, both online and offline. So for example, if you host an annual conference each year, and that looks and feels nothing like an email you’d send on an average day, there’s an issue there. And number three is make it a living, breathing document that is a true expression of your company and reflects your company’s core values. So this is something that really resonated with me because it sparked a conversation between believing in brand coaching, not brand policing. So there are companies that have one person who lives and breathes the brand and that’s fantastic. But if everyone at your company doesn’t understand why somebody is doing that, it comes off as a brand dictator of sorts. What you want is to be able to explain and embrace the brand among a lot of the people at your company – if not everybody – by coaching them through why you do what you do, as well as things like what colors you should use and what logos go where.

Dan: Yeah, so I mean I guess you said a living, breathing document meaning that it needs to be something transparent and accessible to all people in the company, that they could kind of refer back to and use as a bible, right?

Chelsea: Yeah, definitely.

Dan: Cool. Well, one thing I know you took away from Wil Reynolds is that when you understand the people behind the click, you’re coming up with a solution that can easily be disrupted. Can you unpack that one?

Chelsea: I think what Wil was talking about here is that you get to a point where you know your audience so well that you can picture a face and a name that you’re talking to. That’s personas, right? But when you do that, you’re crafting a message so targeted and so convincing because you’re talking to the person like a human; it seems really, really simple. You can convey a message properly because you know them intimately. And when you do that, the person feels connected to you, to your brand and to your product in return. This makes your service or whatever you’re offering indestructible.

Dan: Right, because I guess the market could change and tools could change, but people fundamentally will always be the same.

Chelsea: Right. Companies pivot all the time, and it’s especially true of startups. So if you establish a brand that’s so strong and you talk to people like you know them, they’re gonna come with you.

Dan: Well, you mentioned personas, so let’s talk a little bit about personalization and segmentation, which seem to be major buzz words this year. Kristina Halvorson, I think, said that if content is for everybody, then it really is for nobody. And you know that resonates with me as a content strategist; that applies to campaign strategy, as well. And Cara Harshman at Optimizely proposed a three-tiered who, what, how framework for personalization. I was wondering if you could break that down and maybe tell us what that would look like in the context of a campaign that you’ve actually worked on.

Chelsea: Yeah. So again, it’s all about relating back to your user. If you know who you’re talking to, it’s going to be a much better experience for everybody involved — as the marketer on this side of the computer, as the recipient on the virtual other side. So the best example I can think of is something that we recently did — the email marketing for CTA Conference. Our goal was to sell tickets in an online medium to attend an offline event. And it can get tricky. But we broke down a series of emails based on target audiences, messages and intent. Big props, again, to our event marketing manager at the time, Stefanie Grieser as this was a bit of her brainchild. Together, we looked at where people were physically coming from to attend the event and came up with an email campaign called “You Fly, We Buy,” and that email had us target people who weren’t in driving distance of Vancouver. And we sent them an email explaining that we recognized that they’d have to travel a long way to get here and would give them a huge discount on tickets if they paid for their flight over. It worked tremendously well because we understood their dilemma; that flights in combination with tickets was going to be too expensive for them. Similarly, we targeted people who were actually in the area or within driving distance of Vancouver, like Oregon and Washington, and gave them also an incentive to buy a ticket because they were so close to us already.

Dan: Oh, that’s cool. So in that case, you used the fact that they were close so you might as well take care of a ticket for them?

Chelsea: Yeah.

Dan: Then what were some of the results of these campaigns?

Chelsea: Those are one of the two highest-performing emails we had had for the Call to Action Conference. I really attribute it to the fact that we recognized what somebody’s problem might be. Because attending events can be expensive and cause a lot of travel. You’ve got to take time off, you’ve got to go through your boss to get some sort of networking budget to cover going to these things and justify your reason to go. So we put that all into a simplified email. Our language showed our solution to their problem was simple and those emails had an incredible conversion rate to people who actually bought tickets.

Dan: It’s funny. I feel like sometimes just letting people know that you understand their problem is half the battle.

Chelsea: Amen.

Dan: Right? Then they’re just more likely to say – especially when it’s an event — “Well, actually these people really understand and they understand where I’m coming from as a marketer so I’ll probably get a lot of value out of this event.” So it actually dovetails pretty well with the content that you were providing.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean think about it like you were standing on a street corner and you had two different people trying to sell you tickets to the same event. One guy is just repeating the name of his conference over and over and over again at you. And you’re kind of like: oh, that’s weird and robotic. And then you get another guy who is like: hey, Dan, I really want you to come to this conference but I know you live far away. So how about we work out a plan where you buy your ticket to fly here and we’ll help you out on the ticket cost for the actual event? And then we can both hang out.

Dan: Totally, yeah. And you know, that guy’s like: I’m a marketer, you’re a marketer; I understand your problems.

Chelsea: Exactly.

Dan: And I guess that’s one of the benefits of being marketers marketing to marketers is you kind of get that.

Chelsea: Yep.

Dan: So your post is a great distillation of the speakers at MozCon. But you went to Seattle to launch one of your own campaigns, as well, which was live note taking. Can you tell us where you got the idea for that and what it looked like?

Chelsea: Yeah, totally. So earlier this year, around February or March, we were talking about sponsorships for conferences and what we could do that was different that made us stood out as a company but still provided a lot of value for the audience we were hitting (instead of doing something just like a trade show booth). And what we found valuable from one of our last conferences was when you take notes, it’s a really easy way to distribute and pass along information that’s valuable to a lot of people who are there and not there. So what I came up with was a way to turn a landing page into a live blogging tool where we embedded a Google Doc and had a couple of writers live note take the entire conference. And then in return, we would advertise during that conference — on things like social and via word of mouth from networking — that you could download a PDF of these notes at the end of the conference and that there were a couple of writers from Unbounce who were just taking care of this for you. And it was a wonderful campaign because it was a way to highlight different way of using landing pages, how our tool worked, and offering a valuable marketing piece for those who were attending because you always want to take notes back to your boss, or to your other colleagues… or just plain remember what you had listened to while you were there. And what I turned our live note taking into was an incentive for brand awareness, as well as a way for us to capture new subscribers for our blog list.

Dan: And what were some of the results? I know that you did this I think at a couple other conferences as well, right?

Chelsea: Yes. I did this at Hero Conf in Portland –

Dan: Yep, I was there. I was a note taker there.

Chelsea: You were? Traction Conf in Vancouver, which you were also a note taker for.

Dan: Yeah, I was the note taker at that one. That was exhausting.

Chelsea: And then we did it at MozCon and I actually switched roles a little bit and was a writer there, along with our other Unbouncer Cody. That was a different experience for me. I totally understand some of the pain you go through, now. Of course we do it for our own conf, as well. But I think MozCon was definitely the most successful of all of those this year because of the size and the kind of audience that Moz already brings in. they have over 1200 attendees, I believe, and they have a similar audience of marketers to what Unbounce has. And we have a great relationship with them as a partner. So it was all around a great fit and we were a sponsor of that conference. My main goal for the note taking part for that campaign was brand awareness, of course, followed closely by blog signups. And I set a goal for myself of 1400 unique, non-customer users to my landing page which would essentially help hit almost every marketer that was attending and some outside that maybe couldn’t make it. And 250 new subscribers for our blog as a result of people wanting the PDF.

Dan: So that was your goal.

Chelsea: That was my goal. And what I actually ended up with was 2,063 unique non-customers to my page and 372 new blog subscribers in just one month after the campaign had run.

Dan: Wow, that’s awesome.

Chelsea: Yeah. And I’ve also found that these note taking landing pages have withstood the test of time, as people always want to read about conferences even if it’s well after they’re over. So today – I checked back this morning – and we have over 800 unique new blog subscribers as a result of that note taking initiative from Moz alone. They can live forever. They act as a great way for people to come up and search for you if you’re doing your SEO right. And a couple other of my posts had been picked up by other publications so it kind of spread that message again and it’s just been a great way and a great campaign for brand awareness and blog.

Dan: Yeah. Yeah, we’ve used it – talking about conversion carrots, we’ve used that in some of our blog posts and also in some of our blog posts that have been syndicated in other places like Search Engine Journal. It’s a great way to continue to get that content out there and continue to generate leads from it.

Chelsea: Yeah.

Dan: So the year is drawing to a close, believe it or not. And I think now is a time when us marketers get a little bit more reflective. So I was wondering, what would you say were your biggest lessons of this year in terms of what goes into running a successful marketing campaign?

Chelsea: Yeah. For me personally, I think the biggest lesson was that we need to market for the man and not the medium or the metric. And it was a really big wakeup call for me because as marketers, we get really focused on performance reports and hitting KPIs. And you forget that there are people back there that are interacting with your product and paying you for your product. If you can relate to them a little more by interacting with them as a friend and as just a general person, it really helps conversion rates. It’s easy to forget this because we’re shielded by our screens. You wouldn’t talk to your sister or your best friend like she was a stranger, so why would you do that to somebody you want to join your mission?

Dan: So have you taken that lesson and applied that to the way you approach campaigns that you’ve run at Unbounce?

Chelsea: Well, specifically for email I find myself asking, like, if I were to read this cold to my personal Gmail, do I relate to this person? Do I understand, like am I seeing a face, are we using people that are real? Do I feel like this person actually wrote this email and it’s not just coming from somebody as a sign off? Like I really try and work with our copywriters to get to the core of the thing.

Dan: I was just going to say it’s funny because you talk about writing emails as if you’re just a human writing an email to a friend of yours. But at the same time, you mention like multiple reviews. So I imagine that with like multiple people reviewing an email and weighing in, it must be difficult to maintain that singular human voice.

Chelsea: Yeah. I mean this is the challenge marketers face, right? Like if you’re a one stop shop, it could be easier to pull that off. But at the same time, it’s really good to work in collaboration with some really smart people, but you have more cooks in the kitchen. So I’m finding a really good balance between having one copywriter right now and one or two reviewers because we all understand the brand, we all understand the message of the campaign and it’s actually not that bad when trying to solidify a single voice. It comes with challenges, of course, and sometimes you’ll never agree. But again, like I mentioned, the pure thought of just going through that process with the goal in mind of talking like a person and reading like a person helps immensely.

Dan: Right. And I think what you said about actually putting yourself in the position of the person receiving the email, like imagining you getting that email in your own inbox probably helps a lot because you’re not just thinking about your voice and the voice that you’re putting out there, but you’re thinking about the person receiving that message and what they’re hearing. So you are getting back to that singular person in that case.

Chelsea: Yeah, definitely. And we at Unbounce have a really good culture of like talking about other people’s emails and how great they are, and how personalized they feel. Or like, that image was great. And so I think the conversation is always open, which is really nice; we’re not stuck by any means. And we’re even starting to do experimentation with things like plain text emails. So it even just looks like somebody just wrote you a straight up Gmail email.

Dan: Right, something that our copywriter is putting together based on our brand voice and our brand guidelines is like an email specific kind of editorial bible that everybody could refer to.

Chelsea: Yeah, it’s gonna be awesome.

Dan: Any other big lessons from this year that you want to share?

Chelsea: Yeah, I think aside from like doing things like being more personal and getting a really strong brand strategy, I think it’s really hitting home lately that we take more risks and we move more quickly where we can. The internet really waits for no man, right? So digital marketing needs to do the same and the more we can kind of make those quick wins, the better it will be. And it gets harder the bigger we get. But keeping that in mind is allowing us to do exactly that and I think 2016 will be filled with areas for us to take more risk and disrupt ourselves a little bit more.

Dan: I wanted to ask you about that. What are your New Year’s marketing resolutions? What do you hope to do better in 2016 than you did this year?

Chelsea: Besides hitting the gym more often?

Dan: That counts.

Chelsea: I’d like to keep developing our brand in email strategies and keeping them fresh. It’s something I’m very active and passionate about and I can’t wait to keep getting really personal with all of it and working with our team to do that same sort of brand coaching where we all get it, we all understand and we’re getting right there to the point with our emails where it’s one-on-one, it feels like, with our audience.

Dan: Yeah, and that’s a really good point about keeping it fresh, as well. Because once you do have your brand set in writing and guidelines there for anybody to go and refer back to, I guess the danger is that you – they’ve become canonized and they’ve become stuck and you don’t want to get yourself in that situation, either, do you?

Chelsea: Yeah, everyone faces that problem with developing and maintaining a strong strategy for brand. It’s something that needs to remain constant but requires work. It’s like a marriage, in that sense. You put time into developing and growing together and it’s really great when you finally have that bible and you get married. But if you don’t work on the relationship between you and your brand, you’re headed for a big, colorful divorce.

Dan: Right. Yeah, it’s good to keep growing but you need to grow in the same direction.

Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, I really like it. I really like talking about this stuff to you and I think aside from the additional stuff we talked about, with like what are the biggest things I learned this year, I really hit a point in my career, personally this year, where I think my shtick is like human-centered marketing.

Dan: I like that. Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve been thinking about that and the term I’m using is like humanistic marketing.

Chelsea: Yes!

Dan: I’ve actually been thinking about writing a blog post about that.

Chelsea: Yes, yes, yes. Sometimes it’s really, really hard for me because I’ve worked with people for so long who are so numbers focused. And I get it. I get that it’s important and we’ve got to reach certain targets. But it kills me a lot of the time to think about the person and how they’re feeling, but what is the number?

Dan: I think that’s one of the things that sets us apart, though. Like really important in, like, definitely in content. Andy Cresodina calls it empathetic marketing or empathetic content marketing. It’s like you start with the person’s problem and how you could solve it.

Chelsea: Yes.

Dan: Well, thank you so much for the marriage advice and the marketing advice, Chelsea.

Chelsea: No problem.

Dan: Great to chat.

Chelsea: It was great. Thank you so much for having me, guys.

Stephanie: That was Chelsea Scholz, Jr. Campaign Strategist at Unbounce.

Transcript by GMR Transcription.


Read More:

Behind Every Click, There’s a Person [PODCAST]