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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us to landing page idea number three…

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

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

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

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

Click to view the full-length landing page.

Clicking the CTA button triggers a form gating the tour:

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

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

Example test of hero image variants

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

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

And another where the kitchen takes the spotlight:

The takeaway here?

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

4. Offer up relevant listings to abandoning visitors

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

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

Unbounce Convertables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to view full-length landing page.

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

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

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

Ready to build your digital property?

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

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

View this article – 

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

New to the Unbounce Builder: 10 Data-Backed, Industry-Specific Landing Page Templates

When Unbounce published our Conversion Benchmark Report, we wanted to empower marketers like us to take a more data-driven approach to optimizing their landing pages.

The report documents our findings after using machine learning to analyze the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages belonging to 10 of our most popular customer industries.

For each industry, the report summarizes average (and good and bad) conversion rates, and how certain variables — such as reading ease, page length and emotion — impact how likely a prospect is to convert.

Our hope was that these findings would help marketers make data-informed decisions when writing copy for their landing pages. But at Unbounce, we also like to eat our own dog food.

So when our design team was recently wireframing new landing page templates for the Unbounce builder, they looked to the report (and to commonalities between the 10 highest converting customer landing pages in each industry) to inform design decisions.

The result?

10 brand spankin’ new landing page templates for 10 of our most popular customer industries: Travel, Real Estate, Business Consulting, Business Services, Credit & Lending, Health, Higher Education, Home Improvement, Legal and Vocational Studies & Job Training.

Grab the report (which includes full benchmarks and copy recommendations for your industry) below, or keep reading for a sneak peek at five of our 10 new templates (check them all out here).

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)

By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

Business Services: Harbor Template

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report uses an Emotion Lexicon and Machine Learning to determine whether words associated with eight basic emotions (anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, surprise and trust) affect overall conversion rates.

In the Business Services industry, Unbounce data scientists found that trust is an important emotion to convey. In fact, if more than 8% of your language implies trust, you could see some improvement in your conversion rates.

To complement trustworthy copy, Unbounce designers added a section to the Business Services Harbor Template to flaunt relevant trust seals and certifications, directly under the CTA. It also includes a pretty aesthetically pleasing optional video background:

And here’s one more data-backed copywriting tip for the road:

Be as concise as you can. Overall, Unbounce data scientists found that pages with fewer than 100 words convert 50% better than those with more than 500 words.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how word count is related to conversion rates for the Business Services industry. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Business Consulting: Marconato Consulting Template

You’ll notice the landing page template below that Unbounce designers created is quite short.

That’s because Unbounce data scientists found that every additional 250 words on a Business Consulting industry landing page correlates with 20% lower conversion rates.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how word count is related to conversion rates for the Business Consulting industry. On the x-axis we have word count — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

You’ll notice that the template is a lead generation page offering an incentive such as an ebook. Our designers made this decision because they found that the top 10 highest converting Business Consulting landing pages they analyzed offered content instead of simply inviting visitors to “get in touch.”

One more thing to keep in mind when writing copy for this template?

Using any words that might evoke feelings of disgust in your audience (words like “blame,” “cheat,” “collapse,” “disaster,” and “offend”) could be hurting your conversion rates.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes disgust is related to conversion rates for the Business consulting industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to disgust — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Real Estate: ALLHËR Template

When Unbounce designers analyzed the 10 highest converting customer landing pages in the Real Estate industry, they found (unsurprisingly) that the pages were chock full of imagery: beautiful hero shots of the interior and exterior of properties, maps, full-width photography backgrounds and floor plans.

They took a cue from this when creating the visually striking ALLHËR Template:

And just because we like ya, here’s a bonus tip to keep in mind when you’re writing copy for your Real Estate landing page:

Unbounce data scientists saw a slight negative trend for pages in the Real Estate industry using more fear-inducing terms.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes fear is related to conversion rates for the Real Estate industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to fear — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

If more than half a percent of your copy evokes feelings of fear, you could be hurting your conversion rates.

Here are some words commonly associated with fear on Real Estate lead capture landing pages: highest, fire, problem, watch, change, confidence, mortgage, eviction, cash, risk… (See the full list in the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.)

Travel: Wayfaring Template

For the Travel Industry, Unbounce designers once again created a template that is quite visually striking, with a video background that transports you:

The emphasis on imagery in this template isn’t only a design choice; Unbounce data scientists found that in the Travel industry, landing pages with clear and concise language tend to perform best.

The large images complement the minimal copy boxes, which encourage you to explain what you are offering as simply as possible.

And here’s one final bonus copywriting tip, pulled straight from the Conversion Benchmark Report:

When writing copy for the Travel industry, keep language positive. If even just 1% of page copy subconsciously reminds your visitors of feelings of anger or fear, you could be seeing up to 25% lower conversion rates. No one wants to be angry on their vacation!

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how the percentage of copy that evokes anger is related to conversion rates for the Travel industry. On the x-axis we have the percentage of copy that uses words related to anger — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

Here’s a selection of commonly used words associated with anger in Travel, pulled from the Emotion Lexicon: limited, tree, money, hot, desert, endless, challenge, treat, fee, feeling, rail, stone, bear, buffet, lynch, bang, cash, cross, despair, shooting.

Higher Education: McGillis University Template

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report indicates that for the Higher Education industry, the highest converting lead generation landing pages are short and sweet.

On average, pages using 125 words or less have 15% higher conversion rates. With this in mind, Unbounce designers created a short but punchy McGillis University Template for the Higher Education industry:

Bonus data-backed tip to help you fill this template with high-converting copy:

Higher Education is one of the few industries where targeting college educated reading levels has similar landing page conversion rates to copy targeting 7th graders.

This chart from the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report shows how reading ease is related to conversion rates for the Higher Education industry. On the x-axis we have the Flesch Reading Ease scale — on the y-axis, conversion rate.

At the end of the day, when you’re writing copy for your Higher University landing page, don’t stress about reading levels too much — if you are communicating complicated concepts to a highly educated audience, it’s okay to use big words.

Let the data guide you

There you have it, five of the 10 data-backed templates that have just been launched in the Unbounce builder. Do you belong to an industry that wasn’t covered in this post? Check out all Unbounce templates here.

Once you’ve chosen the template you’d like to use to get started, read more data-backed copywriting tips for your industry in the Conversion Benchmark Report — and get a feel for what a “good” conversion rate is before you set that baby live!

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)

By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

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New to the Unbounce Builder: 10 Data-Backed, Industry-Specific Landing Page Templates

How PPC Agency ParaCore Used Clever Account Management to Save a Client $30k in Ad Spend

Before digging into your or your client’s AdWords account, you might need to do some tidying up first. Image via Shutterstock.

When PPC agency ParaCore started working with a niche inspection company, they realized pretty quickly that before they could start optimizing this client’s AdWords account, they needed to do some necessary housekeeping.

The client — who shall remain nameless due to their highly competitive industry — was already pairing landing pages with their PPC ads. However, because they had so many market segments to target, they were juggling 60 different landing pages. This approach was certainly scrappy, but it was also incredibly challenging to maintain and optimize.

The client also lacked insight into both how many phone call leads they got, and exactly where these leads were coming from. Without this data they were unable to attribute leads to the appropriate campaign, making optimization —  let alone determining the ROI of their ad spend — virtually impossible.

In efforts to better manage this client’s account, ParaCore used Unbounce to reduce the number of landing pages from 60 to just four (while maintaining hyper segmentation), set up CallRail for improved phone call conversion tracking, and implemented a negative keyword approach in AdWords that ultimately saved the client $30k in ad spend and lowered the cost per lead over 40%. Needless to say, their client was thrilled.

Here’s how they did it.

Simplify market segmentation with landing pages

ParaCore’s client was already deep in the PPC game. They were spending $10k monthly on Bing and AdWords ads, and they had the wherewithal to pair their ads with targeted landing pages. But in order to target each individual market segment, they were using 60 landing pages (15 markets x 4 services).

Despite the benefit of better segmentation, juggling this many landing pages has its challenges, as ParaCore founder Adam Arkfeld can attest to:

Updating one thing on all landing pages takes forever. If you want to change content, it’s 60 changes. If you want to change something major like design, that’s a huge effort. It’s also just more difficult to track analytics and keep track of all the pages.

So ParaCore’s first task was to take those 60 pages and whittle them down to just a few manageable (but still high-converting) pages.

Using Unbounce’s drag-and-drop builder, ParaCore built their client four pages, each highlighting a specific service.

Using Dynamic Text Replacement on their Unbounce pages, ParaCore was able to reduce the amount of landing pages to maintain. Image via ParaCore.

To ensure they maintained the same hyper-relevance for each market segment, they implemented Dynamic Text Replacement (DTR) on the landing pages, an Unbounce feature which allows you to automatically swap out keywords on your landing page based on someone’s search intent and the corresponding ad clicked.

That is — if someone searches “piano lessons in Arizona” that’s exactly what your corresponding landing page’s headline can read to match their query.

In this example of a landing page for a music school, the instrument type is swapped out depending on which ad is clicked.
Preview DTR in action today to see how it can improve the relevancy of your landing pages.

With the help of DTR, ParaCore could still serve up those 60 hyper-customized messages, but using a much more manageable four pages. Their next move was to set out to optimize those four pages.

Clarify metrics with proper tracking and attribution

ParaCore’s client knew their ads were contributing to massive call volume but they didn’t have insight into the number of calls or which keywords were responsible.

After a bit of initial digging, ParaCore found that 76% of the client’s leads came via phone calls, but according to Adam:

There was so much more we could do to optimize their PPC campaigns if we had more data.

To get said data, Adam et al installed AdWords Call Conversion Tracking and CallRail on the client’s landing pages and set up keyword-level call tracking.

CallRail works similar to DTR, by dynamically populating a unique phone number depending on the original referrer. So when a visitor clicks on an ad and then calls the number on the landing page, that lead is attributed to the appropriate click-through ad.

Attributing your phone call leads to the original ad has never been easier. Image via CallRail.
Don’t know where all your phone call leads are coming from? CallRail integrates with Unbounce landing pages, so you can track which ads and landing pages result in calls. Find out more here.

Not only that, but CallRail allows you to create regional phone numbers, which was especially important to their client. Adam said it was key that their client’s prospects saw “a 480 number for Phoenix instead of an 888 number.”

AdWords Call Conversion Tracking, on the other hand, allowed ParaCore to see which keywords were converting so they could kill the underperforming keywords or ad sets.

For leads that came in through the landing page form, ParaCore also set up AdWords conversion tracking on all Unbounce form confirmation dialogues (a.k.a. thank you pages).

Within four months, this is what team ParaCore had found:

55% of leads came from calls made after seeing the new Unbounce landing pages, 24% came from landing page forms and roughly 20% came directly from ads.

Once they had the data they needed, it was time to actually dig into AdWords.

Optimize ad groups with negative keywords

Now that ParaCore had all the necessary data to determine which keywords were and weren’t working, they could start optimizing in AdWords.

ParaCore’s client had already done a significant amount of keyword research resulting in a robust collection of targeted keywords; however, a review of their analytics revealed not all of them were performing top-notch.

ParaCore added negative keywords to the client’s campaigns, followed by daily negative cleansing (which sounds like something you’d do with a smudge stick and quartz crystal, but is actually just excluding search terms that aren’t relevant).

After the initial cleanse, ParaCore scaled back to periodic reviews to ensure keyword relevancy. They kept an eye on conversion data over the first two months and turned off keywords that were, as Adam put it, “eating up the ad budget without producing good returns.”

Clever Account Management Pays Off

By adding negative keywords to their client’s AdWords account and turning off the keywords that weren’t bringing in results, team ParaCore managed to save their client $30,000 in annual ad spend and reduce their cost per lead by 40.7% in the first three months.

Not only that, with these all of the changes in place, ParaCore’s client was set up to scale. Now when the client wants to add additional markets, the agency doesn’t even have to create a new landing page, they simply “add dynamic text insertion with new phone numbers and local text.”

This kind of progress wouldn’t have been possible had they not first simplified their client’s landing page collection and clarified their metrics. Only then could they turn their efforts toward their client’s AdWords account.

According to Adam, the data collected during that initial exploration “continues to guide our efforts as we optimize the company’s PPC campaigns to bring in the highest quality leads at the lowest cost.”

And ParaCore’s client could not have been more pleased. Their Google+ review says it all:

These guys have been awesome for us so far! We love the reporting metrics they use as it really identifies the important information and tells us a lot about our PPC campaigns. We have also been very happy with how thorough they have been in implementing the crossover from our old PPC manager… All in all, we are very happy to have made the switch and wish we would have pulled the trigger sooner.

Sounds pretty dang blissful to me.

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How PPC Agency ParaCore Used Clever Account Management to Save a Client $30k in Ad Spend

Travel Marketers Have a Trust Problem

As a travel marketer or agency marketer servicing the travel industry, you have a tricky gig. You need to convince your prospects to spend thousands of dollars and precious vacation time.

Meanwhile, your prospects are increasingly wary of the legitimacy of your offers (thanks a lot, Fyre Fest).

Here’s to hoping your vacation is memorable, but not in a meme-worthy kind of way.

Your challenge then is to effectively convey trust on your travel landing pages. Doing so can help ease prospects’ conversion anxiety, resulting in more travel leads and sales for your business.

The importance of trust on your travel landing pages

We often talk about the importance of trust and credibility on your landing pages — this isn’t a new idea.

But for some industries, a lack of trust can have hugely detrimental effects on conversion rates.

In a recent analysis of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages created in the Unbounce platform, data scientists found that travel landing pages can realistically achieve conversion rates of at least 12%. Even more impressive is within the travel and tourism industry, the very best pages convert over 25% of their visitors (schwing!).

Notice the dramatic conversion rate difference between percentiles? If you’re part of that percentile getting 2.1% or lower conversion rates, your pages have lots of room for improvement. Image via the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.

If you’re not hitting these benchmarks, it might be time to take a hard look at your marketing and ask yourself if you’ve done enough to make your prospects trust you.

And don’t worry if your answer is “No” or “I’m not sure.” We’ve compiled four data-backed ways to boost trust on your travel landing page. Use them as a jumping off point for your optimization efforts.

1. Bolster your copy with trust words

Using an Emotion Lexicon to analyze copy, Unbounce data scientists found evidence that visitors to travel landing pages have slight concerns about the legitimacy of the offers.

However, they also found that using at least 7% (and up to 10%) of your copy to establish trust could result in conversion rates that are up to 20% better.

Notice the uptick in conversion rate once trust-infused copy is used more liberally? Image via the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.

Unbounce data scientists found that these are some of the words that impart trust on travel landing pages:

enjoy, perfect, secret, top, team, guide, save, personal, spa, food, planning, policy, provide, star, award, real, share, friendly, recommend, school

(Keep in mind, though, that these words were generated by an algorithm and should still be applied using common sense. Just adding the word “spa” to your page — especially if you don’t offer spa services — is not going to increase your conversions.)

The travel experts at Nordic Visitor do a great job of using trust words to build confidence on their Iceland site. It’s not a landing page per se, but the same principles apply.

“Team,” “planning,” “provide” and “personal” are all words found to positively convey trustworthiness. Adding these and other trust words to your copy could be the subconscious nudge your prospects need to convert.

Take stock of the trust words you’re using in your marketing, and particularly on your landing pages. If they’re looking a little sparse, test out using confidence-building words to describe destinations in detail.

2. Cut copy that brings up emotions of fear and anger

Just as trust words can drastically improve your conversion rates, words that subconsciously trigger fear or anger will have a negative impact on travel landing page conversion rates.

In fact, Unbounce data scientists found that if even 1% of page copy reminds your visitors of feelings of anger or fear, you could be seeing up to 25% lower conversion rates.

No one wants to be angry while on vacation. Image via the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.

Words that may instill fear or anger in your prospects include:

limited, tree, money, hot, desert, endless, challenge, treat, fee, feeling, rail, stone, bear, buffet, bang, cash, cross, despair

So instead of…

“Feeling endless despair this Canadian winter? Warm yourself up with a limited-time-only vacation in the hot Mojave desert.”

Try…

“Escape the Canadian winter at a five-star award-winning vacation rental in sunny California.”

Get even more industry-specific emotion and sentiment copy suggestions

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report to see how emotion and sentiment may be impacting conversion rates in your industry.
By entering your email you expressly consent to receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

3. Leverage social proof to build visitor trust

Persuading your prospects to put their trust in you is tricky business, and it’s even trickier when it comes to travel, because they’re likely working with a tight budget and only a few weeks of precious vacation. They don’t want to take a leap of faith — they want a sure thing.

A proven strategy for easing prospect anxiety is to use social proof. It’s the “everybody’s doing it” mentality that helps convince your prospects to convert.

Testimonials

When you let your satisfied customers sing your praises, your credibility goes through the roof. Including testimonials on your travel landing page can have a positive impact on how trustworthy your prospects perceive you to be, but not all testimonials are created equal.

To best enhance your chance of conversion, heed the following testimonial commandments:

  • Be specific
  • Include a photo of the person
  • Avoid hyperbole (i.e., This pedicure literally saved my life!)
  • Choose testimonials that demonstrate the transformative effect of your product or service on the lives of your users

Nordic Visitor takes it one step further with a video testimonial from several happy customers:

Don’t tell your prospects how great you are, show them with real live, happy customers.

Reviews

Similar to testimonials, including reviews on your travel landing page can help convey trust to your prospects.

The luxury travel designers of Jacada Travel have embedded reviews from Trustpilot, a reputable online review community, directly into their landing page.

Awards

If you recall, the word “award” is associated with trust on travel landing pages. So if your company or client has won any reputable awards, be sure to flaunt ‘em.

Tour guide company Kensington Tours not only includes several trust seals on their travel landing page, they also mention in their Adwords ad that they’re a National Geographic award winner.

Highlight awards strategically to build confidence in your offers.

4. Security measures

Persuasive trust-infused copy and social proof are wonderful, but when you’re collecting travel leads and even money, you need to assure your prospects that their data and money is safe.

There are many ways to do this, but the two most impactful strategies are to enable SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and to include trust seals.

SSL

SSL creates an encrypted link between your landing pages and your visitor’s browser. It’s identified by the little lock icon and the “https” (vs. http) in the top left-hand side of your browser search bar.

Enabling SSL on all your web properties (but especially on your lead gen and ecommerce landing pages) assures your visitors that they’re not at risk of being hacked.

Psst: SSL is available on all paid Unbounce plans. Don’t publish a landing page without it!

Trust seals

Trust seals help to reinforce the message that your landing page is secure. These can be obtained by whichever third-party security vendor handles your SSL certificate, and easily added to your travel landing page with a few lines of JavaScript.

Nordic Visitor nails it yet again with a trust seal from GeoTrust and a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2017, further reinforcing their credibility.

All aboard the Conversion Cruise

A lack of trust in any industry can hurt conversion rates, but in the travel industry the stakes are extra high.

Fortunately, this means the opportunities to improve your conversion rates are plenty. And if you nail the whole trust thing down, you could be seeing some of the highest conversion rates across any industry.

Leveraging a combo of effective copy, social proof and security measures, you can make your prospects forget about the stress associated with booking a vacation. Skip that trip to Poor Conversions-ville and instead put your feet up with a Mai Tai in hand on the Conversion Cruise.

For even more data-backed conversion insights in the travel industry, or for insights into industries such as health, finance, higher education and more, download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report.

Get data-backed conversion insights across 10 popular industries

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report to see how your conversion rates stack up against the competition — and how to improve them.
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Launching a travel landing page from scratch? Try out one of our travel landing page templates, designed specifically to boost conversions.

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Travel Marketers Have a Trust Problem

Future-Proof Your Marketing with Call to Action Magazine

The Call to Action Magazine
A good marketer is like a doomsday prepper (bear with me here…)

Instead of preparing for a global cataclysm, learning about water storage and building bunkers, they’re constantly on the lookout for ways they can proof their marketing for, or get ahead of, inevitable and dramatic changes to the marketing landscape.

Frequent and mysterious algorithm changes. New ad platform features. Emerging trends, dying fads. Amidst all this, only marketers who understand these new conditions — then adapt and innovate within them — will see exponential returns.

At Unbounce, we’ve been really lucky to have a network of expert marketers around to ask about the always-changing marketing landscape. We can turn to forward-thinking strategists like Mirum’s Mitch Joel, Moz’s Rand Fishkin, Love Your Customer’s Claire Suellentrop, and even our in-house-experts, like Alexa Hubley, Carl Schmidt and CRO Michael Aagaard. We ask them things like:

  • What does the ever-increasing prominence of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning mean for marketers and their jobs?
  • Are “tried-and-true” frameworks like the buyer persona still relevant, or are there new ways of digging deeper to speak more closely to my target market?
  • Have traditional SEO tactics become completely outdated? Why are the most successful SEOs now becoming well versed in conversion rate optimization?
  • How can you use data to inform your marketing without letting personal biases get in the way?
  • Should marketing stop after the conversion? (Or is customer marketing where it’s at?)

These are questions we’ve seen tossed around recently in our newsfeeds and at conferences.

So we set out to help answer them.

In Call to Action Magazine, we aim to address these questions and dig into some of the recommendations the experts in our network have shared — those that will help you create exceptional marketing no matter what new algorithm comes along.

So, what do you say? Do you want to get lost in the rubble… or do you want to learn how you can future-proof your marketing?

Ready to Future-Proof Your Marketing?

Call to Action Magazine is filled with recommendations from marketing experts to help your marketing thrive — no matter what algorithm gets changed tomorrow.
By accessing the magazine, you’ll receive actionable marketing content from Unbounce. 
You can unsubscribe at any time.

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‘Get past personas’, and other takeaways from CTA Conf 17

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This week, I spent two jam-packed days at Unbounce’s fourth-ever Call To Action Conference. The one-track event featured some of today’s most influential digital marketing speakers like Mitch Joel, Kindra Hall, and Rand Fishkin.

WiderFunnel team at CTA Conf 17
The WiderFunnel team and I having a ball at the CTA Conf afterparty.

Session topics ranged from integrity in marketing, to performance marketing success, to the marriage of SEO and conversion optimization. But most shared a common theme: Don’t forget about the real person behind that click.

Knowledge bombs were dropped, important conversations were had, and actionable insights were shared. So, in today’s post, I’m going to share some of my most important takeaways from CTA Conf.

If you attended the conference, please share your favorite takeaways in the comments below!

1. Don’t be trendy, be data-driven

Featured Speaker: Oli Gardner

Unbounce Co-Founder, Oli Gardner, kicked things off on the first day.

Fun fact: Due to technical difficulties, Oli ended up acting out his entire opening video sequence (and most of the subsequent videos in his presentation). He handled the hiccup like a pro, of course, and launched into a great session on data-driven design.

One of the strongest points that Oli made was that digital marketing trends self-perpetuate, regardless of whether or not they are helpful to a user.

I know we, as data-driven marketers, ‘know’ this fact. We complain about ‘best practices’, and buzzwords, and yet we still get totally caught up in trends.

Remember when explainer videos became the end-all, be-all for homepages?

WiderFunnel CTA Conf Recap Oli Gardner
Oli pointing out the flaws in an old Unbounce explainer video at CTA Conf.

What happened? Hundreds of blog posts were written about explainer videos, and hundreds of explainer videos were produced to talk about how great explainer videos are. And then, every homepage on the internet featured an explainer video.

But…were all of those explainer videos really what customers needed? In some cases, but certainly not in all.

Instead, Oli spoke about the need to “mend trends”, and make design decisions based on data, rather than the most popular trend at the time.

We hold the same view at WiderFunnel. You can A/B test explainer video after explainer video. But to create truly impactful experiences, you have to go back to the research phase.

Use the data you have to drill into what you think are you most important business problems. And test hypotheses that attempt to solve for those problems.

2. Choose people, not personas

I’m not a big fan of personas. I’ve never kicked it with a persona.

– Wil Reynolds

But, without personas, how do I write the right copy for my customers at the right time?!

Don’t panic.

Focus on motivation instead

Featured Speaker: Joel Klettke

Conversion copywriter extraordinaire, Joel Klettke, spoke about how to read your customer’s mind. He emphasized the need to get past user personas and keywords, and focus on customer motivation instead.

Joel Klettke at CTA Conf
Joel Klettke on stage at CTA Conf.

We get stuck behind our screens, and start writing about ‘synergies’ and features that our customers really don’t care about.

– Joel Klettke

He outlined a framework for getting your customers to tell you about their pain points, anxieties, desired outcomes, and priorities, in their own words:

  1. Ask
  2. Record
  3. Analyze
  4. Feed
  5. Measure

Note: I didn’t dig too deeply into the framework, here. But Joel put together a resource for CTA Conf attendees, and graciously gave me the green light to share it. Check it out here!

Jobs To Be Done vs. Personas

Featured Speaker: Claire Suellentrop

On Day 2, Claire Suellentrop built on this idea of the dated persona.

She explained that marketers collect many data points about our prospects, like…

  • Gender, age, location
  • Title, company, industry
  • Married, no kids, one puppy

…but asked whether or not all of that data actually helps us determine why a real human being just bought a new backpack from Everlane.

As an alternative, she suggested the Jobs To Be Done framework. JTBD refers to your customer’s struggle to make progress on something. When your customer overcomes that struggle, the job is done, and they have made progress.

The framework looks a little something like this:

“When ____________ (event that triggers the struggle), help me ______ (struggle / job) so I can __________ (better life / done).”

To identify your customers’ struggle, Claire suggests actually asking your customers. She outlined several sample questions:

  • “Take me back to life before [product]. What was it like?”
  • “What happened that compelled you to start looking for something different?”
  • “What happened when you tried [product] that made you confident it was right for you?”
  • “What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?”

3. Tell the story, don’t just allude to it

Featured Speaker: Kindra Hall

One of my favorite speakers on Day 1 of CTA Conf was Kindra Hall. (Not surprising, as she is the storytelling expert).

Kindra dug into strategic storytelling in marketing. According to her, you should use a story every time you need to communicate value in your marketing.

Kindra Hall at CTA Conf
Kindra Hall sets out to define storytelling in marketing.

Storytelling is powerful because real life humans are attracted to great stories. (And marketers talk to people after all).

Stories, according to Kindra, stick with us and make us do stuff because storytelling is a co-creative process.

“As I am telling you my story, you are creating your own in your mind. I am giving you my words, but you are meeting me half way, and we are creating a shared memory,” Kindra explained.

The most powerful moment in her talk came when she challenged the audience with the biggest storytelling mistake:

Too often, we allude to the story, but don’t actually tell it.

– Kindra Hall

She showed two example videos to illustrate her point. In the first, a company founder almost told her compelling story about losing both of her parents, but glossed over the details. The result was a pretty video, with pretty music that almost created feeling.

In the second video, the founder told her full story, explaining how losing her parents shaped her company and product. The difference in emotional impact was kind of incredible.

And making your customers feel is a huge part of making your customers act. Because we — consumers, people, humans — don’t buy products or services…we buy feelings.

4. Pay attention to people signals

For goodness’ sake, solve the searcher’s problem

Featured Speaker: Wil Reynolds

Founder of Seer Interactive, Wil Reynolds, danced his way onto the stage, and delivered a really strong talk on SEO, conversion optimization, and the importance of people signals.

Wil Reynolds at CTA Conf
Wil remembers when he f*ed up, and forgot about the HUMAN element.

He didn’t mince words, explaining that marketers too often put conversions before customers. We ask “how do I get?” when we should be asking, “how do I help my customer get what they need?”

When you do an amazing job on search, you get to help people who are lost solve their problems.

– Wil Reynolds

Wil painted a picture of how we, as marketers, are letting our own wants override solving our customers’ problems. In the world of search, Wil pointed out that Google rewards pages that solve the searchers’ query. So solve the searchers’ query!

Much like we allude to stories, but often don’t tell them, we talk about listening to our customers, but often don’t really listen.

Instead of showing them product comparisons when they search “best CRM platform”, we pay to show them a landing page that claims “My product is the best! Get in my funnel!”

This isn’t just an issue in search or performance. In conversion optimization, there is an emphasis on velocity over user research. There is pressure to test more, and test faster.

But, we must take the time to do the research. To get as close to our customers’ problem, and tailor our marketing experience to their needs.

Win at SEO and CRO with a long-term vision

Featured Speaker: Rand Fishkin

Building on Wil’s session on Day 1, SEO wizard, Rand Fishkin, gave the audience actionable tips around how to optimize for searcher intent.

Rand pointed to conversion optimization.

At its core, conversion optimization is about getting into your customers’ minds, and testing changes to get closer to the best possible customer experience. To give your customer what they need, you must soothe their pain points, and provide a solution.

You can apply this same concept to SEO: If you 1) gain a deep understanding of what searchers are seeking, and 2) determine why some searchers come away unsatisfied, you can optimize for searcher task accomplishment.

Rand Fishkin at CTA Conf
Rand demonstrates how establishing trust leads to ROI.

Unfortunately, Rand pointed out, there is still a conflict between SEO and CRO, because conversion rate and searcher satisfaction are sometimes in direct opposition.

For example, let’s say you want to get more blog subscriptions, so you add a pop-up to your blog post. This may lead to a higher conversion rate on the page, but lower searcher satisfaction. Some readers might bounce, which may lead to lower organic traffic.

But, Rand ended on a high note:

You can win with long-term thinking. By always asking, ‘are we building a brand that’s helping people succeed?’

– Rand Fishkin

5. Don’t fear disruption. Own it.

Featured Speaker: Mitch Joel

One of the final speakers on Day 1 was marketing thought-leader, Mitch Joel, who shook things up a bit. Mitch spoke about what it means to be disruptive (and how to not fear disruption).

Mitch Joel at CTA Conf
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone.”

When I ask C-Suite marketers to define disruption, the definition is never consistent. In fact, I often don’t get a definition of disruption, I get a definition of destruction.

– Mitch Joel

He asked, if disruption is the big bad wolf, who are the heroes in this marketing story?

Well, like the three little pigs, Mitch discussed three ways to be disruptive rather than be disrupted:

  1. Transformation: Business transformation is not your products or services, etc. It’s inside out. And it starts with technology. You need to be using the same tech, same form of communication that your customers are using.
  2. Innovative marketing: Innovation is not re-allocation of resources. It isn’t investing more in Google Adwords versus another channel. Real innovation is about making and creating new products and experiences that we can use to market with.
  3. Micro-transactions: Marketers and businesses get caught up in the macro transaction, in the purchase. But we live in a world of micro-transactions. This is the customer journey, and it is extremely important to understand.

Mitch Joel emphasized the fact that if you can apply these ‘three little pigs’ to your business model, you will be in a great place, though he recognized that it’s not always easy.

But nothing great is ever easy.

6. Be bold enough to be wrong

Featured Speaker: Michael Aagaard

Senior Conversion Optimizer at Unbounce, Michael Aagaard, closed out the two-day conference. His message was a simple but powerful warning against the trap of confirmation bias.

We, as humans, are not interested in information, but confirmation.

– Michael Aagaard

Confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and recall information in ways that confirm our existing beliefs, hypotheses, and expectations. And it is a threat to data-driven marketing.

Michael Aagaard at CTA Conf
Michael takes us back to ye olde London to make a point about the enduring power of confirmation bias.

When you A/B test, you are searching for objectivity. You are trying to figure out which variation your users prefer, outside of your own opinions and beliefs about what works best.

But it’s rarely that simple, even if you are a pro.

Michael showed us a landing page that he analyzed for a client, featuring a stock photo hero image. He said he had railed against the photo, and shown the client examples of the hundreds of other stock photos featuring the same model.

But, when he tested the landing page, he found that the original version, featuring the ‘terrible’ stock photo, was the clear winner.

“Maybe,” he said, “users don’t spend hours scouring the internet for stock photo sinners like I do.”

He urged the audience to be bold enough to be wrong, to challenge our hypotheses, and get out of the marketing bubble when we are trying to solve problems.

If we don’t get out of the marketing bubble, we end up making assumptions, and designing experiences for ourselves.

– Michael Aagaard

Go hang out with your customer success teams and sales teams; get outsider input on your ‘great’ ideas. Go find your own natural skeptic, and challenge your hypotheses.

Were you at CTA Conf 17? What were your most important takeaways? Who were your favorite speakers, and why? Let us know in the comments!

The post ‘Get past personas’, and other takeaways from CTA Conf 17 appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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‘Get past personas’, and other takeaways from CTA Conf 17

Marketing Machines: Is Machine Learning Helping Marketers or Making Us Obsolete?

Hollywood paints a grim picture of a future populated by intelligent machines. Terminator, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Matrix and countless other films show us that machines are angry, they’re evil and — if given the opportunity — they will not hesitate to overthrow the human race.

Films like these serve as cautionary tales about what could happen if machines gain consciousness (or some semblance of). But in order for that to happen humans need to teach machines to think for themselves. This may sound like science fiction but it’s an actual discipline known as machine learning.

machine-learning-and-marketing-featured-650
The machines are coming. But fear not — they could help you become a better marketer. Image via Shutterstock.

Still in its infancy, machine learning systems are being applied to everything from filtering spam emails, to suggesting the next series to binge-watch and even matching up folks looking for love.

For digital marketers, machine learning may be especially helpful in getting products or services in front of the right prospects, rather than blanket-marketing to everyone and adding to the constant noise that is modern advertising. Machine learning will also be key to predicting customer churn and attribution: two thorns in many digital marketers’ sides.

Despite machine learning’s positive impact on the digital marketing field, there are questions about job security and ethics that cannot be swept under the rug. Will marketing become so automated that professional marketers become obsolete? Is there potential for machine learning systems to do harm, whether by targeting vulnerable prospects or manipulating people’s emotions?

These aren’t just rhetorical questions. They get to the heart of what the future of marketing will look like — and what role marketers will play in it.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is a complicated subject, involving advanced math, code and overwhelming amounts of data. Luckily, Tommy Levi, Director of Data Science at Unbounce, has a PhD in Theoretical Physics. He distills machine learning down to its simplest definition:

You can think of machine learning as using a computer or mathematics to make predictions or see patterns in data. At the end of the day, you’re really just trying to either predict something or see patterns, and then you’re just using the fact that a computer is really fast at calculating.

You may not know it, but you likely interact with machine learning systems on a daily basis. Have you ever been sucked into a Netflix wormhole prompted by recommended titles? Or used Facebook’s facial recognition tool when uploading and tagging an image? These are both examples of machine learning in action. They use the data you input (by rating shows, tagging friends, etc.) to produce better and more accurate suggestions over time.

Other examples of machine learning include spell check, spam filtering… even internet dating — yes, machine learning has made its way into the love lives of many, matching up singles using complicated algorithms that take into consideration personality traits and interests.


Machine learning may be helpful in getting products or services in front of the right prospects.
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How Machine Learning Works

While it may seem like witchcraft to the layperson, running in the background of every machine learning system we encounter is a human-built machine that would have gone through countless iterations to develop.

Facebook’s facial recognition tool, which can recognize your face with 98% accuracy, took several years of research and development to produce what is regarded as cutting-edge machine learning.

So how exactly does machine learning work? Spoiler alert: it’s complicated. So without going into too much detail, here’s an introduction to machine learning, starting with the two basic techniques.

Supervised learning

Supervised learning systems rely upon humans to label the incoming data — at least to begin with — in order for the systems to better predict how to classify future input data.

Gmail’s spam filter is a great example of this. When you label incoming mail as either spam or not spam, you’re not only cleaning up your inbox, you’re also training Gmail’s filter (a machine learning system) to identify what you consider to be spam (or not spam) in the future.

Unsupervised learning

Unsupervised learning systems use unlabeled incoming data, which is then organized into clusters based on similarities and differences in the data. Whereas supervised learning relies upon environmental feedback, unsupervised learning has no environmental feedback. Instead, data scientists will often use a reward/punishment system to indicate success or failure.

According to Tommy, this type of machine learning can be likened to the relationship between a parent and a young child. When a child does something positive they’re rewarded. Likewise, when “[a machine] gets it right — like it makes a good prediction — you kind of give it a little pat on the back and you say good job.”

Like any child (or person for that matter), the system ends up trying to maximize the positive reinforcement, thus getting better and better at predicting.

The Power of Machine Learning

A lot of what machine learning can do is yet to be explored, but the main benefit is its ability to wade through and sort data far more quickly and efficiently than any human could, no matter how clever.

Tommy is currently experimenting with an unsupervised learning system that clusters landing pages with similar features. Whereas one person could go through a few hundred pages in a day, this model can run through 300,000 pages in 20 minutes.

How do your landing page conversion rates compare against your industry competitors?

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The advantage is not just speed, it’s also retention and pattern recognition. Tommy explains:

To go through that many pages and see those patterns and hold it all in memory and be able to balance that — that’s where the power is.

For some marketers, this raises a troubling question: If machine learning systems solve problems by finding patterns that we can’t see, does this mean that marketers should be worried about job security?

The answer is more nuanced than a simple yes or no.

Machine Learning and the Digital Marketer

As data becomes the foundation for more and more marketing decisions, digital marketers have been tasked with sorting through an unprecedented amount of data.

This process usually involves hours of digging through analytics, collecting data points from marketing campaigns that span several months. And while focusing on data analysis and post-mortems is incredibly valuable, doing so takes a significant amount of time and resources away from future marketing initiatives.

As advancements in technology scale exponentially, the divide between teams that do and those that don’t will become more apparent. Those that don’t evolve will stumble and those that embrace data will grow — this is where machine learning can help.


Marketers that don’t embrace data will fumble. Those that do will grow — ML can help.
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That being said, machine learning isn’t something digital marketers can implement themselves after reading a quick tutorial. It’s more comparable to having a Ferrari in your driveway when you don’t know how to drive standard… or maybe you can’t even drive at all.

Until the day when implementing a machine learning system is just a YouTube video away, digital marketers could benefit from keeping a close eye on the companies that are incorporating machine learning into their products, and assessing whether they can help with their department’s pain points.

So how are marketers currently implementing machine learning to make decisions based on data rather than gut instinct? There are many niches in marketing that are becoming more automated. Here are a few that stand out.

Lead scoring and machine learning

Lead scoring is a system that allows marketers to gauge whether a prospect is a qualified lead and thus worth pursuing. Once marketing and sales teams agree on the definition of a “qualified lead,” they can begin assigning values to different qualified lead indicators, such as job title, company size and even interaction with specific content.

These indicators paint a more holistic picture of a lead’s level of interest, beyond just a form submission typically associated with lead generation content like ebooks. And automating lead scoring takes the pressure off marketers having to qualify prospects via long forms, freeing them up to work on other marketing initiatives.

Once the leads have reached the “qualified” threshold, sales associates can then focus their efforts on those prospects — ultimately spending their time and money where it matters most.

Content marketing and copywriting

Machine learning models can analyze data points beyond just numbers — including words on your website, landing page or PPC ads. Machine learning systems can find patterns in language and detect words that elicit the most clicks or engagement.

Is emotional copywriting on your landing page effective in your industry?

We used machine learning to help create the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report, which shares insights on how different aspects of page copy correspond to conversion rates across 10 industries.
By entering your email you’ll receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

But can a machine write persuasive copy? Maybe, actually.

A New York-based startup called Persado offers a “cognitive content platform” that uses math, data, natural language processing, emotional language data and machine learning systems to serve the best copy and images to spur prospects into action. It does this by analyzing all the language data each client has ever interacted with and serving future prospects with the best possible words or phrases. An A/B test could never achieve this at the same scale.

Think this is a joke? With over $65 million in venture capital and a reported average conversion rate uplift of 49.5% across 4,000 campaigns, Persado’s business model is no laughing matter.

Still, there is no replacement for a supremely personalized piece of content delivered straight to your client’s inbox — an honest call to action from one human to another.

Recently Unbounce’s Director of Campaign Strategy, Corey Dilley, sent an email to our customers. It had no sales pitch, no call to action button. It was just Corey reaching out and saying, “Hey.”

corey-dilley-marketing-email-1

Corey’s email had an open rate of 41.42%, and he received around 80 personal responses. Not bad for an email written by a human!

Sometimes it’s actions — like clicks and conversions — you want to elicit from customers. Other times the goal is to build rapport. In some cases we should let the machines do the work, but it’s up to the humans to keep the content, well, human.


There is no replacement for personalized content and an honest ask from one human to another.
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Machine learning for churn prediction

In the SaaS industry, churn is a measure of the percentage of customers who cancel their recurring revenue subscriptions. According to Tommy, churn tells a story about “how your customers behave and feel. It’s giving a voice to the customers that we don’t have time or the ability to talk to.”

Self-reporting methods such as polls and surveys are another good way to give a voice to these customers. But they’re not always scalable — large data sets can be hard for humans to analyze and derive meaning from.

Self-reporting methods can also skew your results. Tommy explains:

The problem with things like surveys and popups is that they’re only going to tell you what you’ve asked about, and the type of people that answer surveys are already a biased set.

Machine learning systems, on the other hand, can digest a larger number of data points, and with far less bias. Ideally the data is going to reveal what marketing efforts are working, thus leading to reduced churn and helping to move customers down the funnel.

This is highly relevant for SaaS companies, whose customers often sign up for trials before purchasing the product. Once someone starts a trial, the marketing department will start sending them content in order to nurture them into adopting the service and become engaged.

Churn models can help a marketing team determine which pieces of content lead to negative or positive encounters — information that can inform and guide the optimization process.

Ethical Implications of Machine Learning in Marketing

We hinted at the ethical implications of machine learning in marketing, but it deserves its own discussion (heck, it deserves its own book). The truth is, machine learning systems have the potential to cause legitimate harm.

According to Carl Schmidt, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Unbounce:

Where we are really going to run into ethical issues is with extreme personalization. We’re going to teach machines how to be the ultimate salespeople, and they’re not going to care about whether you have a compulsive personality… They’re just going to care about success.

This could mean targeting someone in rehab with alcohol ads, or someone with a gambling problem with a trip to Las Vegas. The machine learning system will make the correlation, based on the person’s internet activity, and it’s going to exploit that.

Another dilemma we run into is with marketing aimed at affecting people’s emotions. Sure copywriters often tap into emotions in order to get a desired response, but there’s a fine line between making people feel things and emotional manipulation, as Facebook discovered in an infamous experiment.

If you aren’t familiar with the experiment, here’s the abridged version: Facebook researchers adapted word count software to manipulate the News Feeds of 689,003 users to determine whether their emotional state could be altered if they saw fewer positive posts or fewer negative posts in their feeds.

Posts were deemed either positive or negative if they contained at least one positive or negative word. Because researchers never saw the status updates (the machine learning system did the filtering) technically it fell within Facebook’s Data Use Policy.

However, public reaction to the Facebook experiment was generally pretty scathing. While some came to the defense of Facebook, many criticized the company for breaching ethical guidelines for informed consent.

In the end, Facebook admitted they could have done better. And one good thing did come out of the experiment: It now serves as a benchmark for when machine learning goes too far, and as a reminder for marketers to continually gut-check themselves.

For Carl, it comes down to intent:

If I’m Facebook, I might be worried that if we don’t do anything about the pacing and style of content, and we’re inadvertently presenting content that could be reacted to negatively, especially to vulnerable people, then we would want to actively understand that mechanism and do something about it.

While we may not yet have a concrete code of conduct around machine learning, moving forward with good intentions and a commitment to do no harm is a good place to start.

The Human Side of Machine Learning

Ethical issues aside, the rise of machines often implies the fall of humans. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

“You want machines to do the mundane stuff and the humans to do the creative stuff,” Carl says. He continues:

Computers are still not creative. They can’t think on their own, and they generally can’t delight you very much. We are going to get to a point where you could probably generate highly personal onboarding content by a machine. But it [will have] no soul.

That’s where the human aspect comes in. With creativity and wordsmithing. With live customer support. Heck, it takes some pretty creative data people to come up with an algorithm that recognizes faces with 98% accuracy.

Imagine a world where rather than getting 15 spam emails a day, you get just one with exactly the content you would otherwise be searching for — content written by a human, but served to you by a machine learning system.

While pop culture may say otherwise, the future of marketing isn’t about humans (or rather, marketers) versus machines. It’s about marketers using machines to get amazing results — for their customers and their company.

Machine learning systems may have an edge when it comes to data sorting, but they’re missing many of the things that make exceptional marketing experiences: empathy, compassion and a true understanding of the human experience.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in The Split, a digital magazine by Unbounce.

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Marketing Machines: Is Machine Learning Helping Marketers or Making Us Obsolete?

The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report – Average Conversion Rates by Industry and Expert Recommendations

Benchmark conversion rates by industry
The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report is filled with industry-specific data, graphs and actionable takeaways.

What is a good conversion rate for my landing page?

If you knew the answer to this question, you could get more out of every optimization dollar you spend. Armed with this one “little” data point, you could double down on pages with lots of growth potential or confidently switch gears to focus on other projects because you know your page is performing well.

But here’s the problem:

  • Companies in different industries use a wide range of landing page copy, traffic generation strategies and product offers. Because of this, average conversion rates across industries vary dramatically.
  • This one “little” data point isn’t really so “little.” Conversion rate benchmarks are the function of a ton of variables, requiring access to hordes of data (not to mention people with the skills to mine and interpret that data).

Scientifically grounded answers to, “What is a good conversion rate?” just haven’t been available… until now.

We created the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report by analyzing the behavior of 74,551,421 visitors to 64,284 lead generation landing pages created in the Unbounce platform over the last quarter, using a rigorous scientific methodology and our proprietary machine learning technology.

How do your landing page conversion rates compare against your industry competitors?

Get the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report and find out.
By entering your email you’ll receive other resources to help you improve your conversion rates.

For 10 popular industries, we’ll share:

  1. An overview of average conversion rates per industry (the graph on the left).
  2. A summary of how marketers in that industry are performing (right):
real-estate-industry-specific-example-benhcmark-page
The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report is filled with charts, graphs and actionable takeaways for 10 of our customers’ most popular industries.
  1. Industry-specific copy recommendations from our team of data scientists and conversion marketing experts (who have interpreted the data in the report for you). For each industry, we explore how the following factors could be impacting your conversion rates:

    • Reading ease
    • Page length
    • Emotion and sentiment

Our goal isn’t just to help you answer the question, “What is a good conversion rate for my landing page?”

Our goal is to eliminate some of the guesswork so you can build higher-converting landing pages, better prioritize your work and get back to the strategy and creativity that drives your business.

Download the Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report (FREE)

Data-driven insights on average conversion rates per industry (+ expert copywriting advice)
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The Unbounce Conversion Benchmark Report – Average Conversion Rates by Industry and Expert Recommendations

Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors

sup

Back in 2015, Unbounce launched its first ever exit overlay on this very blog.

Did it send our signup rate skyrocketing 4,000%? Nope.

Did it turn our blog into a conversion factory for new leads? Not even close — our initial conversion rate was barely over 1.25%.

But what it did do was start us down the path of exploring the best ways to use this technology; of furthering our goals by finding ways to offer visitors relevant, valuable content through overlays.

Overlays are modal lightboxes that launch within a webpage and focus attention on a single offer. Still fuzzy on what an overlay is? Click here.

In this post, we’ll break down all the wins, losses and “holy smokes!” moments from our first 2,345,864 exit overlay viewers.

Psst: Towards the end of these experiments, Unbounce launched Convertables, and with it a whole toolbox of advanced triggers and targeting options for overlays.

Goals, tools and testing conditions

Our goal for this project was simple: Get more people to consume more Unbounce content — whether it be blog posts, ebooks, videos, you name it.

We invest a lot in our content, and we want it read by as many marketers as possible. All our research — everything we know about that elusive thing called conversion, exists in our content.

Our content also allows readers to find out whether Unbounce is a tool that can help them. We want more customers, but only if they can truly benefit from our product. Those who experience ‘lightbulb’ moments when reading our content definitely fit the bill.

As for tools, the first four experiments were conducted using Rooster (an exit-intent tool purchased by Unbounce in June 2015). It was a far less sophisticated version of what is now Unbounce Convertables, which we used in the final experiment.

Testing conditions were as follows:

  1. All overlays were triggered on exit; meaning they launched only when abandoning visitors were detected.
  1. For the first three experiments, we compared sequential periods to measure results. For the final two, we ran makeshift A/B tests.
  1. When comparing sequential periods, testing conditions were isolated by excluding new blog posts from showing any overlays.
  1. A “conversion” was defined as either a completed form (lead gen overlay) or a click (clickthrough overlay).
  1. All experiments were conducted between January 2015 and November 2016.

Experiment #1: Content Offer vs. Generic Signup

Our first exit overlay had a simple goal: Get more blog subscribers. It looked like this.

blog-subscriber-overlay

It was viewed by 558,488 unique visitors over 170 days, 1.27% of which converted to new blog subscribers. Decent start, but not good enough.

To improve the conversion rate, we posed the following.

HYPOTHESIS
Because online marketing offers typically convert better when a specific, tangible offer is made (versus a generic signup), we expect that by offering a free ebook to abandoning visitors, we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.27% baseline.

Whereas the original overlay asked visitors to subscribe to the blog for “tips”, the challenger overlay offered visitors The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design.

add-overlay

After 96 days and over 260,000 visitors, we had enough conversions to call this experiment a success. The overlay converted at 2.65%, and captured 7,126 new blog subscribers.

overlay-experiment-1-results

Since we didn’t A/B test these overlays, our results were merely observations. Seasonality is one of many factors that can sway the numbers.

We couldn’t take it as gospel, but we were seeing double the subscribers we had previously.

Observations

  • Offering tangible resources (versus non-specific promises, like a blog signup) can positively affect conversion rates.

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

Experiment #2: Four-field vs. Single-field Overlays

Data people always spoil the party.

The early success of our first experiment caught the attention of Judi, our resident marketing automation whiz, who wisely reminded us that collecting only an email address on a large-scale campaign was a missed opportunity.

For us to fully leverage this campaign, we needed to find out more about the individuals (and organizations) who were consuming our content.

Translation: We needed to add three more form fields to the overlay.

overlay-experiment-2

Since filling out forms is a universal bummer, we safely assumed our conversion rate would take a dive.

But something else happened that we didn’t predict. Notice a difference (besides the form fields) between the two overlays above? Yup, the new version was larger: 900x700px vs. 750x450px.

Adding three form fields made our original 750x450px design feel too cramped, so we arbitrarily increased the size — never thinking there may be consequences. More on that later.

Anyways, we launched the new version, and as expected the results sucked.

overlay-experiment-2-results
Things weren’t looking good after 30 days.

For business reasons, we decided to end the test after 30 days, even though we didn’t run the challenger overlay for an equal time period (96 days).

Overall, the conversion rate for the 30-day period was 48% lower than the previous 96-day period. I knew it was for good reason: Building our data warehouse is important. Still, a small part of me died that day.

Then it got worse.

It occurred to us that for a 30-day period, that sample size of viewers for the new overlay (53,460) looked awfully small.

A closer inspection revealed that our previous overlay averaged 2,792 views per day, while this new version was averaging 1,782. So basically our 48% conversion drop was served a la carte with a 36% plunge in overall views. Fun!

But why?

It turns out increasing the size of the overlay wasn’t so harmless. The size was too large for many people’s browser windows, so the overlay only fired two out of every three visits, even when targeting rules matched.

We conceded, and redesigned the overlay in 800x500px format.

overlay-experiment-redesign

Daily views rose back to their normal numbers, and our new baseline conversion rate of 1.25% remained basically unchanged.

loads-vs-views

Large gap between “loads” and “views” on June 4th; narrower gap on June 5th.

Observations

  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).

Experiment #3: One Overlay vs. 10 Overlays

It seemed like such a great idea at the time…

Why not get hyper relevant and build a different exit overlay to each of our blog categories?

With our new baseline conversion rate reduced to 1.25%, we needed an improvement that would help us overcome “form friction” and get us back to that healthy 2%+ range we enjoyed before.

So with little supporting data, we hypothesized that increasing “relevance” was the magic bullet we needed. It works on landing pages why not overlays?

HYPOTHESIS  
Since “relevance” is key to driving conversions, we expect that by running a unique exit overlay on each of our blog categories — whereby the free resource is specific to the category — we will improve our conversion rate beyond the current 1.25% baseline.

blog-categories

We divide our blog into categories according to the marketing topic they cover (e.g., landing pages, copywriting, design, UX, conversion optimization). Each post is tagged by category.

So to increase relevance, we created a total of 10 exit overlays (each offering a different resource) and assigned each overlay to one or two categories, like this:

category-specific-overlays

Creating all the new overlays would take some time (approximately three hours), but since we already had a deep backlog of resources on all things online marketing, finding a relevant ebook, course or video to offer in each category wasn’t difficult.

And since our URLs contain category tags (e.g., all posts on “design” start with root domain unbounce.com/design), making sure the right overlay ran on the right post was easy.

unbounce-targeting

URL Targeting rule for our Design category; the “include” rule automatically excludes the overlay from running in other categories.

But there was a problem: We’d established a strict rule that our readers would only ever see one exit overlay… no matter how many blog categories they browsed. It’s part of our philosophy on using overlays in a way that respects the user experience.

When we were just using one overlay, that was easy — a simple “Frequency” setting was all we needed.

unbounce-frequency

…but not so easy with 10 overlays running on the same blog.

We needed a way to exclude anyone who saw one overlay from seeing any of the other nine.

Cookies were the obvious answer, so we asked our developers to build a temporary solution that could:

  • Pass a cookie from an overlay to the visitor’s browser
  • Exclude that cookie in our targeting settings

They obliged.

unbounce-advanced-targeting

We used “incognito mode” to repeatedly test the functionality, and after that we were go for launch.

Then this happened.

rooster-dashboard
Ignore the layout… the Convertables dashboard is much prettier now :)

After 10 days of data, our conversion rate was a combined 1.36%, 8.8% higher than the baseline. It eventually crept its way to 1.42% after an additional 250,000 views. Still nowhere near what we’d hoped.

So what went wrong?

We surmised that just because an offer is “relevant” doesn’t mean it’s compelling. Admittedly, not all of the 10 resources were on par with The 23 Principles of Attention-Driven Design, the ebook we originally offered in all categories.

That said, this experiment provided an unexpected benefit: we could now see our conversion rates by category instead of just one big number for the whole blog. This would serve us well on future tests.

Observations

  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between categories.

Experiment #4: Resource vs. Resource

“Just because it’s relevant doesn’t mean it’s good.”

This lesson inspired a simple objective for our next task: Improve the offers in our underperforming categories.

We decided to test new offers across five categories that had low conversion rates and high traffic volume:

  1. A/B Testing and CRO (0.57%)
  2. Email (1.24%)
  3. Lead Gen and Content Marketing (0.55%)
Note: We used the same overlay for the A/B Testing and CRO categories, as well as the Lead Gen and Content Marketing Categories.

Hypothesis
Since we believe the resources we’re offering in the categories of A/B testing, CRO, Email, Lead Gen and Content Marketing are less compelling than resources we offer in other categories, we expect to see increased conversion rates when we test new resources in these categories.

With previous studies mentioned in this post, we compared sequential periods. For this one, we took things a step further and jury-rigged an A/B testing system together using Visual Website Optimizer and two Unbounce accounts.

And after finding what we believed to be more compelling resources to offer, the new test was launched.

topic-experiment

We saw slightly improved results in the A/B Testing and CRO categories, although not significant. For the Email category, we saw a large drop-off.

In the Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories however, there was a dramatic uptick in conversions and the results were statistically significant. Progress!

Observations

  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.

Experiment #5: Clickthrough vs. Lead Gen Overlays

Although progress was made in our previous test, we still hadn’t solved the problem from our second experiment.

While having the four fields made each conversion more valuable to us, it still reduced our conversion rate a relative 48% (from 2.65% to 1.25% back in experiment #2).

We’d now worked our way up to a baseline of 1.75%, but still needed a strategy for reducing form friction.

The answer lay in a new tactic for using overlays that we dubbed traffic shaping.

Traffic Shaping: Using clickthrough overlays to incentivize visitors to move from low-converting to high-converting pages.

Here’s a quick illustration:

traffic-shaping-diagram

Converting to this format would require us to:

  1. Redesign our exit overlays
  2. Build a dedicated landing page for each overlay
  3. Collect leads via the landing pages

Basically, we’d be using the overlays as a bridge to move readers from “ungated” content (a blog post) to “gated” content (a free video that required a form submission to view). Kinda like playing ‘form field hot potato’ in a modern day version of Pipe Dream.

Hypothesis
Because “form friction” reduces conversions, we expect that removing form fields from our overlays will increase engagement (enough to offset the drop off we expect from adding an extra step). To do this, we will redesign our overlays to clickthrough (no fields), create a dedicated landing page for each overlay and add the four-field form to the landing page. We’ll measure results in Unbounce.

By this point, we were using Unbounce to build the entire campaign. The overlays were built in Convertables, and the landing pages were created with the Unbounce landing page builder.

We decided to test this out in our A/B Testing and CRO as well as Lead Gen and Content Marketing categories.

clickthrough-overlays

After filling out the form, visitors would either be given a secure link for download (PDF) or taken to a resource page where their video would play.

Again, for this to be successful the conversion rate on the overlays would need to increase enough to offset the drop off we expected by adding the extra landing page step.

These were our results after 21 days.

clickthrough-overlays-results

Not surprisingly, engagement with the overlays increased significantly. I stress the word “engagement” and not “conversion,” because our goal had changed from a form submission to a clickthrough.

In order to see a conversion increase, we needed to factor in the percentage of visitors who would drop off once they reached the landing page.

A quick check in Unbounce showed us landing page drop-off rates of 57.7% (A/B Testing/CRO) and 25.33% (Lead Gen/Content Marketing). Time for some grade 6 math…

clickthrough-overlays-results-2

Even with significant drop-off in the landing page step, overall net leads still increased.

Our next step would be applying the same format to all blog categories, and then measuring overall results.

Onward!

All observations

  • Offering specific, tangible resources (vs. non-specific promises) can positively affect conversion rates.
  • Increasing the number of form fields in overlays can cause friction that reduces conversion rates.
  • Overlay sizes exceeding 800×500 can be too large for some browsers and reduce load:view ratio (and overall impressions).
  • Just because an offer is relevant doesn’t mean it’s good
  • Conversion rates vary considerably between blog categories
  • Not all content is created equal; some resources are more desirable to our audience.
  • “Form friction” can vary significantly depending on where your form fields appear.

Stay tuned…

We’re continuing to test new triggers and targeting options for overlays, and we want to tell you all about it.

So what’s in store for next time?

  1. The Trigger Test — What happens when test our “on exit” trigger against a 15-second time delay?
  2. The Referral Test — What happens when we show different overlays to users from different traffic sources (e.g., social vs. organic)?
  3. New v.s. Returning Visitors — Do returning blog visitors convert better than first-time visitors?

Stay in the loop and get all the juicy test results from our upcoming overlay experiments

Learn from our overlay wins, losses and everything in between.
By entering your email you’ll receive weekly Unbounce Blog updates and other resources to help you become a marketing genius.

More: 

Lessons Learned From 2,345,864 Exit Overlay Visitors

8 Overlay Examples to Inspire More Clicks, Sales & Signups [FREE LOOKBOOK]

Need some inspiration for your overlay design? No problem.

overlay-inspiration
Image source.

Oh, sorry, you didn’t mean an inspirational quote?

Let me try that again.

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8 Overlay Examples to Inspire More Clicks, Sales & Signups [FREE LOOKBOOK]