Archive

Author Archive

Landing Page Optimization: 5 factors that lead to (and prevent) conversion

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Anytime we share research about overall conversion rate benchmarks, I give the same caveat – while it’s helpful to understand conversion rates for your peers, the bigger question you must ask yourself is how to improve conversion rates on your own landing pages and in your own funnels.

 

Is there a methodical way to increase conversion?

While marketing has tended to be dominated by the marketer with the “golden gut” or the star direct response copywriter, other disciplines in the enterprise – from manufacturing to IT – have developed methodological processes to improve quality and consistency.

The MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristic is an attempt to bring the same discipline, rigor and sustainable success to the marketing department. It is part of a patented repeatable methodology (patent number 8,155,995) developed by Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS (parent company of MarketingExperiments), based on years of testing and research of real product and service offers presented to real customers.

conversion-sequence-heuristic

 

For long-time MarketingExperiments readers, you might be very familiar with the Conversion Sequence Heuristic and have, hopefully, been using it to improve conversion in your own tests. (If so, let me know. We’d love to share those results to inspire other marketers.)

But since the Conversion Sequence Heuristic helps more new marketers discovering it for the first time every year, it helps to occasionally revisit this fundamental approach to marketing every now and again.

Read on for a cursory look at the factors that affect conversion, and if you’d like a more in-depth understanding of how you can apply this heuristic to your own landing pages and marketing efforts, you can take the Landing Page Optimization Online Course.

 

Probability of conversion

The Conversion Sequence Heuristic is not an equation to solve. Rather, it is a heuristic, or thought tool (i.e., really cool checklist) to use as you work on landing pages and other marketing offers.

You can never guarantee conversion, but by making (sometimes subtle) changes to the right areas, you can increase the probability of conversion. This heuristic helps you identify those key areas.

 

Motivation of user

The numbers in front of the different elements of the heuristic indicate how much they impact the probability of conversion. All of the elements are not equal.

The motivation of the user is the single most important factor affecting conversion.

To see why, let me give you a simple example using myself as the customer. I am a huge Pearl Jam fan. If Pearl Jam came to Jacksonville, Fla., I would find a way to be at the concert, even if their ticket selling process, sales funnel and landing page were not optimized. I am highly motivated.

The motivation of the user is also the only element of the Conversion Sequence Heuristic that you cannot change. It is intrinsic in your potential customers.

You can, however, gain an understanding of your potential customers’ motivations to better tap into those natural motivations and better serve your ideal customers while improving conversion.

Read more…

Email Marketing: Does your copywriting accomplish these 6 key objectives?

August 11th, 2014 1 comment

When writing an email message, it’s easy to break the goal down to one thing – just trying to write compelling enough copy to get a click.

But how do you actually earn that click?

If you really want to optimize your email marketing, you have to think like the customer and walk through the cognitive process that potential customers subconsciously go through when interacting with your email.

To achieve that click, your email copy must accomplish these six key objectives.

6-objectives-email

 

Objective #1. Arrest attention

Once you’ve captured an email subscriber, and gotten them to open the email, the next thing you have to do is stop them.

Basically, you need to stop them from quickly deleting. Stop them in their tracks to an extent.

By stopping them and grabbing their attention, you’re buying a few moments of their time to make a case for your conversion goal.

You can arrest their attention with a striking visual (although, with image blocking technology in many email readers, this can be reduced to a big blank space with a little red X) or a compelling headline.

Our testing suggests two effective strategies for writing a compelling headline.

email-headline-test

The first is making a promise. For example, this headline was one element of an email that increased conversion 181% (the headline has been anonymized). 

email-headline-test2

The second is identifying a problem. For example, this headline was one of the elements that generated a 75% higher clickthrough rate.

 

 

Objective #2. Build a connection

At this point, you’ve basically shouted, “Hey!” and stopped the prospect in their tracks.

Now you must build a connection with that prospect. You can start by bridging the gap between the headline or visual that caught their attention, and something that is meaningful to their lives.

This is why it is so important not to overpromise or mislead with a headline. If you’ve caught their attention but failed to connect with the prospect, you have only alienated him.

Read more…

Copywriting: How to tip the scale so customers act

July 10th, 2014 1 comment

When writing copy for promotions, content and advertising, many writers tend to be pulled between two possible directions: creativity on one side, and communication on the other.

How can I be creative and still effectively communicate the ideas I have?

 

Think like the customer

Creativity and communication are not the two opposing forces in the customer’s mind. The customer is weighing these two decisions:

  • What is the value of this?
  • How much will it cost me?

“Essentially the prospect, even if at a subconscious level, engages in elementary math: VfAc - CfAc, which is to say, they subtract the perceived cost force from the perceived value force,” said Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, parent company of MarketingExperiments.

This idea is illustrated in the heuristic below to help you see the net force of the value proposition:

 value-proposition-foce

 

You can dive deeper into the above heuristic in the MECLABS Value Proposition Development Course.

In this MarketingExperiments Blog post, we’ll take a look at two key copy elements – one very close to an actual purchase and another much farther up the funnel – and see what value and cost factors the customer might be considering.

 

Key Copy Element #1. Button copy

 

“Select Lodging” vs. “See All Rentals”

 

The button copy on the right achieved a 427% higher clickthrough rate than the button copy on the left.

This was not a single-factor test; other elements were changed on the landing pages that likely affected conversion rate, as well. You can see those in the full MarketingSherpa webinar replay of “Web Optimization: How one company implements an entire testing strategy every day.”

But, this is still a good example of weighing value and cost.

“Select Lodging” subtly implies more cost. The language puts the monkey on the customer’s back. Now, the prospective customer has to take the time to look through different options. Cost is about much more than just money. In this case, the cost is time (a form of mental cost). Of course, this button also implies the cost of actually purchasing the lodging (a form of material cost).

On the flipside, “See All Rentals” implies more value. Nothing is asked of the prospective customer. Instead, there is an offer to the prospective customer. Essentially, the copy conveys there are many rentals for the customer to view.

Read more…

Hidden Value: What buried treasure are you ignoring in your marketing?

April 24th, 2014 1 comment

Earth Day was Tuesday, which is a great time to remind you that it isn’t eco-friendly to use disposable plastic water bottles. What if you carried a reusable bottle with you everywhere instead?

This type of bland pitch to take care of the Earth’s resources doesn’t tend to be very effective. Sure, you may get the true believers to take action. But the vast middle segment of the population who somewhat care about the environment, but are lazy, likely won’t do anything different. Or, they might try it once or twice and then give up.

 

Shining a light on the hidden value of reusable water bottles

When I spoke recently at the University of North Florida, I noticed a marketing tactic so simple, yet so brilliant, that I wanted to share it with you today as the perfect example of revealing hidden value. Here’s a water fountain I saw at UNF.

water-bottle-refill

 

Now, I admit, I haven’t really kept up on water fountain technology. But you’ll notice how this water fountain is different from when you and I went to college: It has a feature that allows students to refill water bottles with filtered water. But here’s the really brilliant part …

bottle-waste-counter

 

I learned that this model of water fountain is the Elkay EZH2O Bottle Filling Station. There is a counter on each water fountain (which the company calls the Green Ticker) that says, “Helped eliminate waste from 35,403 disposable plastic bottles.”

 

What is hidden value?

This is the perfect example of revealing hidden value. Hidden value is value that your product or service offers a customer, but they don’t know about it because you either:

  • Don’t communicate it
  • Communicate it through your marketing, but it is buried and de-emphasized
  • Don’t track or compile the data at all

I believe that revealing this hidden value, which would have literally just flowed down the drain if the company didn’t track and message it, helped Elkay with two audiences:

  • Water fountain users – By quantifying and showing the amount of trash that was saved, users clearly see how the effort they are making as a community (in this case, university) is actually making a difference. It also adds some social proof, showing that others are taking this action. For example, Elkay has a case study about how a campaign built around this water fountain reduced plastic water bottle consumption by 92% and 350,000 fewer plastic bottles were sent to landfills.
  • Water fountain buyers – A water fountain is a B2B sale. Someone at UNF (and every other institution) had to decide to buy and install these water fountains. By quantifying a number that would have been lost, the purchaser is likely to be able to make an easier case to purchase more of these fountains, essentially showing the ROI to sustainability committees.

  Read more…

Email Marketing: Using A/B tests to challenge your assumptions

April 21st, 2014 1 comment

Dan Ariely has a Ph.D. in business administration.

He also has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology.

I can think of no better description of a high-performing marketer. Someone who understands management and organizations, yes, but who also can provide unique insights into mental processes (i.e., the mind of the customer).

We were honored to have Dan as a keynote speaker at MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2014. While there, he stopped by the Media Center to discuss email marketing, human intuition and rationality (or the lack thereof) with MarketingSherpa Reporter Allison Banko.

 

As Dan discussed, if we approach marketing as a three-step process …

  1. Doubting ourselves
  2. Having a bit more humility
  3. Testing

… we can use email marketing as a quick feedback loop to gain a deeper understanding of the cognitive psychology of what headlines, subject lines and offers will get a customer to act (and which ones will not). By doing this, ultimately, we can improve business results.

“You have to try things that you think won’t work out,” Dan said. “If you try only the things you think will work out, you will never learn.”

This is a perfect explanation of Web optimization, which is the focus of our next Summit.

At Web Optimization Summit 2014 in New York City, one of our featured speakers will be Michael Norton of Harvard Business School, a colleague of Dan. They conducted research together on The “IKEA Effect”: When Labor Leads to Love. They discovered a cognitive bias in consumers – people tend to place a disproportionate value on products they help to create.

That bias prevents you from seeing the marketing campaigns and landing pages you create the way customers experience them. You helped create it, so you place disproportionate value on it.

But as we’ll explore at Web Optimization Summit, A/B testing is helping marketers see with new eyes –the eyes of the customer.

Read more…

Web Optimization: How to get your customers to say heck yes!

April 7th, 2014 No comments

For e-commerce marketers, and many marketers with a subscription-based business, the value of the products they sell on the Internet is intangible when the purchase decision is made.

So who better to gain some conversion optimization advice from than an A/B tester who specializes in nonprofit marketing, the industry that must communicate the most intangible value of all – goodwill.

We brought Tim Kachuriak, Founder and Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer, Next After, into the studio and discussed:

  • The power of the value proposition
  • Creating a scarce resource
  • Commitment building
  • The value proposition train

I’ve known Tim for several years through his attendance at MarketingSherpa Summits, and am glad to have him as a featured speaker at the upcoming Web Optimization Summit in New York City. In fact, his Web Optimization Summit session was one of the things we worked on while he was in Jacksonville, Fla.

 

Below is a full transcript of our interview if you would prefer to read instead of watch or listen.

Read more…