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Copywriting: How to tip the scale so customers act

July 10th, 2014 No comments

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.

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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…

Web Optimization: Traffic without conversion doesn’t matter

April 3rd, 2014 No comments

At Web Optimization Summit 2014 in New York City, Michael Aagaard, Founder, ContentVerve.com, will present, “How, When and Why Minor Changes Have a Major Impact on Conversions,” based on four years of research and dozens of case studies.

To provide you with a few quick test ideas, we reached across the miles to Copenhagen, Denmark, and interviewed Michael from our studios here in Jacksonville, Fla.

In this video interview, Michael discussed:

  • Why he’s so passionate about conversion optimization (and why you should be, too)
  • A pop-up test that generated 142% more newsletter signups
  • The one-word change of call-to-action button copy that consistently produces results (in several languages)

 

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

  Read more…

Call-to-Action Button Copy: How to reduce clickthrough rate by 26%

March 31st, 2014 8 comments

“Start Free Trial” | “Get Started Now” | “Try Now”

One of the above phrases reduced clickthrough rate by 26%.

 

DON’T SCROLL DOWN JUST YET

Take a look at those three phrases. Try to guess which phrase underperformed and why. Write it down. Heck, force yourself to tell a colleague so you’ve really got some skin in the game.

Then, read the rest of today’s MarketingExperiments Blog post to see which call-to-action button copy reduced clickthrough, and how you can use split testing to avoid having to blindly guess about your own button copy.

 

How much does call-to-action button copy matter anyway?

The typical call-to-action button is small. You typically have only one to four words to encourage a prospect to click.

There are so few words in a CTA. How much could they really matter?

Besides, they come at the end of a landing page or email or paired with a powerful headline that has already sold the value of taking action to the prospect. People have already decided whether they will click or not, and that button is a mere formality, right?

To answer these questions and more, let’s go to a machine more impressive than the Batmobile … to the splitter!

 

A/B/C/D/E split test

The following experiment was conducted with a MECLABS Research Partner. The Research Partner is a large global media company seeking to sell premium software to businesses.

The button was tested on a banner along the top of a webpage. Take a look at that banner below. 

cta-experiment-start-free-trial

 

Five different text phrases were tested in that button. Since I’ve already teased you on the front-end, without further ado, let me jump right into the findings.

 

Results

cta-test-results

 

Those few words in that teeny little rectangular button can have a huge impact on clickthrough.

As you can see, “Get Started Now” drove significantly more clicks than “Try Now.” Let’s look at the relative changes in clickthrough rate so you can see the relationship between the calls-to-action.

Read more…