Archive for the ‘Internet Marketing Strategy’ Category

Consumer Marketing: 4 communication tips for online salespeople from a customer perspective

February 2nd, 2015

When you think about lead nurturing, your first instinct might be to throw it into the B2B marketing bucket. However, some consumer products require nurturing on the part of a salesperson too.

Consumers face many high-involvement purchases that require a helping hand in the buying process, such as cars, insurance policies and even services like home construction and child care. These typically aren’t impulse buys.

Take, for example, the auto industry. Once upon a time, you had to go to each dealership and wheel and deal to make a great purchase. Now, many shoppers start their hunt online. This leads to consumers having  to deal with “Internet salespeople.”

Today, for anyone in favor of researching their purchases, the Internet is the first stop. It was for me when I recently started researching different cars I might want to buy. Now keep in mind, I’m in my information search phase. This means, as you can see in John Dewey’s Customer Buying Process, I’m still a whole other step away from buying. 


I’m still several months out from actually purchasing. I just like to have my ducks in a row for when I’m ready to take the plunge. Let’s keep that in mind for the remainder of the post as we go through four tips to better communicate with customers during the lead nurturing process.


Tip #1. Segment your leads

All leads are not equal. The prospects that appear on your list are not all at the same point in the decision process. One simple way for you to estimate where they are in the process is based on where they came from.

Think about a prospect who entered your funnel through your site. Then, think about a customer who was added to your list through a third-party website. While they might end up on your email list next to each other, they are two very different people.

Those who enter through your site could already be in the evaluation stage, or they could be ready to purchase, having already completed Stages 2 and 3. Those entering through the third-party site, where their information is potentially being given to multiple companies, could be just feeling out the marketplace.

When I researched a specific car on TrueCar — an automotive pricing and information website — my information was sent to three different dealerships so I could see those dealers’ online offer price. It was interesting as someone in marketing to see the varying responses I received – more on that in the following tips.

But, I’m just one very specific example.

We can certainly leave it at assumptions and generalizations. However, no one knows your prospects better than you. Look back at data — whether that’s in a sophisticated CRM or basic Excel sheet.

Which prospects seem to move faster through the funnel? Which seem to drop out rather quickly? Can you see a pattern based on where they entered the funnel?

If so, segment prospects into groups as they come in. That way you’re able to better personalize the email you send to them.

Read more…

Value Proposition: 4 considerations to identify the ideal channel for testing

March 3rd, 2014

In my previous MarketingExperiments Blog post, I presented 3 steps to take in laying the groundwork for value proposition testing. In that post, I covered brainstorming value points, identifying supporting evidence and categorizing information into testable buckets.

While the lessons learned through these steps are valuable, the real prize comes from the ability to use those discoveries in a value proposition experiment. However, there’s still much to be considered before you’re ready to launch your first test.

So in today’s post, I will continue where we left off and explain the next step in developing a strategy for a solid value proposition test.

Before you begin to think of the ways to express your value proposition, you first have to understand the limitations created by the channels utilized to build your test.

We will always aim to find that perfect channel – the one that provides you with everything you ever wished to know about your customers – but oftentimes, that channel doesn’t exist and we have to settle for good enough.

Today, we will dive into four areas you need to consider in order to identify that ideal channel for testing:

  • The amount of traffic the channel has
  • The motivation of visitors within the channel
  • The need for an image
  • The ability to split visitors


Consideration #1. The amount of traffic in the channel

The first consideration you need to make is the amount of traffic into your channel. This is because in value proposition testing, we often have to duplicate a portion of the content between treatments in order to provide enough information to communicate value for the product or service.

Though necessary, this duplication of information can often lead to treatments performing similarly in a test because they are perceived similarly by visitors. Because of this, it’s important to run tests within channels that have high traffic levels.

The more traffic a channel has, the larger sample size you will have from the tests, and inherently, the faster real trends can emerge from your data.

Some examples of high traffic areas where I’ve witnessed value proposition testing take place include PPC advertising – both banner and text – as well as on homepages and product pages.

One caveat here worth mentioning is the challenge with reaching validity when it comes to highly specialized products.

Though it would be nice to learn something about our niche audiences for those highly defined and specialized products, if you don’t have sizable traffic visiting those respective webpages (thereby entering the channel), you may not be able to reach statistical validation in a reasonable amount of time.

I would love to be able to include the ideal number of visitors you need in your channel, but that number is only one of many variables that impact the time needed for you to reach a sample size large enough to reach statistical validation.

What I can tell also tell you is the more visitors you have, the more flexibility you have with regard to the number of treatments you can run, the conversion rates you can reliably work with, and the amount of variables you need to change to measure a difference.


Consideration #2. The existing motivations of your visitors

The second consideration is thinking about the existing motivation of visitors to your channel.

It’s very important to know if visitors are sufficiently motivated to pursue the product or service you’re promoting. It doesn’t make sense to offer a winter coat to someone living on the equator.

It also doesn’t make sense to try to sell that same coat to someone living in the Arctic Circle and then compare the responses between said prospects as apples to apples.

Those customers are way too different to generalize their responses across an entire product or service market vertical.

For a general example, it’s OK to test the value proposition of a car company in an advertisement posted on a website for auto enthusiasts.

But the same ad likely wouldn’t be as effective on an informational website for new mothers. Though you would likely see interaction with both ads, the mixing of markets would act to muddy the results of your test as the interaction in both places is teaching us about largely different audiences.

Consequently, instead of concentrating on learning what your ideal customer values about your car company, you would instead be mixing the views of your real prospects with the views of someone who may never look at another one of your advertisements, let alone buy this year’s new model.

The main takeaway here is always make sure that the visitors to your channel are all similarly motivated to learn more about your product or service. You can’t track clicks if no one is motivated to click.

Read more…

Prominence: Design and layout lessons from Windows 8

February 24th, 2014

Small tiles, big tiles, wide tiles, blocks of tiles.

Some are self-appointed, some are pre-downloaded and some lead to a miniature world that you love to get lost in like a good book or an Oscar-winning flick.

Tiles are a key component of the latest Windows operating system invading PCs, tablets and Windows phones. The technology behind this software teaches us a lot about prominence – the size and location of an object.

In this MarketingExperiments Blog post, I will share with you the importance of prominence from the perspective of a consumer with the help of Windows 8.


Don’t bury “the ask”

Each page has its own goals. Whether the goal is to get customers to add a product to their cart or generate a sales-ready lead, your page has a goal.


The idea here correlates with how Windows 8 users position their tiles. Tiles located on the start screen are often the most visited websites and apps that users place in a location they find to be logical and easy to access.

So what does this tell us?

Make sure the goal of your page is located in the right place.

Whether it should be shown in a larger size or in a more prominent location on the screen to immediately grab a user’s attention, make sure the location of “the ask” is easy for users to find.

In short, avoid burying “the ask” by guiding users to the goal of your page.


Size can also supercharge your goal

Along with location, size is a major player in the page prominence goal.

After all, why make the user work to find your product or service? Here we can consult what Windows app developers have done with the size of the tiles and how a number of apps are using this knowledge to their advantage.


Apps like Skype and Vimeo will appear on the home screen as soon as they are downloaded.

Not only are they directly placed on the home screen, but their corresponding tile sizes are larger than the average display. This development trick is an interesting approach to increasing the likelihood of the click and grabbing the user’s attention similar to the largest ad displayed in Times Square.

The app is competing for your attention and on your website it’s much the same.

So, it would make sense to make the goal of your page the largest focal point of the page.

  Read more…

Display Advertising: 4 common mistakes marketers make with banner ads

August 29th, 2013

Display advertising can be a great channel to target and even retarget customers on the Web. However, as banner blindness increases, marketers must be cognizant of more than when and where they’ll employ banner ads.

They also need to keep in mind the ad itself.

First, it’s important to remember the goal of a banner ad: to get a qualified click.

You’re not trying to make a sale, that’s the job of the landing page. The job of your ad is to get the visitor’s attention, grab their interest, and earn their click. These three objectives make up the MECLABS Online Ad Sequence:


ea = effectiveness of the ad

at = attract attention

i = generate interest

as = ask for the click

It’s in this heuristic’s three objectives marketers make three of the most common mistakes with banner ads …


Mistake #1. The ad doesn’t attract attention

As I mentioned earlier, the first objective your ad must fulfill is attracting attention. You can see that importance by the coefficient of 2 used with the “attract attention” variable. Attracting attention bears the most weight in the sequence because if visitors don’t notice your ad, then little else will matter.

There are five relative differentials you can use to help your ad stand out against other elements on a page:

1. Size – Don’t think of only the ad size, but also the size of any text, images, or other design elements used within the ad.

2. Shape – Again, you can play with the shape of the ad, but don’t forget the other elements. An image can be displayed in a circle, or text in a cloud-shaped graphic. Don’t be afraid to leave behind the right-angled shapes.

3. Color – You can be bold without being obnoxious. Use color to attract positive attention. While some ugly colors can gain attention, they can also affect how people interpret your message.  Their distaste for a color can translate to you and your message.

4. Motion – Motion has been abused in banner ads, according to Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, in the Web Clinic, “Banner Ad Design: The 3 key banner objectives that drove a 285% lift.” Motion can certainly gain attention, but you must use it with care or you’ll increase friction with that increased attention. Make sure that text can be easily read and the call-to-action can be found at all times.

5. Position – If you can, you want to avoid the typical banner locations. Visitors learn to ignore content where ads are most likely found. Ideally, you want to position your ad in the visitor’s eye-path, where you know their concentration will be the highest.

Remember, less can be more. If you emphasize your ad using all of these differentials, then you are essentially emphasizing nothing at all.

Check out this webpage. The ad really stands out for two reasons: shape and color. The cloud shape pulls your eye to it on page filled with rectangles. The vibrant red also grabs your attention, as the rest of the page uses much more muted colors. But while it is brighter than the rest of the page, the red is not unbearable.


Mistake #2. The ad lacks value

So you’ve gotten their attention, but why should your customers click? You build interest through value. Every action you ask a prospect to make must have a value proposition. This is what we refer to as a process-level value proposition. Think of it like this:

“Why should [Prospect A] click this banner ad rather than any other element on the page?”

In the “Banner Ad Design” Web clinic replay, Flint reviews four elements you can evaluate to measure the force of a value proposition:

  1. Appeal – How much do I desire this offer?
  2. Exclusivity – Where else can I get this offer?
  3. Credibility – Can I trust your claims?
  4. Clarity – What are you actually offering?

Using these elements, where do you fall on a scale one to five? Work with your team to evaluate your ad in each area. Looking at the average score of each element can help you determine which areas to focus on for improvement.


If you were to see this Traveling Dog ad, what would you take away from it? Virtually nothing. There’s no message, no value, no “ask.” While visitors will intuitively know it’s an ad, they will not know what it’s for. With no value proposition presented, the likelihood visitors will click is slim.



Mistake #3. The ad doesn’t ask for the click … the right click

Many marketers and designers become so wrapped up in the design of the ad, they overlook a critical piece: “the ask.”

You need to make sure you’re asking for the click, whether it’s implied or direct. Also, you must ensure visitors know what they’re getting in exchange for the click. Will they be able to learn more? Buy now? Download a 15-page report? Use your call-to-action to set visitors’ expectations. 


This banner ad misses some opportunity. The small “click here” does nothing to help conversion. Why should I click? What will happen when I click? For example, “Shop Our Sale” could have been “the ask” to let visitors know what to expect after they click.

While technically the entire ad is clickable, it helps to establish the action of clicking if you use a button design in your ad.

But, it’s not about just any “ask.” You need to know where visitors are in your purchase cycle so you can “match ‘the ask’ to the motivation of the ideal visitor,” as Flint said in the “Banner Ad Design” Web clinic.

If customers are new to your company or product, they might still be in the research phase. That means an ad asking them to “buy now” could result in no click. However, an ad that asks them to “learn more” addresses the needs the visitor has concerning your product or service.

Read more…

B2B Gamification: Autodesk’s two approaches to in-trial marketing [Video]

July 15th, 2013

MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013 is a chance for marketers to learn through real-world case studies and practical application how to improve the entire lead generation process, from lead capture to sales hand-off. In anticipation of this event, here is a video excerpt of a session from last year’s B2B Summit, “B2B Gamification: How Autodesk used game mechanics for in-trial marketing.”


Dawn Wolfe, Senior Marketing Manager, and Andy Mott, Marketing Manager, both of Autodesk, shared with the audience at Summit how they incorporated game mechanics into the free trial of an Autodesk software program, 3ds Max. Autodesk makes 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.

Trials are essential to its business. Autodesk offers complex, high-end software customers prefer to try before purchasing. The in-trial marketing team is tasked with taking the trial users and converting them to sales in the Autodesk online store.

In this video excerpt, Wolfe explains how Autodesk reached two types of audiences with two different approaches to in-trial marketing.

One approach is drive to purchase, which is applied to lower-end products that have a shorter, less complex sales cycle.

On the other hand, the nurture approach creates an engaging trial experience for more complex purchases. Using in-trial marketing, the team wanted to engage customers in this phase of the sales cycle.

Wolfe also discussed a test for the nurture approach for 3ds Max, which led to Autodesk implementing a gamification program for the trial process, resulting in a dramatic increase in the amount of users participating in the free trial. “There’s a lot of buzz around gamification right now … and the more we got into it, we started to think there’s really something here that can help us in this instance,” Wolfe said.

Watch the entire, free video replay of this B2B Summit session to learn more about gamification:

  • How Autodesk implemented game mechanics into its product trial
  • The storyline and user achievements Autodesk created for campaign
  • The results of this effort

Read more…

Banner Blindness: Why your marketing messages are hiding in plain sight

January 18th, 2012

Your customers may be flat out ignoring your latest news, offers, and ads. Don’t blame them. It’s simple human nature.

Take a quick look at your surroundings – your cubicle, your office, your solarium – wherever you’re reading this. How much do you notice what’s around you? I mean…really notice?

Not as much as you think you do, I’m guessing. Take a recent experiment run here in the labs. And by “experiment” I mean “practical joke run by our Associate Director of Optimization, Adam Lapp.”

Adam Photoshopped a picture of one of our Research Analysts, Ashley, posing with a friend. It’s the picture in this blog post. Perhaps it looks normal at first glance, but if you take a closer look, you can see that the blonde woman on the right looks a little, well, masculine.

That’s because Adam Photoshopped the face of a male Research Analyst over the face of Ashley’s female friend. He then replaced the photo she had hanging in her cubicle with this photo.

And, Ashley didn’t even notice her friend’s metamorphosis until someone pointed it out to her. Even though it was right in front of her face all day. Why?

Read more…