Daniel Burstein

Call-to-Action Optimization: 132% increase in clickthrough from changing four simple words

February 14th, 2018
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Think of all the money you invest in attracting customers before they even get to the call-to-action … buying media or traffic, designing websites and landing pages, crafting just the right offer.

If you can squeeze just a bit higher conversion rate out of your calls-to-action (CTAs), it increases the ROI on the rest of your marketing investment.

And that’s just a few percent. What about more than doubling the conversion of that CTA? Without the need for any IT or development resources?

A recent experiment MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa) ran with a Research Partner did just that. Let’s walk through the simple word changes and what you can learn from them as you craft your own calls-to-action and button copy.

Experiment design

This experiment was a landing page test that encouraged people to get a physical copy of a textbook mailed to them. These people are decision makers. They choose a product that will lead to significant product sales from others. By getting the sample in these decision makers’ hands, they are more likely to select this product and, therefore, drive significant sales.

The experiment had a control and two treatments. There were several differences between the control and the treatments including changing the image, headline and call-to-action. Both treatments improved clickthrough rate (CTR), with the second treatment generating a 277% increase in CTR at a 99% level of confidence.

That clickthrough increase carried its way through the funnel to an increase for the final conversion as well — an 82% increase in conversion for Treatment 2 at a 99% level of confidence.

But here’s where it gets more interesting. While the team changed several variables between the control and the treatments, they only changed a single variable between Treatment 1 and Treatment 2 — the call-to-action — to discover the impact of the CTA wording.

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Daniel Burstein

There’s Treasure Everywhere: Turning waste into profit

February 9th, 2018
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Hobbes: Why are you digging a hole?

Calvin: I’m looking for buried treasure!

Hobbes: What have you found?

Calvin: A few dirty rocks, a weird root, and some disgusting grubs.

Wait for it … Wait for it …

Hobbes: On your first try??

Calvin: There’s treasure everywhere!

I thought of this cartoon by Bill Watterson (which he also used to name a cartoon collection book) while reading the Harvard Business Review article Searching for New Ideas in the Curious Things Your Customers Do by Taddy Hall and Eddie Yoon.

Turning a waste product into a $500 million brand

Hall and Yoon tell the story of Steve Hughes, now the CEO of Sunrise Strategic Partners. He was walking through a Tropicana factory when he noticed some workers on break taking the excess pulp (a waste product in orange juice production) and mixing it into juice they would drink themselves.

Instead of ignoring the workers or just assuming their behavior was odd, Hughes got curious and asked them about it. They explained that it made the juice taste fresh squeezed. This interaction gave Hughes the idea to launch Tropicana Grovestand  “the taste of fresh-squeezed orange juice,” which after four years became a $500 million brand.

That is just one example of turning waste into profit. Throughout history, curious business people have not only used this process to launch complementary brands in their own company like Hall and Yoon’s Tropicana example, they’ve also launched entirely new companies off their company’s waste (Kingsford was created when Henry Ford turned wood scraps from Model T manufacturing into charcoal briquets) and launched new brands off other companies’ waste (I interviewed TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky back in 2007, and since then, the company has made everything from pencil cases to furniture out of other brands’ waste).

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is an A/B split test?

February 2nd, 2018
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

An A/B split test refers to a test situation in which two randomized groups of users are sent different content at the same time to monitor the performance of specific campaign elements.

A/B split testing is a powerful way to improve marketing and messaging performance because it enables you to make decisions about the best headline, ad copy, landing page design, offer, etc., based on actual customer behavior and not merely a marketer’s opinion.

 

Let’s break down the process of A/B split testing.

Real People Enter the Test

This is part of the power of A/B split testing as compared to other forms of marketing research such as focus groups or surveys. A/B split testing is conducted with real people in a real-world purchase situation making real decisions, as opposed to a survey or focus group where you’re asking people who (hopefully) represent your customers what they might do in a hypothetical situation, or to remember what they have done in a past situation.

Not only can you inadvertently influence people in ways that change their answer (since the research gathering mechanism does not exactly mimic the real-world situation), but people may simply tell you what they think you want to hear.

Or, many times, customers misjudge how they would act in a situation or misremember how they have acted in the past.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use surveys, focus groups and the like. Use this new information to create a hypothesis about your customers. And then run an A/B split test to learn from real customers if your hypothesis is correct.

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Daniel Burstein

Customer Satisfaction Segmentation: Customer expectations extend beyond the end users of your products

January 26th, 2018
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When measuring customer satisfaction after the purchase of your products, it’s all too easy to think of the process in a linear fashion:

  • I produce marketing and advertising that sets an expectation for my product
  • A customer then buys and uses my product
  • I will then ask that customer if they are satisfied with the product

However, while reading Customer Expectations: 7 Types All Exceptional Researchers Must Understand by Scott Smith, Ph.D., as part of my studies in the University of Florida/MECLABS Institute Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program, there was a line from Dr. Smith that really stood out to me: “The product purchaser, influencer and user may have each been a different type of individual, each having different expectations.”

Notice he doesn’t just say a different individual, but a different type of individual. The key lesson here is that you should not only segment your marketing but segment your customer satisfaction measurement as well.

And while many B2B marketers will see how this is instantly applicable to them, it likely applies to many B2C and nonprofit marketers as well.

Let’s take a look at each type of customer, with an example for each type of marketer.

                                                                                Photo courtesy Flickr CC Village9991

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Daniel Burstein

Winning the Negative Moment of Truth

January 19th, 2018
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As a student in the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program from the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute, I recently read the ebook “Winning the Zero Moment of Truth” by Jim Lecinski.

Even though it is obvious content marketing for Google, it’s still a very good book. It’s six years old at this point, so I’m sure you’ve heard the term Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) by now, but there are still many good ideas you can get from the book to improve your content and other digital marketing.

The power of ratings and reviews

As he explains in the book, Lecinski’s ZMOT term is a play off a quote from Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley (p. 11, Lecinski, 2011):

The best brands consistently win two moments of truth. The first moment occurs at the store shelf, when a consumer decides whether to buy one brand or another. The second occurs at home, when she uses the brand — and is delighted, or isn’t.

That got me thinking of creating my own play off of ZMOT that ties into Lafley’s Second Moment of Truth.

In much of the book, Lecinski explains how important ratings and reviews are for a range of products thanks to how friction-free getting this information is on the internet versus the pre-internet days. No longer are people only reading the print edition of Consumer Reports to get reviews on cars and washing machines, now they search reviews on everything.

“When I go to a presentation at, say, a Hilton Hotel, I tell the audience this: ‘There are more reviews online for the Bounce Dryer Bar than there are for the hotel we’re sitting in right now.’” he says (p. 38, Lecinski, 2011) He says that 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase (p. 10, Lecinski, 2011).

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Daniel Burstein

Customers as Value-Creating Partners, Not Just Value-Extraction Targets

January 12th, 2018
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What is a customer anyway? According to the definition you get when you type the term into Google, a customer is “a person or organization that buys a good or service from a store or business.”

This is a very one-sided view of a customer — let’s get the money from customers, as much as we can. Sure, we give them value in return. But mostly, customers are the cow and brands are trying to pump them for as much milk as they can.

However, in the Harvard Business Review article What Most Companies Miss About Customer Lifetime Value (an article I’m reading as part of the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program form the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute), Michael Schrage insinuates a very different definition.

Customers as members of a company’s value-delivery ecosystem

In the article, Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, explains workshops he runs with companies where he asks them to answer the question “Our customers become much more valuable when …”

                                                                   photo courtesy: Didrik, Creative Commons, Flickr

Here’s what really stuck with me about the exercise: “It doesn’t take long before the answers start to incorporate an investment ethos that sees customers more as value-creating partners than as value-extraction targets,” Schrage said.

How do customers add value? Everything from providing feedback, to word-of-mouth marketing, to being early adopters for new products.

However, I would argue that customers must first be satisfied before they are willing to engage in any of these activities.

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Daniel Burstein

The Difference Between Marketing and Advertising (and Why It Matters)

January 5th, 2018
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In his 1923 book “Scientific Advertising,” Claude Hopkins said, “Advertising is multiplied salesmanship.” But in the modern day, I’ve more often seen a tight comparison (and even confusion) between marketing and advertising.

On the other hand, marketing and advertising are distinct majors in college. Most agencies are advertising agencies, and most departments inside companies that promote the sale of products are marketing departments.

Why the distinction? Are these two words synonyms, or is there a real difference?

A high-level, ephemeral topic like this isn’t something marketers spend most of their time thinking about. They’re too heads down, focused on budgets and marketing automation and copywriting. I know I am.

But I came across that quote from Hopkins when I took MMC 5435: Messaging Strategy and the Centrality of the Value Proposition, part of the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate created by MECLABS Institute in partnership with the University of Florida.

And so I started pondering the bigger, more existential topics of marketing, such as this one. Marketing philosophy, if you will.

                                            photo courtesy: “cVillain Sponsor Post” Creative Commons, Spicy Bear, Flickr

More than just nomenclature

To me, marketing is strategy and advertising is (but one) execution of that strategy …

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Daniel Burstein

Best of 2017: MarketingSherpa’s most popular content about email, customer-first marketing, and competitive analysis

December 21st, 2017
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As you head into 2018, I hope you have grand plans on how to exceed your company’s goals, improve results and create even more effective customer-first marketing.

Whatever your plans are for 2018, it all begins with an idea — and the inspiration to carry out that idea.

Hopefully, here at MarketingSherpa, we’ve played even a small part in powering those ideas and providing that inspiration. To give you that little extra oomph before we cross the line into 2018, here’s a look at some of our readers’ favorite content from the MarketingSherpa Blog this past year.

Time to Move On: Three email marketing habits your customers are sick of seeing

We provided some ideas for email marketing habits you might want to break. Habits like tricky subject lines.

Or overlooking your email’s true call-to-action. “Actually, I kind of view it as a failure for that email if they do click on anything but my main CTA. That was the point of sending the email,” said Bart Thornburg, Senior Manager, Email Marketing, Wedding Wire.

Read the blog post to see if any of these habits look familiar to you from your email marketing campaigns.

Email Marketing: Five ideas to increase your email’s perceived value

Value, much like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder. And for marketing, that beholder is the customer.

So how can you create value for your email subscribers and make sure they perceive that value?

For one thing, you should be thinking of your emails as more than just promotions. “Content-focused emails now sell just as well as the product-focused ones,” said Blake Pinsker, Marketing and Brand Director, MVMT.

Relevance is always key. For example, including product names in cart abandonment emails, “customers seem to have a really high open rate in that one because it recognized what they had been looking at not long ago,” said Victor Castro, Director of eCommerce, Zachys Wine & Liquor.

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Tara Marotta

Ask MarketingSherpa: Should I use geo-targeting for event emails?

December 19th, 2017
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We frequently receive questions about marketing advice from our email subscribers. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we publish some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog since they may be able to help many other readers. And if you have any questions, let us know.

This question was submitted by Email Marketing Manager Korbin in reference to emails about his organization’s events.

Korbin: I’m trying to find the average decrease in conversion when we send an event email to a 30-mile radius around the event, versus something larger like 70 miles. It’s caused some heated disagreements between field and HQ staff.

Do you have any research on something like this? For example, if an event is in Denver, and we send an email invitation to 30 miles around Denver (~1 hr drive radius), how does that conversion/unsubscribe rate compare to an invitation sent to something like a 50 or 70-mile radius (~2-3 hrs.)? Is it worth expanding the send?

Dear Korbin: I asked around the lab and while we don’t have the precise data to support the decision you are looking to make, my colleagues were happy to review and provide their perspectives on your challenge.

Here are the insights I was able to gather:

Insights based on experience

From running our own events, our hypothesis is that the specific time or mileage would most likely vary by location. For example, here in Jacksonville, we’re pretty spread out, and people are used to going a long way to get places. The same is true in Los Angeles.

The Boston market seems way different. Someone isn’t going to come in from Cambridge to get into the city or go from the city out to the suburbs. New York is the same.

But that’s just a hypothesis. Would love to see your test. In the meantime, here’s some content you might find helpful:

In addition to the distance to the event, the messaging and title of the event are important, of course. Here’s an experiment we ran for one of our own events:

Email Testing: More Specific Subject Line Improves Open Rate By More Than 35%

Insights based on testing

Leads from our data sciences and research teams shared the results of a campaign they worked on for a large event with satellite host locations.

They ran a geo-targeted email test based on the registration addresses of previous attendees/alumni:

  Message CTA Clickthrough Registrations
Control General event messaging Register Now for a Location Near You 2.0% 34
Treatment This year, the closest host site to you appears to be: Host site name, City, State Reserve Your Seat Here Now 3.7% 162

Based on the success of the geo-targeting, this organization then sent the same treatment email to their entire list of subscribers based on IP address, securing an additional 87 registrations.

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Daniel Burstein

People Buy From People: Five examples of how to bring the humanity back to marketing

December 13th, 2017
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“People don’t buy from websites, people buy from people.” This is an essential principle from the MECLABS Institute Landing Page Optimization certification course (from the parent research organization of MarketingSherpa).

With so much focus on martech, marketing org structure and website optimization, and channels ranging from print to digital advertising, this principle can be easy to forget.

Yes, marketing technology is powerful. Yes, the correct structure of the marketing department and IT department are necessary; and you certainly want a well-functioning website.

But this is just infrastructure. Mere roads.

You, dear marketer, are in the driver’s seat. You decide how to use these roads.

The most effective way to use them is to connect with other people. Remember that everyone behind the technology is a real, complex human. And everyone on the receiving end is a real, complex human with hopes and fears, needs and wants, goals and pain points.

Here are five examples to give you ideas for bringing humanity back to your marketing.

Example #1: Engage with influencers

Every B2B industry and B2C niche customer community has influencers. Rock stars to that specific group of people, even if no one in the general public knows who they are. They’re more than a brand or a logo; they’re a person. And when it’s the right person for your ideal customer, your customer deeply wants to learn from these influencers.

“I would say don’t be afraid to talk to your influencers in your industry. Engage them and try to partner with them,” said Mike Hamilton, Director of Marketing Programs, Exterro.

Exterro is a legal software company specializing in e-discovery. When it launched its vendor-neutral E-Discovery Day virtual event three years ago, the team was able to get a couple of key influencers on board. In Exterro’s case, a few of these influencers were federal judges.

Having federal judges speaking on a webcast back then was a big deal. So, Hamilton started calling other influencers in the industry and used the federal judges’ names as a proof point that E-Discovery Day was designed to be a day of education and not vendor-speak. Exterro opened it up to competitors, law firms, anyone in the industry. As a result of bringing all these influencers on board, the team was able to get more than 2,400 event attendees this year, an increase of 70% from 2016.

“If someone has a blog in your industry, and you think they write great content at the same audience as you, send them the email, or don’t be afraid to call them and just ask them what they’re doing, how they’re looking to grow their influence, and how you could potentially partner together. Because the reason why I think E-Discovery Day was so successful was we got buy-in from a lot of influencers in the community at the very beginning,” Hamilton said.

Example #2: Talk to one person … or account

Marketers can do amazing things with data and automation these days. However, sometimes it’s worth singling out important accounts and customers and giving them a more manual, human touch.

This may seem overwhelming at first, but if you analyze your most valuable customers to determine who your best customers will be, you may find that some version of the Pareto principle is at play. In other words, 80% of your revenue may come from 20% of customers.

Trapeze Group, a provider of hardware and software to the public transit industry throughout the world, took an account-based marketing (ABM) approach to try focusing and humanizing its marketing to specific accounts.

They started a pilot program with a public transit agency in the Los Angeles area, and positioned the ABM strategy in the business as “ensuring that it was not just a marketing or sales function but also that of project management and customer success,” said Michelle McCabe, Manager of Demand Generation and Marketing Operations, Trapeze Group North America.

For example, the team created a personalized magazine just for that account. The magazine contained a combination of custom content that was created from scratch for the people in that account as well as repurposed content. “We knew that some of the C-levels were a little bit more traditional. So we felt that a print magazine might speak to them a little bit more than something digital, which is why we went for a printed magazine versus digital specifically for this account,” McCabe said.

In addition, the team created a 3D-printed statue and sent it specifically to one person in the account. “It said the word ‘innovation’ because that spoke true to his role and his overall mission. He did receive it, and he thanked us for that, which was great,” McCabe recounted.

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