Courtney Eckerle

How to Drive Conversion Using a Value Proposition-focused Testing Strategy in Email Marketing

September 27th, 2017
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Your company’s value proposition is its answer to the question, “If I’m your ideal customer, why should I buy from you over your competitors?”

While this might seem like something that lives and dies on your landing page, value proposition needs to be brought into every aspect of your marketing, especially your email. It is the channel where customers are going to be interacting with you most.

Plenty of email marketers have begun at least light A/B testing — subject lines, images, button colors — but value proposition is often an untapped area of email testing that could lead to serious returns.

There are four elements that increase or decrease the force of your value proposition:

  • Appeal: How badly do I want this offer?
  • Exclusivity: Where else can I get this offer?
  • Credibility: Can I trust your claims?
  • Clarity: What are you actually offering?

Take this recent case study with Willow Creek, which dabbles in all four of these elements, for example.

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Tara Marotta

Marketing 101: What is the rule of thirds?

September 22nd, 2017
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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.

The rule of thirds is one of the first principles that all graphic designers, videographers, photographers and other creative roles learn. It’s a basic guideline for framing and image composition that results in the viewer seeing a balanced, more naturally flattering image.

To apply the rule, take your image and divide it into three parts vertically and again horizontally (it should look similar to a tic-tac-toe board.)

The rule states that the audience’s eye is naturally more drawn to the areas of the image nearest the intersection points. So, when you’re designing an image for a landing page, a social post, a PowerPoint slide, or even if you’re shooting a video, be sure to put the most important pieces of your image near these intersection points.

Applying the rule to video

Here is an example of a video frame from one of the most recent recent Quick Win Clinics published by our sister company, MarketingExperiments. The Quick Win Clinic series helps marketers with problems that are easy to solve but difficult to detect. Every week, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS Institute, takes a page submitted by the audience and optimizes it on the fly.

The primary piece of information we’d like the audience to see in this image is the person speaking, in this case, Flint McGlaughlin. You can see that Flint’s eyes are framed near the top left intersection point. As people, we are taught to look into the eyes of another person when talking to them. So framing an image so that a person’s eyes are near one of the points where the audience’s eye is naturally drawn makes a lot of sense.

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Courtney Eckerle

Five Questions to Ask to Understand Customer Motivation

September 21st, 2017
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This article was partially informed by The MECLABS Guide for Optimizing Your Webpages and Better Serving Your Customers. For more information, you may download the full, free guide here.

Motivation is a powerful tool in any marketer’s belt. If used correctly, it can maximize the effectiveness of your marketing message and move customers toward conversion.

After all, motivation is the key reason why any of us do anything — it’s just a matter of identifying what your customer’s motivations are and helping them understand how your product or service fits into that.

Question #1. Where is your customer in the thought sequence?

Looking at the MECLABS Institute (our parent company) Conversion Heuristic, you can see motivation (m) placed right at the beginning. However, as you can see by the number “4” placed in front of it, not all these elements hold equal weight.

Motivation is the single most important factor when it comes to affecting conversion. You can’t change something as intrinsic to your customers as motivation. You can, however, gain an understanding of it.

By learning where your customer is in this thought sequence and mapping out the other elements (value, incentive, friction and anxiety), you can craft your marketing message in such a way that it is optimized to speak to all four, leading to conversion.

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is a vanity link (or vanity URL)?

September 15th, 2017
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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.

A vanity link is a URL that is in plain English and very easy for a potential web visitor to type in. URL is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator — the webpage address. Every page on the World Wide Web has a URL, even this one. To find the URL of any webpage, simply look in the browser bar at the top.

Vanity links make it easier for people to visit your landing pages

If you’re sending people to a landing page, blog post or online article from a webpage, it’s easy enough to use a hyperlink — like this — to allow your visitors to click and visit the other page.

However, there are times when you would like to create a call-to-action to a webpage that readers or listeners will actually have to type into a web browser themselves. An example might be a TV or radio ad. Or a print advertisement. For this reason, a vanity link isn’t technically a “link” at all, but rather a URL (i.e., the web address).

For example, the URL for our customer satisfaction study is fairly easy compared to some URLs: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/freestuff/customer-first-study

However, why put that on the customer? It’s in the “Free Stuff” section of MarketingSherpa, so that’s why those words are in the URL. But why make the customer type that in? Or even the hyphens between “customer” and “first” and “study.” The HTTP and www aren’t necessary either.

When we wanted to direct someone to that website and couldn’t use a link, we created this simple vanity URL: MarketingSherpa.com/ConsumerStudy

Notice how much easier that is to type in and remember. Also notice the camel casing — I made the first letter of each word a capital letter so the URL is easier to read and remember, although visitors could type the URL with all lowercase letters and still get to the webpage.

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Daniel Burstein

Momentum Marketing: How to get the ball rolling toward a purchase decision

September 12th, 2017
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“An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

Those words probably sound familiar to you, as Newton’s first law of motion (the law of inertia). As a marketer, you can think of them as a physics-level explanation of a psychological phenomenon — customer behavior.

Rare is the customer who will go from zero to purchasing your product. That is, the impulse purchase.

For all other customers, they will tend to stay at rest until you get that ball rolling in the direction you want it to go.

Building momentum with intermediate payments

How do you start building momentum? Well, there are two other crucial payments from the customer that you should earn. And we’re calling them out by name in today’s MarketingSherpa blog post because, while your company may be doing them on some level already, these intermediate payments often get overlooked and under-resourced in favor of the granddaddy of them all — the fiscal transaction.

But all three of these payments require a value exchange, not just the fiscal payment. So make sure your company is providing unique value in order to earn all of these payments.

Payment #1: Attention payment

In the discovery phase, your ideal prospect shows some interest or has a felt need for your product. Sometimes this is front of mind, and they are particularly interested in the topic in their daily interactions.

Other times, it’s very subconscious, and they don’t even realize they were ever considering purchasing your product or even your product category until they come across your message.

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Daniel Burstein

Ask MarketingSherpa: Copywriting for non-native English speakers

September 8th, 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’re going to start publishing 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.

Dear MarketingSherpa: I wanted to ask you what would be the biggest advice you would give to a non-native English speaker who wants to develop outstanding copy writing.

Dear Reader: We’re all non-native in some way, right? When I started working as a contracted consultant to IBM, I didn’t speak their language either. It was my first tech job, and that industry (like every industry) has a language all its own.

So the best advice I can give you is to immerse yourself in English, especially its use in whatever industries you want to write for. Subscribe to respectable English-language newspapers and consumer and industry magazines and read them daily. Read not just the content but the advertising. Do the same with English-language blogs, websites, forums, social media, etc.

Also, run tests on your writing whenever you can to help understand what language most resonates with the ideal prospect.

Here’s an example — Test Your Marketing Intuition: Which PPC Ad Produced More Conversions?

When we ran that test, we didn’t know if the term “AccuraScope” would resonate with the ideal prospect. So we tested to discover the best words to use.

Best of luck with your copywriting career.

You can follow Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content, MarketingSherpa, on Twitter @DanielBurstein.

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Daniel Burstein

Customer-First Marketing Strategy: The highest of the five levels of marketing maturity

September 7th, 2017
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If you’re not careful, “customer-first marketing” could just be mere words. You could deceive yourself and label anything as customer-first marketing just to make yourself feel good.

To get deep for a moment, I was thinking about this recently because it is the season of repentance in my tradition. A chance to re-evaluate not just our words, but our actions.

Rabbi Steve Fox, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis has explained it as, “Certainly the High Holiday call and the time of the holy days is a chance to reflect upon what’s in our hearts and to see if our actions match our own self-perception of who we are and what we do.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar tradition in marketing? To help you get beyond mere buzzwords and make that evaluation of where your company is on its path toward strategic, customer-first marketing, we created this simple look at the five levels of marketing maturity based on our research with 2,400 consumers.

The five levels of marketing maturity (and the 54% increase in revenue realized at the highest level)

When we were creating this framework, we knew we needed a methodology to reference that would clearly communicate the different levels. After thinking about it and debating it, we realized we had a pretty good model to base it on from MarketingSherpa’s parent research organization, MECLABS Institute.

The patented MECLABS Institute Conversion Heuristic has been discovered from and validated by more than 15 years of real-world behavioral experimentation. It brings a cognitive framework to the factors that affect the probably of conversion. This heuristic was released in 2007 and is quite well known at this point, so you may have seen it before:

Until now, the heuristic has always been displayed linearly, as you see above. However, we realized if we stacked the elements of the heuristic, it would be a clear representation of the levels of marketing maturity. Each level is inclusive of the level that came before it and builds on it.

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)?

September 1st, 2017
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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.

Conversion rate optimization, often abbreviated as CRO, is the practice of improving the conversion rate in any advertising, marketing, sales or other business practice that has a goal of getting a person to take an action. (The conversion rate measures the number of prospects who take an action that you’re requesting.)

For example, let’s say you have an email that asks people to click to a landing page to buy a product. CRO would focus on getting more people to click on that email (improving the conversion rate of clickthrough), in addition to getting more people to purchase on the landing page.

CRO (or at least elements of it) is sometimes also referred to as marketing optimization, website optimization, landing page optimization (LPO), growth hacking, optimization and testing, customer experience (CX), usability (UX) or marketing experimentation.

Despite the prevalent use of the word “optimization,” it is a very different discipline from search engine optimization (SEO). CRO is focused on optimizing for human behavior, and SEO is focused on optimizing for machine behavior.

Web design, copywriting and analytics interpretation are key skills that go hand-in-hand with CRO. This is because many CRO changes are either to design or copy. Also, the ability to understand analytics will (1) give ideas on where in the conversion process you should make CRO changes to have the biggest impact, and once you’ve made the changes, (2) how impactful they have been to your conversion goals.

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Courtney Eckerle

How Brand Marketers Hitched a Ride on The Solar Eclipse in Social Media Marketing

August 31st, 2017
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Every few years, everyone everywhere stops what they’re doing to watch the BIG THING that is happening, whatever it might be — the OJ Simpson trial, balloon boy or, most recently, last Monday’s (moon-day’s) total solar eclipse.

While it may have culminated in everyone gazing up at the sky Monday afternoon, wearing funny-looking glasses, remember that in the weeks beforehand, they had been looking at and searching for information online.

The question for marketers is, do you just watch these events pass you by, or do you capitalize on them for a little social cache?

Even our parent company, MECLABS Institute, got in on the moon madness and posted our eclipse party on social media.

 

 

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Daniel Burstein

Marketing 101: What is a squeeze page?

August 25th, 2017
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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.

A squeeze page is an interstitial page with a form. In other words, if you link to a piece of content your prospective customers want, this is the page they get first. This page asks them for more information before they can get that content.

The squeeze page is the tollbooth on the expressway of information

Squeeze page is not a neutral term. It is pejorative, indicating disapproval with the process of “squeezing” people for information before giving them what they want.

Other more neutral terms for squeeze page are gate, content gate, gated content, information gate, or simply — lead form, lead gen form or lead generation form (although, not all lead forms are squeeze pages. Some are simply on landing pages that describe services and are a way for potential customers to ask for more information).

The information on the lead form is usually used for some type of lead nurturing or sales follow-up effort — ranging from subscribing people who fill the form out for an opt-in email list, setting them up with a drip campaign, following up with a sales call (or emailed sales pitch), or a combination of these tactics. (However you end up using information filled into a squeeze page, make sure you clearly communicate that to prospects before they fill out the form on that page, supported by a link to a privacy policy as well.)

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