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Posts Tagged ‘marketing 101’

Marketing 101: What are variable tags?

January 16th, 2020
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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.

 

Recently we moved our corporate office to a new location. We are in the process of updating our address on our web sites, online business listings, social profiles, templates, etc. When I checked our email templates, I realized that we had neglected to place a variable tag in our email footers. Because of this oversight, we had to manually change the address for several hundred templates. If we had used this handy tag to begin with, it would have saved us a lot of time. Variable tags have several uses and benefits in email automation, but before I explain further, let’s define the term for those who are new to email marketing.

 

What is a variable tag?

A variable tag, in an email context, is a bit of code that you can add to a template that will personalize customer information by pulling content from their personal records in your automated email program. The personalization possibilities can be endless, depending upon the degree of information you have gathered over time about your customers.

Automated email programs have different names for personalization tags. We use Pardot, which refers to them as variable tags. But Hubspot calls them personalization tokens. Mailchimp refers to them as merge tags. Constant Contact just calls them tags.

Probably the most common personalization tag used today is the greeting tag. It enables bulk emails being sent out to address each recipient by name rather than “Dear valued customer” or something else generic. Since customers are more likely to engage with your messaging when it’s personalized, it’s a good idea to use this tag. Even if the only information you have about a prospect is their name and email address, it is enough to insert this tag and begin greeting them personally. You can even personalize the subject line with a tag that pulls their name. Studies show this increases open rates.

You can also use variable tags to add contact information into your email templates, like your company name and address. Here’s just a sampling of the most common ones.

In Pardot, you can add a variable tag in the body of an email by placing your cursor where you want it and then clicking on the variable tag option. It will open a window with a list of default variable tags to choose from, as well as any custom ones.

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Marketing 101: What is a sticky footer?

December 19th, 2019
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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 footer is the information at the bottom of a webpage. On a traditional website, a visitor would scroll down to see the information at the bottom of a webpage in the footer. However, with a sticky footer (sometimes known as a fixed footer) that information is always present at the bottom of the visitor’s web browser as the visitor scrolls down. They do not have to get to the bottom of the page to see it.

For example, the team at Reservation Counter discovered that having the contact center phone number prominently displayed on the website increased orders, so they included it in a sticky footer for their mobile visitors.

The below image from the article Conversion Rate Optimization Case Study: How a travel website doubled website conversion rates in one year points out the places that the phone number was included on the mobile site. The phone number at the bottom of the page is in the sticky footer.

 

Creative Sample #1: Mobile sticky footer with telephone number CTA

 

The Infinite Scroll: A never-ending attempt to find the footer

Another website design tactic that has gained traction over the past decade or so is the infinite scroll. An infinite scroll is when more content loads automatically at the bottom of the web browser as a visitor scrolls down a webpage.

Infinite scroll designs were adopted because they reduce the friction of having to click to the next page. This is especially true on a smartphone where it’s far easier to continue to swipe than to click on a link or button.

However, most infinite scroll designs essentially remove the footer as a website element since the visitor never gets down to the bottom of the page. Anytime they think they’ve reached the bottom, more content loads on the page, and the page just gets longer. It’s a lot like that dream where you’re eating spaghetti — the more spaghetti you eat, the more gets added to the bowl, so you never finish.

This is one use case where a sticky footer can help. By combining a sticky footer with an infinite scroll design, you can reduce friction for the users while still providing the information they would expect from a footer.

 

Footers add credibility to a website

At this point, you might be thinking “I like my infinite scroll design. The footer was a relic from the early days of the internet. Who needs footers anyway?”

For visitors accustomed to websites designed with footers, the footer can add credibility by providing general information about the company, such as:

  • Link to about page
  • Link to contact us form
  • Link to customer service forum
  • Link to FAQ
  • Link for press requests
  • Phone number
  • Mailing address
  • Customer service email address
  • Privacy policy
  • Name of the person or company that owns the website (usually accompanied by a copyright)
  • Link to social media accounts (Pro tip: If you’re using a template, make sure you update the icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., with links to your accounts. If customers click and get nothing, it only reduces credibility)

Now you might think “my customers never send me postal mail, so why does my mailing address matter in the footer?” Even if your customers don’t try to contact you in these ways, simply having a physical mailing address can reduce anxiety for the customer and help them understand that your company is legitimate.

 

The long landing page

While many marketers try to keep their landing pages as short as possible, fearing that customers simply won’t read a long landing page, long landing pages can be effective for some products. Here’s an example of a long landing page that netted 220% more leads for an addiction and mental health rehabilitation facility. And here’s a long landing page that generated 638% more leads for an insurance call center.

With a long landing page, you don’t have the same problem that you do with an infinite scrolling page. Visitors can scroll down and eventually get to the bottom to see the footer. However, if the page is long enough, they may lose patience. So you may want to test a sticky footer. It could help increase conversion by giving them the credibility information they desire. Or it could hurt conversion because it presents a distracting element on the page. The results will depend on how your unique visitors react to your unique products’ pages, and they will likely vary by industry, product type and visitor type.

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Marketing 101: What are microsites? (plus 3 successful microsite examples and 2 missteps)

November 21st, 2019
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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.

 

Microsites are somewhere in between a single landing page and an entire website. They are small, special-purpose websites for a single, dedicated communication (and conversion) goal set up by companies that already have a full site. They work well for the communication of an idea or product that requires more than a single landing page, for example, an event.

Successful microsite creation requires a clear goal and focus for the microsite and should be built from the ground up optimized for achieving that goal.

Here are a few tips to help you use microsites.

 

Tip #1: Tightly tap into visitor motivations

Microsites can be more focused on an ideal customer subset than a company’s overall website that often must serve multiple audiences. For that reason, microsites can be used to create a more forceful prospect-level value proposition.

For example, MECLABS Institute (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) was engaged in conversion marketing services for a national land and home sales organization for consumers. The company had microsites for individual communities.

In an A/B test of a community’s microsite, the control offered a community guide to prospects and used sales-oriented language like “… learn why [community name anonymized] is Paradise Found.”

 

The treatment offered a community map to prospects and a more helpful tone. The map was described as something that would help prospects. “Be prepared for your visit to …”

By better tapping into the motivations of people interested in visiting the community, the control produced a 326% increase in conversions.

 

Tip #2: Use microsites to target specific locations to garner local search

A large brand that sells warranty and car servicing options was performing well on keywords for the United Kingdom as a whole, but there were towns with service garages where the brand was off the top of the search rankings.

The team at agency DFY Links built three microsites for their client’s least competitive towns — Bath, Chepstow and Swindon. There was a similar technical setup to the main site, but with a heavy focus on the town, and the team went to work building links to these microsites every month. The team chose microsites because any increased effort to help the main site rank in certain areas would dilute the UK search and also reduce rankings in other local areas, according to Brett Downes, SEO Specialist, DFY Links.

“Within a year, Chepstow and Swindon sites featured in [spots] one to five on SERP (search engine results page) results for 90% of keywords we were targeting,” Downes said. “Bath was slightly different, as competition was higher and the other sites had a lot more backlinks. However, we did rank on page one for 50% of [keywords] we were targeting, with around 10-20% ranking in position one to three, especially on long-tail keywords.”

The sites also appeared in the local map pack, the listing of nearby businesses that appear under a map on the main SERP.

“The microsites were minimal in code and very simple. Having a lean site ensured we would have a very fast-loading website, as speed has become more of an important ranking factor (especially on mobile) this has given us the advantage [over] local, bloated sites,” Downes said.

The microsites were completely different sites, not subdomains or subfolders. Local businesses they were competing against usually had less than 50 referring domain links, so the team knew they could match the best competitors within six to nine months of link building.

“We could have used the extra budget and created subfolders on the [main] site and had targeted sections for different locations. This may have diluted the main site; plus with the microsite, the assumed location managed to qualify us for proximity searches,” he said.

However, your business may have a very different competitive mix and that can affect how you consider your URL structure, so read the next tip …

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Marketing 101: What is baking in?

October 3rd, 2019
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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.

In a recent MarketingSherpa article, ConversionXL Research Director Ben Labay says, “I think we are getting better as an industry at baking in an experimentation process and culture into our organizations.” (from Ask MarketingSherpa: Maturity of conversion rate optimization industry)

That raised the question — what exactly is meant by “baking in” in a business and marketing context?

If you click on that link and read the final article, you’ll see that we chose to include the parenthetical statement “[including as an integral part]” to clarify the term baking in.

Baking in means including, in a sense. But that misses the nuance. When you’re baking something in, you’ve considered it from the get-go. So that’s why we went with “[including as an integral part]” not just “[including.]”

Not just a cherry on top

Just like when learning a new language, understanding the nuance to a term is crucial to speaking the business lingo fluently in an industry. In this case, the nuance is meant to communicate that the thing being discussed is not just included, but included as an essential, core part from the very beginning.

I suspect the analogy comes from baking itself. You could just add icing to the top of a cake. Or a cherry on top.

But when you bake something in, it’s really part of the dessert.

Words mean what people think they mean

Language is a funny thing. As marketers, we may be trying to convey a certain denotation (literal meaning) or implying a certain connotation (the idea of feeling invoked by a word), but if our audience doesn’t get the essence of what we are trying to communicate, that communication has not happened.

So I wanted to reach out to some others and get their thoughts on the term “baking in” to see how it aligned (or diverged) with my own understanding. And perhaps with yours as well.

It’s a pretty interesting little experiment. We take this business lingo for granted. But miscommunication happens when we assume we know what the other person is talking about, and professionals (especially newer workers in a field) rarely like to admit their ignorance of an inside term.

As you read the responses below, note how we all generally tend to agree on the meaning of the term. And yet, we all add our own little nuances to the meaning. A good example of why we should always confirm that others understand what you’re talking about, especially when using insider lingo.

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Marketing 101: What are widows and orphans (in design)?

October 13th, 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.

“Widows” and “orphans” sound incredibly morbid, and the designer who coined these terms was definitely a macabre lady or gent. However, it does accurately convey how seriously design lovers take this faux pas.

In typesetting, widows and orphans are lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph that are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column. This separates them from the rest of the paragraph and, generally speaking, is considered unpleasant looking by the design community.

I personally have experienced the woe of having an orphan and widow when working on a downloadable book with our design team. Reviewing the finished copy, the team was distressed over some parts of the copy that when put into the template, created these widows and orphans.

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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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Marketing 101: What is a radio button?

August 11th, 2017
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Radio buttons — what are they, and how do marketers use them?

Well, like most marketing tactics, it’s something you’ve seen everywhere but simply might not have known the name for.

A radio button can be used in any form where you need people to make choices, like a survey, newsletter sign-up or a lead generation form.

This example is from an experiment in the research library of our sister site, MarketingExperiments. With the subject being a large people-search company catering to customers searching for military personnel, the test’s goal was to significantly increase the total number of subscriptions.

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Marketing 101: What is lorem ipsum?

July 28th, 2017
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If you’ve ever collaborated with your design team to create a landing page, an email template, print advertisement, etc., they probably sent over a mock-up layout that shows the general aesthetic that the collateral will have. If you looked closely at that mock-up, chances are you saw it filled with text that made no sense (like the one below). Something you may not know? That nonsensical text actually has a name: lorem ipsum.

Lorem ipsum (sometimes referred to as “greeking” or “filler text”) is the standard dummy text used in the publishing and printing industry. Basically, it’s mock text used to represent the copy that will eventually live in a design, template, publication, etc. I read an article on the history of lorem ipsum from priceonomics.com to get the specifics on the topic.

With word length comparable to a real language and commas and periods creating an illusion of grammar, lorem ipsum looks more like a legitimate language than just repeating “text here” over and over or typing a slew of random letters like “skdghwejghsgskjhgdgngowklrgjlsdjgs.” That’s why using it accurately shows designers how much space is available in a layout for text. This way, they can give copywriters specific character counts when they are actually crafting copy.

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Marketing 101: What is link juice?

July 14th, 2017
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Link juice is a valuable commodity in the search engine optimization world — and it doesn’t come easy. It’s a strategy game that gets more out of less and rewards marketers who prioritize value.

For the uninitiated, link juice is marketing jargon that is used to explain the power (i.e., relevance) that external links can give to another webpage. Based on various factors, the amount of “juice” your website gets from an external link can be a little or a lot.

According to the almighty Google, the search engine’s algorithm determines which pages have the best information for a query on a subject, mostly by other prominent websites linking to the page.

Basically, link juice is a quality, not a quantity game.

The more high quality pages that link back to your page, the juicier it will be — which translates into a higher ranking on Google.

A page is considered high quality if it meets the following criteria: indexable by search engines, swimming in link juice itself, independent or unpaid, has linked to you and only five others (not five hundred), and, lastly, the link has relevant, keyword-optimized anchor text.

How can I get more link juice for my website?

In the game of link juice, either you win — or you die.

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Marketing 101: What is taxonomy?

July 7th, 2017
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Janine Silva, Director of Email Marketing and Integrated Marketing, Investopedia, used the term, “taxonomy,” many times as she described her team’s behavioral marketing efforts in a recent case study.

It made me realize that even with as many marketers as I’ve spoken to and interviewed, this term marked a gap in my knowledge. What does taxonomy really mean in our field?

As Janine’s case study explores, taxonomy is vital to breathing life into journey-based marketing. According to Merriam Webster, taxonomy is the “orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships.”

Obviously, marketing’s adoption of the term isn’t too far off from that. When putting together personas, or any kind of personalized marketing system, it’s setting up the structure and process by which people are going to be categorized. Read more…