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Lawn Service Company Palm Beach Co | 561-307-9411 | Jupiter Lawn Care West Palm Beach

When Marketing Automation Isn’t Enough [PODCAST]

inpost
Sometimes your marketing automation platform needs a helping hand. Image by Chris Isherwood via Flickr.

Hey podcast listeners: we’re slowing down the frequency of our podcast episodes over the summer. We’ll be releasing podcasts once every other week for the next two months. See you in two weeks!

Marketing automation helps you create hyper-targeted campaigns, but it can also have unforeseen benefits. In this episode of the Call to Action podcast, Marketing Automation Specialist Yash Chaurasia shares how Unbounce’s search for a marketing automation platform has lead to better communication and more collaboration across departments.

Still, marketing automation software isn’t the magic bullet that some make it out to be. Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip, explains why a fool with a tool is still a fool – and why those who just “set it and forget it” are likely limiting the success of their campaigns.

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In this episode: Stephanie Saretsky, Unbounce’s Multimedia Content Producer, chats with Yash Chaurasia, Unbounce’s Marketing Automation Specialist. Then, Dan Levy, Unbounce’s Content Strategist, interviews Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip.

Stephanie: Over the past couple months we noticed a problem. As our marketing team grew and the amount of campaigns we ran increased, so did the number of emails that we were sending out to leads. We tried to figure out how to write and schedule these emails to make them as delightful and unobtrusive as possible, but our email subscribers were starting to notice, and not all of them were super happy about it. So we needed a solution. Enter Yash, our first marketing automation specialist. We realized that it was time to add automation to our marketing stack so that we could continue to provide valuable content to our leads without flooding their inbox, but we couldn’t just use any automation platform. As Yash pointed out, as a SaaS company, we needed a platform that would be able to integrate with the Unbounce app as well.

Yash: Before we make a decision on any platform and sign a contract, we would really like to test it from the marketing, product, engineering and business intelligence aspect of things. In regular scenarios, usually you make a decision on the platform based on the type of marketing you do, and then you link it up with your CRM system and your web properties. But in our situation, we’re heavily invested into linking marketing automation to the Unbounce page builder application so that we can get all that data.

Stephanie: Usually when you talk about marketing automation, you think about, well, marketing. But the beauty of our search for automation software lies in the fact that Yash had to get multiple departments involved, so it’s almost serving as a new way to unify the company.

Yash: It takes a village to make marketing automation successful. We were able to make a decision on what platform we want to use. That was always Marketing’s call. The challenge which we’re facing, and we’re addressing it at the moment, is because BI and CS and Engineering is playing an active role in the decision. Each of these departments have different terminologies, have different ways of classifying data. So being able to create a cohesive view. And marketing automation just happens to be there at the right moment so that moving forward down the road, we don’t have multiple definitions or multiple interpretations of the same data.

Stephanie: I’m Stephanie Saretsky, and this is Call to Action, Unbounce’s podcast about creating better marketing experiences. We can’t wait to see the impact marketing automation software has on our campaigns, but we’re also being careful to manage our expectations because marketing automation software isn’t a magic bullet, and no one knows this better than Hana Abaza.

Hana: So my name is Hana Abaza, and I’m the VP Marketing at Uberflip.

Stephanie: Unbounce’s Dan Levy spoke with Hana about the limits of marketing automation and how to tell when you need to use a more niche tool. But on the bright side, Hana disclosed how to get the most out of your MA software, which she wrote about in a post for the Unbounce blog: “A Fool with a Tool is a Still a Fool: Why Marketing Automation Isn’t Enough.”

Dan: I feel like marketing automation is one of those things that’s like sex in high school. Everybody’s talking about it, but no one’s actually doing it… or at least doing it in a way that anyone’s satisfied with. Does that ring true to you at all?

Hana: I love that analogy. That’s actually, I think, exactly on point. The thing with marketing automation is that it really has kinda been one of those buzzwords in the last little while, and a lot of people are jumping onboard without really putting the three things you really need in place before you even consider a marketing automation tool – or any kind of technology that you’re looking at bringing into your business.

First, it’s all about the people, then it’s about the process, and then lastly it’s about the tool that you use. So what a lot of people do is they’re like, “Oh, these great marketing automation tools are gonna be the silver bullet. They’re gonna help turn me into an amazing marketer and get great results.” But if you don’t already have the right people to execute and the right processes in place, then implementing a tool on top of that is just gonna be completely unsatisfactory, as you had put it. So yeah, I definitely think that rings true.

Dan: Cool, glad it’s not just us then. In your piece you cite the software engineer Grady Booch, who famously said that, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” Why did that quote spring to mind when you were writing about marketing automation?

Hana: Part of the reason we’re really entrenched in this marketing automation space is because Uberflip actually integrates with a lot of marketing automation tools.

Dan: Yeah.

Hana: So virtually all of our customers use some sort of marketing automation, and we have seen the gamut when it comes to different implementations, different use cases, different ways teams are using these tools. And what it really comes down to is if you’re automating bad marketing, it’s still bad marketing, right? So that kind of reminded me of that quote because if you give a fool a tool, he’s still a fool, so it’s sort of a similar parallel when I’m kind of looking at it.

I read a stat actually recently that says 85 percent of people aren’t actually satisfied with their marketing automation implementation, and they feel as though they’re not using it to its fullest. I believe that stat came from a company called SiriusDecisions. That really comes down to people rushing the implementation and not really maximizing their internal marketing processes and even just their marketing in general and jumping to the tool right away thinking that that’s gonna fix things.

Dan: Yeah, I like what you have to say about if you’re automating bad marketing, it’s still bad marketing – and in a way it’s even worse because now it’s running on autopilot.

Hana: Exactly, exactly.

Dan: When did the limitations of marketing automation really become apparent to you as a marketer?

Hana: A lot of it came in talking to our customers. So while we use marketing automation in-house at Uberflip, we started to feel some pain points when it came to certain things that we wanted to do, and then we started talking to our customers, and we saw that they were actually experiencing very similar things. The tricky part with a lot of marketing automation platforms these days, and a lot of them are very different, right. So what HubSpot does is a little bit different than what Marketo does than Eloqua and all of these other tools, but they do start to just add more and more features.

They say that they’ll do everything for you from nurturing leads, managing leads, SEO optimization, creating landing pages, creating blog posts, creating content, all of that stuff, right? But it kinda gets to a point where the broader the feature set, the more diluted each feature within that set becomes, right? Because they can only go so deep if they’re offering this big, broad toolset. So you get to a point where okay, I wanna do this specific thing, but it doesn’t really work in my marketing automation tool. When it comes down to it, marketing automation at its core is really good at managing and nurturing leads and communicating with your leads, and that’s the core of what it is. Then anything above and beyond that are those sort of extra tools and features that they’ve added that sometimes do the job but a lot of times sort of fall short.

Dan: I think that the expression, what is it, a jack of all trades is a master of none.

Hana: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Dan: Yeah, and I guess it’s telling, like you said, that so many of your customers at Uberflip and our customers at Unbounce are using our marketing automation software and that these platforms have so many integrations with other tools because it’s yeah, it’s not enough, as you say.

Hana: Absolutely.

Dan: So in your post you talk about how you butted up against some of the limitations of your marketing automation platform when it came to building landing pages at Uberflip. Can you tell me about that experience?

Hana: Yeah, it’s actually really funny that you bring this up because the day before you guys actually published that post that I wrote, I experienced that exact frustration. I knew that that post was gonna be published, and I was like, “Yes, this is super timely.” So just to kinda give people a little bit of context, we’re in the process of launching a webinar series, and ironically it’s about marketing automation hacks. With our series we’re doing a HubSpot edition, a Marketo edition, and one for sort of each edition of the different marketing automation tools. One of the hacks that we’re actually presenting in one of the presentations has to do with how to hack a landing page. So we had to do the landing page in that marketing automation tool because we have to show off the hack, if you know what I mean, as much as we would’ve preferred to do it in something like Unbounce.

Dan: Right.

Hana: The landing page was set up. Somebody on my team had done it, and it wasn’t quite working, so I ended up having to jump into it last minute and tweak some things on the landing page. The item editor wasn’t working, so then I had to jump into the source code, and then I had to fiddle with that, and then it was starting to look the way that I wanted it to. It was just a terrible experience, especially when I’m used to using something like Unbounce for a lot of our landing pages where it actually works and does what I need it to do.

So I know sort of in our experience being able to really go a little bit deeper and customizing those landing pages does a lot. We’re using HubSpot in-house, and I would say HubSpot’s probably one of the better landing page editors in comparison to some of the other tools. Again, I get to play with a lot of these tools, so it’s kinda nice to do that, but I mean for a lot of them you can’t get it to look and feel the way you want it to. You can’t split traffic the way you want it to. A lot of times it’s not even an option to make the landing page responsive.

Dan: Right.

Hana: Which is just silly these days, but at the end of the day, it’s all about speed of execution, right, so I want a tool that my team can actually jump into with a landing page, and it’s ready to go within a couple of hours that afternoon, the next day, whatever.

Dan: So maybe that’s the hack. Use Unbounce or another landing page tool.

Hana: Right.

Dan: And not your marketing automation platform.

Hana: If I could get away with saying that that’s the hack, then yeah, maybe I will.

Dan: Right, so another feature that most marketing automation platforms have is lead scoring. First off, I don’t wanna get too technical here, but can you break down what lead scoring is and how it’s supposed to work?

Hana: Yeah, for sure. So most marketing automation tools give you the ability to score your contacts and your leads that come into your database. Typically the way you do this is you will actually set almost like a formula based on certain parameters and behaviors and properties. So for example, Dan, if you visit the Uberflip website, you fill out a form, you’re gonna be a contact. I’m gonna know certain things about you, so if I know that you are maybe you’re the Director of Content, you use marketing automation, and you have all of these properties that I know about you, I can assign values to those properties. If they fit our ideal customer, it’ll bump your score up a little bit. Then other factors that come into play would be you engaging with our website, for example. Let’s say that I have a parameter in my lead scoring formula that says if somebody’s looked at more than three blog posts, then give them ten more points towards their score.

So what happens is you start to score people based on whether or not they’re a good fit for your company, and depending on how your company’s structured, if you’ve got, for example, a marketing and sales team, you might have a rule set up where if somebody hits a score over, say 50, then their information will be sent to your sales team, and that’s a good time for your sales team to reach out. Another scenario is if somebody hits a score of over 50, maybe it’s time to actually send an email campaign to start to warm them up towards trying your product. So that’s basically how lead scoring works in most marketing automation tools.

Dan: So your score builds over time as you interact with the company.

Hana: Exactly, exactly. It’s also one of those things where it’s almost very much actually trial and error.

Dan: Right.

Hana: So at the end of the day, the score is only as good as the assumptions that we make and we put into it, right. So I think that these are all indicators of whether or not somebody’s gonna purchase a product or sign up for our service, and I might have some data that backs it up, but at the end of the day, it’s really best guess. It’s a constant iterative process where you’re always refining that formula based on signup rates that are based on feedback from your sales team. So if your sales team really likes the leads that you’re sending, you’re probably doing something right. If they wanna punch you in the face, you’re probably not doing something right.

Dan: Right, and although the process is automated, those assumptions of course are very much human.

Hana: Exactly.

Dan: You say that marketing automation might not be the most sophisticated tool for lead scoring. Why’s that?

Hana: Well, it really goes back to the idea of it being sort of that best guess and also having a very limited dataset to play with because you can only include properties and data that you’re collecting about your contact in that lead score, right, and you only have so much of that stuff. You can only include certain behavioral characteristics or behavioral indicators based on them interacting on your own website or your own blog or interacting with your own content, but the reality is there are all sorts of external signals that actually might indicate whether or not that person might be a really good lead for you or a really good lead for your sales team. I’m not gonna name names, but I actually know there’s a lot of marketing automation platforms that actually use other predictive analytics platforms to supplement their own lead scoring.

Dan: Right.

Hana: They do that for their own sales teams, so it just kinda shows you that you kinda can get a lot more sophisticated, but you might not need to, right? So if you have a very simple buying process, then maybe you don’t need that added layer of sophistication, but you are gonna hit limits with marketing automation if you really need to get a little bit more targeted and a little bit more niche.

Dan: Right. You include a case study in your post where a marketing technology company called Demandbase was able to identify high-value leads and achieve a 75 percent increase in the close rate by using a particular predictive analytics tool. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Hana: Yeah, absolutely. So the way a lot of these predictive analytics tools work, and there’s a lot of them you can check out. I think in this case Demandbase used a tool called Lattice Engines. There’s another one called Infer, and there are many that are kinda popping up. It’s kind of a hot space right now, but the way that they work is they’ll take your historical data from usually Salesforce and potentially your marketing automation platform as well. They’ll analyze that data, they’ll figure out sort of who the ideal segment of customers is for you, and then they’ll actually layer on data that they get externally. What I mean by that is they’ll find different characteristics that are common to all of the people that are most likely to become your customers. So for example, a characteristic like maybe all people that are likely to become Unbounce customers are also very likely to use Google Apps.

Dan: Right.

Hana: Or another seemingly unrelated, random characteristic that there’s no way on our end as marketers that we have insight into, right?

Dan: Well, does anybody not use Google Apps?

Hana: Well, yeah, in our world it’s true.

Dan: Yeah.

Hana: But you do have those people that use Outlook still, unfortunately.

Dan: True, very true.

Hana: So Demandbase was able to identify a whole bunch of characteristics like that, and by being able to identify what those characteristics were, they were able to go into their database and say, “Oh, okay, here’s a segment of our leads that are actually really likely to convert. Those are the ones that our sales team is gonna focus on.” Then you can see how that just skyrockets everything, right? It’s better marketing-sales alignment, their sales team is much more focused on the right leads as opposed to having to sift through a whole bunch of leads and haphazardly landing on the right one, so really kind of giving the company as a whole a little bit more insight into who their actual buyer is.

Dan: Cool. Okay, so let’s talk about content marketing, which is a little bit more in my wheelhouse than this other stuff. So, I’ve been excited to get to that, and I know it’s also fundamental to what you guys do at Uberflip.

Hana: Yeah.

Dan: So you write in your post that creating great content isn’t enough. You need to create a great marketing experience. What do you mean by that?

Hana: So taking a step back and just kind of relating content to the marketing automation piece, content fuels marketing automation, right?

Dan: Right.

Hana: You really don’t have a good marketing automation strategy if you don’t have content to send people. So a big part of marketing automation is nurturing those leads, and a big part of that is doing that through really good content. Now for a while we were all talking about we have to create all this content. It’s so incredibly important, and it works really well. So for a while everybody’s mantra was published all the time.

Dan: Right.

Hana: And then we started talking about the fact that okay, we can’t just publish all the time. It has to be, as Ann Handley would say, ridiculously good content. So okay, now we know we need good content. I think everybody knows that. I don’t think anybody’s gonna say, “No, you can get away with crappy content.” But the reality is that’s not enough to actually accomplish business objectives, to actually generate leads. You need a good content experience, and just like you would spend time optimizing a landing page, you also need to test and optimize your content experience whether that’s your blog or a resource center on your website or your content library or content hub, whatever you call it, it’s gotta be optimized to meet your goals.

What a lot of companies do is 1) they don’t even think about it, and 2) they set these lofty goals for content marketing like lead generation or building subscribers, but then they don’t actually put a mechanism within that content experience to generate those leads. There’s no button to subscribe, there’s no nested form, or there is, and it’s just a really terrible user experience like a lot of the landing pages that we see out there. So I think in order to turn content into an actual growth engine as opposed to sort of a cost center or this intangible “we think it’s working, but we’re not sure” kind of thing, you really have to pay attention to the actual experience. I think, Dan, you guys do that really well at Unbounce. Not only do you create great content, but you’ve got a really clean user experience, and you’re asking people for their email addresses, and you’re actually looking to drive growth through that content. So it’s good, nice work.

Dan: Well, thank you.

Hana: You’re welcome.

Dan: You’re totally right, though, that just a few years ago, everybody was talking about just publish, publish, publish. Keep your editorial calendar, and then it became about quality over quantity, and only now are people really asking the question, “How do you make sure that your content continues to drive business goals?”

Hana: Yeah, absolutely. There was an interesting stat that Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published in their last content report was that only 21 percent of content marketers were able to measure the success of their content.

Dan: Wow.

Hana: And 21 percent is really, really brutal in my opinion.

Dan: Yeah.

Hana: I think a lot of that comes down to also a lot of content marketers don’t clearly understand what their objectives are, so how can you measure something if you don’t even know what the end goal is?

Dan: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I feel like there’s often a disconnect. We were talking about the whole content experience, but the content creation process is still a big part of it. That might involve a CMS like WordPress and a variety of Google Apps, like we said. There’s a bit of a disconnect between that and the content strategy and the optimization side of things, so is this something like a single tool like marketing automation can help with?

Hana: I actually think it’s hard to kind of pin all of that down on a single tool, but I think what you need to think about is an integrated system. You really have to make sure you’ve got a system that’s working together, so for example, the way we do it is we lay out our content strategy, our editorial calendar. We use Uberflip to actually manage our content and push to our content hub, which is powered by Uberflip, and then that integrates with our marketing automation tool. So all of the data of how people are consuming content on Uberflip is actually pushed to our marketing automation tool.

So now my team has full visibility into how people are consuming the content, and that’s also used when we’re actually scoring leads. Then we’re also passing any contact information, so part of that optimization piece is are you gating content to collect leads? Are you able to include sort of nested forms to collect subscribers? Are you actually building an audience? Because it’s a huge, huge part of it, but as you’re building that audience, you also need to nurture that audience. So when you capture that contact information, it’s gotta sync directly to whatever marketing automation tool you’re using, and you’ve gotta almost be able to trigger that nurture right away, to a degree.

Dan: Yeah, I love the idea of thinking of it as a system as opposed to just a variety of tools kinda just meshed together.

Hana: Yeah, absolutely. It’s all gotta work together, and as marketers we’re being asked as often as developers are now in terms of what our technology stack is, which I find is super interesting and super telling, but I think some thought has to definitely be put into how it all works together.

Dan: Totally. One of the things that makes me a bit wary about marketing automation, and I think a lot of other people, is its name. It sounds so Orwellian to me. How can marketers take advantage of the efficiencies and the opportunities of marketing automation and all these tools that we’ve talked about without losing their humanity?

Hana: Yeah, I think that’s a really great point. There’s definitely the danger of sort of over-automating.

Dan: Yeah.

Hana: There’s also this mentality with some marketers, especially the ones that aren’t as versed in how to really leverage marketing automation, is that it’s really the set-it-and-forget-it type thing. It’s really the opposite of that, right. So while some stuff is automated, the reality is you’re automating it to get more feedback so you can optimize it and adjust it and make it better next time, right. So if you’re automating an email campaign, yeah, it’s saving you the time of manually going in and doing that, but the reality is you’re gonna be able to see the results of that campaign. You’re gonna be able to iterate and optimize a little bit quicker, and that’s really what it’s all about. So, that set-it-and-forget-it mentality is a little bit dangerous when it comes to marketing automation despite the name.

I think the biggest advantage that marketing automation gives you is, provided you’re collecting the right information around your audience, is the ability to actually segment your audience. And that’s something that most marketers don’t do enough of because by segmenting your audience properly, you can actually start to send them the right stuff at the right time. Like the stuff that they care about and what they’re interested in as opposed to this send-everything-to-everybody mentality.

Dan: Yeah.

Hana: Segmentation is the biggest thing, and when we take a look at what we’re doing at Uberflip, our open rates are really high for the most part. Our landing page conversion rates are really high for the most part, and it’s not because we’re way better marketers than everybody else, as much as I love my team and they’re awesome marketers, it’s because we segment our audience correctly, and we send the right stuff to the right people. So yeah, open rates are gonna be high because it’s the right person that’s getting that message, you know?

Dan: Yeah, totally. I feel like we have a language problem in marketing because words even like segmentation and targeting sound, again, so robotic, but they really mean what you just said, it’s sending the right thing to the right people who actually want it and get use out of it.

Hana: Absolutely, and totally, segment seems so technical and official, but it’s just splitting people up into groups and sending the stuff to the group that that group wants. That’s all it is.

Dan: Yeah, that’s all it is. We should just start saying that.

Hana: Sounds good. I don’t know if it has quite the same ring, though. It doesn’t make me seem as smart, too, as segment.

Dan: Right, exactly. Yeah, but it makes you seem so much nicer.

Hana: It’s true, it’s true.

Dan: Okay, so we’re actually just starting to wade into the waters of marketing automation here at Unbounce, believe it or not, because of, I think, all the things that we’ve talked about. We’ve been really careful about it. So what would your advice be to marketing teams like us? Help us manage our expectations a little bit here, please.

Hana: Yeah, absolutely. So I think I really have three sorts of pieces of advice, if you wanna call it that way. So first, be patient. I think it takes an average of about six months to get a marketing automation platform fully implemented, which feels like a lot, especially because I know you guys are a lot like us. You like to move fast, and you like to execute.

Dan: Right.

Hana: So take the time to make sure it’s implemented properly. That would be one. The other one is it’s really just taking your marketing and making it more efficient and finding efficiencies in terms of giving you guys more time to do other stuff. So it starts with good marketing, which you guys already do, so that’s something that I think you guys are already ahead of the game at.

Dan: Sweet.

Hana: I think at the end of the day, it comes back to the first thing I mentioned is that it’s people, process, tools in that order, right, because I spoke to you, and I spoke to Gia, your VP Marketing. I know you guys hired somebody for this.

Dan: Yeah.

Hana: That’s awesome, so you have the right people in place. I know you’re already doing a lot of the stuff that you need to be doing. You’re already nurturing people, you’re already sending email campaigns, you’re already doing a lot of that stuff, so you have some sort of process in place. So now you’re kind of upgrading your tool to enhance that process, so it’s really just those three things and keeping those three things in mind: people, process, tools.

Dan: Awesome. Well, thanks for advising us on becoming fools with tools.

Hana: No problem, I feel confident that you guys are gonna be up and running and automating away in no time.

Dan: Yeah, and thanks so much for taking the time to chat today. This was super helpful and informative.

Hana: No problem, thanks for having me.

Stephanie: That was Hana Abaza, VP of Marketing at Uberflip. You can find her blog post in this episode’s show notes at unbounce.com/podcast. Now that we’re entering the world of marketing automation, we’re curious to hear what you use. If you have a sec, tell us your experience with MA at podcast@unbounce.com, and let us know what you think of the podcast in the process. We’ll be sure to get back to you. That’s your call to action. Thanks for listening.

Transcript by GMR Transcription


When Marketing Automation Isn’t Enough [PODCAST]

Get Over Your AdWords Performance Plateau with These Strategies

When you’re launching a new AdWords account or getting your hands dirty optimizing an existing account, the world is full of possibilities. You implement all your ideas, do heaps of testing and are left with fairly mature campaigns…

… and that’s when the real challenges spring up.

Walking the GR20 in Corsica
Once you’ve scaled the mountain that is correctly configuring your AdWords account, you realize you’re only halfway to the top… Image source.

As a seasoned AdWords marketer, you find yourself yearning for more volume, better CPAs and higher click-through rates.

In this post I want to cover some of the advanced levers and switches you can employ at the more mature stages of your account. For each of the problems above, we’ll look at super-specific tactics and advanced AdWords functionalities that you can use to solve for X.

Let’s dig in.

I want more volume

There comes a time when AdWords has proven a successful advertising channel for your business and your CPA is profitable.

You’ve expanded your keyword list as far as it will logically stretch, you have ad groups covering every possible topic that has been shown to convert customers, and you still can’t seem to get as much traffic as you can eat.

Let me remind you that there’s a subtle campaign setting you can try out: accelerated ad serving.

accelerated-ad-serving-1
 
accelerated-ad-serving-2
Where you can change your delivery method in your AdWords account.

By default, Google tempers your campaigns so that your entire budget doesn’t get spent at 12:01am when the new day begins. They balance your impressions so if you enter a $100/day budget, that $100 gets distributed somewhat evenly throughout the hours of the day.

But when you switch on accelerated ad serving, you’re telling Google to throw caution to the wind and show your ad for every possible relevant impression.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Isn’t it best to spread impressions throughout the day? Why would I want Google to rapid-fire my ad in this way?”

If your budget is tight, yes, it’s often best to show ads evenly over time. But if what you’re after is the maximum number of impressions that could reasonably yield a conversion, and you set your campaign budgets high enough, accelerated ad serving will get you in front of prospects that would not otherwise see your ad due to “even delivery” or load balancing.

You can learn more about this ad delivery method here.

Pro tip: Be ready to raise budget caps if you go with accelerated ad serving. You don’t want to let Google spend all your budget between midnight at 8am, leaving you out to dry during other peak traffic times that might otherwise be ripe with conversions for you.

I want better cost per acquisition

Most people manage cost per acquisition (CPA) by campaign, keyword and ad group, adjusting bids at those levels.

But there are other factors and dimensions by which you may want to change your bids on the fly.

If you only adjust bids at the ad group and keyword level, you’re basically prioritizing specific search topics rather than information about the searcher. Sometimes, indicators like how they choose to visit your site and where they’re visiting from can be even better indicators of a potential customer than the keyword searched.

For that reason, it’s equally important to look at performance by device and by geography. Take your account to the next level by starting to make mobile/desktop/tablet bid adjustments and geo bid adjustments.

Bid adjustments by device

If you’re running mobile-specific campaigns, then you should be making use of this feature. Here’s the screen where you can make bid adjustments by device:

big-adjustments-by-device
Click for larger image.

As a bonus, you can also learn some things about your visitors’ experience of your site through this feature.

If certain mobile devices or tablets are doing particularly poorly, try opening an incognito browser window and accessing the site from the device in question (this’ll “wipe the slate clean” and remove the possibility that browser cookies you’ve collected will influence how you see the site). You might be surprised by what you discover.

At a former workplace of mine, we used to assume that if a single employee saw a bug or broken experience in a given environment, 100 visitors have experienced the same freak issue. In the case of search ads, this type of usability issue can really hurt conversions.

Of course, you can and should run proper usability testing on your app or site to discover problems of this type — but device bid adjustments can be a handy place to learn about potential issues.

Bid adjustments by geography

Some products and services convert differently in disparate geographies. If you’re selling raincoats, to use a simple example, you will do better in wet climates like Seattle and Portland than in areas that see less rainfall.

Here’s how you adjust bids by geography/by state, using the checkboxes to modify bids for a given geo:

bid-adjustments-by-geography
Click for larger image.

Google reps I’ve talked to tend to suggest adjustments in the 15% range. This is a big enough percentage change to impact the auction and review results, but conservative enough to avoid throwing CPA out-of-whack by much if it doesn’t succeed.

If a device or geo is under-performing, they suggest cutting the bid by 15%, or maybe 10% if it’s doing just slightly worse than desired.

See more info on bid adjustments.

I want better click-through rates

When an AdWords account is sufficiently mature, it becomes harder to figure out ways to take up additional real estate in the search results and really make a splash.

The character requirements of AdWords ads are stingy, with just 95 total characters to differentiate your product or service from the many competitors showing up beside your ad.

Ad extensions offer several ways to get more bang for your buck. Let’s look into three extensions that will help you amp up your ads with:

  • Beefed-up benefits statements
  • Links to relevant areas of your website
  • Additional ways for customers to contact you

1. Callout extensions

The more real estate your ad covers in Google search results, the more dominant your company appears beside the competition.

Callout extensions are extra text snippets that you can use to add callout text beneath your ad when it shows up in the top three slots in paid search results.

They show up in gray beneath your ad and they’re typically used to speak to a few key benefits of your product or service. Businesses will often use this feature to talk about things like free shipping, price matching, 24/7 support or impressive ratings and reviews.

For example, in the ad below, the advertiser has chosen to focus on free shipping, 24-7 customer service and price matching.

acme-electronics-ad
The final line of text in this ad shows what callout extensions look like.

Not everything fits in those two tidy description lines, so take advantage of this additional real estate.

You can learn more about callout extensions here.

2. Sitelink extensions

Although your ad headline should generally point to a dedicated landing page for the keyword in question, there are often peripheral pages on your site that might be of interest customers. Sitelink extensions enable advertisers to link to specific topic areas on their website.

These can range from “About us” to “Our guarantee” to “How to save 15%” and similar offers.

Here’s what sitelink extensions look like:

walters-bakery-for-dog-adwords-ad
 

In the example above, sitelinks help solve the problem of a searcher who isn’t looking for a landing page to convince her that Walter’s dog bakery is awesome. Instead, she may be looking for the bakery’s hours or the specific types of biscuits available.

You may want to add sitelinks to link to pages or secondary calls to action:

  • About us
  • Discounts or special offers
  • Our team
  • Our guarantee

You can also enter descriptions for each sitelink, which appear like this:

example-tshirt-store-adwords-ad
 

If you feel an aversion to increasing the number of links you’re serving in your ad, consider this case study, where sitelinks increased CTR by 64%.

These may not be for everyone, but the only way to find out if this will be an effective feature for you is to test.

Pro tip: Get creative with sitelinks! Google lets you test a slew of them at once, and you can view reports that break down how each performed from a click-through and conversion perspective.

3. Call extensions

If your company encourages phone calls to sales or customer service departments, you can also take advantage of call extensions.

Why? Because they work. In this case study, adding a call extension increased mobile leads by 110%.

What’s more, some businesses find that phone calls convert better than online inquiries. Because it takes more motivation to pick up the phone and speak to a human than it does to fill out a form, leads are often more motivated.

Here’s what a call extension looks like (though it’ll vary depending on the device you’re using):

buscot-travel-agency-adwords-ad
 
geico-insurance-quotes-adwords-ad
 

If you run this type of extension, consider tracking calls via unique phone numbers.

This can help prove out the ROI of using AdWords to drive phone calls, can help determine which advertising channel drives the most calls, and can even let you distinguish between calls from the ad extension text itself (like the GEICO ad above) and prospects who clicked through and landed on the website before dialling in.

Depending on the relevance of inbound calls to your business, you might want to learn more about advanced call analytics.

Never be satisfied

With PPC (and more broadly speaking, with conversion rate optimization), the goal isn’t to achieve a “good” conversion rate. It’s to keep getting better through testing new features and new hypotheses.

Once you’ve got your AdWords account set up and you fancy yourself a more seasoned AdWords marketer, you should never settle.

Keep reading new blog posts. Keep testing new features. Because the only good AdWords performance metrics are those that are constantly improving.


Get Over Your AdWords Performance Plateau with These Strategies

A Love Affair: Social Data & Strategy

Less than a decade ago, data merely functioned as a way to track operations or forecast needs. However, today, we collect data to learn about every single interaction of our potential customers. We even invest in new technology just to gain insight about how people learn about our products and services.

Big data is big business. Wikibon projects that the big data market will top $84 billion in 2026.

Image1_Wikibon

Source: Wikibon’s Big Data Market Forecast

An intense bond exists between social data and strategy. Social data determines how your company designs a system to influence consumers. With a plan anchored in analytics, you have the chance to tailor to your customers’ needs and offer top dollar for your services.

Be proactive by integrating social data into your business’s overall plan. Focus on the following four areas:

1. Establish Brand Credibility

Use social data to start a conversation about your brand. From tracking hashtags to monitoring posts, gather intel from positive and negative feedback. Then, build a marketing campaign to engage consumers with your mission and values.

In a September 2014 survey, the Pew Research Center found that 52% percent of online adults reported using two or more social media sites. This is a significant increase from 42% in 2013.

Online conversations are occurring in several places. Focus on two to three social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hashtags play a major role in driving viral content. They can help spread your brand’s message, track industry-related headlines, and analyze the tone of customer discussions.

Consider creating your own brand hashtag. It can be your company’s name or tagline. If your business name is generic, develop a unique hashtag. Keep it short and easy to spell.

KitKat uses its tagline as a brand hashtag: #HaveABreak. On Instagram, KitKat fanatics share photos of how they indulge with the product. Here’s an example:

Image2_KitKatInstagram

Source: KitKat’s #HAVEABREAK

On Twitter, KitKat communicates directly with customers in a fun-loving manner. See below.

Image3_KitKatTwitter

Source: @KitKat

Depending on your marketing team’s capacity, closely oversee your brand. Steer clear from outsourcing your brand monitoring. Value remains in performing it in-house. Your team members are the most qualified to handle the brand. Moreover, you want your voice to be authentic when talking with customers.

Key Takeaway: Establish brand credibility with a hashtag on multiple social media channels.

2. Create Meaningful Content

Content is only king if it benefits your bottom line. Learn what keywords and phrases resonate with buyers. Crowdsource ideas to produce content that matters to the user. All your content–website, brochures, and tweets–should be a reflection of your consumer.

Data mining for editorial content is common for companies. In 2014, the OKCupid blog highlighted the link between race and attraction. This actionable data helped improve its matchmaking algorithm, while providing attractive content for its audience.

To create great content, figure out what type of content already exists. For example, if you want to compose a blog post about SasS marketing, look for all articles that include the words “SaaS” and “marketing” near each other. A simple search query with Boolean operators will work. Try this: ++“SaaS” NEAR/4 marketing.

Image4_GoogleSearch

Source: Google Search

Also, use these other boolean operators.

Image5_BooleanOperators

Source: Boolean Operators

Improved content creation begins with access to this kind of data. It accelerates more targeted and informed topics to interested readers. In return, you get increased audience engagement and more traffic to your website.

Social data intelligence holds valuable information about how your brand and content is perceived. Executives seek technology that is scalable, measurable, and cost-effective. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Create a content strategy based on the data. By filtering through Twitter and Facebook feeds, observe the top performing tweets and adjust your messaging accordingly.

Image6_ArbysTweet

Source: Arby’s Grammy Tweet

Here’s a good example of Arby’s executing real-time meaningful content, “while also allowing data and clear audience analysis to show where and when it would be appropriate to enter an online conversation.”

Key Takeaway: Create meaningful content by data mining.

3. Gain Competitor Insight

Analyze your competitors’ efforts and compare their key performance metrics to your own. Then, optimize your plans for success.

Decide who are your competitors. They should be grouped as any of the following:

  • Your direct competitors;
  • Companies with similar audience, but in a different sector; and
  • Businesses with a comparable content strategy, but for a different audience.

Social media moves quickly. More than 40% of consumers expect their online requests to be answered within an hour.

Measure your responsiveness against other market leaders. You might not control the industry standards, but you must attain them to retain customers and grow your business. By analyzing how your brand ranks within your field, you can set realistic goals for your social media engagement.

Airline delays are common forms of customer frustration. People usually vent about their airplane woes. To ensure customer loyalty, JetBlue Airways is responsive to their customers via Twitter.

Image7_JetBlueTweet

Source: @JetBlue

Ready to spy? Learning what keywords your competition deems valuable can be helpful. SpyFu and iSpionage are two tools that help automate this process. Enter a keyword or domain, and then discover which keywords your competitors bid on.

Here’s how to find popular keywords amongst your competitors on SpyFu Kombat:

  1. Enter the domains of your three competitors.

Image8_KombatSearchBar

  1. Click the overlap of all three competitors’ keyword circles.

Image9_KombatOverlap

  1. The results are filtered by popular keywords amongst your competitors.

Image10_KombatResults

Source: SpyFu Kombat Tutorial

Learn how competitors are differentiating themselves in the marketplace. What drives consumers toward and away from your competitors? Study the competition’s data to learn and grow from their pitfalls.

Key Takeaway: Gain competitor insight by examining your industry leaders’ keywords and customer responsiveness.

4. Find New Sources of Revenue

Social data can be effective in increasing sales if implemented as a focal point for customer service. Demonstrate the reliability and trustworthiness of your business by engaging consumers.

According to the Sales 2.0 Conference, “70 percent of a customer’s buying decision is now made based on information he or she finds online, well before a salesperson has a chance to get involved.” This disconnection lessens the influence of sales reps with buyers.

Help your salespeople get ahead of the trends. Empower your social media team to interact with consumers. Retweet their announcements and congratulate customers on key victories.

Image11_StarbucksTwitter

Source: How to Do Sales on Twitter

Chief marketing officers are under pressure to deliver above-market growth. According to a study, 72 percent of CEOs stated “that marketers are constantly asking for more funding but can hardly explain how much incremental business this funding will generate.” This is an opportunity for marketing professionals to effectively employ the use of big data.

Kohl’s encouraged its customers to shop with a simple call to action on Facebook. The brand didn’t try to trick people or emotionally persuade folks. And it paid off! In four days, Kohl’s got more than 30,000 people to claim a promotional offer.

Image12_KohlsFacebook

Source: Kohl’s Keeps It Pithy on Facebook

Social media serves as an important touch point for business development success. Nowadays, emails and voicemails go unresponded. Make an effort to follow up with prospects via social media.

Key Takeaway: Find new sources of revenue by engaging customers honestly and directly.

Share Your Story

Social data and strategy are the perfect pair. It’s quite hard to imagine one without the other. Plan with data in mind and your business will benefit from more brand awareness, engagement, and revenue.

How are you implementing social data into your business strategy? What’s working (or not working)? Share your story in the comments below.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, the law and social responsibility. She inspires a new breed of innovative attorneys at Hearsay Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice

A Love Affair: Social Data & Strategy

Using Solar Power in Your Home

 

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Residential solar power is becoming an attractive option for many people. They can use the sun’s energy to operate various devices and to heat their homes. It is also earth-friendly and economical way to bring the power in your home. Solar energy can help reduce external energy consumption by 50-70 percent. There are several different ways you can use solar energy in your home, which may include the use of solar panels and solar thermal systems to produce electricity.

Once you have installed solar power in your home, you can use water heated by solar energy to produce hot water and heat your home. There will be a collector mounted on an elevated area, such as the roof, and is used to absorb thermal energy from the sun. Often increases the heat and stores the resulting hot water. This heat can be piped through radiators to heat the house and provide hot water. Besides reducing your electricity bills, it can add value to your home if you decide to sell your home.

The main reason why many people are using residential solar power is helping to reduce the cost of their utility bills. Depending on the type of solar system used in a dozen years, the solar panels can pay for themselves. The Department of Energy United States hopes that by 2020, solar energy will become common place in homes. They also expect to see the normal cut energy consumption by seventy percent in that time.

The solar electric panel is the technology used in solar power, which uses photons to produce electricity. Solar electric panels, known as photovoltaic panels (PV) can be installed in a variety of ways, such as:

• Free standing rigid sheets

 

• Adjust your ceiling

 

• peel and stick laminate

 

How dependent are installed ceiling. The captured energy is converted into electricity through a modified grid system. It has an installed meter that reads the amount of solar energy used in your home compared to normal electricity used. The meter will then subtract the power of solar energy is used and what is left is then applied to your electric bill.

Most solar energy systems that are used are also able to store some of the energy they generate so if there is a surplus of energy can be used at a later time. Besides using the stored energy to generate rooms hot water and heat, it can also supply for other electronic equipment and light your home. The main cost of solar energy is the cost of installing the system and solar panels.

Using Solar Power in Your Home

The Top Five Kissmetrics Reports Every Ecommerce Marketer Needs

Today’s ecommerce marketers have a tough job. Their main objective: get the messaging out about the store and deliver sales. You have the website at your disposal and a mediocre advertising budget.

The challenge for you, as an ecommerce marketer, is how do you compete against a service like Amazon? They’re big, they can undercut your prices, and they can handle low margins while you cannot.

You need to optimize everywhere you can, including your funnel and your marketing channels, and you need to build a loyal customer base. Fortunately, Kissmetrics is here to help. Our software provides insights that can help visitors into customers. And once you get those customers, we provide data that can help you acquire more of the loyal ones.

Let’s see how.

1) Purchase Funnel – See Where You’re Losing Customers

Every website has a set of steps visitors need to go through before they can purchase. The Kissmetrics Funnel Report is used to help marketers identify the areas of their website where visitors depart. Once they identify those areas, they can then A/B test their way to growth.

Here’s how a funnel for an ecommerce site might look:

ecommerce-purchase-funnel

What we know from viewing this graph is that visitors have two big roadblocks to becoming customers. Of those who view the product page, only 33% convert to adding a product to their cart. And once they do add a product to their cart, only 13% of them end up purchasing. If you’re a marketer and this is your data, you know you can do better than a 13% conversion from cart to purchase. And if you do improve, you’ll end up getting more purchases for your company. Cha-ching!

To get you on your path to increased purchases, you’ll need to run A/B tests on the product pages and throughout the shopping cart checkout process (more on that later). You can create your A/B tests in whichever tool you use – Optimizely, VWO, etc. – and then track the results with the Kissmetrics A/B Test Report.

The cool thing about this report is that you can see how an A/B test impacts your entire funnel. So if you run a test on the product page, you can see how it impacts further on down the funnel, all the way to the purchase! You aren’t limited to testing only to the next conversion step.

You can also set up a funnel to view how people move through the checkout process. Let’s get into that now.

2) Funnel Report – See Where Customers Drop Off in the Checkout Funnel

You can break funnels into two categories – macro and micro. The macro funnels take a bird’s-eye view of your site, often viewing your whole site. The purchase funnel is a lot like that. It goes from the start of the funnel all the way to the end. A micro funnel allows marketers to zoom in and see a specific flow within their site. A funnel report on the checkout funnel is one example.

Here’s how it might look:

ecommerce-checkout-funnel

Looking at this graph, where would you say drop-off is occurring?

Without question, most people who end up putting a product in their cart don’t even advance to the next step in the funnel (the Payment Page). If we can increase the people who convert from the Added Product to Cart page to Payment Page, we’ll have a pretty linear increase in purchases.

So if you’re a marketer and you want to increase conversions (who doesn’t), here’s what you do:

  • Use the Kissmetrics Funnel Report to see where visitors are dropping off.
  • Run A/B tests on those pages. Track the tests in the Kissmetrics A/B Test Report. The more tests you run, the more winners you’ll find, and the more purchases you’ll bring.

With Engage from Kissmetrics, you’ll be able to put modals on your site that can increase conversions. A lot of our customers have experienced a conversion boost by using Engage.

The best marketers are able to drive loyal customers. Lucky for marketers, Kissmetrics has a report that shows marketers where their most loyal customers come from.

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics Funnel Report.

3) Cohort Report – Find Customers Who Repurchase

Businesses live and die on their ability to attract and retain customers. To track customer retention, marketers can create a cohort report that shows them how often customers come back and repurchase products. They can even group them together and see which products or product lines have people coming back for more.

A cohort is a group of people who share a common characteristic or experience within a defined period. For example, people who purchased from your site during April are in a cohort because they all did one thing (purchase) during a defined period (April).

Taking this a step further, the Kissmetrics Cohort Report allows you to group people by any characteristic and then segment them by any property. Let’s see this in action.

We want to track repurchase rates (i.e., people who purchase, then purchase again). We can find those people, but what do we group them by? Time? Marketing channel? Product? Product category? As long as you’re tracking the property in Kissmetrics, you can segment people by it.

Let’s use marketing channel as our example. This segments people by the channel they came from. The higher the percentages (darker shade of blue), the better.

channel-purchases-cohort-report-kissmetrics

On the left side we get the number of people from each channel who have purchased. This is not a traffic report. We’re looking at purchases. We see that most of our purchases are from people in the Social channel. The right side (all the blue shaded cells with percentages in them) shows us how many of those people came back and purchased again, by month.

Social looks like it delivers a lot of purchases and repurchases. If we can acquire more people from this channel, chances are we’ll be acquiring loyal customers. The more targeted we can make our marketing, the more loyal customers we’ll attract. And businesses that win have loyal customers.

As mentioned above, we aren’t limited to grouping people only by channel. We can group them by product (see which products get the most repurchases), product line, any UTM parameter, time, etc. As long as you track it, you can get the data that matters to you.

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics Cohort Report.

4) Revenue Report – See Which Products Bring the Most Valuable Customers

Your revenue is probably coming from dozens (hundreds) of sources. Maybe a feature on CNN got you a ton of orders, or you get a lot of purchasers coming from Google searches.

The Kissmetrics Revenue Report is used to segment your revenue and see which sources are bringing you the most valuable customers. Here is how it could look for a company selling clothes:

kissmetrics-revenue-report-ecommerce

We’re segmenting revenue by collection (aka product category). The In-House Generic Tees bring tons of revenue (over $630k) and customers (over 9,700). The other metrics (average revenue/person, lifetime value, and churn) tell us how valuable these collections are for our business. We want high numbers on average revenue/person and lifetime value, but low percentages for churn. (Churn represents the percentage of people who ordered from that collection but did not order again within a defined time period.)

Just like the Cohort Report in the above section, we aren’t limited to segmenting only by collection. We can also segment by marketing channel, so we can see which channels bring us the most valuable customers. By the way, the channels property works automatically in Kissmetrics. There are no custom rules or custom code needed.

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics Revenue Report.

5) People Search – Find People Who Have Abandoned Their Cart

The biggest problem for a lot of ecommerce companies is customers who abandon their cart. They view a product, add it to their cart, but never return again. They’re missing out on a big opportunity if they don’t make an effort to re-engage these people. If marketers can get them re-engaged (through cart abandonment emails) they are giving themselves a better shot at recapturing these lost orders.

The problem for many marketers is they don’t know where to start to get a list of these people. The Kissmetrics People Search makes this process easy. All you have to do is set your criteria to get a list of people you are looking for. There is no need to bug engineers to run a SQL query.

Here’s what our criteria looks like. We’re looking for people who have added a product to their cart but have not purchased. We want to see all the people who fit this criteria in the past 7 days.

people-search-add-product-to-cart-ecommerce

We click Search and get our list of people:

people-search-kissmetrics-cart-abandonment

There are a few things we can do with this list:

  • We can click on each person and get a Person Details report. This will show us all the events and properties the person triggered (i.e., what they’ve done on the site) as well as tell us the last time they were seen.
  • We can export the list to a CSV file and then upload it into an email service provider like MailChimp and send an email to each person to get them re-engaged and hopefully recover some lost sales.

Important note: You’ll get a list of email addresses only under certain circumstances:

Click here to watch a short demo of the Kissmetrics People Search.

Optimize Your Marketing with Kissmetrics

These are just a few examples of what Kissmetrics can do for ecommerce companies. Our reports are more than useless metrics – they provide insights into how users are behaving on your site. Once you see this data, you’ll know what needs to be improved. Once you see this data, you’ll know what needs to be improved.

Head on over to the Demo site and see how Kissmetrics works for ecommerce sites. Or better yet, schedule a personalized demo.

Ready to get straight into the action? Just click the button below to sign up for a free 2-week trial of Kissmetrics.

cta-6-11-2012

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

The Top Five Kissmetrics Reports Every Ecommerce Marketer Needs

5 Subtle Yet Super Powerful Copywriting Tips

mr-miyagi-copywriting-advice-650
Copywriting is a bit like martial arts; you don’t need to take aggressive action to see results. Image source.

Marketing can be like martial arts.

In a fight, you can floor your opponent with brute force.

You can throw a burst of punches and strikes, or grapple until you’re blue in the face. Or you can calmly step back, target one of your opponent’s pressure points, and quickly end the fight with one swift strike.

Marketing your business is the same.

You can grow by taking aggressive action. You can crank out more content, or pay for ads and leads to increase traffic. Or… simply step back and target the “pressure points” in your marketing by finding small tweaks that create big wins.

One of the best ways to get big wins from small tweaks is to focus on converting more prospects into customers by strengthening your copy.

But not all copywriting tweaks are created equal.

You can spend hours tweaking the wrong things and get weak results, so here are five simple but effective ways to ramp up your conversions by cranking up the power of your copy… Mr. Miyagi style.

1. Use open loops to seduce your prospect

Ever had an awesome TV show that you couldn’t stop watching? A series of books that you couldn’t put down?

You have? Congratulations, you’ve experienced the power of open loops (also called the Zeigarnik effect).

Open loops prey on our brain’s natural desire for completion.

You see, the brain enters a state of confusion or tension when it views something as incomplete. The cause could be a story, a question, even a household chore that you forgot to complete — and the only way to overcome that confusion and tension is for your brain to close the open loop.

When it comes to writing copy, an open loop is a part of your sales message that doesn’t tie up immediately.

You can apply open loops to any copy and instantly make it more magnetic.

Here’s an open loop example from the CopyHour landing page.

copywriting-copyhour-landing-page
 

The writer starts the sales letter with talk of a mysterious little secret that top copywriters used to sharpen their chops, and as a result make bucket loads of cash – instantly making you wonder what this secret is.

But it doesn’t stop there. The sales page goes on to constantly dangle this secret right in front of your face. This strengthens your curiosity and makes you more invested in finding out what the mysterious secret is – increasing the chance of a conversion.

Open loops aren’t hard to implement.

The easiest way to get started is to ask more questions in your copy and vaguely expand on the question, just like the example above. This lack of completion makes your reader feel curious and more invested in your copy.

2. Make your first sentence hypnotic

Your first sentence has to open with a bang.

It has to immediately snag your audience’s attention and drag them into your copy. If your readers don’t make it past the first few sentences, they sure as hell ain’t making it to your call to action.

Shortening your sentences (and your first sentence in particular) is an excellent way to make your copy a little bit more engaging.

The trick is to make sentences so short and easy to read that they instantly suck your reader into your copy. In his book Advertising Secrets Of The Written Word, legendary copywriter Joseph Sugarman even said:

My first sentences are so short, they almost aren’t sentences.

Take for example the opening sentence on Chartbeat’s landing page for their study on audience development.

copywriting-chartbeat-audience-development
 

Have a look at how short and simple the opening is:

It’s not enough to just count clicks and page views anymore.

When someone begins by reading that, they’re naturally inclined to wonder, “What is enough then? What’s wrong with counting clicks and page views? What should I measure?” 

These questions then fuel the reader with enough coals of curiosity to make him want to read on.

Also, shorter sentences look like a piece of cake to read, which increases the chances of someone actually getting through your copy. This is a huge benefit because it’s harder to stop reading copy once you’re already interested and curious.

3. Deploy power verbs for maximum impact

Good copy paints pleasing pictures in the minds of your prospects. It dives into their brains and engages their senses and emotions.

This is where most writers make a fatal mistake. They rely on adjectives and limp words to add flavor to their copy, but as killer copywriter John Carlton said in his book Kick Ass Copywriting Secrets:

Good copy goes light on adjectives. And heavy on action verbs.

The right action verbs give your copy a muscular, grab-you-by-the-throat effect that keeps your reader glued to the screen.

The example below shows the difference between fluffy adjectives and power verbs in creating vivid mental images:

The stomach-turning news was extremely shocking. All of a sudden, he didn’t feel very good. He quickly sat down on the large black sofa and passed out.

After powering up with verbs:

The news hit him like a sharp hook to the stomach. He felt his heart rip, and an ocean of darkness washed through him as he collapsed into the sofa.

Big difference, right?

When it comes to descriptive power and sharp imagery, the second paragraph leaves the first, adjective-infested one coughing in the dust.

Here are some examples of powerfully “verbed-up” sentences from Jon Morrow’s Serious Bloggers Only landing page:

copywriting-jon-morrow-serious-bloggers
 

Pay attention to some of the verbs he uses:

  • Because they stumbled into popularity
  • They are desperate to seize the opportunity before it slips away from them.
  • If you’re a serious blogger, you’re tired of wading through thousands of articles, reading contradictory advice, and trying to figure out how to piece it all together.

See how alive and vivid the writing becomes with just a few well-placed sharp, powerful verbs?

Keep a thesaurus handy at all times, and be sure to have a swipe file on standby. This will help you inject strong verbs and words into your copy without ripping your hair out in frustration.

4. Adhere to the AIDA formula

When writing copy, it’s easy to find yourself staring at a blank page wondering, “What’s next?”

That’s where the AIDA formula (by copywriter Gary Halbert) comes in handy.

It’s a formula that allows you to consistently create a smooth, strong sales message that latches onto your reader’s attention and keeps them interested.

So what does AIDA stand for?

  • Attention. This is where you snag your prospect’s attention with a benefit-driven headline and introduction to make him want to read on.
  • Interest. This is where you’ll pique the interest of your prospects and nudge them deeper into your copy by describing how your pain solving product/service benefits their lives.
  • Desire. After arousing your prospects interest, here’s where you pump up his desire for what you’re selling. Usually with a bullet point list that describes all the juicy benefits of your product/service.
  • Action. After your reader is blown away with the amazing benefits your product, you then invite him/her to take action. Usually to make an order or fill in a form.

Here’s an example of the AIDA formula in action from the webprofits.com landing page.

Attention

copywriting-webprofits
 

The headline is curious and grabs the reader’s attention by suggesting that the SEO game has changed.

Interest

Once the page catches the reader’s attention, it cultivates interest with paragraphs which explain how SEO has changed (next to the laptop).

Desire

After that, it arouses the prospect’s desire by describing the benefits of the product.

copywriting-webprofits-benefits
 

Action

It finally closes with the “Get Free Analysis Now” call to action.

copywriting-webprofits-free-analysis
 

Following the AIDA formula inserts a smooth compelling flow into your copy and keeps readers glued to your sales message.

5. Harness the power of reframing to shoot up perceived value

A 1999 study by psychologists Davis and Knowles showed the shocking persuasive power of a technique called reframing. In the study, they went door to door and sold note cards for charity.

  • In the first pitch, they said that it was $3 for 8 cards. They made sales at 40% of households.
  • In their second pitch, they told people that it was 300 pennies for 8 cards, which was followed up by, “which is a bargain,” resulting in 80% of the households buying cards.

This tiny change in the pitch had a huge effect on results, but how and why was it so influential?

Here’s what happens:

When people are told the cost of the cards is 300 pennies instead of 3 dollars, their routine thought process is disrupted. Now, while they’re distracted trying to process the odd sounding “300 pennies” and why anyone would use pennies instead of dollars…

They’re immediately told that it’s a “bargain.” And because pennies sound so easy to spend in comparison to hard-earned dollars, they are more likely to accept the suggestion that the cards are a bargain.

This is known as reframing.

Reframing is a wickedly effective technique. It allows you to manipulate the perceived value of a product by making comparisons and shifting the focus of your reader.

Here’s an example of what reframing looks like:

copywriting-reframing-example
 

You wouldn’t rush to buy something that’s $500 a year right? I mean for most people, it’s a decent amount of change.

How about for $42 a month?

Or $8 (the price two lattes) a day?

Sounds much more appealing doesn’t it?

This landing page reframes the price of a brand new car in terms of two lattes per day ($8), which serves to soften the blow of the price and make the offer more appealing.

Here’s another example from the CopyHour landing page:

copywriting-copyhour-reframing
 

The landing page reframes the price by comparing the total price of the course to how much it costs per day, instantly reducing the weight of the price in the prospect’s mind.

Crafting seductive landing page copy doesn’t have to be painful

Powerful landing page copy doesn’t have to be painful to create. Pick a couple of strong techniques and tips, focus on the needs of your prospects, and you’ll be fine.

Now it’s your turn. How do you go about cranking up your copy power to increase conversions? What’s the weirdest conversion boost/decline you’ve had with regards to copywriting? I’d love to know!


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5 Subtle Yet Super Powerful Copywriting Tips