Archive for ‘General Marketing’

February 5th, 2015

5 Ways to Tweak Your Email Sign Up Forms to Boost Subscribers

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Most of us are perpetually looking for new contacts to add to our subscriber lists. It’s part of life as a modern marketer. The average email list churns by about 30 percent every year, so we have to constantly be on the lookout for new and innovative ways to fill that funnel.

The good news is, every page on your site is full of opportunities to engage your visitors and convince them to join your list. The bad news is, most visitors don’t spend much time on a web page – in fact, 55% spend 15 seconds or less on your site.

So, how can you make the most of those 15 seconds? Here are five simple tweaks to optimize your signup form – and convert more clicks.

Tweak #1: Shine a spotlight on your call to action.

Keep the call to action in the visitor’s line of sight as long as possible. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a lightbox to add the form to a sticky header or footer and keep it on screen at all times.

I know – lightboxes (also known as pop-ups) aren’t universally loved. Some marketers believe they degrade the brand. Others feel they degrade the user experience. Others just think they’re ugly.

Fact is, when it comes to attracting new subscribers, lightboxes are a tried-and-true tactic. They work because they make it easy for visitors to find your form – and to join your list.

If you’re still on the fence, consider this: Amazon uses a similar method to keep the “Add to Cart” button on screen. By keeping the button on screen at all times, the visitor can add the product to their cart at any time without having to scroll all the way back to the top of the page, making it far more likely that the visitor will make a purchase.

Also: Be specific. A generic “contact us” message isn’t going to yield the same results as a more specific CTA. Think about your key messages. If you’re trying to raise funds for your food pantry, your CTA might be, “Help feed the hungry.” If you are pushing a new ebook, try “Get the inside scoop now.” A CTA directly related to the content you’re offering will always generate better results.

Tweak #2: Pique visitor interest by adding video.

Video is a must-have for marketers for many reasons. First, it boosts awareness: Videos increase people’s understanding of your product or service by 74%. It also is a powerful conversion tool. Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video.

Video’s also one of the best ways to keep guests on your site for longer than the aforementioned 15 seconds. If you have a video on your page, position your opt-in right under it. Or, use a lightbox to ask people to join before they view. By tying your signup to a video that already has the visitor’s attention, you’ll increase the chances that they’ll sign up for your list.

Tweak #3: Relocate your form to prime real estate.

Many company websites corral links in footers for the sake of design. It looks clean – but it can lead to many missed opt-in opportunities. Put your signup form at the top of your home page alongside some other engaging content. You’ll get the most eyeballs possible on your form without requiring site visitors to scroll all the way down to the bottom.

Tweak #4: Encourage engagement with interactive elements.

Keep your audience captivated by adding engaging elements to your form, like an animated gif.

Another tactic? Switch up the look and feel of your opt-in to make it look more like a live chat box. Ask the user a question like, “Hi, I’m Emily – want to learn more about our product?” This also provides a great opportunity for A/B testing. Craft several copy options, and rotate various questions until you find the one that best resonates with your target audience.

Tweak #5: Modify it for mobile.

Today, it’s absolutely critical to optimize your forms for mobile – 80% of Internet searches are made on a smartphone, and 47% are logged from a tablet. With that in mind, your sign-up forms should be built with a smaller screen and ease of scrolling in mind. Instead of putting a bunch of fields on your form, limit it to one or two fields and add a big call to action button. This allows visitors to join your list with the tap of a button.

Christopher Lester is the vice president of sales at Emma where he leads the team of experts who provide strategic and tactical services to all Emma clients, as well as specialized support to large senders and significant brands.


Archive for ‘General Marketing’

January 27th, 2015

Five Ways to Use Data to Shape Your 2015 Marketing Budget

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As a New Year begins, marketers are putting the finishing touches on their marketing budgets and making adjustments to previously submitted plans to make sure they get the most out of their marketing spend in 2015. In an increasingly data-driven world, it’s more important than ever to be able to justify marketing expenditures and demonstrate value.

And that’s why data should be a consideration in formulating marketing budgets on the front-end, not just on justifying marketing spend after the fact. With that in mind, here are five ways you can use data to shape your 2015 marketing budget:

  1. Use 2014 data to develop campaigns targets. Marketers generally get a target from upper management – for example, to generate $10M in sales. To develop realistic campaign targets, analyze 2014 data to determine how many leads you generated, how many sales were closed and the average size of each deal. That will give you a ballpark figure for the number of leads you need to generate in 2015 to reach your target.
  1. Identify industry benchmarks to develop realistic close rates. When developing forecasts for 2015 marketing campaigns, it’s also helpful to leverage industry data so you can get a realistic view of what to expect from planned campaigns. For example, the software industry close rate averages around 1%. When you have a better idea of what to expect from campaign performance, you’ll be able to more accurately shape your marketing budget and generate the number of quality leads you need.
  1. Measure campaign influence instead of ROI. Marketers typically use a simple formula to determine ROI, calculating a ratio using marketing spend that credits the first or last customer touch for the sale. But in reality, it’s more complicated than that – total spending might cover five different campaigns that each contributed to the sale. A campaign influence strategy considers each touch-point to deliver a more accurate view of how sales were generated.
  1. Use weighted campaign influence factors to bring the big picture into focus. While using an equally weighted campaign influence strategy to demonstrate marketing value is more accurate than using a first or last-touch approach, we all know that not every customer touch-point is equally effective. Use data to more accurately weight campaign elements for a big-picture view that demonstrates the value of each touch-point and enables you to more effectively allocate 2015 marketing spend.
  1. Use campaign data to identify – and fix – process pitfalls. Sometimes campaign performance is about execution on the backend. Data can help you identify bottlenecks and breakdowns in the system. For example, you may find that the handoff from marketing to sales is problematic in one division or location but not in another. If you can address the trouble spot, you can ensure more even performance enterprise-wide – and better allocate your 2015 budget.

The sales funnel is complex, often reflecting activities across internal and external teams and multiple campaigns. Marketers who use a standard attribution method – like crediting only the first or last touch in Salesforce – are at risk of oversimplifying the complex interplay between customer touch-points.

By using a more accurate data and analytics strategy throughout the year, marketers can better demonstrate value and justify campaign spend. They can also get the information they need to build an annual marketing budget that meets sales targets in the year to come.

Bonnie Crater is the President & CEO of Full Circle CRM. Prior to joining Full Circle CRM, Bonnie was vice president of marketing for VoiceObjects and Realization. She also held vice president and senior vice president roles at Genesys, Netscape, Network Computer Inc.,, and Stratify.

Archive for ‘General Marketing’

December 23rd, 2014

How Effective is Online Advertising?

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Did you know that the average person is served over 1,700 banner ads each month? But get this — some studies show that only 50% of those impressions are actually viewed.

Those are just some of the facts and figures you’ll find in the infographic below (which was created by the good folks at Invesp).

If you’re interested in finding out if online advertising actually works, check it out.



Jamie Turner is the CEO of the 60 Second Marketer and 60 Second Communications, an Atlanta-based advertising agency and digital marketing firm that works with national and international brands. He is the co-author of “How to Make Money with Social Media” and “Go Mobile” and is a popular marketing speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

December 18th, 2014

Six Steps You Should Take to Stay Current with the Digital Landscape

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Technology has enabled so many more options for small business marketing.  It can be exciting, but at the same time, overwhelming, for entrepreneurs to focus on their business and in it.  With smaller budgets and staffs, small business owners don’t have a lot of flexibility to experiment with unproven digital marketing strategies, and there is very little room for mistakes.

However in today’s landscape, local consumers research small businesses online just as they do everything else, elevating the need for small business owners to embrace digital marketing to reach customers anytime, anywhere.

Regardless of whether a small business is working towards rapid growth, slow growth or no growth at all, the consumer is constantly changing the way they absorb information, and businesses need to be where consumers are.

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According to Borrell Associates Digital Marketing Services Outlook from September of this year, spending on digital marketing services – a $500 billion market – grew 11% year over year, with 2 out of every 5 dollars spent by small business owners.  It’s clear that entrepreneurs recognize the importance of embracing digital channels but how to do so may be less apparent.

As businesses prepare for 2015, I suggest following six steps to keep up with the evolving digital landscape:

1. Create a mobile-friendly website:  Almost everyone today owns a smartphone.  Yet you would you would be surprised by the number of businesses that have not optimized their web sites for mobile devices.  Mobile responsive sites load faster, are easier to read and give users a better experience.  Businesses that don’t take advantage of this are missing an opportunity to connect with customers.

2. Manage your online presence/listing: Consistency is important. Think of your online presence as your business card.  Your digital, mobile and print presence should always be current and cohesive across a variety of search destinations, such as Google, Facebook, and YP. Many businesses have incorrect or missing information online, which makes it difficult for consumers to find them. Did you know that missing or inaccurate information costs businesses $10 billion every year? (Source: The State of Location Industry Paper)

3. Evaluate the competition: Analyze what your competitors are doing.  How they market themselves through their ads, website and social media will give insight on what they consider important and how you differentiate yourself.  As the saying goes, half the battle is showing up, and you need to understand the competitive landscape in order to attract new customers and retain existing ones. While you’re at, be sure to consider unlikely competitors.  For example, do you sell wide range of products, like electronics, home appliances and furniture?  If you take too narrow a view, you could lose business to a competitor you didn’t know you had.

4. Consider consumer retail trends: Evaluate the technologies that are driving consumers to your business and stay ahead of the curve by anticipating how consumer behavior may change.  For example, the majority of all consumer purchases are either influenced by online research or actually occur online, according to Forrester.  Think carefully about your buyers’ current path to purchase and focus on those channels that they are actively using.

5. Provide options for potential customers: The majority of purchases are planned; most people will not act immediately upon seeing an ad.  Reach people when they are considering their next shopping trip by providing options such as call a store, find a location, or the ability to interact with an offer or coupon.  It all comes down to using a softer sales method by presenting several options that don’t make the consumer feel pressured.

6. Understand the source of leads/new business: Lead tracking programs can show where customers are finding your business, and by leveraging that data, businesses can identify not only the quantity of leads but also the quality. For small businesses, mobile offers an incredible opportunity to understand a consumer beyond their physical location and actually analyze how they behave.  It is becoming common today for consumers to look up a business on a smartphone and then either call directly from the same device, map a store location or visit a physical storefront – all leads that can be tracked.

Businesses today have a myriad of options across screens, devices and channels to reach consumers.  Ultimately, success is defined by the ability to make a connection with the right consumer at the right time.  Advertising is after all an investment, and if you want to grow your business, it’s an investment that will pay strong dividends when done properly.

About the Author: Jeff Federman works at YP (formerly He is Senior Vice President/General Manager in YP’s digital region, responsible for online and mobile advertising solutions for small businesses.

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Archive for ‘General Marketing’

December 8th, 2014

The 5 Most Powerful Words You Can Use in Your Next Call-to-Action

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“The World can move, or not, by changing some words.”

– Toby Ziegler, White House Director of Communications, The West Wing.

Toby Ziegler is a creation of Aaron Sorkin; a writer who has spent his whole career crafting screenplays, like The West Wing, The Newsroom, and movies, like The American President and The Social Network.

In his work, every word matters. Every word conveys an important meaning. Change a word or two and the audience will laugh or cry, agree or disagree, shout at the screen or give a standing ovation.

One common thread throughout his work is an appreciation for the craft of writing and a deep respect for the words used, depending on the character and what Sorkin hopes to achieve.

Brands, agencies and e-commerce companies alike need to have the same respect for individual words as award winning screenwriters. A conversion can happen, or not, by changing some words. But unlike Sorkin, copywriters have the chance to test and constantly change the script depending on the impact our words have on a digital audience.

We also have the ability to stop the action with a few words, driving our audiences towards a specific destination: the end of the conversion journey. This means taking time to understand the value of certain words and using them the right way in the content we produce, which is what this article is about.

The Five Most Powerful Words For Calls to Action

There are countless studies online about which words are the most powerful, including dozens on the psychology of language and how that relates to increasing conversions. This is to be expected, given that marketers never stop learning and trying to find new ways to engage with their audience.

One specific group of five words appears again and again, despite some doubt as to the existence of a definitive study which supports their power:

1. Because

Robert Cialdini in his book Influence did tests using language. All of which consistently found that when a “because” was followed by a good reason, people generally respond positively. He demonstrated that:

“ A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

2. New

With new comes the irresistible pull of the novelty factor. Especially when it comes to products, we need new features to keep us excited, to make us feel alive. This all happens in the same part of our brains responsible for gambling, drug and alcohol addictions, even the reason we have affairs.

We respond the same way to new products, improved features, even new branding and packaging. Using ‘new’ in copy, providing you aren’t just trying to sell old wine in a new skin, will have a noticeable impact on conversions, every time.

3. You

A 2007 study by Carmody and Lewis found that using a customers name in copy causes a  “unique brain functioning activation” response.

Unfortunately when it comes to general web copy or other digital content, you can’t speak to everyone in your audience on a personal level. Which is where the word you comes in; it is as close as you can get online, and gets a similar response, on a psychological level.

4. Free

Everyone loves the word free. The idea of getting something for nothing, providing what you are getting has actual value. A customer getting something they don’t want for free is unlikely to have the kind of positive impact you would be hoping for, so pick your “free” deals carefully.

In Dan Ariely’s insightful book, Predictably Irrational, he tests this theory on a Hershey’s Kiss and a Lindt truffle.

In the first test the truffle was given a value of 15 cents. The Kiss was 1 cent. Based on pre-existing brand and taste perception amongst his taste audience, 73 percent picked the truffle.

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He repeated the test, except this time the Kiss was free. The truffle cost 1 cent less, down to 14 cents. That one tiny change had a massive difference. The Kiss won, with 69% of the audience choosing that, and only 31% still picking the truffle. img2_free choc

5. Instantly

Humans are terrible at waiting. Delayed gratification might be one of the greatest skills when it comes to being successful, as countless studies have shown, but when it comes to making a purchase, we don’t want it tomorrow, we need it, now!

If we can get something, especially something new or at a discount, or even free, then we want it immediately. Several MRI studies have shown the impact of words like “instantly,” “now,” “immediate” or “fast” have on the human brain.

You will have seen these five words used over and over again, because they work, consistently.

How to integrate them into Calls-to-Action and Web Copy

These five words are load bearing. Like the framework and supporting walls in a physical structure they can carry a lot of weight because of the psychological trust placed on them. However, they themselves must be supported the right way, within the framework of the copy and design.

The use of any one of these words, or any number of other high value words which convert, must make sense within the copy itself.

How you use them also depends on the context. Is it within a headline or call to action? Social or SEO? Within headlines, and for SEO purposes, the word needs to be placed early on or right at the start: “Free Wi-Fi for every Rewards Customer this Holiday Season.”

Depending on your SEO aims it might be useful to sprinkle the word throughout (providing it looks like natural web copy), and in the meta, like seasoning. The same is true when aiming for conversions within email marketing, as repetition is key for re-enforcement of the message. Cement and build trust with your audience using these keywords, which are all supported by numerous studies, and reinforce with repetition and clear calls to action.

What words work well with your audience? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

About the Author: Benjamin Kerry is Head of Marketing for Jigoshop. More than 370,000 stores worldwide empower their e-commerce with Jigoshop, a powerful plugin available for WordPress users around the globe.


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