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5 Email Marketing Automation Guidelines Every Marketer Should Live By

May 21st, 2014 No comments

By Casey Cheshire
Chief Awesome Officer, Cheshire Impact



Kicking off a drip nurturing campaign? Creating an auto responder email to go out when a form is submitted? Great! But before diving in and automating the processes take a minute to consider some simple but very important email automation guidelines.

email marketing guidelines

When automating communication with customers, leads, or other parties there are certain rules of thumb that go beyond the basic email etiquette most marketers have permanently ingrained in their brains. So once you’ve checked all those essential email best practices (grammar and spelling check, enticing subject line, etc.) off your list, keep in mind this second set of standards before setting the automation wheels in motion.

1) Context – Ensure your content will make sense to the recipient receiving the email. For example, if your company deals with multiple client industries, set it up so that industry information is recorded and segmented recipient lists are kept so that tailored, applicable information will be sent to your contacts.

2) Stage – Piggy backing off the previous point about context is being mindful of the different sales stages your contacts may be in. Content you normally send to someone at the beginning of a sales cycle is very likely to look different from what would be sent to someone well into the consideration stage. This practice should be reflected in your automated campaigns as well. Automation rules based on sales stage or lead scoring can be very helpful in ensuring that the right content gets to the your contacts.

3) Separate – Have a standard email template that can be used in multiple campaigns? Good! But keep this email separate (meaning create multiple versions of the same email) to see how it performs across each individual campaign. You may see that it works well for one recipient group, but has a poor open rate for another – data that would be nearly impossible to collect if just one template were used in multiple campaigns.

4) Measure – Take a look at your email stats (open rates, click throughs, etc.) regularly to see which emails are performing well and which could be doing better. Also, drawing conclusions about what works from your top-performing content and applying it to other emails can help you to draw further conclusions about what types of messaging and calls to action work best for your contact base.

5) Refresh – Measuring your email stats is great, but make sure to revisit the actual email content as well to keep it current. Eventually you may find an email has become a bit tired or outdated, or maybe you just produced a new, great piece of content that could be added into an email that was starting to lose steam. Although these rules may seem daunting at first, keep in mind that most of the work for email marketing automation takes place in the initial stage and that the devil is often in the details. Once the set up has been thought through it can run like a well-oiled machine, only needing occasional tweaks or revisions.


This post originally appeared on the Cheshire Impact Marketing Blog.


About the Author

casey cheshireA salty, seasoned marketer from the battlefields of CTR and CPA, Casey Cheshire is the founder and Chief Awesome Officer of Cheshire Impact, the largest and most recommend Preferred Partner of marketing automation platform, Pardot. With an aptitude for building and managing effective teams, Casey has enjoyed repeated success leading, growing, and optimizing lead generation and e-commerce initiatives for highly visible online properties. Prior to founding Cheshire Impact, he served as VP of Marketing for Sesame Software, Director of Marketing for C2FO, a global collaborative exchange for working capital, and in numerous other marketing roles. He was a team member with the US Marine Corp, responsible for mission accomplishment, team safety and mentoring while the team was deployed to Iraq in 2006. Casey is an avid mountaineer, a skydiver, and a Tuangou evangelist.

See Casey Live!

Join Casey in his session on “Smarter Forms – Using Progressive Profiling to Increase CVR” at Conversion Conference Chicago 2014, June 17-19.

Categories: Digital Marketing, Email Conversion Tags:

A Guide to Content Optimization for 4 Key Content Types

May 19th, 2014 No comments

By Arnie Kuenn
President, Vertical Measures


 what good is content

As content marketing gains recognition as a viable online marketing strategy, businesses are producing content of all types at an accelerated rate. But what good is compelling content if it can’t be found? The truth is, if it can’t be found by your audience, it won’t be very successful, which is why content optimizationis such a crucial step in the content marketing process.

Through content optimization, you are providing essential data that search engines will use to determine what your content — and, by extension, your business — is all about. Search engines then use this information in the search results they display for relevant keyword terms or phrases. As content in the form of text, images, videos, and news is now included in these search results, the content optimization processes you use should be tailored to the types of content you are producing.

Below are some tips on how best to optimize content in each of these four key formats — text, image, video and news:


Optimizing text


Website content optimization is crucial for all written text, but it is particularly important for landing pages that include information about other content pieces.

Title tags: One of the most important elements of website optimization is the title tag. In HTML code, the tag “(title)” is used to set off the page’s title tag, which tells the audience what the page is about in just a few words.


Title tags are used in a number of places to describe the content. For example, they are used by search engines as the link text for each search result they display. Additionally, they are often used on social media networks to describe the page when someone shares the content. The title tag also appears at the top of the browser when the page is viewed, and if the browser is tabbed, it will be the name of the tab for the page being viewed. As a result, title tags are not just important to search engines; they serve as meaningful ways to describe your page’s content for your audience.

Meta descriptions: Meta descriptions are typically displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs) as the descriptor text for each result, making it a key piece of information for your audience.

The meta-description should accurately describe what visitors will find when they click to your content (see REI example below). Successful meta descriptions concisely state the purpose of the content page and include applicable keywords. This is your opportunity to sell searchers on clicking through to your page, so it’s best to avoid generic descriptors, like “Welcome to our home page,” that don’t really tell them anything about your content or give them a reason to click through. In addition, search engines limit the amount of real estate available for descriptions — normally about 150-160 characters. Any text that goes beyond that will likely be cut off.


Meta keywords: Meta keywords are somewhat similar to meta descriptions. And although the meta keywords tag doesn’t seem to directly help improve page rankings, they have been known to potentially hurt search engine rankings if the tag is “overstuffed.”

Some webmasters have been known to paste as many keywords as possible into a meta keyword tag, hoping their presence will prompt inclusion in additional search results. However, that is not the case, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and include only a few truly relevant keywords in this tag.

URLs: A keyword-rich URL provides search engines with even more descriptive information about your content. So, in addition to optimizing content tags, your URL structure should be optimized to ensure that it is straightforward, meaningful, and contains the appropriate keywords that are relevant to your content. When appropriate, you may want to incorporate long-tail keywords into your URLs, so users seeking more specific results may find your content more easily in their searches.


Optimizing images


As consumers frequently search for images, the visual content you display on your website also needs to be optimized for discovery. Not only are images included in specific “Image” searches on search engines, they can also appear in the main “Web” search results — if the search engine determines that your image is relevant to a particular search term or phrase. In fact, your images may appear on a SERP even when your other content pages don’t.

Unlike text optimization, search engines can’t derive full meaning from image-based content — yet. (Though it’s certainly a goal all search engines have for the future). Though they largely rely on the context of the page (i.e., the text, and the text-related tags) an image appears to identify its relevance to a search query, the meta tags that are used for each image also play an essential role in determining its contextual meaning. Types of meta data that can be optimized for images include source (i.e., file location and name), alt, and title tags. To achieve the best results in search, all of these image tags must be optimized.

Alt tags: Alt tags serve as alternate text to describe the image when the image is not available to be displayed. This is key for several reasons:

  • An image may not be displayed if a user’s internet connection is particularly slow, or if the page fails to load correctly.
  • Additionally, if text-reading software is being used (e.g., for users with visual impairments), it is the alt tag that gets read aloud to describe the images that appear on the page.

For these reasons, and others, it’s important to choose simple, yet keyword-rich phrases in your alt tags to describe your website images.

Image tags: Similar to alt tags, image tags designate the words that should appear when a user scrolls or hovers over an image. They also help your audience understand the context of the image, so the tag text you choose should describe the image accurately and contain relevant keywords.

Alt and title tags are imbedded within the image source code as follows:

<title=”vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles” alt=”ice cream cone” img src=”icecreamcone.jpg” />.

Filename: Though the alt tag and image title tag clue search engines in to what the image isof, an appropriate filename goes one step further — it provides contextual information on how the image relates to the other content on the page.

Just like your images’ alt and title tags, your image filenames should include the keyword that you’re optimizing your content for. So, rather than uploading your image files into your website using a filename like “DC000245.jpg,” try to use descriptive names, like “icecreamcone.jpg.”

File size: As mentioned previously, a user may see alt tag text, rather than an image, if a page does not load correctly. One way to decrease the chances of these page-load problems is to adjust the file size of your images, to make sure your website can handle them properly. Both large image files and image-heavy content pages can make your website load slowly or not at all — both of which may result in lower search engine rankings. Therefore, I recommend reducing your file sizes as much as possible, without forgoing the quality of the image.


Optimizing videos


content-optimization-video-search-resultsToday it’s easier than ever for anyone, including marketers, to produce video content. From the many videos that have gone viral, we’ve learned that videos don’t necessarily need to be professionally recorded or scripted to be successful — they just need to be interesting, enjoyable or useful, and compelling.

To get started, create an optimized, branded channel for your business on the video site of your choosing. Having a branded channel increases brand recognition and provides leverage for your other content. Next, optimize your video as follows:

Video titles: Your video title should contain relevant keywords, but should also appeal to your audience’s interests. Dull titles that are overly keyword-conscious will lead visitors to believe that your video is just marketing hoopla. Your goal should be to draw people in with a catchy title that entices them to watch your video through to the end.

Video descriptions: A video description should clearly portray what the video is about, and should set viewers’ expectations on what they will see by watching. Though your description should include keywords, it should primarily be written in a way that addresses the needs of your audience, not just of search engines. Lead your video descriptions with a link to the page on your website that is most relevant to the subject matter, so viewers know where they can find the additional content and other information you provide.

On-site optimization: As with images, when posting video to your site, be sure to optimize the description and title tags, as search engines use those tags to understand video content and context.

Once your video has been optimized, most sites you might use to host your videos, such as YouTube and Vimeo, provide embed codes that you can paste into your website’s HTML — this will allow visitors to watch your videos right on your page, rather than having to visit the video site. Optimize your video’s filename just as you would with images — i.e., incorporating targeted keywords.


Optimizing news


content-optimization-news-search-resultsEvery business owner that has a website is a publisher. Similarly, every business owner online today has the capacity to produce and report on industry-related news. Whether it’s through a blog, a “news” section on a website, or through social networks and other brand communication outlets, optimizing your news content can help your organization get recognized as an insightful source of relevant industry news and thought leadership.

Yet, online news is a highly competitive space, which makes it tough to generate news content that will rank on search engines and get discovered. This means you must carefully and correctly optimize your news content in order for it to get discovered and drive the ongoing reader interest that will benefit your business.

Here are some key considerations involved in news content optimization:

Google News: In order for your website’s news feed to be included in Google News results, you’ll need to submit your blog or press release sections directly to Google News. The news team at Google will review your content and, if approved, include it in news search results. Keep in mind that Google News has explicit requirements for all sites that want to submit news content.

Static URLs: To publish news content that ranks along with other authentic news sites, you will need each article to exist on a static URL — meaning that every article you produce is created on its own separate page on your site.

Keywords: Like all other content types, your news articles should be keyword-optimized. Though the body of your article should include your relevant keywords, make sure your content is not over-optimized (i.e., stuffed with keywords). Additionally, if your news piece includes photos or video elements, be sure to optimize each according to the guidelines outlined above.

Headlines: News headlines should be interesting and grab your readers’ attention. Just like a web page ranking in regular search engine results, you are aiming for your news content to rank highly in news results. To achieve this, your news content will need to have complete metadata, including the keywords you are targeting.

Overall, content optimization is an integral part of the content development and marketing process, and should be treated as such. If your content producers consider each optimization point when developing text, image, video, and news content, the optimization process will go much more smoothly. After all, your content won’t be as successful as possible without being fully optimized.

What other content optimization tips do you have that you’d like to share?



Images courtesy of Vertical Measures

This post originally appeared on Content Marketing Institute


About the Author

arnie kuennArnie Kuenn is the president of Vertical Measures, a search, social & content marketing company helping their clients get more traffic, more leads, and more business. Arnie has held executive positions in the world of new technologies and marketing for more than 20 years. He is a frequent speaker and author of Accelerate! Moving Your Business Forward Through the Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing available on Amazon.

See Arnie Live!

Join Arnie in his session on “Improving Conversions Through Useful Content Marketing” at Conversion Conference Chicago 2014, June 17-19.


Categories: Content, Digital Marketing Tags:

8 Tips to Improve Your Visitors’ Online Experience

May 16th, 2014 1 comment

By Charlie Claxton
Chief Creative Strategist, UpTop


important aspects of the online experience strategy

 There are several important aspects to consider when setting the strategy of your online experience. Regardless if your strategy is a mobile first one (which I recommend) or not, there are several things you should consider.

1. Imagery

2. The User Experience

3. Textual content




1. Make sure the people in your website imagery reflect your ideal target audience.

In a quest for appealing imagery, many a business has snapped up the happiest, most attractive people shots they came across on a stock photography website.

This instinct can send you down the wrong path if you happen to be selling a product or service that doesn’t sync up with that imagery. Are you selling a weight loss service or app aimed at older women with photos of twig-thin teenagers? Are you selling acne treatments with photos of dewy-skinned, Photoshopped models? Or anti-aging lotion with photos of 30-year-olds?

Look critically at your website imagery and ask yourself how your ideal customer is likely to react to it.


2. Whenever possible, avoid buying cheesy stock photos.

It’s not hard to spot one-size-fits-all stock photos when you browse around a website. Often, the style and people pictured don’t exactly match up with a given business, and it can give a website an off-kilter, not-very-authentic feel.

Even worse, some of the most generic stock photos are also the most-purchased – for obvious reasons. Do you want your potential customers to see the same faces smiling out at them from your website and three or four others of all kinds? Believe me, it happens.


3. Choose effective product images.

If you’re selling a tangible product online, you need quality images to draw customers in and make them go all the way to checkout.

Here are a few guidelines:

Show products in context. If you’re selling a beauty product, show it in use – makeup being applied to a face, a hairdryer in action.

Highlight the product details. Your product may trump a competitor’s because of the little things, so be sure to show them, especially if it has small, intricate pieces that are product differentiators.

If you’re selling a product that isn’t tangible, such as software, the guidelines change:

Choose screenshots well. You need to feature screenshots of the software that are big enough that users can understand what they’re seeing.

Use screenshots to support your sales pitch. Pick screenshots that highlight the story you are trying to tell – i.e., “My product is great at X, as these 3 screenshots highlight.”


4. Once you choose the right images to feature, make sure the photography is up to par.

Your products need to be pictured in the best possible light – literally and figuratively – whether you’re selling a product or service.

Restaurant websites are a good example of the need to go with quality imagery. You can bet your website visitors won’t show up at your restaurant if the imagery of your food isn’t appealing. Few things are less appealing than poorly lit photos that give food a distinctly unhealthy, unappetizing look; I was in an ethnic restaurant in New York City once, and my friends and I nearly left because the photos on the menu were both poorly lit and poorly staged (one dish looked exactly like brains on a plate).

If you can’t afford to hire a photographer who knows about food styling, lighting, etc., you need to skip food images. You can use words to conjure up the appeal of the food and get creative about alternative imagery. Maybe a photographer can capture the ambience of your restaurant in photographs instead; if a news outlet has reviewed your restaurant, you could buy copies of any quality images they shot.


The User Experience

1. Design your website using the same principles you would (or should) apply to creating a brick-and-mortar store.

So you have something to sell – either a product or your expertise – and you want to sell it in cyberspace. You don’t want the hassle or cost of a Main Street storefront or big box space.

Setting up shop online is less expensive than having a physical store, but you have to think about your setup in many of the very same ways that a traditional store owner would:

  • You still have to get people to walk in the door.
  • You have to make sure your store and your wares are attractive enough that these people don’t turn around and walk back out right away.
  • You still have to ensure that visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.


2. Create a great user experience, and they will come.

The bottom line is that you have to create a satisfying user experience no matter where you set up shop.

When someone “walks” into your virtual store, what do you want them to get out of it?

Is coming to your website frustrating for customers who are focused, driven shoppers? Is it like going to a huge Home Depot in search of one type of nail and having to wander a half-mile before you finally get to it? Or are your ‘aisles’ clearly marked? Is the checkout line speedy, efficient and friendly?

Looking at the Home Depot example from another angle, there are also shoppers who want the big box Home Depot experience. They enjoy wandering the aisles; they’re just fine with an unhurried journey to the checkout. This is a great illustration of the importance of understanding your audience.

Do they want a quick in-and-out experience? Do they want to go through every showroom ala IKEA? Design with your audience in mind and you will go far. Design with only your corporate or business agenda in mind and only trouble awaits you.

I always like to look to car websites to see the vast array of possibilities on selling virtually the same thing. Notice how the messaging, imagery and finer details of the website improve the more expensive the car is?


3. The simplest way to get a sense of whether your site is providing a great customer experience is to take a spin around it with the eye of a first-time visitor.

As a “new” customer, pick goals to accomplish on the site and then ask yourself questions like these:

  • What’s the first thing you see?
  • Does it make a positive impression?
  • Did product listings give you enough information to make a purchasing decision?
  • Were added costs, such as shipping, made clear so you got a true picture of overall cost?
  • Pick a goal – were you able to accomplish it?

Now, wearing your business owner hat, did any of these answers match up with what you were hoping your site conveyed? Would these answers help to drive your bottom line?

(In an ideal world, you will have done research so you know who your target customer is and what they want; guesswork about your target audience can be fatal to a business, especially in a challenging economy.)


Textual Content

In this age of endless online content, people have way too many reading choices in their day-to-day life.

For some reason, we have a compulsion to tell everyone everything. We tend to believe that we should include all of the answers to any potential questions we imagine our audience might have.

I can promise you, based on years of designing websites, if people come to your website and have to slog through a mind-boggling, eye-scrambling amount of copy to figure out what you’re offering, whether they need it and how to get it, they will abandon ship.

Pick and choose what’s important, and leave the rest out (trust me – the info that’s truly important to your audience will not take up much space at all).

You may be the best at what you do, but if your competitor makes a more succinct, easy-to-grasp case, they’ll get the business or the purchase.

So …

  • Keep it short and snappy.
  • Do your homework: Figure out as best as possible what information your target audience is looking for on your site and providethat information … no more, no less.
  • Use bullet points and other graphic design solutions for making copy easy to scan.
  • When bullet points aren’t appropriate, and you need to get your message across in sentences and paragraphs, be sure to break up your sentences/ideas across multiple paragraphs to avoid long, daunting chunks of copy.
  • Do hire a professional if copy writing isn’t your strong suit. You’d be amazed how much more appealing a product or service will be if it’s described in a colorful, compelling way.


And now I’ll follow my own advice.



This post originally appeared on the UpTop Blog.


About the Author

claxton-vAs the leader of UpTops’ creative strategy, Charlie’s ability to define, design and deliver stellar interactive experiences for end-user consumer products and corporate audiences has brought him opportunities to lead successful design efforts for companies such as Expedia, Amazon, Boeing, T-Mobile and Microsoft.

The Puget Sound Business Journal honored Charlie as one of Seattle’s 2012 “40 Under 40,” recognizing individuals “under the age of 40 who [are] center stage in our business community, working hard to drive the economy and demonstrating dynamic leadership.” Charlie has a master’s degree in technical communication from the University of Washington School of Engineering and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism. Charlie is also an instructor in the Master’s program for the University of Washington’s Human Centered Design and Engineering program and an advisor in the funded software security firm SourceClear.

See Charlie Live!

Join Charlie in his session on “An Unresponsive Approach to Mutli-Device UX” at Conversion Conference Chicago 2014, June 17-19.


Categories: Conversion, User Experience Tags:

Social Media ROI: 14 Formulas to Measure Social Media Benefits

May 14th, 2014 No comments

By Angie Schottmuller
Dir. of Strategic Planning & Optimization, Three Deep Marketing


Measuring social media ROI can be a daunting task, but not impossible. Check out these handy formulas for calculating tangible social media benefits – advertising, content, leads,research, support, sales, and more!

My earlier post over at Search Engine Watch, “Social Media ROI: How to Define a Strategic Plan“, provided step-by-step instructions for mapping out a high-level social media strategy that aligns with business goals.

social media roi formulas

Image source

The latter part of that process (step 6) involves selecting tactics to best achieve the defined goal metrics, in turn leading us to ROI opportunities. Prepare to quantify!

In this edition:

  1. Social Media Tactic Planning Process
  2. Simplified Measurement – 3 Core Objectives
  3. Social Media ROI vs. CBA
  4. Social Media Tactic Benefits (Formulas)
  5. Social Media Tactic Costs (Formulas)
  6. “Social Media, Meet ROI” (Presentation)


Social Media Tactic Planning Process:


1. Define important metrics to compare different tactics. 
Consider respective scale measurements (1=Low, 3=High, etc.) and weight/importance to aid scoring based on business priorities. (e.g., timing, resources, budget, competitive edge, goal alignment, difficulty/risk, etc.)

2. Brainstorm tactics that serve both business and user goals. 
Use a diverse mix of “mild to wild” options. Tip: Use the Triangle of Relevance Methodology to strategically achieve “magnetic” campaigns.

3. For each tactic, brainstorm possible implementation outcomes and factors – both good and bad.
(e.g., social shares, web traffic, comments, testimonies, user-generated content, leads, support costs, legal considerations, etc.)

4. Categorize the list into benefits and costs.
For benefits, align listed outcomes to goals and crosscheck them with high-level objectives like grow revenue, reduce costs, and improve satisfaction. Note: For potential risks, estimate the likelihood of the risk occurring.

5. Evaluate and compute estimated benefit and cost values.
Tip: Leverage formulas noted below!

6. Perform Cost-Based Analysis (CBA).
Determine the difference between total benefits and total costs.

7. Weigh factors and score all tactics to identify and compare top candidates.
Analyze reasons for top scoring. (Be prepared to answer “why” and also look for anomalies in weighted scoring to adjust or investigate further.)


Simplified Measurement – 3 Core Objectives


The toughest part in going through the tactic selection process is often computing benefits and costs. Although marketers agree that lots of social media metrics are available, confusion remains on how to measure the actual benefits.

My advice is to start from these core business objectives: Grow Revenue, Reduce Costs, and Improve Satisfaction. Below I’ve charted some influence factors and metrics for each. These factors (and any more you can think of) are the gateway to our benefit formulas!


Grow Revenue

Reduce Costs

Improve Satisfaction

  • Leads
  • Conversion
  • Sales
  • Customer Retention
  • Advertising (ad impressions, clicks, traffic)
  • Content (articles, reviews)
  • Media (e.g. videos, photos)
  • Resource Staffing
  • Market Research (surveys, focus groups)
  • Product Development
  • Public Relations
  • Communications
  • Survey Feedback Score
  • Positive Sentiment / Complaint Count
  • American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)
  • Inquiry Response Times
  • Employee Satisfaction/Retention
  • Perfect Orders
  • Returns


Social Media ROI vs. CBA


Before we jump into the super awesome benefit formulas, the controversial debate of ROI versus CBA needs to be addressed. When it comes to calculating “wins” for campaigns, these two formulas are most commonly used:


Cost-Based Analysis (CBA)

Return on Investment (ROI)

Formula Benefits – Costs ( Benefits – Costs ) / Costs
Example $12,000 B – $1,000 C
= $11,000 CBA
$61,000 B – $50,000 C
= $11,000 CBA
($12,000 B – $1,000 C) / $1,000 C
= 11 or 1100% ROI
($61,000 B- $50,000 C) / $50,000 C
= 0.22 or 22% ROI
Format Dollar Value Percentage or Ratio
Purpose Analyze estimated cost impact. e.g. make a profit, break-even, take a loss. Analyze investment effectiveness for generating a profit.
Focus Profit Investment Return
Common Use Compare options using a common currency and justify bottom-line feasibility of spending. Assess profitability as a basis for continuing and prioritizing future investments.
Answers… Will we come out ahead? How effective were we at coming out ahead? What kind of payback did we get for the investment?

Note: An ROI of 1 or 100% implies you’d get back what you put into it, while CBA, also sometimes known as Cost-Benefit Analysis, has a $0 “break even” point.


Notice how in the examples above, the CBA for two different tactics with very different costs could be the same, while respective ROI sheds further light on the investment effectiveness.


“ROI can only be calculated AFTER the investment has yielded a return. It cannot and must not be estimated beforehand. Ever. Under any circumstances.”
- Olivier Blanchard, @thebrandbuilder (Author of Social Media ROI)


Never calculate ROI before implementation

ROI is often calculated after implementation. However, you’re unlikely to gain management support or choose optimal tactics without some supporting financial metrics. Up-front estimated measurement of tactics is vital to making smart social media decisions. Use Cost-Based Analysis (CBA) – and estimated ROI if needed – during social media tactic planning to:

  1. Compare Tactics Using a Common Currency
    Which social channels/tactics make the most sense for business? 
  2. Justify Tactic Spend Feasibility
    Is it financially possible/worthwhile to partake in the social media tactic?

“Keep in mind that the calculation for return on investment, and therefore the definition, can be modified to suit the situation – it all depends on what you include as returns and costs. The definition of the term in the broadest sense just attempts to measure the profitability of an investment and, as such, there is no one ‘right’ calculation.” 
Investopedia: Definition of ‘Return On Investment – ROI’


Note: “Social Media ROI” is a buzzword phrase that loosely translated answers if the tactic can deliver tangible value. It could reference ROI and/or CBA formulas because both provide useful perspectives. Calculations done beforehand are simply estimates. Don’t worry about the semantics. The important part is to actually do the measurement, understand the calculation, and select accordingly.

Fortunately, calculated benefits and costs easily plug into both CBA and ROI formulas!


Social Media ROI Formulas


(Click the heading links to jump down to that section.)

Benefits Costs
  • Advertising Value
    1. Online Social Mentions
    2. Social Web Traffic Referrals
    3. Search Web Traffic Referrals
    4. Social SEO Improved Search Rank
    5. Social Influencer Online Mentions
    6. Social PR Mentions
  • Content Value
    7. Articles
    8. Photos
    9. Videos
  • Research Value
    10. Research Value – Social Insights
  • Support Value
    11. Support Value – Online Self-Service
  • Lead and Sales Value
    12. Social Leads (One-Time Value)
    13. Social Leads (Lifetime Value)
    14. Social-Aided Conversion
  1. Labor
  2. Software / Online Tools
  3. Equipment
  4. Promotional Costs
  5. Training
  6. Legal Risk


Social Media Tactic Benefits


Enjoy these 14 formulas and examples to aid your computations! (Be sure to replace example placeholder numbers with your own values or industry-relevant estimated percentages.)

How much would it cost if you had to pay for the equivalent achieved by social media? What tangible outcomes related to the sales funnel will be impacted?

1) Advertising Value – Online Social Mentions:
GOAL: Grow Awareness, Reduce Ad Costs

_____(#) brand/product online social mentions, pins, etc.
X _____ (CPI) equivalent display ad impression costs
= $ Display Ad Impressions Value
(CPM, or cost per 1,000 impressions, could also be used.)

Example:  Estimated 150,000 social impressions at display ad costs per impression (CPI) of $0.008 (or $8 CPM) = $1,200 equivalent display ad impressions value


2) Advertising Value – Social Web Traffic Referrals:

GOAL: Drive More Web Traffic, Reduce Ad Costs

_____(#) social referral clicks to website
X $_____ (CPC) equivalent display or social ad costs
= $ Social Ad Value

Example:  Estimated 150 social referral clicks to the website at social ad costs of $3.99 per click = $1,197 equivalent social ad value


3) Advertising Value – Search Web Traffic Referrals:

(e.g., social reviews or comments ranking in search results)
GOAL: Drive More Web Traffic, Reduce Ad Costs

_____(#) search referral clicks to website
X $_____ (PPC) equivalent search ad costs
= $ Search Ad Value

Example:  Estimated 500 search referral clicks to the website at search PPC ad costs of $2.99 each for the respective keywords = $1,495 equivalent search ad value


4) Advertising Value – Social SEO Improved Search Rank:

(e.g., social reviews, photos, or comments influencing search rank)
GOAL: Drive More Web Traffic

( _____% new organic search CTR – _____% old organic search CTR)
÷ _____% old organic search click-through rate (CTR)
X _____(#) monthly organic search volume
= Additional Organic Search Referrals

Example:  Increasing search rank from position 4 at 8.2% CTR to position 2 at 14% CTR with an average monthly search volume of 120,000 = 84,878 more search referrals

Check out Optify’s Organic Search Click-Through Rate (CTR) Study for insights on search rank CTR differences to estimate benefits. (i.e. CTR: Position 1 @ 36.4%, Position 2 @ 12.5%, Position 3 @ 9.5%.) For ROI calculations, use your actual CTR values available via Google Webmaster Tools.


5) Advertising Value – Social Influencer Online Mentions:

GOAL: Grow Awareness, Reduce Ad Costs

_____(#) social influencers
X _____(#) average social network reach
X _____(#) notable online brand mentions
X $_____ paid spokesman or special guest costs (e.g. radio, TV, or direct mail endorsements)
/ _____(#) ad network reach or volume
= $ Paid Endorsement Ad Value

Tier paid spokesman fees by respective social influencer levels. Document tiers with labels  (e.g. A-Level, B-Level, etc.) to make historical tracking easier. Social network reach and ad reach should ideally be equivalent since pricing tiers may vary. (This formula adjusts for network reach differences assuming endorsement costs are the same regardless of ad volume.)

Example:  5 industry influencers (B-level) with an average social network reach of 5,000 making 10 notable brand mentions at an equivalent paid spokesman (B-level) cost of $1,500 each with an ad network reach of 10,000 = $37,500 equivalent paid endorsement ad value


6) Advertising Value – Social PR Mentions:

GOAL: Grow Awareness, Reduce Ad Costs

_____(#) event-related online brand mentions (e.g. announcement, product release, etc.)
X $_____ equivalent press event cost
/ _____(#) average brand mentions from press event
= $ Press Event PR Value

Example:  50 event-related online brand mentions (not fuelled by a paid press event) at equivalent press event costs of $800 that yield an average 40 brand mentions = $1,000 equivalent press event PR value


7) Content Value – User-Generated Content (UGC) Articles:

GOAL: Grow Awareness, Improve SEO, Aid Conversion (Social Proof), Reduce Content Costs

_____(#) online stories or articles with significant brand focus or mention
X $_____ equivalent content creation cost
= $ Article Value

Tip: Tier creation costs by content quality (e.g., length, sentiment, images, uniqueness) and/or Domain Authority levels.

Example:  Estimated 5 stories discovered at an equivalent content value of $350 each = $1,750 equivalent content article value


8) Content Value – User-Generated Content (UGC) Photos:

GOAL: Aid Conversion (Social Proof), Reduce Photography Costs

_____(#) user-generated brand photos
X _____% photo shoot quality
X $_____ equivalent photo shoot total costs
/ _____(#) average photos from photo shoot
= $ Photography Value

Example:  Estimated 80 brand-specific unique user-generated content (UGC) photos discovered at 70% photo shoot quality at an equivalent photo shoot total cost of $12,000 that yields an average of 30 quality photos = $22,400 equivalent photography value


9) Content Value – User-Generated Content (UGC) Videos:

GOAL: Grow Awareness, Aid Conversion (Social Proof), Reduce Video Costs

_____(#) user-generated brand videos
X _____% brand-produced video quality
X $_____ equivalent brand-produced video total cost
= $ Video Value

Be sure to include resource time, equipment rental, shoot fee (e.g. location), and editing for total video production costs.

Example:  Estimated 3 brand-specific user-generated content (UGC) videos discovered at 50% brand-produced video quality at an equivalent brand-produced video total cost of $10,000 = $15,000 equivalent video value


10) Research Value – Social Insights:

GOAL: Market Research, Improve Customer Satisfaction, Reduce Research Costs

_____(#) brand online insights/comments
X _____% focus group insight quality
X $_____ equivalent focus group cost
/ _____(#) insights from average focus group
= $ Focus Group Value

Example:  Estimated 150 useful monthly brand insights/comments at an equivalent 90% quality of a paid focus group that costs $3,000 and typically yields 100 helpful insights = $4,050 equivalent market research value


11) Support Value – Online Self-Service:

GOAL: Enable Self-Service, Reduce Support Costs

_____(#) weekly support calls per topic
X _____% calls likely solved by self-service
X $_____ average support phone call cost
= $ Call Support Value

Example:  Estimated 1,500 weekly support calls at which 70% could be resolved online via self-service at an equivalent support call value of $6.30 each = $7,056 equivalent call support value


12) Sales Value – Social Leads (One-Time Value):

GOAL: Grow Revenue, Generate Leads, Acquire New Customers

_____(#) qualified online social leads identified
X _____% lead-to-customer conversion rate
X $_____ (AOV) average order value
= $ Lead Sales Value (Single Purchase)

Example:  Estimated 100 qualified leads routed to sales teams with a typical lead-to-conversion rate of 4% at an average order value (AOV) of $2,500 = $10,000 equivalent converted lead sales value (single-purchase)


13) Sales Value – Social Leads (Lifetime Value):

GOAL: Grow Revenue, Generate Leads, Acquire New Customers, Retain Customers

_____(#) qualified online social leads identified
X _____% lead-to-customer conversion rate
X $_____ (LTV) customer lifetime value
= $ New Customer Lifetime Sales Value

See: How To CalculTate Customer Lifetime Value (LTV).

Example:  Estimated 100 qualified leads routed to sales teams with a typical lead-to-conversion rate of 4% at an average customer lifetime value (LTV) of $22,500 = $90,000 equivalent converted lead new customer lifetime sales value


14) Sales Value – Social-Aided Conversion:

GOAL: Grow Revenue, Boost Conversion

( _____% new conversion rate – _____% old conversion rate)
/ _____% old conversion rate
X $_____ average # monthly products sold
X $_____ average product sales value
= Increased Sales Value

Example:  Estimated conversion rate increase from 2% to 3.5% with an average 100 monthly products sold at $750 = $32,142 more in monthly product sales



Social Media Tactic Costs


Below are some generic cost formulas for consideration. Assess your situation to incorporate all time, resource (people, supplies, technology), and risk costs accordingly.

What are all the factors that will consume time or budget to perform the tactic? What potential risks are involved? What opportunity costs would be given up?


1) Labor:

  • Estimated _____(#) internal [ role ] resources at _____(#) hrs/week at a rate of $_____ / hr.
  • Estimated _____(#) external [ role ] resources at _____(#) hrs/week at a rate of $_____ / hr.

(Consider consultants, contractors, IT developers/support, designers, copywriters, legal reviews, paid spokesperson fees, etc.)


2) Software / Online Tools:

  • Brand monitoring or social listening services at a total of $_______ / year.
  • Miscellaneous online accounts/subscriptions/tools totaling $_______ / year.

(Consider social analytics, social sign-on, ratings/reviews tools, YouTube paid account, video editing software, mobile app downloads, image subscriptions, etc.)


3) Equipment:

  • Video and webinar equipment and supplies totaling $_______ / year.
  • Miscellaneous hardware totaling $_______ / year.

(Consider tablets for live blogging events, smartphones for non-personal social accounts, video cameras for interviews, video or photo shoot staging supplies/fees, etc.)

Note: Equipment cost estimates get a little more complex to quantify if you consider depreciation, lifetime asset value, split allocation over multiple projects, etc. Use your best judgment to decide what’s practical to factor in for the cost.

4) Promotional Costs:

  • PPC Ads: Estimated _____(#) clicks at $_____(CPC) display or ad costs.
  • Emails: Estimated _____(#) emails at $_____ per 1,000 sent plus $______ email provider or creation fees.

(Consider social ads, sponsored tweets, emails announcing social promotions, etc.)


5) Training:

  • Estimated _____(#) annual training events for _____(#) resources at $_______ each.
  • Estimated _____(#) up-front one-time group training events at $_______ each.


6) Legal Risk:

  • Estimated _____% chance of _____(#) legal issues occurring annually at $_______ each.


Note: Opportunity Cost is a complex factor that could also be factored as a cost using the sacrificed tactic’s respective CBA over the same timeframe. Keep in mind that the value of another tactic should then also incorporate opportunity costs to be fair. Beware of infinite loop formulas, and cancel out calculations that would apply across the board.


Formula Considerations and Disclaimers…

Estimates must be acceptable. We’re not calculating the profit-margin feasibility for a new manufacturing line here. We’re estimating numbers to help justify and compare options for economical use of corporate function budgets. The formulas above are samples and not laws of marketing physics. Add and edit the formulas to your heart’s desire.

Intangible metrics still have value. Once the customer or public is involved with tactics, a load of intangible factors – potentially good or bad – come into play that are difficult to measure, even as an estimate. If the intangible impact isn’t negligible, potentially list these in name as a disclaimer beside calculations for reference.

Computed benefits of some formulas may overlap others. Be mindful of double-counting benefits that overlap layers of the sales conversion funnel (e.g., search rank, search traffic, etc.). On a related note, benefits must be calculated across a consistent timeframe when compared to other tactics. Formulas may need to be adjusted accordingly.


Are You Prepared to Quantify?

Social media measurement is exciting, right? Oh yeah! It’s OK to geek-out about it. Don’t get obsessed with the numbers though. Be realistic, estimate wisely (borderline pessimistic), and focus on goal-driven action. Remember, none of these calculations matter unless they’re aligned to business goals.

YOUR MISSION: Define ROI or quantified business value that justifies use of social media. You now have the methodology to do so. Do you accept?


Social Media ROI – “Mission Possible” Plan:

Social Media Strategy Goal Planning Tree

  1. Map a social media strategic plan. (Steps 1-5)
  2. Brainstorm, compare and select tactics for each goal. (Step 6)
    Use social media tactic planning steps above.
  3. Select metrics for each tactic. (Step 7)
    Target the most impressive results from formulas above that best align to the goal’s KPI metric.
  4. Execute the plan! (Analyze and repeat as needed)


Want a printable version of the formulas? Check out my Social Media, Meet ROI presentation:


If you’ve enjoyed this article or plan to use the formulas, please let me know with a social mention (@aschottmuller) or comments below.



This post originally appeared on Search Engine Watch.


About the Author

angie-schottmuller-vAngie is an inbound marketing thought leader skilled at creating magnetic content optimized for search, social, conversion and mobile. She has over fourteen years’ multichannel B2B and B2C experience in both agency and corporation settings leading marketing, IT, and cross-functional projects to successful fruition. She currently leads conversion optimization efforts at, recently authored curriculum for The Art Institutes’ online marketing major, and has spoken internationally at SES, SMX, and OMS conferences. Angie is best known for her expertise in mobile and emerging technologies across the convergence of search and social marketing and is an outspoken advocate for white hat SEO. Watch for her articles on leading blogs like Unbounce, Search Engine Watch, and ClickZ or connect with her on Twitter, @aschottmuller.

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Categories: Digital Marketing, Social Media Tags:

Lessons US Online Retailers Can Learn From International eCommerce Sites

May 12th, 2014 No comments


By Yulia Smirnova
CEO and Founder, CommerceBrain


ecommerce in developing markets

 Image source


Growing eCommerce business is not a feat for the fainted heart, especially if you do so in a developing market. eCommerce entrepreneurs in Brazil, Russia, India and Singapore are dealing with logistics, lack of suitable ecommerce technology and untrained staff. Yet, they still need to meet the expectations of VCs and grow consistently, while adapting to the market and educating the audience to shop online.

Most of the time, they learn a lot from the US market and develop custom tools, technology and processes to work around their business conditions.  Thus, the common notion stands that all the knowledge comes from US and Western Europe. Though, it is mostly true, there are a number of lessons that US eCommerce sites and retailers can learn from their international peers.

Take, for example, one of the top ecommerce sites in India that makes $35 million in sales (last year) and sells apparel, footwear, jewelry, electronics and home wares. Scaling a VC-funded ecommerce site in a developing market poses challenges not only due to the fact that you have to develop infrastructure, but also to cultural specifics.


If you do eCommerce in India, prepare fighting daily with its market-specific challenges: finding more customers in a country that’s mostly eCommerce illiterate, aggressive pressure from VCs, lack of support from the government, and a longer road to breaking even without external funding.

This business requires a lot of money to scale, especially if you are building the industry from scratch in the market that is still discovering what online shopping is.

Yes, it is a fact that India boasts of 6M people accessing Internet, while in affect only 3M are shopping, the rest are just charging their phones or have no means, or experience to transact online. Plus, the supply of eCommerce stores outweighs the demand. There are more goods online to purchase, aggressively discounted than shoppers able to buy.

So, what does the team do? It scales through better processes in operations it observes, testing human behavior and experimenting with technology. The team looks at ways to reduce costs in operations, marketing, fulfillment and customer service.

For example, the team reduced call-to-order ratio from 52% to 23% by placing as much video and text copy as possible regarding return and other related policies. They hid the phone number and tested this experience for a week. Orders did not go down, emails increased and calls went down. Before the change, the team would get 5,000 orders a day with 2,600 calls related to orders. After the change, they received 7,000 orders a day with only 1,600 calls. Thus, the improvement also increased the number of orders (profit) and decreased costs associated with order-related calls. Plus, the number of returns also decreased from 15% to 3%.

Many smaller US retailers pride themselves on being able to provide phone support, thus trying to differentiate themselves from the big guys. At the same time, phone support is super costly. The question is why not leverage the web as much you can to do both – offer that support effectively and save on costs. Yebhi relies on synced Twitter and Facebook posts with their CRM and customer support systems to be responsive, nimble and cost efficient. They use the tools that already exist. And working with what you’ve got is the best way to grow smart.

In addition to reducing the call-to-order ratio, the team also reduced the rate of first time resolution (FTR) vs. repeat customer calls. The team approached this problem with two solutions: business process optimization and software to automate repeat activities. They found that 70% of the time customers called after their order was placed, while 30% of calls were made before the order was placed. Most of the time, agents would spend six minutes per call, with 1.5-minute hold time to check the details of the order in the system and to log a ticket.

Yebhi team identified the various kinds of information sought by agents after the order was placed (ninety-six states of what can happen to the order, which resulted in twenty questions for 90% of scenarios) and hardcoded the answers into a system that would spit out all the information needed for the agent in a text format. All that the agent had to do was look up the order number and choose a question. The system logged this action as a ticket automatically. This reduced customer service agent (CSA) time to three minutes and twenty seconds. Plus, the fix only took four developers and just three months of coding work.

These are just two examples of how to scale to profit faster. In my book, story has 10 ways the team optimized for higher margins, including finding the best combination of online promotions based on testing and adjusting to human behavior and using advanced applications of conditional reinforcement (the same thing we experience in casinos, playing jackpot).

Within the year of vigorous testing for conversion resulted in the effective change from 1.2% to 2.3%.

Heavy slicing and dicing of customer data (surgical segmentation as I call it), was one of the best strategies to optimize effectiveness of email campaigns. used to send five emails per week, but now they only send out emails twice a week and enjoy higher open rates and click-through rate (CTR).

Get full coverage in the book






This post originally appeared on


About the Author

YVS1Yulia V. Smirnova is an ecommerce industry thought leader, speaker, and blogger with more than 10 years of experience in internet retail and online marketing marketing. Prior to founding, Yulia worked for, (an eBay company), Texas Instruments, Microsoft and Intel, making online experiences simpler for customers and more profitable for businesses. Yulia received her BA in Marketing / Advertising Management and MBA from Portland State University, and MA in Foreign Languages Teaching from Sakhalin State University. Read her intelligent marketing insights at her blog,

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Categories: Digital Marketing, Ecommerce Tags:

The Only Way to Use Bounce Rate

May 9th, 2014 2 comments


By Nate Turner
Online Marketing Director, Sprout Social

use bounce rate metric for context

I hear a lot of varying opinions on the bounce rate metric in analytics. Some think the overall bounce rate is a key metric in site performance and others think it is completely worthless. I’ve gone back and forth over the years and ended up landing in the middle, believing that both sides are wrong and right.

Why Overall Bounce Rate Is Dangerous

The overall bounce rate is good to get a quick read on how people are engaging with your site, but it is an average of all pages and that is precisely why you can’t rely on it as a KPI.

Simply watching the overall bounce rate will only show you incremental change. The more pages on your site, the less your bounce rate will change if a small group of pages spike from 40% to 90%. You aren’t going to jump in to find problems if you see your bounce rate go from 43.12% to 43.19%, but this may result in several revenue-driving pages performing poorly.

Even if you do want to dramatically improve your overall bounce rate, the way you will do that is by drilling down into your landing pages to find areas for improvement. So, get into the details and don’t live or die by the average.

Why Ignoring Bounce Rate Is Dangerous

While the overall bounce rate doesn’t give context, it is crucial to be tracking bounce rate for specific landing pages & campaigns. If you are spending money on traffic, you should understand how much is bouncing. Changes in keywords, targeting and ad content can change the experience for that visitor and the bounce rate for each landing page is an excellent signal for understanding if the change was positive or negative.

Outside of paid traffic, there are still going to be a lot of pages on your site that will be driving leads/revenue organically. If your bounce rate goes up on these pages, it is likely that your conversion rate will go down and leave you with less money at the end of your funnel.

I would recommend identifying your top revenue generating pages and creating a custom dashboard that shows stats for those pages so that you can use bounce rate as a signal of possible performance issues. The pages driving the most value for your site should be viewed frequently and easily accessible.

How to Approach Single Page Sites

If you have a single page website or an orphan landing page, it may appear that your bounce rate is incredibly high. Unless your page is strictly informational, there will likely be one or more actions you want the visitors to take.

If you add Event Tracking to any of the buttons, links or videos on that page, Google Analytics will count those actions as an interaction. This will prevent anyone with an interaction from appearing as a bounce and help you understand how each channel is truly performing.

The Only Way to Use Bounce Rate

Use the bounce rate metric for context at the granular level. Don’t use averages and don’t make it the only metric you optimize against. Let it signal what visitors are expecting to see/do on the page and align your messaging to meet that expectation.

This post originally appeared on

About the Author

nate turnerNate Turner is currently the Online Marketing Director for Sprout Social, a social media management platform, where he is responsible for customer acquisition, marketing strategy, online marketing campaigns, optimization and analytics. He is an experienced digital marketing specialist with a passion for new media and startups.

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Categories: Analytics, Conversion Tags:

Simple Neuromarketing Hacks that Increased Revenue by 65% in the First Round

May 7th, 2014 6 comments


By Talia Wolf
CEO, Conversioner

neuromarketing is all about influencing buyer psychologyImage source


We’ve just finished our first round of tests with one of our new partners & have interesting results that can help in your next optimization test.

The product enables customers to design & personalize their own invitations, greeting cards, slideshows and more. As a photo service, they allow  to quickly turn life’s moments into magical digital creations to share with others.

The Goal

The test goal was simple: increase the amount of sales. The status was that users would download the app and pay for the service, our mission was to get more people paying.

At my latest event I spoke about the reason people buy products or services.

To put in a nutshell: We buy products because of what they make us feel about others and ourselves. This is the basic psychological status of our purchasing habits. This is where Neuromarketing hacks step in.

For example, people who buy Apple products buy them to feel sophisticated, unique, different & smart. Yes the product is great too, but it comes with a dream and a sense of achievement. Price is not a factor (mostly).

There are many companies  selling the same product or service as you are, and it is up to you to give your potential clients a promise, to sell the dream that comes with your product and not its features. This is what we set out to do in our test using different Neuromarketing tactics.


The original landing page


Once we reviewed our client’s landing pages and completed our research we set off to design a new funnel.

Our research showed that we should focus on the ‘promise’.  We won’t be selling invitations or birthday cards, we’ll be selling an unforgettable event, the dream of a perfect event and the perfect wedding/birthday that everyone will remember.

The Test

Variation 1:


Variation 2:


The first step in the funnel was creating the landing pages. Each landing page was designed by text and image to create an experience that enhances fun, love and cherished moments that will come.

The pink colors were chosen to increase femininity and romance while the green color was chosen to establish wealth, relaxation, cool. Green is also known as the easiest color for the eyes to process that making it easier for people to focus on the action (more about the emotional power of color and its effect on conversion optimization).

Other Neuromarketing hacks were introduced via messaging and text and in addition each landing page contained a fair amount of data below the fold helping users and navigating them through each step of the way.

The Results:

Ok be honest, without looking at the results below: which landing page do you think won? (Comment below, we’d love to know)

So, the most interesting thing we established and always tell our clients is that every part of the funnel matters, from banner to checkout. Usually when companies want to improve their online sales, the first place they want to optimize is the checkout but that’s not always the right way to go. What matters is the process, and doing things in a methodological way that can educate us and help us establish a conversion optimization strategy.

And here’s how we prove it; the landing pages didn’t have a huge increase in downloads. Even though at first glance the page is about downloading the app, we didn’t see a large increase in downloads, what we did see is an 65% increase in revenue in the first round of testing! The similar amount of people were downloading the platform but 65% more were purchasing the product. This is to do with the messaging and emotional triggers used on the landing page and why it is important to know where to start optimizing. The entire funnel is important, emotional conversion optimization is about making the small changes along the funnel that trigger something in the user that won’t necessarily increase that particular part of the funnel but will have a huge impact on the funnel as a whole.

We’re already working on the next steps in the funnel and the landing page optimization process, we’ll keep you posted as we go.  By the way, the winner is variation 1 :)

Looking forward to your comments!

This post originally appeared on the Conversioner Conversion Rate Optimization Blog.


About the Author

wolf-vTalia is a conversion optimization expert, social media advisor & speaker. As CEO at conversioner she is known for helping worldwide companies optimize their funnels & increase their revenue using emotional conversion optimization. Prior to conversioner, Talia ran one of the top social media agencies in Israel, and she consults with several startups helping them build their social reputation, conversion & marketing strategy.

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Join Talia in her session on “Emotional Targeting: How to Convert Visits into Customers in Less Than 3 Seconds” at Conversion Conference Chicago 2014, June 17-19.

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Categories: Conversion, Testing Tags:

How to Create Written Content that Generates Leads

May 5th, 2014 No comments

By Andy Crestodina
Co-Founder & Strategic Director, Orbit Media Studios

Do you need more leads?

Are you looking for creative ways to use your blog content to improve your conversion process?

In this article, you’ll discover how to identify and patch the weaker part of your funnel by writing the right type of content.

How Content Drives Leads

Written content works in many ways.

Some writing pulls your audience toward you, building awareness.

Other content builds trust and compels your audience to take action. In other words, content can be useful at strengthening different parts of the conversion funnel.

The “funnel” is just a metaphor for the path that visitors take on their way to becoming leads, starting with awareness and ending with action. If you’re not getting leads, it’s because there’s a weakness in your funnel.


Content conversion funnel

Create the content you need to strengthen your conversion funnel.

What follows are many tips to help you generate more leads with your written content.

#1: Raise Awareness at the Top of the Funnel

At the top of the funnel, your goals should be to:

  • Get attention.
  • Establish relevance to the topic.
  • Support your branding.

If your conversion rate from visitors into leads is good (above 2%), but your traffic is low, the top of your funnel is weak. Here are some tactics and topics that will help.

Include Search-friendly Blog Content

Traffic from search engines is an excellent way to fill the funnel at the top. One of the fastest ways to fill the funnel with referral traffic from search engines is to align your web content with key phrases. Before you write your next blog post, research key words that relate to your product or service and write your blog posts around these keywords.

Write Guest Blog Posts

Guest blogging on external sites offers three benefits to the top of the funnel.

First, as you post on blogs other than your own, your social following grows. Next, the posts improve your link popularity and make your site more likely to rank higher in search results. Finally, every guest post you write strengthens your network of allies.


Guest posting with benefits

Links in a guest post and bio can drive traffic back to your own site.

Share Your Content

Of course, you should share everything you publish across all of your networks. Better yet, learn to adapt your web content to perform well in other places. After you publish a blog post, create a supporting video and post it on YouTube. Then, turn it into a presentation and put it on SlideShare.

Publish List Posts

It’s a fact that some types of posts get more clicks than others. Numbered lists tend to get more clicks because they set an expectation with potential visitors: they’re organized, scannable and provide multiple items that are useful or interesting.

List posts encourage people to click through and read

List posts like this one encourage people to click through and read.

#2: Encourage Consideration in the Middle of the Funnel

In the middle of the funnel, your goals should be to:

  • Educate people.
  • Engage prospects.
  • Get visitors to go deeper—to subscribe to your email newsletter and follow you on social media.

If your site has few shares and no comments, if traffic from campaigns is low and your email list isn’t growing or if very few visitors return to the site and the average visitor sees fewer than two pages, the middle of your funnel is weak. Try these tactics and topics and create a stronger middle funnel and keep your brand top of mind with visitors.

Write Detailed, Authoritative Posts and Pages

How-to posts help you demonstrate your expertise and position your brand as helpful. Visitors love them. Truly useful How-to’s are the posts that compel visitors to subscribe and follow, and these actions lead to repeat visitors.

Link Related Topics With Relevant Content

If your website has detailed pages about topics A and C, but not B, your visitors will leave to find that information elsewhere. Ask yourself if you’ve missed an important piece of content. Write those pages and link them to the related pages on your site.

Value of related articles

MOZ linked the text “T-shaped approach” to a related article that further informs readers and leads them deeper into the site.

Collaborate With Relevant Influencers

Build credibility by partnering with people whom your audience trusts. Contribute to relevant blogs and invite relevant bloggers to contribute to your site. This collaboration is a form of endorsement that strengthens the perception of your brand.

Use a Personal Tone and Be Approachable

Building a community means being a person. Let your visitors hear the voice of the brand in the writing and see faces in the team section. They should see interaction in the comments. Faceless companies just aren’t as memorable and prospects won’t stick around if your brand feels impersonal.


#3: Drive Action at the Bottom of the Funnel

At the bottom of the funnel, your goals should be to:


  • Turn “suspects” into prospects.
  • Build trust.
  • Inspire visitors.
  • Start a conversation.


If the conversion rate of your website is below 1%, you’ve got a problem at the bottom of your funnel. If your site doesn’t have a complicated lead generation process or a confusing ecommerce checkout, the problem is probably your content. These tactics and topics will help you support the bottom of your funnel and move your visitors to action.

Tell Stories That Show Your Values

If lists are for the top of your funnel, stories are for the bottom. Take your time and write posts that tell people the complete story of why you do what you do. The story should show you care and why the work you do makes a difference, whatever it is!

Show Evidence of the Value of Your Services

Numbers can be powerful motivators. Use data to prove your results and give your visitors a reason to trust your abilities.

Also, remember that anything you write is marketing, but anything someone else says is social proof. Use the voice of your customers throughout your site as testimonials.

Publish Content That Answers the Most Common Sales Question

For every prospect who contacts you and asks a question, there may be 100 others who didn’t bother to reach out and ask. Listen for those common questions and publish the answers in a research article or in an FAQ section on your site.

Guide Visitors From the Blog Into the Marketing Pages

A great marketing blog gently steers its visitors toward the marketing pages. The posts you publish should be relevant to your products or services and link to marketing pages within the text. Use these links to guide visitors deeper into your funnel toward conversion.

Include Calls to Action Relevant to the Posts

Are you suggesting that people connect with you? Is there a call to action at the bottom of your web pages and blog posts that encourages visitors to contact you? Or is each page a mini–dead end? Nudge your visitors toward your contact page with quick calls to action placed strategically throughout your site.


An example of a call-to-action (CTA)

To increase conversions, place calls to action throughout your website.

Write Articles for Specific Prospects

Do you have a few potential clients who just aren’t ready to sign your proposal? Do they have specific concerns? Are several of them worried about the same thing? Write a post, case study or white paper that addresses that concern. Even if it doesn’t close the deal with current prospects, the post may warm up your next lead.



Know, Like and Trust.

You’ve heard this before. People work with those they know, like and trust. These aren’t just vague concepts. They’re specific parts of your conversion funnel. If there’s a problem with your funnel, you can fix it with specific tactics and specific topics.

Use the tactics outlined in this article to make the weak parts of your funnel more efficient and effective.

What do you think? Do you know of other ways to fix a funnel? Do you have any questions? Let us know with a comment below.

This post originally appeared on Social Media Examiner

About the Author

Andy Crestodina imageAs Strategic Director for Chicago-based Orbit Media, Andy has provided web strategy advice to more than 1000 businesses over the last 12 years. Andy loves to teach web marketing, both as a public speaker and on the Orbit blog. He has written more than 170 articles on content marketing topics including SEO, email marketing, social media, and analytics. He is the author of “Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing”. Andy graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Asian Language and Literature and a certificate to teach Chinese.

See Andy Live!

Join Andy in his session on “Content, Conversions and Lead Generation” at Conversion Conference Chicago 2014, June 17-19. Great news: You can still save with early bird rates when you register by May 9th.

See Andy Crestodina at Conversion Conference


Categories: Content, Conversion Tags:

Session Preview: 7 Ways to Make CRO a Growth Driver for Your Business with Sean Ellis

May 1st, 2014 No comments

 conversion rate optimization is at the core of growth hacking

As a serious conversion optimizer, you know how important optimization is to the bottom line. That’s why you champion testing, devote attention to improving usability and user experience on your site, and obsess over the ROI of your campaigns.

But oftentimes, conversion optimizers can get too caught up with chasing after tactical gains that they lose sight of the bigger picture. You forget to ask how optimization fits into the overall growth strategy, how your efforts contribute to creating a sustainable fuel – a competitive advantage, if you will – for the business.

Without such foresight, your optimization efforts may bring in some short-term wins but ultimately succumb to the law of diminishing returns. Over time, you’ll be getting less and less from every tweak and test. A lot of factors lead to this, such as the declining quality of ideas, increasing competition from other websites, and changing customer behaviors.

Fortunately, you can fix this early on by going beyond campaign-level optimization. And all you really need are conversion rate optimization skills and knowledge to growth hack your business.

Save $100 when you register

Meet Sean Ellis

‘Feel it’s time to unlock growth in your business? Then you should talk to Sean Ellis, the one who coined the term Growth Hacking itself.

ellis,s-vSean Ellis is the CEO and co-founder of Qualaroo, a startup focused on enabling marketers to get the most out of their websites. Prior to Qualaroo, Sean held marketing leadership roles with several breakout technology companies including Dropbox, LogMeIn, Uproar, Eventbrite and Lookout.

Sean ran marketing through NASDAQ IPO filings at two of these companies, so he definitely knows the essential ingredients for launching a successful marketing program for startups.

7 Ways to Make CRO a Growth Driver for Your Business

At his session in Conversion Conference Chicago, Sean will show how CRO was the key ingredient for the growth of Dropbox and LogMeIn. He will provide insights gained from growing two startups from concept to IPO (LogMeIn, Uproar), as well as his time at Dropbox, Eventbrite, and Xobni. You’ll learn everything from using early testing wins to build momentum, to maximizing test quality and velocity, to the golden questions in customer research that unlock big gains.

You’ll walk away with seven specific ways to make CRO a growth engine and a framework for a scalable and repeatable optimization process that can grow your business.

See you at Conversion Conference Chicago in June!

Make plans to join Sean at his Conversion Conference Chicago session. Great news: You can still save with early bird rates when you register by May 9th.

If you’ve already registered for the Chicago event, don’t forget to check the agenda for other must-attend presentations!

Categories: Conversion, Digital Marketing Tags:

Session Preview: Marketing Apps – The Next Must-have Weapon in Your Conversion Arsenal with Mary D’Alatri-Ward

April 28th, 2014 No comments

How marketers think online users behave vs real online behavior

We digital marketers have been through a lot in these last few years. We’ve had to cope with rapid changes in the socio-cultural and technological landscape: the increasing ordinary-ness of mobile and social, and the changing habits, whims, and values of an always-on, always-connected consumer.

And yet, our basic problem as marketers remains the same: How do we capture and keep the interest of our visitors?

The bad news is that there is massive content on the web and our user’s attention is very much limited. So we can safely say that we have the same problem; Only this time, the difficulty level has gone up a notch. Or even higher, given the content overload that our audience experiences daily on the web.

Enter marketing apps, which, according to advocates, cantransform your static content into a useful digital experience.” They can potentially help us cut through the clutter and noise of the gazillions of content produced every day. They can help our landing pages stand out in the sea of cookie-cutter pages on the web.

Hey, we can finally practice user-centered design by putting out content that our visitors actually find useful and delightful!

So how do you get started?

Meet Mary D’Alatri-Ward

If you’ve been wondering how you can re-energize your digital marketing, then you should meet Mary D’Alatri-Ward.

200x200_MaryMary is the VP of accounts at ion interactive, leading their client services and production teams. Prior to joining the ion team, Mary served as the Director of Client Services and Development for an online marketing agency focusing on search engine optimization and paid search. This has given her extensive knowledge of the entire online buying cycle and how to create a high-impact integrated marketing plan.

Mary can answer your darnedest questions, such as “will marketing apps really solve my engagement problem?” Or “Does it mean that if I shift to marketing apps, I won’t need a landing page ever again?”

Marketing Apps: The End of the Landing Page?

The concept of parting from trusty landing pages would doubtless shock some marketers. But if you’re willing to take some risk to explore this opportunity for deeper engagement and user interaction, you should join this lively and controversial discussion.

In this session, Mary will reveal why some marketers are saying that landing pages are an outdated concept that should be replaced with personalized and engaging “Maketing Apps.” You’ll learn why marketing apps are the next “must-have” weapon in your conversion optimization arsenal.

You will walk away with practical ideas on how to start using them as springboards to launch into the rest of your marketing landscape.

Join us at Conversion Conference Chicago this June!

Make plans to join Mary at her Conversion Conference Chicago session. Great news: You can still save with early bird rates when you register by May 9th.

If you’ve already registered for the Chicago event, don’t forget to check the agenda for other must-attend presentations!

Categories: Digital Marketing, Engagement Tags: