Ultimate Guide to Hashtags
You see them everywhere around the web… From Twitter to Instagram, hashtags are an essential part of social media.
So, why should you use hashtags? To start with, tweets with hashtags tend to get twice as much engagement as tweets without them. Plus, they can help you gain more followers, improve your reputation, and help your customers find information faster.
To show you how you can use hashtags to increase your online presence, I created an infographic that breaks down the correct way to use hashtags.
To further help you get the most out of hashtags, I’ve created another infographic that will teach you how to leverage them on each popular social network.
I know I’ve been a bit lazy when it comes to using hashtags, but I have to say, it works. When I was active on Instagram, I saw that pictures with hashtags received at least 15% more likes compared to images without them.
Adding keywords within your hashtags isn’t enough to increase your online presence. You need to make sure your hashtags are concise, conversational, and unique.
In addition to that, if you are not sure when to use hashtags, consider using them for contests, education, events, and news oriented topics. You can also monitor how well your hashtags are doing through tracking how many reposts, replies, and visits you get every time you use them.
So, next time you post on your favorite social network, follow the hashtag cheat sheets above.
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April 19, 2019 at 05:31AM
How to Develop a Thriving Community
To explore how to develop a thriving community beyond Facebook Groups, I interview Cate Stillman. Cate is podcaster, blogger, and author of the book Body Thrive. She’s also an expert in developing communities.
Cate shares tips for developing a brand that incorporates community. You’ll also learn how to decide whom your community should serve.
Read a summary of the interview below. To listen to the interview, scroll to the end of this article.
Since her time in high school, Cate has been an activist. She’s been involved in international environmental politics, as well as helping the planet and people thrive.
While working in global warming politics in Washington, DC, she realized she wanted to help people become more conscious. That desire led to deep study of Ayurveda and yoga, after which she became an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner and yoga teacher.
In 2001, while in San Francisco, Cate launched the Yoga Healer website and began teaching Ayurveda workshops in yoga studios. Through those workshops, she developed an email list of contacts and began delivering an email newsletter. Yoga Healer expanded in 2007 to include a blog, and a podcast in 2012.
Wellness professionals who took Cate’s courses often wanted to share what they learned within their own communities and that gave birth to Yoga Health Coaching and the Worldwide Association of Yoga Health Coaches. The site currently hosts a blog and a podcast, and is built of mainly community-developed content.
When Cate moved from San Francisco back to the Teton Mountains, she launched her first community course, Yogi Detox. Even though she was based in a tiny town, the course grew a following of people who would travel to attend the class. People on her email list wanted more curriculum around Ayurveda, so she began teaching that as well.
As she helped people find shared interests in their own communities, her own community developed very quickly.
Cate stresses that a community developer doesn’t necessarily have to be smarter than everyone else. You just have to be a great listener. Listen for the threads, for the words between the lines to see where the community wants to go, and then build the structure and infrastructure that help them get there.
Why Is Community Important to Businesses?
Cate has put a lot of thought into the effort and costs involved with growing and maintaining a community, as well as how that might translate into revenue.
There’s something valuable in your community doing a lot of the work involved in getting people ready to purchase from you or helping people to assimilate into whatever it is your product or service delivers. These prosumers, as they’re often called, aren’t just consuming—they’re actually proactively nourishing the company itself.
For instance, she notes that when her podcast listeners often become amazing course members, because hen they come into the courses, it’s like they’ve already been onboarded by the community itself.
Often, community members also do the work of maintaining culture, Cate says, and she points to both Social Media Marketing World and World Domination Summit as examples of this.
Not only do past attendees evangelize the event to their own connections, at Social Media Marketing World, the most experienced speakers and attendees actively maintain the culture and values of Social Media Examiner. They also consciously help onboard new attendees by exhibiting those values and intentionally reaching out to include those around them.
World Domination Summit takes over Portland, Oregon for 3 days—and you can feel it. There’s an ethos to the event culture, part of which is, “Don’t look at your phone, talk to someone.” Because the ethos has been established over years and years of development, you’re in a highly engaged atmosphere and even people who aren’t actually attending the event are very much open to engaging in conversation throughout the city.
The Power of Belonging and the Desire to Belong
Cate believes you shouldn’t underestimate the power of belonging and the desire to belong. Even individuals who are quite rebellious find people with whom they want to hang out and talk.
Once you find a group you feel you belong to, with an ethos you believe in, it can be difficult to hang out with people who don’t share that same ethos on as deep a level, cautions Cate. So what does ethos look like in action?
Part of Cate’s community ethos is to orient toward thrive. In any situation, she and the members of her community ask themselves, “How can I orient myself in this moment toward thrive?”
At the time of this recording, Cate was attending an event. She knew she’d be at a social gathering later on in the day and shared that she would most likely be drinking sparkling water rather than an alcoholic beverage because that hydrates her body when she’s traveling. She was orienting toward thrive, and that’s ethos in action.
When you’re able to live in line with your ethos and connect with other people doing the same, there’s a sense of ease and power. It opens a level of culture and acculturation; you become more vibrant and your desire to belong grows very strong.
Who Should Your Community Serve?
What if you’re ready to build a thriving community but you don’t know who should be cultivated? Cate suggests you start with your ethos or your values, and the language you use should be very specific, original, and unique to you.
To access the power of belonging, you need well-developed values for your company and an avatar image that really speaks to the person you want to attract. You want someone who sees your messaging to wonder how you got inside their head.
I ask Cate to walk through the process with me and use our community as the example.
I think Social Media Examiner serves any person working in a company in marketing. These marketers are looking for advice to help them deal with the confusion and overwhelm caused by the constant changes in the industry, and they want to be around people who share those same challenges.
Cate says that’s a good description of the struggle but doesn’t address the desire for belonging, so she asks me to identify what makes those people cool right now.
I answer by saying I believe the people we serve understand the complex world of social media in a way that no one else inside their company does.
Cate distills this even further to: These individual marketers have their finger on the pulse of how the marketplace is evolving. This refinement of language lets people immediately identify whether they belong in the community.
To further help people self-select into your community, you have to return to stating values. For us, our value is that there’s more going on in our community here than just growing revenue.
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Another way to get insight on who ought to be in the core of your community is to notice who’s already attracted to your brand. That’s where being a good listener comes in. Cate pays attention to those who are bringing the most revenue into the company and those who embody the soul of a community in equal measure.
Once you identify that core group, you can work toward connecting with other like-minded people—maybe more people from your email list—by using very specific language to tell people what your community is and differentiate it.
By way of example, Cate shares the language she’s used to build her community:
“You are on a lifelong journey of thrive, you prioritize connectivity, you resonate with ancient wisdom traditions like yoga and Ayurveda. You welcome practical skills and tools for aligned easeful living. You help others evolve and are a change maker. Your ambition is lurking beneath the surface and ready to be ignited. You appreciate the value of mentors, guides, gurus, teachers and coaches.”
Listen to the show to hear more about the language Cate uses to describe her community.
What Size Is a Successful Community?
When Cate started to teach her Yogi Detox course, six people came to the first class. The next year, she taught two classes with approximately 15 people in each class. After a few years, people started to come from farther away and she had 40 or 50 people attending. At that point, she could depend on the spring and fall classes being her revenue generator for the year.
It doesn’t take hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands or even thousands of people to be successful. It’s not about size. Whether your community is local or online, you want to figure out the minimum viable community size that allows you to achieve something you can’t do without your community. For Cate, that was a community of 40-50 people.
Then, Cate reminds me, the community will often co-create their own content or tell you what they want from you. You simply have to be open to listening to what’s trying to happen around your business, what’s trying to happen around the products and services that you’re most driven to create and bring into the world.
Cate didn’t set out to write a book to sell. Her community expressed their desire for her to write a book and produce certification courses to help them become pro-healers and teachers. By offering those products, she served her community.
Build a little bit of infrastructure around a conversation and the community will start to drive the product and service development of the company, as well as customer service.
Where Should You Build Your Community?
If you’re trying to build an online community, the natural place to start is where your people already hang out. You never want to try to move a new community over to a new platform; you want to show up on the platform they’re already using.
When Cate started, that platform was Facebook. Now her community is moving more to Instagram, so she’ll follow them over there. And as more yoga teachers and holistic wellness pros use LinkedIn, she’ll experiment over there too. She’ll go where her community leads and simply develop the infrastructure that facilitates conversation in the way her community wants to communicate.
Listen to the show to hear about Cate’s live meetups.
How to Structure Content and Conversations to Develop Community
Cate’s community creates a lot of the content she publishes, and she lets the community source content ideas from their own desires.
To generate, publish, and share that content in a meaningful way, she has rules in place to govern the production of the content they create. Whether they’re creating podcasts and show notes or writing blog posts, the content has to be standardized and optimized for search so people can actually find it.
Because those rules are in place, she’s able to pass the microphone a lot for things like member-to-member interviews about success stories, Coach of the Month interviews to highlight a certain member who has excelled in their own community development, and more.
At its core, the content her community creates reinforces to the members, “Oh, these are the kind of people we work with.”
Discovery of the Week
Gifnote is a website and iOS-based app that lets you pair licensed music with the GIFs you share.
Open gifnote and you’ll see a big selection of popular or trending GIFs to choose from. You can also search by category, keyword, or song title so you can start with the imagery or the audio. See an image you like but don’t want the song? You can change the song clip to something else.
Audio clips last from 5-30 seconds and the music library covers multiple genres and a lot of top hits.
Listen to the show to hear more about gifnote.
Key Takeaways in This Episode
Listen to the Interview Now
The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.Where to subscribe
What do you think? What are your thoughts on building community? Please share your comments below.
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April 19, 2019 at 05:04AM
How to Develop a Thriving Community - 350
Is community important to your business? Wondering where you should build your community? To explore how to develop a thriving community beyond Facebook Groups, I interview Cate Stillman, an expert in developing communities.
Sponsored by the Social Media Marketing Society: http://www.smmarketingsociety.com
Show notes: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/350
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April 19, 2019 at 04:57AM
The Power Of Emotional Marketing
Consumers think with both their rational and emotional brains. Study after study says that when we buy, it’s for emotional reasons. Logic comes into play when we try to justify the money we have (or are about to) spend — especially when we’re giving into our wants.
Here is what one Psychology Today article says about our shopping habits.
Okay. The findings make sense. In fact, they’re common sense and have been instrumental to marketers for years. But how can businesses harness emotions to connect with their consumers? Harness the following example tacts. We’ll show you how.
Positive Emotions = Long-Term ROI
Emotions are the key drivers behind our everyday decisions. They’re what keep us motivated to get up and go to work at 6 AM. It’s how we convince ourselves to run that extra mile on the treadmill. Similarly, emotions are what convince us to do business with the brands that stand out to us.
The problem is that marketers are on a completely different wavelength. What makes us happy? Clicks, pageviews, time on site, and high conversion rates.
What marketers need to keep in mind is that conversion optimization is a process, not a moment. It’s the whole marketing funnel — not just the five minutes that it takes for your customers to sign a contract or commit to a sale.
Your company needs to prioritize long-term relationships above sales.
Researchers at the University of Michigan wanted to find out how positivity could affect a negotiation scenario. In the study, participants had to coordinate the final arrangements of booking a catering service for an upcoming wedding reception. The business manager of this catering company (a professional actor), explained that the quoted price of $14,000 would need to be increased by close to $3,000 due to market pricing fluctuations.
The study revealed that even a subtle change in pitch could dramatically impact the outcome of the conversation. People who heard a positively toned pitch were twice as likely to accept the deal as people who heard a negatively toned pitch.
Zappos is a brand that thrives on positive energy. The company aims to make its customers extremely happy — and it’s not just to get them in the door. Zappos wants to keep people happy through the entire sales cycle.
Zappos transformed what most companies consider to be a cost (call centers) into a positive customer experience. Zappos reps are not required to follow a rigid script. Instead, they’re encouraged to live in the moment and let their personalities shine through.
Zappos is famous for sending customers flowers, granting surprise upgrades to overnight shipping, and staying on the phone with some customers for hours.
Make your customers happy, and you’ll win their business for life. Your competition won’t stand a chance.
Engaging the Senses
Visual communication is the heart of online marketing. That doesn’t mean, however, that your company is limited to two-dimensional communication.
One way to harness the senses is to appeal to your audience’s imagination. Help them imagine an experience with your company’s products. One option? Sound. Talk to your customers by producing a branded explainer video or by hosting a webinar.
You don’t need to create something expensive or overly complicated, either. When Spotify launched in the U.S., the company created a very simple visual and soundtrack:
Coastal, an ecommerce store that sells contact lenses and glasses, has a ‘try-it-on’ feature that helps customers see what they’d look like in new glasses.
A personality is something that we usually give our friends, family members, coworkers, and acquaintances. These are qualities that form a person’s distinctive character.
Personalities are in the eye of the beholder. We love people because of their personalities. We hate people because of their personalities. We find some personalities wonderful — and others, we find horribly obnoxious.
It’s weird to think that brands can have a personality. And yet, we talk about ‘brand personalities’ all the time.
What Is A Brand Personality?
A brand personality is the set of attributes that give an organization a distinct character. Some brands have incredibly strong and unique personalities. Others have weaker personalities (or no personalities at all). Usually, these personalities revolve around a distinct set of attributes.
Great personalities don’t happen by accident. They’re planned well in advance.
Moosejaw is a great source of inspiration. This sports and outdoors goods retailer is fun-loving, experimental, adventurous, and has an amazing sense of humor. Their marketing team takes the time to try new branding initiatives (like mystery gifts and freebies) and also deploys subtle tactics of making fun of the company’s own legalese. Check out the company’s return policy, for instance. It’s hilarious. It’s a “living will”.
Where Do Brand Personalities Come From
A brand personality can be whatever its leadership wants it to be — fun loving, serious, professional, or any combination of characteristics.
What’s most important is that the company defines it up front. This process should capture the entire time — not just a select few managers within the organization.
The reason why is that it’s your team members — at the ground level — who will ultimately put this carefully designed personality into action. These individuals will plan new product features, business development tactics, and customer service offerings around this extremely important identity.
As an example, take a look at KISSmetrics. The company strives to be analytical, educational, helpful, to-the-point, metrics-driven, aggressive, and (kind of nerdy). These core brand personality traits are readily apparent throughout the site — on the homepage and especially on the blog where the company is sharing tips, how-tos, and detailed best practices in web analytics.
Who Is Responsible For Your Company’s Brand Identity?
he short answer? Everyone.
The personality that you assign to your brand should touch every aspect of your business from marketing copy to social media, customer emails, and product descriptions. Every single person on your team — executive leaders, mid-managers, and entry level team members should be able to clearly define and embody who your brand is.
In many ways, your team members are your company’s brand identity. In building out your team (hiring) and forming strategic partnerships, you need to hire people who live and breathe your brand’s core values. When your team is committed to a shared and focused set of values, your company will have an easier time.
Culture, marketing, and design are elements that go hand-in-hand. For these disparate business goals to converge, a clear strategy needs to be defined from the top-down.
How Do You Define Your Company’s Brand Identity?
A brand identity isn’t something that will materialize into thin air. The process takes careful planning and consideration. You’ll need to hire a team, and if you have the funds, you may need to hire a consultant. This core business asset will unify your product, marketing, design, and customer communication. In other words, it’s really important. You’re not wasting time by overthinking it.
Here are step-by-step guidelines to help you get started:
Here is an example of a simple brand styleguide:
The concept is just that simple. The less information your team has to filter through, the more they can focus on creating a cohesive marketing strategy.
Emotions can easily transition from effective to downright cheesy. It’s a fine line. One moment, your brand is doing a great job building a rapport. The next moment? Audiences are making fun of your company’s over-the-top marketing message.
How do you avoid this?
Cheesiness is in the eye of the beholder. The best way to connect with your audience is to put your marketing team in their shoes.
Creating Viral Campaigns
Some brands make viral marketing look so darn easy. Dollar Shave Club, for instance, used a hilarious marketing video to build a customer base. Overnight. Literally.
The thing is, viral marketing campaigns are more formulaic than they look. While performance isn’t guaranteed, brands can optimize their chances of success by striking an emotional chord with their customers.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Kelsey Libert and Kristin Tynski explain how marketers can increase the chances of a creating a viral campaign:
The Unspoken Power Of Delight
Delight is a force that is infinitely more powerful than any marketing message. It’s the experience of watching a toddler use a smartphone for the first time. It’s what happens when you walk into your favorite boutique (after a tough day) and are surrounded by racks of beautiful items and great music. It’s when Zappos surprises you with overnight shipping.
Some leaders stereotype delight as something fluffy. The thing is, it’s not. It ties directly into your company’s bottom line. It’s probably true that you can’t measure the correlation between exposure to purple lighting in the Virgin Airlines check-in area and profitability. But honestly, who cares? We know that delight influences sales. It’s a waste of time to chase numbers and micromanage the details. Focus on growing your business by creating delightful brand experiences.
Delight doesn’t happen on accident. It’s carefully crafted into the core functional areas of your business:
Delight can strike a chord with the following emotions:
The problem with delight is that it is — by definition — a nebulous concept. Your finance and revenue teams will second guess your pitches around the topic. Your sales and marketing teams might be on board, but your number crunchers? Not so much. When asked about your plans, you need to distill your goals into a set of tangible steps. Here are the steps needed to create a delightful brand experience:
Branding is something that your company should measure on the macro-level. Pay attention to general trends in your customer data:
Delight is something that you can craft in tandem with your brand’s personality. Delight is the customer-centric piece, and personality is the brandcentric piece.
There is a fine line between courting and manipulating customers. Remember that emotions can make us vulnerable. No matter how strong we think we are, we’re still very complex. In appealing to emotions, brands are constantly walking the line. It is extremely important to treat your customers with the utmost respect.
Fear is one example of a powerful yet heavily abused emotion.
In some instances, fear is appropriate. Especially when it comes to vital health concerns, companies/brands/nonprofits have an obligation to inspire emotion. This ad from the CDC, for instance, is designed to stop people from smoking:
The main element that influences whether a person is likely to take action to avoid a threat is efficacy — a person’s perception as to whether or not they can do anything about the threat.
Marketers and business owners can literally scare their customers into making a purchase. But is it ethical? Probably not — if you’re using fear tactics, then definitely no. If you’re communicating something truthful (and possibly saving your customers from a big problem), then fear is ok.
The key is to give your brand a value test. Is your marketing message adding or extracting value from the world? If you’re extracting value (like a leech), you should probably change your approach.
Logitech is an example brand that strikes this balance well. Here is an ad for a home video security system — it’s based around the questions that parents are already asking. In speaking to its audience’s fears, the marketing message is comforting because it shows worrisome parents that they are not alone in their fears.
Logitech also ran a “busted” video campaign to expose prospective customers to credible, real threats. Unethical? Not so much. But the campaign may make you consider buying a Logitech camera.
Here’s an example of an ad that takes fear too far. The ad reads “If you aren’t totally clean, you are filthy”.
The ad is questionable because it’s unreasonable. Yes, our hands are covered in germs. But are we covered in disgusting cockroaches, and are we allowing those nonexistent cockroaches to crawl all over our children? Probably not.
The thing is, many people have phobias for cockroaches and other insects. They are likely terrified and jolted after looking at this very unrealistic ad.
A point that we emphasized earlier is that emotions expose our greatest vulnerabilities. Marketers should treat carefully and thoughtfully. You never know who you’ll possibly make very, very angry.
Build Emotions Into Your Brand Community
Social media is a great way to encourage customers to talk about how they’re thinking and feeling — especially about your company. It’s important to keep this dialogue open — you’ll promote word of mouth marketing around your brand. A potential issue arises, however, when customers are angry about a negative experience.
Many companies will jump to deleting negative comments or moving all customer communication into a private forum.
Don’t do that.
Instead, if a problem arises, use the opportunity to show that there is a real person behind your brand. Apologize, make the situation better, and try to offer an amicable solution. Don’t let a complaint or negative review scare you away from the experience of talking with your customers in a public forum. Instead, be authentic and show that you care. Reciprocate emotions with emotions, and stay calm — even if the conversation gets heated.
FedEx did a great job striking this balance with this summer, a video of a careless package delivery driver went viral on YouTube. The company released an official video statement to basically say, “I’m sorry. We’re on it”.
Own your mistakes. If all else fails, make it a point to show that you care.
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April 18, 2019 at 01:41PM
15 A/B Testing Mistakes to Avoid
You’re one of those people, aren’t you?
The kind who stay up late at night, thinking of ways to improve their businesses.
It’s great to have this much passion.
While the general concept of A/B testing is very simple, it’s fairly difficult to run a conversion rate optimization campaign properly.
There’s a reason why conversion experts get paid a ton.
Too often, marketers and business owners run a split test, make a change based on the results, and find out that it either made no difference or produced a negative result.
That being said, you can definitely run split tests on your own and get great results.
However, you need to make sure that you set up your test correctly and that you know how to interpret the results.
I know they sound like simple things, but most split testers make several mistakes that lead to subpar results.
In this post, I’m going to show you 15 common A/B test mistakes.
After you understand these, you’ll be able to run split tests with more confidence and steadily improve your conversion rates.
Let’s dive in.
1. Expecting CRO To Be A Silver Bullet
As awesome as CRO is, it’s not a silver bullet that solves every problem for your business. Sometimes the problem lies deeper than surface conversions because the problem is an underlying flaw within your business.
Let’s say, for example, that you start a SaaS business that provides a loyalty program for eCommerce stores. You expect it to be a hit, so after building the product, you release it to the public and wait for the sales to flood in. Two months later, the floodgates are still closed, and you’re left wondering what’s going on. Maybe CRO will help!
You start reading CRO articles and stumble upon this guide at Quick Sprout. Thinking CRO will solve your problems, you dig in, read everything you can, come up with some hypotheses for testing, and then begin your first test. Surely CRO will solve everything and get you back onto the right track.
In some cases, this may work because the problem could be that you’re not explaining what you do well enough which is costing you sales. But sometimes that’s not the case.
In other cases, there’s a bigger problem than convincing more people to sign up. It’s possible that people aren’t interested in what you’re selling because there’s not a product market fit, i.e. there’s just not a demand for your offering.
In situations like this, you either need to pivot and create a new product or else find out how to tweak your current product so it matches what customers want. There’s still hope for your business, but you need to do more than CRO to get back on track. So how do you know which case matches your business?
First, you need to pay attention to whether or not people are signing up, using your service, or buying your product. When you sell to someone in person, do they sign up and use what you’re selling? If yes, then there’s a good chance that there’s a demand for what you’re selling. Usually, if you can sell the product in person then you can find way to sell it online. You just need to find out how to duplicate your offline sales pitch for the online world.
Another test you can run is to see how many people would be disappointed without your service. Sean Ellis, the founder of Qualaroo and the first marketer at Dropbox, Lookout, Xobni, LogMeIn, and Uproar, believes you’ve found product market fit when 40% of your customers would be very disappointed without it. This number is somewhat arbitrary, but it’s a number he’s found to hold true after looking at almost 100 different startups. You can find out what this number is for your customers by conducting a survey to see whether or not they would be disappointed if your business closed its doors. There’s a good chance you have a viable product if at least 40% of customers would be very disappointed without your offering.
Sean Ellis is the founder of Qualaroo and was the first marketer at Dropbox, Lookout, Xobni, LogMeIn, and Uproar.
These two tests will help you determine whether or not conversion rate optimization can help your business. If you do have a product market fit for what you’re selling, then conversion rate optimization can help. If not, you’re better off tweaking your product or improving your business model before worrying too much about how to increase conversion rates.
2. Running Before And After Tests
Sometimes it’s tempting to run a before and after test, even when you’ve been warned not to. With a before and after test, you measure conversions on your site for a period of time, make a change, and then measure conversions for another period of time. Instead of simultaneously testing two or more versions, you test different versions for different periods of time.
As we’ve mentioned before, this is a bad idea because traffic quality varies from day to day and week to week. It’s not uncommon for a page to convert at 15% one day, 18% the next, and 12% the day after. It’s also not uncommon for a page to convert at 15% for one week and 18% the following week. These changes are common based on the moods that visitors may be in, the economic climate, the quality of traffic, or any number of other factors.
Changes in traffic quality will impact conversion rates which is why you need to remember to run A/B tests, not before and after tests.
For example, your site might get covered by Technorati which increases traffic but decreases conversion rates. A large number of people visit your site, but they’re not as qualified as someone who clicks through from a Google ad. Thus, your conversion rate gets watered down, and if you tested a new version one week to the next in this situation, the results would be affected.
The only way to account for all these factors is to run a scientific A/B or multivariate test where each version is shown to a proportionate number of customers throughout the testing period. By randomly showing the two (or more) versions to visitors in the same week, there’s a much greater likelihood that results will be statistically relevant.
This is why it’s important that you never run a before and after test. There’s no way to know for sure how relevant the results are which means you have no way to make an educated decision about which version is the best. You always need to run an A/B, multivariate, or split test to get the most accurate results and to make decisions that will benefit your business.
3. Ending your tests too soon
Ideally, anyone conducting split tests should have at least a basic understanding of statistics.
If you don’t understand concepts such as variance, you’re likely making many mistakes.
If you need an introduction, take the free statistic classes at Khan Academy.
At this point, I’ll assume you have the basics down.
Although many marketers have a good grasp of the basics, they still frequently make one mistake: ending the test without a sufficient sample size.
There are three reasons for this:
The first and third can be fixed.
If you’ve ever used a tool such as Unbounce to conduct split tests, you know the analytics show you something like this:
The table gives you the current conversion rate of each page you’re testing and a confidence level that the winning one is indeed the best.
The standard advice is to cut the test off once you hit 90-95% significance, which is fine advice.
The problem is that a lot (not all) of these tools will give you these significance values before they even mean anything.
You’ll think you have a winner, but if you let the test run on, you might find that the opposite is true.
Keep in mind that conversion experts like Peep Laja aim for at least 350 conversions per page in most cases (unless there’s a huge difference in conversion rates).
You must understand sample size: The fix for this problem, and most sample size problems, is to understand how to calculate a valid sample size on your own.
It’s not very hard if you use the right tools. Let me show you a few you can use.
The first is the test significance calculator. It’s very simple to use: just input your base conversion rate (of your original page) as well as your desired confidence level (90-95%).
The tool comes up with a chart that has a ton of scenarios.
You can see that the bigger the gap between the “A” page and the “B” page, the smaller the sample size needs to be. That’s why it’s best to test things that could potentially make big differences—they speed it up too.
Here’s another sample size calculator you can use. Again, you put in your baseline conversion rate, but this time, you decide on the minimum detectable effect.
The minimum detectable effect here is relative to your baseline, so start by multiplying them together to get 1%.
What that means is that you will have 90% confidence that you’ve detected a conversion rate on your second page that is under 19% or over 21% (plus or minus 1% from the 20% of your baseline conversion rate).
That also means that if your split test results show a 20.5% conversion rate for your second page, you cannot confidently say that it’s better.
Use either of these calculators to get an idea of what sample size you need for your tests. More is always better.
4. You didn’t test long enough
No, this is not the same as testing until you reach statistical significance.
Instead, it’s about the absolute length of time that you run your split test for.
Say, you used one of the calculators I showed you and found that you need a minimum sample size of 10,000 views for each page.
If you run a high traffic site, you might be able to get that much traffic in a day or two.
Split test finished, right? That’s what most split testers do, and it’s wrong.
All businesses have business cycles.
It’s why your website’s traffic varies from day to day and even from month to month.
For some businesses, buyers are ready to go at the start of the week. For others, they largely wait until the end of the week so that they can get started on the weekend.
It’s not valid to say that buyers who buy at one part of the cycle are the same as buyers at another part. Instead, you need an overall representation of your customers, through all parts of the cycle.
Your first step here is to determine what your business cycle is. The most common lengths are 1 week and 1 month.
To determine it, look at where your sales typically peak. The distance between your peaks is one cycle.
Next, run your split tests until you (1) reach the minimum sample size and (2) complete an integer of your business cycle, e.g., one, two, or three full business cycles—but never 1.5.
That’s the best way to ensure that you have a representative sample.
5. Trusting What You Read
Another mistake you can make is trusting what you read online and blindly implementing someone else’s test results on your site. Maybe another site changed their button copy and increased conversions by 28%. That’s great, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get the same results on your site.
You might stumble on a post about the Performable test we mentioned previously where conversions went up 21% by changing the button color from green to red. Assuming that green is the magical conversion color, you decide to make the same change on your site, but without testing. Unbeknownst to you, changing the button color decreases conversions by 15%, but because you didn’t test, you’ll never know.
There are a lot of different factors that go into why a change works on a site. Maybe a site’s customers are looking for something in particular, or maybe that certain color contrasts with the site’s primary color, draws attention to the CTA, and gets people to take action. Who knows. All you know is whether or not something works after you run a test, but if you don’t test, you could end up implementing someone else’s result only to shoot yourself in the foot when you accidentally decrease conversions.
Another problem, which we touched on before, is that the results could be reported inaccurately or the test could have been run improperly. When you read a test on another site, there’s no way to know for sure that it was run to a 95% confidence level or higher unless that gets reported, and even then, you can’t know with 100% certainty. The only way to know absolutely for sure is to test the change yourself to see how it impacts your site.
6. Expecting Big Wins From Small Changes
Yet another big mistake people make is expecting big wins from small changes. They might add one line of copy to a page or only test button copy or headline changes. All of these are great things to test, but frequently, they’ll only get you so far.
In many cases, it’s best to test radical changes to see how conversions are impacted. Then, once you’ve come up with a variation that significantly increases conversions, you can continue tweaking to inch conversions up even higher. But if you only tweak your site, you’ll never dramatically increase conversions which means you’ll never find a new baseline you can work from before testing additional tweaks.
The tests run on Crazy Egg are a great example of this. The first big win came from changing the homepage to a long-copy sales letter. Then, after a big win from a drastic change, the Crazy Egg team tested call-to-action buttons and other small changes to improve the results even more.
Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ever run small tests. If you’re just getting started, headlines and button copy are great places to start. But if you’ve already practiced with those types of test and you have a pretty good idea what you’re doing, you may want to try mixing things up a bit and test an entirely new version of your homepage because you have a better chance of getting a big win from a drastic change than from a small tweak.
7. Thinking The First Step Is To Come Up With A Test
We can’t stress enough how important it is to gather data before coming up with your first test. Yes, you start with a test, and maybe, if you know enough about your site and customers already, you’ll end up getting lucky and improve conversions. But this just isn’t the best route to take.
It’s much better to survey your customers first because you aren’t the one purchasing what you’re selling. Your customers are the ones who will pay for your offering. That’s why you need to find out what they think about your product and what hurdles they mention about why they aren’t ready to buy.
Good questions to ask at this point include:
These types of questions will teach you more about your customers and will reveal what’s preventing them from buying. Once you gather the data, analyze it, and come up with a hypothesis, then you’re ready to run a test and measure the results.
8. Running Too Many Tests
It’s easy to make the mistake of running too many tests. Maybe you get excited about A/B testing, see a lot of opportunities on your site, and run 20 tests in the first month. Even if you have enough traffic for that many tests, it’s not recommended.
The reason it’s not recommended is that it takes time to gather data, analyze the data, run a test, measure the results, and then decide what to do next. It’s ok to run back to back tests in some cases, but you don’t want to run too many tests in too short of a period of time.
The main issue with this is that every test is an opportunity to decrease conversions and therefore decrease revenue. The hope is that you’ll get a conversion boost, but that’s not always the case. And since it’s not always the case, you run the risk of decreasing revenue with the tests you run, meaning if you run too many tests, you can significantly impact your revenue stream.
It’s much better to take your time to gather sufficient data, analyze the results, and then run educated tests based on the data you gathered than to quickly burn through a lot of tests that may or may not benefit your bottom line.
Ten days later the challenging variation increased conversions by 25.18% proving that the initial sample size was too small to produce statistically significant results.
9. Testing Too Many Variables
It’s very possible to test too many variables at once. If you test too many things at one time, you won’t know what’s affecting conversions and may miss out on a positive improvement. You might change the headline, the button copy, and add a testimonial and then be disappointed with the results when one of the changes may have improved conversions on its own (such as the testimonial) while another change drags the conversions down (possibly the headline).
Timothy Sykes had this experience recently with his sales letter. At one point he changed his video, headline, copy, and the form field design. This lowered conversions and didn’t give him any idea whether or not some of the changes were worth implementing.
Testing too many variables at once can leave you scratching your head wondering which changes improved or decreased conversions and which ones should be implemented.
So on the one hand, sometimes you need to test radical changes to see if it improves conversions, but on the other hand, you want to be careful about testing too many variables too frequently because you won’t find out what did and didn’t improve conversions.
10. Testing Micro-Conversions
The next mistake CRO professionals make is testing micro-conversions. This means that instead of measuring your end goal, you measure the number of conversions at an earlier step in this process.
An example of this would be measuring the number of people who click on the 15-day free trial link on a site like Help Scout. It’s great if more people click on the link, but what really matters is for more people to fill out the form and to actually sign up for a free trial.
Just because more people click on a free trial link doesn’t mean more people will sign up. That’s why you need to measure both micro and macro conversions to make sure you’re accomplishing the goal you set out to accomplish.
The problem with measuring micro-conversions, which is something we touched on briefly earlier in this guide, is that you never know how a micro-conversion will affect the end goal for your product. Changing a headline could get 10% more people to click on a free-trial link, but it could lead to a smaller percentage of people signing up for a free trial.
It’s entirely possible that the headline tricks people into clicking somehow but annoys them once they get to the free trial form. In a case like this, it doesn’t matter that more people take the next step if they’re not completing the goal you really want them to complete.
With that said, quite often it’s good to improve micro-conversions. You definitely want more people to go from step one to step two because the more people there are on step two means there are more people who are further along in your funnel and who may convert. But the point is that you can’t completely trust these numbers. You also need to measure conversions for your final goal so you can be sure that the increased micro-conversions are always improving the macro-conversion that matters the most for your business.
11. Not Committing To Testing Everything
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not testing every change you make on your site. You may think that rearranging the homepage or swapping out a current picture for a new one won’t affect conversions, but there’s a good chance that it will. The only way to find out is to run a test.
Sometimes a CEO wants something to be changed and doesn’t care that much about conversions. He’s convinced that it will help the business, so he wants an image or feature added. And if your business hasn’t committed to testing as an organization and if you don’t have buy in at every level, then you may not have any choice but to add the extra feature.
But in another scenario, you do have an option. This is the scenario in which the entire organization is on board with testing and understands how important it is. Everyone from the CEO to the Communications department understands how valuable CRO is and how every little change can affect conversions. At this point, you’re committed to testing, and you know you can’t make any changes without running an A/B test first to see how it impacts sales. Once you have this level of commitment to testing, you’ll be assured that you won’t make the mistake of implementing changes without testing first.
12. Not segmenting your traffic
When it comes to split tests, the more control you have, the better.
Whenever you do any sort of analysis on your website, whether for split tests or not, you need to understand and consider segments.
A segment refers to any section of your traffic.
The most common segments are:
Here is data broken down by the days of the week:
The important thing to know about segments is that you cannot compare visitors from two different segments.
For example, if you have 100 visitors who use Chrome and 100 visitors who use Internet Explorer, there’s a good chance that they will act differently.
So, imagine if you sent the majority of Chrome users to one landing page and the majority of the IE users to a different landing page.
Can you fairly compare the results? No way. You might arrive at the opposite conclusion if you reverse the test.
The practicality of segmenting: Ideally, all your visitors sent to each version of your test would be identical. In reality, that’s impossible.
Having a large enough random sample size (more on that later) will mitigate a lot of your issues, but you will likely end up judging tests that aren’t perfectly segmented.
The reason for this is because you can’t perfectly segment a test in the vast majority of situations.
If you did, you’d be left with barely any traffic. For example, how many users would tick all these boxes?
Even if your site has a lot of traffic, you won’t have many users matching all the parameters—certainly not a big enough sample to run a test on.
The solution is compromise.
Right now, I want you to identify the segments that have the biggest influence on your results. For most sites, that will come down to the traffic source and, possibly, the location.
When you’re analyzing your split test results, make sure you’re analyzing the results only for users from a specific traffic source (e.g., organic search, paid advertising, referral, etc.).
13. Running a split test during the holidays
This is related to segmenting, but it’s an often-overlooked special case.
Your traffic during holidays can be very different from your typical traffic. Including even one day of that abnormal traffic could result in optimizing your site for the people who use your site only a few times a year.
You also have to consider other special days that influence the type of traffic driven to your site:
On top of that, these special days aren’t usually one-day things. For example, when it comes to Christmas, those abnormal types of visitors may visit your website leading up to the big day and a week or two after.
The solution? Go longer: The best solution is to exclude these days from your test because they will contain skewed data.
If it’s not possible, the next best solution is to extend your split tests. Go over your minimum sample size so that you have enough data to drown out any skewed data.
14. Launching a new design
I know I said this post only contained seven blunders, but I had to throw in an eighth one…
The biggest blunder you can make is to redesign your website because your design is outdated. I’m a big believer that you should never just redesign things, but instead you should continually tweak and test your design until it’s to your customers’ liking.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you think of your design. All that matters is that it converts well. If you jump the gun and just change things up because you want to, you can drastically hurt your revenue.
Similar to the example in blunder Blunder #6, Tim Sykes also launched a new design because he wanted something fresh. Within hours of launching the design, he noticed that his revenue tanked. There was nothing wrong with the code; everything seemed to work; but the design wasn’t performing well. So he had no choice but to revert back to the old design.
You have a website to gain business from. Creating a new design won’t always help boost your revenue, so continually tweak and test elements instead of just redoing your whole design at once.
15. Measuring the wrong thing
Although it’s in the title, it’s still easy to overlook.
Conversion rate optimization is all about…conversions.
Whenever possible, you need to be measuring conversions—not bounce rates, email opt-in rates, or email open rates.
Those other numbers do not necessarily indicated an improvement.
Here is a simple example to illustrate this:
If you were measuring only your email opt-in rate on the page, you’d say that page A is decisively better (66% better).
In reality, page B converts traffic twice as well as page A. I’ll take twice the profit over 66% more emails on my list any day.
This is another simple thing, but you need to keep it in mind when setting up any split test.
If you’ve started split testing pages on your website or plan to in the future, that’s great. You can get big improvements, leading to incredible growth in your profit.
But if you’re going to do split testing without the help of an expert, you need to be extra careful not to make mistakes.
I’ve shown you 15 common ways that people mess up their split tests, but there are many more.
Any single one of these can invalidate your results, which may lead you to mistakenly declaring the wrong page as the winner.
You’ll end up wasting your time and even hurting your business sometimes. Even if you get a good return from split testing, it might not be as much as it could be.
It’s ok if you make mistakes while you optimize your site for conversions. As long as you learn from your mistakes and avoid making the same ones over again, you’ll be fine.
via Quick Sprout http://bit.ly/UU7LJr
April 18, 2019 at 09:19AM
Rod Rosenstein stares creepily into the distance at Mueller report press conference
Attorney general William Barr held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the long-awaited Mueller report, a move which has been criticized by Democrats as unnecessary and "inappropriate." Next to him stood deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who spent most of the conference staring intensely into the middle distance.
Remember when Chris Christie stood next to Trump during a rally and looked like he'd just woken up on a submarine to hell? This was kind of like that. Several people made "Sound of Silence" jokes.
Now that Rosenstein's time at the Justice Department is drawing to a close, perhaps he can pivot to competitive staring contests. We have never seen a human person blink so little.
via Mashable http://bit.ly/2DCFv97
April 18, 2019 at 09:16AM
How to Build Quality Links From Resource Pages
Every website needs to prioritize link building. Regardless of your business type or industry, backlinks help drive more traffic to your website and are great for SEO purposes.
So where should you start?
Resource pages need to be a major component of your link building strategy. In fact, 56% of webmasters say that they use resource pages to build backlinks.
This strategy is second only to content creation in terms of the most popular ways to build links. Why is this case?
That’s because the sole purpose of resource pages is to link out to other websites, which makes this an easy process. All you need to do is find authority resource pages that are related to your site, and then convince the webmasters to add your site to their page.
It’s actually not that complex when you know how to approach it.
I’ve dealt with so many website owners who have identified the need for building quality links, but they just don’t know how to do it. That was my inspiration for this guide.
I’ll show you the best ways to build quality links specifically from resource pages.
Find relevant resource pages
This needs to be your first step. You can’t just sit back and hope that your website will get picked up by resource pages. That type of passive strategy won’t be effective.
Instead, you need to start researching resource pages that are related to your brand. Narrow down the ones within your niche.
You don’t need any fancy software or subscriptions to do this. All you have to do is use Google.
For example, let’s say your website is in the food industry. You could try the following search string to identify resource pages.
“Cooking” + inurl:links
Put your keyword in quotes to find pages related to that specific word, which is “cooking” in this instance. By adding “inurl:links” to the query, it limits the search to websites with the word “links” in the URL.
It’s unlikely that people who have cooking websites will be discussing links. So you know that your search results will yield resource pages.
Generally, everything you see in these SERPs will be a list of links in some form or another. Now you just have to go through each site and select the ones you want to pursue.
Be selective. You don’t need to reach out to every resource page on the planet.
When you’re reviewing the search results, the number one thing to look for is page authority. Page authority is more important than domain authority in this case. That’s because you’re trying to get your link shared on a particular resource page.
So even if certain sites don’t have the highest domain authority, you can still reach out to them if they have a resource page in your niche with a high page authority.
Contact the webmasters
Once you’ve found some resource pages with a high page authority that are relevant to your brand, it’s time for you to reach out to those webmasters.
But before you do that, it’s important to take the time to review the links that are already shared on each particular resource page. This will help you figure out what types of links you should be sending to the webmaster.
In my experience, it’s usually rare for resource pages to link out to the homepages of other websites. When they do link to homepages, it’s usually for bigger and more well-known brands.
So if you’re just blindly submitting your homepage to resource pages, there is no guarantee that you’ll be featured. Instead, you’re better off sending them content pages.
Each webmaster is different, so just make sure you can pitch something that fits within the page you’re requesting a link on. For example, let’s say you found a cooking website that’s mostly related to grilling and BBQ. You could pitch a blog post about a barbeque grilled chicken recipe.
If you don’t have this type of content on your website, you should create it. Not only will it help you get featured on more niche resource pages for the purpose of building backlinks, but it’s also valuable content for your website and SEO strategy.
Take a look at this example from Teri’s Kitchen, which was one of the top hits of the Google search results we saw earlier.
Based on this, it’s clear that the site accepts submissions. In fact, it almost seems like they encourage it.
So in this case, all you’d need to do is reach out. This is something that you’ll see on most resource pages. They’ll be some type of easy contact form or instructions asking for links.
Most resource pages want more links on their site. Remember, that’s the whole purpose of a resource page.
So if you pitch them something relevant, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get featured. It benefits both parties. You build backlinks while the resource page improves at the same time. The more resources these webmasters have on each page, the more valuable it is for their website.
Your pitch doesn’t need to be too persuasive. Less is more. Just send the link with a couple of sentences about why you think it fits on their page.
Alternative search strings
Link building with resource pages is pretty straightforward. As I’ve described above, the whole process can essentially be broken down into two steps:
By following the search string that we used earlier with “keyword” + inurl:links, it will bring you straight to resource pages.
But to get the most out of this strategy, you need to switch up your search queries to find other results. Depending on your search, you’ll be able to identify different resource pages.
I’ll take you through three of the best search options to improve the first step of this process.
Another one of my favorite search strings for finding resource pages is by adding “useful resources” in addition to the keyword in quotes. Here’s what it looks like using our cooking example:
“Cooking” + useful resources
Right away, look at the number of results that this search yielded.
There are nearly 77 million hits. If you refer back to the “inurl” search we used earlier, there were just 244,000 results.
Obviously, you aren’t going to be scrolling through thousands or millions of results. But the point I’m trying to make here is that this alternate search will bring up new results.
In my experience, searching for the keyword plus useful resources usually displays lots of authoritative websites.
Now you just have to follow the same process. Go through each of the top results one at a time. See what kind of content each resource page is sharing. Then determine what link on your site that you’re going to pitch before you contact the webmaster.
In some cases, it can be a bit challenging to get featured on these authoritative sites. They may have a more exclusive selection process. But at the end of the day, they still exist for the same purpose of linking out to other websites, so don’t sell yourself short.
Depending on the type of website you have, you might want to limit your resource page outreach to authoritative and trusted sites only.
For this purpose, I’d recommend using the following search string:
site: .edu “keyword” links
So continuing with our cooking example, the search would look like this:
site: .edu “cooking” links
Again, this query will bring up a completely new set of results.
Now, it’s worth noting that not all of the results will necessarily be relevant to your site. You still have to go through and find the ones that are resource pages that are actually accepting submissions.
For the most part, you won’t see sites with a .edu domain that have something like Teri’s Kitchen, which we discussed earlier. Teri asks for submissions right at the top of the page. That won’t be the case for Harvard’s website.
So you’ll need to work a little bit harder to get featured.
Authority sites with .edu domains usually have a big staff as well. It’s not just one person monitoring the site and adding content. General submissions may not always be sent to the right person. So you need to figure out who is responsible for the particular page that you want to be featured on.
Here’s a trick that I’ve used in the past.
Look to the URL of the page. That can give you a clue of who you should be getting in contact with. The URL might give away the particular department associated with that resource page. Then you can go through the staff listing and see who is the head of that department. Their contact information should be available there as well.
You can also use an employee directory or even LinkedIn to find the right person who manages that page or the webmaster for a particular department.
Here’s another trick. Scroll to the very bottom of the page and it will sometimes show you a “last updated by” note with a person’s name.
If you search around on the site and do some digging, you can usually find what you’re looking for. Here’s an example from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, which was one of the top search results for our .edu query.
Here is the footer of the resource page.
As you can see, there is a separate email address for the food department.
You could even take this one step further by clicking the “food team resources” link just a few lines below that email address on the left side of the footer.
That would bring you to this page:
There’s another link here showing the staff listing and their contact information.
It’s better to take these extra steps now to increase the chances of getting your links featured. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a waste of your time if you submit to the wrong person, department, or your submission gets ignored.
Sending emails to email@example.com won’t get the job done. Your message will just get lost in the shuffle.
These websites have so many other things that are more important to deal with. So if your email is delivered to the wrong person, it’s unlikely that they will forward it to the appropriate party.
Related to keyword
If you have a unique niche that doesn’t have tons of resource pages, you’ll need to find ways to broaden your search to get the best results.
Change the search string accordingly. Here is one of my favorite tricks to find more related sites.
Simply remove the quotes from your keyword. By removing the quotes, it tells Google that you’re not looking for an exact match keyword. Years ago you used to have to add a tilde (~) to search for related terms, but now Google does this by default.
So go back and remove the quotes from your inurl, useful resources, and .edu searches to see what comes up.
Here’s an example to show you the difference.
When we first searched for useful resources with quotes around cooking, we got just under 77 million results.
But now that we’ve removed the quotes, we’re approaching 92 million hits.
Resource pages should be at the top of your priority list when it comes to your link building strategy.
Take advantage of all of the different search strings that I’ve explained above. This will give you the widest range of search results to find resource pages in different categories.
I’d recommend going through the top 50 hits or so within your niche for each query. Then narrow down the options that would be a good fit for your site.
Now find your best content that matches the specified resource page before you ask to be featured. Remember, it’s more likely that your link will be shared if you pitch content as opposed to the general homepage.
Make sure you contact the right person. This will be more challenging for higher authority sites, especially with an .edu domain, but it’s still doable if you dig around.
If you don’t have content that fits these resource sites, you can always create new content before submitting.
Follow the process that I’ve outlined above to build quality links with resource pages.
via Quick Sprout http://bit.ly/UU7LJr
April 18, 2019 at 07:26AM
Facebook accidentally scraped the email contacts of 1.5 million users
Facebook has been embroiled in another password-related mess.
As reported by Business Insider, the social media giant inadvertently uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users who had just signed up to the network.
The issue stems from when Facebook asked new users for their email passwords at sign-up, an odd request which was spotted a few weeks ago by a cybersecurity researcher by the name of "e-sushi."
Facebook ended the practice shortly after it was called out on it, but it turns out users who had entered their passwords likely had their contacts scraped anyway without their permission. The company said it is in the process of deleting the contacts.
"Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time," a Facebook spokesperson said an a statement to Mashable.
"When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account. We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded.
"These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings."
It follows the revelation that Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text, although the company said there was no evidence the passwords were "abused or improperly accessed."
via Mashable http://bit.ly/2DCFv97
April 17, 2019 at 09:02PM
How to Avoid Friction Points for Your Customers
There’s many things we can do in order to encourage people to purchase.
But if we’re not careful…
We’ll push people away.
These are friction points, points in our marketing and business that PUSH customers away. In many cases, we don’t even realize it.
Friction points are one of the top reasons why your prospects are hesitating from moving through your funnel.
What is a friction point?
Friction is any variable, website quality, or user behavior trend that is slowing down (or entirely halting) the progression of your company’s sales cycle.
Friction can stem from the most subtle details on your website.
Here are some common sources of friction and ways that your company can avoid them:
Landing Page Length
One common point of friction relates to web page length — in other words, the amount of content and information to share with your website visitors.
Friction happens when you share too much. Friction happens when you share too little. You need to find a happy medium to effectively communicate with your users.
The thing is, marketers tend to gravitate towards opposite ends of the spectrum.
The key to finding the right balance is to continuously test your landing pages.
Consider the following case study where a longer landing page outperformed a much shorter variation. Aagaard was looking at PPC landing page of which the goal was to get prospects to sign up for a home energy audit.
The company is relatively unknown, and the offer was relatively complex.
In this case, the longer landing page performed best and generated the higher conversion rate. In other words, friction was at a minimum.
Let’s look at another example.
DesignBoost provides online courses that teach students how to design mobile apps, landing pages, and more with photoshop. They had the goal of increasing signups.
The original homepage was very, very long:
Now here’s the short version that was tested against:
When a landing page is too long, it can scare people away by making your offer look too complex. If a landing page is too short, it can scare people away by making your company appear (potentially) unprofessional or untrustworthy.
So how do you find the happy medium?
Qualitative research (talking to your customers, running feedback surveys, interviewing prospects, etc.) can help you uncover what people care about when deciding to do business with your company. What we’re about to say shouldn’t surprise you — it’s common sense.
Your landing pages and homepage should communicate exactly what users want to know, in the most distilled form possible.
Answer the question of what your customers care most about, and distill your answer into the most simple and straightforward possible forms. Customers who want more in-depth details will read through your company’s knowledge center, FAQs, case studies, and other in-depth marketing materials. What’s most important is that your landing pages, homepage, and site navigation make it easy to find this information (not that the information is jam-packed into one page that nobody can read).
Cognitive dissonance is what happens when your landing pages, marketing messages, and ads don’t make sense.
Remember that the heart of online marketing is how disparate, moving parts come together. In an ideal world, everything — images, copy, themes, long-form content, product descriptions — would flow harmoniously, but here’s the thing.
It’s really, really challenging to communicate with an audience. Any any given time, we’re wearing our marketing hats. There is always a possibility for disconnect between what you intend to say and how your audience will interpret it.
f you’re a marketer and you’re thinking of copying a competitor’s marketing (winning) marketing strategy, you might actually lose. Why? Because there are subtle details about your brand that distinguish it from other companies (that might even be doing the exact same thing).
Your brand’s personality, tone, and style might be different. Your customer base’s values might also be different.
Cognitive fluency is the opposite of cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive fluency is as simple as making your website easy to read. The fact is that audience eyeballs are all created differently. Your 20-year-old marketing intern’s eyesight might be perfect, but your 72-year-old first-time buyer? Not so much. If people are havingtrouble reading or processing information, they’re less likely to buy.
Consumers are driven by their instincts. As much as we like to believe that we’re rational and driven by conscious thoughts, the truth is that we’re driven by our emotional brains. We don’t even realize it sometimes.
Friction happens for reasons that we can’t fully capture or explain — for highly emotional reasons.
To effectively reach your audience, logic just isn’t enough. You need to force an emotional bond by appealing to your audience’s intuition, instincts, and senses.
That’s why so many organizations invest so much time (and money) on aesthetics and crafting an experience of delight.
When you get it right, delight is the single-most important variable for eliminating friction. Delight is about taking the minutiae (as well as different parts of your marketing strategy) and connecting them to your company’s bigger picture.
Here are the four steps that we recommend for building delight for your brand:
Why should customers trust your company? What makes your brand different from all the shady businesses after the world that have — time and time again -—scammed their customers, been exposed to cyber vulnerabilities, and simply not respected their customers.
At any given time, consumers are thinking:
“Why should I waste my time?”
And honestly, they’re right. It’s the brand’s burden of responsibility to communicate trust signals to their audiences. There are a few solutions available to help your brand prove establish its reputation and customer value.
Customer Reviews & Testimonials
The dark corners of the Internet are looking to eat consumers alive — and that goes for the not-so-shady corners too.
One way to ease your consumers’ fears is to pave a path with the footsteps of those who have been there before.
Customer reviews and testimonials add credibility to your assertion that what you’re selling is legit. Here’s why: today’s consumer is totally self-directed. By the time they arrive at your website, they’re already in the mindset of wanting to buy. By the time they actually reach out to a sales rep or complete a lead gen form, they’re already ready to buy.
FigLeaves, a popular women’s clothing retailer, added product reviews to their website. This change made customers 35% more likely to complete a purchase.
Clarity.fm, as another example, brings together teams of rockstar consultants. When searching for a marketing expert, for instance, how can advice seekers determine who to call?
Reviews from previous callers.
Anyone (who is selling anything) needs to build up a stellar and verifiable reputation to justify the prices that they’re charging customers.
Do your best to personalize testimonials and reviews, directly from the sources. Present a clear and compelling framework for why your company will save your customer time and money. Make sure to summarize the high-level overview, but also dig deep into the detail (like the following examples):
One word of caution: your testimonials need to be thoughtful and readily communicate answers to the questions that your customers are asking.
WikiJob, a career information site, provides the perfect inspiration for this point. The company had three testimonials on their homepage. The problem is that these testimonials had too much wrong with them.
The testimonials weren’t attributed to any specific customers, so nobody could see that they were testimonials. They were just random quotes on the homepage. WikiJob did have testimonials, but they were at the bottom of the page. WikiJob decided to A/B test and move the testimonials to the top of the page.
After making the testimonials look more like testimonials, WikiJob was able to boost conversions by 34%.
Here’s what the original page looked like:
And here’s the variation that was tested:
If you’ve been following the news, you’re probably well aware that data privacy is a major consumer priority. Cyber security breaches happen far too often — making consumers hesitant to share their personal data and credit card information online. The risks are far too high and outweigh the decision to buy a $10 product on your e-commerce site.
Trust and safety seals can help your brand explain to consumers that you’re serious about privacy.
OrientalFurniture.com — a furniture, gifts, and accessories retailer — published a ‘trust and safety seal’ case study with Internet Retailer in 2011.
This A/B test was able to boost OrientalFurniture’s conversion rate by 7.6% — visitors who saw the trust and safety seal were more likely to make a purchase than those who did not.
Safety, trust, and accreditation seals can be placed in various parts throughout your website — on landing pages, near your website footer, and on company about pages. Make sure, however that they’re placed strategically and ready-to-see when your customers checkout. Maximize the impact of these placements.
Here is another example from ModCloth, a boutique-like women’s clothing retailer, that explains that all transactions are secure:
Here is an example from Sole Society, a women’s shoe retailer that explains that all purchases come with a flexible, generous, and free return policy.
Final Thoughts: Always Be Testing
We’ve just about approached the very last section of this chapter and have covered almost every consumer psychology related concept in this guide.
As we conclude — especially as we’re talking about friction — we’d like to emphasize that you should always be running A/B tests to challenge your assumptions. The truth is that you’ll never know where your points of friction are unless you’re constantly researching your customers’ pain points. Even Google Analytics can be misleading. For instance, you might see that users are spending 5-10 minutes on your website — “yay, that’s high user engagement”.
Actually, no. It could also be the case that your customers are thoroughly confused. A/B tests will help you extrapolate patterns, pinpoint friction, and alleviate pain points that are causing blockages in your conversion funnel.
Qualitative research is the next step — by talking to your customers, you’ll see why certain patterns exist and understand how you can alleviate them. You can also make more educated guesses about future design, copywriting, and UX experiences.
Trust the data — it’s smarter than you.
via Quick Sprout http://bit.ly/UU7LJr
April 17, 2019 at 06:44PM
How to Use Tumblr To Drive Traffic and Land New Customers
With millions of passionate users, Tumblr is a social media powerhouse that can’t be ignored.
Even if you’ve never read a Tumblr blog, I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to create an awesome Tumblr blog from scratch.
I’ll also go over how you can promote your blog within Tumblr without being pushy or salesy.
Your first step is to head over to Tumblr.com and sign up on the home page. So you put in your email, your password, and your username, and your username is really important so just like at any social media site, like Pinterest or Facebook or Twitter, you want your username to be a brand name.
So if we are signing up for Quick Sprout, you would want to make it Quick Sprout and click “Sign up,” and then put your age, and agree to the terms and services and click done. And you’re in.
Y next step once you have your account is to look for other blogs in your niche and then follow them because Tumblr is all about following other people’s blogs and sharing their content on your blog. Head over to the search bar here and put in a keyword related to what your blog is going to be about.
Let’s say that I search for marketing, and then you just want to find blogs that look like a good fit for the type of traffic that I want, they produce good content, and they are related to what your blog is going to be about. When you find some, just click on the little blue plus sign and you will be following them. Just do it until you’ve found five, and then click on next step.
Next you want to add some more details about you and your brand. So if you’re creating a Tumblr around a brand, you want to add your logo, but if it was more of a personal brand, you’d want to upload a head shot. So we’re going to add a picture of Neil, and you can adjust it, then click “Save” when it looks good, and then under title, you want to add your title and a description. You can put a little description about what your brand is about, and you can put something like a slogan or something that is associated with your brand.
Then click “Next step.” And if you want, you can download their app depending on what mobile device that you use but I’m just going to click I’ll get it later. So once you see this screen you’re good. You officially have a Tumblr blog. So your next step is to find a theme that’s in line with your brand and what your Tumblr blog is going to be all about. So to do that, click on the picture here, and this will actually take you to your blog. So this is what it looks like right now.
Now to find a theme, click on the “Customize” button in the top right corner, and then click on themes. And then you can choose from hundreds of different themes that Tumblr has, just like with Word Press. So, if you want a free theme, you can click on “Free,” or if you have an idea of what you want your blog to look like, whether it’s single-column or two-column, you can choose that. But let’s just choose free themes to get started.
Now when you find one that looks nice, just click on it, and Tumblr will show you a live preview of what your blog would look like with that theme. So depending on your brand, this might be the perfect theme, or, maybe this one, Esquire theme, might work better for you. OK? So when you find one that looks nice, click on the “Use” button, and from here you can make any changes to your theme that you want. So if you wanted to change the background color from yellow to another color, you click on the color, and then choose one that works best for you.
Or if you want to change the accent color, you can do the same thing. And if you want to get really hard core about changing the themes to make sure it’s super in line with what the brand is all about, you can click on “Edit HTML,” and you can actually edit the HTML of the document. When you make a change, click on update preview, and it will show you what that change will look like on your blog.
So once everything looks good, click on save, then go back to appearance, click on “Save” again, and then click on close and you’ll see what your blog looks like with that theme. So obviously, it’s a little bit bare here, so you want to start adding some content to make your blog a real blog. So to do that, click on the “Dashboard” button, and that will take you back to your Tumblr dashboard. Now, there’s a number of different ways to add content to Tumblr.
So if you wanted to add text, you could add text. Now unlike other blogging platforms, you don’t want to do things like 5 tips for whatever at Tumblr. That’s not the kind of content that tends to perform well. It’s more eye-catching and engaging stuff. So you want to do like, “Four Examples of Bad-ass Marketing.” OK, because that’s the type of audience that tends to hang out on Tumblr. And then you can add content, just like you would on any blog post, and when it looks good, click on “Publish,” and then if you want to see what it looks like, on your site, you can always click on your face or your logo and it will take you back to your blog. So this is what it looks like.
Now there are some other ways to add content to your Tumblr blog, one of the most important of which is reblogging other people’s content. So when we first signed up, we followed some bloggers, but now we want to be a little more particular about who we’re following so then we can get their feed. So when you follow someone, their feed ends up here on your dashboard. OK, so what you want to do is follow people strategically who are going to post content that your audience would be interested in and then you can reblog it. So to do that, click on “Find blogs,” and Tumblr will show you some of the most popular blogs.
So what you want to do is look on the right hand side of the page and find a category that fits best with your blog’s topic, so in the case of Quick Sprout, we choose business. And then you want to find blogs in that space that publish content that your audience would be interested in. And when you find a blog that looks like a good fit, hover over it and click on the “Follow” button. And now you will follow that blog.
So, when you go into your Tumblr dashboard, and that blog publishes something new, so in the case of Planet Money they just published this, and if you think it’s cool and something that your audience would want to see, just like with any other social media network, you want to share it. So what you do is you click these little arrow buttons, and that will reblog the post. So now when you go back to your Tumblr blog, the post is here.
So when your audience sees this and they think that it’s cool, they’ll appreciate it just like they would if you shared a great piece of content on Twitter or Facebook. Reblogging also puts you on the radar screen of influential Tumblr blogs, because when you reblog someone else’s content, they are notified. So when we reblogged this piece of content from Planet Money, if we go to the page where the content originally appeared, we can see that it shows that Quick Sprout reblogged it. So, when they see that, they say hey, what’s Quick Sprout? Then they click on it, and when they go to your blog and they see something cool, they reblog to return the favor.
But obviously, for them to do that, you need to have great original content and that’s what I’m going to show you how to do right now. As I mentioned earlier, not all content performs well on Tumblr. In general, pictures perform really well, so let’s say that you wanted to announce that you just opened a forum on Tumblr. Now instead of heading back to your dashboard, clicking the text button and making a text-based announcement like, “Hey, we just launched a forum.” You wouldn’t want to do that.
You would want to announce it with a picture. So you head back to your site, and take a picture of whatever it is you’re announcing, copy the image location, and then click photo, and then click URL, and then enter the image URL, and the image will be the centerpiece of your post. So, whenever you want to publish something, whether it’s tips on how to do something or an announcement for your company, you want to make it image-focused.
So if you were going to do, like five tips for getting more Twitter followers, you would want to put that as five different images or one big image instead of making that text. And to explain what your images are about, you can add a caption here. So, put something like “Announcing for Quick Sprout forum,” and then click “Publish.” And then when you go back to your blog by clicking on your face or logo, you’ll see, it’s right here. It has a nice little frame around it, thanks to the theme.
So, that’s all there is to marketing your business on Tumblr, and just like with any social media site, the most important thing is to get involved with the community and share great content. And the only twist is that when you share content on Tumblr, make sure it’s images most of the time.
via Quick Sprout http://bit.ly/UU7LJr
April 17, 2019 at 04:14PM