Category Archives: internet
For some reason, people tend to be equating SaaS companies with free trials.
I find this pretty bad indeed.
It’s true that many software companies see outstanding results with the free trial business model, but it doesn’t imply that everyone should use it. That’s just silly. Every single business is different, and the same strategy never fits all.
Force fitting a free trial system in your business can be really dangerous.
In this post, I’ll cover three of the most common scenarios where a SaaS company should NOT offer a free trial. Take a look through them and see if any describes you.
Scenario #1: The Product Doesn’t Deliver Results in a Reasonable Period of Time
“Do not offer a free trial when your customer can’t get a complete picture of how your product benefits them during a reasonable free trial period.”
– Wayne Mulligan, Co-founder of Crowdability
I couldn’t agree more with Wayne.
Let me explain:
The only purpose of offering a free trial is to remove the risk barrier, right?
Think about it. Companies offer free trials to show their prospective customers the value they’ll get if they decide to buy the product – they just want to alleviate all doubts and help their users make an informed decision. That’s it.
If your product doesn’t show the value within a reasonable time frame, a free trial simply makes no sense.
For example, if the user needs to gather accurate data to measure the value of your software, and he or she can’t get such data within the trial period, then that trial is worthless.
Also, it could be that your customer needs to contribute sensitive data to your system to evaluate it properly. In this case, the free trial won’t be helpful either.
In both examples, the trial period is simply not enough.
Now you might be thinking: “Why not just extend that period?”
Fair question. For some companies, it might be a viable solution. But the truth is there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It all depends on your current situation and many other factors – like your sales cycle and working capital.
To help you out, I’ve listed below three of the most comprehensive guides on the topic. I’m sure they’ll get you on the right path:
- The Best SaaS Free Trial Length
- How Long Should Your SaaS Free Trial Be? It Depends…
- What’s the optimal free trial duration?
Scenario #2: The Product is Too Complicated
NEVER assume that your prospective customer will even attempt learning how to use your product. If the process isn’t obvious or – at the very least – simple, they won’t see the value.
In simpler words, if your product is too complicated, a free trial will probably not work for you. Why? Two main reasons:
- Without training, enterprise-level software tends to intimidate users, making free trials generally ineffective.
- Complicated processes tend to cost more money. Unless you have deep pockets, getting people to use your product for free might not be viable.
And when I say, “complicated,” I mean your product lies into one of the following categories:
- Your product has a complex integrated process. For example, when you need the help of developers to integrate your product into your client’s website or when people require extensive training to use it.
- Your product involves upfront implementation work.
- Your product needs third party integration to demonstrate a complete flow.
Companies like Marketo and Infusionsoft understand this concept very well. Both companies offer practical solutions, but they understand that people won’t get the most out of their products if they don’t know how to use them properly. So rather than offering a free trial, they offer free demonstrations.
In fact, Infusionsoft goes beyond your “typical” demo. Instead, you can decide whether to explore the product’s key features on your own, reserve a spot for a live webinar and Q & A session, or even schedule a customized tour from a small business expert.
This kind of attention helps you get a clear feeling of the product’s quality and its value.
Anyways, the bottom line is this:
If your product is too complicated or requires extensive training to deliver its full value, try with free demos. This model might work better for you.
Scenario #3: The Free Trial is Giving Away All The Value
Be careful about measuring results by focusing on user acquisition. I mean, if those users don’t turn into paying customers, they’re worthless. Savvy companies always bear this in mind.
If you want to increase your bottom line through free trials, you need to integrate the process in your sales funnel first and measure results by sales, not users.
The key lies in this simple, yet neglected concept.
Marketing expert and evangelist Trish Bertuzzi has worked with many SaaS companies, and she makes a fascinating point in his article on Why Free Trials Don’t Always Make Sense:
“…For some applications, there’s very little value delivered beyond the free trial period. If it’s a solution that helps manage a task done once per year – for example, arranging the annual user group conference – why would the prospect actually pay for the solution once that task is done?
In this case, the SaaS company is essentially giving away the full value of its solution. A free trial can attract users, but not many paying customers.” – Trish Bertuzzi
Her recommendations include:
- Offer a “sandbox demo” – letting your prospective customers try your product in a controlled environment might increase the effectiveness of the demo.
- Create an explainer video – explainer videos are proven to work extremely well for SaaS companies and – sometimes – a clear video is enough to explain the benefit.
- Money-back guarantees – if the free trial model doesn’t fit your business, you can still offer a money-back guarantee to reduce the risk involved in the purchase.
- No-obligation contracts – if your customer doesn’t get what she or he expected from your product, that customer could end the relationship without any problem. This reduces risk and entices more people to buy.
Many startups tend to imitate what other successful companies are doing, but remember, what works for others might not necessarily work for you. If a free trial model isn’t profitable, better rely on different strategies.
Don’t Take My Word For It – Test It Instead
If your business lies within one of the three categories outlined above, a free trial model will probably make no sense for you, BUT it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it at all.
I mean, there’s no way to know for sure unless you test it. Every business is different, and your results may vary. So please, don’t follow my advice blindly. I’m not trying to stop you, but to “awaken” you – never do things just because “you’re supposed to.”
The fact you’re running a SaaS company doesn’t mean you should offer free trials nor copy what your competitors are doing. Better trust on your own testing.
It’s the only way to figure it out.
What do you think? Are you going to test it? What other tips do you have? Make sure to share your thoughts in the comments! Brutal or otherwise.
About the Author: Josue Valles is a freelance copywriter, professional blogger, and business writing coach. He’s on a lifelong mission to help businesses find their voice and to turn boring ideas into brilliant stories. If you’re interested in working with Josue, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facebook advertising is a big auction.
There are both winners and losers.
Now, you wouldn’t want to be on the losing side, would you?
So, what can you do to create Facebook campaigns that finish the race as champions, having collected many new customers in the process?
A smart move would be creating ads that catch people’s attention before any other Facebook post or ad can get to them. While there are many tips and hacks written about all across the web, here’s one that seems highly promising: playing on people’s emotion.
An analysis of 1,400 successful ad campaign case studies found that campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content.
Trend Hunter Marketing analyzed 55 emotional marketing campaigns, and found the average popularity score to be 8.0 — higher than in other categories.
By spicing up your Facebook campaigns with a pinch of emotion and a dash of thrill, you can allure your Facebook audience, making them click and purchase.
There’s no limit to the emotions you can bring into play – excited, melancholic, delighted, shocked – you name it.
This post will teach you how to apply emotional marketing to Facebook ads (and celebrate a landslide victory over the competition.)
Ready to win the Facebook ads race? Let’s go!
1. Master the Art of FOMO
If you’ve ever attended an event because you thought “Maybe something cool would happen,” it was likely due to FOMO – the fear of missing out.
What if all your friends go out while you’ll be missing out on all the fun…
A study of millennials found that as many as 69% experience FOMO when they are not able to attend an event where their friends are going.
People are afraid of being left without an amazing experience.
But FOMO doesn’t only apply to attending events. It also applies to other aspects of life and business.
For example, Sumo has written Facebook ad copy that makes the reader think that everyone else is already using their software and the person reading is the last one out.
By saying that over 175,000 websites use their tool, Sumo makes the reader wonder if they’re missing out on something.
Now, you wouldn’t want to be left behind while all those other websites speed right past you. So, you’ll likely click on the ad to see how to get the tools yourself.
How to use FOMO in your Facebook ads:
- Mention the number of people already benefitting from your product.
- Pose a question, hinting that the person’s missing out on a great opportunity.
- Make the reader feel like there’s a fascinating community they’re not part of… Yet.
- Make your Facebook ad offer limited by time to nudge people to sign up faster.
2. Show the Excitement
Excitement is known for its ability to increase impulsivity and make people quicker to act.
So, if you’ll manage to get a person excited in your Facebook ad offer, they’re a lot more likely make the purchase based on the momentum.
The author of The Psychology of Social Shopping, Paloma Vasquez points out that:
“In a state of excitement or arousal, people think and behave very differently. Emotional states trump rational thinking; it’s easier to sell to consumers when they are excited.”
As you look at Try The World’s Facebook ad, you’ll notice that it breathes excitement for several reasons: the bright ad color, lots of exclamation marks, and the energetic tone of voice.
One can almost feel the excitement of opening the subscription box and discovering its treasures.
As you decide to use the excitement tactic in your Facebook ads, don’t let the sparkle fade before the purchase is made.
An article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that it takes 20 minutes for the feeling of excitement to pass.
In most cases, emotions fade even faster.
So, it’s best to keep your ad’s landing page as straightforward and compelling as humanly possible and lead the visitor to signup.
A few tips for creating exciting Facebook ads:
- Use bright colors in the ad design.
- Use exclamation marks and keep your ad copy short.
- Include an ad image that shows excitement.
- Showcase your product at the most exciting moment of its lifecycle.
- Make sure that your offer is actually interesting to the target audience.
- Include a discount offer to give the final nudge and make the ad irresistible.
3. Create a Curiosity Gap
If you’ve ever thought what makes Upworthy and Buzzfeed headlines so irresistible, here’s one of their secret weapons: the curiosity gap.
Put simply, the curiosity gap is the discrepancy between what we currently know and what we’d like to know.
And it works wonders if your goal is to get people clicking.
Copy Hackers was able to get a 927% boost in clicks on their Pricing page after applying the tactic.
And of course, curiosity gap can also be incorporated into your Facebook ad copy.
As someone spots HubSpot’s question “How well do you rank for SEO” in their Facebook Newsfeed, they’re bound to find out the answer. That is, if HubSpot’s targeting a Facebook audience of marketers.
The formula of curiosity gaps is simple: Ask people a fascinating question or tell them a cool story, and leave the best part untold.
SurveyMonkey, for instance, asks in the ad’s headline “Want a GoPro?” and sparks the reader’s curiosity to find out more.
The reason why this works is that people have a natural tendency to connect the dots and discover the answers. It will be hard for them to resist reading and clicking on your Facebook ad after it has posed a fascinating question.
When targeting a cold audience, it’s best to fill in their curiosity gap for free. With warm audiences, you can ask for something in return, e.g. their email address.
4. Make People Happy
A study in 2010 of the most-emailed New York Times articles found that emotional articles were shared more often. The study also noted that positive posts were shared more often than negative ones.
What if the same rule applies to your Facebook ads – will positive ads get more likes and clicks?
There are three main tactics to make use the emotion of happiness in Facebook ads:
- Brightly colored ad design.
- Including an ad image with smiling people.
- Using adjectives and verbs with positive connotations.
Eventbrite is applying all the three methods across their Facebook ad campaigns.
From the positive color scheme…
To smiling people:
Not only Eventbrite’s ads spark positive emotions towards the offer, but people will learn to associate the entire brand with happy feelings.
A study analyzed more than 1 million online reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and found that restaurants received significantly better ratings on days with nice weather and worse reviews on any day with rain.
If your goal is to make people remember your brand as a mood-booster on a rainy day, create more positive ad designs.
Happiness marketing can work especially well for B2C brands. For example, alcohol producers are often publishing commercials with people enjoying themselves on the beach or at a party. If you look at Corona’s ad profile, you’ll see that every ad follows this best practice.
5. Learn to Handle Negative Feelings
A Facebook ad sparking negative feelings isn’t always a bad thing.
Especially if it first ignites the negative thoughts and then offers a solution to cheer you up.
However, don’t overdo the negativity in your ads.
A study by researchers at Stanford GSB and Tel Aviv University discovered that small doses of mildly negative information — a so-called blemishing effect — might actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service.
The key to successful Facebook ads may lie in including just the right amount of negativity.
For example, Contently’s ad headline can make many marketers worry: “If the future of content isn’t blogging, what am I going to do?”
But just as the ad’s negative headline has grabbed the reader’s attention, it offers a solution: “More videos. More downloadable content. More infographics.”
According to the viral content study by The New York Times, some negative emotions contribute more to virality than others. Most specifically, the negative emotion of anger.
Anger makes people share (Image source)
Here’s how to put negative feelings to good use in your Facebook ads:
- Capture your audience’s attention with a negative headline.
- Let your audience know about a small default about your product to show you’re not hiding anything.
- Remind the readers of a negative fact or situation they encounter on a daily basis.
6. Offer Hope for Better Future
We all hope that we’re going to be prettier, smarter and funnier.
That’s one of the reasons we buy new things — to improve our lives.
While deep inside, everyone knows that most of the time material things won’t make us happy; we still keep hoping they will.
Shopify’s Facebook ad plays on the emotion of hope, using aspiring language and brilliant copywriting.
“Start your journey” and “Get more out of life” are both great slogans and talk to Shopify’s target audience.
Now that you already know that the emotion of hope can be activated by masterful copywriting. Is there anything else you can do?
In fact, there is — as you create a Facebook ad sparking hope, also provide a platform or a solution to reach the better future. For example, if you promise to double a company’s revenue, be clear about how you’ll do it.
Asana’s Facebook ad promises many great improvements in teamwork, making a project manager wish their team could achieve even more.
7. Help People to Feel Proud
According to Dan Hill, author of Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success:
“Emotions process sensory input in only one-fifth the time our conscious, cognitive brain takes to assimilate that same input.”
This means that emotions have a strong effect on our immediate actions.
LEGO’s Facebook campaign makes moms proud of their kids, reminding them of the children’s capacity to create amazing things.
Moreover, LEGO’s campaign hooks with the previous point — using the emotion of hope. Many parents are drawn to the offer because they’d like to see their children learn and succeed.
Another way to make people feel great about their purchase is to remind them that they’re making a smart choice.
That’s exactly what the Dollar Shave Club does by saying their product is the smarter way to shave.
The person who buys the subscription will know they’ve made a clever deal and will feel good about it.
8. Create a Sense of Urgency
When you give people too much time to make a decision, they’re going to postpone the conclusion and will likely forget about it.
However, when presented with a limited time offer, people get worried about missing out on the awesome offer.
Applying scarcity and urgency on a website helped an entrepreneur increase sales by 332%. How much can you increase your ads’ click-through rate by using the same tactic?
For example, Target’s Facebook ad creates the sense of urgency by limiting their discount offer to a specific date.
Groupon has even added the end time with the time zone specification to make their offer feel more urgent. This way, there’s no doubt when the offer’s going to end.
How to create a sense of urgency in your Facebook ads:
- Define clear dates, e.g. “Today only” or “Offer ends in 24h.”
- Offer a great discount, e.g. “Get 60% off today.”
- Keep your offer simple and brief.
- Place your best offer in the ad’s headline or the image.
- Match the ad’s offer on the landing page.
9. Surprise Your Audience
Psychology Today reports that fMRI neuro-imagery shows that consumers use emotions rather than information to evaluate a brand.
If you’re looking for a strong emotion that will immediately catch your audience’s attention, create an offer that’ll surprise them.
A simple way to surprise people is to conduct an original survey and share interesting stats with your ad audience. That’s exactly what Grammarly has done:
You can also learn to apply the surprise-and-delight approach that’s based on the principle that nice surprises make people feel special and important.
Offer a free coupon or some other pleasant surprise to win your Facebook target audience’s attention and trust vie a series of small gestures.
G2 Crowd offers a $5 Starbucks gift card in exchange for filling in a quick survey. This works for two reasons:
- People are pleasantly surprised to get the gift card.
- By filling in the survey, they’ll become familiar with G2 Crowd’s brand.
When you create noteworthy Facebook ads, they’ll distribute organically via the likes and shares of your target audience.
According to a Nielsen study, 83% of people say they always trust the recommendations of friends and family, which makes it ever more important to engage your target audience.
10. Spark the Sense of Belonging
Some of the world’s most successful brands were originally built through low-cost community-based marketing. Starbucks, Google, Apple … The list goes on.
What if you could frame your Facebook ad offer as an invitation to an exclusive club of awesome members?
This approach is often used in event marketing. By presenting all the famous attendees, conferences make people interested in joining them at the venue.
Here’s an example by Litmus, inviting the viewers to join “the talented community of marketers and designers.”
How to use emotional marketing to create a sense of belonging:
- Frame your offer as an invitation into an attractive community.
- Include the names of influencers using your product.
- Mention the size of your user base to convince people of the community’s worth.
- Make the entry challenging enough for the person to value the community.
11. Untap the Power of Guilt
People feel guilty about different things, but one thing’s for sure: if you can hit the right nerve, you’ll win their attention.
Consumers who feel guilty tend to respond well to small, short-term fixes. That’s why the number of new gym memberships soars after a long holiday period and declines shortly after.
A study published by researchers at The University of British Columbia suggests that guilt can be a powerful tool for motivating self-improvement and for selling self-improvement products and services.
But not only — guilt as an emotion can also be used in the B2B industry.
For example, Scoro’s Facebook post asks, “Are you working hard or hardly working?” makes a person think whether they’re really contributing enough.
The Facebook ad also offers a quick solution: 89 productivity hacks to improve oneself.
Remember that emotional marketing with guilt works best if you also provide a quick fix to the audience’s problem.
Slack’s Facebook ad has taken a similar approach by stating “Your inbox is out of control.”
Another reason why this ad works is the strong emotional word “Yikes” in the first ad image, instantly catching people’s attention.
How to use guilt for successful Facebook campaigns:
- Remind your audience of a small mistake they’re making.
- Offer a quick solution to their problem.
- Use strong words that spark negative feelings and help to grab attention.
12. Make People Feel Important
Performance coach Tony Robbins has named the feeling of being significant to be one of the six basic human needs.
We all want to feel important and valued by others. And smart marketers know how to use this knowledge to create irresistible ad campaigns.
For example, Google’s Facebook ad looks at every benefit through the prism of you: New domains that tell your story. Get your domain today. Find a domain name for your story.
Here’s another clever Facebook ad example by Spotify:
By creating a highly personalized value offer, Spotify will ignite curiosity while also making the person feel important.
To make your ad audience feel important, create a personalized ad and use the word You to talk directly to the reader.
Emotions can go a long way in helping to create click-worthy Facebook ads.
According to a 2016 Nielson report, emotions are central to advertising effectiveness. The ads that generated the best emotional response also generated a 23% lift in sales volume.
Applying emotional marketing tactics to your Facebook campaigns isn’t as difficult as it seems. All it takes is smart copywriting and original ad design. And of course, a touch of creativity.
To wrap it up, here are all the emotions listed once more: The fear of missing out, excitement, curiosity, happiness, negative feelings, hope, pride, urgency, surprise, sense of belonging, guilt, feeling of importance.
Find out what works best for your target audience, and see your sales results grow.
About the Author: Karola Karlson is the founder & author of Aggregate, the most upright blog about marketing, growth, and data. She’s also a contributor to marketing blogs like AdEspresso, HubSpot, and KlientBoost, and works as the Digital Marketing Manager at SaaS startup Scoro. Karola’s all about random cool ideas, growth marketing, and taking new marketing approaches on a test drive. Connect with her by visiting her blog or on Twitter.
Uber might be King of Growth Hacking.
The one everyone fawns over. The media adores. Growth Hackers join.
But these kinds of companies are the exceptions.
Their ascent so quick and scale so massive that the vast majority of us can’t play by the same rules.
Instead, we need to look around. At the regular companies. One’s who’re grinding out, day-to-day, trying to get as many paying customers as possible.
Unbelievably, one perfect example emerges. From the least likely of places.
The grandma-catering QVC serves as an exemplary model for increasing site conversions. No matter what industry you’re in.
Here’s why and what they’re doing so well.
How QVC is a Conversion Juggernaut
One day I was researching the top converting websites online.
The usual suspects were there.
You expect Amazon.
Walmart or Expedia.
But not this. Not them.
A home shopping network. The same tired, old format you see on late night infomercials.
Not the QVC, whose primary audience demographic consists of your grandparents and… well, that’s gotta be pretty much it.
Curious, I had to check them out.
And sure enough, what I saw blew me away.
What makes QVC a conversion master? The blueprint you should follow with underlying sales principles that should be adapted for your own site immediately?
Let’s start with the homepage.
#1. QVC Homepage
First things first. Checkout the QVC homepage and you’re met with their latest daily deal.
There are a few things happening here.
Right at the top, “New to QVC?” helps segment and orient first-time visitors. They also throw in a discount code to sweeten the deal right off the bat.
Next, those high-quality images that show the product in-use. Underneath, is a simple line of benefit-laden copy with a price anchor (“Under $90”) and free shipping incentive (which almost all consumers – 82% – want).
To the right, is a bright-red CTA that uses the next value-building step (“Choose Your Color”) instead of some vague, generic one you might see on other sites (like “Get Started” or “Buy Now”).
And last but not least, that giant daily deal “Today’s Special Value” with countdown timer.
But that’s nothing. We’re barely scratching the surface.
There’s a concept called “conversion scent” in advertising and conversion optimization. It’s similar to ‘message match’. Basically, you want to make sure any copy, design, or page elements (like that big, bold countdown timer) follow someone to the ‘next step’ so there’s one seamless experience (and not a jarring, disrupted one that distracts people from converting).
For example, click on the featured homepage product (noting the countdown timer) and watch what happens next…
You’re brought to the individual product page that continues the timer where you left off, while also auto-starting a realistic, authentic video demonstration.
That’s heavy. Let’s save it for the next section below to unpack everything that’s happening (and why). We still gotta finish the homepage.
When you scroll down a little on the homepage, one of the next sections is their “Lunchtime Specials” one that has daily deals that run for only a few hours each day.
Selling online is tough. Average conversions are an abysmal ~2%. Partly because there’s no ‘human element’ (phone sales get an average of 30-50% conversion for comparison). And partly because there’s no urgency.
In most cases, people don’t need what you have. It’s a luxury. A take-it-or-leave-it kinda thing.
You manufacture urgency with scarcity; Cialdini’s bedrock principle. If something is limited (by either price or quantity), it’s more desirable. I dunno why. Evolution is weird.
Below the scarcity-induced Lunchtime Specials section, you get “On QVC Now”.
Two macro-things happening with this section.
First, the fact that they’re being presented on television automatically enhances their value and credibility. There’s prestige. It implies these are the ‘chosen few’ being ‘featured’. It’s no different (well, it’s better) than startups putting media logos on their site.
“New”, in particular, is one of the most persuasive words you can use to grab attention. Power words leap off the page, tickle your primal instincts, and force you to find out more.
Now… (see that?!)
Let’s head back into the individual product page to do a deep-drive on the eleven different elements they use (all above the fold!) to sell the S– out of their products.
#2. Individual Product Page
You might want to grab a cup of coffee before starting this next section. It’s gonna be awhile.
Because here’s where the QVC really outdo themselves.
Let me count the ways.
No seriously. Let’s count them. (And keep in mind that these are almost entirely above the fold.)
Deep breath. And:
- Autoplay Video: Immediately starts upon page load. Continues that product ‘scent’ discussed earlier, while showing the product in context so 4 out of 5 shoppers can get a feel of what it is, how it works, and what if will feel like to own one.
- Countdown Timer: Already discussed. The ultimate in scarcity-boosting, slightly ‘spammy’ website techniques to manufacture customer urgency. But just below that, a beautiful example of price anchoring, making the ‘real’ price now seem cheap and affordable.
- Payment Installments: Friction typically reduces conversions. A large, one-time fee is a big friction point, forcing the customer to assume all risk. But with installment payments, you’re able to make that lump sum more palatable and digestible for those on a budget. We’ll come back to this topic in the next section below.
- Color Options: Even something as basic as multiple color options can introduce the feeling of personalization on a website. 75% of people like personalization, which means it should be unsurprising that almost the same amount (74%) dislike when a website doesn’t match up or cater to their interests.
- MOAR VIDEOS: Honestly, we shouldn’t even have to touch on the importance of including more videos, seeing as they boost landing page conversions by 80%. Even executives – theoretically the most cold-hearted of consumers – get all warm and fuzzy when they can watch a product video.
- QCard: No money? No problem! QVC has their own financing department, and they’ll happily underwrite your purchase. Once again, less friction = more conversions.
- New Customer Incentive: New shoppers get a little added bonus (on top of all the other discounts and price slashing going on) to go ahead and take the leap.
- Community Q&A: The importance of social commerce deserves an entire post of its own. Suffice to say, peer-to-peer recommendations are what drive product purchases today. You can use all the hyperbole you want on a page, but customers will look for reviews. Plain and simple. Here, this QVC product has 411 answers!
- Speed Buy: Sure, the Add to Cart and Wishlist buttons are standard. But the Speed Buy is where it’s at. This is the QVC’s version of Amazon’s One Click to Buy. Why’s that important? Because that little damn button is patented and worth billions (with a “B”). That’s why.
- Upsells: No easier way to drive up the average cost of each order than with a simple upsell offer to insure your brand new purchase. Best of all, it’s not like the QVC has to do anything extra if you choose this upsell. A partner takes care of the dirty work. They just get to collect some extra revenue on each little purchase that passes through their kingdom. Upselling a current product can be 20 times more effective than cross-selling (a similar but different product).
- Delivery Date Estimate: The best saved for last. You punch in your zip code and they’ll give you an idea of how shipping will work, and how fast you’ll get it. Here’s why that’s important…
We’ve seen multiple times how the QVC is attempting to reduce friction to increase your impulse to purchase (and we’ll continue to beat that horse dead in the section below).
But that’s only half the battle.
At the end of the day, the big hurdle to an online purchase is instant gratification. Or lack thereof. There’s gonna be a delay of when that thing they just spent good money on lands in their hands (or on their doorstep).
So reducing friction is good. But it’s not enough. Andre Morys says we need to raise motivation, too.
That’s what this Delivery Date Estimate does. It helps us see a real, live date for when we’ll get access to the new product.
#3. Risk Reversing Payment Options
Number seven in the last section previewed the QCard, QVC’s financing arm to extend credit for their purchases.
Here are the full details:
Select products enjoy little-to-no interest payments, which lowers the bar (or barrier) to purchase).
Then that bar is lowered even with further with installment payments on the QCard (which you typically wouldn’t with other credit cards).
Why is this noteworthy?
Because one of the rising trends in eCommerce right now is “buy-now, pay-later solutions”
New upstarts like Affirm are essentially extending credit for eCommerce companies for big-ticket items that they may not be able to already afford.
We can sit here and poke fun at QVC’s customer segment all we want. But the fact is that they expertly recognize their customer’s problems and pain points, along with what hold them back from purchasing (like low fixed incomes).
And they’re doing things to bypass or lessen that burden.
On top of the infomercial-like installment payment options, they also provide a few different ways to return products.
They’re trying to make the process insanely easy. So they employ as many risk-reversing techniques imaginable. Customers can schedule a pickup so that they don’t have to leave their house! Even if the QVC loses a few purchases or returns in the process.
A few months ago I was at a dinner with several other marketers. Some of them worked with tech companies on subscription based products.
A conversation started about tips for reducing churn, and a few examples were given about how you can easily reduce churn by essentially making it a pain in the ass to cancel. Like a huge headache. Forcing customers to literally jump through hoops, taking several different steps, having to talk to people on the phone, even mail-in stuff.
And this out of body experience hit me:
“WTF are we doing?”
Purposefully making people’s lives harder? Just to shave a half-percent off your churn rate?
Topics like this are tough because it opens up a can of worms. So many unintended consequences.
QVC ain’t perfect. But they’ve been around for 30+ years. They’re a household name.
They use all of the classic hard-sell website techniques imaginable. But then they’ll give customers multiple different ways to easily return products (which costs them millions I bet).
Keep sight of what we’re doing and why. The end goal is a multi-million dollar brand that people love. Not a half percent higher conversion rate or half percent lower churn rate.
Broadly speaking, you can grow your SaaS three ways: acquire more customers, retain more customers or charge more per customer. At Planio, we focused heavily on acquiring new customers via content marketing and retaining those customers via investing in product development and customer success.
And it worked. In January 2015 our monthly customer account churn rate averaged 2.49% and in January 2017 averaged 2.1%, a 20% reduction. While a lower churn rate is always better, it wasn’t clear that we could get any more big wins by reducing churn. Acquisition was steadily growing as our content efforts started paying off. The last lever—pricing—was one we hadn’t touched in seven years since Planio started, so it made sense to us that it might be the lowest hanging fruit.
Below, I’ll bring you through the process we took in analyzing data on our customer behavior. We’ll go into how we chose our new pricing model, and we’ll show you the exact impact on our monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth with real figures.
The Importance of Pricing for SaaS Products
Particularly if you are a bootstrapped startup without VC funding, pricing will determine how much you can afford to spend on product development, customer success and product marketing. Wondering whether you can afford to build out an inside sales team for your SaaS? Jason Lemkin says you need to charge at least $299/mo as a rough rule of thumb.
Price Intelligently point out the paradox that, despite its importance, SaaS startups spend very little time at all on their pricing – they cite 6 hours. They also comment that “your pricing is the exchange rate on the value you’re creating in the world.”
This number of 6 hours made us think that we should dig into our pricing. We spent probably even less back then when we first started by simply copying the prices of a few similar tools back then.
Sources of Data on Our Pricing
When you have lots of competition, it’s easy to get trapped into analyzing what the others are doing. The reason this can be a mistake is that competitors’ approaches might not be a good fit for you. For example, their sales and marketing model might be very different to yours and this is reflected in their pricing. Once you reached a certain stage in your growth, you can also analyze how your own customers are using your product.
In Planio’s case, we have about 1,500 paying customers. That gave us a lot of data on how our customers were using our plans. We started analyzing the distributions across the various criteria that make up the plans: number of users, number of projects and storage space. Box plots are a handy way to get a quick sense of the distribution of the number of users each account is using:
The box plot above can give you a quick sense of how many users our customers typically had.
You can see that the median is at 9 users, whereas the highest amount (excluding outliers) is at about 48 users. At the same time, our pricing plans at the time ranged from 6 users at the bottom end to 100 users at the top end.
When we compared the box plot above to our pricing plans, there was a clear disconnect:
- 75% of our customers has 30 users or less, so they fit within the bottom two plans;
- 40% of our customers had less than 6 users, so they fit within our bottom 9 euro/month plan.
The result of this disconnect was that a customer with a team of 7 was paying the same as a customer with a team of 30. At the same time, we had almost no customers with more than 48 users.
Our conclusion was that our pricing scale was not calibrated to our customers’ behavior. It was time to make some changes.
Paralysis by Analysis
At the time Planio’s founder, Jan, and I were staring at endless Excel sheets. A big question in our mind was whether we should increase the price on all our customers at once, or whether we should grandfather older customers and just have the new pricing model for newer customers.
Obviously, giving all customers an ultimatum of “pay an increased price or leave” might result in a lot of customers leaving – maybe even angrily. I recommend this approach anyways if you want to see exactly who values your product by sticking with it at the higher price. I think this approach might work if you have a limited amount of time to find product/market fit before you run out of funding runway. The reason is that your current customer base will just be a tiny fraction of your future customer base if your startup is successful.
But we’re bootstrapped, so there wasn’t an intense pressure for future rounds of funding. It also didn’t feel fair on our customers to give them this ultimatum. Then, we stumbled on a very simple solution that seemed the most fair to us.
The Quartile-Based Approach We Took
Going back to the quartiles from the box plot, we noticed that we could segment our customer base into four quarters taking the 25th, 50th and 75th quartiles as the boundaries between the plans.
We then created four quarters based on these points in the data, which would become the new plans. We also increased the pricing of our lowest plan on the basis that charging any business about 9 dollars a month for software core to their business is ranking it lower in value than the air freshener they use in the bathroom.
De-Risking the Pricing Experiment
Honestly, I found it stressful to change our pricing model. You’re tweaking with the revenue engine of an entire business. If things go wrong, the impact can be quite serious.
In our case, we reduced the risk of this pricing experiment by grandfathering existing customers, meaning that they could keep their existing plan. That meant that if the new pricing model turned out to be a fiasco, we could just roll-back a small number of new customers to the old model.
At the same time, we obviously limited our upside: if all our existing customers moved over to our new pricing model without a significant amount of cancellations, we’d stand to increase our monthly recurring revenue overnight by a significant amount.
I think if your SaaS has only been around for a couple of months, you can afford to be more aggressive with testing out new pricing models without grandfathering existing customers. Whether people stay with the new model or not is important data as you grow. In our case, we felt that we didn’t need or have to take that risk, because Planio is a bootstrapped company with 7 years of happy customers and we actually value growing slowly and steadily.
The second way we reduced the risk was to add more value to our existing plans. Previously, we had charged extra for our Team Chat and Customer Helpdesk features. We felt that these features added significant value, but customers were hesitant to pay extra for them, so we rolled them into the standard plans.
With these changes made, we deployed the new pricing changes on February 1, 2016:
The Results of the Pricing Experiment
After we switched over to the new pricing model, we waited for the emails and phone calls to roll in. I imagined hordes of discontented customers pounding down our doors.
But what really happened?
Just for the sake of comparison, we once changed the colors in Planio for default avatars to a selection of pastels, including a range of pink. That change unleashed two phone calls within an hour from (male) CEO’s fearful of suffering the stigma of a pink Avatar.
The impact of the change in pricing on our growth was, however, immediate.
An important metric for us is the average monthly recurring revenue we get per new customer. It tells us that in a certain month, a new customer bought a subscription worth, say 30 euro, on average.
As you can see below, the introduction of the new pricing model significantly increased the average monthly recurring revenue per new customer. Whereas the average MRR per new customer was €24.71 over the previous five years, it went up by over 100% to an average of €50.68 for the 12 month period after the pricing change.
Did this increase our churn rate?
Well in Planio’s case, churn went from 2.49% in January 2015 before the pricing change to an average of 2.1% as of January 2017.
There were some issues for customers who’d considered Planio before the pricing changes but then only signed up after February 1, 2016. We resolved those complaints by just giving them the old plans.
Analyze Your Pricing and Test New Approaches
Our new pricing model at Planio means that we are better at segmenting our customer value based on our customer needs. A small dev shop with 7 people is no longer paying the same as a division of a multinational with 30 people.
Once you’ve reached a certain level of customers, you can start using tools such as Kissmetrics to see whether your pricing segments are matching your customers and how they use your product. The impact on your growth rate will be significant for the business.
It’s also an ongoing process. In our case, we’ve evolved our pricing pricing several times since the experiment above. For instance, we now accept US dollars and Japanese Yen in addition to Euro, so time will tell how those experiments plays out.
In terms of leverage, a few hours a month spent on analyzing and reviewing your pricing may have outsized results.
About the Author: Thomas Carney works on growth at Planio, a task tracking tool for keeping product development and customer support in sync. You can read about productivity, getting more done, and work hacks over at the Planio blog.
Every SaaS business is aiming for sales success.
However, earning more revenue isn’t always a direct path. It’s a winding road of trial and error with internal and external factors.
Data is one solution to your sales woes. It can help your team discover gaps in the customer experience and transform your overall strategy.
The SaaS industry is a highly competitive market. As more companies emerge to claim their stake, use data to nurture your audience.
Products Don’t Sell Themselves
Your team can build a revolutionary product, but if no one understands its value, your target market may decide not to purchase it.
SaaS companies must realize that products don’t sell themselves. And while there are some exceptions to that statement, it’s better to train your sales team to solve people’s problems, rather than hope your audience will figure it out on their own.
Equip your team with the data to make better decisions during the sales cycle. Knowing vital information, like a prospect’s budget, personality, and beliefs, can determine how a sales rep prepares for a follow-up call.
And it’s not enough to just to talk about value with your SaaS prospects. It’s about creating something greater than what they already expected. Mark Cranney, operating partner at Andreessen Horowitz, writes:
“Some people think the sales force’s job is to communicate value to customers. To these people, sales is about buying a bunch of search Adwords or mouthpiecing a company’s message. They’re wrong. The true purpose of sales is to create new value for customers.”
To develop new value, it starts with personalization. You want to help customers find the solution to their problem, not just any problem. And that means having an open dialogue with your audience.
Below is an example from Attach, a sales engagement platform. The company uses live demos to start customer conversations. You’ll notice how the free demo is customized to cover the needs of the potential user.
How are you personalizing the experience? Give your product more worth by solving the customer’s unique issues.
Customer Experience Reigns Supreme
Your team’s mission is to dive into the product usage data to find glitches. By alleviating the everyday pains of the customer, they’ll have more time to reap your product’s benefits.
And that’s what you truly want. More value received means customer success and possibly a notable case study for your business.
Sales isn’t the sole responsibility of your sales team. Every team member is responsible for customer success, from lead to brand advocate. That’s why the overall customer experience matters throughout the entire journey.
Every customer interaction will determine whether a trial user becomes a customer or a recurring customer decides to continue with his service.
Communication is essential when making each customer experience worthwhile. If a lead has questions about a particular plan, are your sales reps readily available with answers?
If a customer wants to troubleshoot a quick problem, do you have an accessible knowledge base with detailed instructions?
“An enterprise software company that designs for IT and neglects to create a delightful user experience will lose when it comes to adoption. Emphasis on product usability and design will separate the winners from the losers in the world of SaaS,” states Jeetu Patel, vice president and general manager of EMC’s Syncplicity Business Unit.
Zoho Books updated its application to combat product workflow and visual design issues. With lots of experimentation, the team made the product better. Below is a side-by-side comparison from its old tabbed navigation to a new left-sided navigation.
Selling SaaS platforms involves everyone on your team. It’s one of the few ways to guarantee a memorable customer experience.
Customer Support Matters
Speedy and polite customer support teams play an integral role in SaaS sales.
It’s not enough to get a visitor to click purchase. You need knowledgeable staff to help customers.
Repeatedly, companies fail to offer superior support that not only answers the customer’s questions, but also reassures the customer that the brand is a leader in the industry.
Think of the support team as the front line of your brand. They mold people’s perceptions.
And it’s not unheard of for customers to love a brand’s products, yet decide to buy from a competitor because they offer better customer support.
In a fast-paced society, consumers want immediate access to their questions. Social media has offered businesses the chance to meet customers on their playing field.
Companies are answering service questions on Twitter, while moving complex issues to direct messages. Teams are even using social media to create moments of delight—recognizing customers for their brand loyalty.
Moreover, customers want to talk to a real person who can empathize with their issues. Live chat eases consumer anxiety.
Be mindful of how to use chat support to gain the most value. Respond in a timely manner and speak in a conversational tone—a few emojis can brighten up the mood. And add a photo to build a human connection with the customer.
Avoid neglecting customer support in the sales process. Set the baseline by giving customers your undivided attention.
Higher Retention Means Higher Expectations
With a host of competitors at their fingertips, customers desire SaaS companies to exceed their expectations. If not, they may decide to take their business elsewhere.
Research continues to prove that it’s more profitable to retain customers than acquire them. However, what’s rarely mentioned is how to retain customers.
Retention programs aren’t one size fits all across the SaaS industry. Every company possesses its own set of unique challenges to keep customers interested.
For instance, teams are quick to develop loyalty programs to engage their brand ambassadors. They start sending out email campaigns with discounts and inviting advocates to VIP events.
But that’s not always the best option for your customers. By asking for feedback and observing user behavior, you might discover that a Facebook group with exclusive content can achieve similar or better results.
Simply recognizing your customers can lead to retention, too. Are you highlighting your top customers on your site? RescueTime dedicates an entire page to showcase customer stories.
Customer retention also extends to your internal operations. Your sales framework must encourage team members to address retention.
“Once HubSpot realized that their churn rate was a sales problem, they dug into the data once again to determine the catalyst. As it turned out, the sales compensation plan they had in place was practically encouraging reps to ignore the potential for churn,” writes Sonja Jacob, former director of content marketing at Mattermark.
Achieving higher retention rates requires doing things differently. Find out what works best for your company.
Data Leads The Way
Sales reps need accurate insight to close deals. With data, your team has the opportunity to uncover customer issues and address operational challenges.
More than ever, prepare your SaaS company to dominate the competition. Seek to deliver customer satisfaction along with higher ROI. Let data lead the way.
About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.
Breaking news! Facebook is popular, with 1.86 billion monthly active users, and 1.23 billion daily active users.
Admittedly, not the scoop of the year. How about this?
This just in! Facebook ads accounted for 97% of its revenue in 2016, and the social media platform makes more from advertising than traditional sources like Disney, Comcast, and CBS.
You may have already known that, but the stats are impressive nonetheless:
- 4 million businesses advertise on the platform according to COO Sheryl Sandberg.
- The average click-through rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is 0.98% in the U.S., and 1% globally.
- Facebook desktop ads have a CTR that is 8x times higher than web ads, and Facebook mobile ads are 9x higher.
So it’s a no-brainer, right? Easy-peasy. Get started today, and watch the dollars and cents come knocking at your door by tomorrow. It’s got the numbers, and it seems like everyone is doing it.
Not so fast. There’s an art to this.
An Important Service Reminder
The thing to remember about Facebook is that it’s cold traffic. Nearly two billion people are using it, but it’s not the same as, say, Google Adwords. There, someone navigates to the search engine, types in “cheap smartphones phoenix”, and is served up an appropriate ad with the organic results. That’s warm traffic.
We know their intention (in this case, they’re looking for an affordable smartphone in Phoenix, Arizona). AdWords and Facebook Ads are fundamentally different in this way.
On the social media behemoth, we don’t know why they’re on the platform. They might be updating their status, looking at photos from friends and family, checking the news (66% of American adults get their news on Facebook), or simply killing time.
What they’re probably not doing is looking for new shoes, or a cloud accounting service, or designer sunglasses. That’s cold traffic.
The good news? You can turn cold Facebook traffic into red hot leads if you use ads the right way.
There are plenty of Facebook Ad tips and secrets posts out there for you to devour (design tips, testing secrets, and so forth). And you should. Instead, let’s focus on warming that cold traffic to the point of boiling, shall we?
Let’s do this.
Step 1 – Start with Your Warmest Cold Traffic
Sounds a bit paradoxical, but hear me out.
There are 1.23 billion active users on Facebook, but most of them are simply not interested in whatever it is you’re offering. That’s the harsh reality.
But Facebook is a marketers dream, with unparalleled targeting abilities. Think about it: everyone who signs up voluntarily provides data about themselves, their interests, their demographics, their likes, the businesses and groups they follow, and more.
Begin by identifying your ideal customers. Create very detailed buyer personas so you understand everything about them.
Next, zero in on them in your Facebook ad. You can target by location, age, gender, language, interests, behavior, and demographics. Be specific.
A protein supplement for young men? Find them. Will every male between the age of 20-40 be responsive? Nope. But they’ll be much warmer than a 53-year old woman.
Heat rating: room temperature.
Step 2 – The Awareness Game
According to the iconic marketing book Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz, there are five levels of awareness in the buyer’s journey.
You need to know exactly where your target falls on that spectrum, because it’ll influence the ad content you present.
To use our protein supplement example, the targets already know that supplements exist and what they do, but they’ve probably never heard of yours.
They need to be made “product aware” (your new supplement), and they need some incentive (discounts and deals) to give it a try and switch from whatever one they’re currently using.
That’s what your ads need to provide them.
If, on the other hand, you were the first to create a protein supplement, you’d start at the “solution aware” stage and offer claims and proof instead.
Heat rating: lukewarm.
Step 3 – Educate Above All Else
Consumers need to know more about your product or service before they hand over their cash. They need context. They need specific on who you are, what it does, why they need it, and what it’ll do for them.
To do that, consider a series of ads that enlightens them one step at a time. Takes longer, sure, but you’ll see a better conversion rate overall.
FBA Wizard had a FB ad that took people to a landing page to sign up for a free trial. It was your basic “Here’s something. Get it” approach. Conversion rate? About 1%.
Not good enough. They switched to a 4-part video series delivered over four days to their “warmest” cold traffic that educated people on the product and its context incrementally. The result? They nearly tripled the CVR to 2.93%.
Educate first, pitch second. Woo them before you sell them. The traffic temperature is starting to rise.
Heat rating: getting hot.
Step 4 – Target Reacquired
How often do you see an ad for the first time, click, and purchase? Most people – and this is especially true for cold traffic – need to see something multiple times before they pull the trigger.
Using the Facebook pixel – a small snippet of code installed on your website – you can retarget people who have visited your blog, or landing page, or whatever.
They check out your supplement product page without buying, for example, but then see an ad with additional details for the same product on Facebook and make the leap.
That’s the power of remarketing. In the FB Averts Manager, under Audience, click on Create New > Custom Audience > Website Traffic and fill in the details.
You can also opt to retarget individuals who have engaged with your Facebook content directly – such as your Page, your lead ads, your videos – under Audience > Create New > Custom Audience > Engagement on Facebook.
Between the two – your site and Facebook itself – your bases are covered.
Heat rating: scalding.
And that’s that. We slowly turned up the heat and made cold traffic a scalding hot lead by approaching Facebook ads intelligently and zeroing in.
Too many marketers play the numbers game on Facebook, believing that with nearly two billion people on the platform, someone is bound to bite.
They might. But isn’t your business worth more than “might”. Start with your warmest cold traffic (your ideal customers), identify their awareness stage (and create your ad accordingly), educate before you pitch them, and retarget as necessary.
Cold to warm to warmer to red hot. That’s the right plan. Otherwise, you’re simply handing your money to Mark Zuckerberg (and I hear he’s doing “okay” financially).
Have you tried Facebook Ads? What was your experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author: Alex Fedotoff combines consumer psychology, conversion optimization, and Facebook advertising to consistently scale his clients’ businesses in ecommerce and SaaS niches. He is the Founder of AF Media, one of the most sought-after Facebook advertising agencies in the world, and is managing about $2.5 million dollars in profitable monthly ad spend. You can connect with him on Facebook.
Silos are a relic from a bygone age — when “customer experience” as we know it didn’t exist and top-down communication was the norm. Back then, it was easy to work within a self-contained departmental bubble – brainstorming, collaborating and ultimately crafting something you thought the customer would enjoy based on what your department had gathered about them.
You may think that silos only exist in smaller companies – but history tells us that even large corporations can be plagued by these customer experience fossils:
Making a Mess of Music
Sony is the perfect example of how silos can wreck a customer experience. Back in 1999, Sony made an announcement that was going to change the way we experienced music. They were releasing a new, digital Walkman.
This was a full two years before the iPod would come to dominate the industry, and just a few months before the very first MP3 player was released. Here, Sony was demonstrating that it planned to embrace the internet and all the benefits of digital technology, and customers were excited about the potential that awaited them.
But then, enthusiasm started to wane when they announced not one, but three different music players. There was the Network Walkman, a device that used a flash memory stick to hold data and could only play music files with Sony’s proprietary ATRAC format. There was also the Vaio Musiclip, a cigar-sized, pen-like device that could hold two hours of music. Then there was the memory stick Walkman.
Three different devices to serve a single purpose.
Nevermind that there were already devices on the market that could hold hundreds of megabytes of music and used the much more popular mp3 format. Sony’s problem was that it was plagued by the customer experience silo – different departments all designing their own solutions to overtake the music industry and all of them competing with each other.
Even now in 2017, we can look back and see what happened. Sony’s innovative foothold on the music player market crumbled significantly — overtaken by Apple and other devices.
Why Customer Experience Silos Exist
According to research from New Voice Media, 41% of customer experience professionals say that operational silos are holding back the customer experience significantly. Operational silos are a traditional means of organizing a business — people segmented into different departments and roles based on their skill-sets.
According to Tim Packard, the CMO at New Voice Media, “operational silos encourage behavior that is beneficial to those within the silo, but often not in the best interests of the organization as a whole — or to customers.”
He continues, “[a]s a result, office politics develop, as the teams and departments compete more with each other than they do with competitors. Collaboration becomes a rarity, decision-making becomes poor, and teams become inward-looking.”
And, in cases like Sony, the bigger a company becomes, the more distant it becomes from its customers. It’s the difference between going down to your local deli to order your favorite sandwich, and having it prepared just the way you like it, and trying to get that same customer experience from your local Walmart.
What’s more, every department has their own version of the “ideal customer” based on whatever available data they have. Because data is seldom shared between departments in the case of silos, everyone’s working with their own skewed impression.
So what can be done about it?
Building Bridges, Not Silos
Fortunately this isn’t 1999. We have more innovative technology and influential data at our fingertips than ever before. This is a prime opportunity to build bridges between departments for a better overall customer experience — not silos that are independent of each other.
Because customers’ needs are so complex, and they encounter so many different touch-points (both digital and traditional), getting the “big picture“ can be difficult. Here’s how to tackle the challenge head-on:
Set Broader, Clearer Goals
When everyone’s on board with a common goal, everyone works together toward the same end result. By reinforcing the brand’s values and priorities, everyone – from every department – understands how they contribute to the end goal and their place in it. Don’t hesitate to test this out as well by taking on the role of customer and trying to contact the company across certain channels. Is the experience unified? Is it easy to understand and follow?
Include Everyone in the Process
From customer service to managers to everyone in between, getting feedback about where your company is in terms of customer experience and how it can improve is vital. This means asking and involving everyone in the process. Along the same lines, ensure everyone has access to the same data. Much of today’s CRM software allows all users to make real-time changes that are visible to others.
Customers appreciate when you know them and can quickly assist with their issue. Having to ask them again and again for their name, account number or product ID can test their patience, and lower their confidence in your ability to deliver the solution they need.
Encourage Open Collaboration
Every company handles this differently, from “buddy systems” across departments, or by shadowing someone in another department for a day to learn more about their customer interactions. Encouraging open collaboration and conversation helps members of your company get involved in building and reinforcing the brand’s values. Social ties become stronger and everyone competes — not against each other — but against the real competition, resulting in a better outcome that’s more customer-focused.
As you can see, it takes time and a concentrated effort by executives and managers to break down stale, old silos. But the benefits of doing so don’t have to involve costly software or technology. Open communication, collaboration and a deeper understanding of how the brand communicates to customers are tools that we all have in abundance – and they’re free. The end result drives a more competitive spirit, but also encourages greater company loyalty, improved customer satisfaction and overall growth. Who could ask for more?
Have you experienced operational silos at your own company? Did the business replace them with a more collaborative and teamwork oriented strategy? How did it work out for you? We’d love to hear the experiences and stories from anyone who has moved from an old-fashioned customer service silo to a more open communication style. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!
For mobile apps, message engagement is critical for retention. Push notifications are one of the best ways to keep your app top-of-mind. In fact, data has shown that app publishers who send push notifications can boost retention rates 20 percent, and 7x if they personalize those messages.
But there’s another secret to push notification engagement that too often goes overlooked: emojis .
This might come as a surprise, but hard stats show that mobile users love emojis even when they’re used in marketing messages. Push notifications that include emojis experience more opens than their emoji-free counterparts — up to 85 percent more, in fact. And since emojis are so effective at boosting push engagement, they have a direct impact on long-term user retention.
With these three tactics, you’ll see how emojis can work wonders for your mobile marketing.
1. Emoji-Powered Push Notifications Are Opened 85% More Often
Believe it or not, emoji-powered push notifications really are more effective than their emoji-free kin. Open rates are almost twice as high in messages that feature emoji — that’s almost twice the number of people returning to the app.
But why do push notification open rates ✉️ matter? Some would call open rates a vanity metric, and there’s merit to that. Users might open a spammy or attention-grabbing push notification, but if the message doesn’t provide the expected value, they may revoke push permissions out of frustration. What really matters is how push opens affect conversion and retention metrics.
Luckily, there’s a quantitative link between push notifications and retention. The simple act of sending push notifications can increase 30-day retention by 20 percent. Considering that most users never return to the app after their first use, boosting 30-day retention increases the odds that users will stick around in the months to come.
There are many finer points to the art of push notifications. For instance, Marketing Land explains that time-optimized ⏱ push notifications offer a 7x lift in retention. It’s important to optimize both message timing and message content.
Anecdotally, some mobile teams have already started experimenting with emoji-powered push notifications. The results are looking good. One team increased day two retention by 28 percent, just by including emojis in a push notification.
In summary, there’s a concrete link between emojis and retention, so it’s worth investing in an emoji-powered messaging strategy .
2. Emojis Resonate on an Emotional Level
It’s great to know that users love emojis, but why is that? As it turns out, the science behind emojis explains that our brains process them as non-verbal communication. This adds an emotional dimension to your copy that’s hard to capture through text.
In a way, emojis are the successors of old-school emoticons like the classic smiley :-). It’s hard to convey sarcasm and humor over the internet, so emoticons help clarify when a statement is made in jest. We process them almost like tone of voice — something that pure text lacks.
Emojis, with their bright colors and vivid expressions , are even better at conveying emotions. Qualitatively, we might describe emoji-laced copy as having more “flair” or “impact” than its plain text counterpart. And it’s comforting to know that there’s a scientific basis to this intuitive reaction.
It’s hard to measure the emotional impact of emojis on mobile app users, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Forming an emotional bond with users will change their view of the app, on top of quantitatively lifting open rates. Who wouldn’t want to open a message that makes them feel warm and fuzzy ☀️?
3. Emojis Let Brands Speak the User’s Language
In the distant past, marketing messages were generally distinct from personal communications. Marketing occupied the world of billboards and flyers, while one-on-one conversations occupied the world of letters and in-person meetings. But mobile is an inherently personal medium.
Channels like phone and email were always shared by both marketers and personal friends, but that was just the beginning. Now, marketing messages reach us regardless of where we are or what we’re doing, on the same device from which we access our entire personal network.
With this great power comes higher user expectations — dry, corporate-sounding push notifications look bad next to messages from friends and family. It’s time for marketers to get personal.
Emojis are like slang, in a sense. They let brands speak the same language as their users. And as the stats show, those ever-elusive millennials engage more often with emojis than other age groups. This makes emoji-powered messaging doubly important for brands that want to woo millennials.
The average 13–24 year old spends 20 percent more time in apps than the average 25–44 year old, and 70 percent more time in apps than the average user over 45. Every app has its own target audience, but the majority of mobile users are in the younger generation. And the trends show that emojis can help win this generation over.
Win More User ❤️ With Emojis
These are a few ways in which emojis can boost retention, but they all come down to one theme: emojis win user love.
Whether we measure the impact of emojis through open rates or psychology, users are demonstrating that they love seeing emojis as much as using them. Brands can’t afford to ignore this trend if they want to stay relevant.
With engaging and emotionally resonant marketing comes increased customer loyalty — and with loyalty comes retention.
About the Author: Stefan Bhagwandin writes content for Leanplum, the most complete mobile marketing platform. He follows startups, technology, and the many points of interest that fall in between. If you’d like to read more about emoji-powered push notifications, get the full report.
Fake news is squarely in the spotlight.
It rode to prominence on the back of an absurd 2016 election (wait… that was a dream, right?!).
But here’s the thing.
Clickbait gets a bad rap. When done correctly, it’s one of the best ways to get people to take notice and give you their most precious asset: attention.
Here’s why, despite your hesitancy or bold proclamations from companies, you should be using more of it.
This Unbelievable Copywriting Hack Will Save Your Job (Details Below)
We could talk stats all day.
We could talk about how consumers are bombarded by hundreds or thousands of advertisements and sales messages today. That it’s never been higher in the history of humanity. Shock! Awe! Blah blah blah. You’ve heard it all before.
But you already see it. Daily.
And you see it each time a new piece of content goes live to obscurity and crickets.
Basic Economics 101. Competition continues to increase. Which means it’s harder to breakthrough than ever before.
If only there were a solution – a hack! – that could help you cut through the clutter. To breakthrough the noise and get your stuff read. To increase the amount of people whose lives you can directly improve by solving their problems (it does help people, doesn’t it?).
Turns out, there might be one.
But only if you’re willing to look….
We humans are simple creatures at the end of the day. Sure, we try to act smart. We look the part. However even the smallest inkling of danger or terror and we squeal like school kids.
At the end of the day, we just want to be loved, eat, sleep, not die, and
get a little lucky procreate to further the human race.
Clickbait knows this. Acknowledges it. Understands it intimately.
It tickles our curiosity while dumbing down concepts into a common language we can all understand. Like: fear, greed, jealousy, envy, lust, and more.
A completely-legitimate research study of 69,907 showed that the most powerful headlines are polarizing.
The stuff at the extremes, whether overly positive or overly negative, generated the most interest. Pattern interruption shocks us out of dazed and confused routine. It presents an “information-gap” that we want, no NEED, to fill.
In a world faced with endless choices and options, we freeze. Clickbait is the way out. For both consumers (by simplifying their lives) and us marketers (‘cause it gets results).
We like what we do. It’s fun. Exciting even on some days (like Food Truck day!).
But we’re not curing cancer here. We’re not sending people to Mars or building sexy, luxury, electric vehicles that will one-day wean society off of declining fossil fuels.
So let’s get real. Lighten up. Have a little fun.
You gotta problem. We all do. There’s a clear way out of this mess. For now anyway.
Take the red pill and let’s get this party started.
Besides. It’s not like clickbait is new. Hardly.
In fact, it’s been happening for decades.
You Won’t Believe This is Where Clickbait Comes From (Until You Read It)
Does this ring any bells?
It should. It’s only been ripped off and repurposed thousands of times since it was originally published.
It used storytelling. To build interest. Connect with an audience. And get them to send in their information for a free product.
I.e. a lead magnet!
It was written by a dude named John Caples. A successful copywriter who also wrote Tested Advertising Methods. Which is like a sequel to Scientific Advertising, widely considered one of the best books on the topic. (Except unlike most other sequels, this one didn’t suck).
Here he is again:
Sure looks and sounds and tastes like some good clickbait to me. A mirror image of what you might see today on info-pedaling sites across the interwebs.
And yet once again, this little ditty comes from the Roaring 20’s (or more accurately, the latter half during the Great Depression).
See. That’s what good clickbait does. It provides hope. For people experiencing the worst economic meltdown of all time.
It doesn’t lie or swindle or fool. The people behind the clickbait do that when their stuff sucks and can’t back up their claims.
Valueless work that owes more to sensationalism than research and investigation even has a name: yellow journalism.
The name comes from yellow cartoon strips that were inserted into newspapers, who were worried about increasing circulation in a time of massive competition and waning consumer preferences.
But we’re not talking this decade. Or the last. But waaaaaaaaaaay back in the 1800s.
So don’t shoot the messenger.
Because it wasn’t invented by Buzzstream to net pageviews. They may have perfected the art form. (Despite laughable claims otherwise.)
Seriously. Want to write better headlines? Want to stand out? Get attention? Drive more people into your products or services?
Study BuzzFeed’s headlines. Blasphemous, I know.
But you’ll thank me later. When your blog posts start getting shared. When emails start getting clicked. When ads actually drive some revenue to hit your goals, please your boss or client, and you can finally take a vacation one of these days.
Here. I’ll show you.
3 BuzzFeed Headline Tricks to Steal
BuzzFeed didn’t invent any of this. They just do it better than anyone else.
Their specific examples are absurd, of course. You’d never want to use them word-for-word on your buttoned-up website that caters to insurance agents.
But. You can look at what they’re doing, understand the basic fundamentals of why it works, and adapt accordingly.
Here’s a few examples.
#1. The Ultimate Newsjack
Newsjacking’s been around forever. A classic PR technique even, to piggyback on successful brands in the news.
But you can also use it to unexpectedly ‘bridge the gap’ between your [boring] topic and something people care about deeply that’s top-of-mind.
Okay. This one’s kinda easy.
Literally anything related to Mr. President is sure to drive attention these days. Which mean anything he says or does or executive order’s. And c’mon, that’s almost an endless supply these days… do I have to do all the work here?
Look at the other stuff going on in this headline though. [Someone Important] “Secretly Told” [Someone/Something] “What He Really Thinks About” [Important Topic]. Adapt the wording in quotes and play some mad libs with a competitor or even a trend you’re against. Remember: polarizing sticks out.
Just ask fake news hustler John Egan from Vancouver, Canada, who told The New York Times that his pro-Clinton site didn’t take off as expected during the election. But when he switched to anti-Clinton, things hit a fever pitch:
“It’s all Trump. People go nuts for it.”
#2. The Hot Topic
The Hot Topic (you know, kinda like that lame goth store in second-rate malls that probably sells Korn shirts… are they still around?) is similar to the last in that it’s ‘newsworthy’.
That’s a good thing. It means it gets attention. People care about it (one way or another). And it you can leverage that to gain eyeballs to your boring thing.
Check out this sensitive topic:
Okay. Pushing the envelope a bit. You might want to dial it back. But still. It perfectly appeals to a specific audience and plays against the fears, stereotypes, realities, and challenges they face.
What else might get people to “treat you differently”? There’s your hook.
#3 The Cliffhanger
The best for last. My favorite. The Cliffhanger is pattern interruption at it finest. It teases just enough that there’s no way you can’t click to see more.
See. This one is so easy. “Things Nobody Tells You About” [Problem Your Customers Face].
- Things Nobody Tells You About Term Life Insurance
- Things Nobody Tells You About Email Open Rates
- Things Nobody Tells You About Your Roth IRA
And on and on and on. You can even spice things up a bit and throw a number in front of “Things”.
Cliffhangers + Listicles? Now we’re talking clickbait.
5 Completely Random Outbrain Examples to Prove Clickbait Works Once and For All
I can already hear it now.
The objections. The excuses.
“But clickbait won’t work in MY industry.” “Those examples wouldn’t work with MY customers.”
So. I pulled up ESPNFC. Clicked on a random article. Scrolled to the bottom of it. And started taking screenshots of the Outbrain syndicated articles that popped up.
(Think these ads are a waste of time? Go read this. Different channel, same principles. You gotta get eyeballs and attention before you can convert it into new customers.)
Example #1. Retail/Fashion
This ad could work for just about any retail site, product, or service that caters to women.
Celebrity in the picture? Check.
Mystery & intrigue (“The World Was Not Ready”)? Check.
Topical award show (“Emmy”)? Check.
Specific item of clothing (“Dress”)? Check.
Exclusivity (“After Party”)? Check.
Looks like it checks out to me.
Example #2. Finance
Interest rates are about as boring and mundane as it gets. Important, sure. Boring, nonetheless. Trust me. I have a (worthless) degree in Finance to show for it.
And yet something about this title makes makes you want to click to find out more. It’s the cliffhanger from above (as evidenced by the phrase “this will affect”). It hints at future problems or issues that you should know about (but don’t currently). It creates an information gap that you now have to search out to close.
Just toned down a bit.
Speaking of toning…
Example #3. Fitness Product
‘Member the whole dad bod thing?
C’mon. Nobody likes that. Not even the people with dad bods. You know, old dudes with kids and a desk job.
Guess where those power lunches and happy hours and food trucks go?
That stubborn, hard-to-rid belly.
This ad names that problem, for that audience, specifically. Which is key.
The odd (prefered to even) numbered list and “simple steps” speaks to a zen-like simplicity in the solution.
While “shed” is a classic power word.
Example #4. Business
This ad is good.
Piggybacking on a brand like “Apple” and incorporating a power word like “Disrupting”.
Once again, doesn’t get anymore basic and boring than American manufacturing. From a content and advertising point-of-view.
And yet this ad manages to somehow leap off the page. Thanks in large part to emphasizing what’s interesting or unique, FIRST, before going into detail about their own offering.
Example #5. Dental Procedure
Let’s be honest with each other.
Nobody likes the dentist. We delay visiting as long as humanly possible.
It’s awkward and uncomfortable. So dentists, like it not, gotta sell.
Insurance doesn’t force us to specific dentists like other medical professions. We shop around. So it’s no different than looking for an auto-body shop to fix your car. (Okay, maybe a little different.)
Dental implants can also be expensive. It’s not a decision to take lightly.
Which means the same content and information-assisted selling technique not only apply, but are required.
Clickbait has a negative connotation associated with it.
Because we’re on high alert for the bad kind of clickbait: the empty hyperbole and salacious claims sold by swindlers and tricksters.
Those people give a bad name to clickbait. Because it’s not all bad.
If you believe in what you’re selling and that it can truly help people, it’s your obligation to do whatever it takes to get it in their hands.
In that vein, there’s nothing wrong with clickbait. There’s a reason it’s been in use, successfully, for decades (and almost centuries).
It’s because it works.
It uses well-worn, psychological patterns that people are already looking for. It gives them what they need, when they need it.
Marketers often struggle to come up with new ideas and angles to improve their marketing campaigns.
So in this post, I’m going to show you an effective way of collecting the insights and ideas you need to create breakthroughs, by using post-conversion questionnaires.
Why I Started Using Post-Conversion Questionnaires in my Campaigns
A little while ago, I was helping some clients generate leads online with paid advertising.
We were operating in a fairly competitive niche, so I found myself constantly having to come up with new angles and ideas in order to keep my copy ‘fresh’ and to battle campaign fatigue.
After a while though, I ran out of ideas and I knew I had to go back and study my market in more detail.
However, this was a challenge.
There weren’t many resources online (e.g. online forums and blogs) that were available for my particular target market.
And I simply couldn’t rely on my clients to give me the information I needed.
My clients were too busy running their own businesses and even if they did have the time to speak to me, they would end up filtering information through their perspective and language, thereby defeating the whole point of the research.
What I needed was a way to listen to the market directly.
Now, at the time, I had call tracking software setup on the landing pages I had created for my client.
That way, I could track the number of people who called my client directly instead of submitting their details via the form on the landing page.
But the call tracking software had an unintentional benefit: it also recorded those phone calls and literally allowed me to listen into the conversations my market was having.
This seemed like the answer I needed.
Except there was one problem: only a very small percentage of leads ever called the number (less than 5%).
Most people simply submitted their details via the form on the page and waited to be followed up.
Since I didn’t have call recording setup for outbound calls on my client’s end (which would have been virtually impossible to do), I was missing out on an enormous number of conversations and in turn, the rich data I needed to improve my campaign.
It was then when I came up with an idea: Why not include an additional step in my funnel to capture information directly from the prospects that submitted their details on the landing page?
Well, that’s exactly what I did.
I added a brief, optional questionnaire after a prospect submitted their contact details.
Though the questionnaire was optional, 75-85% of people ended up filling it out (some in great detail).
This quickly gave me the information and insight I needed to come up with new ideas and angles in my campaigns.
And because these ideas came straight from the marketplace, I knew they each had a very good chance of succeeding.
Why the Questionnaire is Shown After the Conversion
Using questionnaires to survey leads and prospects is not a new technique by any means.
In fact, since Ryan Levesque released his book, ‘Ask’, the use of questionnaires has exploded across the world of internet marketing.
However, in most cases, questionnaires are placed before the conversion.
The reason for this is usually to increase the conversion rate by tailoring the funnel according to the answers provided by the prospect.
In our case, however, the primary goal of the questionnaire is to collect information, not boost conversions.
In fact, we do not want to alter the performance of the funnel at all until we have collected the information we need to make a well-informed change.
Now, another reason why we put the questionnaire after the conversion is because the people who convert tend to be the ‘hottest prospects.’
They resonate with the appeals in your copy, are motivated enough to take action and are therefore the ideal people to survey.
You may be asking then, “why don’t we put the questionnaire on the initial lead capture form?”
As mentioned before, we do not want to impact the performance of the funnel until we have collected the information we need, and adding more fields to a form will nearly always decrease the conversion rate.
Putting the questionnaire after conversion allows us to leave the conversion rate of the funnel untouched while still allowing us to collect the information we need to improve it over time.
In practice, I’ve found that 75-85% of people converting end up answering the questionnaire anyway, even though it is optional, which provides more than enough data to work with.
Advantage Over Other Market Research Methods
Post-conversion questionnaires have a few advantages over other market research methods.
- You can collect information on your target market very quickly. It should only take you around an hour to add an additional page with a questionnaire into your funnel. After it is setup, you can start collecting a significant amount of data on your target market very quickly. For example, if you have a funnel that generates 100 leads a week; you will end up with around 75 – 85 completed questionnaires after a week.
- You can collect information for virtually no additional cost or effort. You are already spending money to generate leads with your funnel. The post-conversion questionnaire allows you to tap into this existing asset and capture the information you need at virtually no additional effort or cost.
- You are collecting quality information. When someone converts (whether it’s to request a consult or download a lead magnet), they are in a state of action. They are consciously feeling the pains, frustrations and desires as demonstrated by their motivation to act. By capturing their thoughts while they are in this state, you will gather very accurate insights that can be used to recreate this state in other people in your target market.
What Questions to Ask
In your questionnaire, you can ask closed-ended questions to get a better idea of who the person filling it out is.
However, open-ended questions are what will end up providing the most useful information for improving your campaign.
Open-ended questions encourage people to express their problems, frustrations and desires in detail, without any constraints.
This is especially important because we want to not only capture what problems and desires our market has, but the way they articulate them.
Two open-ended questions I often like to use are:
- Tell me a little about your situation
- What is your biggest challenge with XYZ?
An example post-conversion questionnaire with closed and open-ended questions
“Tell me a little about your situation” is a very open-ended question that doesn’t specify what information is desired from the respondent.
It simply allows the prospect to talk about anything they think is relevant to their situation, whether positive or negative.
This could include how they ended up where they are now, their motivation for wanting to make a change, their current problems and frustrations, their goals or any other relevant details about their situation.
“What is your biggest challenge with XYZ” on the other hand, asks more specifically about the negative issues the prospect is experiencing.
The reason why we ask about the problems and challenges they are facing is two-fold.
Firstly, the human brain has evolved to react more strongly to negative stimuli than to positive stimuli. Pain can therefore often be a stronger motivator for action than wants and pleasures.
By uncovering what problems, pains and challenges our prospects are experiencing, we can use them in our copy to motivate them to buy our product or service as the solution.
Secondly, people often find it difficult to articulate exactly what it is they want in detail and with accuracy – especially if they have never achieved or experienced it.
However, people find it very easy to articulate their exact problems, pains, frustrations and challenges since they are experiencing it in the present.
How I Used Questionnaire Answers to Create New Copy
Here is a Facebook ad I ran to help a client generate first-time homebuyer leads:
As you can see, the bulk of the copy is focused on an individual’s financial situation. For example, having limited savings for a down payment, poor credit score or a complicated employment situation.
I used the post-conversion questionnaire as shown in the previous section to gather new ideas and angles for the campaign.
Here are some actual answers to the question “Tell Me A Little About Your Situation” on the questionnaire:
Even from this small sample of responses, you can see a variety of ideas, angles and phrases, including:
- Being “tired of renting” and wanting a place of their own
- Buying a house in order to “establish a base” and give their family a stable environment to live in
- Battling against rising rent
- Feeling “ready to buy”
- Issues with their current landlord
- Finally discovering the area they want to live in for the rest of their life and wanting to buy a home there
- Wanting to buy but having financial barriers holding them back (not much money available for a down payment, low credit score, bankruptcy)
- Already paying a lot for rent and wanting to use the money to pay off their own home instead
From the answers in the questionnaire, I was able to ‘feed’ some of the ideas back into the copy of a new test ad:
Here is a comparison of how the new ad (“TNew”) performed against the old (“TCon”):
The new ad performed well, achieving a similar cost per lead to the control after a short period of time (the cost per lead tended to stabilize after a few conversions and would stay at roughly the same cost for more than 50 conversions. So even though the number of conversions of the new ad at this point was far less than the control, I knew this ad was good).
Though I was not able to significantly reduce the cost per lead with the new ad, the fact that it performed similarly to the control ad despite containing different ideas, confirmed the effectiveness of the post-conversion questionnaire.
It also meant that I had a new converting ad which I could put into rotation to extend the life of my campaign while still maintaining my lead cost targets (since the ROI on the leads was already very high for my client, making sure I could extend the life of the campaign as much as possible and deliver a consistent volume of leads, actually mattered more than decreasing the cost per lead).
Post-conversion questionnaires can be used in virtually any online marketing campaign that requires people to convert. They are a quick and effective tool for discovering new angles, ideas and ways of articulating your market’s hopes, fears and dreams.
Try adding them to your campaigns today. It will only take an hour or two and the information you gain from them will be well worth the time spent.
About the Author: Nathaniel is a digital marketer who specializes in lead generation with Facebook Ads. Connect with him on LinkedIn.