Have you ever sat through a presentation that wasn’t meant for you? You stare blankly at a screen of numbers and nonsensical acronyms , then you disengage after five minutes and daydream about your after-work bike ride. When you’re trying to prove the value of social media to your CMO—or even CEO—you can’t afford to lose their attention. Their time is precious. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to present your findings. The executives in your company don’t care about the day-to-day details of your brand’s social media strategy. They want to how your efforts are driving business goals. It’s your job to eliminate unnecessary data and present the findings that matter to the C-suite. What your CMO wants to know (and what metrics back it up) 1. How social contributes to revenue How has social contributed to the company’s bottom line? This is the most important question […]
“Think Mobile First” was a popular catchphrase a few years ago when the responsive web-site became popular and important; micro-displays of your website wouldn’t cut it anymore – users needed to have a whole new experience on their mobile device. Now that responsive layout is pretty well established, we as digital marketers need to begin thinking of a new mobile-first: content. Not just how your mobile content is laid out on the site, but rather is the content you are delivering appropriate for consumption on a mobile version of your site? Even though 77 percent of mobile searches were initiated at home or at work – where desktops are readily available , we are still stuck on mobile content in terms of layout; can you scroll, is it easy to click the CTA’s, is the alignment the same in horizontal as well as vertical. However, not much thought is […]
One of the most influential authors of my personal and career journey is Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937. Now, in its 80th anniversary year, Mr. Hill’s lessons are still extremely relevant and valuable. I had the opportunity to dust off my copy of Think and Grow Rich (from 1960, with dog-eared and coffee-stained pages) a few weeks back during the holiday break. In its relation to content marketing, I noticed some clear takeaways that most corporate marketers simply do not embrace. In the book, 15 powerful chapters are helpful to all individuals, but seven chapters were spot-on relevant to content marketing . Here are quotes from the seven chapters with my notes for each one. Caution from Joe: The book is extremely chauvinistic. If you read it, just prepare yourself for that. 1. Desire “Whatever the mind can conceive and […]
Phil Connors is having a bad day … over, and over, and over. The arrogant Pittsburgh weatherman has once again been sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. He soon discovers that visiting once a year wasn’t all that bad, given that he’s now living this particular Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. It all begins at 6:00 a.m., the same way each day. The clock radio clicks on with Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe , followed by the declaration, “It’s Groundhog Day … and it’s cold out there!” After the initial shock wears off, Phil (played by national treasure Bill Murray) realizes he’s in a time loop. No matter what he does each day, there are no lingering consequences for his actions, because he wakes up and starts over again fresh the next morning. This initially leads to hedonistic behavior, such […]
Cast the first stone in me, those of you unwilling to create viral content that gets well shared! And cast the second stone in me, those of you unwilling to create and publish content that gets well shared and… linked! Eric Enge at Stone Temple claims we still need links to enhance traffic. And in the world of content shock , we have to outdo ourselves for creating something truly magical that would bring those links and shares. In 2015, BuzzSumo analyzed one million posts and shocked us with the results: 50% of those posts got less than 8 shares, and 70% of them didn’t get links at all! Sounds not inspiring enough, huh ? This year, they teamed up with Majestic and conducted new research to identify content types with a high potential to go viral. That’s all very fine, but… With all those articles on the one-works-for-all […]
Ask any North-American male aged 17-30 whether he’s heard of Dollar Shave Club (DSC). He’ll probably say, “Yeah.” And it’s not just dudes who know about DSC. A lot of women know about it too because they’ve bought subscriptions for the men in their lives. Dollar Shave Club is a classic example of startup that blew up—in a good way. What was one of the first signs of their success? A video. A viral video. If you haven’t seen it, you ought to check it out: The company’s launch video, casually titled “Our Blades Are F**king Great,” quickly became a sensation on the web. With punchlines and gags to suit a variety of tastes, the video racked up nearly 5 million views within the first 90 days. The company’s founder, Michael Dubin, had a few aces up his sleeve to help create a professionally cut video. The CEO studied […]
Learn More, you have been good to me and I appreciate you. You have helped me tremendously over the past years, especially early in my web copywriting career. When I didn’t know what to call my link, you were always there for me. But like all good things, our relationship must come to an end.
In the world of content marketing, the produced content over the last five years has improved and evolved to fit the changing Internet landscape; content on the web is more centric toward SEO, providing users with the right keywords so it can be found, and has become more information rich and helpful, not the filler content for content sake (like the Top Ten list, a content pandemic that must also be eradicated).
However, there is an exception to this progress and it concerns one of content marketing’s most critical components: The Call To Action (CTA). The CTA is arguably is the most important component of any landing page, article or blog post; its sole purpose is to convince visitors to take the next step and complete a specified action. Yet most CTAs are totally lame and uninspiring, and one CTA in particular is as old as the Internet itself but still in widespread use: Learn More.
To all copywriters and content managers: it’s time for Learn More to die. We can do better. Not only is Learn More tired, it’s deceptive and without detail: the very phrase infers that by clicking it, you will learn something you did not know before, you will be provided with more detailed information. But in reality, this is very rarely the case. Often, it’s a link to something completely unrelated, a cop-out by the writer who didn’t know what else to use.
I say it’s time to start using our imaginations to come up with better CTA’s; no more can we rely on the old cop-outs like Learn More, Sign Up, Buy Now, or, shudder, Click Here. We as web professionals have done our jobs well; the Internet user community has bought into what we have sold and consequently have become more smart and savvy, but also demanding, and are less-likely to click on the links we provide unless they are interesting and enticing.
So what can be used as a good call to action instead of tired old Learn More? Google “Good CTA examples” and you can find literally hundreds of examples; blogger and designer Christian Watson has a list of over 30 CTA’s that you can substitute for Learn More. Hubspot has a PDF with over a 150 CTA suggestions.
As writers, the descriptive CTA is our secret weapon; an enticing action that leads our readers and users where we want them to go. With such a powerful weapon in our arsenal, why waste using something as lame as Learn More? Be creative! Who knows, as a writer you might even….learn more.
Recently, a client came to me with a problem on his website: they were not getting much customer feedback or leads. This client had been very careful in the construction and marketing of their website: they had selected a good design, had made sure there was on-page SEO and had also ensured there was enough CTA’s to point people to their contact form. They were mystified as to what was keeping people from reaching out.
I took a look at their site and was able to decipher what the problem was almost immediately: their contact form had 28 fields. The form scrolled on forever, and asked too much personal information not relevant to their inquiry. A quick check on the Google tags for their form confirmed this: their users were abandoning the form after filling out a few fields.
My recommendation to them was this: cut out the information and fields you do not need in order to help; keep it to what you feel is the bare minimum. Once you have done that, make that version half as long. Once you have completed that, you will begin getting more feedback.
They were skeptical to this request. The fields they included came from their support group: they needed this information in order to better answer the requests that came through. Without this information, it might take twice as long to accommodate their customers’ request.
I countered: The support group don’t need all this information, they want it. It will make their jobs easier, and perhaps make the resolution quicker. However, the burden of having to do all the work for resolution of the problem by filling out the form is being put on your users; they don’t work for you and this is why they are not filling them out.
We agreed to a test: We would reduce the number of fields on their form from 28 to 5: First Name, Last Name, Type of Problem (Drop-down), Email and Comments. In 2 weeks we would revisit the feedback and analytics and see if that helped their problem.
The results were spectacular: Their feedback through the forms had gone up over 130%, and their abandonment rate had dropped to 20%. The time for resolution had gone up slightly as the support team had to do more leg work in contact with the customers, but that time was inconsequential to the stream of feedback and leads they were getting from their users.
It’s always amazing to me that we, as digital marketers, tout the sophisticated study of usability and the urgency for companies to apply it to their websites, yet many sites feature forms that are too long and ask for too much information, the antithesis of usability.
The data and studies are very clear: People do not like filling out forms or giving too much personal information no matter what the reason.
Marvin Russell writing on the website http://mysiteauditor.com/, echos this sentiment: “Have you ever left a store without purchasing anything because the checkout lines were too long? That’s because you are human and humans are impatient, especially on the internet. We use the internet to make our lives easier, not more complicated and definitely not more difficult. A long contact form can be very overwhelming to look at and scare your potential customer right off your website.”
Courtesy of Hubspot
So this begs the question: We know that long forms suck and customers hate them; why do we keep making them?
Much like the client I assisted, the idea that the “more information I get up front the better I can serve you” is old-school thinking, yet a common argument for putting many fields on a form to gather as much information as you can. It’s only as our users rebel in the form of non-communication do we begin to understand how dysfunctional a practice this is.
And it’s not just the amount of information you are asking for, but also the type of information you might be asking for: according to Hubspot, users are less likely to fill out a form that has “phone” or “phone number” as a required field. While email filters may help against you getting spammed if you enter on a form, many users are wary of getting endless telemarketing calls on their phone, as well as the specter of identity theft, if they give out their phone number.
So what is the best rule of thumb when creating contact forms that users will want to fill out? The team at QuickSprout have come up with an infographic that lays out some very simple, and useful tips:
- Keep it simple and easy: 3-5 fields maximum
- Don’t ask for stuff you don’t need (phone number!)
- Don’t ask them to “Submit”. This is how Google defines “Submit”:Try something more action-oriented and positive such as “Go!” or “Send!”
- A/B Test: Try moving the fields around and see what flow works best: let your users tell you how they want to communicate not the other way around. Another clever test: try putting your (short) contact forms on pages other than the contact page.
All these things can be done very simply, in about a day. You may have to do more of the work for your customers, but be honest: did you make the web site for your company or your customers?
Many organizations say they’re committed to search. But the proof is in the search experience It’s easy for an organization to say it’s committed to providing a good search experience. But something gets lost between the promise and the delivery, resulting in hours of wasted effort and employee dissatisfaction […]
Last night I cancelled my DirecTV service. I had been a customer for 7 years; I had bought special services and packages from them. The decision to cancel them was based upon several factors: spending too much time watching TV, other cost-effective entertainment options, not enjoying the channels that were available to me, but the largest factor came down to my experience with DirecTV themselves: They never did anything for me; they just didn’t seem to care.
I never seemed to get any incentives from them for being a good, loyal customer. I got fliers in the mail all the time for them advertising specials like low cost packages or free HBO, but when I called to ask them, it was always the same answer: incentives were for new customers only.
I can understand the need to gain new customers, but why was there no incentives for customers who kept the lights on? Customers who paid their bills in full on time? Why once you are in the door, are you forgotten?
The problem of customer loyalty isn’t just with the cable entertainment industry: Airlines, Grocery Stores, Retail Stores, Hotels are all suffering the loss of customers through either poor, non-realistic programs or no customer loyalty at all.
According to consumer advocate and journalist Christopher Elliott, loyalty programs “are not in touch with reality because their judgment is clouded by money. Pay attention to the affiliate links on their sites and you’ll see that their rewards don’t come from the programs they promote, but from the generous bonuses they receive when someone signs up for an affinity credit card they hawk.
The cheerleaders will continue pushing these programs until the bottom falls out of them. A vast majority of them don’t care about you. They are the emperors fiddling while Rome burns. They are like the last men standing at the top of the pyramid scheme, insisting that everything is fine. But everything is not fine.”
Loyalty just isn’t what it used to be
One theory about why there is decline in the incentives for customer loyalty is there is lack of loyalty not just with the companies, but also with the consumers. According to Forbes, 46% of consumers believe they are more likely to switch compared to 10 years ago. Accenture conducted a study entitled “The $6 trillion opportunity: How digital improves customer experience” which noted “Consumers continuously evaluate providers and have become nonstop customers. The tangible result is a growing “switching economy” that accounts for an estimated $6.2 trillion in revenue opportunity for providers across 17 key markets today—up 26 percent, from $4.9 trillion, in 2010.”
Another reason some loyalty programs are being shunned by consumers is the rewards being offered are not really rewards at all. Elliott notes that many rewards programs do not offer rewards as much as they give you a currency you must spend; and even that isn’t really worth it to the loyal customer. Speaking specifically on the travel industry: “For most travelers, loyalty programs are not worth the effort anymore. That’s because, as I’ve previously explained, they have a negative value. Put differently, by the time you’ve collected the points, and gone through the effort of redeeming them, you will have spent more money than if you’d just bought the product without any consideration for loyalty.”
Spending on the 20%
So what’s the solution? It maybe simply to change the mindset of the company from to how to milk more money from their current customer base to offering real incentives. According to Pareto’s principle, 80% of your sales come from only 20% of your customers; so why not spend more on the 20 %? An infographic from the B2B community website shows that the benefits for spending on the 20% are literally endless.
Or how about the radical idea of eliminating the loyalty program altogether and give the savings to all customers – old and new? Time magazine writes about the supermarket company that runs the Albertsons, Shaw’s, Acme Markets, and Jewel-Osco brands announcing the elimination of all loyalty programs.
“Shaw’s, for instance, has been pushing the change as “Card Free Savings,” in which “Everybody gets a low price,” regardless of whether the shopper is a loyalty program member or can produce a card to get zapped at the register. “The card isn’t so special anymore,” the grocery company announced via its website. “Everyone has one. So we want to take the special step of not requiring one anymore.”
DirecTV lost a loyal, good customer in me. It was never about the money I was spending as much as it was about the company not really caring about me and the investment I had made. Even a little incentive might have kept me there. As they are learning, as well other companies, in the digital age when there are hundreds of more options to choose from, consumers may start voicing their dissatisfaction and letting their large companies know they are there by hurting them in the place they will notice: the bottom line.