12 Steps to Increasing Conversions by 25%

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If your goal is more conversions, there are steps you can take right now to make that goal a reality. The good news is, most of these actions don’t don’t require any investment other than time. Here are 12 tips that can help you achieve as much as 25 percent more conversions.

1. Use Video Explainers on Your Landing Pages

According to Unbounce, video leads to more conversions by keeping people on your landing pages for a longer amount of time, and by boosting trust through the humanization of your business. Add a CTA to your video and use people, characters or imagery in the video to point to your page’s conversion goal.

2. Set Videos to Autoplay

Websites that automatically play videos can annoy visitors by slowing browsing or bombarding the visitor with a barrage of sound they weren’t expecting. The one exception is landing pages. You have so little time to hook your visitors, you can’t waste even a moment hoping your visitors will hit play.

3. Make Your Calls to Action Stand Out

Create your CTA buttons using contrasting colors so that they stand out from the rest of the page. Place them above the fold and have people or objects in surrounding images point toward them.

4. Create Consistency Across Channels

Your theme, images, fonts and layouts should be consistent across channels — online and off. Unify the design of online ads, landing pages and social pages. But also make sure physical elements like your shipping label template and business cards unmistakably project your brand.

5. Create Unique Landing Pages

Landing pages should be designed to convert visitors from just one entry point. Create unique landing pages for Facebook, Twitter, email, organic, PPC and every other entry point. If not, the design of your landing pages will not match the ad that your visitor clicked to get there.

6. Tailor Your Value Proposition

Make sure your value proposition matches the target. On your social LPs, for example, speak to visitors who are coming from the top of the funnel and who may not know much about your brand. On your PPC pages, remember that you’re trying to entice people coming from the other end of the funnel.

7. Repeat Your Ad’s Promise on Landing Pages

Reassure your visitors that they’ve landed in the right place by repeating the central promise of your ad on your landing pages. If your ad says “20 percent off shoes,” use the same language in your LP’s headline.

8. Include a Phone Number

A phone number reassures your visitors that they will be able to contact someone if there is a problem, that there is a human being behind the business, and that they aren’t giving their information to a fly-by-night website.

9. Include a Free Trial

A free trial projects confidence in your product, and it also works to alleviate the natural hesitancy of buyers who are not yet sure. When you offer visitors a 7-day trial, they can commit knowing that they will still have time to think about it even after they complete the purchase.

10. Conduct A/B Testing

Test variable headlines, images and most importantly, CTA buttons. Monitor the results and let your audience choose the ones that stick. Results are the only thing that matter — leave emotion out of the equation.

11. Include Social Testimonials

Testimonials don’t carry as much weight as they used to because anyone can fabricate them. But social testimonials — screenshot evidence of glowing tweets or other social posts — prove that previous buyers were satisfied after purchasing.

12. Ask for a Share on the Way Out

Finally, use your confirmation pages as an opportunity to turn buyers into brand ambassadors by asking them to share their purchase experience on social media. People across every demographic are influenced by positive social reviews from their peers.

You don’t have to revamp your entire social strategy to achieve big conversion gains. Coordinate your social ads with strong supporting channels like landing pages. Unify your branding, use video wherever you can and test your results against variables.

This guest article was written by Nick Rojas.

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12 Steps to Increasing Conversions by 25%

Gross: Guy Pops A Giant Zit on His Face And Then Eats It

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Working with Innocean, Dallas-based candy store Atomic Candy is out with a very Skittles-like commercial in which a guy, looking at himself in the mirror, realizes, he’s got a zit. But the zit is actually a piece of candy.

He squeezes the candy, it falls into the sink and then he eats it. If your stomach isn’t turning at this point then you probably should watch the rest of the commercial. Because it’s like the biggest zit explosion you’ve ever seen.

So, yea, it’s just a candy commercial but still.

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Gross: Guy Pops A Giant Zit on His Face And Then Eats It

Headed to Cannes? Here’s Your Handy Beach Map

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In case you don’t feel like attending sessions at Cannes like a good delegate and would rather spend your days on the beach soaking up the sun and stealing glances at those young, up-and-coming creatives who are more than happy to frolic on the beach as if it were Spring Break, Italian agency, Aylene Gardider has you covered.

Just as they did last year, the agency is out with a map of the beaches in Cannes so you can be sure you’re meeting up in the right spot. Feel free to download the full sized version below.

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Headed to Cannes? Here’s Your Handy Beach Map

As You Consider Attending SXSW 2016, Here’s What Was Awesome About SXSW 2015

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It’s sort of passe to talk about how much SXSW has changed over the years because, well, it has and there’s no going back. If you feel the need to reminisce or wallow in the past, you can read this, this, this, this and this.

Or you can put you mind in a more upbeat mode and read 6 Reasons Why SXSW is Still Awesome, written after last year’s SXSW.

In any case, let’s move on. Did you go to SXSW this year? What did you think? Did you get out of it what you expected? More? Less?

Let’s take a look at some of what transpired during this year’s SXSW Interactive.

That Women Everyone Fell For on Tinder

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To promote the movie Ex Machina, which was premiering at SXSW this year, the producers of the film created a “fake” Tinder profile under the name Ava. Ava engaged with many people but the link in her bio let to the film’s promotional website. Turns out, Ava was actually Swedish actress Alicia Vikander who appears in the film. Some thought the promotion was a bit porn bot-ish. Others loved it.

Marketers Get Creepy With Customer Data

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In a session entitled Malevolent Marketing led by Robbie Whiting, founder of San Francisco-based Argonaut and Razorfish exec Garrick Schmitt, dressed entirely in black, took a look at the various ways marketers are, in essence, taking advantage of people by misusing customer data. Putting it to to the audience, what seemed to bother people the most was the proliferation of Internet of Things devices which gather personal information and TV sets with always on listening technology.

When the moderators asked the audience to develop, on the fly, a malevolent marketing-style product, they came up with Perfect You. As Forbes contributor George Anders summarized, “It would consist of a three-dimensional body scanner at the entrance to clothing stores, which would spew its results into a series of photo-rendering displays throughout the store — showing digitally manipulated pictures of shoppers wearing various clothes that could be bought on the spot.” Creepy?

FireChat Takes Home Innovation Award

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As is always the case, innovation is front and center at SXSW and at this year’s SXSW Innovation Awards off the grid chat app FireChat took home the Innovation in Connecting People award.

FireChat, developed by San Francisco startup Open Garden in 2012, rose to prominence
last August at the Burning Man festival in Black Rock, Nevada, where cell phone service is scarce. Currently, it has about 5 million users.

Of the win, Open Garden CEO Micha Benoliel said, “We’re ecstatic that FireChat was chosen for such a respected award at this year’s festival. Our mission is to connect people around the world. The recognition from this team of judges and our peers is wonderful and exciting for our team as we continue our efforts.”

Brands Still Spending Boatloads of Money (And Providing Free Food and Drink For All)

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While we’re trying to keep things positive here, brands were still king at SXSW this year taking over entire restaurants and erecting full on structures (Bates Motel) in an effort to, well, WSJ’s Mike Shields described it best writing, “It’s about marketers marketing their marketing efforts to other marketers.

National Geographic had an #EscapetheCold structure that would simulate Alaska’s icy conditions to promote the brand’s Life Below Zero. Bausch + Lomb erected a “Lens Lounge.” HBO sponsored pedicabs to promote its Silicon Valley show. And let’s not forget the long-running Fast Company Grill which for the the past five years or so has been providing a branded experience along with educational content and, yes, free food and drink.

There really wasn’t anywhere you could go that wasn’t, in some way, branded or sponsored. Some argue this sullies the pristine origins of the SXSW experience. Others, perhaps tossing their hands up, simply admit that, well, the upside is that everything is free because some brand is sponsoring it. And, with the high cost of attending SXSW, saving money on food and drink is a benefit many appreciate.

Some Things Never Change. Others Do

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Perhaps perfectly summarizing the essence of SXSW, collaborative economy expert and Crowd Companies Founder Jeremiah Owyang posted on Facebook the Ten Signs You Were At SXSW in 2015:

1) You lost your voice
2) You have more than 3 wrist bands on in the morning
3) You have more business cards than you remember receiving
4) You got stickers from a startup that’s missing vowels
5) You’re actually proud you tried the McDonald’s new flavor fries
6) You rode the Hootsuite bike bar
7) You were on Meerkat Friday night, but never again.
8) You took more than 4 selfies with your FB friends
10) You’re so hungover you didn’t realize that we skipped nine.

I would add “You hung out at the JW Marriot” because, you know, it was new and, well, we’re all like Lemmings in some ways and that’s what we do.

Apparently, There Are Still SXSW Haters (Who, Luckily, Don’t Hate Everything)

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One can’t really summarize the SXSW experience without realizing that the changes which has occurred over the years are not agreeable to all. One such person is Havas Senior VP of Strategy and Innovation Tom Goodwin who wrote, “The festival thrives on the energy and optimism of youth, but suffers for a lack of adult supervision. It’s a cathedral to all things popular that don’t matter, from GrumpyCat to Meerkat. It’s one big meme, that lives and dies as rapidly and pointlessly.”

And hammering marketers for their “irrational exuberance, Goodwin added, “It’s the un-dwindling confidence that iBeacons somehow will be embraced by people or that augmented reality in the shopping center will be fun. I’m not sure these Brooklynites and Palo Altans have ever seen how real people behave and yet we give them a chance to bolster their opinions and feed their ignorance by hanging out only with people like themselves.”

Hmm. Harsh? Well Goodwin isn’t entirely a hater and did come up with something to love about SXSW: diversity of thought. He complains about the sameness of panels at most other events he attends over the course of the year but appreciates the wide-ranging topics and opinions that reveal themselves each year at SXSW.

He notes, “From gender equality to the role of art, trans-humanism, and privacy issues, SXSW each and every year brings together (a few of) the best minds in the world to further our industry.”

Nothing that SXSW has become “a good metaphor for the Internet, it’s too big, too much, but it’s democratic and accessible to all,” he suggests that, just like the internet, SXSW needs a good search engine to make the plethora of growing content more manageable.

As Always, Panels Give Good Content

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I attended a few panels. One was hosted by Marketo and held offsite at the Marketo Lounge on 6th Street. The marketing automation company hosted several panels along with parties and a CMO dinner.

On Tuesday morning, Marketo hosted an Irish Breakfast and hosted a panel entitled Ask the CMO. CMOs from Mashable, Bloomberg, Marketo and Equinox were present and discussed issues of importance to CMOs. Chiefly, it was all about keeping the creative spirit alive and not allowing it to get buried beneath today’s proliferation of big data. Additionally, the panel encouraged attendees to insure the brands they represent take on a more human persona which becomes ever more important in an increasingly one to one marketing world.

Deirdre Bigley, CMO of Bloomberg, discussed the importance of gauging the temperature of the social media waters and when or when not to jump in. She cited the February incident during which a couple of Llamas began running around a Phoenix-area retirement community and became a social media phenomenon. The brand ultimately decided to capitalize on the event with this witty tweet:

The Entrepreneurs Lounge

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Hosted atop Fogo de Chao every year for eight years running, The Entrepreneurs Lounge is one of the best networking events that occurs during SXSW. A tightly curated list insures that you’ll be able to mix and mingle with the best and the brightest in the marketing, advertising and startup worlds.

Each night from 5PM to 9PM during SXSW, connections are made, business deals are proposed and closed and life long relationships are made. Oh and let’s not forget the endless supply of Brazilian meat that’s passed continuously to guests along with the caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. Together, the two made for network dining perfection.

Decoded Fashion Explored the Convergence of Fashion and Technology

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The breadth and depth of SXSW content is truly impressive. If you have an interest, it’s well addressed. I attended a series of sessions at the JW Marriot put on by Decoded Fashion, an organization at the convergence of fashion, beauty, retail and technology whose mission is to expose the fashion community to new ideas, demystify technology and foster creative partnerships between tech startups, designers, retailers and media professionals in highly interactive summit formats.

A series of panels addressed fashion hackathons, how to incorporate technology with fashion, wearable technology, the ability of mobile to tie online and physical retail together and how data can drive improvements in retail.

Speakers represented brands including John Lewis, Nieman Marcus, Simon, ASOS, Google, Simon Venture Group, TechCrunch, Gap and others.

Along with the series of panels, Decoded Fashion also included a mentorship hub in which those working in related fields could set up and conduct one on one meetings with industry experts. Each mentor offered startups and emerging designers feedback and advice so that those startups and emerging designers can further hone and improve their offerings.

And, Of Course, GSD&M Threw A Massive Party

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Each year, Austin-based ad agency GSD&M takes advantage of the fact that each year their fair city becomes a mecca for ad and marketing types. What better way to pimp yourself than to ply the industry with free food and alcohol?

An estimated 3,500 attended the agency’s party at which attendees could sample Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Pacifico beer and participate in a photo contest sponsored by Southwest. Winners of that contest were awarded front row seats — in the form of actual Southwest airplane seats — to the evening’s musical performances which included surprise guest Grammy winner Gary Clark.

Random Sightings

The exhibit hall was full of activity and plenty to see:

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A&E erected an even bigger Bates Motel display this year:

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Many of the thoughts and topics discussed in panels during the 5 day Interactive conference were shared visually:

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Only at a tech/marketing-related industry party is it totally cool for one person to be partying like crazy and the other to detach and stare at one’s phone:

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This guy always makes an appearance at SXSW. This time from the sky:

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It’s not SXSW without an Adrian Grenier siting:

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And, lastly, this guy got lucky:

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As You Consider Attending SXSW 2016, Here’s What Was Awesome About SXSW 2015

6 Best Practices for Omnichannel Marketers

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It wasn’t too long ago that the consumer in the market for new home exercise equipment would visit her local department or sporting goods store to test out the options and compare the prices. Maybe she would buy a new treadmill on the spot, or perhaps she would first talk to friends for recommendations, or read some reviews in a magazine like Consumer Reports. Once convinced of the right make, model, and price, she would pull out her credit card or checkbook and make a purchase.

Fast-forward to 2015, where the buying landscape couldn’t be more different. Thanks to the Internet as a whole, social media, online reviews, the proliferation of online retailers, and the growth of web-based behemoths like Amazon, the same consumer takes a decidedly different approach when buying exercise equipment (or buying anything for that matter). Add laptops, mobile devices, and smartphones to the mix and you create a selling environment that includes everything from bricks-and-mortar sales to website purchases to smart TV shopping.

In this “omnichannel marketing” playground, companies have to balance a growing number of customer touchpoints with the need to deliver a consistent and seamless experience across those various channels. Here are six essential practices that will help marketers achieve this goal:

1. Focus on delivering a unified experience. It sounds simple enough in theory, but maintaining consistency across various shopping channels is an ongoing challenge for today’s omnichannel marketers. To overcome this challenge, take a holistic viewpoint on all marketing, advertising, sales, and even product return activities. The overarching goal should be for the customer to feel like she’s shopping at the same store and being treated the same way – whether it’s online or offline. In some cases, this may mean taking the focus off individual channel performance (i.e., different revenue goals and/or reporting mechanisms) and structuring the organization in a cohesive and holistic manner.

2. Adopt integrated strategies across all channels. For best results, omnichannel marketers need to adopt integrated strategies across their various advertising channels (TV, online, print, etc.) and then use multivariate testing (i.e., a technique for testing a hypothesis in which multiple variables are modified) to determine landing page conversions, display ad effectiveness, and other important measurements. Look at how the consumer engages with your brand across all platforms, and then use that information to draw insights into response frequency, buying preferences, and transactions.

3. Put your customers at the center of your omnichannel strategy. As you break down any organizational silos mentioned in principle #1 above, think about putting your customer at the center of your omnichannel approach. Understand that social media and mobile shopping aren’t going away, and that consumers expect, if not demand, to be able to use these tools to research product options, explore opportunities, and make their ultimate buying decisions (i.e., reading product reviews on their smartphones while they’re standing in the retail store aisle, for example). Bottom line: Put as much information as possible at your customers’ fingertips.

4. Make each piece of the consumer’s experience consistent and complementary. In The Definition of Omni-Channel Marketing – Plus 7 Tips ,marketing automation provider Marketo says that today’s omnichannel marketers need to provide a seamless experience, regardless of channel or device. “Consumers can now engage with a company in a physical store, on an online website or mobile app, through a catalog, or through social media,” according to Marketo. “They can access products and services by calling a company on the phone, by using an app on their mobile smartphone, or with a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer. Each piece of the consumer’s experience should be consistent and complementary.”

5. Brace yourself for a lot of testing and learning. One of the biggest mistakes companies make in the omnichannel space is believing they’re going to find the magic formula on the first or second attempt. This clearly isn’t the case. In fact, identifying the right formula and putting it in place takes time, patience, and perseverance. And while digital media allows you to obtain results very quickly, it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for a consumer response, nor does it answer the question: How are consumers going to find our products or services?

6. Use data analytics to make the best possible omnichannel decisions. Having all of the numbers and statistics at your fingertips is one thing, but actually using the data effectively is a completely different exercise . Use the data to predict where the consumer is going to be, how he or she will be buying, and how you can reach him or her in that setting – and at the right time. Use the data to stay ahead of the curve and to not only execute on a one-time basis, but also to duplicate the data in a way that allows you to repeat the successes and avoid the mistakes.

By factoring these six essential practices into your company’s omnichannel marketing strategy, you’ll be well braced to take advantage of the benefits of omnichannel without having to allocate excessive time and energy to the task. Be patient with the progress and results, always test new techniques and selling strategies before officially launching them, and – perhaps most importantly – always keep your customers at the center of your approach. Only then will you be able to fully benefit from the very real power of omnichannel marketing.

This contributed article was written by Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne Direct.

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6 Best Practices for Omnichannel Marketers