Why Marketers Shouldn’t Shy Away From Long-Form Content

There are numerous studies confirming that long-form content works. It performs better in search and attracts organic traffic. But while everyone agrees that long-form content is the most efficient way to gain attention, not everyone can write as well as a professional journalist and keep the readers engaged.

There is increasing pressure to write long-form content, but the attention spans of users are getting shorter each day. People are used to consuming short bits of information and when presented with a longer piece, they simply scan the article or jump directly to the summary. So how does one build a good long-form post that provides tons of value and is read from start to finish?

In this blog, I’ll explore the tricks that can make your content more readable and cover key reasons to write long-form content despite the obstacles.

Why Long Form Content Works

Long form content works for many reasons. From a technical perspective, Google considers long-form content more authoritative, but that doesn’t mean that you should throw in thousands of meaningless words into the article and expect rankings to improve. Even though such a black hat tactic might work, it will inevitably lead to high bounce rates and the page will go down in search, eventually.

Instead, try to come up with a topic that provides value to your targeted audience and cannot be covered in a shorter format. There is a general misunderstanding that the readers won’t have enough patience to read the long form content, but if the topic requires detailed coverage in order to be understood you won’t have to fight for the readers’ attention.

There are three key reasons that long-form content gets results:

1. It Provides Detailed Information.

Customers are inundated with short content. It’s common for the users to scan several short-form content pieces before an objective opinion can be formed. Long form content is different. It provides a comprehensive overview of the topic including contrasting opinions, step-by-step action plans, and detailed instructions.

2. It Keeps the Readers Engaged

Surprisingly, long-form content presents a challenge to the users. The benefit of short-form content is that it’s incredibly easy to digest and doesn’t require much effort. With long-form content, readers know that they need to invest time and effort.

It might sound contradictory, but when you see a long article online, the association with authoritative media, such as New York Times or New Yorker, comes up. You then assign more value to the article, which in turn makes you more attentive to the information at hand. This offsets, to an extent, the fear of having to invest more time in the article.

3. It Increases Shareability

The power of social is undeniable. There is a whole slew of psychological forces that come into play when we share content. From boosting our egos to trying to be helpful and expressing virtual empathy, it is undeniable that sharing makes us happier.

Sharing long-form content makes us look better because it shows that we follow authoritative resources. Long form content also provides tons of value that we feel compelled to share with others. Additionally, considering the amount of effort that goes into writing and producing the long form piece, it’s normal to want to support the author, who created such an outstanding piece.

How to Keep the Readers’ Attention

Human focus is limited. While you might have the most interesting topic and groundbreaking research data, you can’t expect the readers to consume it all. It’s important to construct your long-form content in a way that makes it easy to read and comprehend.

Here are some tips to help you create a great long-form content piece:

1. Break Down Longer Content Into Shorter Pieces

Just like large projects have to be broken down into tasks, long-form content must have distinctive paragraphs and headlines to help the readers navigate the article. Having no proper structure makes the content look visually intimidating. But when the readers see distinctive paragraphs and commit to reading one of them, they feel compelled to read further.

2. Close Every Section With a Kicker

A kicker is a compelling closing idea or a quote. Essentially, a kicker is similar to a cliffhanger in a TV series—it promotes anticipation and keeps you thinking about possible future scenarios.  Most articles end with a kicker, but in a long-form piece, you’ll have to use several kickers to keep the readers engaged. Try to incorporate kickers at the end of each section. A kicker could be a surprising revelation, a challenging question or a hint of what is coming in the next section.

3. Start Every Section With a Lede

Lede is another technique used in journalism to improve readability. Opposite to kicker, a lede is placed at the beginning of an article or an article section. A good lede contains the essence of the story and communicates the important information all the while capturing the imagination. You don’t want to give out all the information in the lede, but you can tease the readers or give a catchy summary.

4. Use Lists

Bulleted or numbered lists are the structural elements that support readability. Readers like bulleted lists because they allow for quick scanning. Bullets and numbers in text are also perceived differently than words and letters so they can be used as stylistic elements to draw attention to certain parts of the article.

5. Insert Screenshots and Visual Cues

Visual elements give the readers a long-awaited break from reading. Pictures are sometimes more compelling than text and convey the information in a straightforward and creative way. You can create custom designed visuals with the help of online graphic design tools and incorporate them into your long-form piece for increased engagement and better readability. Screenshots also help get the point across or provide step-by-step instructions if you’re trying to give actionable advice.

6. Adjust Your Fonts

When it comes to fonts, it’s best to take the web designers’ approach. Sans serifs such as Arial, Helvetica, Trebuchet, Lucida Sans, and Verdana help readability online, while creative fonts can be used for headlines to make them stand out.

The size of the font matters too. Most web designers recommend 16px as a standard size for web content. 16 px on screen looks exactly the same as the text in the book, which is why most people find this font size the most convenient and legible.

7. One Idea Per Sentence

“One idea per sentence” is a writing technique expressed by Theodore Bernstein in his book Watch Your Language. The author claims that content with multiple ideas per sentence is hard to comprehend and even harder to remember. On the contrary, a story with only one idea per sentence allows the writer to express the idea in a clear and concise manner, which in turns makes the article more memorable.

If you’re using multiple conjunctions, dashes and connecting words in a particular sentence, this might be a sign that you have too many ideas in that sentence. Try to break the sentences into shorter pieces. Also, question the purpose of each sentence and paragraph as you write.

SEO also takes into consideration the Flesch-Kincaid Readability test which analyzes how difficult it is to read copy within an article. The longer your sentences are, the more difficult it is to discern the point.

8. Indicate Estimated Reading Time

Reading time indicators simplify the selection process of readers, and are being increasingly employed in online content platforms. In 2011, psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke concluded that the faster we make decisions the happier we feel. The reading time indicator tells us the time we need to read the article, simplifying our decision process and contributing to our happiness. Additionally, knowing the length of the article assists the reader with time management. No one likes to commit to something that doesn’t have a defined time frame. When you provide the readers with estimated reading time you eliminate a possible source of anxiety.

Moving Forward

Creating long-form content requires a substantial investment of time and resources, but it also helps establish your expert image online and drive thousands of visitors to your site. So get on the bandwagon, brainstorm topic ideas, write your long-form piece and develop a promotion strategy to distribute your article online.

How have you used long-form content in the past in your marketing plan? How might you use it in the future, based on the strategies I’ve outlined here? Let’s keep our discussion going in the comments.

The post Why Marketers Shouldn’t Shy Away From Long-Form Content appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Marketo Marketing Blog

Get Custom Advice For Boosting Your Conversions With Unbounce’s New Landing Page Analyzer

Introducing: The Landing Page Grader, by Unbounce

As a savvy marketer, it’s our sincere hope you never start a campaign without a dedicated landing page for sending your paid traffic to. But — as you know — the job isn’t over once a landing page is created.

Your real opportunity is in understanding how your page performs.

Beyond tracking standard performance measures like conversions and landing page quality (LPQ), you’ve likely wondered about other factors like:

  • Is my landing page copy clear? Are there too many words? Too few?
  • Is my page faring well on mobile? Does it load fast enough?
  • Is this page just designed nicely, or is it also optimized for SEO?
  • Is this a good conversion rate for this type of page in my industry?

Ultimately you want to know whether you’ve got an especially high converting page, or if there’s anything specific you can improve. But it can be difficult to know what ‘good’ looks like, and you may not always have a second set of eyes to help you critique.

New: Try Unbounce’s Landing Page Analyzer

For years we’ve seen the need for a landing page audit tool or landing page grader of some sort, and so—after many months of development—we’re very pleased to unveil the Unbounce Landing Page Analyzer.

With this grader-style tool, you input your landing page URL (along with a few key details) and The Analyzer instantly delivers a comprehensive, personalized report with custom recommendations you can try today to increase your conversion rates.

Unlike other landing page reviews, The Analyzer is truly a deep dive into your performance.

Not only do you get a summary of how your page compares to others in your industry, but you also see important page performance insights including your landing page’s speed, load time, and page requests that may be slowing things down.

If The Analyzer discovers your images are too large (contributing to slow load time), your custom report will include compressed versions of all your images to replace quickly and get your page loading even faster.

Not your average landing page grader: The Analyzer compresses images for you

Pictured: you’ll get custom, compressed images as part of your page analysis.

In The Analyzer’s comprehensive report, you’ll see specifics across nine categories, and discover whether your landing page:

  • Conveys trust and security
  • Appears properly on social networks and mobile
  • Is designed in a way that’s especially high converting
  • Contains too many calls to action
  • Has an appropriate Flesch reading ease and sentiment for your industry,
  • and much, much more.

Looking for a landing page checker?

Evaluate your landing page to reveal real, data-backed insights in minutes.

Wait, aren’t there other landing page graders out there?

Touche! There are other landing page analyzers/graders/calculators available, but we can confidently say Unbounce’s is the most sophisticated and comprehensive you’ll find. Ours is the only landing page analyzer on the market leveraging AI technology, and the endless amount of campaign research done by our customers and our in-house marketing team.

For the past eight years, we’ve been obsessed with the question “what’s a good conversion rate?”, and Unbounce’s internal research team has employed proprietary AI technology to analyze the behavior of over 75 million visitors to 65,000 landing pages with a goal of understanding what makes a customer convert.

We have more data than any other conversion platform to provide insights on what a high-performing landing page looks like, and The Analyzer leverages this insight.

Need a landing page checker? Check out the Landing Page Analyzer

The Analyzer’s data is sourced from Google Page Speed Insights, and our very own proprietary data broken down by industry.

Actionable feedback you can implement today

The best thing about this landing page review? You’ll discover instant improvements that might take you only minutes to fix.

The Wizard of Moz himself, Rand Fishkin ran the following product’s landing page from Moz.com through The Analyzer and had some great things to discover.

Rand wanted to run this page through for a landing page review

How’d this Moz page fare? Here are Rand’s initial thoughts:

“I’m glad to see we passed so many of the technical checks! I was a little nervous. [I] Realized that the page is missing testimonials or social proof. That’s a head-smacking moment.”

Rand may be a bit self-depreciating here, however. Moz’s page scored really well with a 75% overall:
The landing page grade for moz's page

Rand’s overall landing page grade.

Rand’s verdict on trying out The analyzer?

Rand Fishkin

“I’ve never seen a page analysis tool that’s focused on optimization. In my opinion, this can be hugely helpful for folks to quickly check that they’ve nailed the basics of landing page optimization and accessibility. I have no doubt tens of thousands of websites can get better just by applying this tool’s advice.”

What did we learn?

Interested in what The Analyzer could teach us about our in-house landing pages at Unbounce, we ran our recent event landing page for PPC Week through to see what we’d take away:

PPC week landing page

Pictured: The landing page for PPC week we input into the Landing Page Analyzer.

We learned the page converts very well for our industry (7.7%), and while the page loads pretty quickly (0.7 seconds), at 3.32MB it’s overweight and could be loading even quicker if we reduce it to less than 3MB:
our landing page evaluation for PPC week

Our PPC Week page’s overall grade. Note our message match and page speed could use some work.

What The Analyzer told us regarding page speed

Our PPC Week landing page is running a little slowly.

Fortunately, The Analyzer also provided us with some compressed images that will help us load up to 9% faster:

Some PPC week images we can replace

We also saw that our page title, meta description and H1 tags were helping our SEO visibility (which was important for this particular page).

All of these quick-to-change factors can improve this PPC Week page for us, but we’re most excited to see what you’ll discover about your own landing pages. Bonus, you don’t need an Unbounce-built page to try The Analyzer, either. Give it a try today and let us know what you think!


Introducing Test Kit

We’re excited to announce the release of Test Kit, our latest feature that makes email marketing even easier. Test Kit allows VerticalResponse users to preview emails before they’re sent, ensuring that messages display and perform properly across email clients, devices and browsers. Never guess about an email campaign again — Test Kit lets you hit Send with confidence. 

What is Test Kit?

An email that looks great in one inbox may be a distorted mess with broken links and images in another. This is because emails can render differently across programs and devices. While many marketers will wisely send a test email to their own accounts before sending campaigns to their entire list, more thorough testing is crucial to confirm that emails look their best in every inbox.

To give users a comprehensive view of the way emails are rendering and to help catch any mistakes before messages are sent, VerticalResponse’s Test Kit features three different types of tests: Inbox Preview, Subject Line Preview and Link Checker.

Inbox Preview

Your subscribers open their emails using different programs, browsers and devices. Inbox Preview allows you to see your email just as your subscribers would with real screenshots. Just one click will run the test across 58 of the most popular email clients, devices and browsers, including iPhone, Gmail, Yahoo, Chrome and Safari.

Subject Line Preview

Subject line character limits differ by browser and device. To ensure that the enticing copy you’ve composed for your subject line is read in full, you need to make sure that it doesn’t exceed the maximum display length.

Subject Line preview shows you a list of mail clients and the maximum number of characters that will be displayed for each. This preview grays out any letters that won’t be visible, so you can adjust your subject lines if necessary.

Link Checker

An incorrect, broken or forgotten link in an email isn’t just embarrassing — it’s a missed conversion opportunity. Link Checker automatically checks all links in your email so you never send an email with a broken link again. The Link column will list all the links in the email. Just click on a link and the page will appear within the VerticalResponse app.

Why use Test Kit?

Improve campaign performance. After reviewing your email, use what you’ve learned to improve the message’s appearance and readability, so you can drive readers to take the action you want.

Increase credibility. Sending a slick-looking email with a powerful subject line and working links tells readers that you’re a serious, professional organization.

Update efficiently. Test Kit is part of the email editor, so you can see test results in a matter of seconds. Inspect your emails before you hit the send button, and then quickly and easily update your email designs based on the test results.

How Test Kit works

Test Kit operates on credits. To use the feature, you pay one credit per test. Pro plan users automatically receive credits. Free or Basic plan users can purchase credits as desired.

Access Test Kit within the email editor by clicking on the “Preview” button on top of the message. “Test Kit” is one of the drop-down options.

You shouldn’t have to guess how your emails will appear to your subscribers or cross your fingers and hope for the best before you hit send. Test Kit makes it possible for you to build better emails and create campaigns that look exactly the way you want them to. 

Spend less time reaching more customers

Try VerticalResponse today

(It’s free!)


© 2017, Amber Humphrey. All rights reserved.

The post Introducing Test Kit appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

Gift ideas for kids: STEM toys that are fun and teach coding


Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

Millennials’ kids are growing up having never known a world before the internet, smartphones, and on-demand television. They’re even more comfortable with devices than we are, and we really love our devices.

SEE ALSO: Stay in touch with your kids without adding screen time

While setting limits on devices are important, you still want you kids to be prepared for the brave new world that they’re growing up in. These toys are all designed to teach kids how to build technology from a young age. Your kids will have fun playing with their devices and you can rest easy knowing that it’s actually educational.  Read more…

More about Stem, Gift Ideas, Gift Guide, Gifting, and Mashable Shopping

Sales Velocity: The Critical Sales Metric Your Team Probably Isn’t Measuring

The more quickly you can convert leads into paying customers, the more successful your business. Time is money, after all. Yet, the sales metric that reveals the most about both time and money—sales velocity—is commonly overlooked.

What is Sales Velocity?

Sales velocity is a measurement of how fast you’re making money. It looks at how quickly leads are moving through your pipeline and how much value new customers provide over a given period.

Why is it so Important to Track Sales Velocity?

Sales velocity plays a huge role in your business’ ability to thrive and grow. The less time it takes for prospects to move through your pipeline, the faster you can close more deals. So, a higher sales velocity means you’re bringing in more revenue in less time. Tracking sales velocity over time allows you to benchmark your own sales velocity against other teams, compare the effectiveness of individual reps or regions, and see how changes to the sales processes impact your business, for better or worse. Understanding sales velocity can also help you forecast more accurately and determine how your sales process can be optimized for faster sales and higher conversion rates at each stage.

This blog will show you how to measure sales velocity and identify any bottlenecks that might be slowing down your sales process so you can start bringing in more revenue, faster.

The 4 Key Variables That Impact Sales Velocity

Sales Velocity 1

There are four factors that affect sales velocity: the number of opportunities in your pipeline, average deal size, conversion rate, and how long it takes to complete a sale. Together, these metrics can be used to calculate sales velocity so you can track how it changes over time and, hopefully, figure out how to optimize your operations to make money faster.

1. Number of Opportunities

How many leads can your team work through in a given period? If you want to compare sales velocity internally, you can also break down opportunities by sales rep, region, or product.

2. Average Deal Size

For many businesses, this is simply the dollar value of an average sale. For SaaS companies or subscription-based products, average customer lifetime value is more relevant.

3. Win Rate or Conversion Rate

How many leads turn into paying customers over a given period? If you start with 100 leads and 40 of them become paying customers, you’ve got a win rate of 40%. Pretty straightforward.

4. Pipeline Length or Sales Cycle Length

How many days does it take for prospects to move through your pipeline? The answer depends on how many steps are in your sales cycle, how complex your product is, and the cost of your offering.

The Sales Velocity Formula

Figuring out your sales velocity requires taking a good hard look at your pipeline, sales cycle, lead nurturing processes, and average deal size.

The sales velocity formula requires the following pieces of data:

  • Number of opportunities in your pipeline
  • Dollar value of your average deal size
  • Customer conversion rate as a percentage of wins vs. losses
  • Average sales cycle in number of days

Calculate your sales velocity by multiplying the number of opportunities in your pipeline by dollar value of your average deal size and your win rate. Divide the result by the number of days in your typical sales cycle.

Sales Velocity 2


Let’s say your business has 50 opportunities, an average win rate of 25%, an average deal size of $ 10,000, and a sales cycle that typically lasts 60 days. Here’s how you could use the formula to determine sales velocity:

Sales velocity = (50 * .25 * $ 10,000) / 60

= $ 125,000 / 60

= $ 2083.33

This tells us that your sales velocity is $ 2083.33, which means you’re bringing in roughly that much revenue each day. Knowing this, you can either strive to increase the numerator (in this case, $ 125,000) or decrease the denominator (60 days)—or both, if possible.

That said, a one-off calculation doesn’t actually reveal much about the health of your business. To get the full picture, you need to put these numbers into context. The true value comes from consistently tracking sales velocity at regular intervals and using it to compare the effects of changes in your sales process.

How to Unblock Bottlenecks and Boost Your Sales Velocity

If you want to increase your sales velocity (and, really, what business doesn’t?), there are several approaches you can take. You can either increase your opportunities, conversion rate, or average deal size—or decrease the time it takes prospects to move through your pipeline. Ideally, you should continue with your current lead generation strategies while optimizing the other three factors.

  • Improve Your Conversion Rate: Increasing conversions requires finding, targeting, and nurturing sales-ready leads. In addition to refining your marketing and honing your lead qualification process, take some time to analyze your pipeline for leaks that need patching. For instance, are conversions dropping off or stalling at a certain step?
  • Optimize Your Average Deal Size: There are obvious benefits to landing high-value deals. However, bigger sales tend to take longer to close, so the real key to improving your sales velocity balancing high-value and low-value opportunities that allow your reps to manage their time effectively. Try to increase deal value using a combination of strategic discounts, tiered offerings, and cross-selling.
  • Shorten Your Sales Cycle: If deals are taking too long to close, try breaking down your sales process by step and keep an eye out for bottlenecks. Is there a particular stage slowing things down or taking too long? Is there software available to automate part of the process? Fixing up that problematic stage could shorten your entire sales cycle.

Use Sales Velocity to Accelerate Your Growth

If you ignore sales velocity and blindly focus on keeping your pipeline full, you’ll have tons of leads but not enough resources to move them through the pipeline, negotiate high-value deals, or convert prospects into customers. However, once you start measuring sales velocity, you’ll have the data and insights necessary to optimize your sales process from start to finish.

Have you been measuring sales velocity in your company? How has it helped you in winning sales? If you haven’t been measuring sales velocity, how might this change your plans for 2018? Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments.

The post Sales Velocity: The Critical Sales Metric Your Team Probably Isn’t Measuring appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Marketo Marketing Blog

#SocialSkim: Twitter Doubles Character Limit, Facebook Rolls Out Messenger 2.2: 11 Stories This Week

Twitter doubles tweet character limit (and the surprising result); new features for brands in Messenger 2.2; Facebook’s polls for users and pages; Snap looks to algorithmic feed to solve its problems; Twitter’s ad subscription service for small businesses… Read the full article at MarketingProfs
MarketingProfs Daily: Content

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How Just One Ecommerce Popup Offer Helped Canvas Factory Generate 1.1 Million in Revenue

Canvas Factory's Popup Success

When you hear ‘website popup’ in a marketing context, my bet is—as a discerning marketer—you all but cringe. Surely these boxes that jump up in the middle of a screen are for low-level marketers. They’re scammy, make you lose your train of thought, nobody likes them,…you’d never use ‘em.

But can you really hate popups if they’re found to drive results?

As heated as the debate can get, Richard Lazazzera, an ecommerce entrepreneur and Content Strategist at Shopify has a fair point in this reply to a comment on his blog post:

Image via the Shopify blog.

And drive sales they can.

By experimenting with popup overlays, Sydney-based Canvas Factory (an ecommerce shop providing high-quality canvas prints) has found a ton of success engaging prospects at exactly the right time.

Using just one popup that appears across several of their domains, Canvas Factory discovered the targeting that worked best for them, and—most importantly—brought in 1.1 million USD in revenue(!) via their offer.

In today’s post, we’ll share Canvas Factory’s story, along with some lessons learned, so that—if you’re tempted—you too can convert more site visitors.

Canvas Factory’s approach to ecommerce popups

Similar to many ecommerce brands, Canvas Factory wanted to convert more of the visitors leaving their site empty handed. They’d realized some prospects only needed a moderate incentive to get over any purchase anxiety, so they had started offering a small discount via a coupon.

Eventually they wondered if the coupon would perform even better if delivered via a popup at the right moment.

Experimenting, they created this popup overlay in Unbounce for their site:

One of Canvas Factory’s domains outfitted with their popup.

They duplicated this one design eight times for running across different domains on certain URLs. The copy was the same for each, offering $ 10 off someone’s first order in exchange for an email, and only appeared as someone was actively trying to leave the site, once per visitor.

The main difference was location. The brand ran four of these overlays across their product pages on their Australian and New Zealand domains, while another four appeared on the Canvas Factory blog across the same domains.

How’d the experiment go?

The Unbounce popup overlay has now been running from November 2016 to present and in comparing the period before using the popups to promote this same coupon code to now:

  • Canvas Factory has seen a 6% to 9% increase in use of the coupon, and
  • Subscription to their mailing list has grown by over 14.3%.

Now the brand’s marketers can do a better job actively nurturing prospects claiming the coupon, and re-marketing to successful first-time customers.

But in terms of the bottom line? Managing Director Tim Daley says it best:
Tim from Canvas Factory

“Unbounce played a key part in Canvas Factory’s conversion rate optimization activity for our subscriber campaign. This has contributed to over $ 1.1 million dollars in purchases.”

$ 1.1 million the brand may not have otherwise seen had they not tried the overlay? If that’s not making you reconsider whether or not your personal distaste for popups should stop you from trying one out, I’m not sure what will.

That said…

How’d the brand track success?

Tim tells us the coupon use was measured by integrating Unbounce popup overlays with their mail platform and their payment gateway CS-Cart:

“This [integration] allows us, per country level, to collect new subscribers, partition [them] to relevant country and then track their individual and group purchase application of the coupon acquired through the popup.”

Ultimately the integration lets Canvas Factory see:

  • How many customers are using coupons + how many discounts are being used total
  • Total revenue before and after coupons are applied
  • Average order value before and after coupons are applied
  • What kind of customers the brand’s attracting with coupons

All very useful factors in understanding how long a campaign like this is feasible for, and experimenting with different discounts.

Want to push your lead data collected via landing pages, sticky bars, and popup overlays through to your mail platforms and other tools? See our Integrations Powered by Zapier and all the connections available right in Unbounce.

It’s all about location: A lesson on why popups in the wrong place are a big mistake

Your gut feeling that popups can be scammy? It’s not far off. If used incorrectly at the wrong time or on the wrong URL of your site, they certainly can be. We’ve all seen these types of popups and they’re maddening.

In Canvas Factory’s case, it wasn’t as simple as create the popup, set it and forget it. In running their Unbounce popup overlay in several locations, they’ve learned placement and timing is critical.

In Tim’s case, he discovered that the blog wasn’t the proper placement for this particular offer, it was simply too soon in the buyer journey to be offering someone a discount. With posts on the brand’s blog aimed to help you take better photos of your kids and other photography tips, this level of awareness doesn’t really align with wanting to purchase right away.

Overall, Canvas Factory’s blog popup conversion rate was 0.18% versus the up to 11% conversion rate they’d seen on product pages where the purchase intent was likely higher.

As outlined above, aim to align your offers with buyer intent.

The lesson:

If you choose the right place for your offer (pricing pages and high commitment URLs in Canvas Factory’s case), you’ll see results because you offered a timely and relevant incentive. In the wrong place, however, you simply won’t see the results you want, and worse, you’ll irritate and annoy your visitors.

Get actionable tips on where to place your popups, and which types of messages perform best in our Best Practice Guide.

So you shouldn’t use popups on your blog?

No—Canvas Factory’s unique experience isn’t to say that popups on your blog won’t work, because they definitely can. You just have to choose the right kind of offer and perfect targeting. Because your blog readers may not be product aware yet, you need to align your offer with the level of awareness readers do have about your company (i.e. they might be open to a free in-depth ebook about the exact topic they’re already reading about).

You might also try directing your blog traffic to an even higher-converting area of your site.

Here’s a super relevant clickthrough popup Seer’s Wil Reynolds uses to offer up more relevant content on his site:

By proactively serving up what prospects might want next, Seer becomes more trustworthy and keeps people engaged on their site longer (which is a great sign in Google’s eyes). You can make traffic shaping like this the goal of some of your popups in locations where a higher-commitment ask doesn’t make sense.

Try an Experiment Yourself

Overall, popups can definitely be annoying when used aggressively or poorly (there’s no arguing that) but, as we’ve seen with Canvas Factory, proper targeting and relevant offers can make all the difference to both marketers and site visitors who can be receptive to proper incentives at the right time.

If you’ve got a great campaign or offer running, a well-timed and targeted popup could ensure all the right people see it and that you don’t leave opportunities on the table.

Try an Ecommerce popup from Unbounce today


Carrying camera gear is a struggle, and this Kickstarter campaign wants to help


Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.

Peak Design, the team behind six successful Kickstarter campaigns, are currently hard at work at their latest project by revamping their camera-carrying clip into its latest version.

Much like its previous iteration, the Capture camera clip is a sturdy hook that you can use to hang any professional camera. Whether you want to hang it on your bag, off your belt, or even just your backpack strap, this clip claims to be tough enough to hold your camera like nobody’s business. It’s smaller and more durable than its predecessor, but still boasts the same strength so that carrying your camera everywhere is easy and safe.  Read more…

More about Kickstarter, Kickstarter Campaign, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Solo, and Shopping Kickbooster

Create holiday landing pages that’ll sleigh ’em

Your logo is sporting a holiday twist. Shoppers are searching from their smartphones for gift ideas and store hours now that you’ve made your website mobile-responsive. And you’ve even added a variety of fall and winter creative assets to your email marketing campaigns. You must be ready, right?

Give yourself a pat on the back, and then be sure you’re getting an extra-big piece of the nearly $ 7 billion holiday pie by incorporating landing pages into your holiday marketing strategy. Never used a landing page before? Here’s what you should know:

What is a landing page?

You can “land” on pretty much any webpage, but that doesn’t mean every page is a landing page. A landing page is a standalone webpage that has one main objective. Typically, the page is designed to provide just enough information to entice a visitor to click through to another page, where hopefully a purchase gets made. In other cases, the landing page serves to capture visitors’ information, such as names and email addresses, which can later be used for marketing purposes.

Why have a landing page?

Landing pages help your visitors focus on one particular action or offer instead of being distracted by other information on your website. They’re an efficient way to convert a prospect into a lead or customer. Whether landing page visitors are signing up for a free download, responding to an invitation, clicking to the next page to make a purchase or subscribing to your newsletter or blog, they’re taking the one action you want them to take.

During the holidays, ensure your landing pages cater to the expectations of holiday shoppers. That doesn’t simply mean adding snowflakes and winter themes, although seasonalizing your landing pages and the rest of your website is important. We mean creating landing pages that directly contribute to a successful holiday season for your business.

What should be on your landing page?

Once you determine the goal of your landing page, follow these guidelines:

Create a sense of urgency

Landing pages should stress the importance of time. If the rest of your advertising reminds shoppers about year-end deals and flash sales, the links in that advertising should lead to landing pages reinforcing that urgency. Fortunately, one-day holiday traditions such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday come with their own urgency built in, and are excellent events to hook promotions on.

Use powerful headlines and crisp images

The promotion, special or event you’ve built the landing page around should be the first thing your visitors see when they arrive. Let the promotion speak for itself. Focus on one or two specials per landing page instead of cramming all your holiday deals into the same one. Avoid superlatives such as “epic,” “unique” and “best” because people simply tune them out. What they won’t ignore is straightforward language about discounts, low prices and deals they can’t get anywhere else. Compelling, quick-loading photos help say what words can’t.

Similar guidelines apply for pages aimed at collecting visitor information or non-purchase calls to action. Clearly explain the benefit of signing up for your list; what will people receive in exchange for giving up information about themselves? Exclusive discounts and early notice of upcoming promotions? Premium content such as a white paper or ebook to download? Membership in a rewards program? Make the benefits of signing up obvious, so visitors feel it’s a no-brainer to submit their information.

Have a clear call to action

Make it easy for visitors to convert to customers. Tell them exactly what you want them to do. Eliminate distractions, and limit the number of options or decisions the visitor has to make. For example, if you want visitors to sign up for a free trial, add a prominent button that says “Sign up for a free trial now.” Position your call to action near the top of the page so visitors can take advantage of it immediately.

Stay relevant

Visitors want to see messaging relevant to what they’re looking for. Make sure the landing page delivers the offer or information promised by the link that took them there. If a visitor comes to your landing page and sees something unexpected, they’ll bounce off your website.

Present other useful information, but don’t let it distract

Offer the information customers need on your landing pages. That includes additional details about the promotion in question, a reminder of your holiday hours of operations or links to relevant sections of your website. This information should be below the promotion and call to action, and it shouldn’t distract from them.

Optimize your landing pages for mobile

Smartphone and tablet shopping increases every year, so it’s important for your landing pages to be mobile-responsive. Each landing page should have a short, attention-grabbing headline, an eye-catching image, and a bold, clear call to action. Make sure the landing page doesn’t have too much copy, or it will be hard to read on a mobile device. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to make a quick purchase on your phone, only to be stuck scrolling down the page for too long.

Continue to test and evaluate

After you’ve created your landing page, it’s time to put it to the test. Are you seeing the results you want? If not, switch things up and try another strategy. Of course, not every tip will work for every business. For the best results, tailor your landing page to your customers’ needs.

Using landing pages on VerticalResponse

For users of VerticalResponse, creating landing pages is fast and easy. Simply log into the app, and select “Landing Pages” under Contacts. Choose whether to start a new Landing Page from scratch, or use one of the attractive, customizable templates.

Build your VerticalResponse Landing Page with the same easy-to-use editor you’re already familiar with from creating emails. You can change colors and typefaces, add and remove elements, and incorporate different functionality. Once the Landing Page looks and performs the way you want, create a URL for it. You can even use your company domain name in the URL, so the Landing Page appears as part of your existing website. Publish it, and your Landing Page is now live!

Send traffic to your new Landing Page with email campaigns and social posts that tease your event or promotion. Or use the Landing Page to collect contact or demographic information about your visitors, so you’re better able to segment them into email lists. Visitor information you collect on your VerticalResponse Landing Page will flow automatically into your contact lists.

Above all, let your holiday landing pages be welcoming places for your web visitors to convert to customers.

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© 2017, John Habib. All rights reserved.

The post Create holiday landing pages that’ll sleigh ’em appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

Don’t Settle. Build the Marketing Campaigns of Your Dreams Without a Line of Code

Conquer technical limitations with Zapier and Unbounce

Hi, I’m Corey. Are you an idealistic marketer, like me?

That is—do you plan your marketing campaigns by pretending technical limitations aren’t a thing and just map out the ideal experience you want for your prospects from first impression to final conversion? Like this:

A photo of my actual campaign flow on the whiteboard.

If your whiteboard looks this optimistic, read on. We’ll nerd out together.

After us idealistic marketers are done dreaming about our perfect campaign structure from start to finish, the harsh reality sets in: technical limitations are definitely a thing. When the time comes to figure out how to actually do something a little crazy, like augment lead data or enrich it with extra data pulled from ‘the internet’, things get much trickier. But if you’re dedicated to the campaign you mapped out, you really want to make it happen.

Often, you’ll ask a developer for help and hear, “Sure it’s possible. I’ll just need two weeks to code it up. Log a request and we’ll prioritize it against all the other requests for my genius.”

We both know you’re not logging that request, because it’s not getting prioritized.

Eventually, you run a campaign that looks exactly like what you’ve done before, or what everyone else is doing, because it’s relatively easy for us—lowly marketers—to pull off by ourselves.

It’s infuriating.

Can’t we Execute More Sophisticated Marketing?

Is it too much to ask that we can create whatever the hell we dream up, so we can push the industry forward? To deliver the experience we think could make a difference to our prospects—one they might even enjoy?

Not if we need to rely on devs to help build our lead management or the integrations component of our campaigns for us, unfortunately.

However, I’ve found that more and more often I don’t need to have these futile conversations with developers. Modern martech has brought us tools to help, and the tool that comes up most often for me is Zapier.

Your Marketing on Zapier

Have you ever punched above your weight at work and solved a problem that that you’re totally unqualified to solve? It. feels. so. satisfying. You feel way smarter than you actually are.

I got that feeling when I used Zapier with Unbounce for the first time. I still get that feeling today. If you dream big enough, and can connect the right tools together, you can pull off campaign workflows that feel almost impossible.

Exactly how I felt having used Zapier for the first time.

Most recently, I tried to execute the campaign in the whiteboard photo above (the one above the Dragonball Z meme). The campaign—called Conversion Quest—challenges PPC marketers working in agencies to double the conversion rate of one of their client’s landing pages in 30 days.

When planning this campaign, I wanted to have a prospect fill out the form on a landing page with the current date (when they were “starting their quest”), and their current conversion rate. From there, they’d receive an email confirming their personalized quest goal and deadline by which they’d ideally complete the challenge (The email was to automatically pull in someone’s target conversion rate and their custom due date a month out).

Of course, when I’d planned this flow, there was no technical way to magically include a doubled conversion rate and custom due date directly in each prospect’s followup message. That is until my colleague reminded me of Zapier Formatter, which allows you to manipulate your lead data before it goes into your marketing automation platform (or CRM, or Email Marketing Service, or wherever other tool you can think of). Just 30 minutes later (and without approaching our dev team), I had augmented data going into our marketing automation platform.

Now Conversion Quest runs with custom info in the followup, all thanks to a quick Zap (a preconfigured integration template connecting two or more apps).

Here’s an example of the message I send in that campaign:

Here’s a sample of the email I manipulated data with via Zapier to personalize.

Now, are you going to need to use Zapier so you can build Conversion Quest?

No (that’s my great idea)… But my bet is you’ve got amazing campaign ideas for which Zaps could help you create a consistent (better!) experience for your leads, and help you stop relying on developers. As a bonus, Unbounce now has Integrations Powered by Zapier available right in the builder, so you can do this super quickly, without ever leaving Unbounce.

Here’s just a sampling of the Zaps available right in Unbounce. There are 60+ right in app, and with a Premium Zapier account you can access over 900!

Let’s dig into the versatility for a second.

Leveling up your marketing (without a line of code)

You could use Unbounce’s Integrations Powered by Zapier if…

1. You need to connect a client’s hodgepodge of tools

In this case, you’re a marketing agency that needs to build high-converting lead gen landing pages, overlays or sticky bars that connect to anything and everything your clients use, which could include:

  • Hatchbuck
  • Base
  • Follow Up Boss
  • Agile CRM
  • Pipedrive
  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot CRM
  • Capsule CRM
  • PipelineDeals

A few quick Zaps can connect your lead data to all of the above.

2. You want to use an existing CRM or marketing automation platform, with custom landing pages/Unbounce

If you’re using a tool that requires you to use rigid forms or landing pages, but you’d rather have custom landing pages that look great, convert like crazy and give you more control over the experience, you’d simply Zap together your landing page builder with tools/platforms like:

  • GoToWebinar
  • Marketo
  • Salesforce
  • Pardot
  • MailChimp
3. Your CMS or Marketing Automation tool doesn’t enrich your data for you

With Integrations Powered by Zapier, if you collect a lead in Unbounce, Zapier can enrich the lead’s profile with extra data (using, for example, the lead scoring Zap) en route to wherever you’re storing your leads.

4. Your sales team would like to be notified immediately when a super qualified lead comes in…but they never check their email

For this, you can try sending notifications via the following Zaps:

  • SMS integration
  • Slack
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
5. You’d like to route leads to specific salespeople in your CRM depending on the info a prospect submits in a form

Joe Savich from Altos gave this a try in Unbounce, and had high praise for this email parser Zap:

“It’s pretty nice. The integration powered by Zapier was super easy to setup…I was able to create a lead notification with a condition that, depending on which custom field was chosen, would send that lead to the appropriate sales team. My client thinks I am a magician! I could see this being used a lot going forward.”

Overall, of all the feature releases in my 4 ½ years at Unbounce, Integrations Powered by Zapier is my all time favourite. Zaps from right inside our builder empower marketers to do things you shouldn’t be able to do, without developers. And they make you feel really smart.

If you’re committed to driving our industry forward with some next-level marketing (that may look impossible at first glance), I’d urge you to try zapping some connections together and getting creative. You might surprise yourself, or better yet your boss or clients.