3 Ways the ‘Cruise Ship’ Model Invites Your Audience Aboard

"We didn't feel like customers. We felt like family." – Will DeWitt

Recently, my wife and I went on our first cruise.

Even though we didn’t have an inkling of what to expect, we now have what we’re calling “Cruise Fever.” We plan on being repeat customers for the same cruise line — and wouldn’t even consider another.


It’s all due to the completely satisfying experience we had from the moment we stepped foot on the ship to our final moment aboard. The cruise line earned our loyalty by instantly pulling us in and retaining our attention in unique and entrancing ways.

Here’s how you can use the “cruise ship” model to help build your own loyal audience.

1. Provide top-notch customer service

When we arrived on board, we had so many questions.

  • Where is our room?
  • When do we eat, and what meals are included?
  • Where is the pool?
  • What should we do if there is some sort of emergency?

The cruise line understood that most people were going to have those questions, and they used that foresight to create an easy-to-read, but comprehensive, information packet.

But that was just the first day.

For the remainder of our trip, the cruise line continued its excellent customer service with friendly faces and warm smiles. They made us feel at home for the duration of our time with them.

We didn’t feel like customers. We felt like family.

If we ever needed something, we felt more than welcome to ask for it. Whether we were poolside, in our stateroom, or at the bar, the staff was polite and professional … without feeling “corporate.”

You should also anticipate the questions your audience and customers are going to have. By doing so, you can address them from the get-go and reduce any uncertainty first-time visitors to your site may have … which ultimately leads to more sales.

To implement this approach on your website, you could:

  • Create a “Start Here” page and add a warm welcome to your “Contact” page.
  • Make sure your customers know that you’re available to help if they ever need anything.
  • Send a “Thank You” email when someone becomes a member or signs up for your email newsletter.

2. Offer a variety of content

From the moment we woke up to the time we went to bed, there was never a dull moment.

In fact, there were so many things to do, it was impossible to actually do them all in a single day. So, we had to pick and choose which activities were right for us.

Did I really want to sit around and play bingo? No, I would have felt a little bit out of place in that room.

Learn how to salsa dance? Ehh … I’m kind of clumsy with my feet, and I didn’t want to embarrass my wife like that.

Go watch some bigger-bodied men partake in a belly flop competition? Now we’re talking!

The point is, what appeals to some may not appeal to others.

To reach the highest number of potential customers, it’s wise to have a wide variety of content available on your site.

Mix things up a bit. Instead of just having a blog, consider adding other forms of content to your site like a:

  • Podcast
  • Curated email newsletter
  • Content library

Don’t give your prospects a dull moment that prompts them to look for someone or something else. Make it easy and fun to keep consuming your content.

3. Keep your guests full to the gills

It’s rare to find yourself hungry while on a cruise. There’s a buffet for both breakfast and lunch, and a nightly three-course dinner.

But it’s not just the quantity of the food; it’s also the quality, and trust me: this was top-notch cuisine.

You better believe that if the cruise line only had fast-food, we wouldn’t have been excited for each and every meal. Instead, due to the high quality, we found ourselves daydreaming from time to time about our next meal.

That can be the experience your audience has when you consistently create excellent content. They gorge on what’s in front of them and — as soon as their plate is clean — impatiently await more.

When you publish exemplary content that has your audience eagerly awaiting your next piece, you become their only reasonable choice.

Land ho!

The cruise line now has two recurring customers because of their excellent service, abundance of activities, and delicious meals.

By applying these lessons I learned while on vacation, you can create unforgettable experiences for your audience.

Now go … set sail and stand out from the competition.

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'Justice League' trailer: Wonder Woman is back, and she's brought some new friends


Aw, would you look at that? Batman’s finally learning to play nice with others.

Or he’s trying, anyway. And the DC Extended Universe had better hope he succeeds, because the fate of the world depends on it.  

SEE ALSO: ‘Justice League’ Batmobile steals the show at Comic-Con Preview Night

Batman and Wonder Woman have reunited after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and they’re now ready to bring some other superheroes into the fold. That includes Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash, previously only seen in those weird trailers that Wonder Woman was forced to watch in Batman v Superman. Read more…

More about Movies, Comic Con, Dc, Justice League, and Entertainment

Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation

Quick Copy Tip

If you’ve studied copywriting, you know the purpose of the headline is to get people to click and start reading. And your opening copy needs to continue that momentum all the way to the offer or conclusion.

One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. A proclamation so jarring that the right person can’t help but keep reading, listening, or watching to see where you’re going with it.

As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead:

A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.

This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Forde illustrates the Proclamation Lead with a direct mail report that is ultimately selling an alternative health newsletter. Written by Jim Rutz, the piece immediately startles and tempts the prospect with a bold statement:

Read This Or Die

Today you have a 95% chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition from which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet. The editor of Alternatives would like to free you from that destiny.

The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. In the process, the piece systematically removes the objections raised in the reader’s mind about the scientific validity of the bold assertions.

If you feel that example is a little too “direct marketing” for your audience, consider this from respected best-selling author Austin Kleon:

Steal Like an Artist:
10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

It’s the exact same technique for a completely different target market. The intent is to startle people interested in becoming more creative, while concurrently tempting prospects to further explore what Kleon means by “steal.”

The first example is copy designed to make a sale. The second example is content (a book) that is the product itself. But the reason why both “sell” is the same.

The key to these bold headlines and leads is the immediate emotional response provoked by the assertion. More importantly, that emotional trigger leads to immediate motivation to investigate further — and that’s what every copywriter aims to achieve right from the beginning.

That’s because implicit in the proclamation is a promise. In the Rutz and Kleon examples, you’re promised that you’ll learn about hidden cures to common diseases and the way creativity really works, respectively.

How do you come up with these types of bold beginnings? John Forde says they’re found via research, not conjured up out of the ether — and I agree.

For example, people often assume creativity comes from introspection, perhaps during long sessions of gazing out the window.

But if you research how artists throughout history actually work, creativity is much more about starting with something already out in the world — often the work of someone else — and making it into something new.

Austin Kleon discovered that truth, and then boiled it down to its shocking essence. After all, it was Picasso who famously said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

That said, the proclamation approach is not always the right one for every situation. For example, I could have titled this article:

Read This Unless You Want to Starve

But that would have been lame, so I didn’t. There are plenty of other headline and lead approaches that also work well, so that headline wouldn’t be accurate or appropriate.

If you find a counterintuitive truth that’s relevant to your persuasive aim, however, you might just see if you can turn it into an almost unreasonably bold assertion that works wonders. But remember, don’t steal specific copy approaches (in the artistic sense) unless you’re sure you can perfectly tailor them for your audience or prospect.

The post Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation appeared first on Copyblogger.


How to Prune Your Email List to Improve Deliverability

pruning your email list

As with all marketing channels, email marketing is only effective if it reaches its desired audience. For email, that means reaching the inbox. But 21% of opt-in emails fail to reach the inbox. Deliverability and reputation are crucial to reaching the inbox. A major component of reputation is keeping a clean list. List hygiene can be considered a “pruning” process. And just as one prunes a tree to make it stronger, you should prune your email list to ensure good deliverability. Let’s look at how to do that. 1. Cut the Dead Weight Remove Duplicates Depending on what platform you’re…

The post How to Prune Your Email List to Improve Deliverability appeared first on The Daily Egg.

The Daily Egg

Great Designers Steal: Where Indochino, Wistia, Webistry and Unbounce Source PPC Display Ad Inspiration

If you create display ads for your job, you’re already well aware of how hard it is to get prospects to click.

Unlike search ads, display ads aren’t typically served up to an audience who is actively on the hunt for something specific, so there’s even more pressure to stand out.

Think about it: when was the last time you clicked on a display ad?

On our quest to find out what makes for click-worthy ads, we interviewed the marketers and designers at Indochino, Wistia, Webistry and Unbounce to see what inspires their display ad designs.

Turns out that many of them draw inspiration from the very ads that entice them to click.

Picasso originally said it best:

Good artists copy; great artists steal.

To help you get your creative juices flowing, we’ve gathered the most interesting takeaways from our interviews with the marketers and designers at these companies. This post will cover:

  1. “In the wild” examples of display ads that marketers and designers admire
  2. How real marketers and designers translate their inspiration into their own ads and landing pages for higher-converting campaigns
  3. Helpful resources that experienced designers use to create more clickable ads (that you can use too)

Ready to be inspired?

Indochino: K.I.S.S – Keep it simple, stupid

The fine folk at Indochino are masters of seamless design. Their handsomely designed ads and corresponding landing pages are as perfectly tailored as their custom made-to-measure suits. 😉

When we spoke to Indochino to see where they find inspiration, we learned that they look to brands like Harry’s, Casper and Everlane:

Michelle Wake, Art Director at Indochino, explained to me what she finds striking about these ads:

The biggest design takeaway here is simplicity. All three ads are clear and to the point. The designs are clean and bright with minimal text. Casper, Harry’s and Everlane feature their product in the ad, but in an understated way that does not overwhelm the space.

Or as Lisa Craveiro, Senior Acquisition Manager put it succinctly:

“When designing display ads, keep it simple. Less is more.” -@lisacrav @INDOCHINO
Click To Tweet

How Indochino translates design inspiration into a real-life campaign

Indochino translates the same rule of simplicity from the Harry’s, Casper and Everlane ads into their own ad designs.

Take their “Tailored Advantage” display ad on the left for example.

Although the ad canvas is limited, the design elements are minimal which means that Indochino can feature the product in the design without over-crowding the space.

Also, notice that the white front contrasts well with the darker, solid background. Michelle explained that this is a conscious decision to make the ad pop:

Consider where the ad will be seen. If the image does not have a full bleed background, then we often place products on a colored background.

When visitors click Indochino’s “Tailored Advantage” ad, they’re taken to the following campaign landing page:

Unbounce customer Indochino sends traffic from their “Tailored Advantage” campaign to this landing page. Click to view full-length page.

There are clear benefits to having a minimal, straightforward ad leading to a landing page with flawless design match: this page converts at 7.8%.

Not too shabby.

Wistia: Take design risks in your ads (And let landing pages do the heavy lifting)

Meet Wistia, “your friendly neighborhood video platform.”

Wistia looks to other B2B subscription-based companies like MailChimp and Slack for design inspiration:

Danielle Bushrow, a designer at Wistia, explained to me what she liked about the ads:

I love MailChimp’s ads. Their work is consistently unique, delightfully surprising, and – even when it appears to diverge stylistically – is always on-brand through personality or mission. Challenging the preciousness of style guidelines allows them to take more creative risks, and it pays off.

“When designing display ads, take more creative risks – it pays off.” @daniellebushrow @Wistia
Click To Tweet

In other words, these companies do a good job of staying on brand but they’re not afraid to take quirky design and copy risks.

For example, the MailChimp ads use a clever play on words by incorporating copy that sounds like MailChimp in order to grab prospects’ attention: MailShrimp, KaleLimp and JailBlimp.

As Danielle explained to me, if your ad does its job of standing out from the sea of other ads, you can then let your landing page do some of the heavy lifting:

One thing that stands out about these examples is that they commit to one direction, spark interest by connecting with a feeling, and let their linked landing page do the rest.

Display ads: spark interest by connecting with a feeling & let the landing page do the rest…
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How Wistia translates design inspiration into a real-life campaign

In April 2017, Wistia launched a series of ads for a campaign that was centered around the concept that “all businesses can communicate more creatively.”

By pulling upon creative inspiration from brands like Slack and MailChimp, Wistia created a set of ads with a strongly branded yet playful theme.

The ads sparked interest with unique design (motivating prospects to click):

And then they let their corresponding campaign landing page do the rest of the work by explaining the offer in great detail. It included a persuasive video, testimonials, strong copy and a break down of all the benefits:

Unbounce customer Wistia sends campaign traffic to this dedicated landing page. Click to view full-length page.

It’s an approach that has worked well for them; this landing page currently converts at a healthy 13%.

Webistry: Appeal to your audience’s emotions

Montreal-based digital agency Webistry is a small team with big ideas.

When searching for ad design inspiration, agency cofounder Stefano Apostolakos looks to Netflix, Airbnb and Chipotle:

Stefano explained that the ads that really get his attention are those that tug on his heartstrings (or get him to laugh with a dash of humor).

He explained to me that when you play on your audience’s emotions, they feel more connected to your brand and product. The closer the connection, the more likely prospects are to click.  

Make display ads stand out by infusing your ad copy + images with emotion @stefwebist @WebistryHQ
Click To Tweet

Have a look at how the Airbnb ad paints a beautiful, sentimental picture of what it’d be like to book a space through them for your next vacation. (Tell us you don’t have travel #fomo after seeing these ads!)

How Webistry translates design inspiration into a real-life campaign

An image of a puppy can stir emotion in just about anyone.

So when Webistry set out to help their client Poop-N-Scoop run an advertising campaign, they knew that an emotional approach was the way to go.

(If this pup’s adorable face appeared on your screen, you’d be hard pressed not to click.)

But Stefano and his team took things a step further by creating animated banner ads, using a very simple HTML5 banner tool: Google Web Designer.

Stefano explained his reasoning behind creating more dynamic ads for his client:

Animated HTML5 display ads (when done correctly) should provide an additional layer of engagement from your viewers. Overly animated ads could actually hurt your CTR (click-through-rate) so, like everything, test!

The campaign ran as a seasonal promotion; the ads and landing page were active over the spring period (their peak season) when snow starts to melt. 💩

The adorable ads pointed to an equally-adorable landing page:

Click to view full-length landing page.

So how’d the campaign fare?

For the 60 day period that this campaign was live, The Poop-N-Scoop ads had over 155,000 impressions with a click-through rate of 0.3% to the campaign’s landing page, which converted at 5.9%.

Hot dog!

Unbounce: Have a clear and legible typographic hierarchy

Unbounce’s designers and marketers also look to their feeds to find inspiration for display ads. Specifically, our team has been inspired by other SaaS companies like Intercom, Zendesk and Asana:

Unbounce designer Ainara Sáinz explained to me that it’s the typography in these that ads really make ’em pop:

The most important thing to have is a clear and legible typographic hierarchy. It doesn’t matter if you have amazing visuals — if your audience can’t read or understand your message, they won’t click on your ad.

This means that key elements should appear prominently and be emphasized visually with bold copy. That’ll allow users to quickly scan the ad copy for key information.

Display ad space is limited — too much text is confusing. A bewildered prospect won’t click.
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How Unbounce translates design inspiration into a real-life campaign

In May 2017, we launched a set of display ads to encourage prospects to sign up for a ‘30 day trial’ with Unbounce:

Inspired by the companies listed above, we included an understated company logo. Instead of relying heavily on imagery, we emphasized the ad copy that spoke to the services we offer and the action we wanted prospects to take (try a 30 day trial).

This is the campaign landing page users land on after the click:

Click to view full-length landing page.

The purpose of the landing page is to get prospects to check out more features or go to the pricing page to sign up. Since launching the campaign a little over two months ago, we continue to see conversions increase significantly over time. The ads have a click-through rate of about 0.3% while the click-through rate of the landing page is currently sitting at 22%.

Turn ad design inspiration into action

Now that you’ve learned how brands like Indochino, Wistia, Webistry and Unbounce have mastered the art of ad design, we hope that we’ve equipped you with the creative inspiration you need to take your display ads to the next level.

But before we send you on your merry way, we thought we’d share some resources for sourcing (stealing) design ideas for future PPC campaigns. We asked the designers in this article where they grab inspiration — here were their top picks:

  • Panda extension for Chrome: An extensive catalog of design resources for pretty much anyone
  • Envato Elements: A platform for top quality curated resources, not just for designers but for anyone with design needs. It will save you time when picking elements for creative projects
  • Bannersnack: A tool that helps you quickly and easily create static and animated ads
  • Google Web Designer: A tool that helps you create or HTML5 banners (free but for advanced users)
  • Moat.com: A free service that allows you to search for real-life examples of ads from basically any brand you can think of
  • Dribbble and Behance: Online community of designers sharing samples of their work, process and projects
  • Awwwards: A website competition that developers/designers can submit to. It recognizes and promotes the best of innovative web design and is the perfect place to steal design ideas
  • Picmonkey: An online photo editing, collage creation and graphic design tool and an excellent source of design inspiration
  • Pinterest: This is a great place to find design ideas. Follow other design boards or create your own

And finally, one last thing.

In exchange for our advice on how to steal display ad ideas, we only ask one thing of you.

When looking to other brands for inspiration, make sure that the concepts you “steal” are translated into your ad designs in a way that speaks to the true uniqueness of your brand.

As the Senior Art Director at Unbounce, Cesar Martinez, put it:

Be true to your brand. Learn the difference between what it is to Steal, Copy & Imitate — and stand out authentically without trying too hard.


Improve your email marketing with automation [webinar]

Email Automation, which VerticalResponse recently added to its powerful toolkit, increases the impact and reduces the costs of email marketing. Studies conducted by MarTech Zone show that average click-through rates on automated email campaigns are three times higher than their one-off counterparts, and companies that regularly use automated email series generate 80 percent more sales at one-third less cost than other companies.

Brant Schmitz, Director of Email & Marketing Automation at partner company Deluxe, recently presented a webinar about email marketing and how businesses can harness the power of Email Automation in their campaigns. Here are a few of his key takeaways:

Email Automation is versatile

Automated email campaigns can promote your brand or products, create awareness, launch a product or service, re-engage customers, educate readers, or onboard new customers. 

Email Automation nurtures trust and credibility

Consumers trust what they’re familiar with. By sending out automated emails that keep your brand top-of-mind and offer valuable information, you can build trust and credibility with your readers.

Determine your strategy ahead of time

Email Automation requires businesses to spend more time and effort planning campaigns: determining goals and the timing of emails, as well as writing all the messages in a series at once so they work together cohesively. After that work is complete, the automated series delivers campaigns to customers’ inboxes automatically, reducing the work required to send each email. 

For the rest of Brant’s tips and insights, watch the full webinar

You can also catch the full webinar on Deluxe’s YouTube channel. For more on how to strategically deploy Email Automation with your own campaigns, download our white paper.

Spend less time reaching more customers

Try VerticalResponse today

(It’s free!)


© 2017, John Habib. All rights reserved.

The post Improve your email marketing with automation [webinar] appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

Infographic: The Ultimate Guide to International Email Spam Laws

international email spam

I find this infographic very fitting for 2017. I’m starting to get a lot of emails from companies that haven’t asked permission to email me. I suspect that a few of the new sales-prospect-scraping technologies out there are supplying email addresses to aggressive sales and marketing teams. It’s not the worst thing in the world to get a few unsolicited emails every once in a while. But I should warn these companies that they’re entering dangerous waters. Read the infographic below to make sure you’re not spamming your global prospects. It’s also a good idea for U.S. companies to take…

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