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10 easy tips for better business writing

10 easy tips for better business writing

This is a guest article by William Grigsby. If you are interested in submitting a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines.

In a survey that was conducted in 2004 by the National Commission on business writing among some 120 American companies, it was estimated that major corporations spent over $3.1 billion on employees’ deficiencies in writing. Additionally, about 74% of web browsers were found to pay attention to the quality, grammar, and spelling of company websites. More than 59% of people were found to prefer not doing business with a company which has an obvious mistake in grammar in their write-ups.

The problem is, the internet has converted the business world into a small village, and such figures can translate to huge losses.

Seeing the imminent dangers poor business writing can deliver to a business, wanting to improve your skills or even those of your employees should be somewhat of a reflex action. Here are some handy tips that could help you avert a PR crisis and improve your customer conversion.

  1. Be factual

Business is all about facts and figures. The same should be reflected in your writing. You need to use facts, statistics and detailed information that can easily be substantiated. Providing relevant but concrete examples and using active and precise verbs also makes the writing more actionable and relatable among the readers.

  1. Go all out!

The greatest mistake you can make in business writing is holding back. Your readers are in most instances looking for information and affirmation. Ensure you provide them with all the necessary information they need. Go out of your way to answer any questions asked and if not, respond to some of the implied ones. It might be a good idea to throw in some extra information that could be helpful to your customers or clients in your content.

  1. Be courteous

Being authoritative is important. But, there is a thin line between being rude and authoritative. You have to be polite and always have your audience in your mind. Always consider how the message you’re trying to convey will be received. In your writing, ensure to emphasize on the use of words like “you” instead of “We” or “I.” The idea is to make it more about the audience than the business itself.

  1. Make it loud and clear

A good writer conveys his message in the least number of words possible. The same prevails in business writing. Avoid being too wordy and having vague statements. If possible, it is best to use an active voice while trying as hard as possible not to be misquoted or misinterpreted in the process.

  1. Take it all the way home

You have a duty to deliver a point to your audience. Don’t deviate from this. Get to the point as fast as is possible using short and effective sentences. While the sentences should be short, they shouldn’t sound choppy. Make sure your message is clear and only relevant information is included and in an active and reasonable manner.

  1. Be objective

It is commonly stated that writing in any form is a ‘personal’ thing. It is easy to let your own biases be the center of your writing. In business writing, this can prove to be suicidal. In the same light, try and avoid using the first person or using terms that are emotionally charged. For a professional and more convincing touch, present both sides of the story in each piece you write.

  1. Keep everything simple

Unless you want your readers to make a run for the Oxford dictionary (which they will not appreciate), it is a good idea to compose your writing in simple and straightforward English. Readers love an unclouded message that hits home with ease and is even easier to understand.

  1. Keep emails below or at five sentences

Truthfully, unless you’re explaining how your reader is going to collect their jackpot winnings, they will never read past three lines. As much as you have plenty to say, you don’t want to bore your readers to death. You want the recipient to be able to read the email and respond to it easily even when they’re using their Smartphone. Keep your emails short and sweet. Five sentences or shorter is best.

  1. Domesticate your enthusiasm

It is usual to feel very pumped and energetic while writing. However, you might want to use those exclamation points sparingly. The more you use them, they less impact they have. Also, make sure that you keep the sign-offs professional yet warm. Use words like “Best” and “Regards” to sign off.

  1. Invest equal effort on the headline copy

On average, eight out of every ten people will read the headline of the copy and move on. Only two take the trouble of reading the content. You have to be able to capture their attention from the headline and through the content. Furthermore, a good heading tends to attract more audience to read.

Enhanced business writing skills can make or break a brand. You’re the communication tool between the readers and the business. You create the ties between the firm and the audience. It’s paramount to make sure that those relations are positive and portray the company in the right light. These tips will surely help you make that job much easier.

About the author: William Grigsby is working in a professional writing service. He has eight years experience in business writing. He is a day writer and night dreamer. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @willgrgsb

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6 Tips For Sending Your Email Newsletter At The Right Time

6 Tips For Sending Your Email Newsletter At The Right Time

Have you ever noticed that it seems like every single company seems to send their email newsletter at the same time?

Usually they’re sent very late at night or extra early in the morning.

Which is, funny enough, when most of their audience is sleeping, so we wake up with an overstuffed inbox each morning.

I am guessing that you have also run into this somewhat minor annoyance.

But it literally is one of my biggest pet peeves.

If you are like me, the deleting of most of these newsletters has become part of your morning ritual.

It is pretty refreshing to send them all to your trash folder and get back to inbox zero.

I mean I love reading about data driven marketing tips but not at 7 in the morning.

We are constantly plugged into our email accounts with those supercomputers we call phones.

The days when you would check your email once in the morning and once at night is over.

But, alas, some companies still seem to be sticking to that email schedule.

This strategy is as outdated as that jewel colored iMac or Gateway computer sitting in your basement.

And all the effort you put into great content will be wasted if you pick the wrong time to send.

So I set out to find when the best time to send an email newsletter is, in the most scientific way ever, by signing up for 100 different newsletters and recording all of their send times.

1. Send it from 11-12PM, 1-2PM, or 2-3PM

If you were looking for the best time to send an email I would recommend selecting a time where there is little competition.

Like a time when almost no emails are being sent.

I mean why would you want your newsletter competing for your audience’s attention with a bunch of other emails?

That is just a recipe for low open rates and a drop in subscribers.

So to avoid that I would shoot for a period when no other emails are sent.

In fact, from 11-12PM, 1-2PM and 2-3PM not a single email was sent in our study.

Like not a single one:

Now you may be asking what is the best chunk of time out of those three periods?

And I would have to say that 2-3PM has the most potential.

From 11-12PM and 1-2PM are too close to the lunch hour and could get lost in the shuffle.

Unless your newsletter deals with a fun topic that they would want to read about on that break, I would avoid those two.

Instead try from 2-3PM.

Your audience will most likely be back from lunch by then and feeling a bit recharged.

They have already cleared their emails from the morning and are maybe looking for a little procrastination opportunity.

And boom, your email newsletter is there to help them out.

2. Or from 10-11AM

Now if you don’t want to be the only one sending an email during a certain time period, I have a perfect time for you.

This is another period where almost zero email newsletters were sent out in our study. In fact there were only one email sent out in that whole time period.

And I think that your email can handle a little competition.

This period happens to be from 10-11AM.

As you can see in the graph above there were a few other periods when only a few emails were sent.

But I do not think that they will be as fruitful as from 10-11AM.

For example, from 9-10AM is when a lot of people’s workday starts and 4-5PM is when it usually ends.

That means you are going to be fighting a lot more for their attention than just a few emails.

So to avoid these outside distractions I would choose from 10-11AM.

By then your readers will be settled into their desk, the coffee has kicked in and they are probably at inbox zero.

It is almost a perfect time for an interesting newsletter to pop up in their mailbox.

Additionally, I do find it a little odd that from 10-11AM has been pushed by experts and thought leaders.

But exactly one email was sent.

It really does not make sense, but it does present a new opportunity for your email newsletter to shine.

3. Never between 6-7PM

After carefully counting on both of my hands I was able to determine the worst time to send an email.

This time period was so crowded that more than 10% of all the emails in the study were sent during this hour chunk each day.

That is almost triple what an average hour should have received.

If you have read the graphs above you saw that 6-7 PM got the most emails of any period.

As you can see in the graph above if you decide to send your newsletter in this time period you are going to have some competition.

So I would avoid sending your newsletters during this period based on the jump in competition.

When you compare it to the times we already highlighted above there are 50x more emails during this period.

Even some of the times that got 5x more emails are looking pretty good to me right now.

Unless you want your open rates to plummet from that increased competition I would avoid sending from 6-7PM.

It does kind of make sense why brands would decide to send their weekly email at this time.

Their audience has made it home from their jobs and starting to relax. They should be pretty open to receiving a newsletter about their hobby, interest or activity.

But again, you are brawling in their inbox with a ton of other well-crafted emails for their attention.

Or it will be ignored and rolled into the next morning’s inbox clearing.

4. And avoid after 9PM or before 7AM

One of the easiest ways to fall into that morning deleting spree is to send your email late at night.

Like when your audience is sleeping, so they will see it in the morning.

I never really got the idea behind this practice.

Other than that brands think we want to read about the newest social media marketing tip at 6am.

I know that is the last thing on my mind at that time.

Now if it was an email about coffee being delivered to my bed that would be a different story.

But alas, I saw a ton of companies using this somewhat outdated topic.

We can access our emails at literally any time, the novelty of waking up to news or a newsletter no longer exists.

Or it is so far down the list in their inbox, they will never even see it.

Between 9PM and 7PM more than 60% of all emails in the study were sent.

With nearly 40% of them were sent between 9PM and 2AM. Or about double of what should have been sent if all things were equal.

That is a lot of emails your newsletter is going to be fighting.

Plus your audience is most likely not even awake, and the people who are up at that time probably don’t want to read your newsletter at that moment.

That means, you guessed it, that it will be put off until the next morning.

From there it goes right into the morning delete spree or simply forgotten about.

And all your hard work on the newsletter goes ignored.

Do not let your content be wasted because you chose the wrong time to send a great email.

5. Wednesdays & Saturdays Have Potential

Just like in the previous sections you are going to want to pick a day that has the least competition.

By sending your email on a day like this it is going to stand out like a beacon of good content.

The best day to send your email is Wednesday, with Saturday coming in at a close second.

As you can see they were some of the days to receive the least emails overall.

In our own tests we have seen Wednesday perform well, with some newsletters getting double the open rate of previous days.

I think that Wednesday is the perfect day to send your email newsletter.

Especially if your newsletter is related to their job or work.

They will feel a lot less guilty about losing themselves in your content for a few minutes.

Plus if it is really amazing they will want to share it with their coworkers!

And that means that if your topic deals with a fun hobby or interest I would send it on a Saturday.

Your audience will a lot more receptive to reading about something they could do later that day.

Or they will have a lot more time to absorb all of your fantastic content.

Either way both of these days are a great point to start testing to find what your own best day!

Before we go on I think it is important to highlight why I did not select Sunday as the best day.

I really think that it is too much of a wildcard day and the email could be lost in the shuffle of that day.

Then it gets pushed into the Monday morning mass inbox cleaning.

And although you may have loved to read the content you just don’t have time to.

This has happened to me too many times to count and I am guessing many people can relate.

6. Thursdays are the Worst Day to Send

Finding the best day to send an email was a little difficult and not very straightforward.

Thankfully the worst day was a lot easier to find.

And that day was Thursday.

thursday is the worst day to send an email newsletter

It received more than double the amount of emails when compared to Wednesday and Saturday.

Exactly 25% of all the emails were sent on a Thursday, with no other days really coming close.

That put it well above the 70 or so emails I received per day on average.

Some experts proclaiming that Tuesday and Thursday are the best days to send a newsletter probably cause this.

I am guessing that people have been blindly following this advice for the past few years.

And now we are in a situation where the best day to send an email has actually become the worst day.

Conclusion

So there you have it, the best and worst times for you to send an email newsletter!

I now need to go click unsubscribe on about 100 different emails.

Or I may just cut my losses with that email address from now on.

But that sacrifice of an email address was definitely worth it because I was able to get some interesting findings.

Those findings will hopefully keep you from sending an email newsletter at the wrong time or day.

Just remember:

  1. Send newsletters during these time blocks: 11-12 PM, 1-2 PM & 2-3 PM.
  2. Between 9 and 11 AM is another great block of time.
  3. If your newsletter is related to their job, send it during the workday.
  4. Do not send newsletters at peak work movement hours, like 8 AM and 5 PM.
  5. Emails sent during the night or early mornings are a bad idea.
  6. Thursday is the worst day to send an email.
  7. Mondays and Fridays should be avoided as well.
  8. But the best day to send a newsletter is on Wednesday.

And finally, it is important to remember to test all of these findings with your audience first. These tips should always be used a testing points for your new emails, not set in stone facts.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

 

 

About the Author: Ryan McCready went to the University of Arkansas and graduated with a degree in economics and international business. Now instead of studying the economy he writes about everything and enjoys stirring the pot.

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Five tips to help you become a better writer

Five tips to help you become a better writer

This is a guest article by Alisa Mayer. If you are interested in submitting a guest article of your own, be sure to read the guest article guidelines.

I know why you are here. Your writing is boring, and it has been like that for a while. You get the terrible feeling of procrastination and you have already lost your concentration. The hours seem long, but the paper stays empty. Your mind is all over the place, and your brain shuts off.  You ask yourself: “What shall I do?”

Now you’re reading articles on ‘how to write articles.’ Maybe that helps. Fortunately, you are not wrong in seeking help. You can get help. But you have to understand that reading about it will not change anything unless you are determined to do something about it.

Change comes gradually, and it doesn’t come easy. If you want better articles, books, fiction stories, academic papers, essays…. then, you need to stop procrastinating and focus on your target.

Let me give you some advice on what to change or add to your daily routine. Maybe you don’t have the necessary information, or you just forgot some basics. Anyhow, I hope my list will help you remember or improve your writing lifestyle. Take a look.

  1. Take your time

Take time ≠ Procrastinate

By ‘take your time,’ I do not mean procrastinate. I mean that you should not hurry too much. Don’t force yourself to reach immediate outcomes. Instant results might be advantageous in some jobs, but we as writers take time to get tasks done. We cannot be programmed to work in a certain way, or finish in a certain time. That would be boring, and useless.

For example: What if I use a deadline for writing the next chapter of my book, and then all of a sudden, I get a brilliant idea after the deadline? Ignore it just because I passed my own useless time limit?

Set a block

As I’ve said before, taking your time means using your time to actively improve your work. One example of using your time effectively is setting a time block used only for writing. You wake up at 6 AM, have breakfast, and then sit and possibly write from 8 AM to 9 AM.

I said “possibly” because you might not actually write. You might just sit there, thinking about writing. And that is OK. It is beneficial to think, believe me. Or you may not believe me, but you have to try – that’s what I did for 15 minutes before beginning to write this article.

  1. Get rid of distractions

No distractions

While writing with your TV on is a great way to practice your multi-tasking skills, it does not help your writing at all. As you may already know, writing is a process that unfolds naturally if you give it time and space; and by space, I mean quietness; and by quietness, I mean focus.

Even if you get distracted

Every good writer gets distracted from time to time – and this is normal, we are all human. So do not blame yourself for feeling distracted once in a while. Instead, try to understand what keeps you away from your work and change that.

One of my good friends realized that the moment he starts eating snacks, he cannot concentrate on his writing anymore. He focuses his attention on eating instead of writing. Interesting, right? What’s your distraction?

  1. Plan before you start

What about the outline?

Many writers tend to forget about the most important part of their piece: the outline. Before you even start writing your introduction, you should figure out what your arguments are. Your entire paper lays on your premises. Using valid premises, you show a valid conclusion, and make a well structured point. That’s how you get your readers to like you!

The alternative

Having a structure is crucial. There are two ways to do that: prepare an outline (commonly used), or write a draft. Remember: A draft is just a beta that has to change in order for your paper to improve. You can use your draft to write notes, and give yourself both positive and negative feedback. Also, drafts are great ways to check your typos and grammar, and see what you got wrong. That will help a lot.

“Getting your work checked is the best way to succeed in a timely manner,” says Kathryn R. Neill, CEO of Scholar Advisor essay service.

  1. Practice

But why?

Because practice makes perfect. Once you sit down and write a sentence over and over again, it will come to you. Maybe not at first, maybe not as fast as you would like, but it will.

Keep rewriting everything that doesn’t sound good enough for you. Don’t be satisfied with just a little. Strive after a lot. There is this quote that I once read and it struck me. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among stars!” Isn’t that right?

How?

We all have our own styles of practicing. I told you mine above. That doesn’t mean it has to work for you too. Even practicing how to practice is a good start. Keep switching alternatives until you find the fit one.

  1. Last one, best one

See, this is a pun, because this is also the last point I’m going to write about today. But what I mean by that is make sure your last article/piece/paper is the best one. If it’s not, and you feel it, rewrite it. Don’t indulge yourself by saying “I’ll get the next one better.”

I am no perfectionist, but I still want to give the best I have to my readers. If I don’t, that wouldn’t be fair to them, and as a matter of fact, to you either. Play fair if you want to be a good writer. What you receive, you should give back. And that’s usually quality work.

Final words

I am glad you are here and you’ve been reading this, and I hope I helped as much as I could. One final advice: stay focused on your writing, even if there are 13651366 million things happening around you. Good luck to you, my friend!

About the author: Alisa Mayer is a freelancer and volunteers for lifestyle writing on a regular basis. She has eleven years of writing experience and has crafted hundreds of articles, essays and academic papers. Her biggest strengths include lifestyle writing, research writing, as well as writing on political and social issues.

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How to Outperform Sites Ranking Above You on Search Engines

How to Outperform Sites Ranking Above You on Search Engines

That latest post took days to develop.

It’s instructive and inspiring and educational and entertaining.

Easily, one of your best yet.

But you come to check your traffic data only to find that you’re ranking 70th in the SERPs.

In other words, you ain’t gettin no traffic anytime soon. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Unless some crazy person is actually clicking seven pages deep on Google. Which they aren’t.

All of that hard work, research, and effort got you almost nothing in return.

Meanwhile, your competitors are ranking in the top ten results, even though their content isn’t as long or thorough.

Why? Because of Google.

But really, the most likely answer is time and links.

Your post is new, so it’s going to take some time.

Knowing this, that doesn’t mean you can sit around and expect it to be on the first page without doing work.

Thinking that your new post will gain thousands of links on its own is foolish.

Outperforming your competitors on search engines isn’t an easy, one-off task. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

In fact, if you implement a few of these tactics, it’s likely that (in time) you will.

Why? Because your competitors are comfortable. They think the rankings won’t ever change.

You, on the other hand, are grinding to get ahead.

Here’s how you can outperform sites ranking above you on search engines.

The Top Two Ranking Factors, Straight From Google

When Google RankBrain was announced in 2015 on Bloomberg, it was made known that RankBrain was the third most important ranking factor.

But that was all they said.

What about the first and second ranking factors?

We got almost nothing for an entire year.

In 2016, we got some clear information (for once) from Google.

In a Q&A with Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, we found out the two most important ranking factors:

Links and content. In no particular order of importance.

But that’s pretty much all we got.

It is something, though. It’s a start. And it was straight from the mouth of a high-level strategist.

It also makes sense when you look at recent studies and data sets.

For example, Backlinko recently analyzed one million search engine results pages and found that the top-ranking content had a significantly larger number of links:

Image Source

The disparity between the #1 position and the #10 position is massive.

Meaning if you’re looking to take over the SERPs, you need links. You simply can’t rank high without them.

And according to Google, it’s one of the top two ranking factors. So ignoring it is not an option.

Don’t believe the data?

I don’t blame you. Healthy skepticism makes the world go round.

I didn’t at first either. But do a simple Google search for a desired keyword, and you’ll instantly see that it’s very true.

Searching for “SEO Guide” on Google will return this as the first result:

The next few results are from Kissmetrics and Search Engine Land:

So, let’s put this to the test. Open up Moz’s Open Site Explorer and toss the links in.

Start with the first post by Moz. Here’s what the backlink profile looks like:

Yes, that’s real. This post has over 23 freaking thousand links pointing to it.

That’s more than most people will get on their entire site in their entire career. By far.

Now plug in the second result from Kissmetrics and here’s what you see:

The results are pretty clear.

Both sites have incredibly high domain authorities and page authorities.

They’ve both been around for years and years.

The content is pretty similar. It’s in-depth, informative, and optimized for the user experience.

But one is outranking the other, and the most likely reason (according to Google) is simply that it has more links.

23,000 more. Meaning Google is being told over 23,000 more times how relevant and informative that content is.

So, what about content?

It’s the same thing. It’s about the numbers. Word count matters:

Image Source

The longer the content, the higher chance it has to rank.

But not in the way that you think.

You know, the college essays where you inserted block quotes to add 500 words (yes, admit it, you did it too).

Yeah, that doesn’t work.

Word count for the sake of word count isn’t going to get you higher rankings.

That tactic died with keyword stuffing and will never return.

Long-form content wins on search engines because it’s designed to solve the entire user problem in one go.

Meaning that the content is designed to answer all questions, provide solutions, and then show the user how to fix it.

If your content accomplishes this, people won’t bounce back to Google to click on the next result.

To sum it up, links and content quality are the top two ranking factors.

If you want to outperform sites above you, focus on these two factors over anything else.

It’s just like a workout plan.

Want to lose weight? Don’t waste time doing isolation bicep curls.

Take the most effective route and target the top ways to accomplish your goal.

Here’s how to get more links and write better content to outrank your competitors.

Campaign For Better Links

Now that you know how important links are for rankings, you need more of them.

Image Source

But not just any backlinks. Directory links won’t do it. Paying for low-level, spammy links from the dude who cold emailed you is a recipe for disaster.

Most people get caught up in the total quantity and forget to focus on quality too.

Quantity isn’t enough. Let me explain:

When a website (like a directory) links over and over to thousands of sites, Google starts to notice that these links are easy to acquire.

So Google puts less importance on them. Why? They’re easy to get!

So stop buying links. Stop spamming forums and Pinterest (what even is Pinterest??).

Backlinko data agrees with this notion, too:

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The graph above essentially says that the top-ranking content has links from diverse websites.

Meaning you need many websites to link to you, not just one spamming your link over and over.

But that’s not all. You need links from high DA sites:

Image Source

So the real recipe is:

Total amount of links + large amount of diverse sites + all high DA = rankings boost.

Take that, Gordon Ramsay!

Now that you know, how do you do it?

There are a few proven ways to get more high-quality links on your site.

One of the best is by creating round-up style content. This is content that mentions multiple popular influencers in your niche.

For example, check out this post from Bill Widmer that took the opinions of 30+ experts on their favorite marketing channels:

(That cool dude is me, by the way, in case you were wondering.)

But the point is, these types of posts get links.

I’ll prove it to you.

Here’s the backlink profile for this exact blog post:

Nearly 70 links to a single post that was recently uploaded. Pretty impressive.

And not just any links. Notice the top linking sites? They were all mentioned influencers in his post.

Getting the input of trusted influencers and showcasing them in your post is one of the best ways to get great links.

People are more likely to share it when you mention and show them in an informative light.

Write Better Content More Often

Getting the highest-quality links isn’t enough.

Remember that another top ranking factor is content.

Quality and frequency play a huge role in content that drives rankings.

According to HubSpot, companies that post more blog posts more often get more traffic:

Image Source

And that’s not all. The more you blog, the more inbound leads you get:

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Why? Because you’re effectively giving yourself more chances to rank higher on Google.

And when you rank higher on Google, you get more traffic.

Image Source

If sites are ranking above you on search engines and you don’t have enough links to overtake them, post more often.

It’s one of the easiest ways to generate more traffic to compensate for a lower ranking.

The more often you post, the more indexed pages you have.

The more indexed pages, the more traffic.

Once you develop content, you can campaign for links to boost that content.

You can outperform sites with multiple approaches. It doesn’t always have to be outranking them for a single post.

Would you rather outrank them for one post or write five new ones that get more total traffic?

The answer is clear: more traffic.

Create Content for the User Experience

Google has one goal in mind when it comes to their search engine (besides profit):

Creating the fastest, best user experience possible.

This is evident by conducting any Google search and seeing how quickly they deliver results:

They even tell you about it.

It’s a subtle brag.

But it tells us some instant data on how much they care about delivering content fast and effectively.

It’s their top priority because if they don’t, people will jump ship to Bing or Yahoo, or Ask Jeeves (wait, does that still exist?).

This has larger implications than just result delivery speed though.

When Google delivers results, they still want users to be satisfied.

If someone searches for “seo” and doesn’t click, but instead modifies their search for “seo guide,” Google takes note.

They understand that “seo” search results weren’t what they were looking for.

Similarly, if someone finds your post on Google but bounces fast and clicks on the next, Google notices.

They notice that your content isn’t solving user problems. And if it’s not, you can kiss those rankings goodbye.

So, what does this mean for SEOs and optimizing content?

It means you’ve gotta stop worrying about how search engines view your content and start caring about the user experience.

That means putting real emotion into your writing to trigger a response.

Or telling a story that people can’t resist reading.

Keywords are great, but stuffing “seo guide best 2017 content” into your title makes you look stupid.

Trust me – I’ve been there.

A searcher and reader are going to take one look at that title and never come back.

A great way to optimize your content for a real user is by taking advantage of Google’s free data mining.

It’s easy.

What’s the next blog post you want to write about?

For example, let’s say it’s about content marketing.

Conduct a simple Google search for that basic term and scroll to the bottom of the page:

You’ve got instant, real keywords that people are searching.

You could easily compile several of these into a single long-form piece of content that is a one-stop-shop when it comes to solving a problem.

For example, write a content marketing strategy guide and include examples and types of content marketing.

Now you’ve effectively hit three real searches with a single post. That’s relevancy.

If you want to outrank the sites above you, you’ve gotta improve your content.

It has to be tailored to fit the user, not the search engine.

Search engines are getting smarter and more realistic. Rankings will follow if you focus on real people.

Conclusion

When you’ve written a new blog post, you can’t risk it slipping into the oblivion of the SERPs.

Anything beyond the first page isn’t going to get you any noticeable traffic.

And you can’t just expect a post to generate traffic and links on its own.

You’ve gotta put in the work to get real results.

If you want to outrank your competition, you need better links, real keywords, and better content.

Plain and simple:

You need to produce better content for the end user than the person above you.

Once you’ve done that, campaign for links.

The more high-quality links you land, the better shot you’ve got at ranking higher.

Outperforming sites ranking above you in the SERPs will drive more traffic to your site fast.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

 

 

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

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How Voice Apps will Change E-Commerce Forever

How Voice Apps will Change E-Commerce Forever

Marketers say that in order to anticipate what the customer wants, you have to know what they’re thinking. With voice apps becoming more and more commonplace — now the customer can actually tell you.

Perhaps the biggest evidence that shows a marked shift in how customers search is found within the biggest movers and shakers in both e-commerce and search — Amazon and Google.

Google search voice queries show explosive growth of voice search queries (Image Source)

Within 2016 alone, voice-based search went from zero to 10% of all search volume. Today, 20% of all searches have voice-based intent, and by 2020, ComScore estimates that half of all searches will be done by voice. But there are a few notable stumbling blocks.

The Issue with Accuracy

Back in 2013, Google’s spoken word accuracy was below 80%. A few years later, it has improved to above 90%. Chinese search engine Baidu’s voice recognition accuracy rate is above 95%. This sounds great on paper, but 99% accuracy is what everyone is striving for. The difference can be profound — as in the old joke of Jeff Bezos asking the Echo to buy olives at Whole Foods when instead, it understood that he wanted it to buy “all of Whole Foods”.

We’re not there yet, but we will be soon — and when that happens, you can expect voice-enabled search adoption to explode.

Skewing the Playing Field

Beyond the accuracy of the spoken word, however, there are also significant differences in how we speak to search versus how we type. While you may search for “pizza places near (your city)”, you’re much more likely to be conversational with a voice-enabled device. Amazon Echo understands that you want a “pepperoni pizza with extra cheese” from Dominos, and can have it delivered to your door. No typing necessary.

You can see how this would blow right by competing ads — both paid and organic — and instead skew the playing field in favor of those companies that want to invest a sizeable amount in being the preferred provider for that product or service. Service providers like Uber, Kayak and Dominos have already made huge gains in setting themselves up for such a voice-based brand domination windfall.

In the meantime, there’s a rush from both Amazon and Google to dominate the automated home assistant market. With the release of the Amazon Echo and Google Home, there’s a definite face-off between the leader in e-commerce and the leader in search. What remains to be seen, however, is just how much of a role these apps actually play in promoting a purchase.

Got Skills?

With the Amazon Echo, voice-based commands are denoted into specific categories called “skills”. Although Amazon won’t reveal how many categories there are or how many of their voice-based skills are branded, some estimates believe the number currently hovers around 25,000.

Using skills, you can, for example, have Tide help you get stains out, or question Nestle for a good dinner recipe. Patron launched it’s voice skill last July as part of a larger marketing campaign known as the Cocktail Lab. With the Cocktail Lab, fifty different bartenders from around the world shared their tequila-infused drink recipes. Over 350,000 users tried the Cocktail Lab, and 10% of those users came from using the Alexa (Echo)-based skill.

Traffic to the company’s website was up over 4% as well, and the research revealed that Echo users spent more time on site browsing and saving recipes as well. Worth the investment? Only time will tell.

Revealing Customer Intent

Not surprisingly, much of what can be done with voice-based search is centered around analytics. GoodNes, the Nestle app that uses Amazon Echo skills, lets you search recipes, see (or tell) what ingredients are needed, email you the recipe or show you nutritional information, among other things.

Determining how the user searches and what they search for using voice could very well shed light on potential new products or combinations. It’s the kind of one-on-one insight that traditional focus groups simply can’t compare to.

Change is Happening…Slowly

Much like how the early versions of web pages were simple brochures, the beginnings of voice apps are more gimmicky than practical. In addition to its selection of branded skills, Amazon also carries apps that start a “psychopath test” or “open a box of cats” (the app will meow or make an animal sound).

However, as these devices continue to gain more traction in voice accuracy and more proliferation in homes, you’ll start to see a marked trend toward asking them to help with nearly anything. Much in the same way that today’s websites go well beyond their brochure-based forebears, to be accessed and interacted with from smartphones and other devices, so too will voice-based search make it easier to quickly browse and order the products and services you use most.

Should Business Owners Be Concerned?

Although it seems like only big brands will be able to take advantage of the shift in voice-based searches and purchases, we’re only truly scratching the surface of the full potential of these types of apps. Both Amazon and Google know that it’s not in their best interest to simply become a herd pen for branded apps — and that relevancy is the name of the game.

For business owners, the push is on to keep doing what we’re doing — cultivating customer engagement, open discussion, problem-solving and an overall helpful experience. No matter what the underlying technology driving a customer’s inquiry, excelling at these skills will set you far ahead of your competition.

Even though we’re in the infancy of voice-driven e-commerce now, the breakneck pace with which new devices are made, coupled with the increase in voice-based accuracy, are going to create more and more opportunities for apps to transform the e-commerce marketplace.

In a year or two, it’s possible we’ll look at text-based search the way we look at our old MySpace page — with a twinge of nostalgia and an overwhelming sense of relief over how much better, faster and more intuitive things are today.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

 

 

About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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6 Marketing Tactics You Can Use to Boost Email Subscribers

6 Marketing Tactics You Can Use to Boost Email Subscribers

If you’ve been involved in marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard the phrase: “The money is in the list.”

With new technologies on the rise, email marketing can feel antiquated. In reality, email marketing is still incredibly effective – both in terms of long-term brand building as well as generating profits.

In a 2016 study, 86% of marketers stated that they were planning to increase their upcoming email marketing budgets.

For those willing to take the time to grow their lists and regularly craft high value, personalized messages for their audiences, the rewards can be exceptional.

According to DMA, email has an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent.

For online services and ecommerce businesses alike, growing your email list as quickly as possible should be a priority.

Here are some of my favorite growth hacks that you can immediately deploy to increase your list of email subscribers.

1. Content Upgrades

Oftentimes, marketers will create useful lead magnets in the form of ebooks, webinars and checklists. All of these things are great, but it’s hard to create a lead magnet that resonates with everyone.

For instance, look at the huge umbrella of internet marketing. A visitor that would be interested in a free ebook about infographic design may not care for information about longtail keyword research, and vice versa.

In order to capture the maximum amount of leads, it’s important to think about context. Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all lead magnet, consider including a content upgrade at the end of your most popular posts.

A content upgrade is simply a lead magnet that relates to an existing article and delivers extended information and value in exchange for contact information. They look like this:

The highlighted box is an example of a content upgrade

Content upgrades are laser-focused on the reader’s interests. If someone is reading an article about DIY whiteboard explainer videos, then a checklist containing useful resources about video design would make an excellent content upgrade. Or if they’re viewing an article titled “5 Google Analytics hacks” then the content upgrade may offer “Download these 3 super-powerful hacks that have been a secret until now.” You’ll then ask for name and email and in return they get a PDF containing those 3 hacks.

Consult Google Analytics and identify your most popular posts. Next, think of a way to enhance the informational value of the post by including a content upgrade at the end.

If you add a unique content upgrade to a handful of your best posts, you’ll dramatically grow your list. If you can aim for a 5% conversion rate, this can have a big impact on your email subscriber list.

2. Leverage Instagram

Thanks to the rapid rise of mobile internet access in recent years, photo sharing platforms are more popular than ever before.

Marketers are very aware of this trend. According to Emarketer, 70.7% of US businesses are now using Instagram, compared to just 48.8% in 2016.

In my opinion, Instagram is a great platform for engaging your audience with compelling imagery, but it’s also extremely useful for converting your audience into email subscribers.

The following Instagram tactic is ridiculously simple, yet underutilized.

Instead of using your Instagram bio to link to your homepage, link to a landing page containing a lead magnet that users can download in exchange for contact details.

It’s important that your lead magnet is something that provides genuine value to your audience. Hopefully you’ve done some buyer persona research and know exactly what frustrations and pain points people have – so you can offer a solution with a free ebook.

Given Instagram’s significant mobile user base, it’s important to ensure your landing page is optimized for all devices.

Next, visit the Instagram pages of competing brands in your niche (or any accounts that would have followers who would be interested in your brand) and start following everyone who leaves positive comments.

A percentage of people who you follow will follow you back. If you spend several hours per day doing this and you’re regularly posting high quality images to keep people engaged, you will notice a consistent stream of Instagram users clicking through to your landing page and hopefully, converting.

3. Retargeting

If someone arrives on your website and doesn’t make a purchase or subscribe to your email list, it’s easy to assume that they’re simply not interested in what you have to offer.

In my experience, this is often not the case.

We’re living in a world of perpetual distractions, and there are millions of reasons why a person wouldn’t engage with your site on their first visit. For instance, I notice that conversions are very low during the night hours, yet if the same person arrived on my website during the afternoon, they’d be much more likely to sign up to my list.

Fortunately, you can use Facebook retargeting to reconnect with these lost visitors and give them a second chance at subscribing to your list.

First, you will need to create a pixel in Facebook ads manager.

Next, install this code onto your site so that you can track the interactions and movements of your visitors.

Next, click on the “Audiences” tab in ads manager and create a new custom audience.

I recommend creating one audience for all website visitors, then a separate audience for all the people who have visited your lead magnet landing page but who haven’t converted.

This can be achieved by including people who have visited the URL of the landing page, but excluding people who have seen the thank you page for your email list subscription.

You can fire off adverts promoting your lead magnet to both audiences, and see which converts better. In my experience, retargeted visitors always convert at a higher rate than cold traffic – since they’re already familiar with your brand.

4. Cross Promotion

The quickest way to grow your list is to grab people from someone else’s list.

Make a list of other companies who serve a similar demographic, but who are not competitors.

For instance, if you sell dog training books and courses, a company that sells dog food and accessories would be a wise choice.

Next, get in contact and suggest a mutually beneficial agreement where you recommend each other’s products and services to your own lists. You can promote special deals, free giveaways or even just a lead magnet if you think it will entice people to subscribe.

When people receive an email from an unknown brand, they’re immediately thinking: “What’s in it for me?”

Begin your email by mentioning that you want to promote their products to your list for free, then you can ask for something in return afterwards.

5. Contests and Free Giveaways

You know who likes something for free? Everyone.

As a consumer, I always feel a sense of excitement when someone offers me something for free – even if I probably wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place.

Running a contest can be a great way to build a sense of community around a brand, but it’s also useful for generating email leads that you can market to at a later date.

So long as you promote your contest properly and the prize is something that is genuinely valuable to your audience (hint: you should know your audience intimately), you’ll definitely receive an abundance of entries.

Obviously, it’s important to ensure that people submit their entries via email so you can add them to your list.

Alternatively, free giveaways can be a great way to get people on your list. However, it’s important to have a good understanding of your customer lifetime value (CLV) before you consider free giveaways.

If you know that your average email list subscriber is worth $30 in revenue for the first 6 months they’re on your list, then it’s a no brainer to send them a free product which costs $5 to manufacture in exchange for their contact information.

So long as you keep tabs of the numbers, this tactic will scale your email list rapidly. The more money you put into free giveaways, the more money you generate on the back end.

6. Exit Intent Popups

Exit intent popups are used to capture leads that are about to leave your website.

This technology works by monitoring mouse movements. If it appears that the user is likely to leave the page, then a popup will appear imploring them to sign up for a free lead magnet.

When using exit intent popups, it’s important to keep user experience in mind. When done poorly, a popup can look spammy and annoying.

Google is already penalizing mobile sites with spammy pop ups. This change may occur for desktop as well in the near future.

An exit popup should be displayed clearly and in an unobstructive manner. Remember, it’s there to provide something of value to your audience, not just to acquire an email address by any means necessary.

Concise copy with a clear call-to-action is recommended. Also, you may wish to incorporate colors which contrast with the rest of your site in order to grab attention (think about the neutral themed ecommerce site which feature bright orange “Buy Now” buttons).

Here is an example of a nice concise exit intent popup by Wishpond, which ironically corresponds to the subject of creating a great exit intent popup.

Conclusion

While there are many marketing techniques that promise a faster ROI than email marketing, it’s important not to neglect one of the best methods for staying in contact with your audience.

Techniques for acquiring customers come and go, but building a relationship with your existing customers is essential if you want to stand the test of time.

If you’re serious about building a long-term brand rather than a short-term money making enterprise, growing your email list must be a priority.

Can you think of any other growth hacks to boost your email subscribers? Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Mo Harake brings over 12 years of ecommerce and digital marketing experience leading brands like FIJI Water, 7Diamonds, Kill Cliff and venture-backed startups to his work as Managing Director of Stray Digital. For more on his approach to ecommerce, content marketing and growth hacking, visit him on LinkedIn or at the Stray Digital blog.

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5 Signs it’s Time for an Email Marketing Makeover

5 Signs it’s Time for an Email Marketing Makeover

These days, just about anyone can create and send out email campaigns to their list of prospects. But just because it’s nearly push-button simple to do, doesn’t mean it always gets the results you want.

And if your beautifully-designed, precisely-formatted and succinctly-written email went over like a lead balloon, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. It just means that you should take a step back and consider making some changes to your approach.

The thing is, you know your email marketing isn’t working as well as it could. The results you’re getting are tepid at best and engagement levels are plateauing, or worse, falling. You’re just not sure what to do to fix it.

The good news is, you’re about to learn. And even better, it’s easy to implement these changes and start seeing a measurable increase in all the email engagement metrics that matter — opens, clicks and conversions.

1. The Sign: Your Email List Isn’t Growing as Fast as it Once Did

Much like a doctor diagnoses your symptoms to determine the best course of action to make you better, you’ve got a sick email campaign (and I don’t mean that in a good way!) and you’ve got to find a remedy.

One of the key signs of a floundering email campaign is that the list just isn’t growing. People may subscribe, but they also leave just as quickly — if they even subscribe at all. The rate of growth for your list has slowed, plateaued, or worse, reversed.

The Fix: Create a New Offer

Take a look at what you’re offering your prospects in order to get them to join your list in the first place. Oftentimes this is an eBook or a video. But how old is it? Is the information you’re sharing outdated or no longer applicable?

Try creating a new offer — a new ebook, a new video, or something completely different. Things like templates that your prospects can just “fill in the blanks” with or roadmaps that outline different strategies in a step-by-step way are always popular no matter what industry you’re in.

2. The Sign: Prospects Simply Don’t Engage With Your Message

Maybe you’ve got a sizeable email list, but the open rate barely registers as a blip on the email marketing radar. And the click-through rate is even more abysmal.

If you only send emails out when you want to sell something, and you don’t take the time to get to know your prospects and their goals as they relate to what you’re selling, no matter how great your sale is, it will find itself squarely in the recipient’s trashcan.

The Fix: Start an Email Marketing Calendar

The best email newsletters don’t just sell — they go much further. They share stories of the people behind the company. They ask subscribers to share their own stories. They go behind the scenes and share insights about their product — where it comes from, who makes it, why people love it.

And they don’t do this once or twice, but consistently. They establish rapport with their subscribers so that the subscribers actively look forward to receiving the company’s messages.

One of the easiest ways to start building an email strategy like this is through the use of an email marketing calendar. Just as you schedule out sales emails now, look for ways to fit in emails about other things your customers value.

Are there any new laws that are going to change your industry? Any big developments on the horizon that customers should know about? Any interesting stories about where their product comes from or how it got started? Schedule these into the calendar as well. It’s a different type of marketing — one that fosters open communication and mutual respect between subscriber and sender.

3. The Sign: You’re Sending Out a Blanket Message to All Your Subscribers – And Getting Little in Terms of Interaction

If you’re sending out the same message to everyone, don’t be surprised if your open and click-through rates are low. This happens because not everyone is at the same stage in the customer journey or the sales cycle.

Some users are simply looking for more information, while others are ready to buy. Still others may be somewhere in between. By sending the same message to all of them, you’re mistakenly assuming that they’re all starting at the same place. As a result, readers will find that your sales announcement or any other message you send them isn’t really tailored to their needs — and that your product may not be, either.

The Fix: Start Segmenting Your List

Most modern email marketing platforms allow you to segment your list, and it doesn’t cost you anything except a little time to make it happen. The great thing about segmentation is that you can segment by nearly any criteria. Want to segment your users by demographic? By product purchased? By whether or not they even bought in the first place? Provided you have that information, you can do that.

And if you’re looking to convert people from prospect to customer, you can put together a drip campaign that overtime builds prospects interest to eventually getting them to convert.

And if you don’t have that information, it may be time to upgrade to a platform that collects it for you, like Kissmetrics.

 

4. The Sign: Everyone’s Getting the Same Message So You’re Not Sure What’s Causing Opens and Clicks to Rise or Fall

If you haven’t segmented your list yet, but you’ve just sent out a campaign and are seeing a surprisingly high response — that’s great!

What caused it?

Was it the subject line? The design? The offer?

Not sure?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find out? You can.

The Fix: Start A/B Testing Your Emails

Just like with ab/b testing your landing pages and other areas of your site, so too should you be a/b testing your emails. This works even better when paired with list segmentation since you can determine what, precisely, encouraged customers to click or convert.

What resonates with one group of people (for example, customers just looking for information) may not necessarily “click” with people who are ready to buy. By segmenting and a/b testing your emails, you’ll see exactly what energizes each segment of your list and propels them to convert.

5. The Sign: People Open Your Message or Click, But Don’t Purchase

It could be that your open rate or click-through rate is good, but you’re not getting that all-important conversion. People just aren’t buying. And while the reason could lie in your site itself — that’s a topic for another post.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that your site is also converting at a steady clip, but conversions from emails directly aren’t getting the results you’d hoped for.

The Fix: Start Retargeting Campaigns

Most prospects come to a site, look around, and leave. You’ve worked hard and spent money getting them this far. Are you just going to let them go so easily?

No! Which is why it’s a good idea to get started with retargeting campaigns. Retargeting can show your customer a relevant ad for your site across a wide range of other web properties — even those you don’t own. What if they could be reminded of a product they looked at yesterday while browsing the morning’s news or weather?

This is just one example of what a retargeting campaign can do. Done correctly, it serves to not only remind customers of your product or service, but also capture their attention again — essentially giving you a second chance to make that connection.

A Makeover Doesn’t Just Mean a Fresh, New Design

As you can see, an email marketing makeover doesn’t mean slapping up a fresh coat of paint on your existing email design. It means digging below the surface to find out why users aren’t acting when they receive your message.

You want every email you send to be something a user looks forward to receiving – and when that happens, you’ll discover that it wasn’t so much a makeover, but a rebirth — of email that’s more relevant, more social, and more compelling than before.

About the Authors: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

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4 Data-Backed Conversion Hacks that Cost You Nothing

4 Data-Backed Conversion Hacks that Cost You Nothing

Conversions are in the toilet.

Traffic is still coming in. But your bottom line isn’t changing.

Sales are slower than ever. People simply aren’t buying right now.

It’s not the holiday season. It’s probably just the “off-season” for online sales.

No need to worry, right? It’s normal for this time of year…

But it’s not. Selling online isn’t only seasonal.

Conversions just aren’t happening for you. But there’s a reason.

Your conversion rate optimization tactics are outdated.

Or you simply don’t have any in place.

Those instant on-site popups aren’t compelling users to buy from you.

Social share buttons don’t lead to buying decisions.

As the online landscape changes and new technologies arise, user behavior changes.

And when user behavior shifts, marketers can’t stick to the same old tactics and fall behind.

If you don’t keep up to date with user behavior, your business and livelihood could be at risk.

Thankfully, there are a few data-backed conversion hacks you can implement that are sure to get you a better conversion rate.

So, what are you waiting for?

1. Include different checkout options

What if I told you that a few simple minutes of work (without paying anything for setup) could net you 44% more conversions?

Would you call me crazy? Maybe a used car salesman? Fair enough.

But let me explain.

Is your website optimized for mobile traffic? If not, is your name Fred Flintstone?

Image Source

In all seriousness, if you don’t have a mobile site that’s optimized for mobile sales, you’re doomed.

Why? Because the majority of website traffic is mobile now.

Image Source

If you’re not optimizing for mobile, you’re risking tons of conversions.

Mobile intent is big, too.

Think about it.

When you’re on the go, and you see someone wearing a shoe that looks awesome, what do you do?

You probably open up your smartphone and Google it.

You want it now. You don’t want to wait.

Why? Because you saw someone wearing it and you liked it.

Mobile intent is high because people often see something they like on the go. They don’t sit around wondering if they should really buy it.

So, where am I going with this?

You can improve your checkout conversions by up to 44% by incorporating multiple payment gateways, such as PayPal.

Pretty amazing, right?

According to Nielsen research data, PayPal transactions also have a 70% higher checkout conversion rate than non-PayPal transactions.

You need any trick in the book when cart abandonment hovers around 70%.

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Alternative payment methods are especially important on mobile, where people are otherwise forced to whip their credit cards out in public.

Adding other payment options is one of the easiest ways to solve that problem.

2. Use more videos

Video marketing is literally the future.

Research predicts that video will account for 70% of mobile traffic by 2021.

Video is already dominating the landscape of marketing.

HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report has shown that more and more marketing professionals are investing their budgets into video platforms like YouTube and Facebook Video:

Image Source

All of the top content distribution channels are heading towards video.

And for good reason.

Adding videos to your landing pages or product pages gives you a 50x higher chance of showing up on Google searches.

More visibility = more traffic and more conversions.

Even the simple mention of video in your email subject line can increase open rates.

That’s how popular video is right now.

If you are struggling to get conversions on your landing pages, consider creating a simple product video to help explain what your product does and why it can help the user.

People don’t like reading text anymore.

The majority of people skim text-based content online. Including that long-form sales page you just put finishing touches on.

People want you to get straight to the point. Video marketing can help you do just that.

If you don’t know where to start, try using a site like Biteable to create free videos for your landing pages.

You can create free business-style videos that have dozens of animated templates.

Plus, it’s free. It doesn’t cost you a cent.

And according to the latest data, implementing videos on your page will increase conversions.

The top companies are using videos on their landing pages right now.

Check out this landing page from Leadpages:

They use an explainer-style video to show how you can benefit from their product.

Seeing a video demo in action is much more compelling than reading a block of text about how great your product is.

3. Increase site speed

If you want to increase your conversion rates, speed is one the best ways to do it.

Why? Because we are impatient people.

Nobody wants to wait ten seconds for a site to load. Seriously: nobody.

Not when there are hundreds of companies out there selling or offering similar products/services.

Google recently released some amazing data backing this all up.

The latest data shows that if your site is slow, your bounce rate is going to increase:

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And an increase in bounce rate means fewer conversions.

Even a few seconds can cost you valuable traffic.

When it comes to an online business, traffic is money.

Walmart found that their conversions dropped rapidly when load times jumped from one to four seconds.

Every second of improvement resulted in a 2% increase in conversions.

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General data shows us an even worse outlook on site speed.

For each second that your website takes to load, you can expect a 7% decrease in conversions.

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Speed has the power to make or break your website. It can truly determine whether or not you find profit and scalable growth.

Even a single second could be costing you money.

According to Google, the majority of websites in any given industry fall way too short:

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The best practice for site speed is three seconds or less. But most of us are taking longer than eight full seconds. That’s bad.

So, what can you do about it? The first step is to diagnose your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

Enter your website URL into the tool and analyze it.

From here, you get your website’s overall speed score for both mobile and desktop.

The great thing about this tool is the free insight that it will give you into how you can fix your site problems.

Most of the time, images are going to be the biggest culprit.

They take up tons of space on your site, slowing your speeds dramatically.

If you can compress a few images, you’ve got a good shot at improving your site speed and increasing conversions.

WordPress has tons of plugins that you can use to automatically compress your images and increase site speed.

Try using Smush It:

It’s a free tool that you can install on your WordPress site in just a few minutes. You can also try TinyPNG or ImageOptim (Mac only).

When it comes to increasing conversions, speed is the name of the game.

4. Shorten landing pages

Long-form content wins the day when it comes to blogging.

Data proves it. The longer the content, the higher chance you’ve got to rank well on Google.

We hear it all the time: the longer, the better (no innuendo intended).

Content is king. Especially long-form content.

But does that same principle apply to landing pages?

Do long-form landing pages convert better?

Well, it makes sense that a long-form landing page would be good right?

You can tell a user all about your product without them having to leave the page to find more info.

Product features, demos, and descriptions are amazing when it comes to pushing a customer to buy.

Every sector of your business can have their featured spot on a landing page. It sounds great when you think about it.

But the data actually shows us otherwise.

Shortening your landing page can increase conversion rates dramatically:

Image Source

In a case study, one company reduced the size of its landing page and found a 13% increase in sign-ups and a 35% higher click-through rate to pricing pages.

This isn’t a one-off case study either.

Neil Patel found a 13% increase in conversions on his Crazy Egg site by reducing the content amount by 60%.

Patel also worked with a client on their landing page to increase conversions.

They were using a long-form style landing page, but Neil recommended using a short-form page with video-based content.

They reduced the size of the landing page dramatically.

In the end, the conversion rate for the website jumped by 40%.

Data consistently shows that short-form landing page content converts better.

Why? Because Americans read headlines and not much else.

Typical Americans, am I right?

But seriously, Buffer found that 55% of visitors to your site will only read your content for 15 seconds or less.

If you want more conversions, try shortening your landing page and getting straight down to business.

Slack has one of the best landing pages in the SaaS industry right now.

It’s short-form and gets straight down to business with a clear-cut headline and call to action:

There is almost nothing on the homepage besides a headline, description, CTA, and a bit of social proof.

Bonus Hack: Social proof is one of the best data-backed hacks to increasing your conversion rate in seconds.

Include a few statistics on your site about how many users you’ve helped or big companies you’ve served. Orbit Media increased their conversions by 1400% using social proof.

Conclusion

Conversions are worse than ever.

You’re still driving tons of traffic to your site and product pages. But nothing is budging.

All of that work you’ve put in to bring people to your site isn’t leading to sales.

You’re screwed (kidding). You feel trapped, scared, and worried about your business.

Without conversions, you don’t have a business.

It’s probably just the slow season, right? Wrong.

There is no real slow season when it comes to generating conversions and sales online.

There is just bad conversion rate optimization.

Thankfully, it’s not that hard to fix.

There are actually multiple data-backed ways to increase your conversions for free.

Including PayPal at checkout can increase your conversions by up to 44%.

Want a fast increase in conversions on your landing pages? Include some product explainer videos.

Site speed should be a big focus, too. The slower your site is, the higher your bounce rate will be and the lower your conversion rate.

Try shortening your landing pages. It’s proven to increase conversions.

Getting conversions doesn’t require you to spend thousands on an agency to fix your site. It just requires a few simple tweaks to make it easier and faster to buy from you.

About Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics combines behavioral analytics with email automation. Our software tracks actions of your users across multiple devices allowing you to analyze, segment and engage your customers with automatic, behavior-based emails in one place. We call it Customer Engagement Automation. Get, keep and grow more customers with Kissmetrics.

 

 

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

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New Research Opportunities Announced

New Research Opportunities Announced

Beginning in Fall 2018, interested students can apply for a 3-credit Research Assistant course in Stockholm or in Copenhagen, working individually or in small teams directly with DIS faculty on research projects.

Opportunities range across projects in public health, psychology, gender studies, justice and human rights, and environmental science, and the links below include detailed descriptions of each assistantship.

Academic Director, Helle Rytkønen, commented on these research initiatives, saying, “We are thrilled that students have the opportunity to be a part of international research during their study abroad. Within our research community, students can engage in-depth with an area of their interest, while developing skills and insights useful for their future.”

Our faculty are excited about this opportunity and eager to work with students in a new way!

>> Read about undergraduate research at DIS Stockholm
>> Read about undergraduate research at DIS Copenhagen

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What Tinder Can Teach Us About Growth Marketing

What Tinder Can Teach Us About Growth Marketing

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, Tinder is a hugely popular mobile dating app that matches potential partners based on user data and proximity.

Since the application was launched in 2012, it has experienced explosive growth.

Within two years, Tinder boasted 800 million swipes every single day. As of 2017, that daily figure is 1.6 billion.

So what makes Tinder so special, and what can we learn from Tinder’s growth that we can apply to other businesses?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sex sells.” That’s certainly part of the picture, but there are many other facets of Tinder’s growth engine that are worth admiring.

Conceptual Design

If you look at all the major case studies for growth hacking in recent years, from Airbnb to PayPal, they all have one thing in common: an excellent product.

On a conceptual level, Tinder is ingenious.

All marketers know that consumer behavior is driven by emotions rather than logic. To be specific, people are motivated to act due to two reasons:

  1. The desire to move towards pleasure
  2. The desire to move away from pain

Tinder’s users are motivated by seeking out romantic encounters (pleasure) while simultaneously avoiding rejection (pain).

We’re not talking about mild emotions here. These are core human desires with an evolutionary basis.

It’s theorized that the fear of rejection stems from when humans lived in primitive hunter-gatherer societies. With limited amounts of potential mates in a small tribe, being rejected could entail the end of your lineage and in some cases, would lead to ostracization and death. Today, rejection is a stinging emotional experience that people don’t want to go through.

Google the term “approach anxiety” and you’ll find a library of articles on the subject – indicating how serious of a problem it is for people.

Since both parties have indicated a mutual attraction before a Tinder match is made, daters don’t need to go through the experience of approaching someone they’re attracted to while hoping the other person feels the same, and don’t have to worry about being approached by someone they have no interest in.

Additionally, Tinder uses the intermittent reward system. New matches are a “reward”. You get excited when you swipe right and it’s a match, you get the push notification telling you there’s a new match waiting for you when you open the app. When using Tinder, you likely won’t get 5+ matches a day, or even a match a day. So when matches become more scarce, they are more valued, and then when they come, it’s a huge (and addicting) reward. You get back into the app, keep swiping, keep messaging, and it becomes a “must have” in your life.

Rewards come early (the critical first few tries for a user, when it determines if they’ll be sticky, they quickly see the first signs of value from the app when they get new matches. Overtime, the rate of new matches will diminish, but by then you’re already hooked on the app. You get more matches because it’s suspected that new Tinder users are shown to more people, and thus achieve more matches.)

The emotional drivers of pleasure and pain are the cornerstone of Tinder’s success.

User Experience

Even with a great concept, Tinder’s success would have been severely limited if the user experience was inadequate.

Fortunately, Tinder’s creators were wise to the fact that we’re living in a culture of instant gratification. While traditional dating sites require you to read long-winded profiles for potential dates, Tinder gives you an avalanche of potential partners that you can accept or dismiss in one hand gesture based on first impressions.

In many ways, Tinder replicates real life. People make snap judgements all the time, and you’re unlikely to get to know someone’s favorite artists or movies unless there is an initial physical attraction.

Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, states: “We want to create experiences that emulate human behavior. What we do on Tinder is no different than what we already do.”

In order for word of mouth marketing to be effective, it’s important for user onboarding to be smooth and efficient. If your friend has got you excited about an application but you’re having trouble logging in or understanding how to use it, then it’s not very useful.

If you have a Facebook account, you simply connect it to Tinder, pick your photos, and start swiping. You don’t even have to include photos to start swiping (but you probably should considering this is dating).

The application has a four screen tutorial which you can skip at any time by logging in using Facebook. With a marvelously simplistic onboarding process, Tinder maximizes the impact of word of mouth marketing. (Image Source)

And while there’s a bio section, you don’t even have to go through the pains of creating a witty bio before you can start swiping. Tinder already looks at your Facebook Likes, Friends, and creates “shared interests” and “Mutual Friends” with potential matches.

Image Source

Compare this to the wringer that most dating sites put new users through. You have to write your bio, list your favorite books, movies, what you’re looking for, etc. By the time you can actually start viewing profiles you’ve already used 20 minutes of time writing a bio that few people will read.

Unlike the desktop, the smartphone is an ideal device for Tinder’s fast-paced dating action. Swiping left or right on a smartphone just feels natural – akin to swiping through a deck of cards.

Given that smartphone displays are image-centric, you’re compelled to make snap decisions primarily based on looks. Some would argue that this is superficial, but maybe dating is more superficial than we’d like to admit?

With an excellent product, in both concept and execution, the team at Tinder deployed some powerful growth marketing tactics in order to generate attention.

The Two-Sided Network

According to Wikipedia, two-sided networks are: “economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits.”

In the case of Airbnb, the brand was only successful because there were enough hosts and guests to facilitate each other’s interests. Simple laws of supply and demand.

For Tinder, both men and women would be required to make the app work. Additionally, a significant portion of the user base needed to be attractive – otherwise there would be insufficient matches.

In order to get heterosexual men on the platform, there needed to be heterosexual women already present, and vice versa. So, which demographic would need to come first?

Tinder came up with a smart solution to this quandary.

Having enjoyed her experience in a sorority at college, Tinder’s Vice President of Marketing at the time, Whitney Wolfe, set off to acquire campus VIPs as early adopters.

Tinder also got a fair amount of publicity during the 2014 Winter Olympics when snowboarder Jamie Anderson and others revealed that they’ve been using Tinder. This added to the social proof of Tinder, which only helped its user base grow more.

Image Source

Interestingly, former UFC champion Ronda Rousey stated that she didn’t have much luck with Tinder because of her fame, and actually signed up using a fake name before being found out. Given the UFC’s predominantly male fan base, I’m sure a significant number of UFC fans became Tinder users upon hearing the news.

With “high quality” models and sorority leaders using the application, this would do away with the negative stigma that digital dating is for lonely people. Instead, Tinder would be an application that social, attractive people use to make their good dating lives even better.

Campus Presentations

On a tour of numerous campuses in the United States, Wolfe gave group presentations about Tinder to sorority houses.

At the end of the presentation, Wolfe insisted that all the girls sign up for the application. Immediately afterwards, she would go to the corresponding brother fraternity and encourage the guys to sign up.

Right away, the guys would see profiles for the attractive girls that they already knew, but hadn’t had the opportunity to interact with in a romantic context.

Because campuses have a dense population of single students in close proximity, initial users had more than enough potential matches to keep them engaged with the application.

Parties and Outreach

In another display of Tinder’s marketing ingenuity, Tinder hosted a party for a USC student’s birthday and went the extra mile to make it amazing. Tinder paid the bill for the party in exchange for putting a bouncer at the door that only let people in after downloading the application.

When Wolfe returned after her college tour, Tinder’s user base jumped from 5,000 to 15,000. This is when word of mouth marketing gained momentum.

Parties would still play a prominent role in Tinder’s marketing strategy as the application expanded beyond the American college system. With launch parties in Mexico, Japan and England, Tinder brought nights of fun and entertainment to singletons around the world – while simultaneously promoting the Tinder brand.

As a result, Tinder’s user base expanded. In the initial months, 85% of Tinder’s users were within the 18-23 age, but by the following year that same age range represented only 57% of all users.

Conclusion

The growth of Tinder can be attributed to a quick onboarding system, an addicting product with random rewards (matches), a unique dating product that was different than current options, and successful launch parties.

Have you used Tinder? If so, what about the application encourages you to keep coming back?

Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

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